Hire a Gen Y

Hire a Gen Y

Hire a “Gen Y.” – The Benefits to Youth, Community & Your Business

Gen Y

The Millennial Generation (aka Generation Y’s) are people born sometime between the mid-80s to the late 90s. Ambitious, confident and achievement-oriented, they are the fastest growing segment of our future workforce.

Many of Ontario’s young people possess definite employment and career advantages, such as education, innovation, tendencies toward social development and strong global connections. A global generational study conducted by PwC (a network of member accounting firms) characterized today’s youth as “civic-minded with a strong sense of community both locally & globally”, these future leaders and employees of our companies and organizations are talented, team-oriented and certainly, tech-savvy.

However, even with the employability odds stacked in their favor, the unemployment rate for Halton’s young workforce is unacceptably high – almost double the average provincial rate. The cause and determining factors are mixed – some say companies hire only those with work experience requiring minimal training, while others cite the rise of minimum wage as a deterrent for hiring. Nonetheless the fact remains many youth are not being hired and if this issue is not addressed, it will have a negative, ripple effect on our aggregate economic health.

The issue of youth unemployment can persist for many years. The impact of this prolonged detachment to the labour market may result in individuals not having obtained the necessary experience to support career progression and advancement. Also, the economic loss can be substantial, significantly hindering their ability to become financially independent/self-sufficient and preventing them from making the necessary contributions to their communities.

As part of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, the Youth Employment Fund was developed to support the expansion of employment opportunities and assist youth with acquiring work experience and real-life skills that will benefit them throughout their careers. The goal is to connect businesses with talented, career focused job seekers from 15 to 29 years of age in an effort to help 30,000 young people across the province build skills, find work and/or start a business.

By providing the opportunity of a job placement, employers may be eligible to receive incentives that help cover the cost of wages and training for new hires.

The Youth Employment Fund benefits youth in the workforce and also provides eligible employers with the following:

  • Up to $6,800 for training incentives
  • Support funds for additional skills development
  • Free recruiting support and job matching service

There are various programs, supports and assistance available for businesses and organizations who hire youth talent, students and young entrepreneurs.

Kimberly Neale 150x150Kimberly Neale – Job Developer with The Regional Municipality of Halton, Employment Halton. To get more information or to apply to be eligible for the Youth Employment Fund initiative, please contact Kimberly: Kimberly.Neale@Halton.ca // 905-825-6000 ext. 2705

OpenData Oakville Meetup – Feb 5, 2014

OpenData Oakville Meetup – Feb 5, 2014

For the past year RedBit has been in Collaboration with the Town of Oakville providing perspective on what RedBit has delivered in terms of projects that leverage OpenData and also how OpenData has benefited RedBit from a business side perspective.  Our President, Mark Arteaga has detailed his experience with Open Data on his own website.

Now, the town of Oakville is holding it’s first OpenData Meetup to get feedback from citizens, businesses and the community in general on what they would like to see from an Open Data perspective. The town is ready to open up it’s data, but wants feedback.  Mark will be doing a presentation on OpenData and how RedBit has benefited from it.

Town of Oakville has a dedicated page for their Open Data initiative  so make sure to keep an eye on it for any updates and their dedicated twitter account @OpenOakville

Co-working Space Comes to Burlington

Co-working Space Comes to Burlington

BurlingtonHive Collage 4 710x310Imagine an environment where professionals from the technology sector can work beside each other, learn from each other, share ideas and best practices with each other, attend technical presentations together or simply share a coffee together in the lunch room.

You would say this exists in virtually every forefront technology company.

But imagine if none of these professionals worked for the same company. What do we have that fosters this culture of collaboration? Virtually nothing.

Introducing a new concept to Burlington, where multiple technology professionals from multiple small companies all work within the same open space. This is not a single business, but a collaborative co-working space called the Burlington HiVE.

The Burlington HiVE is an open concept office space reengineered for IT professionals, startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Those in the tech space know that “collisions”, unplanned interfacing between IT, Digital Media, ecommerce, etc., professionals often produce economic and/or professional growth.

The Burlington HiVE is the vision of Shaun Pennell, President of Pennell Inc., a Burlington based IT Strategy Consulting Services & Software Development company. Shaun’s initial vision is for the space to become a local tech hub of technology services. In one example, companies requiring custom software development could simply walk-in and meet companies who could provide those services. Shaun also visions the space being consistently used for evening workshops and events, the first of such being the Silicon Halton Meetup 37 (Your First CRM) on September 10th, 2013 and the Lean Startup Workshop on September 21st, 2013, also by Silicon Halton.

