Malcolm Gladwell in conversation with CBC’s Eleanor Wachtel at Toronto Public Library (May 2012) and more …

Sunday, 15 July, 2012

Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of Blink and Outliers celebrates 50 years of Jamaica’s independence. In conversation with CBC’s Eleanor Wachtel. Malcolm Gladwell’s books including his latest, Blink are available at Toronto Public Library.”

Pay special attention to Part 3 where Malcolm gives insightful (and some may argue harsh) assessment of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Update: Bonus Malcolm clips. I found the following clips and I thought I might as well include them here.


Digital debate Bell vs Rogers + insights from CBC & Shaw at 2012 Banff World Media Festival

Monday, 25 June, 2012

#Banff2012 Day 1 - pix 05

An interesting debate between Kevin Crull, President Bell Media vs Keith Pelley, President Rogers Media plus — Kirstine Stewart, CBC and Paul Robertson, Shaw Media at 2012 Banff World Media Festival. Have a watch of the debate. This debate is particularly interesting in light of Gary Carter’s presentation at MPJC 2012.


Do The Den’s Dragons actually invest in anything? Techvibes v. CBC – Asking Dragons, Den entrepreneurs for deal data

Wednesday, 2 November, 2011

cbc-dd.jpg

** Techvibes challenges CBC‘s & Dragons‘ credibility **

As a long time fan (since 2006) of CBC Dragons’ Den, it is painful to see CBC‘s & Dragons‘ investment credibility being questioned in the Techvibes article “The Den’s Dragons didn’t invest in Notewagon after all. But really, do they actually invest in anything?” (emphasis added) which was linked by CBC Facebook Fan Club. Here is an excerpt from the last part of the article (emphasis added),

The second issue is that Dragon’s Den deals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Even in the U.K., critics insist that the show is pure entertainment [...] Just because a Dragon or two agrees to give entrepreneurs X number of dollars for a Y stake in the company, it doesn’t mean anything will actually happen after the cameras stop rolling. There’s due diligence and the added fact that Dragon money isn’t always pure.

** Gathering CBC Dragons’ Den Canadian deals data **

In Knowlton’s articleNotewagon is discussed and two UK articles are referenced before Knowlton challenges CBC Dragons’ investment credibility. You see, these questions are not new in UK and Canada. Early this year in March 2011, I was researching for an in-depth article about Dragons’ Den, planning to write about, amongst many topics, the deals the Dragons made on TV vs deals they actually closed. I was able to find some deal data for one dragon Brett Wilson (more on this later). I thought if facts & figures like actual deals closed and by what Dragons vs. TV deals made were published, people’s questions and doubts would have been addressed.

To get my research going, I sent the following questions to CBC Head of Media Relations, Mr. Jeff Keay on March 17,

1) I would like to find out the number of deals the dragons made on air for each of the Dragons’ Den season (including the current).
2) The number of deals the dragons closed after due diligence in each of the season.

I got a prompt reply the next day on March 18 from Jeff saying,

Checking. Back to you soon.

Unfortunately, I got no further respond after followup emails & voice mails to Jeff on March 22 & 28. In fact, Jeff never got back to me. I eventually had to give up on the story.

** Actual Closed Deals data from one Dragon

(former Dragon Brett Wilson) **

As I mentioned before, as far I can find, the only comprehensive actual closed deals data I found were published by former Dragon Brett Wilson. Again, as far as I can tell, no other Dragons have publicly published any actual closed deals data! 

Brett made public the number of deals he has done on TV (60+ deals) in three years, actually closed after due diligence (30 deals) and also the amount of money invested (over $4.5 million) in a Prairie Merchant (Brett’s company) Feb 28th, 2011 press release “Dragon With A Heart Leaves the Den” (emphasis added),

“After three years on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, doing 60 plus deals in the Den and personally committing over $4.5 million in final deals with 30 Canadian entrepreneurs, W. Brett Wilson, the lead deal making Dragon, confirmed today that he will not return for the show’s next season.”

