ECOMsquare Overshare Podcast

What Is A Circular Economy (and How Do We Get One?)

In this episode of The ECOMsquare Overshare, we talked to the co-founder of Can-Do! Green Technologies and Services about the circular economy, how Can-Do! is working to get us there, and what people can do to play their part!

Podcast Guests:
Haruki Nakagawa - ECOMsquare Community Member
Mike Trujillo - Co-Founder of Can-Do! Green Technologies and Services

Haruki: Welcome back to another episode of the ECOMsquare Overshare, and today I'm very happy to be joined by one of our founding ECOMsquare co-working members, Mike Trujillo, who is the co-founder of Can-Do! Hi, Mike!

Mike: Hi. How are you?

Haruki: So, you're the co-founder of Can-Do!, could you share a little bit about what are you guys into? I know you're, you're interested in the circular economy, broadly speaking...

What is a circular economy?

Mike: Circular economy, for people who don't understand it...we consume things right now in what we call a linear economy. We grab all the natural resources, we make a beautiful cel phone, we use it, consume it, and then we throw it away.

What circular economies are trying to do is start looking at keeping all that waste out of the landfill, but more importantly, to design in a way where everything is reusable. How can we design something intelligently such that every component has a purpose, and once you are done with that, there's another purpose for it? And then you can harvest those items and return them back into some kind of material that's going to be used upstream or downstream from your materials.

So, right now our company's focus is primarily on reducing landfill, but circular economy is a giant, giant, worldwide effort, and we're proud to be part of that.

Haruki: I was gonna say, that's got to be a massive project because as soon as you start talking about things are made and consumed in our culture, there's just a million things you need to look at.

Mike: There's a number of companies that play in this space and we're focusing on the landfill area. Go ahead.

Haruki: Okay. Interesting. Yeah, so how exactly do you tackle this? Who are you working with? How are you engaging with that issue of landfill and, you know, what's the lay of the land there? What's causing this problem? What is the problem? How do you work to help?
Discover modern coworking for ecommerce brands in Vancouver at ECOMsquare. 1758 West 8th Avenue.
Mike: Well, when you try to save the world, it's a hard thing to do by yourself. The company was actually founded by Aaron Laslo, and a number of us worked at Nokia. We worked for a big global company that was trying to connect people. I think it was called connecting people or some connection kind of theme.

Over time, Aaron had really developed a fondness for trying to give back to the world rather than just taking and making a business where we're gonna make a lot of money and, you know, become filthy rich. We were thinking,
"How can we actually do something, still make money, but make the world a better place?"
Aaron reached out to a lot of his friends and cohort and, over time, has built a small company. We focus in Vancouver, partly because Aaron lives in Vancouver, but also it's got an amazing community of companies and individuals that really care about the environment, and care about the world.

The Vancouver Economic Commission was hosting a series of webinars on circular economy. We started listening in on those and started developing an incredible network of people that care about this space. I'm actually from Austin, Texas, but I've planned to move to Vancouver myself, and I'm finding an amazing city that has incredible caring people who care about the world and care about the environment and really want to help and support one another.

We recognize in order to do this, you cannot do this alone. You have to build community. We're building community here. We have to engage with all the players, whether it's government, individual citizens, or businesses. We're doing that here very successfully. And it's a great place to start a sustainability business.

Haruki: Yeah. The appetite is there. I think, you know, we had like the first Green member of parliament here in BC.

Mike: Well, I have to tell you a story. This is a much better story. So, I'm walking down the street and - there's multiple Vancouver themes to this story - I'm walking to the street to get a bus. (you have a great bus system). There's a guy walking a bicycle (bicycles, you got him all over the place). It was a junky bicycle because he doesn't want it to get stolen, so it's falling apart. He's walking by a construction site (by the way, your subway is gonna be awesome when it's built in 20 years), and he's digging out a nylon tie behind the construction fence, and he can't dig it out. Well, I look over and there's this twig growing out of a lamppost on the street. Literally, it's an urban little, you know, twig maybe about, I don't know, 30, 40 centimeters high. It's a twig, but it's growing. I said, "Why don't you snap off the twig and get that little nylon tie out?" And he goes, "Oh no, that's nature."

