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Text from a speech I delivered at the first annual National Crowd Funding Summit on Tuesday March 3.


Good evening, and thank you all for sticking with me until the end of the day. And since I know that I’m the second last speaker between you and the cocktail hour, I will keep my comments brief.

I live in Kitchener-Waterloo. Last Friday morning, this was the headline of our local paper, The Record. Schneiders – the meat packers that have operated for 125 years – are shutting down their Kitchener operation. John Metz Schneider founded the company in 1886 after an accident at the button factory where he worked left him unemployed. He, his wife, and his mum began making sausages, and selling them door to door. It was an 1880’s start-up, which thrived, grew, survived the great depression and became one of the largest meat producers in Canada. J.M. Schneider was an entrepreneur who started a company, and transformed his local economy in the process.


And last Friday Maple Leaf Meats, who have owned Schneiders for the last decade, shuttered the doors in Kitchener. The paper was full of images from that day.

The last rack of bologna.

The last package of sliced bologna making it’s way down the conveyor.   Incidentally, this particular package is going to the local museum.   I know there’s a joke in there about preserved sausage…

This story does have a silver lining. It’s about the march of technology. The production from Kitchener is being taken up by a new state-of-the-art factory in Hamilton, where robotic sausage makers will be able to output six times as many sausages per worker as the aging Kitchener infrastructure.

This next photograph was taken inside the remains of the Kitchener Frame plant on Homer Watson Boulevard. Kitchener Frame, or as it was known when I first moved into the area in the 1980’s as Budd Automotive, made automobile frames and bodies. It was a product of the 1967 auto pact that permitted US autos to be sold in Canada, provided that as many cars as were sold here were manufactured here.   Budd took advantage of the auto pact, purchased a plot of land for 300,000 dollars, and hired 700 people to build car frames.


This sprawling 50-hectare site prospered in the 1970’s and 80’s. You could drive by on any day and see railway cars stacked full of frames for AMC, GM, Ford, Mercedes and Chrysler. Subdivisions grew up around it. Budd transformed the local economy through entrepreneurship.

In the late 1990’s a series of expensive plant upgrades, followed by cancelled contracts as automotive manufacturing moved offshore, resulted in disastrous losses, layoffs, and ultimately the closure of the plant.

Right now, in an act of urban renewal, this massive iconic site is being dismantled to make way for a new industrial, commercial and retail site.

Our economy is in the throes of change. Yes, it has been said before, but it has never been more apparent than today, when the shock of falling oil revenues from the prairies, confront the reality that revenues from the shrinking manufacturing sector in the heartland of Canada can’t make up the difference

This next photograph is where I hang out most days. This is the Communitech Hub, and Microsoft has a space here. Communitech is an industry organization like MaRS here in Toronto. Communitech works with about 1,000 local technology companies, and provides co-working space, space for the Velocity, Launchpad, and REV incubators and accelerators, event space, and more. It’s a space for today’s generation of entrepreneurs – today’s J.M. Schneiders – today’s start-up founders.


This is a pretty cool site. And the story of the site is just as cool.

In 1849, Reinhold Lang came to Berlin Ontario (which is modern day Kitchener) and with his son George established a small tannery. The Lang Tanning Company then went on to become the largest producer of sole leather in the British Empire. During the First World War, Lang Tanning also produced saddle leather. During the Second World War, it supplied sole leather and leather linings for aircraft gasoline tanks.

Reinhold Lang was an entrepreneur too. In fact, it’s likely that he bought hides from J.M. Schneider for his tanning business – an 1880’s version of what we in our industry today would call an ecosystem. Reinhold Lang understood the transformative power of starting a business, and built a local economy that supported families, businesses, restaurants and more.

The Lang Tannery was put under by the rise of synthetic materials. The building survived however, and today its high ceilings and exposed brick are a fantastic environment for a new breed of entrepreneurs – technology entrepreneurs.

