Discovering the MaRS #startupbookclubTO: The $100 Startup

After a great day at work, I bundled up against the cold and squeezed into the rush-hour crowd on my way to to the MaRS Startup Book Club at 101 College Street. I wondered if it would be like The Jane Austen Book Club or more like the 400+-person entrepreneurship events I’d gone to at MaRS. I didn’t know what to expect. I think it was my first book club meeting ever.

I’d gone through my emergency stash of business cards at an unexpected clip, and I still hadn’t gotten around to experimenting with Moo-based sketchnote cards. On a whim, I footed it to a nearby shop and got a hundred copies made of my sketchnote of The $100 Startup. I figured that since we were going to discuss the book, my sketchnote would be a handy thing to give to people instead of a business card. Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to include contact information on the sketch.

Still-warm copies stashed safely in my bag, I dashed to MaRS a few minutes late. I found the room at the back of MaRS and walked in slightly breathless – to find my sketchnotes preceding me, printed out on individual large sheets (11”x17”?) for each attendee. Did that ever send me over the moon!


It was fantastic! We started with a round of introductions coupled with favourite stories from the book. For me, looking at the fish drawing reminded me right away of that point that sometimes you shouldn’t teach a person to fish, you should just keep it simple and give them the darn fish. We talked about joint ventures and strategic alliances. We talked about delegating. We talked about testing ideas and dealing with failures. We talked about building confidence.

And boy, were there ever so many book recommendations… I recognized some of the books like Predictably Irrational, and many were completely new to me. Fellow bookworms! Other people who fill index cards and type notes with thoughts and quotes and ideas from books! I think I’m going to have so much fun swapping notes with people.

It was generally agreed that The $100 Startup was an easy read, the kind of thing you’d give to people who are interested in starting their own business, but perhaps less of a recommendation for people who are already neck-deep in the Startup Owner’s Manual or things like that. I’m a relative newbie (I’m only just getting to apply those things I’ve been reading about for years!), so I got a lot out of this book, and I’ve been experimenting with the ideas in it.

You know that feeling you get when you stumble across somewhere you actually, surprisingly fit in? Your tribe? I think this might be another great tribe to belong to. =) I have sooooo much to learn about business, and I think this is a great place to start.

Thanks for organizing this, Keri Damen and Marielle Voksepp! Can’t wait to get to know the others and to read the next book.

Interested in joining the book club? There doesn’t seem to be a separate LinkedIn group for it yet, but you can probably reach out to Marielle over Twitter and ask to be added to the mailing list.

  • Maria

    We are so glad you made it. It was a pleasure having you join us and sharing your sketchnotes and thoughts. I enjoyed reading this post too. Well done

  • Eugene

    It’s great to read your experience. Do you know what’s the book for next month?

  • JPDaigle

    Sacha, I’m curious to know what you thought of the book as a Canadian; it seems a lot of “starting your first company” advice out there is US-centric, and incorporating a company, company ownership, and tax tips for startups are possibly different here in Ontario.

  • Sacha Chua

    Eugene: The group settled on “Best Practices are Stupid”. I’ve requested the book from the library, and I look forward to sketchnoting it too.

    JPDaigle: People say that the business culture over here is more conservative than the US. For the kinds of things I’ve been experimenting with, and for the kinds of products/services that other entrepreneurs I know have been trying out, it seems to be okay. I know lots of people who are happy as sole proprietors, although I incorporated because I prefer having that separation between the business and me. I’m fairly conservative when it comes to taxes. I’m a little envious of the breadth of US tax/business resources compared to Canada tax/business resources, but on the other hand, our corporation structures are much simpler than the US corporation structures, so I guess it works out.

    There are a few things I need to keep in mind whenever I read business books that focus on the US (like extraprovincial registration, simpler corporate structures, and GST/HST), but I’m soaking lots of knowledge up like a sponge and doing the occasional sanity-check with Canadian mentors. =)

  • Karen SchulmanDupuis (@karensd)

    Thanks for sharing your Sketchnotes again Sacha. We’ve added them to our Pinterest board on Startup Book Club, and there’s also a listing of the books that have been discussed over the last year.