** Deals data from Dragons, CBC Dragons’ Den, or

Den entrepreneurs with TV & actually closed deals **

To me, one way to positively addresses people’s legitimate concerns about “but really, do they actually invest in anything?” is to have the Dragons, CBC, or Den entrepreneurs with TV & actually closed deals to provide deals data (the TV deals vs. what Dragon actually closed what deals, amounts invested & percentage, etc) so that Canadian fans of the show, and potential Den entrepreneurs can have some transparency & credibility back in the Dragons’ Den deals and process itself.

As a long time Dragons’ Den fan (since 2006) and champion of DD even before the show was launched in Canada, I hate to see people lose faith in Dragons’ Den‘s deals and its process. This is the 6th year of CBC Dragons’ Den and lots of Canadian entrepreneurs put their hopes on dreams into the show. Can you imagine if the deals are done on TV by Dragons for show only? And most deals fail to close? Imagine the Dragons ALWAYS can find reasons in due diligence phase to kill deals (small or big), will you still be interested in watching the show?

** Grounding Dragons’ Den popularity

with business facts & figures **

Looking back five years to 2006 when CBC just launched Dragons’ Den, I am still amazed how much Globe & Mail’s reporter John Doyle hated/trashed DD in its infancy even criticizing the set as “dark basement is, you know, dreary.” I will not forget my Oct 3rd and Oct 4th, 2006 articles jumping to DD’s defence when it was still an unproven show, long before DD is popular.

Now, over five years later and CBC Dragons’ Den is successful money making machine for CBC (with all the re-runs), I think fans of the show and potential Canadian Den entrepreneurs deserve to see their favourite show grounded with “actual closed deals” and actual business facts & figures and not just be satisfied by “TV deals”.


Happy 100th birthday, Marshall McLuhan in his own (and others’) words!

Thursday, 21 July, 2011

Marshall McLuhan - pix 00

Happy 100th birthday, Marshall McLuhan! [HT Gary]

Have a look of Open Culture,”Marshall McLuhan: The World is a Global Village

Marshall McLuhan – The World is a Global Village (CBC TV)

Check out “Tom Wolfe on Marshall McLuhan for His 100th Would-Be Birthday

Have a listen to CBC Jian Ghomeshi opening Q essay, “Jian on Marshall McLuhan’s 100th birthdayRead the rest of this entry »


Jian Ghomeshi – One of the best interviewers I know

Tuesday, 28 June, 2011

Jian Ghomeshi, Q TV

I don’t praise people easily but I just want to say if you have’t seen Jian GhomeshiQTV host, interview people, you are missing a lot. Jian is amongst the best interviewers I know (Charlie Rose, Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley嚴浩 (he is a film director but his TV interviews on RTHK 品味人生 were a great joy to watch)).

I am posting this short note because recently some stupid people played a copyright takedown trick to remove the QTv YouTube channel (but it is ok now)! I was excited to see QTv came back online because I really found out how much I love QTv.

Have a listen to my new favourite found this morning,

* Woody Allen interview podcast (mp3, time code 1:35 – 17:05)

Have a watch of my all time favourite video interview with the wise & legendary Leonard Cohen,

Leonard Cohen on Q TV


Australian Scott Jones & Canadian Alexandra Thomas – Kissing Couple in Vancouver Riot identified

Friday, 17 June, 2011

June 19th update: In our somewhat twisted world, this is absolutely amazing: “Canadian riot kiss couple turn down offer of millions by celebrity agents“.

To me, Alex and Scott are so level-headed that their actions are worth thinking about and possibly learning from. Would you or should you let “money” (even if it is millions) change your life out of the blue? Or will you strive to live the best life you can after working hard and applying the skills/talent/knowledge you have?

June 20th update: Oh well, it was nice to think Scott and Alex won’t try to cash in for a day. “Vancouver riot couple hire PR agency Markson Sparks in Australia“. I remember watching Ricky Gervais at Banff reminding us/warning us, the danger of making money off just “being famous” (having talent or skills are different, I am talking about simply “being famous” or “being a celebrity”).

***

"Kissing Couple" at Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot identified as Australian man Scott Jones and Canadian woman Alex Thomas

If all the facts check out, which I expect they will, then Scott Jones & Alexandra Thomas‘ “kissing photo” in the Vancouver Stanley Cup riot (shot by Rich Lam/Getty Images) will totally have my “vote” for photo of the year.

