I Have A Passion For Entrepreneurship, GREAT Program Showcase (Slides & Script)

February 4, 2015

Update – Sept 19, 2015 – the live video of this talk is available here.

Here are slides & script for the “I Have A Passion For Entrepreneurship”, Pecha Kucha Presentation, I gave on January 29, 2015 as part of Genomics Entrepreneurship UBCs GREAT Program Showcase.

note: The text for each slide is shown in the notes section of slideshare.

Full Text – 20 seconds per page/point

  • #1. I have a passion for entrepreneurship because it’s about people. And I care about people. It’s people, like you & me, who buy stuff. We, and our wallets, are ultimately the judges of entrepreneurial success. Entrepreneurship is about New Ways of serving people. Today and in the future.
  • #2. In Existing Markets, we want to be served with “Better, Faster, and Cheaper” versions of products, and services, we already know. For example, I have an iPhone 4s and I want and need the iPhone 6 because “it’s better, faster, and cheaper.”
  • #3 This is an Existing Market. It’s the place to be, and there is tons of money in Existing Markets. So it sounds like, if you’re an entrepreneur, all you need to do is make the iPhone 7. Super Easy. Right?
  • # 4. Well no. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs rarely succeed in Existing Markets. “Better, Faster and Cheaper” is not what entrepreneurs do. The big companies, like Apple, get to make their own sequels.
  • #5. Entrepreneurs create New Market Segments like Apple did with the original iPhone and iPod. These did not exist before. That means Entrepreneurs build version 1 products with the hope that people will want versions 2, 3, 4, 5, …
  • #6. This sounds very risky. Yes, It is. Most entrepreneurs fail. Even with Apple’s immense success few people bought version 1, or 2, of the iPhone and the earlier iPod. Raise your hands if you bought version 1 of the iPhone. {delay} Yah, I didn’t. It’s my experience that most people bought in with versions 3 or 4 ( like I did).
  • #7. The trouble with Creating New Market Segments isn’t the technology. It’s the people. Very few people buy version 1 of anything. The entrepreneurs real job is finding people who care, developing a relationship with them for versions 2, 3, 4, 5. … and so on. The sequels. That’s where the money is.
  • #8. And now the Sad Part. This is a lot of work and takes time. Most evidence suggests that it takes 3-to–5 years for a New Segment to become a money making Existing Market. That is a long sentence “3-to–5 years” … So … You’ve got to have an noble goal & lots of passion for it to get through that time.
  • #9. Many people will agree that this is realistic, and some of you will disagree. But many of you will ask me, “but Iain why do most of BC’s Billion Dollar successes like Botox, QLT, Westport, MDA, and your PMC-Sierra all take more than 5 years to become part of Existing Markets?”
  • #10. Because, Brand New Markets have a huge “People Problem”. It takes a long time for raw technology to connect with people. For example, people don’t want “transistors”, people want a transistor radio to listen to music and dance.
  • #11. In 1989, I was making chips for data communications at PMC-Sierra. One one hand that was genius. We were building chips for the Internet. On the other hand, the Internet didn’t exist yet. In fact the word Internet didn’t exist yet. (There was no market yet.) We were 5 years to early. What a stupid idea {laughing} We were in for a long journey.
  • #12. It was not straight-forward. The journey had no map, no boat, and no oars. We had to build everything from scratch. We messed up thousands of times. It was fun and many times it was TERRIFYING. But it was worth it, in the end.
  • #13. Yes. Entrepreneurship can be terrifying. There is a lot of anxious self – dialog – Will anyone care about my new idea? When will someone care? No understands what I’m talking about! My parents think I’m crazy to work on this. My friends think I’m crazy to work on this. I’m beginning to think I’m crazy.
  • #14 And then the “Rays of Hope” appear {laughing}. The entrepreneurial “New Segment” becomes an “Existing Market”. That’s when entrepreneurs can finally explain to their friends and family what it is that they really do.
  • #15. One of my favorite conversations was with my mom around 1996, that was about 7 years into PMC-Sierra, because I could finally connect something she that was doing in the real world with the products that our company was making.
  • #16. I got to say, “Mom that e-mail that you love so much. I’m actually a part of that. Your e-mail hits one of my ”chips“ every time you hit send. In fact every person on earth hits my chips when they send an e-mail.”
  • # 17. That was such a great moment. I made a difference for her. An entrepreneur made a difference for a real person in the real world.
  • #18. Our company survived and by 1998 we finally cracked $100M in sales. It took ten years. {wow}
  • #19. That journey started with new technology and a “New Market Segment” called The Internet. It took many years for the world to learn what the Internet was. The more we learned, the bigger the Internet market grew. And today we want it “Better, Faster, and Cheaper”, …. and on a mobile device. Wow. It’s amazing what the Internet has become.
  • #20. So, what’s next? The question for the future entrepreneurs in the room is, “Whose problem are you going to solve?” because that is the first step on your entrepreneurial journey. Thank You. {smile}

