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Archive for July, 2010

By David Crow

The brain drain. Canadian actors in Hollywood. This was a common thread for  Canadian media outlets. But there is something new going on in tech north of the border. International corporations have been snapping up Canadian startups and talent. Foreign investors (think US Venture Capitalists) are looking north of the 49th parallel to actively deploy capital in high growth, scalable companies. Just look at the recent track record of activity in the past 9 months.

Recent Exits

  • Layerboom acquired by Joyent.
  • Plan9 acquired by Apple.
  • Sysomos acquired by MarketWire.
  • SmallThought acquired by Twitter.
  • Opalis acquired by Microsoft.
  • Bumptop acquired by Google.
  • Sitemasher was acquired by Salesforce.
  • CoverItLive was acquired by Demand Media.

Recent Foreign-led Investments

  • Highland Capital Partners invests in Montreal-based Beyond the Rack.
  • Bridgescale Venture Partners invests in Toronto-based Dayforce.
  • Bridgescale Venture Partners invests in Toronto-based Bluecat Networks.
  • FTV Capital invests $35M in Toronto-based Varicent.
  • Altos Ventures invests $4.5M in Toronto & SF-based Kontagent.
  • Metamorphic Ventures invests $1.5M in Toronto-based Chango.
  • Grandbanks Capital invests in Toronto-based iLoveRewards.
  • Grandbanks Capital invests in Toronto-based xkoto.
  • Panorama Capital invests $8M in Calgary-based Tynt.

So just what is going on. Why the sudden interest and opportunity?

  1. A History Lower Valuations, Less Capital & More Traction
    When you look at the historical news archive from the Canadian Venture Capital Association (CVCA) about the state of venture capital in Canada you begin to see a common thread. Canadian companies generally raise less money than their US counterparts at each stage of growth. This leads to lower valuations and more traction from local investors and has created a generation of Canadian entrepreneurs that are used to funding growth from profits. In 2009, the US market saw US$18 billion invested through venture capital. Canada startups only raised approximately US$1 billion representing 5.5% of the US number (source: Wellington Fund blog). The challenge is that the Canadian economy is approximately 12.5% of the US economy and this leaves a significant gap in the amount of potential capital being deployed to Canadian startups. There is a gap in the level of investment and the overall economic performance in Canada. This leaves a huge opportunity for other funding sources.
  2. Strong Local Communities
    When you look across Canada entrepreneurs are using the web, events and models developed locally and internationally to connect each other, share information and build successful startups. There are examples ranging from government-funded initiatives like the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo, WavefrontAC in Vancouver, the RIC Centre, MaRS, Lead to Win in Ottawa, and Communitech (there are a ton more). There are grassroots movements like DemoCamp, MontrealNewTech, StartupCamp and LaunchParty happening across the country. There are an emerging set of incubators and early investors like BootupLabs, Extreme Ventures, Montreal StartUp/Founder Fuel, and Mantella VP. These communities provide entrepreneurs opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs and seed investors to share methods, pursue informed development and find mentorship and funding.
  3. Close Proximity
    As soon as you decide to get on a plane, the game has changed. It’s not about can I drive to a board meeting in less than 45 minutes. It’s about can I make return travel in the same day. Flights to Vancouver from San Francisco are only minutes longer than flights to Seattle. If you’re leaving the comforts of Silicon Valley to travel to Seattle, Boulder, or other destinations than you should consider Vancouver. Toronto and Montreal in the same geographical proximity to Boston, New York and Chicago. The decision for most investors has less to do with travel and more to do with finding great companies whose growth can be accelerated. Having an international border throws a couple of new complications (see the next section Taxation Reforms) into the mix but it should not prevent investment or acquisition. There might be taxation and immigration impact on
  4. Taxation Reforms
    Charley Lax at Grandbanks Capital was a vocal critic of Section 116 of the Canada Tax Act. However, on March 4, 2010 Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced amendments to the Act that excluded shares of Canadian private companies. Basically, this removed a major tax barrier to foreign investment opportunities. A few of the deals listed above were completed before the changes to Section 116, significantly more seed and early-stage deals involving capital from US investors can be seen.