What a wonderful job Rich Lam has done in giving us all a tiny bit of hope out of this totally disgraceful mess. To me, Rich has definitely captured a perfect example of Henri Cartier-Bresson‘s “decisive moment“, good job Rich!

Have a watch of CBC News report (with video news report and Skype video interview of the father of Scott Jones) and CTV News report (with phone interview).

Have a read of TorStar for its excellent reporting and research, (emphasis added)

“How’s that for making love, not war,” astonished dad Brett Jones declared on his Facebook page, telling the world that the famous Romeo in a Vancouver riot picture is his son.

If you haven’t seen it, Scott Jones, 29, is lying on a street locked in an embrace with girlfriend Alexandra Thomas as they’re flanked by riot police Wednesday night.

“She had actually been injured,” Brett Jones told the Star Friday morning from his home in Perth, Australia. “She had been knocked down by a shield” from the riot police.

“He lay down next to her to comfort her. She was crying and he just kissed her to calm her down.” [Kempton's note: What a lovely moment.]

Even as a young boy, said Brett Jones, Scott demonstrated his “gentle side for other people. I’m not surprised he would comfort Alex.”

An update from TorStar “‘I can’t believe that’s us,’ says woman in kissing photo“, (emphasis added)

“At first Alexandra Thomas couldn’t believe that was she and her boyfriend on the ground sandwiched in between riot police on a calamitous Vancouver street.

“When I first saw it, I thought, ‘No way, that’s not … I can’t believe that’s us,’ ” said Thomas in an interview with the Toronto Star this morning. “Then I looked some more and realized, that is us. That’s a very revealing picture of us.”

[...] Thomas said this morning that everything happened so fast that there was just massive confusion all around.

“I was trying to understand what was going on. The photo was definitely not something we expected to happen,” said Thomas.

The couple is leaving in three days on a trip to California, before Scott heads back to Australia. Thomas said the response from her friends and family has been overwhelming.

“When I saw that picture I couldn’t believe it and then I looked at it more and realize it’s quite artistic and really something beautiful.”

[...] Jones senior can see that the couple’s now-iconic photograph may follow them for the rest of their lives, for good or ill.

“Relationships do buckle under that pressure unless you have the ability to be very centred. Even if it wasn’t Scott, the guy who took the picture captured a moment in time that is iconic.”

Brett Jones has also counselled Scott not to buckle to the doubters, rampant on the skeptical, know-it-all Internet, who say the photograph was staged.

“Tell your story as it happened and there’s nothing you can do about them,” he told his son. “I think it’s amazing.” [Kempton: Wise counsel from a great dad!]

Jun 17, 8:40pm update: CBC has snapped up the Canadian exclusive video interview with Scott & Alex, “EXCLUSIVE: Vancouver riot’s ‘kissing couple’ tell their story“. Enjoy this 13+ minutes interview. What a lovely couple.

Jun 18, 12:02am update: CBC, “‘Kissing couple’ witness rushed to help – Canadian woman hit by rioter, then knocked down by riot police

Finally, I think we humans are an optimistic species. We gravitates towards hope and love even when (may be especially) the world around us seems to be falling apart and failing us. The photo reminds me of the dialogues and images in the opening of the movie “Love Actually”.

Scott Jones & Alexandra Thomas - Kissing Couple in Vancouver Riot identified

P.S. I am still waiting for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other national political leaders to come out (not just a press release) and deliver an address/speech to try to turn this mess into a teachable moment and share some lessons learned.


CBC Rex Murphy on the Vancouver riots

Friday, 17 June, 2011

CBC Rex Murphy on the Vancouver riots - pix 02

I don’t agree with CBC Rex Murphy too often. But I think Rex’s opinions in his insightful piece last night (June 16th in The National) on the Vancouver riots were right on. Also have a read of my preliminary Top 10 Canucks Riot Lessons – Turning the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot into a Teachable Moment.

Here is an excerpt from Rex‘s National Post Full Comment piece “Punish those who tore the heart out of Vancouver” (looks like the same speech as he said on The National, emphasis added),

Those clod poles, ne’er-do-wells, vandals, punks, thugs and assorted clueless dolts who smacked people around, piled on others, fought with and sought to injure police, set fire to cars, broke into stores, trashed and looted at will in Vancouver Wednesday night — all are a pathetic pack of cowardly destructive losers. An older generation, not bent by the winds of political correctness would rightly have called them the scum of the earth.

