22/30: Thank You skritswap Sault Ste. Marie Supporters

When I started skritswap I chose to move from my amazing Bay St. condo overlooking the water in downtown Toronto, back to Sault Ste. Marie. I wanted to show the world that you can build a globally competitive aritificial intelligence technology company, anywhere. Even in Northern ON. I always wanted to be a catalyst and driving force for digitizing the local economy.

I’ve realized this type of a shift for Sault Ste. Marie will take much more than just me, and probably more like 20 years instead of 5. But, I am still hopeful it will happen.

SSMIC: Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre

When I moved back in 2015/16 to start pursuing my dream I had a lot of people who helped me. Each investing an inordinate amount of time. I believe this gave me a unique advantage compared to starting out in Toronto. Instead of vying for attention from over-extended innovation centres in Southern ON, I was easily able to get a lot of time from multiple team members at the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC). In the early days, the folks at SSMIC, were my team.

  • Ian Shelswell – Thank you for coming back to The Soo from Silicon Valley just on time. 2 months after I showed up talking about how tech start-ups run and scale (according to my extensive research all over the internet) you showed up. You validated everything I was saying. Thank you for miraculously appearing at just the right moment.

    (This is not the time or the place to get into the fact that it took an older dude saying the same thing as me for it to be taken seriously locally. I acknowledge that unfortunate reality. Now let’s move on).

    Ian, you were instrumental in skritswap’s early days. Thank you for your endless coaching to push me to becoming a better founder. Thank you for graciously dealing with my mountains of frustration in the early days. Thank you for grilling me. Thank you for running practice drills on investor questions. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    I am so ridiculously grateful for you. It honestly felt like fate brought you back to town just for me. I learned a ton from you. Thank you so much.

    You’re a really good dude and I hope you get everything you dream of and more. You can do good things, big things, if given the latitude. I look forward to watching what you will do. Thank you, Ian.
  • Taylor Trecroce – I’ll open with God bless you…for everything you did for me. Thank you for helping me get going. The painstaking applications for $5,000 here and $1,500 there were key to my early ability to do anything. Thank you for giving me everything I was eligible for.

    Thank you for also keeping it real with me. Thank you for honestly assessing my aptitude. Thank you being so incredibly helpful. Dare I say like a “mini-Ian”.

    I will always reflect fondly on the days when we worked together almost daily. I wish we still did more. You have an uncanny ability to wrangle me. As I’ve tried before, I would pay big bucks to have your gift on my team. Someday…. For now, thank you so incredibly much Taylor.
  • John Prgomet – Thank you so much for coming to SSMIC and picking up steam right away. Thank you for bringing in your fresh perspective. You’re also extremely humble and genuine. You’re really one of my favourite people to work with too.

    Thank you for urging me to focus on the right things in the business. Thank you for questioning my plans and decisions. Healthy debate helped keep me on my toes and on track. Thank you for helping me in a million and one ways.
  • Gerry Bugyra – Before John, there was Gerry. Gerry did my early intake at SSMIC. Gerry was a lovely, soft soul. Thank you so much for getting me involved Gerry and explaining how we could work together. Thank you for being a great supporter. It’s wonderful to have people like you in my corner!

More SSMIC folks who were key to my success and so helpful early on. Thank you for all you still do to be helpful where possible:

  • Angie Wagner
  • Angela Corcoran
  • Patti Trotter
  • Corina Hodgekinson
  • Heather Lewis

More “Soo” Supports

  • John Hatherley (IRAP) – Thank you for awarding me my first substantial government funds. You took a chance on me after it was clear that I wasn’t going to go anywhere. Thanks for rewarding my persistence. Looking back at my project documentation I chuckle. As Reid Hoffman says, if you’re not embarrassed by your early product, you launched too late. Much like product, I am absolutely embarrassed by my early applications to you.

    I have come a long way since then, absolutely in part due to your support and funding. Thank you for also sharing your wisdom and feedback. I appreciate your knowledge from working both in Canada and the U.S. You’re a really solid person, John. It’s a pleasure working with you. Very professional, speedy, and logical. Thank you, John.
  • Dan Friyia (CDC) – You have such a brilliant balance. Thank you for asking key questions about the business. Thank you for urging me to take care of myself as much as the company. Thank you for patiently suggesting I get more rest when I was running myself ragged. It took some time but I get it now. I sleep, exercise, and *gasp* take weekends off!

    Thank you for listening to me rattle off eye-popping numbers and grandiose plans. And thank you for being impressed, even if also slightly surprised, when I started to pull it off. Having your support means everything. I really appreciate you. Thank you, Dan.

I have to thank Jennifer Gerard and David Fogal too. You are both lovely. Jennifer – I miss working with you. I appreciate your positive hopefulness for me. David – you are fantastic. So speedy and helpful. Thank you so much. I will also credit Randy Tallon for his effort to promote me to local investors.

Thank you Andrew Ross for the one summer company program support too. That was my first paper cheque for the company. It was an extremely exciting day. More than that, I loved our chats. Your moral support was even more helpful than the money. Thank you, Andrew.

“Soo” Services Providers

I love that we keep supporting Sault Ste. Marie businesses with our major service providers in marketing, accounting, and more! It’s about uplifting the entire community, not just our company.

I have to thank Nathan Dool for so much. Similar to Dan Friyia, I remember when you’d look at me with slight skepticism in the early days. Talking about building a multi-billion dollar AI company from a whooping $0 to start. Despite your early curiosity, you have been there every step of the way with our growth. Thank you for being proud of and excited for each new level we’ve conquered. Thank you for your meticulous help to keep our books up to par. I definitely couldn’t do it without you. Thanks to David Saunders, Sandra Doherty, and Victoria Mocreac too. It truly takes a team!

Jeff Greco at Cavera is also lucky enough to get to work with my hand-drawn designs to bring our website to life. I am grateful for everything that he and his team does. They do an excellent job and are very responsive. Thank you Jeff for turning my paper sketches into an awesome website. Thank you for committing your team, time, and resources to our success.

Thank you to everyone in Sault Ste. Marie for your strong impact on skritswap.

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