I just thought that was beautiful, it's a beautiful story. It sort of typifies what Vancouver's all about down to their heart, right? They love nature. They don't wanna do anything to interfere with nature, even if it's a weed on the side of the street. So you have a population there that has the will to be more conscious of their consumption and things like that.

Haruki: But, even with a population that has that will, I think a problem is that the momentum of our society doesn't go in that direction. If you're living in the world, you're going to be consuming, most likely, a bunch of things that are not contributing to that circular economy project. So it can be difficult for those individuals to change how they live in that respect. So I guess my question is, where do you think the biggest lever is, if there is one, to get to that place where we're living in a circular economy on a larger scale? Is it about community education and engagement, getting that sentiment higher in the populace? Or is it about business owners and what they're optimizing for? Or Is it about government and putting in place regulation or something like that?
"Where do you see the biggest opportunity to succeed in your project, on a large scale?"
Mike: Wow, I thought we were gonna talk about office space. So that's really, you get down to the heart of our business.

What we recognize is there's actually multiple tiers of people, right? There are people who will do anything they can, that's a small community, maybe 20, that will actually go outta their way to do something. The challenge we have with that community is they don't know what to do. So we have to educate them. Education becomes a critical component. Do you know the items that you're buying? There might be better packaging alternatives or better environmental alternatives if you were to consider it. So education becomes a critical component.

If you actually look at the landfill issue - we spoke to the director of the Vancouver landfill that's out in Delta, further south down by the airport - and the major waste that's coming in is construction waste. Like a lot of it. And the challenge isn't you or me buying wood at Home Depot, it's understanding where is the construction waste is coming from, and what can we do to deflect it.

How we can make it more cost-effective for people to care about it and recycling more of it? What incentives can we put in place? So as an example, this is one example of a model that's working. Coffee.

So you go into these coffee shops, you get your coffee cup, you drink it with a plastic lid and a little sleeve on it, and you toss it away. And Vancouver wants you to stop doing that, so they've assessed a 25-cent tax. But before you can do that, you need an alternative. So there's two companies that do that. Cody Irwin runs a company called ShareWares and Anastasia Kiku is a co-founder over at and both of them are looking at renewable cups and a whole infrastructure that has to be in place that can take reusable containers.

You put a deposit on those containers, but you're getting your money back and you have to have a system that retrieves them and cleans them. An entire infrastructure has to be in place to do that, and then the city can assess the 25-cent tax to incentivize people to use it.

"Circular economies have to happen in cooperation between local businesses and larger businesses and the city and the citizens of the city."
And it takes a while to build all that up. You have to build all these partnerships. You have to think of these in circles. This is circular. Economies are basically these circles of consumption. You have to think of that entire circle, from making something, to consuming it, to what you do with it when you're done.

How do you close the loop on those circles and make everyone aware of it.? That's what our business is about. One circle at a time.

Haruki: Okay. So you guys are there to connect people that need to be connected to make this happen together.

Mike: Exactly. Connecting is a key word here. It's a very key word, yes. A lot of companies are doing innovative things, right? We're here to connect them. We're not going invent the coffee cup business that Cody's already invented. We're not gonna go off and do what Jen Henry's doing, or what Blyth has with Tradle, and we're not gonna run his business.

But what we can do is find ways to connect all those people. We can educate people on what you can do, where you can get the products that are more sustainable, and where you can find these businesses. We're looking for circles we can help to close, one at a time.

We'll start here in BC, in Vancouver, and expand to the rest of BC, then Canada. You don't wave a wand and fix this thing overnight, right? It'll take a long time, but you do them in the areas that have the largest impact.

Haruki: Right, like an investment in the future a little bit.

Mike: Exactly.

Haruki: Is there a particular sort of an obstacle to your project that you find pops up regularly?

Mike: Save the world? No obstacles at all. Not at all. No, of course, there are tremendous obstacles. And when you get stuck, you know, you've got to reach out for help. You can't be afraid. There are people at the office, there are people in the community, there are friends of friends that we can reach out to that help us think through the problems.