The Burlington HiVE, or simply “The Hive”, is conveniently located at ground-level in downtown Burlington and features the following amenities:

  • Collage 7 - 355x631Shared Reception
  • Boardrooms (large and small) with projectors available for private meetings with your clients
  • Wireless and wired Internet
  • Shared copiers + printers
  • Open concept Booths and other interesting spaces for semi-private meetings – a coffee shop like atmosphere, less the screaming kids
  • Large 900sqft open area with couches for events, meetings, or private functions
  • Games room featuring theatre style seating, a large plasma, and game consoles to blow off steam
  • Easy walking distance to 50+ restaurants, 20 cafes and beautiful Lake Ontario and Spencer Smith Park
  • Shared kitchen with fridges and microwaves
  • Open 7am – 7pm
  • Plenty of city parking directly across the street
  • Most importantly, lots of free tasty tasty coffee

New facets will be built into the 6,100sqft space to fully align with the needs of the members. “We’re experimenting, some trial & error, to find the right needs for our members” says Shaun Pennell. “We want the space to be flexible, vibrant and fun, while striving to make it easy for members to run their businesses.”

The Hive fills a void for growing small businesses, the void between their home office and that first multi-year lease commitment. At the same time, The Hive removes any time, effort and concentration a member would typically consume looking after a physical office. Time & effort they can spend on their growing business, not fretting over the consequences of forgetting to lock the door.

Shaun’s bold vision is an environment that allows the individual small businesses to become “burstable”. A common concern among small tech businesses is being unable to take on too much work while maintaining the quality that gained them the work in the first place. Individual businesses will have the opportunity to engage with other complementary businesses in The Hive, to help them cope with the bursts of increased work.

Rates for the Burlington HiVE start at $299 / month. No contract.

You don’t have to be a member to use the facilities as The Hive provides a $30 flat day-rate for the common shared facilities and an hourly, 1/2 day, or full day rate for the boardroom, meeting room and multipurpose space.

The Burlington HiVE will open for Business on September 3rd, 2013 with the Grand Opening on October 25th. Dignitaries (TBA) will be in attendance for the cutting of the ribbon.

Learn more about the Burlington HiVE here: www.burlingtonhive.com and follow us on-line @BurlingtonHiVE, or contact us at staff@burlingtonhive.com and 1-866-427-2450. 



Silicon Halton members can join the conversation here: 




Six months ago I declared a new a BHAG for 2013, that being a goal of attaining 2,500 members by the end of 2013.

Why? 1% of a population or logical community is considered “critical mass.” Halton’s population is ~500,000. Critical mass in Halton is therefore 5,000 people. Our target is 0.5% of critical mass, or 2,500 members. With 2,500 members we will be half way to critical mass.

So what? We launched Silicon Halton over 3-years ago with two people. We entered 2012 with 600 members and accomplished an amazing amount. In 2012 our membership organically grew the by an astonishing 30%. For 2013 we want to grow by 300%.

By reaching 2,500 members I believe we will uncover hereto unknown opportunities for the Silicon Halton community. At 2,500 I believe we’ll reach a new significant threshold, a tipping point, in our ability to deliver value to the tech community, and members of the tech community will also experience greater prosperity, prosperity for Halton Region.

Can this be accomplished? I believe so. Look at this perspective: if each current member encouraged two people to join Silicon Halton this year, we would reach our goal. It can be that easy.

joincommunityGet Started – How you can help in 2min

Where do you go to join? Join Here: bit.ly/joinsh

Add this to your email signature: Join @SiliconHalton. I did. Help us reach our 2013 goal of 2500 members. bit.ly/joinsh

Schedule these tweets, 1x/month: Join @SiliconHalton. I did. Help us reach our 2013 goal of 2500 members. bit.ly/joinsh

Place this message in your LinkedIn updates: Join SiliconHalton.com. I did. Help reach our 2013 goal of 2500 members. bit.ly/joinsh

Leverage your network: Take 10min and scan through your LinkedIn connections to identify two people in tech, in Halton, that could join, then send them (e.g.) one of the messages above.  

Poll: Sales Success Workshop

Poll: Sales Success Workshop


Silicon Halton is launching Sales Success Workshops. The first workshop is scheduled for ay 2013. We’ve launched a Member Poll asking which interactive seminar would provide the most immediate impact for you. Poll: http://ow.ly/jrg9S

Feel free to add comments to the LinkedIn discussion thread here.

