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Archive for February, 2011

By Shantanu Mittal

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Venture Capital Investment Competition organized by The Rotman School of Management. In this competition student teams played the roles of Venture Capitalists and had to evaluate two real business opportunities and negotiate a termsheet with one.

This was a great opportunity to sit on the other side of the table and analyze a business from a VCs point of view. Our team had to critically analyze the business plans, listen to the entrepreneurs pitches, carry out due diligence sessions and successfully negotiate the terms of a deal with the entrepreneur. Through this exercise, I was surprised to learn some things which at first seem counter intuitive for start-up businesses looking to raise money from investors

1. Forecasting large revenue projections for pre-revenue companies is an exercise in vain:

  • All companies forecast a ‘hockey stick’ revenue growth curve in hopes that when investors look at their projected growth, they will value them higher. In reality, investors rarely value a pre-revenue company based on its projected revenue (a method of valuation known as Discounted Cash Flow). Instead investors like to see a well thought out revenue model, in which growth is based on sound assumptions and a niche target market.

2. Don’t go to an investor if the only thing he or she can offer is money.

  • Money is certainly important to grow your business, but investors, especially VCs, can offer a lot more value to the company. For starters, find a VC who shares your enthusiasm for your business idea and has similar vision for the growth of the company. Also, look at what else the VC can offer in terms of networks and marketing or technical expertise. This can really speed up the growth of your company and help you find opportunities previously unavailable to you.

3. Don’t fight too hard to keep a very large share of your business.

  • All entrepreneurs want to keep control and a large portion of their business. But would you rather have 10% of a $1 million company or 100% of a company worth $0. Because, in reality, a pre-revenue company is essentially worth $0. VCs decide how much to invest for what percentage of the company by valuating the business based on various factors such as the management team, market growth and recent acquisitions or investments. It is important in the negotiation to understand the highest valuation the VC will go to, so you can get the best deal. You can also negotiate on other terms to maintain control, such as board structure and shareholders rights. Eventually it is a partnership, so you want to ensure that both parties are happy on signing the deal.

Well, my team managed to win 2nd place at the competition, beating out 6 other MBA teams.

Overall what I learned from this experience was this: Making a deal with a VC is like getting into a long-term relationship; there will be ups and downs, but both parties need to ensure they understand each other well enough to get through the tough times.

Shantanu Mittal is graduate student pursuing his Masters of Biotechnology from the University of Toronto Mississauga. He is currently the communications officer for the RIC Centre, a role which has helped him understand the world of entrepreneurship and business development. With his expertise in the life sciences and green technology sector, he has been able to provide valuable feedback to clients along with the entrepreneur-in-residence. Shantanu hopes to pursue a future in business development in the biotechnology or green technology industries.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Krista LaRiviere

When I talk with prospects and clients our conversations usually include standard SEO topics such as keyword phrases, content writing, competitor analysis, social media, analytics and the one topic that ‘links’ all these together – backlinking.

That is, incorporating keywords into backlinks, writing press release content with backlinks, out-backlinking the competition, using social media as a backlinking source and of course measuring backlinks with analytics. Why is backlinking so important to your organic search strategy?

Google’s algorithm places a heavy weighting on the number of web sites that are referencing (or linking back to) your web site.  These are backlinks or inbound links. Google’s logic is pretty simple: if other sites are referencing your site, then it must be a relevant and trusted site with relevant content.

But it isn’t so simple. The backlinks to your site must be:

–  high quality, relevant links freely given based on editorial judgment; as opposed to;

– low quality, spammy, irrelevant links, links from untrustworthy sources or traded links.


Backlink 101: Structure and Definitions

Here are some basics that will be helpful:

1) What is a backlink?
On this web page – http://business.financialpost.com/2010/12/08/canadas-most-innovative-companies – there’s a backlink to http:www.gshiftlabs.com.

2) What is anchor text?
The anchor text for the backlink is “gShift Labs”. (The text that you actually click on.)

3) What is domain value?

Google places a value on a backlink source. So the source “financialpost.com” would have a higher value than say “thebarrieexaminer.com”.

Now that we know this, we can talk about the do’s and don’ts. Here are some things to think about:

The Do’s

1.     Be consistent. Google wants to know that you are committed to your backlink strategy and Google’s algorithm can detect if you’re not committed. For example, if you have 59 backlinks today and overnight you have 15,000 (because you bought backlinks from a backlink farm) you will likely be penalized, which will negatively impact your ranking.

