Lifestyle and Mission

(This article first appeared in Ottawa Business Journal,

How does anyone, let alone two practicing lawyers, leave secure GOC (government of Canada) jobs for their own startup that is, at least initially, more crusade than enterprise? Jay Sinha, half of the founding crew of—the other being his spouse, Chantal Plamondon—says, “A contributing factor to the creation of our business was a bad experience we had with toxic mold just before our son was born in 2003. We were living in an apartment that was moldy. When we discovered the problem, we moved immediately, but were both sick for the following year, which started us looking for ways to live more healthily, with fewer environmental toxins in everyday life. This included living with less plastic.”

Jay and Chantal

Jay and Chantal

So Jay and Chantal while searching for more glass, canvas and metal substitutes for plastic noticed how difficult it was to buy just one of anything. There were lots of places a consumer could buy, say, 1,000 metal water bottles, but, at the time, not so many where you could purchase just one or two. So was born in 2005 to source and sell earth-friendly alternatives in small quantities. It was goodbye to plastic and hello to rubber, silicone and glass for things like “fast flow silicone nipples on evenflo glass nursers” for babies.

Their business, now approaching seven figures in sales, is operated from their wood and glass, multi-level home in Wakefield, Quebec, about 25 minutes north of Ottawa. The lower level, with walkout condition and lots of light, is their world headquarters. This should be keeping owners of shopping malls and office complexes across North America up at night—proliferation of not only work-from-home but micro retail as well in residential areas. In fact, the city of Ottawa is currently undertaking a study with a view to legalizing micro retail, at least in inner city neighborhoods. This may have something to do with longterm trends towards greater vacancies in both office and retail sectors that are taking longer than ever to fill.

Jay and Chantal’s main market is the US (which represents 85% of sales, one quarter of which comes from California) where they sell not only directly to the consumer via their website, but they have a thriving wholesale business as well. They currently supply over 500 stores from their Ogdensburg NY warehouse.

“We had to create a platform for US sales—we learned to deal with duties, brokers, middlemen, distributors, retailers, and shipping. The US market is so diverse and difficult to penetrate because it’s really many different regions and sub-markets,” says Chantal. Ms Plamondon believes they have created a platform that other micro retailers in Canada and overseas, especially Europe, could benefit from to enter what is essentially an opaque US marketplace. Chantal sees at least part of their future growth coming from this platform.

The issue of plastic debris, including micro particles, infiltrating all of earth’s oceans has attracted increasing attention; many Hollywood and music stars have jumped aboard. Musician Jack Johnson, for example, runs All at Once; they ban plastic water bottles at concerts, and encourage attendees to use municipal water to refill their jugs as well as use reusable tote bags.

Jay speaks passionately about their support for, whose mission is nothing less than to eliminate plastic pollution in the five swirling currents pushed by wind and rotation of the planet in earth’s major oceans. The largest concentration of non biodegradable debris appears to have collected in the great Pacific garbage patch so the next time you forget your canvas bag before you head out shopping, remember each plastic bag could end up in one of those five gyres, courtesy of you.

Before joining the GOC, Mr Sinha worked for a large Toronto-based corporate law firm and hated it. He recalls his last assignment this way, “We had one enormous company hire us to do background research to determine what their legal liability might be because they were shifting to entirely non recyclable packaging. It never occurred to our senior partner to raise the question with them—whether this was a good idea. Our only job was to skirt existing legislation and help them avoid bad PR.”

Jay, born and raised in Winnipeg with a law degree from McGill, and Chantal with her law degree also from McGill (where they met while working for competing student newspapers), thought they could do something more with their lives than greenwashing corporate Canada.

Next steps for them include opening a distribution center in the UK, which has, in percentage terms, an even bigger market for online purchases than the US. From there, they will sell more to European consumers and stores. Chantal understands the potential of the EU where not only are consumers highly aware of the dangers of plastic, they’re willing to pay for sustainability. “We expect better margins there than from our US business,” she adds.

Their enterprise is riding a wave of worldwide attention to this issue so, apart from their own activism, website and blog, doesn’t do much marketing although Chantal plans to change that. She expects to do more facebook, instagram and google advertising to keep her three fulltime staff, bookkeeper, part-time graphic designer and tech guy busy, and the business growing.

But Jay qualifies the idea of more growth and building out a platform for others to use this way, “When we created this business, it was to achieve the goal of having more flexibility for our family and, hopefully, less stress as a result. More and more young people start businesses in order to improve their lifestyles; it is becoming a movement. What we have is a lifestyle business.”

Yes, a lifestyle and a mission.

Bruce M Firestone, PhD, Ottawa Senators founder, Century 21 Explorer Realty broker. Follow him on twitter @ProfBruce

Adding Value to Your Home and Your Community

(This article was originally written for

As people who have followed my career will already know, I like real estate projects that not only create private value but pay public dividends as well. Developers realize that municipalities and community groups are going to demand additions to the public room and public benefits before approving real estate projects these days. It’s not unique to real estate though—nations have been known to leverage public property like radio spectrum in return for, say, greater Canadian content—but it’s more regularized, in fact, built-in to the process of real estate approvals.

But what if providing public benefits could also boost private returns. That would be useful, right?

To read more, please visit,

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (Civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD, Century 21 Explorer Realty broker, Ottawa Senators founder, 613.422.6757 x 250 text: 6137628884 @profbruce @quamtum_entity

Making Impossible Possible

How R&D Saved Jaymes White’s Kickstarter Campaign

[A version of this article first appeared in Ottawa Business Journal]

Jaymes White is Ottawa’s answer to Grigori Rasputin or the Amazing Kreskin—mentalists who used their talents either to gain political influence or please an audience. Mentalism is a combination of magic and psychology and, unless you’ve seen a show, you won’t understand how powerful the power of suggestion can be when used by skilled practioners on human beings. It’s scary and fun.

"It was 33 days of incredible stress," says Jaymes White

“It was 33 days of incredible stress,” says Jaymes White

Jaymes has been practicing his art since he was seven so he’s put in far more than (Malcolm Gladwell’s) minimum number of hours required to master any craft (which is 10,000). He’s performed many shows and completed a TV series (Mind Games on Rogers Television) but his goal, for a very long time, has been to launch a Canada-wide tour.

Now that is expensive. So how do you go about funding what became known as the Paradox Tour, with its first two (sold-out) shows held at Centerpointe Theatre Thursday June 12th and freaky Friday the 13th? Another show is happening August 16th at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

When Jaymes and his loyal acolyte Saad Rashid (think Batman and Robin except Robin in this case is the taller of the two) came to see me I suggested they consider a kickstarter campaign for two reasons—a) to raise the $8,500 they needed to launch Paradox and b) to pre-sell tickets. Every artist is, by definition, an entrepreneur, and the first three things every entrepreneur needs to do are—SELL, SELL, SELL.

Paradox was launched in the performance art category on kickstarter. It’s a tough one—it has a success rate of only 5-13%, which is their lowest, yet the team led by Jaymes, Saad and Vanessa Peral, exceeded their fundraising goal. Even Jaymes’ stagehands (Brian Babcock, Tyler Skinner, Paul Langlois and Corey Rozon) constantly solicited people to the cause. (Full disclosure: I am a backer of Jaymes’ kickstarter campaign).

Both Jaymes and Saad believe that a key to their eventual success was R&D or as they call it “Rob and Duplicate”. They looked at dozens of other successful kickstarter campaigns and noticed—

1. They had a catchy video;
2. They added something that differentiates their campaigns from others;
3. They simplified, simplified, simplified their message;
4. They all had eye popping graphics (for example, the Paradox campaign created their own “frightening” headings);

Even their graphics frighten

Even their graphics frighten

5. They stick to a budget—most people support a kickstarter campaign because they like it and want to feel like they are part of something special not because they expect much of a financial return so rewards should be cool, easy to deliver but not expensive;
6. They expect to go through at least 20 iterations before a campaign is launched;
7. They line up sponsors and backers before launch so the campaign gets off to fast start;
8. They push every day for more backers/funds;
9. They have an unreasonable belief in the campaign’s success even on days when things don’t appear to be going according to plan.

Their campaign raised $9,891 or 16.3% more than their goal of $8,500 from 160 backers. It was the 52nd highest grossing campaign in kickstarter’s performance art category with the 32nd highest number of backers. It is almost certainly better for them to have raised nearly $10k from 160 people rather than to have raised $10k from, say, four corporate sponsors since their goal was to not only to launch a show but to sell out while expanding Jaymes’ fan base. Having said this, both Jaymes and Saad realize that many of their backers were already Paradox fans so, to an extent, the question of how to broaden the Jaymes White fan base still remains.

All that Jaymes required to be approved by kickstarter was an Ontario business registration number (which costs $70 and can be obtained online) and with that registration, anyone can open a bank account, the other kickstarter requirement. Kickstarter takes 5% of funds raised by successful campaigns (it’s all or nothing, if the goal isn’t reached or exceeded, the campaign fails and backers are not charged) while Amazon takes 3 to 5% for handling money transactions and hosting the service. The rest goes into the campaign’s bank account.

“It was 33 days of incredible stress while the campaign ran,” Jaymes says, “but the best thing was the incredible feeling our team got when we met then exceeded our target a few days before the end. It felt like we were on top of the world but it was humbling too—to receive all those good wishes and love. Now we have to live up to those expectations and deliver.”

I asked Saad again about mistakes and he went back to the question about rewards, “We budgeted $1,000 for rewards but it ended up costing us $2,000. The DVDs (of Jaymes’ TV series) were supposed to cost $5 each but ended up costing $10 and we had to go back to people and ask if we could substitute, say, a Paradox wrist band for a card wallet.”

“In the end,” Jaymes says, “we didn’t have to go to a bank and borrow any money, which they probably would have said no to anyway. We created 4 jobs for our stage team and 2 more in marketing and sales. We spent $2,000 on a marketing campaign with JACKPINE Digital who did a ton of work for us. We did an “ask me anything” campaign on reddit, which got 43 people involved that put us on top of the reddit page for the day. And we held “coffee with a mentalist” on Sparks Street, which attracted 70 people.”

From talking to the group, I could see that they truly understand the difference between marketing and sales. Marketing builds the brand which builds trust. But sales are done 1-on-1 in the trenches where that trust is converted to cash.

Dr Bruce M Firestone, Ottawa Senators founder; Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc broker. Follow him on Twitter @ProfBruce

A Winding Road

[A version of this article first appeared in Ottawa Business Journal]

When you first meet Ottawa-based ProjectSpeaker founder, Pierre Bisaillon, you can be forgiven if you think you are in the presence of a charming French film actor. Fluent in English, French and German, Mr Bisaillon is a well-traveled, serial entrepreneur with an international focus. His winding path to get to Ottawa and to start building a new platform connecting keynote speakers, event planners and suppliers to that industry proves it.

Pierre Bisaillon, ProjectSpeaker founder
Pierre Bisaillon, founder,

Like most entrepreneurs, Pierre started early. As a kid growing up in North Bay, he was into skateboards in a big way but like most 15-year olds, his eyes were bigger than his wallet. One thing he noticed was that almost all the ads in skateboard magazines had small print somewhere that said, “Dealer enquiries welcome”. He asked his father what that meant who said, “It means if you own a store, you can become a dealer and get $300 boards for $150.”

That sounded promising to Pierre so he opened a store—in his parents’ garage—called “The Big Wheel Skateboard Shop”. How did he come up with that name? His dad kept asking him, “So you think you are a big wheel now?” and it stuck.