In fact, that entire part of the Kitchener downtown, which used to be dominated by factories producing rubber, felt, tires, leather, buttons, hockey skates and shoes, is now being transformed by today’s tech start-ups into desirable urban living and working spaces with restaurants, offices, bars, galleries and entertainments.

It’s an example of the transformative power of start-ups in our economy.   And you see it everywhere across Canada, whether it’s in Kitchener-Waterloo, the old harbour in Montreal, King West and Liberty Village in Toronto, or downtown Vancouver. We are changing the economy, one neighbourhood at a time.

Some of you may be aware that I’ve only been with Microsoft for the past month. My role is to work with the Canadian Start-up Community. So for the last few weeks I’ve been speaking with start-ups, investors, angel groups and community organizations like MaRS and Communitech. In these conversations there is no topic where there is more difference of opinion than the topic of financing. Some say there isn’t enough. Some say there’s plenty. Some say it’s not there at the right stage.

In 2014, $1.9 billion was invested in Canadian start-ups. In fact, we’ve seen year over year increases in investment since 2008, and it wasn’t so long ago that annual Canadian venture investments were less than half what we saw last year. It looks like a great time to build a company, right?

For context, last year US venture investors financed 3,900 startups, and invested around $29 billion. A nation with ten times the population of ours financed 10 times as many companies, and while investment rounds were larger than here, US start-ups don’t have the same advantages economically that we do – programs like SRED, FedDev, and of course the benefits that come from living in Canada – like Universal Health Care – that start-ups in the Valley have to pay for out of pocket.


You can see from this map that the economic benefits of the start-up economy are spread across the country too. Of course there are large centers in BC, Ontario and Quebec. Those are the most densely populated areas.   British Columbia is dramatically punching above it’s weight with almost half as many start-ups as Ontario, and more than 50% of the funds raised, despite having just 1/3 of the population.   And of course, you can see the impact that oil production has had on venture-funded innovation in Alberta – money is going to oil there, not tech.

So is there enough funding? Well, there’s definitely a gap. Innovation in fundraising, like crowdfunding for example, may pave the way to closing that gap. And, of course, the US Venture industry itself is beginning to take note of what’s happening here and starting to finance Canadian innovators. For example, Kik Interactive raised another $38 million last November, in a round led by San Francisco based Valiant Capital Partners.


Here’s another take on whether there’s enough funding. Los Angeles based VC Mark Suster put together this chart in 2012 to explain how the cost of launching a start-up had fallen so dramatically.

  • In the year 2000, starting an internet company meant buying expensive proprietary servers from a company like Sun Microsystems, or IBM, and kitting them out with proprietary software.
  • By 2005, open source, combined with low cost commodity hardware, cut that cost by a factor of 10.
  • Just four years later, the ability to purchase fractional cycles of commodity servers from cloud providers cut that cost by a factor of 10 again.
  • And then entrepreneurship programs at schools like Waterloo and Stanford taught skilled developers how to build companies in their spare time… you didn’t even need to raise money to pay a staff anymore. You could just bootstrap, and still build a product.

So it has never been cheaper, never been easier to start a company. And that’s true whether you’re based in Waterloo, Toronto, Bangalore, Shanghai, or Capetown.

And it has never been more exciting to be part of this start-up economy, because every one of those businesses, in small and large ways, can contribute to the local economy, and can transform the lives of the people around you.   Seriously! Whether you’re Ted Livingston trying to take on WeChat from his headquarters in Waterloo, or my Shanghai-based friend Jonah Lin who built his company MMMOOO over the last five years, in communist china, that supports 30 people and their families to build apps… entrepreneurs like you, in this room, are starting companies, and transforming economies.

I told you earlier that I worked for Microsoft, and that my job is to work with start-ups in Canada. Many of you in this room, like me, probably didn’t think that Microsoft was doing much in Canada with Start-ups. Probably unlike many of you, however, I picked up the phone and gave them a call, and offered my help. Yes… I have a bit of an ego. They took me up on my offer… and that’s how I ended up here, talking to you about start-ups and the power of start-ups to transform economies.