There aren’t any excuses for what they did. None. None. At. All. If these whiny, pampered, useless sacks of skin even try to claim it was because their team lost, then they haven’t got the intelligence of a ball of mud. Fools don’t need a motive to be fools, and destructive and threatening fools, such as those who rioted Wednesday night in Vancouver are no exception to this rule. This kind of fool will riot when “his” team wins as easily as when it loses, the game was just a convenient trigger.

[...] Vancouver deserved better Wednesday night. Canada deserved better. Even the Canucks, who had a long worthy go of it up to the final games, deserved better.

The rioters are a third-rate band of losers who still managed to cast a shadow on what should have been — win or lose — a wonderful night for all the country. Everyone in Canada who loves hockey and Canada despises these people.

CBC Rex Murphy on the Vancouver riots - pix 04

CBC Rex Murphy on the Vancouver riots - pix 05 Read the rest of this entry »


Brett Wilson interview – 01/05 – Leaving CBC Dragons’ Den, TV offers, Uno bike, and Ben Gulak

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Brett Wilson interview 2011

Few days ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brett Wilson, Calgary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Here is the video Brett Wilson interview – 01/05 – Leaving CBC Dragons’ Den, TV offers, Uno bike, and Ben Gulak (see below for interview transcript). [Click her for links to watch all five parts of the interview series.]

Kempton Lam: I was shocked & saddened by CBC Feb 2011 press released that you won’t be part of Dragons’ Den. To be positive, did that motivate/excite you when the TV offers came in resulting in the chance to do a new TV show call “Risky Business”?

Brett Wilson: Those are very good questions.

First of all, I was and I am disappointed that CBC and I couldn’t reach agreement. I was very keen to do another season. CBC knew that. So just to be clear, I didn’t walk away from the show. I was very keen to do another season. Then CBC press released it that I was gone which also surprised me cause I didn’t think it was that big a deal. And I really thought that was the end of my television career. I’ve never studied acting. I can’t memorize lines. I don’t understand Shakespeare. So I had no interest really in doing anything else in terms of television. I certainly didn’t leave Dragons’ Den to pursuit other stuff. I wanted to continue with Dragons’ Den.

So first of all I was surprised that CBC wanted to press release it that I was gone. And then more importantly, I was surprised by the responds in the market place. All three networks reached out at various levels to say, “Hey, if you are interested, lets talk.” And I had two production companies say, “Would you like to screen test for shows we have in development?” And I did. I screen tested both. And we decided to move forward on one of the shows right now. The other show I am still hoping to do for another time.

And I’ve met with several production companies about doing some stuff in the world of philanthropy that I am very interested in doing. But then again, thats all in production, in development. Someone told me the other day that Mark Burnett  is telling the world that 90% of all television under production is documentaries and reality TV, which doesn’t bode well for those people who studied acting. Which does bode well for people who are playing in the reality TV genre which is what obviously now I am part of.

Kempton: When offers started to come it, did it surprise you too?

Brett: Well, I was very surprised. I really didn’t think there was anything else for me. You know, there is one television show in Canada that deals with business and thats Dragons’ Den. And I thought that would be it.

I am very proud that I’ve done 55 episodes with CBC. In terms of the 75 shows that they’ve shot, I have been involved with 55. And its the highest rank 55. I mean the first two years, the viewership was 200/300/400 thousands people. In the time that I was on the show, it has been running a million, and now up to 2 million a show. So it is in a league of its own. And its something that I am very proud of.

Kempton: You were one of five Dragons, and now you have your own show. Thats a big change.

Brett: Now I have my own show. When I left the show, one of the thing I said was, I like to challenge CBC and the Dragons to step up the game cause the quality, background, and knowledge of the viewership, of the people watching Dragons’ Den has gone up a bunch. Read the rest of this entry »


Canadian Democracy? – Tory supporters boo CBC reporter

Saturday, 30 April, 2011

What has happened to Canadian democracy? This is not the first time Tory supporters heckle reporters when they ask Stephen Harper questions. Are reporters NOT allowed to ask questions now? What the beep has happened to the Canada I love and Canadian democracy?