Reading Review – Best of 2014 – Piketty, Klein, Osterwalder, Pigneur, & Botton

December 21, 2014

Here is a quick review of my 2014 readings and recommendations. The lists, in each section, are in priority order.

(Note that many of these books are pre-2014. My criteria is that I read the book in 2014.)

Quick —”Best Of The Year”

Thomas Piketty, Capital, and Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything, blew my mind. These are mind altering books on Wealth and Climate Change.

Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur’s Value Proposition Design, took entrepreneurship books to “eleven”. Great job guys.

Alain de Botton’s, Art as Therapy, provided me with a new way to view art.

Important Reads

  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty — The most important part of this book is the data on public and private wealth. In my reading there seems to be consensus that the data is the best we have and most of the stir is What to do about this data? There is no question that the data is shocking. The CBC is a good starting place.
      On the “non-political” side of things, this book has tremendous business application, especially for marketers and market sizing exercises. The data presented shows a dramatic change in demographics and projects deeper change. Companies need to actively react to this change, if they haven’t already done so. I would guess that Apple’s deepening move towards luxury goods is informed by these trends. They believe in market share measured in “$ shipped” instead of market share in “units shipped”.
  • This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
    by Naomi Klein — If you want to know what the “Climate Change” movement is “doing and saying” in 2014 then read this. It does not disappoint. It explains the recent #blockadia movement and “First Nations” positions. If you don’t believe in “Climate Change” then you will hate this book. More here … Naomi Klein wins 2014 Hilary Weston Prize | CBC.
      My favorite part is in Chapter 9. Blockadia. It’s the story of Lummi carvers traveling ~1,300km over 16 days to 8+ communities with a 22 foot totem pole strapped to a flatbed truck. They finally permanently planted the pole in North Vancouver. more

Fun — Fiction

  • Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Precious Little Life – Colour Version by Bryan Lee O’Malley — This is a great series. The colour version is a good reason to re-read it.
  • A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • Wise Mans Fear by Patrick Rothfuss — this is the second book.
  • Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fun — Non-Fiction

  • Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent by Douglas Coupland — There is a positive interview in IEEE Spectrum and an negative interview in the Globe & Mail. In a nutshell engineers will like this book. He knows us well, as shown before in Microserfs and jPod. I was surprised that he only dedicated a couple sentences to EDFAs. To me these “Optical Amplication” devices are pure magic. (thx M. Spooner for the tip)
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield — Fantastic!
  • On Writing Stephen King — Very useful and an entertaining read. ( thx to review by Brain Pickings )
  • The Swerve: How the World Became Modern By Stephen Greenblatt — Here is review by Brain Pickings (thx T. Lawrence for the tip)

Business — Startups & Innovation

  • Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur — An instant Classic. Get this now.
  • Talking To Humans by Gif Constable — A very useful extension of Gif Constable’s blog posts discussing Customer Discovery Interviews. (thx to @denisewithers for tip)
  • Startup Boards by Brad Feld — an Awesome Resource for Young Startup CEOs ( and those in Training )
  • Brand Thinking by Debbie Millman — This is great Branding Immersion for Engineers. (It’s About People guys. )
  • To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink — This is a great introduction to sales for Scientists & Engineers or those who believe “Sales is the Dark Side”.
  • No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush by Gideon Lewis-Kraus
  • Ingenious: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig — ( thx to @sgsblank for the tip)


  • Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics Hallam Stevens — I’ve been doing a lot of work with Genomics groups and this book really helped me get up to speed. ( thx @sgsblank. )

Health & Spirituality

  • Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong — Fascinating book. (thx Brainpickings review )
  • So Far From Home by Margaret J. Wheatley — highly recommended. (thx to B. Ross for the tip)
  • Blue Nights by Joan Didion. Not sure if I can call this fun. It is a great read wrt/ parenting.
  • Anatomy Of An Illness by Norman Cousins — If you’re living with a chronic illiness, this old book is still relevant.
  • Jewel Tree Of Tibet by Robert Thurman
  • Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
  • Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong
  • Lying by Sam Harris

Thank You For The Great Experience in Kenya!

