Day 43: Even the Maple Syrup Industry is Going High Tech

April 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm

It seems like every industry these days is becoming a “tech industry”, but the last one we thought would follow in this trend was the maple syrup industry. Armina Ligaya published an article in The Financial Post yesterday all about how the maple syrup industry is in the process of entering the 21st century.  


We all might picture the maple syrup industry as one that is quite antiquated, a spout in a tree with a metal bucket attached but it is one that is in the process of undergoing a bit of a renaissance. Since the early days of maple syrup tapping there have always been issues with loss from holes in the tubes which transport the syrup. One of the only real ways to find and fix leaks was to have full-time staff walking around the sugar bush and searching for leaks. That’s about to change though! 

A frustrated maple syrup farmer decided things needed updating and once he realized he wasn’t going to be able to find a technology solution he decided to create his own. He recruited a developer and began to build what is known as Tap Trek Technologies. In her article, Armina describes this as a “system [that] uses solar battery-powered radio units strapped to trees, each unit monitoring the vacuum pressure on about a half-dozen lines and transmitting that information, real time, to a computer or smartphone”.

tap trek

This is a major breakthrough in an industry that has been lagging for decades. It wouldn’t be surprising if it became very crowded in the coming years, after-all it is almost a half billion dollar a year industry in Canada alone! 


Day 25: 1608 hours until Demo Day

March 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm

There are 67 days left until Demo Day. That means 1608 hours, 96,480 minutes or 57,788,800 seconds.

After doing that math, we were shocked that there were less than 2000 hours left for the teams to crank out code, push product and get traction before the big day. We got to thinking, if that number made us stress, how it would make the teams feel…To begin the conversation we asked the teams how many hours they each work on average a week, then followed that up with the real numbers to get their thoughts on their looming deadline.


How many hours a week do you work?

“Well let’s see, we work 8am to 10pm, 6 days a week so I’d say between 80 and 90 hours?”

“Easily 100. I work 14 hour days, 7 days a week.”

“Let’s just say I’ve closed Notman House every night this week. At 2am. I’ve also opened it every day this week. At 8am”

“A week has 168 hours, I sleep roughly 4 to 5 hours a night soo ->168 – (5h * 7d) – (1h * 4d swim) – ( 4h coffee time a week) – (5hr shower other stuff in a week) = 120″

“How many hours are there in a week? That’s how many I work.”

So how does it make you feel that there are about 1600 hours left before Demo Day?

“Off the record? Can I swear in the blog?”

“Excuse me while I go cry in the corner.”

“I need to stop wasting hours on sleep!”

“I think I need to go change my pants…”

“Excited! I can’t wait to see how our company evolves”


And now there’s only 1607 hours left…

Day 15: “Our heads are constantly spinning”

February 21, 2014 at 11:46 am

We’re only 3 weeks into the program and it feels like it’s been months! The teams are working hard all day and night to get their products ready and to build traction. Since it’s a rainy Friday, we decided to take some time to talk to the teams and have them reflect on how things have been going so far (considering the Molson Export and Redbull “decorations”  seem to be popping up all around Notman House)

The Molson Export wall is expanding:


We’ve listed out below some of their thoughts: 

“Everything is getting accelerated, even my sleeping ;) ” 

 ”We’ve talked to more people and formed more connections in 3 weeks than we ever have before.” 

“We’ve been opened up to a whole other side of the MTL tech community. We’re still trying to process just how many people are truly committed to helping us grow and succeed.”

“Our heads are constantly spinning!”

“I’m getting really good at only sleeping a few hours a night.”

“It’s a shock to realize just how many people are interested in your company and willing to invest their time and knowledge”

And the Red Bull towers are growing…


We can only imagine what they’ll be thinking 3 months from now! The countdown to Demo Day is already on!


Day 45: Startups & Ramen

April 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

At one of the first FounderFuel Happy Hours with the cohort, we got to talking about ramen. How living off ramen is dirt cheap and that you can make some legitimately delicious meals with ramen and a few add-ons, even when you’re in a bind for time (which the teams are, since they’re working their butts off). Ramen is often a staple in university students’ lives, and when you think about it, university students and startup founders and employees (if you’re that lucky) have a lot in common: small budget, big appetite, little time.

Before we get into what startups and ramen have in common, check out this awesome infographic from HackCollege on Ramen (and why we–students and startups–love it): 

We Love Ramen Infographic
Created by:

Now onto ramen and startups combined. There’s this little thing being called “ramen profitable.” A term some believe to have been coined by Paul Graham of Y Combinator, being ramen profitable is the ”situation where you’re making just enough to pay your living expenses.” “Once you cross into ramen profitable, everything changes. You may still need investment to make it big, but you don’t need it this month.” In the world of startups, this is a big deal. Generating enough revenue to support yourself is huge. It can make you feel better about what you’re doing, focus your energy and talents, and buy you time to make the necessary changes to your company. It can also make you more appealing to investors, and means that they’re less likely to take advantage of you because you need money, as Graham points out. But amongst the hallelujah chorus that is heard when a startup reaches ramen profitability come voices that say it can be as much of a trap as it is a blessing. Yes, it helps startups keep costs low, and buys time–but time can mean comfort and less of a push to get bigger, greater, and further out there. Instead of raising a round and having a set number of days of runway, being ramen profitable means an endless runway (at a student lifestyle), which can mean that instead of going big or going home, moving on, or accepting defeat, startups risk getting stuck in a ramen limbo of sorts. 

Now, don’t get us wrong. Being ramen profitable is definitely something to be celebrated. You can eat and live without worrying about your company or your apartment going out the window. But don’t let yourself get stuck in limbo where ramen is enough and you don’t have the pressure to go for a big push or to push the eject button. Besides, eating ramen daily isn’t the best thing for your body or mind–speaking of which, stay tuned for the “Staying Healthy in Your Startup” article on how to stay healthy on a tight budget. 

That’s all for now, folks! Have a nice weekend! 

Drawing Global Attention

June 15, 2011 at 11:55 am

Two weeks after the launch of FounderFuel, we’ve seen an impressive quality of applicants from all regions of the world including the US, Europe and Asia, not to mention Canada of course.

Take a look at the distribution:

Have you submitted your application yet?

Interesting Random Fact

June 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Here’s something that caught our attention today. Nothing revolutionary to report, but the traffic coming to since our launch has been evenly split between Mac and Windows operating systems.

Intriguing observation? Let us know what you think below.

Think your team has what it takes?