Google wants to see that you are adding a consistent number of backlinks to your web presence over the course of a normal time period. For example, 5 to 10 backlinks per week, every week or 50 backlinks per week every week.

2.     Optimize your anchor tags. An anchor tag with the text “Click Here” or “Read More” is pretty useless to your SEO efforts. Instead try to optimize your anchor text with keyword-rich content that matters to you. For example, if one of your top keyword phrases is “orange party dresses” then you’ll want to create anchor text based on this phrase and have it link through to a web page that is also optimized for that phrase.

Note: It might not always be possible to control the anchor text for your backlink.

3.     Unique domains. Google wants to see that you have a strong variety of domains in your backlink inventory. If all your backlinks are coming from one source it is a signal that your web site probably isn’t all that relevant.

4.     But, how do I add backlinks? If you feel dumb asking the question you’re not alone. How should you go about building backlinks? It is really about producing content. You can produce content by:

a.      Issuing regular press releases through a syndication service such as PRWeb.com or MarketWire.com.

b.     Blogging on trusted third-party web sites with links back to your web site (when appropriate).

c.      Getting your website added to relevant industry portals and directories.

The Don’ts

1.     Don’t buy links unless you really really understand the company that is selling the links to you, the quality of the links and the risks associated with the potential outcome of buying those links. Talk to an expert or get a second opinion before committing to such tactics.

2.     Don’t trust any SEO Professional or Agency that promises a #1 organic ranking. A #1 organic ranking is completely impossible to guarantee because there are so many external variables beyond the control of the SEO Professional. Variables such as Google’s always-changing algorithm and competitors’ websites just to name a couple.

3.     Don’t be afraid to ask your SEO Professional what their backlinking strategy is for your web presence. Or better yet, tell them you want a backlinking strategy outlined, before it is implemented.

Now I’d like to share one really sad SEO backlinking story with you.

The Sad SEO Backlinking Story

J.C. Penney hired a SEO firm to optimize its website for organic search. To make a really long sad story short, Google ultimately penalized J.C. Penney’s rankings after it was determined that the SEO firm hired, implemented backlinking tactics that Google considers “black hat” or unethical. The initial outcome of these unethical backlinking tactics was a #1 rank for a variety of keyword phrases that matter to J.C. Penney.

How did the SEO firm accomplish this? They paid to have thousands of backlinks placed on hundreds of sites scattered around the Web, all of which lead directly to JCPenny.com. (New York Times, Dirty Little Secrets of Search, February 12, 2011.). In a nutshell, “paid-for backlinks”. The worst part is that the client, J.C. Penney, was unaware of the unethical practices the SEO firm was employing to achieve the high organic rankings. Bad SEO firm.

Once it was brought to Google’s attention that the J.C. Penney web site was attempting to game Google’s search algorithm, Google began manual actions against JCPenney.com, essentially decreasing their organic rank.

“At 7 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for “Samsonite carry on luggage.” Two hours later, it was at No. 71. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Penney was No. 1 in searches for “living room furniture.” By 9 p.m., it had sunk to No. 68.” (New York Times, Dirty Little Secrets of Search, February 12, 2011).

Moral of the Sad SEO Backlinking Story: Keep your SEO ‘white hat’ or you will be penalized by Google and this will negatively affect your business. A strong, effective backlinking strategy is a marathon, not a sprint.

Reposted from gShift Labs

Krista LaRiviere is the CoFounder & CEO of gShift Labs. This is Krista’s third software start-up having successfully exited from the previous two. Having been in the Internet marketing space for over ten years, Krista is able to identify trends and gaps in the daily lives of Internet marketers. gShift has web presence optimization software that is  demystifying, simplifying and standardizing organic search. Her vision is to change the way people think of and perform organic search optimization.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeff Bowman

Promotion is the key to business success.  You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but if no one knows how or where to get it, or the advantages of owning one, the effort has been lost.

Being in marketing for more than 25 years, I have seen a ton of promotions, everything from the bizarre to the fascinating, not to mention some of the dumbest and mundane promotional activities as well. The black and white ads that I grew up with in the back of 15 cent comic books, have morphed into 3D, full colour animations so real you can reach into the picture. The availability of short live spots on local television stations in the 80s really brought horrendous ads to the forefront, especially for supermarkets and auto dealerships. They were low-budget and corny, but deemed to be cost-effective.  There are all types of promotional activities available from extremely high-priced advertisements with big name stars, to the simple public appearance with little fanfare.