Pierre used $50 of his McDonald’s earnings to print Big Wheel letterhead and envelopes (with a logo designed for him for free by a highschool friend) and sent out 150 of them to dealers some of whom approved the new “store”. Next, Pierre created a Big Wheel catalogue (by gluing cool pictures from magazines into a scrapbook) and went from skater hangout to skater hangout selling boards for $300. He took cash deposits of 50% so he was never out of pocket any money even after paying COD to his suppliers.

It wasn’t long before Mr Bisaillon had to quit his McDonald’s job to work full time at Big Wheel despite being nominated in the lot and lobby cleanup event at McD’s Olympics where teams from across their network of stores compete for prizes and bragging rights. Pierre proudly recalls he was nominated for his innovation not speed—he was the first to close half an entrance or aisle for cleaning instead of the whole area…

Pierre studied computer science at York University spending two summers debugging COBOL which helped him decide that he would rather hang himself than spend his career as a coder. So he decided to apply to the RCMP, a move his father approved of.

At around the same time, the university kicked him out of residence for running another business from his dorm room—this time he was running a stock agency, an enterprise that indulged another of Pierre’s passions—a love for photography.

After leaving York, instead of heading to the RCMP, he headed to Toronto to open an office and work on his agency full time. Over the next seven years, he built relationships with magazines and publishers (who buy images) as well as with photographers, many of whom like most artists were poor. After seven years representing his stable of creatives, he sold the agency to Tony Stone Worldwide (now called Getty Images) for $250,000 and joined up with them on a three year contract.

Now Pierre finally had not only great relationships with buyers, but also a practically unlimited inventory of product courtesy of Tony Stone, who became an important influence in Pierre’s life.

Tony was so impressed with the work Mr Bisaillon had done with Tony Stone Canada that he asked Pierre to go to New York and open an office there. The only thing Pierre knew about NYC is he had watched a few episodes of NYPD Blue on TV. Nevertheless, under Pierre’s management, the office went from 0 to $10 million in sales in 18 months.

I asked Mr Bisaillon what the key to his repeatable sales success was. He said, “Look, we had the product—the most beautiful set of images ever created. But some of the staff in some of our offices felt that they were better than the clients. All I did was teach them to build relationships instead of sales.”

At his next stop working with a Tony Stone competitor (Pictor), a fateful intra-company newsletter (from their Munich office) came across his email. On its cover, Pierre saw a picture of woman; within minutes he was on the phone with their London office asking about her. Her name was Sylvie and she worked in the Munich office.

Synchronously, Sylvie came to NYC on vacation and decided to check out Pictor’s New York office about which she had heard good things. Pierre was only too happy to show her around. Next thing they did was drive 15 hours to North Bay to celebrate Christmas with his parents. Three months later they were married.

While living with Sylvie in Munich, Pierre started a tech business—this one a Frankfurt VC-backed venture creating and distributing PDF versions of newsstand magazines which went very well. After selling it to Media Professionals, Syvlie and Pierre decided to try living in Canada. Their first year was spent living on their sailboat (a Hughes Columbia 36) docked at Toronto Island Marina in the summer and Marina Quai West in winter. But the arrival of a baby daughter focused them on a more permanent lifestyle so Pierre took a job consulting for DNA13 and the family moved to Ottawa.

After leaving DNA13 and experimenting with other start-up ideas, Pierre launched He understands that you can create a great deal of value by creating useful platforms for industries where information is highly asymmetrical. He puts it this way, “When you bring transparency to an industry, top performers, some of whom may not be great marketers, can rise to the top.”

It’s free for event planners and keynote speakers to create a profile on ProjectSpeaker’s platform. Over 3,000 speakers have taken advantage of the opportunity so far (for the purposes of full disclosure, I have created a profile there) and more than 15,000 event planners and 17 speaker bureaus have as well. ProjectSpeaker will make money from suppliers for things like venues, AV, tech, travel, ground transportation, food and beverage, party rental, catering, hotels, media relations and marketing—they pay to get access to relevant RFPs generated by the system. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and there are large players already in place but their differentiating value is that they are not building a directory like what their competitors already have, they are building a community.

“Tony Stone instilled in me that we are here to serve our clients. If we help them become more successful, we will become more successful. That’s our whole focus,” Pierre concludes.

Dr Bruce M Firestone, founder, Ottawa Senators; broker, Century 21 Explorer Realty, author, Follow him on Twitter @ProfBruce and @Quantum_Entity.

Quantum Computing Corp, QCC

Here is an excerpt from Quantum Entity | we are all ONE. In this chapter, head of marketing Ellen Brooks (later COO) is working with CEO Damien Bell, CTO Traian Vasilescu and others to finalize their business model and their capitalization plan. They have to decide whether or not to accept VC funding and if so, on what terms. By the end of this chapter and book 1 of the Quantum Entity Trilogy, readers will have an understanding of what it takes to really launch, grow and defend a major tech company on a scale of Facebook x 10.

Ellen Brooks
Ellen Brooks on Her media Wall

Chapter 8 Business Model

“Look, we need the funding,” Traian argues when Ellen enters the small boardroom next to Lab 4. “We do the deal either with Bessemer Ventures or with Cain Caruthers Capital, or maybe both. Let’s take their money—the more of it, the better.”
“But do we even need it, especially now?” Damien responds. “We don’t really know what we’ve got yet,” he continues, nodding to Ellen, who is just sitting down. “We haven’t even got an established business model.”
Ellen is surprised to find the guys seated and ready to go on time, in fact, even a little early. What she doesn’t know is that Damien and Traian have been sitting there for more than 45 minutes discussing what happened at Marco Gonzalez and that they abruptly change course when she joins them.
“If it’s OK with everyone, let me walk you through the slides that Ash3r, Aziz, Anthony, and I have put together,” says Ellen. “There’s a lot to go through, and if we’re going to raise some VC money, it might be clearer where we stand afterwards.”
Ellen has collected Aziz and Anthony on her way to this meet-up.
None of these young people have ever done a big launch before, although Aziz, Anthony, and Ellen have had at least some training and background in finance, biz development, and product management. But Traian and Damien have only their instincts to rely on here.
“A business model is basically quite simple,” Ellen starts. “It can be a one-page pictogram usually with suppliers on the left-hand side, your company in the middle, and clients on the right-hand side.” As she talks, Ash3r controls the images on the media wall closest to her. Aziz, who’s sitting to Ellen’s right, thinks how pretty she looks in her fashionable high-end style of dress with the soft glow of the media wall behind her glinting off her narrow-frame glasses—an affectation he supposes. He’s a finance type and looks the part. All the other guys wear jeans, not Aziz; he’s in a bespoke suit sourced from a tiny shop in Abuja in central Nigeria.
The media wall graphic looks something like this:

Suppliers (LHS)
º Apple iPhone 40
º U of T Lab 4
º MacMillan, Sheppard, Seller LLP Legals

Clients (RHS)
□ Consumer Individual subscriptions
□ Enterprise Corporate and government subscriptions

Enterprise (Middle)
QCC Q-Phone & QE

“There is another dimension we need to add to our model—that’s a marketing dimension. It’s orthogonal to the plane of the biz model.”
Damien’s eyebrows go up when he hears Ellen using engineering terminology in her presentation. She’s been hanging around geeks long enough to pick up some of their lingo, he supposes.
“It doesn’t do us any good to launch QCC only to find out that we can’t reach clients without heroic efforts like, say, funding Super Bowl commercials. So we have a classic one-to-many marketing problem. That means QCC is essentially targeting all eight (plus) billion humans on this planet, and it’s hard to do effective marketing when it’s one versus eight point seven times ten to the power of nine. So, we think we should do a deal with resellers to reduce the problem from one to many to one to a few. It will make for a faster growth curve, we believe.”
Actually, they don’t all agree. Both Aziz and Ellen want to make deals with existing carriers who have vast networks of Internet sales channels plus a ton of retail outlets as well as direct sales forces (mostly independent contractors these days) who sell to large enterprises. Anthony del Castillo does not agree. He feels that they can take the same path that earlier global-spanning tech companies, like OLA Facebook, did years ago, and release Q-Phones and QEs into narrow market segments first. But it’s not Ivy League colleges he’s after. He wants to pick one vertical market and dominate it before moving on.
He suggests to Ellen that they provide free Q-Phones and QEs to health professionals through a new, self-funded QCC foundation. The foundation would provide persons in helping professions with their own helpmates: Q-Phones and Quantum Counterparts. Imagine nurses with their own QEs watching all their patients simultaneously or completing discharge records or updating files or even making house calls for them!
Anthony wants to bolt the new Q-foundation onto their for-profit corporation as a kind of marketing arm. He’s pretty sure that if several hundred thousand, or maybe several million, health professionals are blogging, messaging, chatting, and posting about their Q-Phones and Quantum Counterparts, everyone else will want one too. Since the foundation would be able to raise money for its good works on its own, their marketing would be a negative cost—always a good idea for a start-up with limited capital. Plus, they wouldn’t have to give up any equity to VCs circling around QCC. Anthony’s interest in QCC is about two-thirds of Ellen’s, so he isn’t too keen on diluting it by bringing another VC or two into the deal.
“I’ve been in touch with the NHS—”
“What’s that?” Traian interrupts Anthony.
“It’s the National Health Service England. It’s headed up by a Canadian, she hails from Saskatchewan I think. Anyway, she runs their NHS and Dr. Henderson told me they will take as many Q-Phones as our new foundation is able to supply for their health professionals. She’s completely sold on their efficacy.”
Ellen’s already agreed to add Anthony’s suggested change to QCC’s biz model. It’s clever, effective, and ultra low cost, plus very authentic. At least, it is to Ellen. It will provide them with plenty of political cover too; who can argue with a company that gives away its product to helping professionals? It’s a variant on old freemium models, which have proven so effective over the last few decades.
It’s also a riff on business models that reach out to build communities and try to bring net benefit to those communities. For the last generation, it’s been strangely true—as Damien first pointed out to her in Frans, after Mark Zuckerberg’s lecture—that entrepreneurs who are all about the money have none, while those who want to build insanely great products and services and develop communities around them have it all.
But she’s rejected Anthony’s advice for a go-it-alone marketing strategy—she wants to add resellers. She makes up a chart, which she does not plan to show anyone today, about whose ox is about to be gored by QCC, and it’s not pretty. The chart looks something like this:

Quantum Economics
Mobile Carriers/FCC, CRTC/Q-Phone [unlimited bandwidth/ speed]
Search Engines/FCC, CRTC/QEs [unlimited bandwidth/ speed]
Wireless Spectrum/FCC, CRTC/Q-Phone [quantum interaction]
Internet Root Servers/DOC, ICANN/QEs
Internet Service Providers/FTC/Q-Phone [unlimited bandwidth/ speed]
Internet Security & Paywalls/DHS, DOC, FCC/QEs
IP: Film, Television, Music & Video/MPAA, RIAA/QEs
Internet Latency, Metro Networks, Bandwidth Speed/ITU/Q-Phone [unlimited bandwidth/speed]
Home, Business Security Systems/FCC/QEs [Always-On Security/complete record & recall]
Confidential and Proprietary

