Who are we?
You read the team page because you want to know who the team is, right? So does a dry resume-bio paragraph tell you who a person is? I don’t think so.
As the CEO of this organization, I’ve had to learn the hard way that it just tells me what they’ve done in the past (and sometimes that’s not even verifiable) but it doesn’t tell me who they are, which is more important for fit into a smaller, early-stage company.
So rather than display the same-old tired, short, resume-bio-type team pages that you see everywhere else, I’ve decided to tell the story of how our team came to be and who each of these people are for me and our project. So here is the story of our team, in chronological order, beginning with… me.
The Story of Our Team
Founder & CEO
This is my team. But since MIDATA is all about you, they are your team too.
Here’s how I selected them for you:
I didn’t care if they were green, blue, orange, purple, from venus or mars, sideways, backwards, broken, tiny or square. My formula was simple:
If; A) they were passionate about my idea, + B) could do their part in this like the world depended on it, + C) they weren’t an asshole, then = D) they were a perfect fit.
And all of these great people’s diverse backgrounds and identities fit into at least one of the previously-mentioned colours, shapes, sizes or types, except asshole – they leave that to me.
I could go on and on about me, but I really haven’t done much.
I had at least 20 or 30 jobs before 2000 when I found web-development and SEO as my left-brain/right-brain saviour and I’ve done lots of corporate and small-business web-dev projects since then. I got some certificates doing volunteer fire-fighting on the side about 10 years ago, but other than my web-dev certificate, I haven’t achieved any academic accolades greater than Grade 15. I’ve been married but that only lasted 2 years in the 90’s, I hurt my shoulder in a car-factory and that’s how I got into web-dev, but I’ve had no real business accomplishments worth writing a Forbes article about.
Previous to 2000, I was also; a Waiter, a Realtor, a Mortgage Consultant, a Life-Insurance Salesman, a Network Marketer (yikes), a Limousine Driver, a Graphic Artist, danced as Scooby-Doo at Canada’s Wonderland (zoinks!), a Power Quality Specialist, a Manufacturer of Energy Efficient Lighting (in my living room and bedroom), an Auto-Assembly-Slave-Monkey (twice – no offense to anyone who does it), a Closet Rock & Roll Star, an Auto-Detailer-Extraordinaire, a Champion Kart Racer, a Jack-of-All-Trades-MacGyver-type, a Conspiracy Theorist, a Recovered Conspiracy Theorist, a Recovered-Recovered Conspiracy Theorist and a Dad to the sweetest string of fur-babies that were ever created by a god nobody else but me believes in.
And… I’ve also spent the last 25 years thinking about how to build what MIDATA now is, ever since I first saw “the internet” back in 1993, when I said…
“HOLY F*CK!! There’s finally a way for people to gather together around the world as a common voice to hold bad companies and corrupt organizations accountable!!”
But it never happened.
Ever since that rapturous vision I had in 1993, I’ve gradually sunk into an ever-deepening realization, shock and sadness that instead, we took the blue pill and we’ve actually just let big-brother happen, rather than use the internet for the common good.
Well f*ck that.
We’ve given it away so we can get it back, but the key is to take control of our personal data on the blockchain. Even Sir Tim Berners Lee, Inventor of the Internet just last year (2017) said that THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM on the internet is that “we’ve lost control of our personal data“.
Well, Sir Tim, blockchain and decentralization are here to stay and I promise you that I intend to fight until my last dying breath to make sure that there is a safe and secure way for us to all take control of our personal data, our personal privacy and our personal value, and, that the internet is used as a tool for positive, democratic, decentralized control of our societal institutions for the betterment and true equality of opportunity for everyone.
I hope I can do you proud, Sir Tim, and thank you for the gift you’ve given humanity – we promise to take better care of it from now on.
And these are the people who are helping you, and everyone else take care of it, listed in order of appearance in the story that is now MIDATA…
Executive Vice President
Tony has been with me since the beginning of things getting serious in 2011 with the creation of muuver.com.
That Tony had a background in the pharmaceutical industry made me cringe, but he learned great skills there doing research and compliance assurance on clinical trials of treatments for some of the most dangerous pathogens out there.
These were also the perfect skills that I needed someone to have in order to do the deep digging for finding key info and insights about some of the crazy things we needed to know about that we probably shouldn’t know about, while at the same time making sure that no-one knew about what they shouldn’t know about us while we did all kinds of things right in front of them.
Not to mention that his passion for this endeavour is equal to or greater than mine, his ability to provide supportive feedback on my wild ideas, as well as his cautious, virtuous guidance around some of the squirrely hair-pin corners I’ve encountered while driving this Formula-1-like super-machine around this insanely maddening race-circuit called “startup life”, has been absolutely key to getting us to where we are today. Without him this would not be.
Thanks, brother Tony! The checkered flag is near!
Director of Design
Laura is my EX-girlfriend… and I love her just like that, and, I know she feels the same. 😉
I was pretty sure she worked for the CIA to do psy-ops on me at one point, and I haven’t totally ruled it out yet, but she’s a damn good designer so I keep her handy, but away from my iPhone.