This kind of undemocratic behaviour of shouting down reporters has to stop. The sad thing is Stephen Harper plus his campaign team did nothing to tell the unruly “supporters” to stop the heckle! I hate to compare Canadian democracy to the extreme “democracy” in United States. Have Canadians become this extreme?

Have a watch of this Globe and Mail video where “Conservative supporters booed CBC journalist Terry Milewski at a GTA campaign stop Saturday after he challenged Stephen Harper on whether he would accept a decision by the Governor General to hand power to the opposition parties in the wake of the May 2 election.” Video shot by reporter Stephen Chase in Richmond Hill, Ont.


CBC reports Brett Wilson’s Risky Business but …

Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

CBC News, “Dragon Brett Wilson backs new investing show“.

Yes, the news was reported but for some unexplained reason, we see “This story is closed to commenting.” Huh?!! What’s going on?

P.S. Am I too tough to see this as an issue related to journalistic integrity (or the lack of)? Should I be happy that CBC reports the story at all? Is it acceptable to close the comment section so that CBC can avoid being criticized? I don’t know.

What standard, if there is one, does CBC used to decide if a story should be “closed to commenting“?

Please share what you think in the comment section.


Documentary “The Game of Death” on CBC The Passionate Eye – Watch Online in Canada

Monday, 21 March, 2011

Last night on CBC News Network, I watched the French documentary “The Game of Death” (full doc can be watched online in Canada). To me, a good documentary is engaging and makes us think at the same time. In fact, I am watching “The Game of Death” for the second time to understand the “harm” many of us (yes, us) are, unfortunately, capable of delivering. Highly recommended. (note: One way of “vaccinating” ourselves may be become more aware of what we are capable of doing.)

Here is an excerpt from the CBC program info for The Game of Death (emphasis added),

“In 1963, an infamous scientific experiment led by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram demonstrated that a majority of people would administer unbearable electric shocks to another man, when encouraged to do so by an authority figure. [note: I remember the Milgram Experiment as one of the infamous/controversial research that we have to study in PSY 100.] Surprisingly, more than sixty per cent of the participants completed the experiment. They learned afterwards that the ‘victims’ were in fact actors and no pain was ever inflicted.

Filmmaker Christophe Nick re-creates Milgram’s experiment in the form of a TV game show, where 80 participants are asked to follow its onerous rules. The participants are recruited for a test TV show and are brought into a real game show set in a television studio with technicians, a live audience, and an attractive hostess. Despite the contestant’s increasingly urgent protests and howls of pain, will they obey the TV host’s commands and inflict electric shocks on an unseen man? Or will they stop before it’s too late?

You can watch a Passionate Eye trailer of the doc (probably viewable in Canada only). Also check out a Reuters English report video (see below), a TIME magazine article “The Game of Death: France’s Shocking TV Experiment” and a BBC report with audio interview “‘Game of Death’ French TV show sparks controversy“.

If you understand French (which unfortunately I don’t), you can check out this French news report.


Brett Wilson talks to media about leaving CBC Dragons’ Den

Tuesday, 1 March, 2011

Of all the reports/interviews I could find today (Feb 28th, Monday) about Brett leaving Dragons’ Den, I want to say I enjoy the report (see below) from Calgary Sun‘s Lisa Wilton the most (very detail and insightful). It is nice to be pleasantly surprised by Calgary Sun.

Reports (see below) in Ottawa CitizenNational Post, Canadian Press, NewsTalk980 all added a little something (see emphasis) and worth a read. And then there are reports in Toronto Star and Calgary Herald. (March 6th Update: CityTV Breakfast Television Calgary interview video, “What’s Next for Brett Wilson? – Brett Wilson is leaving the Dragon’s Den. He tells us why and what’s next on his agenda.“)

Here is an excerpt from Calgary Sun “Wilson opens up regarding ‘Den“,

[ Q ] – Did your reason for leaving just come down to a contract negotiation breakdown?

Well, it started in December.

They gave me three weeks to sign the contract, take it or leave it.

There were some issues with the contract. First of all, they tried to cut the compensation. We negotiated that and got that solved. And they wanted to stop me from going on any other networks, so we negotiated that and got that solved.

Where we got stuck was on schedule. When I told them I had a family vacation and I wasn’t prepared to vary, they told me that wouldn’t work.