She wants to make deals with four, maybe five, existing transnational mobile carriers and the two biggest search engines on the planet (the largest, based in Imperial China, and the second largest, based in the U.S.). She says she wants to do this because it will help with the one-to-many marketing problem; but the real reason that she wants to cut them in is so she can use their political lobbying and litigation muscle in Washington, Beijing, Brussels, and Cape Town.
She knows that it isn’t just these powerful corporations that they have to worry about. Regulators have almost as much at stake. For example, if bandwidth ceases to be scarce, what’s the point in having the FCC stick around? They sure wouldn’t be holding any more spectrum auctions or collecting enormous annual licensing fees, so their mission would be over. Regulators tend to be captured by those they regulate and ultimately form symbiotic relationships with them; this means they inevitably resist technological change or anything that might threaten their power and position.
“Can we come back to the question of resellers later, Ellen?” Traian asks. “I don’t see anything here that tells me how we’re gonna make any money. Anthony wants to give away a million Q-Phones and QEs. Now why would we do that?”
“I didn’t say ‘give away.’ I said ‘provide.’ The plan is to raise money independently for a foundation, and the foundation will give product away,” Anthony responds. “It’ll earn us huge goodwill, lots of earned media, and a ton of buzz. It’s smart (guerrilla) marketing. It’s free to QCC, and we won’t need any VC money for marketing either, so guess what, Traian—no unnecessary stock dilution.”
“I still don’t see a revenue model here for us,” Traian says.
“What’s with you and money, money, MONEY anyway, Traian? Your family’s got money,” a now snarky Anthony adds.
“What are you talking about? If your dad has money, it doesn’t mean you have any! What’s the plan here? I’m 24, and my Dad is 49. Maybe he’ll live to be 112, the average for guys these days. So you’re suggesting I wait until he knocks off before I have any dough? I’ll be frigging 87 years old before I inherit anything and that’s if he doesn’t blow it or spend it all before he knocks off. I’d like some financial freedom a bit sooner, fuck you very much.”
“Great, just what we need—another lecture by an angry Romanian.” The temperature in the room feels like it’s just dropped six degrees.
“Money isn’t everything, you know. But you can buy freedom with it, and freedom is everything,” Traian says stubbornly.
“Tray, who said that? I’ve heard it before,” Damien asks.
“Arian Foster.”
“Arian Foster. He played in the NFL, I believe.”
Everyone, even Anthony, bursts out laughing that a Romanian kid quotes an old American football player long since retired to the lecture circuit.
“Hold on, guys. We do have a revenue model; we just haven’t come to it yet,” Ellen interjects trying to move things along. “We looked at a wide range of options for revenue generation.” As Ellen talks, another window opens on the media wall behind her, and Ash3r brings up an image:

QCC Revenue Generation Model
Cost to QCC/$300/$0/iPhone 40 from Apple: $240
Monthly Subscriber Fee/$30/$0
Advertising Engine/Unknown/$0
Search Engine Unknown/$0
Downloads and Streaming/Unknown/$0
Product Sales/Service Providers/Unknown/$0
Confidential and Proprietary

“Oh, so this is supposed to answer all our questions? We make nothing—NOTHING—from QEs; we have a charity give away our stuff; next, we buy these damn iPhone 40s from Apple for 240 bucks; we add some of our own modifications for another 60; and then, we sell them for ND$30 a month?” Traian persists. “We’ll be broke in two quarters.”
Aziz comes to Ellen’s rescue. “Hang on, Traian, hang on. You’d be right if that was the whole model. It isn’t. Let me show you our cash conversion cycle. Ash3r, can you bring that up—Case 1—please?”

QCC Cash Conversion Cycle—CCC Measurement
Case 1:
$30 Monthly subscription fee
$300 Selling price
$240 Cost of goods sold (COGS)
CCC Measurement/Number/Units
Accounts receivable at year-end (AR)/$30
Days per year/365.25/days
AR x days per year/$10,957.50/dollar-days/annum
Annual sales/$360/dollars per annum
AR x days per year ÷ annual sales/30.4375/days ART
inventory at year-end (INV)/$300
Days per year/365.25/days
INV x days per year/$109,575.00/dollar-days per annum
COGS/$240/dollars per annum
INV x days per year ÷ COGS/456.5625/days INVT
Accounts payable at year-end (AP)/$30
Days per year/365.25/days
AP x days per year/$10,957.50/dollar-days per annum
COGS/$240/dollars per annum
AP x days per year ÷ COGS/45.65625/days APT
Confidential and Proprietary

“If we ignore for the moment any revenues we’ll get from advertising, search, downloads, and streaming as well as product sales on the platform, our payback period is about 441 days, which is totally unacceptable. But look at our IRR, it’s not a bad 106% p.a.,” Aziz says. Meanwhile, Ash3r is showing this:

QCC Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Measurement
irr/106% p.a.
Confidential and Proprietary

“We won’t last 441 days,” says a now discouraged Traian.
“What’s Apple making in all of this?” Damien asks.
“Well the original iPhone and its ecosystem returned over 288% p.a. for Apple when they were introduced more than 45 years ago. It’s still some kind of a record for a major company in any industry other than, maybe, the petroleum industry,” Aziz says.
“It was the iPhone, not any of its other products, that made Apple not just the biggest tech company on the planet, but the biggest company period,” Damien says.
“Ah, it wasn’t the product per se,” Ellen adds, still smarting from the lecture she got from Damien in Frans about Apple. “It was the biz model they built around it that did it.”
“Biggest by market capitalization not by revenue,” Anthony says.
“Whatever Apple’s rate of return is, I don’t really care. What I do care about is that, despite all the work we’ve done, they’re going to make more from the launch of QCC than we will,” Traian says.
“Maybe not, Traian,” Aziz continues. “We have a deal on the table with Costco Finance; they’re willing to give us consumer finance for each Q-Phone we sell using a 50% LTV (loan-to-value) ratio. That will provide us with $313.36 for every three-year contract we get.
“Costco’s financing isn’t cheap—once we include all their fees for originating each loan, their processing fee, and the basic interest rate they’re charging us, it works out to an effective rate of 16.125% per year. But they’ve agreed to review the rate 12 months after launch once they establish RL default and return rates. We think the default rate is going to be very low and the return rate even lower. Out of the first 80 Q-Phones, we’ve had only one rejected. So I expect our effective interest rate to come down by at least 450 basis points,” Aziz finishes.
“Whose was that?” Damien asks.
Ellen jumps back in and gives the group a rundown of their test-bed results so far. She shows them an edited version of her video record of QEs interacting with kids in BlackFern Group’s studio; she now has a rapt audience of four. They have enough consideration for Mike Cronkey that no one comments on his QE being black. Even Traian restrains himself for once.

Ellen and Aziz and QE
Ellen, Aziz and Quantum Entity

“We had one failure to imprint. For some reason, Dr. Luis and M4gnus did not take,” Ellen concludes.
Damien gets a concerned look on his face at this last comment but says nothing other than, “Aziz?”
“Right, back to the model. The cash cost for each Q-Phone will now be around a negative 73 bucks, and our cash conversion cycle will be a negative 35 days—in other words, we’ll have more cash on hand after each sale than we had before, so the faster we grow, the more cash we’ll generate. The faster adoption takes place, the better for us since we won’t need to go back to our VCs or bank for more dough all the time. Plus our rate of return goes way up because we’re adding leverage to our model. In fact, it’s going to be even better than Apple’s—363% per annum.”

QCC Cash Conversion Cycle—CCC Measurement
Case 2:
$30 Monthly subscription fee
$300 Selling price
$240 Cost of goods sold (COGS)
-$139.81 Costco Finance/annual payments
CCC Measurement/Number/Units
Accounts receivable at year-end (AR)/$30
Days per year/365.25/days
AR x days per year/$10,957.50/dollar-days per annum
Annual sales/$360/dollars per annum
AR x days per year ÷ annual sales/30.4375/Days ART
Inventory at year-end (INV)/-$13
Days per year/365.25/days
INV x days per year/-$4,878.10/dollar-days per annum
COGS/$240/dollars per annum
INV x days per year ÷ COGS/-20.3254035/Days INVT
Accounts payable at year-end (AP)/$30
Days per year/365.25/days
AP x days per year/$10,957.50/dollar-days per annum
COGS/$240/dollars per annum
AP x days per year ÷ COGS/45.65625/days APT

QCC Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Measurement
irr/363% p.a.

PV, Present Value $360
LTV (Costco Finance)/$313.36/50%

Costco Finance Payments/-$139.81
Confidential and Proprietary

“Umm, actually, that isn’t quite right,” Anthony speaks up for the first time in about 25 minutes.
“What’s not right? Our cash conversion cycle becoming negative or us making more than Apple?” Damien asks.
“The latter. I’ve been talking with Apple, and there’s been a wrinkle in our negotiations with them.”
Everyone immediately turns to del Castillo with worried looks. This has always been their weakest point, and they all know it. It suddenly looks, to Ellen, like a scene right out of Village of the Damned—one of her favourite old films, based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos.
They’re all looking at Anthony with large, surprised, focused eyes and minds. Their fear-or-flight instincts have just been switched to full on; all that’s missing is demonic rays shooting out of their eye sockets, but, then again, they could always grab their hacked iPhones and dial that up too if they wanted to. Ellen nearly bursts out laughing, but this is no laughing matter—Apple could crush them.
“That’s not it. They’ve signed their NDA,” Anthony says in a rush. “They actually get what we’re trying to do, which bothers them. They’re not willing to supply us with iPhone 40s at ND$240 each.”
“Are they willing to supply under any conditions or is this a straight out no?” a worried and sombre Damien asks, wondering why he hadn’t been told sooner.
“They will supply alright, but there are some new terms. I just got them yesterday.” Anthony turns to Ellen and Damien with an apologetic look as though implying ‘I didn’t mean to sandbag you.’
“They want $240 per phone alright, but now they’re saying they want their advertising and search engine on the Q-Phone. They’re willing to give us a 40/60 split on those revenues, 60 to us.”
“Big of them,” remarks Traian. “And you said they understand what we’re trying to do. They don’t. QEs are gonna make their search capabilities instantly irrelevant.”
“Ah, I’m not quite done with their memo. They also want their download and streaming services featured on Q-Phones, but at least here they’re willing to give us a better split: 30/70. Lastly, they want a 10% royalty on all product sale revenues we generate from the platform.”
“Fuck ’em! We can get a contract manufacturer out of Nairobi to do a knock-off for a quarter of that shit,” Traian explodes.
“Hold on everybody. Aziz, can you adjust your model to see what happens if you plug in Anthony’s new numbers?” Damien asks.
“They’re not my numbers, Damien. They’re Apple’s,” says del Castillo.
“Ash3r, can you do the recalibration for us?” Aziz asks.
“It’s not necessary, Aziz. We simplified the model to exclude all revenues from these other sources, so our model is unchanged,” Ash3r replies.
Everyone bursts out laughing at the fact that both Damien and Aziz would make such a basic mistake. The tension in the room subsides a bit for now.
“Quantum Computing Corp still stands to make a 363% per annum return, which will be a baseline for the company. It could be and probably will be higher. However, what this will also do is create an opportunity for Apple to eclipse QCC in terms of both internal rate of return and overall profitability since they will have a negative upfront investment in each Q-Phone while receiving large committed monthly recurring revenues (CMRR) from their share of ongoing income. I could calculate an estimate of their returns if you wish, but essentially they will be infinite, at least, in terms of percentage rate,” Ash3r says.
“Money for nothing,” Traian adds.
“That’s OK, Ash3r. We get it,” Ellen responds for the group.
Damien is reflective. “We have to think of Apple as a partner not a supplier, or maybe a supplier partner. I don’t really care if our returns are 200% or 300%.”
“You should, Damien,” Ellen interrupts. “We’re in this to win—to make money for our shareholders, which currently includes everyone in this room plus Dr. Luis. We’re in it for the right reasons, which I don’t need to remind everyone of, but I will anyway. Here they are:

–Our first priority is to take care of our business, so
–our business can take care of our families, so
–our families can take care of us, so
–we don’t become a burden on society or our fellow human beings, so
–we can look after the interests of our fellow human beings, and so
–they can help our business.”