September 21, 2014

– updated December 16 with revised “UBC SSE 2014 Video”
– updated November 28 with “Final Day Presentations”
– updated October 29 with “UBC SSE 2014 video”

I’d like to give a big “Thank You” to Frances Chandler for putting on a great show in Kenya this summer. I hope that all future trips are as successful.

My trip to Kenya with UBC Sauder Social Entrepreneurship (UBC SSE) this summer was fantastic.

Below is a summary of the trip — Photos, Blog Posts, Partner Links, And UBC SSE Links.



What Happened in the Classroom?

  • Final Day Presentations — A collection of all the “Final Day Presentations” — Business Model Canvas, Plan-of-Record, and Financial Summary.


Favorite 5 Blog Posts

Partners in Kenya

UBC SSE ( Sauder Social Entrepreneurship )

First Ten Days in Africa With UBC Social Entrepreneurship

August 5, 2014

Kenya is not a simple place.

It’s beautiful.

We went to the Nairobi National Park to see incredibly beautiful animals. We saw Lions, Wildebeest, Giraffes, Secretary Bird, Heart Beast, Elan, Thomson Gazelle, Wart hogs, Rhinoceros, Hippo, and more. It was wonderful. Way better than on TV or photos. The smell was unlike anything I’ve experienced. Over the top beautiful.

2014 08 03 Lion 3

It’s a mess.

The slums are a collage of garbage, rubble, corrugated metal, rope, and “mystery materials”. It is hard for a Canadian to actually look at it. It is also very hard for a Canadian to listen to the slum people talk about their beautiful home neighbourhood (especially Mathare). I’m getting used to it and beginning to see the features they love. It’s kind of like a beehive where they need all the people around them. They love the sound and smell. I’m still exploring this and don’t really understand it.

It’s densely populated.

There are tons of people and cars. The traffic is bumper to bumper. There are times when our drivers turn off the car and we wait for 15 minutes to get going. The people density is thick downtown, it gets denser in Kibera, it gets even denser in Mathare, and then we went Korogotche (ultra-dense) which was a mind altering experience. To help you understand, Mathare rents are around $12USD month and Korogotche is less. The guys from the Kibera neighbourhood were wary of driving thru it.

It’s well dressed and groomed.

Everywhere. We are teaching in the slums of Mathare and the contrast between the people and the landscape is shocking. The people are all dressed, pressed, and groomed. Even as they navigate the garbage. The sight is disorienting, well dressed people and slum buildings in the same place.

Kenya is friendly.

Everyone has been extremely nice to us. Our program has helped many business owners in Kibera, Mathare, and Dandora become more successful and they want to talk to us about it and train more of their neighborhoods.

Kenya is security conscious.

We went to Safaricom House for a student show and went through a process like at the airport. Metal detectors for bags and personal search. We’ve been shopping at the Nakumatt General Store and security is a bit lighter, but still it’s there. There are security people working at every store downtown and at every hotel. The locals expect it.


Here is a link to my photos.


Branding Immersion for Engineers (It’s About People )

April 6, 2014

What the !@#$ is modern Branding?

Brand Thinking by @debbiemillman is very useful for Engineers. http://ow.ly/sra9u thx @brainpicker

I keep meaning to write up a deeper post on this book. I really like this book because it is a collection of interviews from Brand experts over a wide range of experiences and applications. It has modern guys; like Dan Pink, Seth Godin, and Malcolm Gladwell and business examples from guys at Starbucks, Nike, and Coca Cola.

The key insight for me is that Branding is about “People and Problems they have” —

Page 210. Bill Moggridge. It’s interesting that as so many things change around us, the evolution of technologies, social relationships, and so on simarly change very fast. But that basic principle of human centered design — “start with people” — you can rely on it.

R.I.P Bernard Daines. I’m so sad.

April 3, 2014

R.I.P Bernard Daines. I’m so sad. He was a courageous leader. He showed us where we needed to go. http://ow.ly/vp09Q

Five Great Posts on Mentorship From Five Great Mentors

December 15, 2013

Here are 5 great posts on the topic of being a “mentor & advisor” from some pretty good sources.

and a bonus collection of career advice posts — Career Planning With pmarca, Seth Godin, & Steve Blank (and Ben Horowitz)