Recently  I had the pleasure of seeing both ends of the spectrum, attending a CD launch event and watching the Super bowl ads, I mean watching the Superbowl. At a cost of over $3 million  for a 30 second spot, companies had the opportunity of reaching over 100,000,000 viewers across North America. That was just the cost of the placement.  Some companies spent obscene amounts of money to produce the ad itself. Money deemed well spent by the corporate sponsors. When you’ve got the cash, spare no expense!

What about those who don’t have the cash? Well, the internet and social media have made access to an audience far cheaper. I received a Facebook invite to a CD launch at a local restaurant, by a young musician who I have known for a long time. The invite cost nothing.  The venue was very nice, and had a crowd that covered almost every demographic. A small table was set aside for CD sales. The performance was very good and well appreciated by the audience. The cost for the exposure for a local singer/songwriter, was small, but was deemed money well spent. Today, like the expensive Super Bowl ads, you can see Karl’s clips on the web. Definitely not in the same sphere of viewership as the more expensive ads, but a start none the less.

Keep in mind the type of activities that are available to small business today when planning your marketing approach.  The key is to know your audience, where they get information, and how they prefer to communicate.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but if done right, will be deemed money well spent.

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.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Krista  LaRiviere

I regularly get asked the question, “What really is the impact on my business of not ranking in the Top 10 in Google?” The truth is I have absolutely no idea. The reality is I guarantee the impact is significant enough for you to care.

In this post I’ve applied math to some well-known, published data about search engine usage and paid search. I then related it to a Page 1 versus a Page 2 organic search ranking.

The outcome demonstrates the foregone revenue for a particular business of being ranked on Page 2 rather than Page 1 in Google.

There are 4 billion Google searches performed every single day (ComScore.com, December 2009) which accounts for approximately 75% of all Internet searches.  Of those searchers, 30% will click on the paid side of search (Google Adwords/PPC) while the other 70% will click on the organic side of search.

Let’s stop and do some math:

4,000,000,000 * 70% = 2,800,000,000 or 2.8 billion searchers click on organic search results every day.
Now get this. According to a study from iCrossing.com from February 2010 over 95% of searchers do not go beyond the first page of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Conclusion, you need to be on the first page of Google, Yahoo! and Bing for the terms you want your prospects to find you for or you’re not in the game.
More math:

2,800,000,000 searchers * 95% = 2.66 billion people clicking on one of the Top 10 organic search results every day.

Now what really does this mean for your business? Let’s apply paid search data (AdWords) from an actual business, to the organic side of search. This example will illustrate the magnitude of the foregone revenue to this business as a result of being ranked on Page 2 instead of Page 1.

Note: Although this data has been simplified, this particular business was indeed ranked on Page 2 in Google and they were subsidizing their lack of a Page 1 ranking with Google Adwords. I also acknowledge that there are other factors involved in conversions and the purchasing process and not all businesses are the same. In other words, this is a very simple model, but I think it gets the point across.

The Data:
1. Product sells for $100
2. 1,000 clicks generated through Adwords
3. Conversion rate of 15% (where conversion = purchased product)

Paid Search Results = 150 converted visitors * $100 = $15,000

Remember though, with Adwords you’re only capturing 30% of the eyeballs. Therefore, for every 1,000 clicks on paid search there are 3333 (1000/.3) available clicks on organic search. But of them, 95% don’t go beyond Page 1. This translates to 475 (3333 *.95 *.15) converted visitors from a Page 1 organic search result and just 25 from Page 2.

Being listed on Page 1 in Google would provide this business with 475 converted visitors = $47,500 Instead, they are capturing only 25 converted visitors from their Page 2 rank or $2,500.

This business can assume the foregone revenue of their Page 2 organic ranking is $45,000 ($47,500 – $2,500). By improving their ranking to a top 10 spot in Google search, they could potentially increase their organic search engine generated revenue by 1800% and their organic search generated revenue will be more than three times their paid search generated revenue.

That’s enough to care.

Reposted from gShift Labs

Krista LaRiviere is the CoFounder & CEO of gShift Labs. This is Krista’s third software start-up having successfully exited from the previous two. Having been in the Internet marketing space for over ten years, Krista is able to identify trends and gaps in the daily lives of Internet marketers. gShift has web presence optimization software that is  demystifying, simplifying and standardizing organic search. Her vision is to change the way people think of and perform organic search optimization.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Marielle Voksepp
Can you keep a secret? Like your IP?Can you keep a secret? Like your IP? 