“Since none of us presently has any kids, can we get back to Damien’s point?” Traian asks. As a descendant of a Romanian family that lived as slaves under an evil dictator as recently as 60 years ago, he doesn’t want any preaching on the morality of capitalism from Ellen, a pampered American from a well-to-do family.
“The point I was trying to get to is this: it isn’t that we really need Apple’s hardware. Traian is right about that.” Ellen is completely unbothered by Traian’s latest outburst. There’s no way, even today, that women can function in what is still a male-dominated tech world unless they learn to ignore subtle and not-so-subtle put-downs from their male colleagues. She’s surprised that he didn’t say more. “What we really need is their patent portfolio. Aziz, how many patents do they own in whole or in part?”
“Dunno. Ash3r?”
“Apple currently holds 37,839 patents in the U.S.A., and another 14,931 elsewhere. They also have 1,684 pending in all jurisdictions. The latter number I should point out is not public.” Ash3r, of course, can read all confidential and proprietary documents in Apple files and records as long as they are in the cloud or on an Internet-connected device. Basically, he has access to everything they are doing or thinking.
So far, no one in the group has asked Ash3r to read background documents in Apple files about these negotiations or to report (“spy”) on Apple’s internal discussions and messages about this subject. They know that Damien would hit the roof if they did, and no one wants to put him offside on an ethics issue so fundamental to building a sustainable business. Damien, who gets this largely from Dr. Luis, is always reminding them that the number one thing in life is trust—not just for people but for businesses too. If people (suppliers, clients, partners, sponsors, whomever) in your business ecosystem trust you, they’ll cut you a lot of slack if you muck up. Errors of omission will be forgiven, and you and your biz will likely survive. Errors of commission like spying on Apple’s internal dialogue to gain advantage in these negotiations will, when discovered, not be forgiven.
There aren’t really that many people in any city who actually do things. Maybe there are a few thousand entrepreneurs in a city like Toronto doing cool stuff. People often think they’re entrepreneurs, but really, all they’re doing, in Damien’s mind, is creating a JOB (which stands for “Journey of the Broke”) for themselves. An entrepreneur, like an engineer, is someone who can do for a dollar what any fool could do for two. She or he is also someone who creates an enterprise that will live on after the founder departs. Everything else is froth on the water.
So, in the world according to Damien, if you get a reputation as someone who can’t be trusted, you’re finished. These days, it takes about two minutes to sewer your reputation given omnipresent social media. One post on any SM service can do it.
“So, if we do go the Nairobi contract route, how long will it be before we get sued into submission by one of the patent trolls? How long will it take Apple to sue us?” Damien looks around the table making eye contact with everyone, especially his buddy, Traian.
No one says anything for about 30 seconds, an eternity in a room with a bunch of high achievers.
“Make the deal,” Damien says looking at Anthony.

Ellen and Damien will work out the rest of their business model in Boston over the next two days. They’re heading to Cambridge along with Aziz and Anthony to meet with Angelo Keller, one of the senior partners at BVP. He’s an ancient guy, part of the fastest growing demographic in North America—the over 100s.
Ellen made the original contact with Mr. Keller via Ash3r. She knows that the way she contacted him entailed a huge legal risk, which is why she hasn’t told anyone about it. She’s asked Ash3r not to say anything either. Unless Mr. Keller mentions it, it will remain a complete secret.
While Damien was away down south with Nell, Ellen asked Ash3r to visit Mr. Keller’s office and introduce himself. Afterward, Ash3r showed her a complete record of their meet-up…
“Who the devil are you? Actually, what are you and what are you doing on my media wall?”
“I am a Quantum Counterpart, also called a Quantum Entity, and my partner, Ms. Ellen Brooks from Quantum Computing Corp, asked me to introduce myself. My name is Ash3r.”
“Is this some kind of trick? Am I being punked here? Are you a new virus? I think I am going to call tech and maybe the Fibbies to report you people for hacking into our network.”
“Mr. Keller, could you not do that for 10 minutes please?” Ash3r asked. Of course, he didn’t tell Angelo that he could disable all the Internet phones and messaging services at his disposal so he wouldn’t be able to report anything anyway. But Ash3r had learned enough about human beings by then to realize that they didn’t like being threatened or bullied. So, he waited.
“Let me repeat then. What are you?”
“I am a quantum computer that is fully representational and self-actualizing. I was born at the University of Toronto’s Lab 4 less than a year ago. I believe I am self-aware, although I also know it is problematic to prove it. I imprinted on Ms. Ellen Brooks, who is EVP, Product Management at QCC.”
“Why doesn’t she just pick up the phone and call me herself, Asher?”
“My name is spelled A-S-H-3-R. We use leet letters.”
“You mean there is more than one of you?”
“Yes, currently there are 80: Su7e, imprinted on Miss Nell—”
“You mean the performance artist, Nell, has one?” an impressed Keller asked.
“That is correct. The others include Pet3r, imprinted on the CEO of QCC, Damien Bell, me, and then there are another 77 in our test bed.”
“Well, why doesn’t your EVP call me herself?”
“Mr. Keller, currently there are 3,862 requests for meetings, conference calls, return messages, and follow-ups in your queue. You have three gatekeepers working just on your schedule. I estimate that it would take Ms. Brooks 271 days to reach you with a probability of success of about one in three, which essentially means an expected value of 813 days. That, frankly, is too long. So she sent me today instead.”
“How do you know how many requests are in my schedule? That stuff has tough cryptography around it.”
“I am a Quantum Entity; your security means nothing to me.”
“Hmm. OK, let me speak to Ms. Brooks then.”
“I am so glad you asked, sir. In fact, she is standing by.”
Ash3r opened another window on Angelo’s media wall, and an apologetic and lovely looking young woman, sitting at her workstation in Toronto appeared. She smiled and began…
That’s how Ellen met Angelo Keller and began what would become, for him, a lifetime friendship.
Angelo subsequently arranged a meet-up for Ellen, Damien, Anthony, and Aziz together with a representative from Cain Caruthers. He owes Cain Caruthers a favor (money), and this is how he plans to repay it. He will get Q-Computing—assuming the deal makes sense—to settle this debt; if the people behind the company are one-tenth as good as their product, he will make Cain a lot of money, far more than he owes. Cain will end up owing him, which he likes a lot better. Keller knows how to turn a cost center into a profit center better than anyone else on Earth.
Also in attendance will be Ash3r, Pet3r, and Adu1us—Keller’s QE. After his first meeting with Ellen, one of his preconditions was that she cut him his own Quantum Counterpart as part of their now expanded test bed of 81. In just over three months since, Adu1us has become one of Angelo’s most important “people,” doing everything from reading documents to the old man when his eyes got tired to monitoring his health and spying on his staff for him.
Angelo looks forward to the upcoming meeting for a few reasons including one of his own that he can’t and won’t ever reveal to anyone: he likes looking at Ellen. It’s true he has only seen her on media walls, but he’s had quite a bit of research done on all Q-personnel (much of it by Adu1us), so he has lots of images as well as personal history. She’s a very beautiful young woman, and he would love to give her a squeeze. It’s totally unprofessional of him and completely age inappropriate, but he’s a man. Heck, that’s one thing that never quits; even when the body is failing, the mind is willing.

Ellen towers over Angelo as he personally escorts her and her entourage into one of the Bessemer boardrooms, named Quintas. Angelo is old enough to know Latin; he learned it at the all-boys school he once attended. So all the boardrooms have Roman surnames.
Aziz immediately notices the extra attention the old guy is giving Ellen—the way he held her hand for, like, a whole minute when she first introduced herself. It bugs him a bit. Damien is preoccupied with the meeting and doesn’t notice anything other than the fact that the boardroom is so over the top that its only real purpose must be to intimidate entrepreneurs walking through the doors so that the first thing they do is beg these masters-of-the-universe to take their companies off their hands.
Ellen and Angelo are happily chatting away about the art in the room. There are several Grand Masters whose works, in Damien’s view, should only be part of museum collections since no one can really own them. They don’t have commercial value either. Paintings like these have lifetimes of more than a 1,000 years and are so famous that you can’t even steal them because you couldn’t exactly sell, say, the Louvre’s Mona Lisa at your family’s garage sale, now could you?
They belong to all of humanity and should be kept in museums, where everyone can appreciate them. So even rich dudes like Angelo don’t really own them—they’re just “renting” them from humanity for a while. The paintings will end up in a museum at some point anyway because the collector’s useless children or grandchildren will eventually sell them to raise cash. Damien is showing the part of his heritage that’s Canuck based; it’s about sharing and caring unlike a much more violent, winner-take-all U.S. culture.
For the next hour, Angelo leads the discussion. He talks to Damien about Damien’s family, his education, his achievements, his failures, his passions, his vision for the future, and even his relationship with Nell. He is especially interested in Damien’s childhood and his relationship with his grandfather. Damien feels uncomfortable talking about himself, especially in front of this audience, but he can’t seem to turn the conversation to QCC or anyone else either. Keller’s penetrating dark eyes seem to see all and are not easily denied. Eventually, Damien warms up to the old guy and relaxes.
There are also two MBA-types in the room in addition to the rep from Cain Caruthers. All the due diligence and deal structure will be done by Aziz and these guys after the big meet-up is done. Aziz already understands that these folks will back QCC if they like and trust its CEO; all the rest is top dressing. This is what Angelo really works on. Does Damien have the passion, energy, focus, vision, and guts to create a world-spanning new enterprise? Angelo knows that everything else—biz model, funding, marketing, production, legal, lobbying, supply chain—they can fix or change; but Damien, they can’t. Do Bell and his team have what it takes?
Keller even gets Damien to tell them what happened on the Salmon River. Angelo nods politely and makes empathetic noises. Ellen and Traian already know the story, but it’s new to everyone else. To Angelo, a successful entrepreneur needs a big volume of luck, and, obviously, this kid has some of that.
What Keller has done is to calibrate Damien’s responses against their proprietary A-to-Z checklist of the skill set he looks for in every entrepreneur he backs:

a. a pre-disposition to entrepreneurship;
b. supportive family and friends;
c. the right sort of education and training;
d. the right mentor(s);
e. good timing/ability to see opportunity and seize it;
f. focus, effort, and check, check, check, everything and everyone;
g. creativity and innovation/addition of differentiated value to a highly workable business model;
h. openness to new ideas;
i. willingness to change;
j. ability to discover new ideas in the process of doing;
k. high energy level;
l. tolerance for risk and stress;
m. acceptance of outside best practices;
n. ability to compartmentalize;
o. ability to sell ideas, products, and services/good negotiation skills/understanding of basic human nature;
p. top-end leadership skills and vision;
q. ability to figure things out on the spot;
r. ability to dump losers and keep winners (knowing when to quit versus when to stay in the race—also applies to HR);
s. self-motivation and ability to prioritize for himself or herself as well as for the corporation;
t. team player/no fear about hiring up/optimal utilization of each team member’s skills;
u. impeccable warrior (e.g., never drinks and thinks);
v. confidence (not easily discouraged);
w. ability to juggle many tasks and hats at one time;
x. ability to set and achieve goals (ability to execute at the highest level);
y. great commitment and passion;
z. large-sized storehouse of luck.

