Startup Grind Ottawa: Interview with Aaron Zifkin, GM, Airbnb Canada

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Startup Grind Ottawa had the pleasure of hosting Aaron Zifkin, the country manager for Airbnb here in Canada at the WorkshopX offices in trendy Hintonburg.

Some of the most important points Aaron had to share with us about business, community, and the future of the sharing economy included:

  • Airbnb isn't a tech company - it's an experience and people company.
  • Do things that don't scale - don't just say it. Do it.
  • It took Airbnb 4 years to get to 1 million bookings. On August 8, 2015, they did 1 million bookings in a single night.
  • Don't assume others are thinking about what you're thinking of - ask the tough questions and critical questions.
  • Do a couple of things really, really, well. At the end of the year, you'll only be remember for a few things you did really well or tanked at.
  • Getting "in trouble" is healthy because it forces you to re-evaluate the process.
  • You can't assume people understand what you're doing. Be invested and educate others.

You can watch the full video of the event here.

Thanks to Robert Decher for recording the event. Thanks to Jason Connell & Invest Ottawa for their help & support as well.

Hack To Start Featured On 500 Startups Blog

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While I haven't had an opportunity to blog about it since announcing the launch, Tyler Copeland and I run an awesome podcast called Hack To Start - where we're on a mission to interview cool, interesting, and innovative people who are out there making it happen in some way or another.

It's been an amazing journey so far as we ended 2014 with our first 25 episodes - we wrote a recap post about it then - and now quickly approaching our 50th (new post due soon!).

But one cool opportunity developed a few weeks back that I wanted to share. We had just finished recording an episode with the awesome Susan Su from 500 Startups and Susan asked if we'd be willing to write a blog post about our experience and insights building Hack To Start for her to share with other founders.

While not being experts on the subject, we accepted none the less and you can find the post on the 500 Startups Blog here.

But the story isn't ours alone to share. Both Tyler and I have been greatly influenced by many other entrepreneurs and podcasters. I wrote a list of some of them here a few weeks back.

Some of these entrepreneurs I mentioned in the post that appeared on 500 Startups, notably:

Espree Devora from We Are LA Tech, and
Ryan Hoover from Product Hunt Radio

But there are so many more that also deserve credit, so thanks to everyone who's help us get here, to all those who are willing to share their stories and time with us, and most of all to those fans and listeners who support us and Hack To Start.


Ottawhat Podcast

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I recently had the awesome honour and privilege to be a the Ottawhat Podcast hosted by the incredible trio of Amaan Bashir, Rob Attrell, and Keegan On.

You can go ahead and give the episode a listen here:

These guys were tons of fun to hang out with and I love what they're doing for the city - although I'm still not sure how I made the cut ;)

I had a chance to share my experience as an entrepreneur and highlight some of the amazing things I'm currently working on including Hack To Start, Popkey, and Startup Grind Ottawa.

So go ahead and support these guys and checkout the Ottawhat Podcast here.

Some Of The Top Podcasts

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Since I co-host my own podcast, Hack To Start, with Tyler Copeland, I often get asked what podcasts I myself listen to or draw inspiration from.

Even before we started podcasting, I was drawn to the medium. There have been a bunch that I've listened to and used to learn and grow from as I continue to learn and improve.

I'm still a long way from perfecting the art, but it's been lots of fun and I get a lot of enjoyment out of the entire process: from meeting new, awesome, guests; to producing the episodes; to marketing and overall growth of the brand - I love every minute of it. Listening to others do their thing is highly motivating and inspirational for me.

So, in no particular order, here are some of the Top Podcasts on my listen/inspiration list (Product Hunt also returns great results & collections worth checking out as I can't list them all here. I'd also recommend checking out Max Tempkin’s Podcast Thing and Mubashar Iqbal’s

The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes
Freakonomics Radio by Stephen J. Dubner and WNYC
This Week in Startups by Jason Calcanis
Product People by Justin Jackson by Rob Woodbridge
Dorm Room Tycoon by William Channer
Happy Monday Podcast by Josh Long & Sarah Parmenter
Product Hunt Radio by Michael Sacca, Joelle Steiniger, and Matt Goldman
The Tim Ferriss Show by Tim Ferriss
We are LA Tech by Espree Devora
The Start, by Patrick Johnson & Nick Rovisa
Design Details, by Bryan Jackson & Brian Lovin
The a16z Podcast
500 Startups Podcast