So, I politely advised that I would have to be out of the show because I wasn’t prepared to walk away from the vacation. It’s the first time I’ve had all three kids in one place in two years so I wasn’t going to walk away from that. It meant more to me than another season of the show.

Then CBC moved heaven and earth, and I really give them credit for it. Read the rest of this entry »


Brett Wilson leaving CBC Dragons’ Den

Thursday, 24 February, 2011

This morning, I am saddened to read from TorStar and Calgary Herald that Brett Wilson is leaving the CBC hit show Dragons’ Den. Here is an excerpt from TorStar,

Entrepreneur Brett Wilson is leaving the show Dragons’ Den at the end of the current season.

CBC-TV executive Julie Bristow says Wilson and the broadcaster could not agree on the terms of his contract.

Brett is a great guy and one of my most favourite Dragon on the show. I love the fact that Brett managed to find ways to close most of his Den’s deals. I like many of the businesses he invests in and secretly wish I could also invest in some of them if I am given the chance! (I won’t name them publicly here. :)

I will add more to this article if I have more to report.

I know I will miss watching Brett on the show. Good luck and all the best Brett.

P.S. On a personal note, in June 2008, Brett was really nice in agreeing to be video interviewed by me and he answered every question I had. It was a great pleasure to know Brett before he appeared on the Den. And I can honestly say Brett has always been the same easy going, friendly and nice guy. Here are links to part 1 and part 2 of the video interviews.

***

Feb 28, 2011, 9:18am Update: Here is a link to my comments plus Brett’s press release, “Brett Wilson’s press release: DRAGON WITH A HEART LEAVES THE DEN“.

Feb 28, 2011, 12:12am Update: From Brett’s tweet, “Will have a #NewsRelease out at 7:00am to comment on my departure from #CBC #DragonsDen. See the wire and my website. It’s all good folks…”

Feb 26, 2011, 1:27pm Update: From Hollywood Reporter, “CBC Loses Popular Reality Show Host – Deal-making shows fails to sign “Dragon’s Den” host to a fourth season.

Feb 24, 2011, 9:36pm Update: Two tweets from Brett, hope to hear from him directly about this news soon. As others pointed out, Brett was still tweeting about the show as usual only 16 hours ago.

Looks like there have been updates added to both of the originally quoted TorStar and Calgary Herald articles. Here are some important details added to the TorStar article as we can see what Kirstine Stewart (CBC’s head of English services) said last month (Jan 2011?),

The Star spoke with Kirstine Stewart, CBC’s head of English services, last month and asked about rumours of an oncoming Dragons’ Den shakeup. She denied one was coming but said that in light of situations like Lewin’s health issues, the broadcaster was ready just in case.

“Every year, we do auditions and people get excited and think they might be the next Dragon. The Dragons are huge mogul business people and their schedules don’t always align with our production schedule,” she said.

There are things that happen in their lives that make them not available to us, so we’re always auditioning to make sure that we have understudies. That’s been the case every year and that continues, but there is no plan to change anything up. But we don’t know if the Dragons are always going to be available to us, so we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got a good roster of people that we can choose from, should their plans change.””

Some stuff in Calgary Herald from CBC spokesman Jeff Keay,

““We were unable to come to terms on his contract,” said CBC spokesman Jeff Keay. “Those things happen, especially on a business show like that. If you can’t reach an agreement on a deal, you don’t have a deal.”

Keay stressed that the contractual road block “wasn’t a matter of money” but he wouldn’t elaborate as to the other issues on the table.

“We consider these discussions with Brett to be confidential,” Keay said. [Kempton note: Huh? Confidentiality agreement to stop Brett from speaking??]

At press time a spokesperson for Wilson told the Herald that he wasn’t prepared to address the matter publicly but plans to at some point soon. [Kempton note: I hope Brett will talk about this from his perspective. His fans and the show's fans deserve more from what CBC has provided.]


Concrete Equities, $118 million, 3700 investors and many broken dreams

Tuesday, 15 February, 2011

Before Concrete Equities went into receivership in spring 2009, it used to be a major advertiser/sponsor of CBC Dragons’ Den and many people got to know about the company through those ads. Sadly, “More than 3,700 investors, most of whom are from Calgary, lost more than $100 million through investments with Concrete Equities.” It is sad that many people had to learn the lesson in such a hard way.