(ed: This poll resulted with the launch of the first Sales Training workshop.  Details here)

Wowcasing ™

Wowcasing ™

wowcasing 600x300

Anyone can showcase a product or service, but at Silicon Halton we “wowcase” them!

What is wowcasing? First coined by myself at Meetup 32 on June 12, 20121, its meaning is to showcase cool companies, products, solutions, careers, or services to solicit that “wow!” response, that moment of realization that what you’re witnessing is completely unexpected and a welcomed surprise. It’s the moment, for example, when you toy with a new piece of technology/software and come to the realization of the huge potential it can make in the lives of others.

Wowcase informal, Wowcased, wowcasing,


  1. to exhibit or display a company, product, solution, job or service and receive an unsolicited enthusiastic “wow!” response
  2. to present in or as if in an demonstration wowcase: Silicon Halton Pitch Night wowcases new startup companies. 
  3. to show: The presenter wowcased the attendees with her new product. 
  4. to present as a special meetup, part of a meetup, or within a blog post (such as this): Silicon Halton will be wowcasing several companies at the next Pitch Night (and a future DemoNight and NewTech nights). 


Note 1: I claim the trademark!

Pitch Camp Breakfast

Pitch Camp Breakfast

PitchCampSilicon Halton has previously successfully conducted “Pitch Camps” in our Peer-2-Peer groups and the participants have found peer-feedback to be hugely valuable. We witnessed lackluster, unclear, unfocused or ambiguous pitches become powerful, razor focused, clear value propositions. On November 6, 2012, we held our first Pitch Camp Breakfast, a P2P-like-event dedicated to replicating the successful experience of improving members pitches. We succeeded.

Refinement Powered By Peers

Peers provided valuable feedback which will in turn helped refine pitches so they carried the right amount of weight and left the best possible impact. The feedback wasn’t all roses – but it was honest. You know what you want to hear in someone else’s pitch, yet it’s often the most difficult task to translate that into your pitch. You’re too close. Pitchers needed fresh perspectives to tell them what others are hearing (or not hearing), which in turn was used to refine and razor focus their pitch.

We provided an opportunity, intimate forum, a safe atmosphere, comprised of a trusted group of their peers, where members to practice delivering their pitch, receive trusted peer feedback, re-refine their pitch, and re-deliver their refined pitch for more feedback.

You need the practice. You don’t want to live with the consequences of a poorly framed and delivered pitch at the moment the pitch matters most, and when you only get one chance to make your mark. Nothing is more important than receiving real feedback before you’re standing in front of that potential future key client.

A Few Lessons Learned:

  • Listeners want to know why they’re listening to your pitch.Tell them up-front.
  • Have multiple versions, lengths, of your pitch ready. Sometimes you get 20min, sometimes 5 or 10min, sometimes only 1 min.
  • How will your product make money or save me time or money?
  • What’s your “ask”?

Pitch Coaches

In addition to peer coaching, we were fortunate to have 3 community members stand-up and freely give their time and expertise, which further heightened the value. Thanks Coaches!

Philip NeukomPhilip Neukom is the President of Profit Analytics Inc., a firm that advises entrepreneurs on how to raising funds and provides interim executives for growing tech and manufacturing companies. Philip has worked for 25 years in growth stage to Fortune 500 companies as a senior executive, management consultant, board member and venture capital investor. He has raised money from angel investors; the public markets; and, helped entrepreneurs raise funds from Canadian and US based venture capital funds. Philip is also a volunteer mentor at Innovation Factory and has helped evaluate pitches of the Lion’s Lair startups in 2011 and 2012.

Reema-150x150Reema Duggal is the President of the Sitaran Group, a knowledge management solutions company.  She helps clients engage more customers, make their employees more productive, and improve profits through the strategic implementation of company websites, client portals, learning portals, and employee portals.  Prior to launching her company, she held many senior roles at EDS and SHL Systemhouse.
She’s been an core team member of the Silicon Halton community for three years.


raj 150x150Raj Phalpher, P.Eng, CMC, is the Chief Results Officer of Resultel Technologies Inc. Raj’s focus is exclusively on SR&ED tax credits since 2002. Previously he provided training, counseling, and support to some of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations in both the public and private sectors. Raj founded and chaired Emeritus of Toronto SPIN (Software Process Improvement Network) and is the Past-President of CIPS Toronto Chapter [2005]. Raj currently serves on several boards: GTA Chapter Board of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants [CAMC], Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar, Oakville Senior Citizens Residence and Shared Services International in addition to owning the Networking track of Silicon Halton monthly meetups. [Email] [LinkedIn] [Web]

Rick StomphorstRick Stomphorst is the Principal Consultant at SearchVelocity.ca, providing services to technology companies to identify and acquire high-value technology staff. Rick is a technology leader with over 25 years experience with SaaS & on-premise software, large IT professional consulting firms and five software start-ups. He is the cofounder of Silicon Halton. [LinkedIn] [@StompR] [Blog]. Rick last blogged about the newly launched Startup CEO Peer-to-Peer.