IP comes in many forms: it can be a formula, program, device, a business process or information.  As tempting as it is – don’t share your idea with the world: you want to keep it a secret.

In this week’s Entrepreneurship 101 lecture, Arshia Tabrizi summarizes the pros and cons of intellectual property in a concise and straightforward manner. He also answers the questions How do I get IP? How do I keep it? And how do I use it?

Watch the lecture video to learn what you need to know about:

  1. Non-disclosure agreements
  2. Patents
  3. Copyright
  4. Trademarks

Need help figuring out how intellectual property fits into your overall business model? Make use of the resources below to properly exploit your innovations. Avoid making common mistakes by watching this Hot Tips video.

Downloads and Resources:

Reposted from MaRS

Marielle works as part of the education team at MaRS. She helps entrepreneurs get access to business resources both online and in-person.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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With recent changes at RIC Centre, we are now looking to hire an Operations  Co-ordinator. This new position is an important member of the RIC Centre team.

RIC provides support to new entrepreneurs and seasoned business people to take the next great idea to market in the fields of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, life sciences and emerging technology.

RIC is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and community partners in Peel Region. Our staff works closely with academic institutions, commercialization resources, municipal development staff, the financial community and entrepreneurs.

This is a dynamic and innovative environment that requires talented and committed staff who pitch in to accomplish team goals and support innovation and entrepreneurship in our community.

The Operations Coordinator reports to the Executive Director
1 Year contract term (may be renewable)
Salary range $70,000 – $75,000

Key Job Responsibilities

  • Provide organizational support to RIC Centre including assistance with managing and scheduling: Peer 2 Peer meetings, Volunteer Mentors and Volunteer Service Provider Meetings
  • Prepare materials for meetings, and events.
  • Participate in the identification of potential mentors and volunteers.
  • Participate in the on-boarding of volunteer mentors and volunteer service providers procedures and ensuring all relevant documentation is completed.
  • Collect and compile quarterly performance metrics for the Volunteer Mentor and Service providers.
  • Assist with the collection and distribution of client feedback and prepare quarterly reports to identify areas for improvement.
  • Assist with developing and delivery of communications to clients, advisors, volunteers and external stakeholders.
  • Provide insight, input and support into additional projects as developed.

Education and experience

  • Relevant University Degree/College Diploma
  • Minimum 3-5 years experience working in an administrative, operations, or business support role

Personal Requirements

  • Strong writing skill
  • Exceptional communicator and strong, collaborative team player
  • Client service-oriented Excellent interpersonal and communications skills (oral and written)
  • Able to work independently and able to produce results with little supervision
  • Strong analytical skills (comfortable with MS Excel, PowerPoint, Email, etc.)
  • Interest in entrepreneurship and new technologies
  • Professional demeanor and comfortable working with senior officials
  • Well organized, logical thinker
  • Ability to manage shifting priorities and ad-hoc projects Comfortable working in a fast-paced, dynamic environment

The position will be based in the Sheridan Research Park in Mississauga, ON.

Please submit applications to pam.banks@riccentre.com

Application deadline: March 11, 2011

Visit www.riccentre.com

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By Bryan Watson

In support of the innovation community in Canada, the Canadian Technology Accelerator via the Canadian Innovation Exchange, in partnership with DFAIT and the Consulate General in San Francisco, have launched what is called the “Plug and Play Tech Centre (PnP)” for early-stage start-ups to more developed players.

What is Pnp? – A Centre that is located in the heart of the Valley where three qualified Canadian companies will stay for three months (rent paid for) starting in June of 2011.

What will these qualified Canadian companies do? – Work alongside over 150 tech start-ups from more than 20 countries, meet with experiences mentors and advisors guiding growth and development in the Valley, gain introductions to local angel networks and VC firms, gain access to the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.

What is defined as a qualified company? – Any Canadian-based tech company working in Digital Media and Information and Communications Technology.

How does one apply for the program? – Fill out a profile on the CIX website (www.canadianinnovationexchange.com) before March 11, 2011.  The CIX Committee will review submissions and announce their selected companies in early April.

Reposted from National Angel Capital Organization

Throughout his career, both in Canada and the UK, Bryan J. Watson has been a champion of entrepreneurship as a vector for the commercialization of advanced technologies. Upon his return to Canada in 2004, Bryan established his venture development consulting practice to help emerging-growth companies overcome the barriers to success they face in the Canadian commercialization ecosystem.  Visit Bryan’s blog and the National Angel Capital Organization.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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