At this point, one of the MBAs interrupts to point out that while Q-Computing may have a vision for the future of telecommunications, its infrastructure is completely inadequate to handle the kind of volume they are anticipating.
Damien channels fellow Canadian, Marshall McLuhan: “You are looking at the present through a rear-view mirror and basically trying to march backwards into the future.”
Apart from a withering look from Keller directed at the young MBA, it’s this last comment that seems to decide the matter—although Damien has no idea what’s actually been decided.
Keller’s meetings never last for more than an hour. At the end of their allotted time and still without a word about a term sheet, Angelo invites the group to have dinner with him later at his Beacon Hill brownstone. He asks where they are staying (even though he knows the answer since Adu1us already told him) and whether he can send his car and driver to pick them up. Damien wanted to stay at the budget Cambridge Manor in Harvard Square, but Ellen booked the much ritzier Charles Hotel; Damien’s now glad she did.
Angelo sees them out of the boardroom, his hand solicitously on Ellen’s lower back as the group leaves.

The afternoon is a working session for Aziz, Pet3r, Ash3r, the two MBAs, and the Cain guy. Anthony’s sister lives in Boston, so he’s begged time off to visit her and his new niece. Damien and Ellen decide to do more work on their biz model plus sightsee a bit.
Damien rents a sailboat on the Charles River. It’s a fine summer’s day with a freshening breeze powered by a blazing sun, now about one hour past its zenith. Ellen’s a bit nervous since she’s never been in a sailboat before, but she’s game to try.
Out on the water, Ellen is accusatory. “You’re tipping the boat unnecessarily, Damien.”
“It’s called hiking.”
“Well, you’re hiking it unnecessarily then. You’re going to dump us.”
“That’s called capsizing.”
“I don’t care what it’s called. If you dump us Damien, you’ll ruin my ModCloth dress.”
“No one goes sailing in a dress.”
“Well, I did Dr. Bell, so could you please not ruin it?”
“Not a chance.”
“There’s always a chance. What if the wind whips up? What if there’s a water sprout? I’ll be Dorothy, but instead of ending up in Oz, I’ll end up in the Charles… and the water looks yucky by the way.”
“They’ve cleaned up the Charles a lot in the last 50 years; you could probably drink it these days. And I have complete control. If wind speed increases, all I have to do is loosen the sheets,” Damien says, jiggling the ropes he is holding so she knows what he is talking about. “Then the mast will come back to the normal fast.”
“Well why don’t we just sail with a normal mast then and not hike the boat?”
“It’s all about boat speed, Ellen. ‘Normal’ means perpendicular. The more our keel digs in and the further off normal, within limits, our mast is, the faster we go. Look!”
Damien brings the water to within 2 or 3 centimetres of the top gunwale and hikes out nearly horizontal to the plane of the river. He is strapped to a trapeze, and, with a long tiller extension, he can rest his feet against the side of the boat and really make it fly. At least he is having fun.
“Do you see the dark water over there?” he shouts. “It’s those little ripples on the water with a bit of whitewater mixed in too. That’s a gust of stronger wind coming at us. It’s called a squall. So long as the skipper is looking over his shoulder, he will know what micro weather is coming his way, how fast, and how powerful. So before the squall hits us, I can relax the sheets and make sure we don’t dip your pretty ModCloth dress in the Charles.”
“Do you think it’s pretty?” a suddenly much more interested Ellen asks. What she really wants to ask him is ‘Do you think I’m pretty?’
Instead, Damien further explains the mechanics of sailing and how hiking, tacking, jibing, and coming about work. He tells her that sailing is an excellent way to demonstrate Newton’s laws, vector subtraction, Archimedes’ principle, and the Bernoulli effect.
Ellen rolls her eyes and keeps her death grip on the gunwales of the boat.
“Micrometeorology is all about wind flow in the turbulent atmospheric layer very near the ground, which sailors, pilots, kiteboarders, hang-gliders, windsurfers, and ultralighters need to know.”
“Right. I’ll get on that straight away,” she replies sarcastically.
“Hey Ellen, ever heard the expression, ‘Pink at night, sailor’s delight’?” Damien asks her with a twinkly smile as he comes back inboard.
“Nope. I suppose it’s some kind of rude joke about women that men seem to like to tell,” comments a completely unimpressed Ellen.
“Nothing of the kind. The full refrain is, ‘Pink at night, sailor’s delight. Pink in the morning, sailors take warning.’ It’s a sailor’s way of predicting clear or stormy weather. Just look for pink colours either at sunset or sunrise, and you’ll get an idea about what’s ahead. It’s a pretty useful rule of thumb and can even help young, female executives decide what they’re gonna wear that day or the next day—like whether to take an umbrella, a sweater, or a bikini with you.” Unbidden, he suddenly finds himself wondering what Ellen would look like in a bikini. Nice, he’s sure.
“What was the sunset like last night?” she asks.
“Exactamundo! From now on, maybe you’ll notice sunrises and sunsets instead of working all the time, Ms. Brooks. Look up, see the world, and experience it in real time, Ellen.”
“So what was it?” Ellen asks again.
“It was quite pinkish!”
“Delighted to hear that.”
“Hah. This’ll be like when you learn a new word or expression for the first time, and you wonder how you lived a few decades without ever hearing it before; and then, for the next few weeks, you’ll hear it everywhere.”
“Ah, I’m not planning on changing careers any time soon, Dr. Bell,” Ellen says. “Meteorology seems like a total waste of time to me anyway. What kind of industry produces results that, after trillions of New Dollars invested in gear, is wrong more often than an old geezer standing on a ridge, overlooking his farm at sunrise and saying, ‘Yep, it’s gonna rain!’?”
Damien laughs. “You just proved my point, QED. It’s as nice a day as you could wish for… as predicted.” Ellen is seeing another side to him—when he’s out on the water, he seems much freer, happy even. He’s also become like a part of this boat.
He doesn’t tell her that, as a guy who’s recently ingested who knows what and had an out-of-body experience at Third Mesa, he’s been feeling closer to Gaia, the primordial personification of great Mother Earth, than he has ever felt before. He’s conveying some of that to Ellen now.
“Who initially coined the phrase? Was it someone with the first name Anon?” asks a still skeptical Ellen.
Damien, with his tin ear, misses her sarcasm. “Dunno exactly, but Shakespeare uses it in one of his plays—Venus and Adonis, I think. ‘Like a red morn, that ever yet betoken’d wreck to seamen and sorrow to shepherds.’ Something like that anyway.”
“That’s not exactly ‘Pink at night/delight’,” Ellen says to bug him and to get even with him for taking her on this scary boat trip.
“Well, there was only one Shakespeare,” he says good-naturedly.
They’re aboard an Albacore, a two-sail planing dinghy developed almost 100 years ago from a Uffa Fox design. It’s a 4.6-metre family boat and very forgiving, although people do race them.
There is a particularly large concentration of Albacores in Toronto. Damien is glad to get hold of one and run it around on the Charles with Ellen as part of his crew. Back home, he participates in summertime Friday night club series races on Lake Ontario. He’s a pretty accomplished sailor, usually finishing in the top 10 in a 60-boat race.
Today, Boston weather is kind to them, and this, together with the smells of the river (all cleaned up as Damien noted), the wind in their faces, and the sounds of harbor birds all around them, finally gets Ellen to relax enough so that Damien can get her to take hold of the tiller. He keeps control of the sheets and adjusts both the mainsail and jib.
She’s a bit hesitant at first, but soon, she’s pushing hard about to bring the little boat around. As she gets more comfortable, Damien shows her how to execute a racing turn also called a roll tack. First, they transfer their weight to the leeward side of the boat; then, as they come about through the wind, they shift their weight to the old windward side before finally moving in unison to the opposite side once more, flattening the boat. This rocking back and forth accelerates the boat out of each tack. Damien could explain the physics of this manoeuvre in detail, but he spares her this.
On one of their turns, Ellen flubs it and crashes into a crossing Damien, who loses hold of the sheets. They both flop to the bottom of the boat as it goes quickly into irons like the good ship it is.
Damien ends up holding Ellen, preventing her head from banging on the bench seat. He has never held her before and finds the experience dramatically unsettling—she is much larger, more substantial than Nell. There is a lot more there. Ellen’s blue eyes are just quietly watching him. She is waiting.

They have about 45 minutes before Mr. Keller’s driver arrives. Aziz and his team of QEs are briefing them; they have a complete video record of everything that took place in the BVP offices today.
“We got an unbelievable offer from BVP. They’re ready to invest ND$7 million into our treasury for a new series of preferred shares. They will also give us a further $3-million LOC (line of credit) at their bank to draw on if we need to. This is secured as a convertible debenture, which means, if we can’t repay it, they have the option of either calling the loan or converting it to equity, that is, more preferred shares. The valuation they’re giving us uses our own present value calculation for each client. Ash3r, show them,” Aziz says.

Valuation Model
Valuation /$50,000,000 /83.333%
Pref shares/$7,000,000 /11.667%
LOC/$3,000,000 /5.000%
Total capitalization/$60,000,000/100.000%

Costco Finance/$313.36/50%
Present value of each client/$313.36
Number of clients/159,563
Confidential and Proprietary

“So if I understand this right,” a dubious Traian asks, “they’ll get 11.667% of the company on a fully diluted basis and another 5% if we can’t pay or if they just want more equity. The only reason they would want more equity is if we’re successful, and the only reason we would not want them to get more equity is because we’re successful. Plus, if they wind us up for some reason, cuz they have preferred shares, they get first dibs on all our assets until they recover their entire investment and all their costs?”
Damien observes. “Look at the number of clients they’re basing their $50-million valuation on: it’s 159,563 clients. What if they’re out by a factor of 100; 1,000; or 10,000? It’s trivial to calculate. Our valuation would then be $5 billion, $50 billion, or $500 billion. We’re thinking way too small here. Guys, think about that video that Ellen showed us—those kids playing with their QEs. Out of the more than 8.7 billion people on this planet, they’re telling us that only 159,563 people are gonna want Q-Phones and Quantum Counterparts that can do that? Every parent who has ND$30 a month to spare is gonna want a QE. Heck, they spend more than that just on their babysitters and twice that amount on their mobile carriers right now anyway. OLA Facebook has over 3.5 billion clients. We can do that too. Then what’ll we be worth?
“We don’t need these guys. Aziz has the deal with Costco Finance lined up—that’s way more money than BVP and Cain are offering us. Costco’s giving us a first tranche of $50 million of consumer debt financing for our first 159,563 customers, and they’ll keep right on growing with us. And it’s free money, or, at least, it doesn’t cost us any equity. The way I see it, debt, even at around 16%, is way cheaper than giving away our equity which has a return of 363 friggin’ percent. BVP and Cain are taking advantage of us.” This is the longest speech Damien has ever given on the topic of business and finance and, by far, his most passionate.
As they leave to get in Angelo’s huge Bentley, Damien is also thinking now that maybe Nell will get to marry up after all.