Startup CEO Peer to Peer

Startup CEO Peer to Peer

Update – February 2013:

Regrettably, Silicon Halton has had to withdraw from the HalTech Start-Up CEO P2P: Digital Media and ICT.  It’s not a decision we make lightly, and are hugely disappointed. 

We’ve left this post up as we’re proud that Silicon Halton’s innovative and breakthrough concept of this P2P was instantiated. We’re not aware of this peer-to-peer format existing anywhere else. Our persistent objective remains, to help emerging leaders make better and faster decisions in order to accelerate their startup.

Original Post – January 2013: 

HalTech and Silicon Halton are proud to announce the Startup CEO Peer-to-peer group. Launched in October 2012, fifteen CEO’s from Halton based startups came together to share their expertise with their peers.

The Startup CEO P2P group will leverage the combined expertise and shared experiences and knowledge of CEOs from Halton based startups for the purpose of accelerating their individual businesses.

Startup CEO’s operate without a corporate safety net. Yet, as we’ve learned from the Silicon Halton CEO P2P, they value a forum where they can openly discuss common challenges and gain insight from their peer-CEOs.

Based on the successful formula of the Silicon Halton CEO P2P, we’ve engineered a similar model to ensure each Startup CEO P2P member has the utmost in common with their fellow Startup CEOs. The resulting shared experiences have proven to generate relevant and valuable exchanges. A forum where a startup CEO can present their challenge, and receive possible solutions from a variety of angles.

Additionally and significantly, HalTech brings to the table an Executive in Residence and their Volunteer Mentorship Program. Both will join the CEO’s monthly, bringing value to the Startup CEO’s that extends beyond the P2P event itself.

Meeting monthly, members share challenges, “what’s keeping them up at night” and more importantly, share their collective expertise and experience in a highly confidential and comfortable setting.

“CEO therapy”

As a self-directed group, facilitated in partnership by Silicon Halton and HalTech, Halton’s Regional Innovation Centre, the group decides the monthly topics in order to provide the most timely and best value to them. Deciding monthly results in topics that are essential, vs. important. Ultimately, they will build stronger companies, gain the ability to do more and do it better, and an even stronger ICT and Digital Media cluster in Halton Region.

This is the new normal in Halton Region. Startup CEO’s no longer have to “go it alone”. An eco system of support now exists, and continues to grow, to help ensure the success of their endeavour, and create hi tech jobs in the region. Contact Raajan Mangat at HalTech, or Rick Stomphorst to learn more.

About the Author

Rick StomphorstRick Stomphorst is the Principal Consultant at SearchVelocity.ca, providing recruitment to technology companies to identify and acquire high-value technology staff. He brings 25+ years of broad experience with software companies, including five software start-ups, and IT professional consulting firms. Rick is also the co-founder of Silicon Halton. [LinkedIn] [@StompR] [Blog]

Peel Startup Weekend – 54hours heads-down

Peel Startup Weekend – 54hours heads-down


Startup Weekend takes concepts to product and/or business in 54 hrs. Starting Friday night October 19, 2012, a group of some 100 entrepreneurs came together to conceive, vet, build, and pitch their preliminary results (product) to a panel of judges at the Peel Startup Weekend, put on by the RIC Centre in Peel. I participated on Sunday to coach some teams, providing feedback to their draft pitches.

As a coach, our job was to mentor the teams, using our years of experience to ask questions the team’s likely haven’t thought of, help them refine their pitches, ensuring they’re presenting what points the judges will expect to hear. We walked the fine line of providing experienced constructive feedback, ideas, and thoughts, while not overwhelming them with the plethora of obstacles which waits ahead of them.

