Business Strategy

Digital Funeral Eulogy

The funeral eulogy leaps into the digital age

The team at K2 Digital recently launched a new site,, for our customer Aurora Caskets. Increasingly people are choosing celebrations of life rather than traditional funeral services. This site allows you to capture key moments in your life in words and images, along with how you would like to Be Remembered after passing on. A funeral eulogy in the digital age. You can also write personalized emails to your friends and loved ones that will be released by your executor. is a very easy site to capture memories, bucket lists items still to be completed and completed.

Digital Funeral Eulogy

It’s always a hard thing to face our own mortality. Writing wills forces us to think about that and make sure our affairs are in order for those who we will leave behind some day. Contemplating the memories that matter to us and we would want to leave behind is similar, but it’s also an opportunity too to realize the great things that have happened in our lives and to be grateful for every moment we have with those that matter to us.

Business Innovation Economy

Bitcoins end game or change agent?

I’ve recently started tracking more closely the emergence of Bitcoins and even tried a bit of mining on my laptop. After spinning the fans up to full because of the work it was doing I decided that I was probably spending more on electricity and shortening the useful life of my laptop that it was not worth doing. Marc Andreesen recently gave a great overview on why this is a technology that is going to change everything for payments in the future in the New York Times.

A contrarian view to the bright picture from Andreessen is posited in this in depth analysis on CNET. Interestingly the Canadian Mint has recently launched a new payment system called MintChip. While the transactions are limited to $10 to presumably minimize risk while the nascent technology is rolled out, I’m sure we will quickly see the emergency of various digital currency systems supported also by governments. The CNET article points to some serious flaws in the BitCoin model today like anti-money laundering, the perhaps over hyped infallibility of the platform and many others.

All of this come at a time where Visa/MC are partnering with wireless carriers to support using the phone as the universal wallet, PayPal continues to evolve, Square and many other options keep coming. Far too early to see how this will pan out, but what an amazing disruption going on.

General Tech Innovation Economy

Canadian Tech Picks for 2014

Check out the picks from Ron Shuttleworth for 2014 in the latest CanTech Letter. 2013 was a banner year for his Canadian Tech small cap picks with mean returns of 171%! Despite the challenges of players like RIM, it appears the small cap tech sector is thriving including the recent investment from OMERS in Shopify giving an evaluation of over $1 Billion.


FiLIP for kids, wearables first killer app?

As much as I am fascinated by all things gadgets and the many smart watches that are popping up I have not really come across one that will make me give up my 10+ year old Tag Heuer. If it’s on my wrist its design matters a great deal to me and so far the big bulky smart watches that jam a bunch of features that add little, at least in my perceived sense, of convenience just don’t impress me much. They seem like gadgets for gadget sakes.

Then I came across the FiLIP, a “A wearable smart locator and phone for kids”. It basically packs the phone into the watch with a GPS enabling parents to track their kids by defining safe zones. If they are in a safe zone, like a school or a friend’s house that you knew they would be at, no worries. If they leave that zone though, the parents instantly get an alert. The child as well has instant access to parents or caregivers via a red button which calls parent configured call lists starting at the top and if no answer is received moves on to the next in the list. You can also send them text messages to let them know, “Time to come home for dinner!” There is no separate phone required. It’s all built into the watch.

This is a unique take on what wearables could actually do differently that would make the lives of parents a bit easier. Now how you convince a child though that the big green bracelet is cool and hip to wear is a whole other problem. But at least the functions make sense (for the parent). If FiLIP can nail the form factor so kids want to wear it and think it’s cool, I think they might have a winner on their hands.

Innovation Economy

CIX 2013 – Canadian Startups and Investors at MarsDD

This was my first year attending CIX 2013 and I was really impressed with the scale of the event, the number of  participants from both the investment community, incubators and startups. The auditorium at MarsDD was standing room only as the selected Top 20 startups presented their businesses to panels from the investment community. The breadth of companies from LMS (Learning Management Systems, a new acronym for me) to eHealth, video recognition processing, collaboration for hardware designing and the list goes on…. All of the presenters had seriously innovative solutions with real business models that are well on their way. And all made in Canada!

The breadth of investors in venture capital was also great to see. The smaller breakout sessions focusing on creating and building companies that last were backed by panelists from seed funding through to later stage funding. The advice was honest, open and encouraging to entrepreneurs. I was impressed by the willingness of founders that have gone before to offer angel investment and more importantly mentorship for the next wave of entrepreneurs even as they plot the next steps for themselves. The impact of the successful exits of many companies creates a viral community of people that have lived through a startup and know both success and failure. They are going on to found companies themselves. It really is where economic growth will come from and it is so important to foster and support businesses like these.

By the end of the day my mind was whirling with the possibilities of our innovation community in Canada and I can not wait to see who the next rising stars will be.

Crowd Funding

A great crowdfunding story!