And I have to eat a little crow. It turns out Microsoft has quite a history of working with innovative start-ups. In 2008 we launched BizSpark, which is a program that gives start-ups $150/mo of free credit on Azure (our cloud service), plus free software and tools like MSDN subscriptions and Office365. And qualifying high consumption start-ups can get up to $60,000 annually in Azure credit under the BizSpark + program. The Imagine Cup is a contest for Student Entrepreneurs as well, and of course we have over 100 Microsoft Innovation Centres, we partner with over 200 local accelerators, and we have actually got 7 Microsoft Ventures Accelerators as well.


And, the local team here in Canada has partnered with over 2,800 start-ups for BizSpark and Microsoft Azure.

So we do a lot with start-ups. We’re just uncharacteristically humble about talking about them. Who would have thought?

How many of you have heard about the Canadian Narwhal club? No? Maybe you’ve heard about the so-called Unicorn Club? Unicorns are start-ups incorporated since 2000 with a worth of more than $1 billion. This label was created by the Wall Street Journal to describe the hyper successful start-ups of today. I’m sure you know a few – like Uber, and AirBnB. At the end of last year there were about 40 in the United States.

Well, the good folks over at Galbraith Capital in Vancouver coined a term for a Canadian “unicorn”. A Narwhal. Personally, I like it. Narwhal’s are actually real!

In any case, Galbraith singled out 4 Canadian companies with value of more than $1 billion for that honour (there goes that 10% ratio again!) – Avigilon, HootSuite, Shopify and Slack. Even more interesting to me was the list of up and coming Narwhals that Galbraith put out – companies like Desire2Learn, RealMatters, and PointClickCare. Last week we took that list of Narwhal’s and Up and Coming Narwhal’s and compared them to the list of companies that we work with at Microsoft Canada. It turns out a very large percentage of them are partnered with us in one of the start-up programs that we run.

So the next time someone says “I’m from Microsoft and I’m here to help”… try not to laugh OK? It turns out we have a pretty good track record of helping.

And if you’d like to speak to us about how we can help, we’ve sponsored the cocktail hour this evening, and there will be a few of us cruising around there. So come and drink our liquor, socialize with the other attendees, and if you’re so inclined chat with us about what we can do to help you realize your goals.

I’ll leave you with one last thought. I started off by talking about J.M. Schneider – a man who sold sausages door to door in his neighbourhood, and in the process built one of the largest meat packing business in our country. And I ended this talk by talking about companies like HootSuite, and Desire2Learn. We are a nation of entrepreneurs, and we have been for our entire history, whether we’re making sausages, shoes, car parts, mobile phones or software. We’ve had some economic shocks recently, but it’s through entrepreneurship that we will recover from those shocks. And it’s never been a better time than now to build a company. So hat’s off to you, whether your ambition is to build a great local restaurant, a socially relevant non-profit, or the next Narwhal. And hats off to the funders in this room, who are backing this generation of entrepreneurs!

Always remember that the work that you do, and the companies that you start, are the most transformative and powerful force in our economy today.

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Jim Balsillie on Innovation in Canada

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail published an op-ed by former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie on Canada’s innovation economy.   Titled “A Tale of Two Economies and Two Headlines“,  Balsillie makes the case for why Canada needs different infrastructure to support commercialization of intangible products such as intellectual property – infrastructure that is different from that required to support resource and mineral commercialization.

He writes:

“In the past 32 years, growth in Canada’s commercialization of our ideas, often measured by “multi-factor productivity,” has been virtually zero. During that same time, U.S. multi-factor productivity has soared.”


“Our schools and incubators need to teach and value commercialization better. Our public institutions need a policy plan for Canadian ideas commercialization. Existing federal and provincial industrial programs need to invest in it, and public-private sector collaboration structures need to begin addressing it on a priority basis.”

Over the last few weeks I’ve met with many entrepreneurs and investors as part of my early work within the Canadian innovation economy on behalf of Microsoft.  Many bemoan the gap, noting that at the Series A financing round, most Canadian startups either flame-out, sell-out, or move-out — and “out” means to Silicon Valley where the innovation ecosystem is more fully developed than it is here.