The nice thing about businesses in BC is I don't feel we compete. Austin is a very competitive city. Silicon Valley is an extremely competitive city. Vancouver really is much more open, and as far as a business and running a business out of Canada, and in particular in Vancouver, it feels much different. You got a giant support system with the government. You have a very generous grant system and ways to get money and get your businesses off the ground.

We run into obstacles all the time, but the great thing is that we feel like we've got a lot of support here that we wouldn't have somewhere else.

Haruki: Okay. And there's no theme that comes across to you? Where it's like, "Oh, again, we're running into an issue making this profitable for businesses," for example, or a lack of government will or something.

Mike: No, it's not that. The problem is there are too many things you can do. A great example is with ShareWares. They want to specialize in the cleaning systems for the cups; that's what the founder's specialty is. But, in order to do that, they have to supply the cups, they need drivers to deliver the cups. He has to engage with the coffee shops to do this. I mean, there's a whole infrastructure he has to build in order to do the one thing.

There's a lot of, we'll call the middlemen, the people in the middle that have to get things from point A to point B. we're trying to figure out how to build a community like that.

It's not easy to insert yourself into those supply chains as you're trying to redefine the supply chain, as we are. Every one of these, we'll call them circles, these small, little micro-communities have their own systems in place. You have to kind of build up a lot of things to replace those systems, and it takes a long time to build them up and get them into this circular pattern rather than a linear pattern.

Haruki: Yeah, it makes sense. You're battling against generations of momentum in a different direction.

Mike: Absolutely. And everything that comes along with.

Haruki: Yeah, speaking of the other direction, I always think of the impact of planned obsolescence, which was something I learned about, which just absolutely blew my mind. For anyone who doesn't know, it's the design of a product ensure it breaks or malfunctions after a certain period so that you need to buy a replacement. So they really, actually don't make 'em like they used to. That's a true fact.

Mike: Yep. Well, I mean, cell phones are a great example, right? I mean, I'm talking to you right now on a Pixel 3. I think we're up to Pixel 6 now, and there's part of me that wants to buy the Pixel 6 because it's the Pixel 6. It's bigger and better than the 3. It's got a bigger camera (that I can't really necessarily use). Got a lot of features and more space (that I don't necessarily really need), but there's an enormous amount of demand that's put on consumers.

In fact, that's one of the things we are looking at is how do you stop that regular cycle of consumption. We're not here to consume every resource on the planet.

Businesses need us to keep buying things, but how can we help those businesses redefine themselves in repurposing equipment? And how do you do that with keeping the businesses going, as well as keeping everything in play all these materials. How do you keep them in play?

Haruki: I think a huge issue, in general, is the just optimization of profit above all. Profit as being good in and of itself...

Mike: Well, no, but these businesses have to be profitable.

Haruki: Right.

Mike: In order for this to really work, because there's a lot of non-profits jumping into the space, but until businesses can actually see the benefit, either through incentives, through government where there are levies put on things, it's not going to work.

By the way, landfill is super cheap. It's unbelievably cheap what you can throw away. So if you don't have any penalty for throwing stuff away. So where's the incentive to recycle? Where's the real incentive to switch to these circular economies? There have to be incentives, but you also have to have good infrastructure in place to make use of material.

So as much as we want to reuse the wood, we've gotta have an infrastructure place that can make use of the wood before we can start levying higher costs on landfill and wood, as an example.

Haruki: Interesting.
So do you think that the circular economy can be successful purely economically?
Mike: It has to be. That's a necessity. You can't make businesses that lose money.

Haruki: No, of course, not net lose money. But, for example, say there's a business where their margin could be 45% or it could be 50%. Do you have to make them accept the 45% margin? Everyone's going to get paid and everything's going be fine, but there's that 5% they're leaving on the table because they're not optimizing only to maximize profit at every turn.

Is that something that needs to happen, or do you think it can be accomplished where the best pure business, pure numbers decision is also the circular economy decision?

