Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘David Crow’ Category

By David Crow

Ali Asaria (@aliasaria) was on The Agenda with Steve Paikin talking about Well.ca and entrepreneurship in Canada. It’s part of a series that features the efforts in Ontario that includes Glen Murrary talking about Ontario’s Innovation Agenda and Gerri Sinclair talking about Ryerson’s Innovation Incubator (Gerri was the founder of NCompass sold to Microsoft in 2001 for approximately $36MM). It’s great to see the conversation with policy makers in Ontario about innovation and entrepreneurship from the top down (Ryerson DMZ) and the bottom up (Well.ca).

Interesting watching to hear what the minister, a Vancouverite, and an entrepreneur are doing in Ontario.

Reposted from StartUpNorth

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow.

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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By David Crow

Well.caAli Asaria and Well.ca are changing the way Canadians buy online. We’ve covered Well.ca’s funding in 2007 and again in 2009. And today they are announcing an addition $2.3MM in angel financing. That’s crazy, $2.3MM in angel financing. The financing includes some very interesting individuals including:

That’s right, I’m guessing that some pretty prominent angels from AngelList are investing in Canadian companies. If that’s not changing the game of raising money in Canada, I don’t know what is. Ali has done a great job bringing together a Canadian institutional investor (who is smartly adapting to a changing game) with local and international angels.

What’s the money for?

Growth. Well.ca has opened a Toronto office in the new CSI Annex at Bloor and Bathurst. They have recently hired Paige Malling as VP, Marketing away from Sears.ca.  The money is going to expansion. I learned today that Well.ca is the largest online diaper retailer in Canada. You don’t need to be a parent to know that diapers are a big deal, Amazon just spent $540MM on diapers (well Diapers.com). The Well.ca team has figured out the backend systems to attract customers, fulfill orders and generate revenue (hopefully a profit). Expanding the categories and footprint into Canadian homes beyond health and beauty is a logical next step. It reminds me of a online retailer based in Seattle, WA that started with books and continues to expand their categories.

Congratulations Ali and the Well.ca! Now that you’ve closed additional funding the hard work starts.

Reposted from StartUpNorth

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow.

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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By David Crow

I’ve been feeling a little rusty this week. I received feedback that my focus of the past 5+ years on community and evangelism was not necessarily a benefit to an early-stage technology company. This came as a shock as I had to justify and rationalize the past 9 years that I’ve lived in Toronto and why I have been relentless about the need to build a stronger ecosystem and community in Toronto.

I moved to Toronto in November 2001. I had left Austin, TX in July 2001 after spending a few years working at Trilogy Software and at Reactivity Inc. I had spent the previous years doing interaction design, presales, and product management for a sales force automation company and then for early-stage and pre-product clients at Reactivity (this was before the transition from startup accelerator to a product firm aka the XML firewall company that was sold to Cisco). I worked with more than 15 clients including Living.com, AllMyStuff, eLaw.com, Zaplet, MetalSite and others. It was a great time, I learned a lot about small teams, venture funding, and how to effectively build products for undefined markets, undefined customers, and undefined budgets.

When I moved to Toronto there was (and continues to be) a very strong agency culture. There were firms like Cyberplex, BlastRadius, Organic, JWT, ModemMedia, MacLaren McCann, Critical Mass and others. There was a hub for this community with Spadina Bus, TechSpace and AIMS. The problem was there wasn’t a strong Internet application or product culture. I wrote about my investigations looking for TO software companies part 1 & part 2.

As part of the return to Toronto, my spouse started her optometric practice. One of the requirements of the financing to get this off the ground was that I get a regular paying gig. And then strangely September 11, 2001 happened. I took a job working at CIBC in the Retail Markets group as the lead Usability Consultant. I lasted about 6 months at CIBC, big corporate culture was not an environment where I thrived. I found a gig at Ryerson University rolling out the self-service component of their Human Resources Management System. Turns out my first recommendation was to scrap the Oracle 8 Forms based application in favour of new HRMS selection and patching functionality in the existing system using web applications. It looks like the front end of the applicant tracking system I built is still running 5 years after I left (if you’re curious the system built using Fusebox 3.0 running on Coldfusion 6.x against Oracle 9i on Windows Server 2000/2k3). This was as close to product I got until about 2005.

In 2005, I decided I really wanted to be back in the startup game. There was a flurry of activity and events in Silicon Valley, Seattle and Boston that were attracting my attention. I thought I would benefit by replicating the ethos and DNA of these communities in Toronto — see my post on TorCamp. This was the beginning of DemoCamp, StartupNorth and my attempt to facilitate a community of like minded individuals in Toronto doing great things. Did you know that I met Jay Goldman, Jon Lax, Geoff Teehan, Leila Boujnane, Reg Braithwaite, Mike Beltzner, Mark Surman and others at the first BarCamp Toronto?). At the bar after the second day of presentations, hacking and meetups, Albert Lai and I hatched a plan to do a lighter weight monthly gathering modeled after DEMO where entrepreneurs and developers show what they’ve been working on, aka DemoCamp.