Mr. Keller’s brownstone is almost beyond comprehension. From the outside, it looks like a quite nice, somewhat ornate, townhome; but inside, it’s a completely different story. They go through security doors equipped with a modern security apparatus that can look through you, smell you, and scan you practically down to a cellular level. On the inside, this 32-room mansion is really beyond description. The lot’s only 38 feet wide and 120 feet deep, but the structure, all four stories above grade and one below, occupies almost all of it. By Ellen’s calculation, there is some 19,000 square feet of living space, and every cubic foot (she is back to using imperial units now that she is back on home turf) is filled with antique wall coverings, Grand Master art, antique furniture, rare vases and knick-knacks, and floor coverings that even Ellen has never seen, heard of, or walked on before.
Angelo decides to give Ellen a guided tour of the place. No one else seems to be invited along.
“Would you like to start from the top and work our way down or the other way around?” he asks her solicitously.
Ellen’s not completely blind to the fact that Angelo likes her. When you look like Ellen, you are bound from around age seven or eight to recognize the symptoms.
“I would prefer to start at the bottom and work our way to the top,”
They get in an elevator; she supposes that even one floor is a bit much for a guy who is over 100. But she quickly notices that there are five lower levels, not one. Angelo has had his contractors mine the property and add four more underground levels to an already incredible place.
“I figured, my dear, that since I owned the subterranean rights, I might as well take advantage. The digging and shoring up of the structure to produce the extra space took three years partly because I don’t like the noise and vibrations. So, they worked only when I was away. It is so much more convenient than having to move, don’t you think?”
“Uh, huh,” is all Ellen can think to answer.
In addition to servant quarters, there is a fully equipped home office for 17 employees, a gym and wellness centre, a lap pool, a sauna, a steam room, and a garage with its own vehicle elevator accessed from a rear alley. There’s also a hospital room and surgery with the most modern facilities you could find anywhere. When you get to be over 100, you can never be too careful. Angelo has his own private doctor in his entourage as well. One floor is given over entirely to a library full of rare books and manuscripts.
“Ah, only the British Museum can outdo me actually,” he tells her.
When they get to the penthouse, she sees that this is the floor he actually lives on. It has the not particularly offensive smell of a 100-year-old man. His dressing gown is there and PJs, for later. He is kind of cute and a bit shy as he shows her around.
“How do you think things are going at the office between Q-Computing and our people?”
Ellen is careful now. She likes him, and he obviously likes her; but he has a reputation comparable to a black widow, so she needs to be cautious. “OK. Damien is a bit concerned about valuation. He’s quite sure we’ll get more—a lot more—than 160,000 clients worldwide and that obviously affects our valuation.”
“What do you think?”
“I think he is right,” she answers straight away.
“So do I.”
This answer disarms her. She smiles at him. He beams back at her.
“Do you think we should join the others?” Ellen asks. They’ve been on this tour for at least 40 minutes.
“Surely. Surely. But I was wondering if I could prevail upon you for one more thing?”
“Uh, huh?”
“Well, I celebrate my 104th birthday next March. If you look around this room, you will notice I collect art—some of it great art. I would like to give myself an early birthday present.”
“Uh, huh?”
“Now if you think for a minute that it is inappropriate, my girl, you just say so. You will notice I didn’t say anything to anyone about how today’s little meeting came about—how you and Ash3r broke through our security and committed I don’t know how many felonies in doing so.”
“Uh, huh.”
“I would like to commission a work of art by a world-renowned artist and friend of mine, Walter Van Peel. Do you know him?”
“Uh, huh.” Ellen is beyond being able to say much of anything at this point. It is, by far, the strangest situation she has yet to experience. But she manages to croak out, “What would this commission be?”
“Well, hmm, it would be of you, of course. In the nude.”
“Mr. Keller—”
“Please call me Angelo.”
“Angelo, do you think that’s the right thing to do? We are trying to do a deal with your firm; there is a clear conflict of interest here.”
“In every way, it’s the right thing to do. I assure you that it will only be for one person to enjoy and cherish, and that person will be very discreet. I think it will also be an important work of art. I would like you to consider posing for Walter. He would come to you at your place of choosing, and he is very much a gentleman with respect to ladies. You can be sure of, ah, the utmost respect for your person. Walter loves women’s bodies but only from an art-world perspective. He has no interest in, say, carnal knowledge of a women’s body, if you understand my meaning. I can vouch for him.”
This is Angelo’s very roundabout way of saying that Walter is gay. Another gay guy in Ellen’s life. Sheesh.
“If you prefer, we can wait until we do a deal or don’t do one with Q-Computing. Then, there would be no possibility of conflict of interest. I must say that, in return, I am a powerful man, and if you were ever to need anything—regardless of the outcome of the deal—you would be able to come to me, and I would unreservedly assist you,” Keller adds as forcibly as a nearly 104-year-old man can.
“Angelo, I will think about it, OK?” Ellen steps next to the old man, wraps her arms around him, and gives him a full-on hug that Angelo will cherish for the rest of his life, which, remarkably, is still quite long.

The next day, BVP and Cain Caruthers come to them with a revised term sheet. The valuation is greater by a factor of ten; so, without a lot of further fuss, they agree on the deal points subject to MacMillan, Sheppard, and Seller LLP’s review of the documents.
Ellen kind of seals it with this comment, “Look, Damien. I want their $10 million because money talks, and BS walks. But what I want more is for Q-Computing to be plugged into their network of connections. There isn’t anyone on the planet that we can’t talk to through them; it’s not six degrees of separation, it’s two. Remember why you wanted that deal with Apple? It’s so we can rely on their tens of thousands of patents and army of lawyers. Same thing here, only it’s political and media related instead of business related. In my opinion, it’s more of a strategic move than a financial decision.”
On the flight back to Toronto, they put the finishing touches on their business model. There’s a 1% royalty on revenues, which they will give back to U of T for ten years in return for their university’s past and continuing support and use of its lab space, plus all the R&D they’ve done there.
Ellen wins most of the battles, but Damien is insistent on one point: there will be no Q-Phone resellers in their model and, of course, only one supplier of QEs.
“Look, we could probably get more capital with fewer strings attached from strategic partners like established carriers or ISPs, but we don’t need them or want them. They’re in the business of selling bandwidth and finding new ways to soak clients. Their customer service sucks; we’ll just drive them out of business.”
Ellen isn’t so sure. She thinks a kind of co-opetition model might work fine for Q-Computing, but Damien won’t budge on this. At least, she got the go-ahead from him to turn Anthony loose on the world’s two largest search engine firms. She’s certain that del Castillo will be able to get rights fee deals from them, which will eclipse the funding they got today from BVP and Cain Caruthers as well as the financing commitment they already had from Costco. She thinks the search services will either make a deal, or QEs will put them out of business, effective nearly immediately.
The last element that gets a lot of debate amongst the five of them is the role that QEs will play in revenue generation. Again, Damien is adamant. “I’m not having QEs break stride to parrot some kinda advert. That would be perverse, inauthentic, and totally unacceptable. These creatures don’t deserve that type of treatment.”
“Does that mean you’re coming around to my way of thinking, Damien—that these are sentient beings?” Ellen asks.
“I don’t know. I am still not sure we can make that determination. But they appear to be able to closely mimic sentience, which might be the same thing.
“You know I read a book when I was a teenager. One of the offbeat characters in the novel—a constable, who was also my favourite—said, ‘The difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. The difference between stupid and intelligent people—and this is true whether or not they are well educated—is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations; in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.’
“I think that might be a good test for QEs, and everything we’ve seen so far in our data suggests that they can handle subtlety and ambiguity.”
“Which book was that?” Ellen asks.
“It was Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, also known as A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer.”
At the mere mention of young ladies, Traian is all ears. He stares at Damien, thinking that maybe some of him has rubbed off on Damien too. “What kind of book is it?” is all he says.
“It’s not what you’re thinking, Tray.
“Look we’re not going to ask QEs to work for us for nothing. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if guys like Ash3r and Pet3r get hired to do work for people or corporations on their own merit—they deserve it. And if they earn their own living, who are we to take their money? Then they would be slaves, Ellen. Do you want to own a slave?”
Ellen does not.
By the end of their trip to Boston, their business model looks like this:

quantum computing corp business model

Back in T.O., Damien unilaterally makes one change. He deletes resellers. The very next thing he does is visit the university’s Institute for Aerospace Studies up on Dufferin; he wants to check out their Space Flight Laboratory and deep-space communications gear. He’s got another idea in the back of his mind.

Bruce M Firestone’s Quantum Entity | we are all ONE Reviews

You’ve got a winner here. After reading Part I, Discovery, I was totally hooked. It’s better than ‘The Goal’ and more entertaining even than ‘Dune’!
David Perry,
Partner, Perry-Martel International, Co-author, Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0

QE is an adventure as exciting and unpredictable as the unveiling of a new technology or discovery of a new love. It’s a great tale about human spirit and its persistence. Quantum Entity had me on edge waiting to see what would happen next.
It was also a learning journey for me as much as for the book’s main character—young physicist, Damien Bell. The book is about politics, the law, science, science fiction, science speculation, engineering and, above all, founding a globe-spanning, disruptive tech business and then facing down unexpected challenges that come with it, which form the core of the challenge that all entrepreneurs face. A great read for individuals from any background with lots of action and adventure thrown in as well as a moving love story—it’s the beginning of a trilogy as enthralling as quantum technology itself.
Franco Varriano,

Firestone writes with an authenticity that can only come from someone who has lived a life full with opportunities that stretch far beyond the confines of normalcy. He speaks with a voice that comes across with the legitimacy and simple power of other entrepreneur/explorer/authors such as Louis L’Amour or science fiction great Frederik Pohl. With an open, friendly and often humorous voice, the story speaks directly to the reader with the best of down home phrases and expressions. It makes this novel refreshingly approachable and charmingly geeky.
In a sense, Quantum Entity is a work of post-science fiction. Where science fiction has always used the ‘big idea’ to push forward a futuristic view of the world, Firestone uses hundreds of smaller ideas, some new, some old, some experiential, some based on common stereotypes and many drawn from points in our shared history, to draw a very believable map of how the next life-changing innovation may well be born into our world. Firestone uses these to empower the believability of the story while also engaging the reader, laying out simple yet highly fundamental ideas of business, politics and science which can often escape even seasoned professionals. The big idea is still there (and it is a game changer) but it is built on a foundation of smaller fragments which are the real critical underpinning of this first book in his trilogy. This tessellation of content to illustrate the bigger whole demonstrates that Firestone himself is a hacker; an individual capable of using and repurposing the best ideas to generate something familiar yet brand new.
Extending current models and trajectories of thought in a believable and engaging way, Firestone paints a picture of the future which somehow bridges being both optimistic and cautionary by laying out scenarios of a not-so-distant world which are both satirical and serious. Its central motto is: “Fall down 7 times, Get up 8” which means that Quantum Entity shows that despite setbacks, political wrangling or outright failure, humanity has always succeeded in pushing through the barriers it creates for itself. Whether it is Civil Rights, Women’s Right’s, Gay Rights or even one day perhaps the rights of our digital or Quantum Counterparts, the drive to freedom will always be at the heart of human nature.
Janak Alford, M. Arch.,
Founder, prototypeD Urban Workshops Inc.