One team I coached was the “9-1-1 Text” team of 4. Their idea is to allow people in an emergency situation and who are unable to speak (for whatever reason) to “dial” 911. While texting 911, their location would be transmitted. One huge value-add is transmitting their location to the 911 operator. This task can often takes 30-90sec alone (“where are you?”), meaning an additional precious 30-90sec before the arrival of a first responders. Sunday afternoon they pitched to the judges. Their “ask” of the judges was to gain connections into the phone carriers and call centers to further validate their idea.

Friday evening launched with 30 pitches, ending late Sunday afternoon distilled down to these 11 ideas, pitched to a group of 4 judges, with ~100 people watching. Most pitchers had a prototype product, crafted business solution to a business problem, revenue generating ideas, and importantly, their ask.

  • Final Presentation Day-300x300Emergency Response App – mobile app to generate efficiencies in a Hospital’s emergency treatment of mass casualties
  • Amray Solar – next generation solar panels, 2x more efficient.
  • piparu.com – pintrest like app for funny videos.
  • CardDrop – QR codes with dynamic content and pix
  • DeptStep – Broker app for dept consolidations
  • 9-1-1 Text – Text message to 911 centres
  • iMotion 
  • PTLights Inc. – Portable traffic light for emergency services.
  • MyBlood – app to track warfarin impacts to person
  • Learnville – Create online courses. Virtual classroom
  • We Owe You – tracking your incidental lending of money (coffee, drinks, dinner) between your circle of friends. Includes payback functionality.

It was impressive to witness these budding entrepreneurs, whose idea was just a concept 50 hours ago, provide their final pitch on Sunday late afternoon.

Congrats to CardDrop for winning! I hope the momentum started this weekend will continue for these teams and result in products and companies, and more jobs. Silicon Halton donated $100 prize money.

About the Author

Rick StomphorstRick Stomphorst is the Principal Consultant at SearchVelocity.ca, providing recruitment services to technology companies to identify and acquire high-value technology staff. He brings 25+ years experience with software companies, including five software start-ups, and IT professional consulting firms. Rick is also the co-founder of Silicon Halton. [LinkedIn] [@StompR] [Blog]

Exploring a Technology Shared Office Space in Milton

Exploring a Technology Shared Office Space in Milton

555 Industrial drive Milton collage r2

555 Industrial Drive in Milton has an impressive lineage. Built by a local hi-tech company, it became the HO of Systems Xcellence (later known as SXC Health Solutions), growing to 150+ hi-tech jobs in Milton. With $5B revenue in 2011, Fortune Magazine listed SXC #1 in their 100 Fastest Growing companies. To put that revenue in perspective, RIM’s 2008 revenue was $5B (approx). While most of SXC is now in the US, it’s important to recognize that its genesis was here.

We have an opportunity to create more $5B companies. Silicon Halton is assisting the Milton Economic Development department explore an opportunity to create a Technology Shared Office Space (TSOS) at 555 Industrial Drive.

TSOS will include
  • Up to 14,000sqft of office space. More when the concept proves successful
  • Spaces range from 100sqft to 4,000sqft
  • Shared facilities include: Reception, boardrooms, meeting rooms, Kitchen & Cafeteria, plenty of free parking.
  • Furnished
  • Space to potentially incubate companies
  • Room to house supporting Government services
  • Host hi-tech events & activities including Silicon Halton Peer-to-Peer groups and events


The culture at hi-tech companies is unique. Housing different hi-tech companies, even companies in different “hi-tech” verticals, in the same physical location will result in the collision effect. Knowledge workers in hi-tech companies don’t hoard knowledge; they’ll openly share it by the water cooler and lunch room. Each will take this knowledge and accelerate their company. These collisions are an everyday occurrence at Silicon Halton – we’ve watched a tech company launch from the Silicon Halton membership and subsequently win the “People’s Choice” award at the 2012 SXSW conference. TSOS will attract hi-tech entrepreneurs and companies who welcome the collision factor. It will drive the creation of new companies and jobs locally. TSOS will create lasting solutions for knowledge worker employment in Milton and the Milton area. Milton and Halton deserve the opportunity to create the hi-tech companies and the hi-tech careers that accompany them. We could create the next RIM. Imagine! This could provide a community-changing impact.

Call to Action

What do you want to see happen here? Do you need new or larger facilities in 2013? TSOS is “move in ready”. Contact me to start the discussion. An amazing company started in Milton at 555 Industrial Drive and we have the opportunity to accelerate and launch more. There is also a long-term vision for TSOS aligned with the proposed Milton Education Village. Let’s get to work!