For the record.

From CBC News “Alleged Alta. securities breaches under review” (Monday Feb 14, 2011) (emphasis added),

“A hearing into a Calgary real estate investment firm’s alleged breaches of Alberta securities law got underway Monday.

Four former directors of Concrete Equities, which went into receivership in 2009, are accused of acting as dealers without being registered, not filing prospectus and making misrepresentations to investors. [...]

More than 3,700 investors, most of whom are from Calgary, lost more than $100 million through investments with Concrete Equities.

From Calgary Herald “Concrete Equities under scrutiny at hearing – ASC to determine if now-defunct Calgary company misled investors” (Feb 15, 2011) (emphasis added),

Monday, lawyers for the ASC outlined the case they hope to prove, which includes investors who were promised returns of more than 600 per cent and told the investments were risk free, as well as those who weren’t told of marketing commissions of between seven and 10 per cent being paid to Concrete Equities.

“You will hear evidence in the course of this hearing that Concrete Equities Inc., in raising capital in Alberta, failed to disclose certain information to its investors in its offering memoranda, which the investors will say was information that they would wanted to have known when they made their investment,” ASC counsel Andrew Wilson told the panel of three hearing the case. [...]

The ASC allegations involve David Jones, David Humeniuk, Varun Vinny Aurora and Vincenzo De Palma and six limited partnerships.

Neil Narfason, a senior vice-president at receiver Ernst & Young, told the hearing Concrete Equities – which raised $118 million from 3,700 investors – couldn’t list all its bank accounts and had accounting and bookkeeping standards that were below expectations.

“All the basic stuff was not there,” Narfason said, referring to ledgers, financial statements, tax returns and bank statements that were missing or incomplete. “It’s unusual for a company in that business not to have a handle on funds.” Read the rest of this entry »


3twenty Solutions gives new life to old shipping containers – CBC Dragons’ Den

Friday, 4 February, 2011

3twenty Solutions‘ Bryan McCrea, Channing McCorriston & Evan Willoughby gave a wonderful pitch of their business on CBC Dragons’ Den. I love interesting use of containers, and I am impressed with the 3twenty‘s business and its tagline of “durable, stackable, transportable modular structures – give new life to old shipping containers”. Seem like a wonderful business idea with some good potentials. As a business, new entrants to the market can probably copy and compete with them without much difficulties but I trust the entrepreneurs will work very hard to ensure a good return for themselves and their investors.

Best of luck to the 3twenty team. Check out their Facebook, YouTube video, Twitter, and Flickr photos. Here is their pitch video on the Den.

Here is a CBC news video clip (posted in May 2010) about 3twenty going to the Den to ask for money with more details.

Feb 8, 2011 Update: See Financial Post article Anatomy of the 3twenty Solutions deal. Here is an excerpt,

The pitch Bryan McCrea, Channing McCorriston and Evan Willoughby first crossed paths with dragon and philanthropist Brett Wilson when they competed in and won the Idea Challenge, a competition at the University of Saskatchewan’s Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 2009. [...] They used their winnings of $30,000 to launch Saskatoonbased 3twenty Solutions. [...]

Mr. Wilson was on hand for the unveiling of the first container: “He walked in and said we should come on the show,” Mr. McCrea says. About a month before appearing on Dragons’ Den, 3twenty Solutions made its first two sales worth $70,000. The momentum was building, but they decided to take Mr. Wilson’s advice and enter the Den mainly to get a strategic partner.

“Many of our target clients watch the show. We knew if we could make our pitch on the Den we would be hitting the right market,” Mr. McCrea notes.


Snappy Socks on CBC Dragons’ Den – The Business

Thursday, 3 February, 2011

To me, Snappy Socks‘ Corla Rokochy is one of those entrepreneurs that has the can-do spirit. And she is also very likeable. It was wonderful to see her receiving investment from the Dragons (I can’t remember for sure but I think from Arlene and Brett).

The socks look cute and the snap-on button is a great idea. If there is one thing I don’t like about the business, it is that anyone can attach a snap-on button to their socks. And if the idea/business become successful, there is nothing stopping other copycat businesses from anywhere (including China) from attaching snap-on buttons to their socks. Hopefully, the initial investment will have generated enough returns for Corla and the Dragons by then, and Corla will have created new products to sell.