The times are a changin’

Grow 2010

Conspiracy theories of Canadians infiltrating American companies are mostly true. But the brain drain is a thing of the past. Silicon Valley is heading north to find new deals, new talent, and new opportunities. Grow Conference in Vancouver is a prime example of the exploration north of the border. Elite investors like Rob Hayes of First Round Capital, Dave McClure of FoundersFund, Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC are heading across the border to engage with Canadian entrepreneurs and startups. The Canadian Tech Mafia, sorry the C100, continues to show a strong presence with Rob Chaplinsky from Bridgescale, Chris Albinson of Panorama and others.

Reposted from StartUp North

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. At Microsoft Canada, he is responsible for helping Canadian start-ups gain access to software, support and visibility in the Microsoft ecosystem through programs like BizSpark (details at microsoft.com/bizspark). David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow

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By James Burchill

Were the Romans the first to use social media?

Social media is a funny thing; it panders to the dark side of human nature. Case in point, the Roman Empire. An amazing civilization, the Romans kept worldwide order for more than 500 years. Granted they did this through military might, but nonetheless they did.

The Romans were also (and you can thank my schoolteachers for this little nugget) masters of assimilation (technology theft?) Yes, for all you Star Trek fans out there, the Romans were the very first Borg. Roads, aqueducts, viaducts … some other culture, I think it was the Greek… But I digress.

Ironically, a few thousand years later we are assimilating aspects of Roman culture back into our modern day lives. In truth, we’ve been doing this all along. But for dramatic effect my story seems more relevant if I cherry pick a few elements, in this case reality television.

But back to ancient Rome, and a typical Saturday afternoon. The average bricklayer (after slaving – pun intended – all week long) would enjoy nothing less than a family outing to the local amphitheatre.

A quick segue, it is my understanding Romans knew the value of crowd control. Instead of letting repressed emotions fester, they allowed them to be channelled in positive ways–namely the amphitheatre and the games.

So where does social media fit into this story? I suggest to you it fits in with the simplest of human gestures: a thumb up, or a thumb down. The peasantry of the day could engage with every other man, woman and child and affect the course of the games action with nothing more than a simple wave of their hand (or their thumb.)

This thumbs up gesture should seem very familiar to you. It is commonplace to see this little icon on social media sites where “social voting” is all part of the process. Click the thumbs up button and your vote supports some cause or website. Conversely, a thumb down and you vote against it. Of course, today no one lives or dies by your act… but back then… a whole other story.

It strikes me as funny that such a simple gesture has survived the test of time and now finds itself commonplace amongst the desktops and user interfaces of the leading technology platforms.

And to those purists amongst us, I do understand technically the Romans didn’t do a thumb down gesture it was more thumbs sideways manoeuvre. But this again does not look as good and could be misinterpreted.

Ironic isn’t it, a fragment of a bygone culture should still exist today in such a simple act. And don’t get me started about why train tracks are as wide as they are, rumour has it they are such because this was the width of the traditional chariot of the day!

So the next time you push the thumbs up button or the thumbs down button I hope you smile and remember the Romans 🙂

JAMES BURCHILL shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing. You can find out more at James’ website and you can subscribe to his J-List and get over 40 articles, reports and advice on Internet Marketing today.

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By Reem Aziz

EnerMotion, a R IC Centre client, has been chosen as one of eighteen companies to receive a share of $40 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) for its clean technology project.

SDTC ,a not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada,  finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean innovative technology solutions. The most recent $40 million award is aimed at helping Canadian companies take their innovative technology solutions to the market.

The SDTC funding will go toward the development of EnerMotion’s Hybrid Auxiliary Power Unit (HAPU) – a system designed to  capture waste exhaust heat, solar energy and braking energy from transport trucks to provide heat, cooling, and electrical power to the cab when the truck is moving and stationary, reducing fuel use and lowering emissions.

Jack MacDonnell, founder and CEO of EnerMotion said, “The RIC Centre has provided exceptional advisory support including setting us up with an incredibly valuable marketing research package from their support network. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have this type of professional support available. As a Cleantech company moving into its third year of operation, quality assistance like this is worth its weight in gold, and we all know the value of that these days.”

EnerMotion is a Cleantech company specializing in alternative power systems for transportation applications. The company has developed an innovative hybrid energy system that captures waste exhaust heat, solar energy and braking energy, and converts it to useful cooling, heating, and electricity for Class 8 heavy trucks. RIC profiles EnerMotion.

The Research, Innovation and Commercialization Centre (RIC) is a non-profit organization that provides business and technical services to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to commercialize their innovation. RIC is focused in the aerospace, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and technology sectors.