Mike: Let's break this into pieces. So, it takes a while, there's an adoption curve. Most business people know the tech adoption curve that's used by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm. There's a group of people who jump onto something because it's the latest, the visionaries, the radical group that jump on any new technology. That's the person that got the first digital watch from Apple, the iWatch or whatever they call it.

Those people are the ones that are going to grab onto this stuff, and they become influencers. So, in the beginning, when we look at these businesses, we have people who are willing to pay a premium for this kind of work. They're excited about it. They want to engage. It's enough to get things going and get a business going.

So, for example, with the coffee cups, there are people out there who will go to a specific coffee shop and buy coffee at these shops to use Cody's cups because they like it. They're paying $1.50 for the deposit on the cup. It's a little extra work for them because they've gotta remember to bring the cups back to the shop and they're not saving money, but that's not the purpose.

So there's that group of people.

Over time, the city might really incentivize these cups, where you're paying $2, $3 more for a cup of coffee because it's in a paper cup.

But again, every one of these businesses is financially successful, but the incentives are set up where you're making different choices because financially these are better choices for you.

That's what makes circular economies really work. It has to be financially beneficial either through government incentives and subsidies, through the hit that comes with public shaming, or just the scarcity, right?

I mean, there's only so much lithium on the planet for lithium-ion batteries. At some point we're going to have to find a way to make sure solve that. There's limited copper, and copper is very precious. People are taking extra care to harvest copper out of waste. There are a lot of ways you have to make this profitable long-term.

In the short term, people will pay more. People will support you, but it's a small group. To get mass market it has to be profitable for everybody.
Haruki: Have you seen any industry leaders or world-leading brands that you think are credibly contributing to a circular economy?

Because you could get a million small ecommerce brands to change their packaging or something, but if Nike doesn't, then the impact is a drop in the ocean. So have you seen this movement translate into some bigger players, maybe in the ecommerce space, or any space?

Mike: So we're distant in this at this point There are a lot of companies that are, we'll call talking the talk. There's a company called, I think it's called Upright...doesn't matter. Anyway, they're doing assessments on companies to understand their circularity, and how good they are on these environmental issues. Because when investors look at companies, people are looking to make sure sustainability's a part of their model. That's an extremely important thing. If they're not sustainable, if they don't have a plan, then you don't think they're gonna be around for that long. They're making the world a worse place, and they're gonna get pulverized down the road.

So there's a lot of attention at a high level in that space. A lot of companies are raising a hand, saying, "We want to be in this space." Fashion is an interesting one. Fashion is a giant problem. When you're finished with your clothing, it goes to landfill. It might go to Goodwill, or a Salvation Army, or some charity, but often it just ends up in landfill. People are working through those areas and trying to better understand their choices with how they design the clothes, different fabrics that they're using, et cetera.

We did a lot of interviews with some of the thought leaders here in town. One of those was a company called Canadian Tire, and they sell more than tires, which is bizarre to me. I saw Canadian Tire sold like coffee pots and I thought, "What?" What's interesting about the brand is they're also really strongly embracing, and trying to understand how to reuse and repurpose items, and they're putting a lot of money into research. There's a company out of Finland called Sitra. It's a research think tank. And they're working with that organization of trying to understand where can you reuse, repair, recycle items. How can they be better part of it? That's a big part of their brand messaging.

So companies are walking up to the edge. They're not jumping in. They are willing to put some money into partnerships and invest in hackathons, or whatever they can do. They want to be part of it and they want that to be part of their message.

At the same time, there are other companies that will speak the message and if you've ever used, let's say there's a giant carrier based out of Seattle, we won't say their name, but if you buy stuff online and a box shows up on your desk, or on your front porch with all these packing materials, then you know who I'm talking about. And it doesn't seem like there's a big effort on knowing what to do with all that cardboard. So they may talk the talk about doing a lot of stuff, but there isn't anything really demonstrable showing up where they're making that attempt yet.

We are all looking at our carbon footprints. We're all looking at waste. That pressure has to come in from everywhere. We have to be more aware of it. We have to make better choices. Businesses have to make better choices, and we have to hold them to account.

It's gonna take some time, but we're seeing a few bubbling up in fashion. Arc'teryx is one of them. And, what's the other? MEC? Yep. Mountain Equipment Co-Op. Those, those two are doing some interesting things here in town.