Best of luck to Corla and Snappy Socks!


Honibe on CBC Dragons’ Den – The Business and Patent

Thursday, 3 February, 2011

Honibe pitched their dry solid honey “honey you can hold business on the Jan 19, 2011 episode of CBC Dragons’ Den. Although I haven’t tried the product and don’t know how good/bad it tastes, it seems like a good idea (even it may seem a bit pricey).

Knowing I won’t have time in the next while to write a more detail article about Honibe, let me share with you what I’ve found so far. Here are links to Honibe’s Canadian trademark (TMA729391) and patent (CA 2649936) for interested readers. I had tried but was unable to find Honibe’s US patent filings (to me, US patent is important to have since US is a much bigger market than Canada). For those that are new to patents, one can learn a lot about about a business from its patents (in this case, Honibe’s patent).

National Post has an article “Sweet deals buzzing around honey firm” about the pitch and the business and provided an update of the deal. News from CBC, “Dragons’ Den offers $1M deal to P.E.I. company

There is a press release from the governments,  “Federal and Provincial Governments Congratulate Island Abbey Foods on Winning International Award” when Honibe won the prize for Best in Canada 2010, Best of Sweet Grocery Category 2010 and Best New Food Product in the World 2010, the Global SIAL d’Or, at the Paris-based awards.

Here is a video of Honibe Dragons’ Den pitch.


Egypt – Al Jazeera English LIVE

Tuesday, 1 February, 2011

YouTube is carrying Al Jazeera English and informing citizens from around the world of what is happening in Egypt LIVE. I wish the Egyptians well and a peaceful and orderly transition.

* Guardian UK, “Egypt protests – live updates

* CBC News (with video), “Egyptians unite in ‘march of a million’

* CBC NahlahAyed, “Live blog: Uprising in Egypt

* BBC News, “Huge protests fan Egypt unrest

P.S. Here is a lesser known Canadian connection. I started paying attention more to Al Jazeera English in 2008 after Tony Burman, former CBC News editor in chief, joining it to become its managing director. (newswire release, info from Al Jazeera) Here is a link to a Feb 2010 YouTube video of Tony speaking about Al Jazeera’s digital approach.


China’s Annual New Year Migration – CBC radio program “The Current” (中國農曆新年大遷徙)

Wednesday, 19 January, 2011

From CBC radio program “The Current” about China’s Annual Migration. Highly recommended. The following are program info from CBC. See here, here, here, and my interview with Lixin for more info about Lixin Fan’s “Last Train Home” (some have video clips).

Last Train Home will be released on DVD on February 22nd, 2011.

“China’s Annual Migration
We are two weeks away from the Chinese New Year and the largest annual human migration on the planet. Nearly 150 million Chinese have migrated to cities in search of work. And the trip home for the holidays isn’t going to be easy.

PART THREE

China’s Annual Migration – Lixin Fan

We started this segment with the sound of the world’s largest annual human migration. It happens around Chinese New Year. Tens of millions of people who migrated to China’s cities in search of work leave those cities and go back home to their families in the countryside. There are at least 150 million rural migrant workers in China. And as you can hear, a lot of them pass through the Guangzhou train station in southern China.

In two weeks, that annual migration will begin again. Amidst the sea of humanity, it’s easy for individual stories to get lost. Lixin Fan is a Chinese-Canadian documentary film-maker who follows one family caught up in the move from the countryside to the city and back again in Last Train Home. The film has just been nominated for the Directors Guild of America prize. Lixin Fan was in New York City.

Last Train Home will be released on DVD on February 22nd.

While many Chinese migrate from the countryside to the cities, many others stay behind. We hear the story of one woman who lives in a small village called Hazelnut Valley or Da Jen Yu. It’s about an hour from of Beijing. She’s 58. All of her children have left home. Her son lives in Beijing and makes a living as a driver working for foreigners.”


Where good ideas comes from?

Thursday, 14 October, 2010

Very nice & insightful Nora Young CBC Spark Plus interview (full audio program) with Steven Johnson about his new book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History Of Innovation.


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