What’s your point of view?  If you run a startup in Canada, what are the most pressing issues confronting you?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, on twitter, or via email.

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Some answers

First, thanks to everyone who wrote yesterday here, on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to say congratulations.  It’s exciting for me to be back to work, working for a company I respect and know, and working in Canada.  I’ve spent my morning at the Communitech Hub, and all morning long people have been dropping by to introduce themselves.

I intend to spend most of my time interacting directly with entrepreneurs in the start-up community.  I don’t have an office, but you’ll be able to find me two or three days a week at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener.  Microsoft has a space there, and it seems like the best place to hang out.   So if you’re around, drop by and say Hi!  Or ask questions about Bizspark, or the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program.  I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.  And we’re working on getting a few more local Microsoft employees to hang out here part time as well — it’s certainly better than braving the traffic on the 401 to Microsoft’s Canadian HQ in Mississauga.

I’ll also get out to Toronto, and other start-up centres through Canada as I’m able.

Some things are going to change, and I’m not just talking about my business card.

BlackBerry fans have asked if I’ll keep using a BlackBerry phone.  I’m sorry to say, no.  I’ve been issued a brand new Nokia phone, and it will become my main device as soon as I can port my phone number over. Similarly, my Mac is going to be replaced with a Windows laptop running Windows 8.1.  I will continue to use BBM, but until BlackBerry ports BBM Channels to Windows Phone, my BBM channel is going to lie fallow.

One intriguing question I spotted on CrackBerry was about cross platform development tools.  While I’m personally in favour of portable application development frameworks for HTML5, or portable platforms like Qt and tools like Cordova, unlike my time as a BlackBerry employee, I don’t have any direct influence over tool development programs.  And, I suspect that Microsoft’s large evangelism team has already reached out to those folks.

Once again, thanks for the welcome and good wishes.  And drop by the hub for a chat.


My Next Chapter

It’s a fantastic time to start a company. Whether you’re a kid with a laptop on a beach in Brazil building mobile applications, or a Silicon Valley student with access to a 3D printer, it’s never been less expensive to get going, and more efficient to reach global markets.

At BlackBerry, I witnessed first hand the power of start-ups to effect transformation. I’m not just talking about the massive transformation that an Uber or Facebook represents. I met dozens of entrepreneurs around the world who all said the same thing — starting companies had changed their lives by creating opportunities and helping them to contribute to their local economies.

So over the last few months I have thought a lot about getting more directly involved in the start-up world. Two goals have shaped my thinking – I want to engage with start-ups, but not necessarily run one, and I want to stay local.

So why not run a start-up? I’ve founded three companies in my career, and been part of several other start-ups. Rather than found another company, I want to apply some of what I have learned to help other founders – to scale the knowledge I’ve acquired beyond simply doing another start-up myself.

Perhaps one of the best places to do that, right now, is here in Canada, especially in Kitchener-Waterloo. That’s why I want to stay local.

Kitchener-Waterloo is home to over 500 start-ups. It has three institutions of higher learning (University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga Polytechnic), an active investor community (the Golden Triangle Angel Network is one prominent investment group), multiple accelerators (Velocity, Waterloo Innovation Network, and the Accelerator Centre are several) and fantastic support from municipal governments. And of course, there’s Communitech.  Communitech is the glue that binds all the region’s startup commercialization activities together, in addition to helping mid-size and enterprise tech companies grow and succeed.  Kitchener-Waterloo is also close to Toronto, Canada’s largest financial center and business market. Kitchener-Waterloo may be the perfect “primordial soup” for early stage companies – something like Silicon Valley must have been 50 years ago.

Some of you reading this may know that I once worked for Microsoft. Despite being away from Microsoft for 14 years, my experiences there provided some of the most enduring lessons of my career — lessons that I have relied on daily in every role I’ve held since. Those lessons range from campaign mechanics, to management, culture, scale and execution. As many of my former staff at BlackBerry will tell you, we often took lessons from Microsoft and applied them to great effect.