Then there's the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is the big umbrella of circular economies. It's a non-profit based out of the UK, a global leader in this space. Businesses are flocking to that organization, trying to learn best practices, trying to share knowledge through that organization. Again it's a lot of work, but many companies are making the effort.

Haruki: As a consumer, is there anything I could keep an eye out for? Because whenever I hear that a company is engaged in some sort of social issue, I'm a bit skeptical because it's easy to make an Instagram post, it's easy to throw something up on the website, you know, and it's hard to know who's for real.

There's sometimes, maybe not proof for or against, but I think there are ways you can look at these brands to see if they're serious about an issue. A good example, not to delve into controversy or whatever, but racial diversity has been a big topic as well for people. You see tons of brands, during Black History Month or whenever time, sort of championing their own diversity. An interesting sort of test of that is you can take a look at their leadership team. When that leadership team is 100% white dudes you can sort of guess that it's just branding.

Is there a corollary in the circular economy world? Where you might see a brand talking this talk, but here are a couple of details that would sort of prove it; that it's more than just a brand exercise.

Mike: So the first thing I'd recommend is always question whether you need to buy it.
Always. That's the first thing. You have a place in this. Like I said, I want to buy a new Google Pixel 6. I don't need to.

Another thing is looking at repairs. So there are a number of places I probably can get the screen repaired, which is really what's wrong with the one I have, and a new battery, and it will cost however much. So repair becomes an option for me. I could buy a used device, there are refurbished devices out there that I could buy a 5, which is better than mine and has better capabilities and gets good reviews, and I can decide to buy differently.

One of the things I think to look at is exactly what you talked about, which is there are a number of websites that'll tell you the carbon footprint of a product, all the way from manufacturing to showing up at in your house. You'll see it on the Amazon site. They'll show you the carbon footprint of the things that you're ordering.

If you're doing a lot of online shopping, you have to start asking yourself are there better alternatives by shopping local rather than buying all the cardboard and packaging materials?

You look at the stuff you're throwing away, and what can you be doing differently that will make a difference. Are you at zero waste or is your trash bin full? How good are you?

Recycling, and recycling, to be honest with you, is not very good. Even if you put it in the bins they don't really make it where they need to go. They have a huge issue trying to get improvement on it, and where they go is a whole different issue.

But the biggest thing you can do is limit the amount of stuff you're consuming and limit the things you're sending to the landfill.

As for the question of what companies are doing, you want to start looking at companies that are doing real, serious things. For example, you're going to buy a phone. What companies are doing the most with phones? You can research that pretty easily.

Your big electronic decisions have a pretty big impact. Some of your car decisions have a big impact and those things, you can do a little research on them. There's plenty of information out there. Just be aware of it, right?

As Can-Do! keeps growing, hopefully you're going to have an app to help you make those decisions.
Haruki: Are there any keywords that people can use to look this stuff up? Say I'm looking for a new phone, how am I searching for information about where products and brands fit into a circular economy?
Mike: Well, typically "sustainability" becomes the buzzword for people, but "circular economy" probably gets you better information. It's kind of an insider word. It's not a consumer word, so it's more of a market word.

You'll be able to see some of the research that's being done on circular economies for the things that you're looking for. How the products are being designed and how they're going to be reused and repurposed. Things like that.

There's a big effort right now around the US - I'm not sure how big it is in Canada - for right-to-repair bills that are going on. So, for instance if an appliance in your home has a problem, there's are a million YouTube videos out there that'll tell you how to hack a solution, but finding the operators manual or the maintenance manual for that is really hard to get.

Often manufacturers don't like giving that information out. In right-to-repair states in the US that information needs to be public. So you'll see companies that are doing more work on growing the repair part of their business.

Nothing's going to be perfect, and the reality is you can spend your entire day researching this stuff and at some point you gotta buy it.

There are sustainability groups on Facebook that can help with researching brands as well. There are a number of places you can do it.