Please visit www.riccentre.com for more information.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is an arm’s-length foundation, created by the Government of Canada, that has received $1.05 billion as part of the Government’s commitment to a healthy environment and a high quality of life for all Canadians.

SDTC operates two funds aimed at the development and demonstration of innovative technological solutions.  The $550 million SD Tech Fund™ supports projects that address climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil.  The $500 million NextGen Biofuels Fund™ supports the establishment of first-of-kind large demonstration-scale facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels.

SDTC operates as a not-for-profit corporation and has been working with the public and private sector including industry, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the financial community and all levels of government to achieve this mandate.

Reem Aziz is a University of Toronto student in the Digital Enterprise Management Specialist stream of the Communications, Culture and Information Technology program. She is currently a Writing and Communications intern at the RIC Centre where she is putting her academic knowledge to the test. She has an interest in marketing and event planning and has background experience in creating posters, banners and web ads.

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By Jeff Bowman

There are some levels of customer service that shouldn’t  be breached.  Sacred.  Alas, one of the last bastions of free extra value has gone the way of the Dodo.

I am fortunate that I grew up in an era where an oil check, windshield wash and hockey stickers were the norm with every gas fill up. “Can I check under the hood” was a familiar phrase from a smiling attendant.

If you are old enough to remember the Esso Power Player sticker series, then you are in my age bracket.  Picture yourself pulling into a gas station today where first of all the attendant is in a uniform and cap. He checks your oil, cleans your windows, and gives you something extra.  It could have been a glass, a sticker book, gas cap tiger’s tail, whatever, it was free and it kept my parents going back to the same station over and over.

Times have changed.  Today you pump your own gas, walk into the cashier and pay,  sometimes without even a simple thank you. You can check your own oil, or not, and you count your lucky stars first of all if there is clean water in the washer bucket and second if the washer itself has any foam left on the cleaning side.

Today was the ultimate value squeeze for me.  I have always gone to a certain gas station to fill up, partly because they still have free air for my tires.  Yes, free air!  Today I went to use the air and to my horror it was $1.00.  I understand paying for suction to clean your car, but a service like providing air to fill up a low tire.  Too much.

Consumer’s have a right to value for the products and services they buy.  In a competitive marketplace, a company’s value proposition is often what creates and maintains brand loyalty.

Well it seems in a marketplace where price is essentially the same, service becomes an additional cost, so it’s easy to cut.

Imagine if that happened in banks – no tellers, high service charges and, wait that might be a bad example.  Imagine going to a grocery store where you had to scan your own items, bag your own groceries and….

When will the big wheel of service levels roll back to the consumer’s side? I predict it won’t be too long from now. Consumers need to take note of where they still get value, and let the owners know that it is still appreciated.

Isn’t it strange that when I was growing up the place where you went for gas was called a “Service Station”!

What reductions in service levels have you up in arms?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.

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Part 4 – This is the final installment in Dev’s extensive series on Local Search Optimization. See the links to Parts 1,2 are 3 below.

By Dev Basu

So you’ve claimed your listing and can finally find yourself on the major search engines when you search your business name and the city you’re located in. But you might be asking yourself, “Why can’t I find myself for <insert city> + <your services> yet?” One of the reasons your listing doesn’t rank is because it does not have enough citation data aggregated via your local business profile, such as your Google Place page.

In order to “get found,” you’ve got to start building citations to your listing, much like building links to your website for organic SEO rankings. At its core, citations can be of two types, structured and unstructured.  Structured citations come from third-party data providers that the search engines know and trust as business data providers. Unstructured citations would include any reference to your business’ name, phone number, or URL on any given web page recognized by a search engine.

Most citations will at the very least contain the following:

  • Your DBA Name
  • Business Phone Number
  • Business Website URL
  • Business Categorization

You may also find citation sources that allow more rich information about your business, such as the ability to include pictures, videos, extended information such as your business hours, and even reviews and customer ratings. All of this extra information will help you rank in local search, so I encourage you to complete your citation profiles to be as complete as possible.

Essentially, citations are the search engine’s way of validating the popularity and credibility of your business, especially since it is difficult to fake a business’ inclusion in a chamber of commerce, print business directory, or government website.