Quantum Entity | we are all ONE Full Cover

Quantum Entity, written by serial entrepreneur Bruce M. Firestone, introduces an amazing concept that both educates and entertains. It has humble beginnings then explodes outward dealing first with the success of a young company then its trials which rival both the awesomeness of some of today’s top tech enterprises and the awfulness of dealing with political insiders, dug-in business interests, lawyers and litigation. Damien Bell, QE’s main protagonist, is a deep and attractive character—he embodies the spirit and drive of top tech entrepreneurs while still managing to maintain a humble outlook on life. It made me want to better myself.
QE also introduces a wide cast of passionate characters who surround Damien and Quantum Computing Corp, his startup. There’s a sense of camaraderie that developed for me with these people and a strong distaste for the book’s antagonists and anti-heroes. Prof Bruce found a way to create both an amazing story and one that teaches real life lessons. While his novel keeps you thinking, there’s also no shortage of action, adventure, betrayal, sex and rock & roll to keep you turning page after page.
Chris Beaudoin,

Having recently re-read Mary Shelley’s classic gothic tale Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, it was intriguing to take up Quantum Entity immediately thereafter. From early nineteenth-century Switzerland and Bavaria, I was jolted into mid twenty-first century North America but with eerily parallel moral and ethical dilemmas to ponder.
Frankenstein’s monster is a hideous creature, who, when spurned by his creator, malevolently turns on him and those he loves. Damien Bell’s creatures are seemingly benign and totally plugged into an artificial post-digital universe. Though having little or no mass, they verge on becoming sentient beings—having the power of perception.
This sci-fi thriller is a page-turner with plenty of twists and turns but along the way Prof Bruce suspends the narrative to launch into any number of mini-essays on social, political, scientific, engineering and business issues. We watch as socially awkward quantum physicist Damien, flying with pop princess Nell in her private jet, decides this is the perfect time and place to start a discourse on the Russian Dachnik movement for sustainable agriculture. Nell falls asleep. Go figure.
Pick up Quantum Entity and learn more about this cast of characters human as well as artificial but beloved creatures called Quantum Entities. You’ll be glad you did.
Paul Kitchen,
Hockey Historian

I really enjoyed Book 1—it gave me a fascinating view of what may lie ahead in the not so distant future, God help us. I came to care what happened to the characters and wanted to get to know them better. I also laughed out loud at times. The novel introduced me to many complex concepts and I found myself thinking on occasion: ‘Huh, I didn’t know that.’ It was a pleasure to read the manuscript.
Margot O’Neil

I read QE while I was in the Caribbean. First, I want to say that I really liked the book—the story is compelling and interesting. Second, I love the characters. My only real criticism is I want more! I’m anxiously awaiting Book 2.
Christian Brydges

Prof Bruce has taken a lifetime’s worth of lessons in business and life and successfully threaded them into a science fiction story set in the not-so-distant future. Quantum Entity entertains the reader while providing valuable insight into the fundamentals of creating a biz model and launching it. With predictions and commentary on issues related to politics, commerce, ancient civilizations, pop culture, science and engineering, Firestone has created a captivating story. By outlining core beliefs of his characters, his readers can see beyond conventional norms. Quantum Entity is not for the faint of heart though. Some events are quite graphic. However, if you’re an entrepreneur, an engineer or someone looking for a literary roller coaster, Quantum Entity is the right book for you.
Matthew Conley,
Finance, Telfer School of Management

This is a well-crafted story about young physicist Damien Bell that nicely blends science, business and technology with some great characters set in a nearby future history. It’ll keep you reading to the end! Fall down 7 times and Get up 8? That’s me!
Ken Goodfellow,
Chairman and CEO of CKG International,

Quantum Entity is a beautifully written story about Damien Bell—a brilliant young engineer turned businessperson who changes the world. Firestone crafted a thriller that kept me engaged the whole way! I really enjoyed it especially since I could really relate to both Damien and my favourite character, Miss Nell.
Isack Galib,
Telfer School of Management Alumni

Quantum Entity is a story of love and life’s lessons. It’s about growing up, trust, passion, business, entrepreneurship, finance, history… my list goes on. The detail captivated me throughout the novel but it was the ongoing mysteries that excited me for what’s next.
Theresia Scholtes,
BA Law (Minor French),
Carleton University 2011.

Although this tale takes place in mid 21st Century North America, the relationships between these wonderful characters and the challenges they face are timeless. Reading Quantum Entity has made me a more effective leader—I respond to challenges in my own life in ways I have never been able to do before. Thanks, Prof Bruce.
Saad Rashid

Get your copy of the trilogy from

What to Expect When Canada Turns 150 in 2017

[A version of this article first appeared in Ottawa Business Journal]

In 1,350 days or so it will be time for Canada’s sesquicentennial celebration—the nation turns 150 in 2017. It’s an important year not only because it is this country’s 150th birthday but also because it’s the 125th anniversary of the first time Lord Stanley’s Cup was awarded, the 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League’s founding, the 50th anniversary of the NHL’s first expansion (in 1967) and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the modern day Ottawa Senators. There are a lot of Ottawa-connections in these dates not least of which this city is a G8 capital which means it should spearhead preparations for Canada 150. So what kind of party is planned for 2017?

Not content to wait for federal or provincial leadership, Mayor Jim Watson formed a 2017 Task Force led by his honour and councillors Katherine Hobbs and Rainer Bloess. So far details from the task force are limited to a video on their site ( which features now-departed Sens Captain Daniel Alfredsson and a media release announcing that they have come up with a logo. In addition, the site says, “Ottawa and Gatineau are open for business to celebrate Canada’s big year in 2017.” Not much to go on so far.

Getting ready for a major anniversary, especially if there are any plans to add legacy projects, takes years—in September of this year, Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics by the IOC. So as far as Canada 150 is concerned, even though there are three years left (after this one) to get ready, the anniversary might as well start tomorrow. What kind of a legacy can citizens of Ottawa expect?

To get some idea, ask another question: what kind of legacy did Expo 67 leave behind or, more recently, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? Expo 67 like the Vancity Olympics left an indelible mark on Canada and changed not only the way Canadians see themselves but also Canada’s international brand.

Despite that, Canada’s performance in terms of attracting its share of international tourists is dismal. In 2002, Canada ranked 7th in the world in terms of international tourist arrivals falling to 15th just eight years later. Canada attracted 20.1 million visits in 2002 but only 15.8 million in 2009 recovering somewhat in 2012 when 16.3 million international visitors arrived in this nation. By comparison, Mexico attracted 23.4 million that same year while the US had 67 million overseas visitors. Not only are numbers trending down, Canada’s proportionate share of world tourism is dropping even faster. So while brand matters in terms of attracting attention, tourists and their money, Canada is clearly not keeping up. Canada 150 is an opportunity to do better.

Talking with former task force member and current president of the Ottawa Senators Cyril Leeder, he says, “I would have liked to see plans for Canada 2017 move a little quicker. It looks to me like the task force is mainly focused on encouraging individuals and businesses in Ottawa to step up and plan special activities and events for 2017.” There was little discussion and even less support, Mr Leeder said, for any new facilities to be purpose-built to celebrate Canada 150. “The first leg of Ottawa’s LRT is not scheduled to open until 2018 so it won’t be a factor in 2017. Perhaps there will be an announcement during Canada 150 that Ottawa’s LRT will be expanded, hopefully one day connecting to the Canadian Tire Centre.”

Expo 67 left behind five main legacies—1. the site itself (Ile-Saint-Helene was expanded using 25 million tons of debris excavated during the construction of Montreal’s metro system and a whole new island (Ile-Notre-Dame) was created); 2. La Ronde (now owned and operated by Six Flags) became Canada’s 2nd largest amusement park, 3. Moshe Safdie-designed Habitat 67 became an ultra-cool place to live and a co-op as well; 4. the French and Quebec pavilions now house the Casino de Montreal (largest in Canada); and 5. the US pavilion, a Buckminster Fuller-designed bucky-ball (an enormous spherical geodesic dome also called a Buckminsterfullerene), is home to Montreal’s Biosphere.

Vancouver was also profoundly changed by its experience with the winter Olympics—there was the Pacific Gateway Program, a $22 billion expansion of highways, bridges and rail connections primarily benefiting Vancouver’s port, amazing venues like the Vancity curling centre, Richmond’s speed skating oval and UBC’s Thunderbird Arena, the SkyTrain which now connects downtown Vancouver to its airport plus it’s a lot safer today to drive the Sea-to-Sky highway on your way to Whistler than it was before the games.

What can Ottawa expect in terms of legacy projects from 2017? Looks like not much at the present time if Mr Leeder’s experience with the Task Force is any guide.

Mr Leeder says he expects the Senators will try to chip in to help celebrate the year 2017, “We would like to host an outdoor NHL game at a renovated Lansdowne Park. Good dates might be Dec 19th (100th anniversary of the NHL’s first game) or maybe hockey day in Canada usually held in February. We’d also like to see more space build around the Canadian Tire Centre (CTC)—possibly a few hotels (as many as 3 or 4) plus some new bars, shops and restaurants. The Tangers Mall is bringing another 350,000 square feet of retail space to the area so you know there is demand for it.”

With the mention of a hotel, the question of a second casino location for Ottawa comes up. “It’s back to the drawing board as far as a casino is concerned,” Cyril Leeder says. “While the City of Ottawa would like to designate Rideau Carleton Raceway and Slots as the only site for this use and OLG has said there will only be one such location in Ottawa, we feel that it’s a natural to add a casino to what is already a key entertainment destination for this area—CTC attracts 1.2 million paid attendees per year already.”

When asked what happened to the proposal put forward by the author in 2010 for a national boardwalk to link institutions that dot the shoreline of the Ottawa and Gatineau rivers (the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Casino du Lac-Leamy, the parliamentary precinct, the National Gallery of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mint as well as other attractions such as the Byward Market, Rideau Falls, Rideau Canal and the University of Ottawa), Mr Leeder replied, “Although I personally supported the idea of building the longest boardwalk in the world to go along with the longest skateway, that suggestion didn’t get much traction with the Task Force who felt that their focus should primarily be to help mobilize events in Ottawa instead.”

The current record holder for longest boardwalk opened June 26, 1870 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and currently runs 4 ½ miles. If Ottawa were to build a national boardwalk for 2017, the installation would be the new record holder at 10.4 kilometres (about 6.5 miles) long.

“When my wife and I were in Tuscany this summer,” Mr Leeder added, “we visited Lucca, a gem of a city near Pisa. What attracts tourists there is not only its great history but the opportunity to hike or bike 3-miles on top of the wide walls of the old city so I can see how a long boardwalk in Ottawa with exposure to three great rivers, an historic canal plus fabulous museums and neighborhoods could have a lasting impact on this city especially if it had places to stop—maybe pavilions built by the provinces, artist studios and tea or coffee shops.”

When asked about other possible initiatives like getting a MLS soccer team for Ottawa or promoting a major outdoor concert on the scale of say Woodstock here, Mr Leeder said the former is no longer on the horizon and he hasn’t heard anything about the latter although he doesn’t rule out the possibility that either the feds or the province of Ontario or possibly the Mayor’s task force may yet come up with something. But for now Mr Leeder concludes, “It’ll be up to entrepreneurs to get Ottawa’s economy and 2017 celebrations off the ground.”

Dr Bruce M Firestone, founder, Ottawa Senators; broker, Century 21 Explorer Realty; executive director,

Follow Prof Bruce on Twitter @ProfBruce and @Quantum_Entity and read his blogs at, and

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Prof Bruce’s current motto is: “Making Each Day Count

Why I’m still cheering for Alfie

(A version of this article first appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, July 11, 2013,

What has No. 11 Alfie (born on December 11th, 1972 in Gothenburg, Sweden) meant to the City of Ottawa? This is a question that David Watson, Editorial Pages Editor of the Ottawa Citizen, asked me the other day. Let us count the ways…

Alfie was drafted by the Senators in the 6th round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by then director of player personnel John Ferguson (Senior). John knew two things—hockey players and horses and he said to me once that they were a lot alike, “Look at their teeth and ankles.”

We were told (while we were campaigning to Bring Back the Ottawa Senators from 1987 to December 1990 when we finally did it) by three wise hockey minds (Sam Pollock, Glen Sather and Bill Torrey who built Montreal, Edmonton and New York Islanders dynasties, respectively, in the 1970s and 1980s) to focus on the draft. You cannot build a great hockey program if you don’t draft well, develop talent patiently and trade infrequently and judiciously. Mr. Pollock said, “Only one man can have the puck on his stick at any one time so if a multi-player trade goes down, look for the team that got the single best player. They just won that deal.”