The main thing is just to look at where you're spending your money, Question whether or not you should be spending money and buying things. Always look at things like repair and reuse as much as you can, and just try to keep everything that you buy in play.

It doesn't go into a bin outside in the alley. Make sure it has a decent home. If you can do that, then you're playing your part.

With scarcity increasing, we're running out of elements and you have to start seriously rethinking things. Vancouver only has so much land. All through Europe, they have very limited space to do landfill, and they're very, very, very cautious with their rules. Europe is a leader here. They start pushing out new regulations that trickle over to the Americas.

Canada's a leader in this space too. Some states in the US are starting to take notice. It just takes time. You need infrastructure. You need so much to make all this stuff work. Until we all start working on it together, until we start building these communities, working on things in these circles we're not going to make a difference.

Haruki: Yeah, for sure, you need that will to create action. You need to like amplify your power because, like I said before, we're up against generations of a completely different direction that our entire system was built up on. That's amazing, that's awesome work you're doing.

Switching gears a little bit now! In your quest to save the world you've found yourself working out of ECOMsquare, in Vancouver. I'm curious, what made you personally or you as a company choose ECOMsquare as a workspace?

Mike: I get goosebumps on this one. So we'd been working remotely. Like I said, I've been out of Austin, Texas. My partner is here in Vancouver. We have another partner that bounces between here and Helsinki.

We were making a lot of progress and we were doing okay, but you know, sometimes it's hard to work at home when, you know, youngins come in and interrupt you while you're in the meeting or the doorbell rings and you gotta do something. And those things kind of get in the way.
Some people are good with that and some people aren't, but when you start building up a whole team, you need time to collaborate.

So, we were attempting to do this by crashing into the library meeting spaces with masks on. It was becoming problematic.

As Covid restrictions started opening up a little bit more, I decided to literally fly here. The moment we got together, things started popping.

Now, Alacrity, which is run by Owen Matthews, and he's connected in with Steve and the folks there at ECOMsquare. He knew ECOMsquare was starting up and introduced us. We don't fit in that perfect profile that you're looking for [ecommerce], but it has been an incredible place for us.

Discover modern coworking for ecommerce brands in Vancouver at ECOMsquare. 1758 West 8th Avenue.

We're bumping into people. There's Shawn [from SpeedSense] that sits next to us. He's a web guy and he's kind of helped out. There's a new woman that popped up yesterday, I forgot her name, that's also doing some work that just, you know, was listening in a conversation and popping in with some ideas.

We're talking about getting some funding and looking at some grants and we get some other ideas from people in the space on that. It's more than a coworking space. I've been in coworking spaces in Austin. They tend to be, sit over here, don't talk to anybody, avoid eye contact and go.

And ECOMsquare is aesthetically beautiful. Nice setup with nice big monitors. Really super fast wifi. Just a smart design. It's got a clubhouse in the basement, where we hosted an event for the circular economy community. We decided this was a great venue to introduce people to.

Steve bills it as a coworking space focused on ecom, but the reality is that it's sort of a pseudo-incubator in many ways. I mean, not explicitly an incubator, but you can go in and get good advice and great networking in a beautiful city (it's very close to downtown). I mean, there's very little to say bad about it.

There's coffee, like three coffee machines, so, you know, you can get in before eight o'clock and get coffee, which is a weird thing in the city [that coffee shops don't open earlier]. No one comes into the office that early, but I do. So you can come in and get coffee early and if I need coffee before eight o'clock, I can do that quite easily.

It's a great networking space. It's a great place to network. There's a lot of stuff going on after work. They have a riding group that does bicycle riding on Wednesday. This is a great bicycle town. There's an NFTs meetup that uses the clubhouse as well. So it's, it's just a wonderful office, wonderful location.

Haruki: That's so great to hear. I'm so happy to hear that you're getting that cross-pollination between people in the space. That was the whole idea. That was the concept that we wanted to bring to life, so that's awesome to hear that.

Um, I mean, that was just a wonderful testimonial! I don't even need to say anything else. We'll just put that out, no edits, no cuts. I'll edit myself out. You don't need me. That's perfect.

