Battle Scars And Bright Ideas

Battle Scars And Bright Ideas

Lifestyle | Posted by - December 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

Bright ideas are a hot commodity in the tech world, but when it comes to making them blow up on the market, it takes more than a clever brainwave. It takes battle scars.

Just ask Craig Farrow.

With close to 30 years in the tech industry, he’s got both. He’s helped steer corporate titans such as Motorola and RIM through good times and bad, co-founded profitable computer start-ups, marketing and sales tech consultancies, and, most recently, he co-founded AK Technologies Group, a partnership designed to help entrepreneurs successfully bring innovations to market.

He’s got the brains that any aspiring tech entrepreneur would die to tap into, but it’s the scar tissue he values most.

“At RIM, I had unbelievably bright guys reporting to me,” he says. “[But] it was never lost on me how well educated they were and how insightful they were. The only advantage I had over these guys was experience. I had a lot of it and it was a lot of good experience, so I was able to help them capitalize on their smarts and accelerate what they were doing.”

He’s got the brains that any aspiring tech entrepreneur would die to tap into, but it’s the scar tissue he values most.

At 57 years old, that kind of acquired wisdom is the core strength propelling Farrow’s newest venture, AKTG, a partnership between Arlene Dickinson Enterprises and Kinetex, the marketing and sales tech consultancy that Farrow helped found in 2010.

“[AKTG] is a company where an inventor or an entrepreneur has an idea of a finished good, but doesn’t know exactly what the value proposition is or how to articulate it or monetize it,” says Farrow.

The grizzled veterans at AKTG take things from there.

Longtime players in the tech industry, Farrow and his partners at Kinetex, Rich Perley and Dwayne Lum, are seasoned entrepreneurs, each bringing a unique skillset to the table. Farrow focuses on distribution, merchandising, sales and go-to-market strategies; Perley is the marketing mastermind; while Lum focuses on productization, or as Farrow puts it, “more of the stargazing stuff.”

Perley and Farrow first met in the eighties when they helped Motorola build its fledgling cellular division into a multi-billion dollar empire. In 1996, with Lum on-board as the product guy, the trio launched Xplore Technologies. An early entry into the mobile computing market, Xplore supplied rugged hardware to law enforcement and government agencies throughout North America. It took them about a year-and-a-half to bring to the product to market (“It was painful,” says Farrow, “I still have scar tissue this thick from that one”), but for the mid-nineties, it was landmark stuff, the ideological precursor to inventions like, oh, the tablet.

The company set up shop in Austin, Texas, a tech hotbed where Perley and Lum still reside. Farrow moved back to Toronto in 2002 to join RIM (BlackBerry) where he helped launch it into the retail sector by kick-starting its accessory business (which grew from $5-million to $100-million annually on his watch) and establishing RIM’s international e-commerce site. He left on a high note, fortuitously, in 2008.

Battle Scars and Bright Ideas

Farrow, Perley and Lum reunited in 2010 to form Kinetex, a consulting company focused on developing and launching innovative products on a global scale. It’s a team with a deep bench, and it’s just strengthened its lineup by partnering with ADE.

“They bring a ton of heavyweights from the marketing side, branding, channel, distribution relationships, finance and legal,” says Farrow. “Anything we didn’t have, they had and vice versa.”

The alliance, which also involves Wistron, a global Fortune 500 company and multi-billion dollar leader in original design manufacturing (ODM), will provide tech entrepreneurs with a launchpad for bringing their ideas to market both domestically and on an international scale.

“Ideas are best evaluated by guys who have scar tissue,” says Farrow. “With the whole group of us, you’ve got this really interesting little melting pot where we can figure out what you need. You got your finance, your marketing, your distribution, your manufacturing, your design – it’s a one-stop shop.”


Entrepreneurs who have established hardware technology or product innovations are invited to submit their business proposal to for consideration by AKTG.


Arlene Dickinson Enterprises is proud to include AK Technologies Group in our investment portfolio


Tags: ak technologies group, arlene dickinson, craig farrow, kinetex, xplore technologies, profiles

Pat Lynch
Pat Lynch is a Toronto-based writer and editor. The editor of Damage Control: How to Tiptoe Away from the Smoking Wreckage of Your Latest Screw-up with a Minimum of Harm to Your Reputation, he has also written or edited for The Globe and Mail, The Grid, Toro, Ski Canada, Reader’s Digest and Cottage Life magazine.
Vaida Pociute
Vaida Pociute is the photographer behind www.WhiteOwlStudios. Although she first started out as a model 11yrs ago, Vaida soon found herself more interested to be on the other side of the camera. Nowadays she specializes in portrait, wedding and corporate photography. Natural light and airy feel is her signature style.
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