So it was natural that one of the first companies I reached out to after leaving BlackBerry would be Microsoft. As of last Monday, I’ve rejoined Microsoft in the role of Principal Technical Evangelist. My beat is Canada – not just Kitchener-Waterloo. My boss is Microsoft Chief Evangelist and Corporate Vice President for Developer Experience, Steven “Guggs” Guggenheimer. I’m part of the global Microsoft Ventures team. And we run programs, like the Microsoft Ventures Accelerators, that are focused on helping early stage companies achieve their full potential.

If you’d like to know more, join us at the Communitech Hub In Kitchener-Waterloo on February 12th for a Collision Day and celebration of Microsoft Canada as Communitech’s newest partner.

Now, who wants to get started?


bitHound wants to help you write better code.

You may have seen last Monday’s announcement that Kitchener-based bitHound has taken $2 million in investment, led by Michael Wekerle. Monday afternoon I dropped by bitHound’s offices to meet with two of bitHound’s co-founders Dan Silivestru and Gord Tanner, and find out what all the excitement was about.

bitHound’s value proposition is pretty simple. To quote from bitHound’s cofounder and CEO, Dan Silivestru:

“It’s not hard to write code. But it is hard to write high-quality, maintainable software. Our goal is to become a trusted member of a development team, providing valuable insights and actionable recommendations leading to great software.”

The demo I saw was still pretty early stage, but it made it very clear the ambitions of the company. Through code analysis, they want to provide a roadmap for a software solution’s quality to both developers and management.

As Dan explained, bitHound’s engine considers diverse factors like code complexity, how often code in a particular file is touched, bug density and other factors in order to ascertain the quality of the code. bitHound can then point out potential trouble spots to developers. Currently, this product is available to JavaScript developers, hosted on GitHub, and looking to improve code quality, increase delivery cadence and reduce the number of bug encounters. Developers can sign up for early beta access today. In the future, bitHound will also be able to deliver insights such as the likelihood of on time delivery by considering factors such as the newness of the code versus the historical accuracy of prior estimates.

Lofty goals, but if achieved, immensely valuable.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
– George Orwell, 1984 

Reading John Gruber’s Native Apps Are Part of the Web feels like reading a George Orwell novel.  Gruber argues that native apps are simply alternative interfaces to HTML, but that they both connect to the same back-end.  Therefore, they are part of the web.  What he’s describing is a client-server app, which was the predecessor model to web applications.  As an industry we abandoned the client-server model in the late 1990’s because web applications were less expensive to build, more maintainable, and less brittle over the long-term.

John says “users love apps”.  True, unless they’re not available on the users platform of choice.  Take, for example, recent flights that I’ve been on where in flight entertainment systems have been replaced by iPads and streaming video.  What if you don’t have an iPad?  The helpful folks at the airlines will rent you an iPad for your trip.  I know I love shelling out extra cash to airlines to watch a movie.

“Developers love apps”, Gruber writes.  It’s true that developers love the revenue opportunities from apps, but they don’t love the fragmentation that multiple proprietary platforms require – APIs, marketplaces, media formats, etc.  As a developer, your choice is to invest three or four times as much to have apps on multiple platforms as a single HTML app would cost; provided of course that all platform vendors implemented HTML5 to a consistent level.  And they don’t.  Sigh… feels like Netscape vs Microsoft in 1995, doesn’t it?

The promise of HTML5 was that we could finally get to a unified and rich app model across all operating systems.  Too bad that didn’t happen.

No, those who love native apps the most are the platform vendors. Apps make customers sticky to platforms.  Apps are the walled garden that deny users freedom of choice.

Welcome to AOL… circa 1994.


Excuse the dust

You might have noticed that the blog is looking a little different.  I’m updating the theme to the latest version of Thesis (2.1) which is not completely compatible with Thesis 1.8.  That’s what I used to build this blog originally.