Mike: No, but I'm really serious about this because, I mean, so Austin has this thing called Capital Factory. It's an incubator, one of the best in the country. Absolutely awesome place. Basically you go in, you pay some money or give up part of your company, and a bunch of mentors are circling you. In many ways they're circling you like vultures. There's a lot going on, but this is a giant organization, and you can get lost very quickly and it's not as supportive as I think it could be because it's too big.

There's another incubator that I was with that had the complete opposite. Plenty of space to sit, but not a lot of strong networking that came along with it. You also have the coworking spaces where you plop up a desk and, again, you're just sitting at a desk and there's really very little networking that goes on. What you're doing is you're literally just finding a desk and staying away from people and hoping they keep quiet, right?

That's not what we have here. This is a place with people with names. I keep a list of all their names because some of them only pop in once a month and I want to remember who they are. They have interesting backgrounds. They have interesting stories and perspectives to share.

You know, professional stuff and great places to eat and you know, that kind of stuff. Those are the kind of things you want in in the workplace. There's a lot of little places to break out. It's just, comparing apples to the other apples at these other places, this is an awesome place. It's absolutely awesome.

Haruki: Cool. What do you think is creating that environment where people are sharing their stories and helping each other?

Mike: What makes it different is, I think it starts from the top with Steve and Michael. They're gracious hosts always. No matter what's going on with them, they take time for you. They're doing tours. They stop, they chat with you. They check in with you. They want to know what you're doing and they share what they're doing. When they're hosting events, they're inviting you to the events.

When you have that kind of connection that happens very quickly, you kind of feel a little obligation to pay it forward. So when new people come in and sit adjacent to us, we always try to make sure we at least say hi and learn a little bit about them. How are they connected in this world? And make sure they kind of know, you know, here's a little trick on the coffee machine, or whatever. You know, those little hints of things that go on.

So you kind of have this little community and then on top of it, there are the events, right? We hosted an event and my goodness, we got support. They actually marketed our event for us using their network as well as our network, which was nice. We had 50 people show up for this event, which was really nice. We paid for the food and the cleanup, but we didn't have to pay for the room. I mean, it just was a natural extension of a relationship that just is helping our business.

When you have that graciousness at the top and, and an open way in which people are talking that's very open and friendly, it just some sort of a natural thing to do. If you were not like that you wouldn't find this place very interesting.

Haruki: That's great. One thing that Steve really wanted to do, he would always emphasize the flat hierarchy, which I like. You were talking about the incubator in Austin where you're there and you have these mentors around, and automatically there's a power dynamic there.

Mike: Absolutely.

Haruki: And so everything you're saying is just great to hear, that you're feeling connected as equals to all people that you're there in the space with, including Steve and Michael.

Mike: I have one complaint though.

Haruki: Let's hear it.

Mike: Ready?

Haruki: Yeah, let's hear it.

Mike: I wish I could find something bad to say about Steve. Usually, there's something.

He's super smart. You see him writing code occasionally. He's one of the most patient people; I'm waiting for him to blow up on someone. He's never blown up on anybody. He's got style, my goodness, that place has style. You look at his office, you can see it. This comes out from him.

He has a profile picture on one of the social media things, I think it's on a Slack profile, where you can tell he was a bit of a rebel before, and he is got a little rough edge about him. That was kind of cool.

I'm being silly, but he's an amazing individual and I think a lot of things he's really good at kind of all come into this building.

He wants to get Vancouver a good tech place and really strong network. Boom.

He has a really strong heart and is about giving and collaborating. Boom.

Sophisticated design. He's got that right.

Laid back and sharing. Boom.

All of this great stuff that's all kind of piled into this little area. And yeah, it's a really neat place.

Haruki: That's awesome. I mean, thank you so much for taking the time. I've taken way over what I said I was going to take. I think I said half an hour and it's been...

Mike: You lied to me.

Haruki: I lied. It was a bald-faced lie and it's been almost an hour, I think.

Mike: Yeah, it has been.

Haruki: Well, I appreciate it so much and it was really nice to meet you as well.

Mike: Very nice meeting you as well.

Haruki: Thanks so much, take care.

Mike: Have a good rest of your day.