She’s done awesome work on Coca-Cola’s displays at many of the recent Olympics, and has also done design work on projects for Samsung, LG, Cadbury, Nestle, Walmart, SC Johnson, Cineplex, Home Depot and Labatt.
She’s also the mom to my shared-custody fur-daughter, Fiona, the Boston Terrier – Polish Lowland Sheepdog mix.
Network & Server Specialist
I first met Chris, 3 or 4 years younger than me, when he was a pre-teen Star Goalie in one of the hockey leagues I refereed in. My father was his hockey coach one year, and everybody loved the cute little blond kid whose family owned one of the largest and most well-known farmers markets in the area – Bak’s Market – Holland Marsh, in Bradford where we grew up. Many of you will know the building now as the home of “The Guild of Automotive Restorers” made famous on television’s Restoration Garage.
Back when I was first having serious thoughts of putting my money into growing MUUVER, the precursor to MIDATA, I met up with Chris again at a high-school field party reunion near Bradford in 2014. We started talking about what we were each up to, and he mentioned he was an app developer and network specialist. I asked him if he’d be interested in learning about what I was considering for MUUVER to see if he was interested in getting involved, and he agreed but also suggested we include his business partner Robert (whom you’ll meet next) who was also a local hockey player in our teens and good friend of Chris’s.
Chris and Robert listened to my ideas and agreed to help me build some of them out, and for all their donated time and effort in helping me bring things through the bushes into the clearing of actually becoming a company with investors, I granted them a gratitudinal gift of shares in the company when we incorporated.
I’ve enjoyed working with Chris’s calm, laid-back demeanour (Caribbean inspired, mon?) on deep strategies and roadmapping our technology from his home in St. Lucia, and I’m thankful that he introduced me to Robert, who has been my Director of Technology since the beginning in 2015.
Director of Technology
Bobby LOVES being called Bobby… except when he’s around.
I don’t remember much about him when we were younger, but I don’t remember much about anything from when I was a teen…
I do know that about 8 of my “friend and family” investors were Robert’s closer hockey buddies back in the day and they were glad to see he was part of the team, so I was happy with that.
Robert, as I know him, is the consummate tech-geek inside and out and he’s been that way for a long time. He helped create some of the very first computer network grids in New York City, just like Edison created the first electrical grids a century earlier. He speaks many computer tongues and his mind is like a quantum-foam-boson-galacta-processor that has 15 answers or solutions for every question or problem, sorted by probabilistic computational equation variance.
I have no idea what I just said there, but Robert always helps me understand the complexities of what we are doing by offering many perspectives, with many solutions, so that I understand them, which is exactly what I need in this ever-rapidly-changing world of internet and now blockchain technologies. And he’s patient with me when I make bad decisions, helping me to make better ones for both of us next time.
Robert and Chris are the founder partners in Broad Street Network, and have done some pretty impressive development for some very well known companies and brands.
My (Skinny) Yoda
Director of Happiness & Fulfillment
I met David at a Halloween party that Laura and I (and a few other friends who are now shareholders) attended at a club in downtown Toronto in 2015. I was wearing full leathers with gear and tools in my favorite all-time character costume, Mad Max, and David was simply wearing blue jeans, an aluminum spaghetti colander on his head, and a white t-shirt with a bunch of hand-drawn conspiracy-theory phrases on it. As soon as I saw him I laughed out loud and I knew we’d be great friends. We connected immediately and before we all left that night, David and I made plans to get together for beers a few weeks later.
When we did meet up for drinks, as new acquaintances normally do, we got around to chatting about what we do for a living. I mentioned that I was just beginning as the founder of a tech startup, and David shared that he was an executive coach specializing in startup CEOs through his consultancy at AudaciousResults.com. The name itself resonated exactly with where I was at and needed to be, so just a few weeks after that I began my first coaching sessions with David, and my life has been completely different (for the much, much better) ever since then.
Diving deep down into my inner psyche, David was able to help me identify the things I was using to hold myself back, and helped me to gain the confidence I needed in myself in order to take on the tasks and responsibilities of being a founder and CEO. Without him I would have crumbled a long time ago. He is my Yoda whenever I feel like things in the swampy forests of tech-startup-dom are dark and hopeless. And I count on him to this day, most recently to help me not get triggered by the triggers that trigger me. He’s also helped a few others on the team, and is available to anyone who wants or needs his services.
I don’t recommend that anyone take on the torturous and emotionally draining task of becoming a founder, unless you have the passion for it, and unless you have David to help guide you through the battles in order to win the war.
Director of Business Development
Blockchain & Data Queen
Data Governance Consultant
Catherine is only passionate about 18 things, but luckily for us, blockchain and data governance are her two greatest passions! Just ask any one of the many people who know Catherine either from her days at Baker McKenzie, Toronto, as their Data Governance Specialist, or as the world’s smallest but fiercest blockchain-and-data-governance evangelist that ever lived.