Been following crowdfunding for a while now and fascinated by the whole model and how it can be used to test the most minimum of minimum viable products. Some how ever are starting to stretch credibility with whether they will ever produce the products that they have ideated. Coin for example has in interesting idea to consolidate your credit cards into one. They are currently looking to raise about $50,000 to get into production. But they are far from having something that you can use. It’s a neat idea, but perhaps too early in the early funding stage.

A local Toronto developer and friend, Craig Walker, recently decided to give crowd funding a try for his own project. He has been an avid 3D enthusiast for many years and created a 3D printed HTML5 buckle. Based on the feedback he received from his 3D printed version, he started looking into what it would cost to produce the buckles at larger scale. To overcome the startup costs and also just to see if he could generate interest he started a campaign on kickstarter to raise $5,000. It came down to the final hours, but he succeeded and raised the money and is now going into production and is hoping to have his first batch of buckles out before Christmas to early supporters.

After his campaign ended there were a number of people who were still interested in buying and he has now setup a shopify site to take further orders. Go check them out! For only $25 you are supporting a local developer, crowd funding, open source and of course your pants!

[dt_button size=”medium” animation=”none” color=”red” link=”” target_blank=”true”]Buy it[/dt_button]

Congratulations to Craig! Love to hear about any other personal crowd funding stories. Contact us and tell us about it!

Business Mobile Tech Strategy

Mobile payments – the battle for your whole wallet, not just your money

The first time I saw an NFC payment service was for a trial in a food court about ten years ago. I don’t recall who the solution was being provided by. They had signed up a number of the vendors in the food court in my office building to use the payment service which required the consumer to carry a key fob. It was not tied to a credit card but rather was a separate account to which money could be painfully transferred several days in advance. All so we could tap and go on transactions that were less than $10. Between credit cards, PDA’s, cell phones, cash, ID, keys for my car, keys for my house, my security card for parking, security card for the office my pockets were jammed full.

I looked at the person trying to sign me up and asked them why would I possibly want a thing like this? I could see the advantage for the merchant if it shortened the time spent at cash and kept people moving through the food court. But what was in it for me? Something else on my key chain? Well because you can just tap and go I was told. It works instantly? Well no it still goes through a dial-up terminal like a credit card to be authorized and approved. So out of my typical 45 seconds of waiting, I was shaving about 3 seconds from my time. Not a big reward for my key chain real estate.

Fast forward to 2013 and NFC smart cards have all been in Canadian wallets for a few years now. We regularly tap and go or insert the smart chip but now with an actual credit card rather than an intermediate step to connect funds to the payment method. Many of the terminals now are hooked up to high speed Internet access which results in authorizations taking mere seconds. My wallet still bulges though with multiple credit cards, driver’s license, health card, gift cards, memberships cards and many other things.

While I worked at Rogers I participated in an employee trial using NFC technology integrated into a mobile phone for mobile payment. This was a few years before they became so common place in most smartphones other than iOS. We could use them tied to a credit card initially only at the company cafeteria but then by select merchants near our office. It was amazingly simple, fast and I didn’t have to take out my wallet for anything. The same experience as using a smart credit card but I didn’t need the card any more. Just my phone which I have with me 24/7. A recent update at AndroidTO by David Robinson, VP Emerging Business at Rogers finally clicked the lights on.

The phone is the last ID you and I will ever need. All mobile devices are connected in a multitude of ways: NFC, Bluetooth Low Energy (4.0), WiFi and high speed mobile data (HSPA, LTE). An NFC enabled phone can take the place of every smart card in my wallet of which there are more coming in Canada as government and transit authorities also adopt the technology. The US has not followed the NFC path on credit card so things will take a different course south of the border where perhaps Beacon technologies based on BLE or WiFi check-ins will come of age sooner and skip NFC all together. In Canada, Europe and many other countries NFC is already in use. The infrastructure is there and very secure. There is no need to invent new methods of security, convince merchants to do it differently. It just works. Now.

Mobile payments are the wedge use case to change our wallets forever. It can be so much more than a credit card. It can communicate friend-to-friend to transfer cash, it can be placed on a reader at the subway station to let me on. There is nothing in my wallet now that can’t make its way to my smart phone. So what’s in it for me?

I don’t need to carry a wallet any more as well as a phone. I don’t even need to carry keys, security passes. The combination of technologies will support even automatic checkins on an opt-in basis which mean I never even have to take my phone out. As some of the conceptual videos from PayPal’s Beacon have already shown, I will also be instantly known to the establishment I enter and all of my preferences available to improve the service given to me.

My pockets are now lighter and my service experience so much more personalized. Sign, me, up!!!


Leaders, Link Passion to Paycheck!

Reminds me very much of the idea from The Monk Who Sold His Ferarri, “Link passion to paycheck.” How may have seen corporate mission statements focus on “creating shareholder value” or “be the number one supplier of widgets”? Certainly not inspiring and says a lot about what the measures of success in those organizations are all about. They seem written for investors rather than as points of inspiration around which corporate culture can be created. The idea that you can work for passion and as a result the right financial things will happen is too rare in corporate culture today, but hopefully is changing.

Check the article out on LinkedIn.