RickStomphorstLIRick is the Co-founder of Silicon Halton and Principal at SearchVelocity.  Rick is a technology and community leader connecting talent to employers, people to people, and business to business.  

The New Silicon Halton Job Board

The New Silicon Halton Job Board


We do all kinds of great things to help our members connect with the hi-tech community in Halton and create opportunities for business growth and partnerships. Now we’re connecting great companies to great talent.

We’ve re-engineered the traditional dry job board. Launched in May 2012, the Silicon Halton Job Board is focused on hi-tech in Halton. We’re about helping Silicon Halton hi-tech employers identify the right talent. We’re also about helping the hi-tech talent find the right career.

The Talent Perspective

Female job searcher binoculars 150x300There are over 250 hi-tech companies in Halton.  Find your hi-tech career right here in Halton.  

It has likely dawned on you that commuting 60, 75, or 90min into the city is a waste of time. Imagine a short commute, likely against the traffic, both to & from the office. This could have a life changing impact.

Commuting is just one aspect. The hi-tech companies in Halton are engaged in exciting and challenging spaces. Great for your career growth. Our job board is about empowering you by providing you with a jump-off point to learn about the great hi-tech employers here in Halton. You may discover you already have a connection into the company.

This is all free. Get started here

The Halton Hi-tech Employer Perspective

Employer searchingToday’s knowledge workers are increasingly selective about who they want to work with. This is the new normal. The Silicon Halton job board wants to help you identify the right candidates while at the same time showcasing exciting companies and career opportunities here in Halton. By providing the job seeker with rich information to self-investigate your Halton hi-tech company, you will receive better and more qualified candidates, spending more time speaking to the right candidates, vs. weeding out the wrong ones.

The job posting on Silicon Halton was mentioned as the source for several job applications.

We believe we’ve created a super value-proposition: Halton hi-tech employer rates are only $2.50 / day, you’re helping promote hi-tech in Halton, and we’re helping to promote you. Win, win, and win.

Our job board is another step in the Silicon Halton journey. Will you join us? If so, let’s get to work here.


Get to Know Your Member

Get to Know Your Member

One of the staples of our monthly events is having Halton hi tech companies introduce themselves, something we call the “Get to know your member” or #G2KYM. The intros have evolved into a 3-minute-ish introduction by the principle of the company and given towards the close of the “formal” part of the meetup. Our objective is to generate awareness for the hi tech companies that call Halton home.

Mark Mulholland intro of TEDxOakvilleTo date we’ve had, um, I’ve lost track how many intros. Many. Lots. With many many more to come. With usually two intros per meetup, the result is, each year, we’re introduced to 24 hi tech companies that most members didn’t know existed in Halton. We continue to uncover and connect the wealth of hi tech companies right in our own backyard.

Having watched many intros, we know what strikes a cord with the members (i.e. they’ll remember you), and what doesn’t (i.e. “who was that again?”). Here’s what we suggest to the presenting companies:

Similar to an elevator pitch, and to quote Wired Magazine’s Scott Brown, “(your intro has) to be complete, logical, and watertight, stem to stern.”

Tell us about…

What the members are hopefully thinking

Who you are and your role

Cool job

Your company name

Cool name

Your Product(s) and/or Service(s)

Hm, that’s interesting

What makes you unique?

Wow, that’s really interesting

Your target client?

I know someone in those companies

What would you like from Silicon Halton’s members?    

I should give him a connection…

What can you give back to Silicon Halton?

I want to be his/her new BFF


  • Make your intro non-promotional, no special time-limited offers – you’re not selling to the audience
  • We like to have displayed one slide with your company, logo, etc., while you’re giving your intro.  
  • Include you Twitter handle on your slidedeck – people will Tweet about you during your intro.
  • We occasionally video your intro and post to Youtube and link back to the post event blog, if you’re ok with that.  This will make you intro last and last and last…


Get Started

If you would like to introduce yourself or your Halton based hi tech company at a Silicon Halton meetup, please contact: Ben Baljet or Blake Mason at Ideaprairie by contacting them through ben@ideaprairie.com or blake@ideaprairie.com

The Silicon Halton CEO Top-10 Book Club

The Silicon Halton CEO Top-10 Book Club

What began as an opener to a fall Silicon Halton CEO P2P meeting, generated so much valuable discussion and learning experience, that it obsessed an entire meeting.