Anyhow, now that I’m outside of BlackBerry, and not subject to the usual oversight that a corporation might demand of a blogger, it’s my intention to get back to writing here on a regular basis.

There are just a few cracks in the plaster in the meantime.

Alec, Chris and Marty at Jam Asia

In September of 2011, I sat down with the BlackBerry Developer Relations team, after being introduced as their new leader. I vividly remember telling the group that opportunities like BlackBerry 10 only come along rarely in a person’s career; that we were all going to work harder than we had ever worked before; that we were going to learn from each other; that it would be a roller coaster to get there; and that once BlackBerry 10 had launched, we would all look back on that experience as a “career defining moment”. They gave me their support and loyalty and we accomplished truly remarkable things in the two and half years until launch.

As you know, times and business circumstances change. Sometime between now and November 3 will be my last day at BlackBerry and QNX.

A number of folks have expressed regrets, or said they were sorry. No need. During my time at BlackBerry and QNX, we’ve achieved significant business results, built lasting friendships, created hundreds of fantastic memories, and learned lessons that we couldn’t have learned anywhere else. These are far more important to me than a pay check, and I look back on what the company and our teams accomplished over the last three years with pride.

How about growing from just 16,000 applications in BlackBerry World to 265,000 in two and half years? That’s a 1,650% improvement. To get there, we had to grow our developer base from 7,600 to over 70,000. We orchestrated programs in 44 countries, built three generations of dev-alpha handsets, and seeded over 40,000 devices in 18 months.

Or how about going from zero to launch with Project Ion, including recruiting a team of 8 people, in just 90 days? Nearly 1,000 companies signed up for early access to information on Project Ion as a result.

Numbers aside, my favorite part of the last three years has been the people I worked with.

  • During the BlackBerry 10 launch, my team of 200, the Global Alliances team, the BlackBerry App World team, the amazing engineering and sales teams, and our unflappable PR teams.
  • Of course, the tiny Project Ion team, plus all of the fantastic folks at QNX who welcomed me back for a third stint at the company and pitched in to help with the Project Ion launch and marketing afterward.
  • And how about the legions of BlackBerry fans and developers I’ve met? You know who you are… BlackBerry Hank, Morten, CrackBerry Kevin, Jerome… to name just a few. I met thousands of you over the last three years. It’s impossible to name all of you, but know that you made my work rewarding and memorable.

We worked hard, but we also played hard too. Whether it was recording goofy music videos, the “Leap of Faith” at the Stratosphere hotel, or eating roasted bugs to encourage developer teams to fix software bugs, there was always time for a few laughs on the way to achieving our goals.

So I leave with a light heart, and best wishes for today’s BlackBerry team. I know that turning BlackBerry’s business around will take heart, gumption, and hard work. I have faith that you will succeed, and I wish that you may look back on this period as one of your own “career defining moments”.

And just as I promised my team in September of 2011, you have individually and together — every one of you BlackBerry employees, BlackBerry developers, BlackBerry customers, and BlackBerry fans — given me the gift of three years of “career defining moments”.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for that.


I just got the  following email from Morten Lindstrom — my friend who’s running a fundraiser to save his wife Nicole’s life.  She suffers from sickle cell anemia.  Anyway, long story short, he’s put together a raffle of a new BlackBerry Passport for anyone making a donation of $20 or more. Details below…


A BIG Thank you, for helping with our fundraiser!

Here are some important information, and opportunities for you:

With all your help, we have managed to get access to better medication, that has given us some more time, and we now have a good chance of reaching our goal and be able to get the proper treatment and care to save Nicole’s life before it is to late!

But not all is good.

Nicole had to do a immediate surgery the other day, which turned out to be unsuccessful. A next attempt will be done soon, but her body cannot handle it just yet. So time is ticking and running out.

As of today, we have managed to raise a total of $17.300, so the road ahead to $40.000 is shorter than before, but still have a distance left. And because of recent added problems she got, we might even have to reach more than the planned 40.000

With your help, we also have gotten a pretty good exposure, and 7100 has visited the fundraiser website, although – most only were curious and looking around, but a total of 261 donated before leaving the page.


