This morning, I gave a keynote speech to the Toronto Venture Group about the differences between running a start-up during the dot-com boom and what’s happening now. There was no earth-shattering advice but simply my contention that companies need to be smart about how they spend their money, and make sure they focus on doing things to grow the business as opposed to distractions such as swag and cool office space.

A major theme of my talk was chairs. In fact, if I had to re-name the presentation, it would have been “It’s All About the Chairs”. During the dot-com boom, companies were spending $1000 to $1500 for a Herman Miller Aeron chair as opposed to shopping at Staples/Business Depot and buying a chair for $30. In many ways, the Aeron symbolized how far too many dot-com companies spent their money in the wrong places during the dot-com boom…and we’re not even talking about all the swag that was distributed and all those parties with open bars. You can find some more thoughts about the “then and now” on Sean Wise’s blog. Jevon MacDonald, who runs FireStoker, also attended the breakfast and has some thoughts.

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