At the previous meeting, the CEO’s elected to each share their favorite business book and importantly, what value they derived from it. As the CEOs find merit and value in each other’s opinions, this appeared to be an interesting exercise. As all are avid business book readers and always looking to maximize their efficiencies, a recommendation from a trusted peer, to prioritize the cornucopia of business books available today, is invaluable. In 2010 alone, there were 316,000 new books, 5% more than in 2009.

Each CEO discussed the importance and relevance of their recommended book, and what from the book, if anything, they incorporated into their businesses, and any resulting successes or learning experiences.

Under the belief that a rising tide raises all boats, the CEO’s elected to share their list publicly with the Silicon Halton community, and, well, anyone who happens upon this page. The CEO P2P group will hold another business book meeting in 2012, until then, there’s plenty below for you to read.

The books are listed in no particular order. Silicon Halton members can join the discussion here.  Where we can, Twitter addresses to the author are provided.


Good to Great    

Good to Great
Jim Collins


   Strenghts Finder 2.0    

   Strengths Finder 2.0
   Tom Rath

exploting chaos 2

Exploiting Chaos
Jeremy Gutsche



The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions
of a Team
Patrick Lencioni


  Brand New World

  Brand New World
  Max Lenderman

 The 4-Hour Work Week

The 4-Hour Work Week
Timothy Ferriss

Nothing to Lose

Nothing to Lose,
Everything to Gain
Ryan Blair


 Blockbusters: The Five Keys
 to Developing GREAT
 New Products
 Gary S. Lynn, Ph.D., and
 Richard R. Reilly, Ph.D.


Win: The Key Principles to
Take Your Business from
Ordinary to Extraordinary
Dr. Frank I. Luntz

Creating a Successful Brand Identity

Creating a Successful Brand Identity

In my last post, I discussed what makes a brand identity successful. This time around, I’m going to cover the process or stages involved in getting there.

The process of creating a successful brand identity requires research, gathering information, strategic analysis, creative design and skilled project management. While the amount of time and resources spent on each stage will vary for each client, the process itself should remain the same.

1. Establish criteria and gather information

The designer’s first step is to find out as much as possible about the company or product by asking the client a series of questions:

  • Who is the client?
  • Who are their customers?
  • Who is their competition?
  • What is their current perception and do they want to maintain or change it?
  • What are the demographics of their target market?
  • What are their short-term and long-term goals?
  • What is their key messaging?
  • What positioning, personality or tone do they wish to convey?
  • How long will the identity be used?
  • What applications are required for the identity?

Depending on the size of the company or the position of a product brand in the marketplace, additional market research from a third-party firm may be required to fully understand the competitive landscape.

2. Prepare a creative brief based on the information gathered

A creative brief is a clearly communicated outline of the intentions, expectations, positioning and creative direction the identity will take based on the information gathered in step 1. It is an agreed to collaborative plan between the designer and client that serves as a foundation or reference point for keeping the project on track and measuring the success of any creative concepts presented for approval. This crucial step will narrow the designer’s focus by establishing the ground rules for creative exploration.

3. Explore concepts based on the creative brief

At last comes the fun part. With all the background information at hand, the designer can now begin to brainstorm, mind map and explore creative concepts on paper. Further evaluation against the creative brief narrows the concepts down to about three choices: each being somewhat unique in format or creative direction.

4. Narrowing down the choices

Rendering these concepts on the computer in black and white is the next step, as ideas that work well without relying on colour only get stronger when fully rendered. Presenting the concepts in black and white also frees the client to focus solely on the concept without distraction. Based on this initial client feedback and my recommendation based on rationale defined by the creative brief, one concept is chosen as the strongest.

5. Typefaces, colour and approval

At this stage any changes to the chosen concept are made along with the selections of typefaces and a colour palette. More feedback from the client leads to final refinement and an approved design.

6. Preparing final art files

Final art is prepared in a variety of file formats and divided into three main categories depending on application. Categories include professional print applications in both spot and process colour for items such as business cards, brochures and print advertising; internal applications such as letterhead, memos and invoices; and digital applications such as web sites, slide presentations and email signatures. A guide is included to ensure the right file selection for every use.

7. Brand Identity Guidelines or Graphic Standards Manual

This important document is developed by the designer to ensure consistent brand reproduction across all media both internally and with external suppliers. Here again, the amount of time and resources spent on creating this document will vary, but at the bare minimum a manual should cover both proper and unauthorized uses of the logo, its precise colour breakdowns and typeface specifications. More elaborate brand guidelines may also include exact layout specifications for diverse applications such as business cards, uniforms or external signage and provide guidelines for the selection of imagery and secondary colours.