In appreciation of all those who have donated, and to help drive our fundraiser, we have decided to do a raffle.

All donations of $20 or above, will be counted as a “ticket” in the draw, and you can have as many tickets as you want, by doing more donations.

The draw will be held as soon as the fundraiser reaches it target of $40.000

And the prize, will be a brand new unlocked BlackBerry Passport device, with free shipping!

As you might know, the Passport will be launched officially on September 24th, so we will have to wait until the device is available before being able to ship it.

If you already have donated, don’t worry, your donation (if $20 or more) will be part of the draw, but please feel free to get more tickets.

The winner will receive email to the same address used for the winning donation ticket.

About the donations done via PayPal, we have a minor challenge, that You might be able to help solve.

PayPal automatically have a “hold” on any funds for 30 days, before releasing and making available for transfer to our account. To avoid this, every payment must be marked as “Confirm Receipt”, (that is what PayPal told me it say). To do this, You must, After you do the payment, logg back in to your PayPal account, find the transaction, perhaps you must even click on it, and there should be an option to click to “Confirm”. When that is done, the funds would be released already after 30-60 minutes.

To make things even easier to donate, we have set up 2 Fundraiser sites, one that is preferred if you use PayPal, and one if you use normal Credit card.

The websites are:



A good friend even wrote about our fundraiser in his blog:


So please, if you can help us more, getting more exposure, or contributions, please see what you can do.


Morten & Nicole


What are friends for?

“Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.” Franz Schubert, the composer, apparently wrote that.

Three years ago I joined BlackBerry. Since that time I’ve connected with and befriended many of the BlackBerry community, especially the developer community. It’s a tight knit and fantastic group.

One of those folks is Morten Lindstrom, a Norwegian guy who somehow found himself living in Trinidad. I’ve met him at countless events, and we invited him to be one of our BlackBerry Elites.   He’s a thoughtful, sweet guy, who always has ways to help BlackBerry succeed in the Caribbean.

Aside from the fact that the Caribbean is gorgeous, I could never figure out why he chose to live there. Trinidad is hardly the center of the tech universe, after all. He moved there to help people. As he said to me “The Caribbean being a developing region, with many smaller countries, it allows a small man like myself to bring knowledge, experience and energy from the outside world in to this region, and even a small man’s work can make a big impact. Being able to guide and empower the youth would require so many more resources abroad, much more than we alone could manage. Just being able to every day feel that my work has done good for somebody – it is all worth it.”

That’s why he, and his Jamaican born wife Nicole, live in Trinidad.  To give back.

I’ve recently learned that Nicole suffers from sickle cell anemia. She’s dying.

There is treatment available in the United States, however. To buy that treatment, Morten has raised a whopping $250,000 from insurance, from his personal funds, bank loans and folks in his local community.

However, Nicole is too weak to travel to the United States to be treated. Morten is trying to raise an additional $40,000 to fund a local specialist to build up her body strength, to fund the travel, and to get her to the treatment she needs.

I tweeted about this when I learned about. My twitter peeps (mostly BlackBerry folks) collectively raised $4,640. Thank you. That’s a good start but obviously not enough.

You all know I like challenges, whether it’s recording goofy music videos, or jumping off tall buildings attached to a rope.   So here’s my challenge to you.

Personally, I have donated $200. Here’s what else I will do: I will donate another $250 when the campaign reaches $10,000, $250 more when the campaign reaches $20,000, $250 more when it reaches $30,000 and $250 more when we achieve the $40,000 target. That’s another $1,000 I’ll contribute.

Morten also offered to work, if anyone wants to hire him.   Unfortunately, I can’t hire him, otherwise I would.  If anyone wants to hire, I’m sure that would be appreciated.

So please take up the challenge, join me in helping my friend Morten and his true friend, his wife, Nicole.  Click to visit Morten’s fundraising page.

Note: I met Morten while employed by BlackBerry, but he’s my friend and this appeal appears on my personal blog page. It is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by BlackBerry.