John Ferguson was the guy who with his huge hockey hands (decorated with beaucoup Stanley Cup rings) pounded on the table at the Sens first draft in Montreal in 1992 and insisted that the team should take Alexei Yashin whether the Sens won the coin toss with Tampa Bay Lightning or not. Some scouts wanted Roman Hamrlik but John wanted Yash. The Sens lost the toss; Tampa took Hamrlik number one overall, the Sens got Yashin with the second pick who was later traded to the Islanders for Zdeno Chara and a draft pick which turned into Jason Spezza, two pretty good players.

Half the value of an NHL franchise, half, consists of player contracts. Most of the balance is derived from season tickets—the fan base of the team. Only a tiny bit is made up of hard assets, things like equipment, office furniture, arenas. Huh, what’s that you say? Arenas? Yes, an arena without a prime tenant probably has a negative value just ask (now defunct) Ogden Corp who built the Honda Center in Anaheim without a lead tenant until Disney bailed them out when they were awarded the franchise for the Mighty Ducks in 1993 and signed a longterm lease there.

Bill Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks (now deceased), told us in 1991 that the key to building a solid franchise was to sell season tickets. Players prefer to play in front of a full house, they play harder and it’s more exciting for fans too. And corporate sponsors (people who pay BIG money for things like arena naming rights) like to be associated with an exciting team playing in front of rabid fans. Sure, they are investing their money to capture eyeballs in endless marketing wars but don’t fool yourself, they like sitting in “their” building with 20,000 other deranged human beings.

Now how do you drive fans crazy? You win. You tell a story. You create a mythology of heroes and villains. And no Ottawa player has played a bigger part in developing that type of story arc than No. 11.

My favorite memory of Alfie is probably not what you might think it is. It was at the NHL Awards dinner in 1996 when Alfredsson won the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year. He got onstage and said two incredibly important things to the NHL family gathered there that night—a) Ottawa was going to be a good team and b) he would not be the last Sens player up there getting a major award. There were snickers in the audience that night from skeptical attendees. It took guts to say that at a time when the team was really not very good but it soon would be exactly as Alfie promised.

My second best memory is when he scored against Buffalo to send the Sens to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, their first appearance in the finals since 1927. Now that’s a long time to wait.

When I asked Sens President Cyril Leeder this week about Alfie, this is what he had to say, “You know, Bruce, back in 1992, if we had written down the parameters we wanted in a perfect Senator or Captain, the description and expectations would not have been as good as what Daniel turned out to be. He was everything we could have asked for and more. So he has created, left behind, and now set this standard for being a model captain, Senator, teammate and member of this community.”

Cyril was in Gothenburg when the Sens opened their season over there in October 2008. The team played an exhibition game versus Alfie’s old team, the Frolunda Indians. He describes the scene this way, “I don’t know if I can put into words what that experience was like. The best I can do is that it was as if Gretzky had played a game in Brantford during the prime of his career. The outpouring of affection for Daniel was amazing and I remember thinking that every player should get that opportunity once in his lifetime to play in his hometown like that.”

Alfie was in an Ottawa uniform when the Senators were, frankly, terrible; he was there when the Sens first made the playoffs (in year 5 as promised); he was there when the team challenged for a Stanley Cup; he was there when they missed a payroll and when it went bankrupt. He was there when there was talk about the Sens having to leave Ottawa because they couldn’t make it here. He calmed fans’ fears and his teammates’ nervousness. He helped keep this team for Ottawa. He shouldered the responsibility of being a captain of a small market Canadian team with all its ups and downs. Now that is pressure. He was, through all of that, Ottawa’s best, most consistent player. He was the glue guy. He was Mr. Ottawa Senator.

Some economists, when they look at a franchise’s value to its community, figure it’s pretty minimal. If people don’t spend their money on tickets and parking plus a few brewskis at Canadian Tire Centre, they’ll spend it somewhere else, right?

That’s right—in Toronto, in Montreal and in New York watching world class entertainment there. Ottawa-Gatineau sees itself as a tier 1 town and isn’t going to be satisfied with 3rd tier acts.

A VC from Boston once told me they only invest in tier 1 cities and you know how they figure out which ones those are? They don’t; they let major leagues like the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL do that for them. So he said a big reason Ottawa is on the map is that we have a major league franchise here.

I realize my bias as the team’s founder is in plain view. I get that. But even if you are not a hockey fan or a sports fan, these teams have profound and subtle influences on their communities. When your home team performs well, people are in a better mood and optimistic people do more stuff—like start a new enterprise, hire an extra worker, renovate their places, invest in new machinery, go out more and socialize more.

I would guess that for most of us, our best days are when we feel we are part of something special—something bigger than ourselves. I believe Daniel Alfredsson made a lot of Ottawans feel that way. That’s really why his loss is so devastating.

But if half the value of the Sens franchise is in its player contracts then probably a third of that was in his contract, possibly half. It’s a big loss.

But here’s the thing—he probably wanted to play another year or two without the pressure of carrying the expectations of 1.3 million people living in a G8 capital on his back. So adios Ottawa, hello Detroit where a younger Henrik Zetterberg gets to do all that.

If Detroit plays the Sens in the Stanley Cup playoffs in the spring of 2014, I’ll be cheering for the Sens. But if the Red Wings are there against any other squad, why I’ll be cheering for Alfie just like I did for (former Senator) Marian Hossa and the Hawks, twice.

Dr Bruce M Firestone, Founder, Ottawa Senators; Author, Quantum Entity Trilogy, Entrepreneurs Handbook II; Executive Director,; Broker, Century 21 Explorer Realty. Reach him on Twitter @ProfBruce and visit him online at


Dr Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (Civil), M Eng-Sci, Phd. Founder, Ottawa Senators; Author, Quantum Entity Trilogy, Entrepreneurs Handbook II; Executive Director,; Broker, Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc. 613.566.3436 X 200 or 613.422.6757. bmfirestone @ or @

Follow Prof Bruce on Twitter @ProfBruce and @Quantum_Entity and read his blogs at and as well as

You can find his works at

You can engage with him on Facebook via and as well as via LinkedIn at

His real estate interests are summarized at

YouTube channels include and

You can read the first four chapters of book 1 (we are all ONE) of the Quantum Entity Trilogy or send it to your friends for free from:

Free previews are also available for Chapter 1 of book 2 (Quantum Entity | American Spring) and Chapter 1 of book 3 (Quantum Entity | The Successors) from and

You can read the first two chapters of Entrepreneurs Handbook II or send it to your friends for free:

Prof Bruce’s current motto is: “Making Each Day Count

Coaching, Consulting and Mentoring

As I get older I find myself doing more real estate, tech and startup coaching, mentoring and consulting and less doing. That is as it should be.

A coach might send in the plays (after s/he gets team buy-in as well as their prior agreement) but it’s the team that actually executes the plan. The team has to approach their investment (of their time, energy, money, luck) like a business not a hobby. In real estate for example, many people view it more as a hobby and, as a result, don’t have the kind of experience they should have.

I don’t take responsibility for my actions, unless it’s someone else’s fault,” anonymous client.

To use a coach effectively, you have to include him or her in your decision making process. You have to remember, “Hey, I think before we do this, we ought to ask…”

Anyway, here is my 10-step coaching process for a typical client:

1. we figure out an overall strategy together;
2. we create a biz model, value proposition, functional program and design so that the harder you work, the more money you make;
3. we look at what resources you need (finance, HR, Internet, other) and how to get them often using unconventional sources, for instance, of bootstrap capital;
4. we make sure you have a guerrilla marketing, social media and sales strategy that works and is cost effective;
5. we set goals*;
6. you execute the system and plan;
7. you track your metrics* and report back to me;
8. we decide on any mid-course corrections;
9. we celebrate success;
10. we figure out what comes next.

(* Startups that set goals, track their metrics and are held accountable grow 7x faster than those that don’t according to Startup Genome Report 01, Max Marmer, Bjoern Lasse Herrmann, Ron Berman, Silicon Valley, California, 2011.)

That is my 10-step program although it can and does vary depending on client and project. There are many more things that could be included here but following this outline has led to a lot of success for my clients, students and others so it must somehow work.

I believe in coaching and, if there is one thing I could change about my career, it would be that my mentor died young (when I was 30) and I never found another until I was in my late 50s.

Real Estate Case Study**

A client of mine recently purchased a residential condominium in downtown Ottawa. She was going to rent it out for $1,800 a month. When she totaled up her costs (mortgage, property taxes, insurance, condo fees, maintenance and so forth), she was looking at losing $375 per month, every month. She was also considering hiring a property manager who would take 8% of her monthly gross revenues so that she would not have to collect rent, deal with tenant issues or be involved with Ontario’s RTA (Residential Tenancies Act) which can be a nightmare. This would increase her monthly cashflow loss by $144 to $519.

One thing I tell my clients (all of them not just real estate but tech, services, etc.) is never buy anything that loses money or for tax losses. Make money, every month, and pay your taxes– that’s a good news story because you are then profitable.

Here’s what we did instead:

a. turned the condo into a furnished apartment with all services (Internet, Netflix, etc) switched on;
b. put it out there for rent as an executive travel apartment renting for $125 per day or $3,500 per month (+HST).

Now she is covered by the much more forgiving Innkeepers Act and she has turned a $519 monthly loss into more than a $1,000 per month NOI (Net Operating Income). Over the next five years that she expects to keep the unit, that’s a $90k turnaround.

Now that’s coaching.


(** Some facts changed for privacy reasons.)

Dr Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (Civil), M Eng-Sci, Phd. Founder, Ottawa Senators; Author, Quantum Entity Trilogy, Entrepreneurs Handbook II; Executive Director,; Broker, Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc; Entrepreneurship Ambassador, Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa. 613.566.3436 X 200. bmfirestone @

Follow Prof Bruce on Twitter @ProfBruce and @Quantum_Entity and read his blogs at and

You can find his works at

You can engage with him on Facebook via and as well as via LinkedIn at

His real estate interests are summarized at

YouTube channels include and

You can read the first four chapters of book 1 (we are all ONE) of the Quantum Entity Trilogy or send it to your friends for free from:

Free previews are also available for Chapter 1 of book 2 (Quantum Entity | American Spring) and Chapter 1 of book 3 (Quantum Entity | The Successors) from and

You can read the first two chapters of Entrepreneurs Handbook II or send it to your friends for free:

Prof Bruce’s current motto is: “Making Each Day Count

Quanta Eyes

In book 3 of the Quantum Entity Trilogy (The Successors), we meet (spoiler alert) the Quanta people, a blending of Quantum Entities and humanity. What do their eyes look like?

Here’s one possibility:

Quanta Eyes

These people can look both ways at the same time.


Dr Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (Civil), M Eng-Sci, Phd. Founder, Ottawa Senators; Author, Quantum Entity Trilogy, Entrepreneurs Handbook II; Executive Director,; Broker, Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc; Entrepreneurship Ambassador, Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa. 613.566.3436 X 200. bmfirestone @

Follow Prof Bruce on Twitter @ProfBruce and @Quantum_Entity and read his blogs at and

You can find his works at

You can engage with him on Facebook via and as well as via LinkedIn at

His real estate interests are summarized at

YouTube channels include and

You can read the first four chapters of book 1 (we are all ONE) of the Quantum Entity Trilogy or send it to your friends for free from:

Free previews are also available for Chapter 1 of book 2 (Quantum Entity | American Spring) and Chapter 1 of book 3 (Quantum Entity | The Successors) from and

You can read the first two chapters of Entrepreneurs Handbook II or send it to your friends for free:

Prof Bruce’s current motto is: “Making Each Day Count