Investing in the creation of a professional brand identity is always a good decision for any business or organization. I hope I’ve given you a better understanding of the process and what to expect and look for when working with an experienced graphic designer.

valsannaVal Sanna is the Creative Director and principal behind Ignition Design + Communications, a graphic design studio specializing in brand identity and communications design. His passion is helping position clients for success by creating clear, memorable, professional brands that get noticed and stand apart from their competition. For more information follow Val on Twitter or contact him at vsanna@ignitiondesign.ca

Elements of a Successful Brand Identity

Elements of a Successful Brand Identity

What is a brand?


Let’s start by clearing up any misconceptions between logos and brands. Designer Sean Adams describes it this way: A logo or identity is not a brand unless it’s on a cow. A brand, rather, is the perception formed in the audience’s mind about a company, person or idea. This perception is the culmination of the logo, visuals, identity program, messages, products and actions. The designer doesn’t make a brand. Only the audience can do this. The designer’s role is to create one of the most important aspects of the brand, the logo or brand identity system. A logo can’t make a bad product or company better, but a well-designed identity will help position a product or company to realize its full potential. Brand identity builds awareness and customer loyalty. A company that invests in a creating a professional brand identity gives its management, sales agents, and employees a great tool to inspire team spirit internally and to connect with its customers in the marketplace. A professional brand identity becomes the face of a company or organization and is often the first connection between the brand and its target audience. We all want to make a favourable first impression, don’t we?

Attributes of a Good Brand Identity

What makes a good brand identity? Not every identity shares all these attributes, but the best ones share most, if not all of them.

  • It should be uniquely identifiable to help distinguish it from the competition. Think of how many brand messages you are exposed to each day, for instance on a public transit ride, in a grocery store or surfing the web. Remember it’s not necessary to make your identity represent exactly what your company does. This will avoid your identity resembling the competition and not limit areas of future growth.
  • It should be simple enough to be instantly recognizable. Can you easily picture in your mind’s eye the Apple logo? When we can easily recall and remember an identity, we form positive reactions to it that lead to feelings of comfort and trust.
  • It should draw the viewer in with pleasing aesthetics that appeal to the intended audience. While the culmination of a neutral colour palette, elegant typography and beautiful photography create a tasteful and sophisticated look for Martha Stewart, this same look is likely not appropriate for an apparel brand aimed at a youth market into extreme sports.
  • It should use shape and colour to enhance recognition and emotional response. The Nike swoosh creates an image of energy and dynamic power and Coca Cola uses red to suggest energy, life and vitality. It’s hard to imagine either of these identities without their signature shape or colour. We would not have the same reaction to them, nor would they be as successful, otherwise.
  • It sometimes has a hidden element or meaning that demands attention. Have a careful look at the FedEx logo. The negative space between the capital E and the lower case X form an arrow shape. This subtly portrays forward movement and is ideally suited to a shipping company. We naturally want to try to figure out the meaning of these kinds of identities and the more time we spend with them, the more familiar they become.
  • It must be culturally relevant. Certain symbols and colours have very specific meanings to different cultures. For instance, in the Western world we are very familiar with the Red Cross Society. In other parts of the world, the cross is replaced with a crescent and the name changes to the Red Crescent Society to be more sensitive to followers of the Islamic faith. Make sure to do some research ahead of exploring a creative direction that could cause problems in an increasingly global marketplace.
  • It will stand the test of time and not date itself quickly. The CN logo is an example of an identity that is timeless in appeal and not be subject to changing trends or fashion. Most companies or organizations would do well to follow this route, but there are always exceptions. For example, certain product brands will be more fashion-forward in their approach to capitalize on the latest fad or trend.
  • It should be easily reproduced across a variety of media, both in print and online, and at a variety of sizes. What is legible on the side of a truck may not work as well when reduced to the size of a favicon in a browser address bar. A complex identity with gradients and transparency may work well on a web page, but may prove difficult to embroider on branded apparel. A well-designed brand identity system is flexible enough to easily accommodate different methods of reproduction and sizes.

In my next post, I’ll cover the process of Creating a Successful Brand Identity.

valsannaVal Sanna is the Creative Director and principal behind Ignition Design + Communications, a graphic design studio specializing in brand identity and communications design. His passion is helping position clients for success by creating clear, memorable, professional brands that get noticed and stand apart from their competition. For more information follow Val on Twitter or contact him at vsanna@ignitiondesign.ca

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