Web citations come in many forms, but the most common ones include:

On my site I’ve compiled a list of the 20 Best Local SEO Citation Sources for the United States for you to use. That being said, you can either choose to build these manually, use an agency or Local SEO specialist to manage your citation building process, or use a syndication service and business data management service such as Universal Business Listings or Localeze.

Before you begin building your citations, I have 6 actionable tips to offer you:

  1. Always use your Doing Business AS (DBA) name in all your citations.
  2. Avoid keyword stuffing or mis-categorization.
  3. Do not use call tracking phone numbers in your citations.
  4. Use your main website as your primary business website URL
  5. Do complete all available options related to your business information available at each citation source.
  6. Be patient, since citations take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to show up in your local business profiles

Part 1 The Rise of Local SEO and the Death of the Yellow Pages

Part 2 How to Claim and Optimize your listings on search engines

Part 3 8 Steps to Building an Optimized Local Business Listing

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

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Part 3

Part 1 The Rise of Local SEO and the Death of the Yellow Pages

Part 2 How to Claim and Optimize your listings on search engines

By Dev Basu

Now that you’ve claimed your listings and verified them, it’s time to optimize them. This article will contain little fluff and lots of actionable advice, so let’s get started:

Optimizing your Google Places Page (formerly known as Google Local Business Center) listing consists of paying attention to the following steps as you fill out your business profile:

  1. Basic Business Information
  2. Email, Description, and Website
  3. Business Category Selection
  4. Service Areas
  5. Hours of Operation and Payment Options
  6. Images and Videos
  7. Additional Details
  8. Review and Submitting Your Listing

Profile completeness is a ranking factor within Google’s local listings. Profiles that are more complete have better rankings than ones that are less complete, so it’s important to fill out the entire business profile.
Nick Thomas of G5 Search Marketing submitted this to Blumenthals.com 4-Aug-2009.

Step 1: Include Basic Business Information

This includes filling out the required fields such as Country, Company/Organization, Street Address, City/Town, State, ZIP, Main Phone, and Fax numbers.

Make sure you use the actual DBA (Doing Business As) name for your company and that your address information is reflective of your actual address. Fill out the fields as accurately as possible, since Google will attempt to cross-reference them with information from other business databases that mention your company.

Step 2: E-mail, Description, and Address Display Options

  1. Use an e-mail address that is associated with your website domain such as info@yourdomain.com
  2. Use the 200-character limit in the description to accurately describe your business including product and service areas where possible. The business description should answer the following questions:
    • Who are you?
    • What do you do?
    • Where are you located? Where areas do you cover?
  3. Fill in your website details. If you do not have a website, it’s best to at least have a one page website freely available through any of the many free website builders.

Step 3: Business Category Selection

Selecting the right categories can make or break your chance at ranking prominently within Google’s 7-pack, that is, their list of seven similar businesses and organizations in your area.

Google offers one main category and four related categories to help define your services. Start typing in the main categorization of your business and you’ll find that Google Places will suggest a category for you choose. Choose the most appropriate suggestion as your main category and then proceed to fill in related categories or other services your business offers.

In the past, you may have heard that it is a good idea to stuff city or location keywords into your categories. While this was true last year, it is no longer effective and can even be detrimental to your rankings.

If the suggested keywords do not match your business services appropriately, you can you use custom categories. Employ this Blumenthal’s Google LBC Categories Preview tool to find synonyms that are recognized by Google Places. For example, identified synonyms for the suggested category “Lawyers” include:

attorney
attorneys
defense
DUI
family law
findlaw
law firm
law firms
lawyer
pro bono

Step 4: Service Areas

In recent months, Google Places has offered the option for businesses to define their service areas. This is especially useful, at least in theory, for mobile businesses such as plumbers, roofers, and other contractors, and home-based businesses. Unfortunately, Google Places still places more trust in brick and mortar based businesses than mobile businesses. Our testing has proven that selecting service areas results in a sharp drop in rankings. As per Google Place guidelines however, this is the only way for mobile or home-based business to represent itself on Google Places.

Google Places also offers the option to hide your business address completely, in case you want to keep your business address private.

Step 5: Hours of Operation and Payment Options

Filling these details out accurately will help you get closer to a 100% complete Google Places listing. You can also select split hours in case your business is open at different times during each day.

Step 6: Images and Videos

Adding images and videos not only helps your local business listing become more interactive, it also counts toward a 100% complete listing.