And I started thinking about the role that community plays as the framework for making Toronto a stronger ecosystem for software, Internet, mobile startups. I was trying to build my own future. I was trying to create a strong, dense community of companies where designers, developers and entrepreneurs can find employment, inspiration, a sense of belonging. Why? Well this is what I was missing. But it meant that I stepped back from representing a single company or a single product. My role was to build a stronger community. John Oxley and Mark Relph at Microsoft understood this mix of community, product, technology and rabble rousing.  They took a chance and hired me. This allowed me to focus on helping to enable a stronger community. And my particular focus has always been startups, early stage technology companies, etc. It required me to take a role in evangelism marketing. To continue to be a social media enabled and facing presence in the community. To host events and continue to identify, nurture and develop influencers particularly in the unfriendly to Microsoft community.

So it was funny this week to hear from someone in the industry that I respect deeply make comments that my product abilities are substandard and describe the focus of the past 10 years as counter productive to my career. It brought up a lot of personal turmoil about past decisions. And generally it has left me thinking about my role in the community versus my career as product builder. I started all of this community activity because I wanted to build emerging technology products in Toronto. There wasn’t a strong community of product builders and entrepreneurs (or I couldn’t find this community in Toronto). I think there is a much strong network of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, funders and others that have emerged. StartupNorth and TechVibes provide local coverage of events and activities. There are world-class startups like Dayforce, Rypple, Idee, Well.ca, Kontagent, CiRBA and others.

But I think it’s time for me to focus on building a company and products again. To shake off the rust of the past 9 years. And go deep on the product management, design and customer development needed to design, build and ship a world-class product. It leaves me wondering about my pedigree which 9 years ago I thought was stellar: Waterloo, Carnegie Mellon, Trilogy, and Reactivity (an Accel funded startup with spinouts funded by Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia). I get it, this was a lifetime ago. But really have I gone from being an asset to a detriment? And what do I need to do to change this perception. Time to focus on my career and not the community for the time being.

Photo by Lawrence Whittemore http://www.flickr.com/photos/lawrence_evil/149197406/in/photostream/

Reposted from davidcrow.ca

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow.


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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By David Crow

The joys of starting a company and setting up the basics, you know things like finding a lawyer, getting articles of incorporation, shareholders agreement, business registration, employment agreements and setting up payroll for employees.

It turns out that it has been since 2005 since I thought about the logistics of running payroll in Canada in any detail (BTW if some asks if you want to be in charge of running payroll, the answer is “<expletive /> NO”). The great news is that there is a solution for startups in Canada and it’s inexpensive. Well technically it’s free for companies with <5 employees and only $18/month for >6 employees.

The company is PaymentEvolution. It’s run by my friend Sam Vassa (@samvassa) and they were recently featured in the Financial Post. Despite the web presence that looks like it was last updated a decade ago, this is a new startup that is up and running and able to help Canadian small businesses with payroll.

Hallelujah, and it’s inexpensive

This is a great solution for startups. Basically the deal is there are no fees for the service, however, there are electronic banking fees are passed through to you as a user.

PaymentEvolution provides no cost payroll processing for smalls businesses with 5 or fewer employees. We’re serious – we don’t want payroll processing costs to encumber the growth of great small businesses. We’re small-business friendly and just want to provide a great service that allows these businesses to focus on what they do best. Like all our plans, we don’t charge extra for updates, the number of pay runs, or silly things like standard reports. We also give these firms the flexibility to pay their employees how they want – traditional cheques, direct deposit or even electronic funds transfer (fees may be incurred by the company’s financial institution).

This is just what startups need to process payroll and it’s cheap to boot.

Reposted from StartUp North

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow.


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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By David Crow

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced a new Investing in Business Innovation program. The program offers matching grants for early-stage venture funding. This is a $190 Million  program running from 2010-2014.

There are provisions for startups and angel networks. Since we’re StartupNorth, let’s try to deal with the startup side first.