Her other passions include cosmetics, fashion, meeting and helping people, ICO-talker-hating and watching the mesmerizing city traffic that hypnotizes her north-facing view of our beautiful and wonderfully excellent city of people from around the world. For real. She watches traffic to relax. I’m not kidding.
Catherine was recommended to me by a few people in the Toronto tech startup scene, knowing how passionate she is and seeing that that her passions are very much aligned with what we are doing.
Ms. Chen provides us with everything we need to know about meeting our mandate of being completely compliant in all respects regarding data governance and regulations, and her knowledge has been invaluable for helping caution and protect us against many of the dangers of being a large-scale international data handler and custodian. She has also introduced us to several key people whose professional services we are now working with in support of our growth.
Catherine seems to know almost everyone in the Toronto tech community and she is now sharing her knowledge and passion with the newcomers and veterans who need it most, offering Data Governance Consultation Services through her new firm, “IG Liaison Strategy & Business Consulting”.
Our Foreign Aide
Junior Business Analyst
Ceyda (pronounced Chjayda), stalked me at a local TechTO StartUp event after hearing me speak to a few others about what we were doing. I was wearing the blue badge that said I was looking to hire, and she was wearing the red badge that said she was looking to be hired.
She explained in very good english that she was a newly graduated student from Turkey and was tops in her class to become a Business Analyst. She had just received her student visa to learn and work here in Canada, and was about to continue her Business Analyst education through night courses at George Brown College here in Toronto.
I was really intrigued by Ceyda’s interest in what we were doing and she enquired if we would consider a part-time Business Analyst. We needed help doing lots of research on our competitors, so after lunch meeting for an interview, we put her to work to find out everything she could about the others in our field.
I was totally surprised though and very happy when, after a few of our strategy meetings, Ceyda would approach me with awesome ideas for improving features, refining messaging and even for saving us money.
I now call her our “foreign aide”. We’re lucky to have her assistance!
Director of Data Innovation
Keith is a Machine. A Warrior. A Weapon.
There was something really intense I liked about Keith right away…
I also met Keith at one of the local TechTO startup events, but only very briefly. He had been selected to give one of the many “10 second pitches” that are entertainingly facilitated by the hilarious host of the event, and Keith bravely stood up in front of hundreds of people to pronounced that he was “a newly graduated data scientist who had been an economist but he was bored of it so he wanted to see what he could do with big data instead”.
My heart stopped.
After just speaking with Rick that week about how we needed to hire an economist and a data scientist to help us figure out a lot of the intricacies of paying people for things on our platform, I immediately knew that I wanted to have Keith BADLY, and I would do anything to get him. Anything.
At the point in the event when the host invites the all guests there to meet the people beside them as a way to ease into the networking for the evening, I totally ignored the person beside me, and instead got up and went over to push aside the person who thought they would be talking to Keith. Then I shoved my card into Keith’s hand and vehemently said to him “we need to talk”. Keith looked at me like I was insane and said “ok, thank you”.
And then I didn’t hear from him. So I got resourceful and figured out who he was on LinkedIn, then messaged him a few tasty tidbits bit about what we were doing.
Ever since, Keith has been hungrily and intensely researching, testing and playing with the potentials of our data analytics, and he is equally as intense and passionate about what we are doing with your data as well.
His recognition that decentralized systems have huge power for change has got him inspired, but he also recognizes that protecting all of our data with blockchain is key to making sure that the change stays positive. When I asked him in front of a crowd at a recent event if he thought what we were doing was interesting and good, he answered “HELL YEAH”.
He’s a closet conspiracy-theorist too. I can tell. I think that’s why I knew I liked him.
The Glue That Holds Us Together
Director of Glue (Project Manager)
This dude is awesome. He’s like a totally responsible brother who tries to keep the frenetic me in line. He kicks me in the ass every chance he gets, but he’s very compassionate and empathetic about doing so.
I met Steve through a recruiter friend (who is also now a shareholder) after telling him to find me a Project Manager or I was going to crumble under the weight of what needed to be done – and I don’t even know what a Project Manager does. I just knew I needed someone to help me manage all these projects because I was having trouble managing the management of managing the projects. I was micro-macro-managing, and after seeing how organized and regimented Steven is, I realized that’s not good.
Steven was meant to be with us. After recently accepting a job as a VP for a large company down in Texas, he packed up is new fiance after getting her to leave her job, sold their house and all their large belongings, said goodbye to all their family and friends, then headed south to begin an exciting and hopeful chapter in their promising new life together.
Then they were denied entry at the US border. “Not enough reason to take an American job” was the tyrannical, shocking rationale for their denile.
Fortunately for us, Steven and his fiance’s misfortune was meant to lead them to an even better opportunity, with Steven providing his skills, commitment and expertise to us in order to bring the MIDATA product and services to you.
As a master of the tools of organization and regiment and with a cool and even temperament, I’m pretty sure Steven is a reincarnated General of a great Army that he once lead to accomplish insurmountable feats of bravery and perseverance.
I’d follow him, or else he’d kick my ass.