Make use of this option and upload some of your business related photos. They can help your customers get an idea of what to expect when they visit or call you. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you can upload pictures of some of the recent properties that you have sold. Be sure you upload 10 images to help make your profile complete.

You can also upload business videos to your local business profile. These can be promotional videos, company messages, and DIY or how-to videos for your customers. Google Places gives you an option to showcase up to five videos. While more videos provide increased interactive content for your customers, only one video contributes towards profile completeness.

Step 7: Additional Details

This section allows you to provide all additional details you wish to tell your customers about your business. You may add multiple fields, but only one is needed to count towards profile completeness. Example fields where you may add appropriate keywords include options such as parking availability, free estimates or quotes, or awards your business may have won.

A rarely known fact is that you can also add links in your local business listing to your Twitter or Facebook pages. Just add a field called “Follow us on Twitter” or “Follow us on Facebook” and copy the full URL for your Facebook or Twitter Profile into the field on the right hand side.

Step 8: Review and Submit Your Listing

Re-check your listing data to check for accuracy, then click the submit button to save your changes. In about an hour or so — and sometimes faster than that — Google Places will have picked up your listing. If you are in an non-competitive market, you may already have a place in the 7-pack of local business results. If you don’t show up on the first page don’t be discouraged, because in my next article, I’ll explain how to building citations or “links to your listings” that can strongly impact your rankings.

Monday- Part 4 – How to Promote and Syndicate Your Local Business Listings

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

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By Theo Kapanadze

Today, I would like to draw your attention to a couple of recent changes to the USP Dissolution Testing monograph that you may need to be aware of.  Two new draft USP General Chapters on Topical and Transdermal Drug products have been published in the Pharmacopeial Forum Vol. 35, No. (3) May-June 2009.  The General Chapters are: <3> Topical and Transdermal Products-Product Quality Tests; and <725> Topical and Transdermal Products-Product Performance Tests.  You can find these if you follow the links provided above.

These are important developments since dissolution testing is plying a very important role in the pharmaceutical industry during drug development, quality control and stability programs.

The test is used in order to assure consistent product (batch) quality within a defined set of specification criteria and all products must pass to be on the market.

Initially, the dissolution testing procedure was developed for immediate release solid oral dosage form products and later it was extended for extended/controlled/modified release solid oral dosage form products.  Recently, the application of dissolution testing has widened to a variety of “novel” or “special” dosage forms, such as suspensions, orally disintegrating tablets, chewable tablets, chewing gums, transdermal patches, semisolid topical preparations, suppositories, implants, injectable micro-particulate formulations, and liposomes.  It is referred to as the “drug release test”.

Until now, because of significant differences in formulation design among these novel/special dosage forms, it was not possible to develop a single test protocol that could be used to study the drug release properties of all products.  Rather, different apparatus, procedures, and techniques have been employed on a case-by-case basis.  The two new draft USP General Chapters on Topical and Transdermal Drug products have been published in Pharmacopeial Forum 35(3) May-June 2009 to address this need.

These two General Chapters are part of a series of chapters that will cover product quality and performance tests for the five routes of administration.  In addition to the transdermal route, the other routes of administration include injection, mucosal, inhalation, and gastrointestinal.  The Draft General Chapter <3> is the first in the default monograph series.  For oral dosage forms (gastrointestinal), <711> and Dissolution, <724> Drug Release are examples of product performance chapters.

The general Chapter <725> covers the apparatus and procedures used to evaluate the in vitro drug release and proposes a performance verification test to assess equipment performance.  The product performance test is consistent with that proposed in the FDA Guidance for Industry, Nonsterile Semisolid Dosage Forms, Scale-up and Postapproval Changes: Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls; In Vitro Release Testing and In Vitro Bioequivalence Documentation (SUPAC-SS).

All this information has been posted on the USP web site.  Comments and suggestions for these tests and procedures are invited from interested parties through the routine Pharmacopeial Forum comment process.  I encourage everyone who may be affected by this to participate.

Reposted from DiTeba Research Laboratories Inc.

Dr. Theo Kapanadze, D.Sc., Ph.D. Chief Scientific Officer, Executive VP Science Dr. Kapanadze is a co-founder of Diteba Research Laboratories Inc. He has more than 30 years experience as an academic researcher, university professor and leading research scientist at major Canadian pharmaceutical and CRO companies.

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