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Toronto, Hereditary horror, and CannabisTech 🇨🇦

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Casey Lau

October 29 · Issue #21 · View online
Let's do coffee...but inside a newsletter.

A week inside the Toronto startup-scene
Eric Schmidt interviews Al Gore.
I visited Toronto for the first time (While I was born-and-raised in Vancouver, I came to Hong Kong right after school so I never traveled or worked in Canada proper.) I loved a week in the city and loved the ecosystem there. The vibe is: founders are excited, investors are excited and people from around the world world are taking notice.
Canada is on fire and I’m very excited that Collision is moving there in May 2019. My prediction is that it will rival RISE in terms of excitement and how global attendees will go crazy for it too. Canada is about to go supernova, because it’s about to get a very bright spotlight thrown on it like Portugal got from Web Summit.
Here I am on a panel talking about opportunities in Asia - more like series of shout-outs than a panel.
I was very interested to discover that the Canadian government funds angel groups with the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) - so that every angel group can start investing in their province; from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan and then send the ones that get traction up the chain to the VC’s that also get money from the government - this is how an ecosystem works, people! I spoke at the NACO Summit about Hong Kong and Asia and attended some of the sessions and networked with the attendees and learned a lot about what kind of deals are happening across Canada; so definitely something to check out next year.
Elevate is Toronto’s local startup festival of talks, parties and open houses - the biggest learning here was that all the major startups from Toronto have their HQ 15 minutes walk away from each other - so Shopify, 500px and Ritual are all in the same downtown core radius from each other allowing access to an ecosystem of coffee, food and bars and also within walking distance (probably not in the winter) of corporate HQ’s and VC firms.
Ritual's office in Toronto.
10/17: "The lid is off" in Canada
This is what it must have felt like back in 1933? For better or worse October 17, 2018 will go down in world history as the day that Canada became the second country (Uruguay is #1) to legalize cannabis.
I’m not a “smoker” but I’m interested in how this all works - and it’s not (all) about “hippies getting high” and not just “rolling joints” look at all these new businesses that are coming from it. Even food porn!
3 things I recently discovered:
  1. Snoop Dogg has a CannabisTech fund called Casa Verde run by Karan Wadhera who told me they invest in anything that doesn’t actually touch the “plant,” just the “picks and shovels” in the economy. And just like internet startups, could be where the actually money comes from.
  2. Weed “brands” like Tokyo Smoke already run several coffee shops that “marries third wave coffee with best in class smoking products, a carefully chosen selection that allows visitors to develop their perfect session.” In Toronto where they support the culture without even selling any weed - I guess it was all in place waiting for Oct 17. Forget Cheech and Chong daddy-o, this is the Instagram generation of weed!
  3. At the NACO Summit an investor professed on a panel to getting a patent for cold-pressed marijuana juices and are already in production. What’s more crazy that or the fact that they will use all the leftover weed to make it thus making it one of the biggest zero-waste businesses?!
Not my main focus, but I’ll report back with more as this develops.
"San Francisco is assisted living for Millennials" - Kara Swisher
My Overall Picks of the Week
I got a bunch of feedback from last issues RetailTech recap and so from Mr. Lee Reeves here is the Top 50 list of these D2C brands for you to check out.
Since I am a sucker for them here’s some feedback: I bought Allbirds and didn’t like them enough to keep them (the most comfortable shoes I have ever bought are these Adidas Ultraboost). I bought Mahibas and tossed them. The foam-y Casper bed was too hot. A Bonobos dress shirt wasn’t anything special. Harry’s razors and blades are great and convenient. The Quip toothbrush is OK but the automatic re-fills of toothpaste + new head every 90-days makes it great. I still wear my Warby Parkers everyday still and my Pakt bag is still in active use and was found from the Minimalists Netflix movie and following those guys. Got a pair of Greats and love them.
Still looking to try more new stuff so let me know if you’ve found anything cool that changed your life.
Future of Work Picks
Next month, I go “full millennial” and try out co-living full-time in the new Campfire Home in Hong Kong. I will tell you how it goes in the next issue.
A few good stories about Future of Work I read since the last newsletter:
Pick from Asia
I just started listening and reading is Pandaily - and they have some great insight into the China internet scene - listen to their Tech Buzz China podcast and read their site.
Book picks
FIVE books I want to tell you about:
While I do like reading books they do take a lot of “visual time” (this is probably 85% of our daily wakening life from reading emails to watching YouTube to sitting in a meeting as opposed to doing things without necessarily having to look and concentrate) and while there are audiobooks if you are learning more about stuff in tech I point you to more podcasts because of the amount of “hearing-only” time we have in travel/gym time.
I also wanted to give a shout out to “How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone” by Brian McCullough - it hit book stores and Amazon this week so have a look - its a super well-written read that encapsulates the entire era of the internet from the past 20 years all in one book and written by the guy behind the Techmeme Ride Home podcast. The reviews are in and they are great.
Seth Godin has a podcast and a new book coming out.
Podcast picks
You love Seth Godin’s books so you need to listen and love his podcast Akimbo too. I’ve already pre-ordered his new book.
Learning about investors and venture capital? I recommend these ones probably more so than any book since its a straight and unfiltered talk about everything in the venture space from people who you might not get a personal audience with:
I also sat down with the Startup Roast podcast - the official podcast of the Garage Society co-workspace chain here in Hong Kong - so have a listen as we talk about all kinds of stuff from community to minimalism to proptech and more.
Entertainment Picks
If you’ve seen my Twitter feed you know I’ve been going crazy over the new season of Daredevil on Netflix - the reason why I started a subscription was to watch the first season and I’ve been sucked into their amazing world but The Man Without Fear is still the gold standard - the Game of Thrones of Netflix - watch it now! This tweet I put up last Sunday has been getting so many likes and RT’s all week long - crazy!
Now I know how Kylie feels! LOL!
Since it’s close to Halloween there is sure a lot of horror stuff out there so here are a few picks for you:
Apostle: on Netflix, its the new Wicker Man - not scary but creepy and bloody and starring Dan Stevens.
The Sinner Season 2: can’t top the freaky season 1 since we kind of know now what it is but still good fun.
Hereditary: WTF? See if it if you want to be freaked out.
I know I have The Haunting of Hill House, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Castlevania and Mandy all on my iPad for my upcoming long haul flights.
The reason I watched Hereditary is becasuye they strapped an audience with Apple Watches to monitor their heart rates and this was the result!!!
...and finally my 5 Photos from my Camera Roll
me and the new co-host of Collision Sunil Sharma. Click his face to follow him on Twitter.
This was an open forum discussing cannabis in a fancy public food court in Downtown Toronto. They even handed out literature about it. The brand sold for $250mm is called Tokyo Smoke
MaRS - the Toronto version of Hong Kong's Cyberport only in the middle of the city and vibrant all day long.
Many cannabis brands are rolling out cool marketing campaigns like this one for San Rafael '71 that set up this cool pop-up shop to promote their brand for 10/17.
Apparently Spider-Man does lives in Toronto - this guy is a real "Spider-busker"
Next stops: Seoul and Lisbon
Heading to Seoul for Next Content Conference today and to Lisbon for Web Summit next week - so expect the next issues to be all about those trips. Thanks for reading!
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