Recently I spoke at the Social Media and the Public Sector event in Ottawa and was heartened by the desire of our public sector to more regularly utilize social media and online engagement tools such as crowdsourcing. I do however feel for them and what is clearly a frustration with the current folks in power who seem to think their iron fisted control of all messaging and communications is going unnoticed by citizens.

One of the questions that does come up is whether our governments actually engage with citizens enough? Do citizens actually want to be able to participate more in things like budgetary rationalizing exercises, etc.?

I thought I would put this question out there and see what people think.



I mean it. Kudos to the City of Ottawa for giving us the opportunity to help them build a truly innovative way to engage citizens and give them the opportunity to get more involved. The campaign is now active and  you can check it out by visiting http://www.ottawa.ca/neighbourhoods

Today – we sent out a press release to announce the campaign – details below (PDF: Ideavibes_Ottawa-PR_1120212_final )

The City of Ottawa and Ideavibes have launched a crowdsourcing campaign to engage residents of Woodpark and Woodroffe North in generating ideas for neighbhorhood improvement projects. The most popular ideas will be reviewed and if practical, put into action.  As many as 3 small-scale, community driven projects will receive up to $30,000 in total support from the City of Ottawa.

The Online Ideas Campaign is a pilot initiative of the Neighbourhood Connection Office, and is designed to give residents the opportunity to develop project ideas for things that are important to their community. City staff will then work with neighbourhood volunteers to make projects happen with  funding support from the City.

A couple months ago, Ideavibes responded to a call from Community Housing Capital to help them find a solution to the cuts to affordable housing programs in the United States. Working with the Federal Reserve Bank and CHC, we held a series of workshops that lead to a survey and ultimately a whitepaper on the use of crowdfunding for funding affordable housing in the US. Budget cuts and program cancellations have resulted in a major part of the US economy being hit with the problem of a lack of capital.

With all this in mind, today, the CHC with some help from Ideavibes launched a Homes for Good campaign on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.

Download and Read the Whitepaper

Read the Press Release from CHC

Visit the Crowdfunding Campaign

More information about Community Housing Capital can be found at www.communityhousingcapital.org 

Monday evening I had the chance to join the University of Ottawa Engineering Entrepreneurship and Computer Science Graduate Students Clubs to talk about crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

The students are focused on building startups and they are already acutely aware of the challenges in Canada for finding startup funding. Making sure they have access to the funds to take their ideas for new products is important.

Presentation – Ottawa U Engineers / Computer Science Graduates

Whitepapers on Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing can be found here.

Starting tomorrow (Nov 13/2012), the CRTC – Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator, is launching an Online Consultation to help develop a ‘Wireless Code’ for Canada. The goal of the consultation “is to address the clarity and content of contracts for cellphones and other personal mobile devices.”

Details of the consultation can be found here:  http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/t1046.htm

While I applaud the CRTC for deploying a consultation strategy that goes beyond the usual public meetings, rife with the challenges they suffer from, I am disappointed. It looks like the CRTC wasn’t able to go all the way to creating an opportunity for Canadians to have open and meaningful conversations and foster innovation collaboratively in a way that would have made this process one that developed a code that worked for both the public and industry players for the future.

The opportunity to use OPEN innovation or crowdsourcing to develop the Code collaboratively would have been an excellent opportunity for both the CRTC and industry players to engage the public in a meaningful way that would have included many more Canadians. The benefits of this open process would have been felt by all parities and the leadership the CRTC would have demonstrated would have given all Canadians more confidence in the process.

I do think that the mobility industry does deserve what it gets here. Canadians seem to have more disdain for their carriers than they do for just any other service they use. How can an industry expect to rally public support when loyalty to one’s carrier is in short supply? The big MISS here is that the industry itself didn’t initiative its own process for driving innovation for this Code and show leadership as both strong players in the market – and good corporate citizens.

So a tepid pat on the back for the CRTC but a wish that they had the courage to go all the way to using open innovation or crowdsourcing to build a Code that was innovative and reflective of the wishes of Canadians. I hope my fellow citizens get involved if they feel they have something to say here – and not just complain around the dinner table.

New team along with recent investment by Mercury Grove to help Ideavibes become the market leader in making crowdsourcing the go-to tool for driving innovation and change.


Ottawa, ON – November 6, 2012 – Today Ideavibes announced that 6 Ottawa startup leaders have joined the team to relaunch their crowdsourcing platform. The new team members include:

  • Rob Woodbridge – Interim General Manager
  • Ian Capstick – PR
  • Brent Thomson – Sales
  • Andrew Draper – Product DesignScott Annan – Strategic Advisor
  • Guido Giordano – User Growth

“Working with Mercury Grove to bring together a team like this is a clear advantage for Ideavibes in this nascent market” said CEO, Paul Dombowsky. “The experience they bring will help shape the product, the market and the opportunities for Ideavibes and accelerate our vision of a deeper and more relevant crowd engagement for brands, government and community organizations.”

“I’m extremely happy and excited to have so many great people participating in the revision and relaunch of Ideavibes.” According to Dombowsky, “the new team has brought a lot of thought leadership and experience which is instrumental to the realization of a disruptive, fresh new vision for citizen engagement, open innovation and crowdsourcing.”

The new team has been working to revise the popular Ideavibes platform to make it ‘the’ catalyst for change and accessible to anyone who wants to participate in the change process.

“Crowdsourcing is not a new concept” said Ottawa-based startup CEO and mobile expert, Rob Woodbridge “and although there are many platforms for crowdsourcing jobs and funding, there is no clear leader in crowdsourcing ideas for positive change.  We want to change that.”

The Ottawa startup community has been building momentum with several new startups that have become leaders in their markets.  Popular startups including Shopify, TravelPod, FluidSurveys, and CanvasPop have helped create a strong ecosystem for new startups including HealthWave, the largest virtual dispensary for naturopathic doctors, VeganCuts, the world’s leading vegan marketplace, and Openera, a fast-growth company that automatically saves, organizes, and backups your files and email attachments.

“We have so much startup talent in Ottawa and we’re starting to see the community build some real momentum” said local entrepreneur and startup investor, Scott Annan.  “Seeing so many of our startup leaders come together to build something epic like the new Ideavibes is an indication of how hot the startup scene is getting in Ottawa.”

The new Ideavibes platform will be launching later this month.  To signup for early access, go to http://ideavibes.com .

Today I delivered a keynote at the PDMA (Product Development Managers Association) Product Innovation Management Conference in Orlando. The talk was focused on managing risk when considering and using social product development or crowdsourcing to engage with your crowd (customers – prospects – stakeholders) to develop new products, programs or services or new versions of existing products, etc.

RIsk is a work we run into as we talk with brands, cities, etc. when they are considering more formally using the crowd beyond one way conversations to gain valuable insight that can be used to influence the product road map. Change is hard but many customers like to be asked (just like at the prom) and are willing to give their time to give you insight that has more value often than a simple survey.

Managing the aspects of risk is important and this talk looked at 8 types of risk:

  1. Segmentation
  2. Fragmentation
  3. Flavourization
  4. Benchmarkization
  5. Competition
  6. Execution
  7. Organizational Behaviourization
  8. Inertia

To learn more, check out the slides form today’s presentation and watch for a whitepaper coming soon. If you want to discuss further, let us know.

PDMA PIM Keynote on Risk and Social Product Development