  • Startups who receive a term sheet from a qualified angel investor (as defined by the Ontario Securities Commission) or venture capital firm (registered with the Canadian Venture Capital association) are eligible to apply for up $1 Million in loan from the federal government.
  • Restrictions:
    • Start-up businesses will be eligible for repayable contributions up to $1 million for no more than one-third (33⅓ percent) of total eligible and supported project costs.
    • An angel and/or venture capital investor(s) must be committed to provide at least two-thirds (66⅔ percent) of the cash contribution toward eligible and supported project costs.
    • In-kind contributions related to mentoring, networking, and other business skills cannot be considered as part of the angel or venture capital investor’s cash contribution.
    • A maximum of one project per eligible start-up SME can be funded under the initiative.
    • Direct eligible costs for start-up businesses may include:
      • Labour, capital and operating expenditures;
      • Materials and supplies;
      • Consulting and/or professional fees (limited to market rate); and,
      • Minor and non-capital acquisitions (e.g., software).
    • All project activities must be completed by March 31, 2014;

Basically there is federal government matching loans up to $1 Million for startups that are raising angel or venture funding in Southern Ontario. This is a fantastic start.

It’s great for startups in Southern Ontario, it’s curious that the program is only available in Southern Ontario. Why not all of Canada? How are the repayment terms set? Is this a zero percent interest loan from the Federal Government? Does the term sheet have to be equity investment? Is convertible debt eligible? How do startups “demonstrate they are using business mentoring, counseling, or related services”?

Reposted from StartUp North

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow.


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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By David Crow

We continue to run DemoCamp on a shoestring budget. Sure it sucks that it’s during the day. Sure it sucks that it costs $15. But we run these events at cost recovery. Sometimes we lose money (uhm, StartupEmpire anyone).

Venue, food, Audio/Visual, and special things like a movie. They all cost money. BTW don’t forget the tax. The ticket price reflects the maximum we think people are willing to pay plus the maximum sponsorship amount we think we can cover. Did you know that a theatre + A/V + special feature + lunch is about $30/person+tax, almost $34/person. So we reach out to the community of companies and include the least amount of advertising and sponsorship. Make sure you check out:

  • Anand Agarawala and Bumptop! This is an EPIC sponsorship. You have to be at DemoCamp from 4pm-6pm to find out what it is.
  • Eqentia builds the a semantic publishing platform for knowledge tracking & competitive analysis
  • XtremeLabs is hiring agile engineers and ui designers for the hottest mobile development company on the planet.
  • Microsoft BizSpark jumpstart your startup and speeds up your time to market.
  • FreshBooks is the fastest way to track time and invoice your clients.
  • Mercanix develops tools that enable organizations and their people to do good work.
  • Rob Hyndman is the bee’s knees & the cat’s pajamas. Startups looking for a lawyer: Start here.
  • Rypple builds social software that makes workplace feedback easy and fun.
  • Dayforce is the hottest enterprise software company in Toronto. Hiring dev, qa, ui and sales ninjas.
  • Kontagent is a Facebook Fund funded startup that is hiring rockstar developers in Toronto.
  • OCE is helping commercialize the next generation technologies like Bumptop & Sysomos.
  • KPMG Information, Communications & Entertainment (ICE) practice helps startups to succeed in turbulent markets.

These are organizations that are looking for funding, PR, and they are hiring. Are you a developer? designer? marketer? pr professional? Are you looking for a job? Make sure you check out each of these companies. They are part of our ecosystem. They support events like DemoCamp. And they make it possible for you to have a great experience. These folks essentially cough up a relatively small amount of money for a logo, a blog post, and the hope that events like DemoCamp make Toronto a great place to find and retain talent.

Reposted from StartUp North

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow.


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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By David Crow

Local angel investor Paul Maasland was murdered, his body was found north of Toronto at a public boat launch. We extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Maasland’s family. And our sincerest concerns go out to his friends and colleagues at Maple Leaf Angels and his investments (according to Mr. Maasland’s LinkedIn profile) including:

The conversations with his investees shed some light on Mr. Maasland as an investor. From one of the portfolio companies CEOs:

“I’d just say he was very generous with his time and resources and provided great input into how we ran [company removed]. He always was positive and excited about the initiatives we were doing.”

These comments were repeated throughout Mr. Maasland’s portfolio. He was a knowledgeable, generous investor that provided useful guidance and support for his companies.

This is an unexpected situation for anyone including many startups. It opens questions for startups about succession planning for Board Directors, questions around the Shareholders Agreement and the shares of a deceased investor. Hopefully most Boards are experienced in succession planning. As the shareholders change over time with new investment, replacing board members is a fairly straightforward and common practice (albeit usually under very different circumstances). Regarding what happens to a deceased investors shares this is decided between the deceased’s estate and the shareholders agreement. If an estate needs or chooses to liquidate the investment, many shareholders agreements have a clause that allows the company or other shareholders to purchase the investment at Fair Market Value. There are tax and legal considerations, so this should not be considered tax or legal advice, please consult a professional.

It’s unfortunate for our small close-knit community to suffer such a sudden, tragic loss. We are deeply saddened to hear about the loss of a member of our community.

Paul Maasland photo source: CBC & OPP

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.


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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »