Hello, 2017


2016 was one heck of a year. It started with a fairly big shakeup professionally. I didn’t end up taking much time off; instead I started meeting with lots of people and looking for my next adventure.

In July, 2016 I announced the launch of my new startup, Highline BETA. Over the second half of 2016, Marcus (my co-founder) and I, started to clarify, refine and build out our vision and plans for the company. As you might expect (if you’ve ever started a company), we’ve experienced the startup rollercoaster. It’s real.

So to summarize 2016: Down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up…

That’s not a perfect visualization of last year, but it was definitely interesting.

Enough about the past. What does 2017 hold for me?

I fully expect an ongoing rollercoaster ride for myself and Highline BETA. I’m not sure there’s any other way to figure things out, and in my experience, entrepreneurs feel every good and bad experience incredibly viscerally. Little wins feel like mega-victories, small setbacks feel like the absolute end of the world. With experience, these ups and downs level off, but you still feel ’em plenty strong.

2017 will be a very strong year for Highline BETA:

  • We’re actively working with customers on their innovation strategies and how startups & startup innovation approaches can lead to investing in and co-creating great companies.
  • We’ve started to establish our platform more solidly and secure important partnerships in industries where we’ll be investing. One example is our partnership with Cookhouse Lab in InsurTech. There are more partnerships on the way.
  • We’ve identified a few key investment themes (e.g. InsurTech, Health, FinTech, CPG) where we see a lot of opportunity.
  • We’re engaging in building the corporate-startup ecosystem through efforts such as our “Corporate-Startup Connection Zone” at ResolveTO, where we’ll be making an investment in one of the attending startups.
  • We’re pushing forward with different funding vehicles, including our AngelList Syndicate (we believe AngelList has a huge opportunity to encourage more pre-seed investing in Canada.)
  • We’re building a great team. Stay tuned for job postings and opportunities to work with us.

These are all important building blocks for making Highline BETA successful. There are quite a few moving pieces, but I believe they’ll all work cohesively together, even if it’s not all self-evident today. Startups don’t get built and win overnight.

For me, 2017 is all about establishing Highline BETA’s model and putting the foundational pieces in place to scale in the future. It’s about finding great customers to work with that recognize the importance of leveraging external resources to innovate quickly and successfully, and finding great founders & startups to invest in.

Beyond Highline BETA, I have a few other goals for 2017:

  • Travel to at least 7 new places I’ve never been (2 trips already planned.)
  • Read 10 fiction books (I’ll try and read some non-fiction too, but let’s face it, fiction is more fun!)
  • Do something to push Lean Analytics forward.
  • Lose 10 pounds (I know, I know…)
  • Write more (I only wrote 18 blog posts in 2016.)
  • Convince my older son to build a website for himself (and then help him with it.)
  • Eat less meat (already on the way; the family has committed to 1 week of going vegetarian starting soon.)
  • Help as many entrepreneurs as I can.
  • Help build up the product management community in Toronto (but elsewhere as well.)
  • Laugh. (I did plenty of laughing in 2016 too, no reason to stop now!)

So that’s my plan for 2017. How about you?