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By Bryan Watson

After successfully mobilizing more than $29 million in Angel capital over three years for Ontarian early-stage companies, the National Angel Organization – Ontario welcomes  the Investing in Business Innovation program by FedDev Ontario, an agency of the Government of Canada. According to FedDev Ontario:

Investing in Business Innovation provides funding to boost private sector investment in start-up businesses to accelerate the development of new products, processes and practices and bring them to market. Funding is also available for angel investor networks and their associations to attract new investment and support the growth of angel investment funds.

Up to $190 million has been allocated to this program from 2010 to 2014.

Organizations representing southern Ontario angel networks may request non-repayable funding of up to $2 million to support investment attraction activities, and FedDev Ontario will provide grants of up to $50,000 to support approved and newly forming Angel groups in Southern Ontario.  In addition, start-up businesses in southern Ontario may request up to $1 million in repayable contributions from this program to accelerate the development of their products, processes or practices.

“FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Business Innovation program recognizes the importance of organized angels and angel networks in growing Canadian businesses from the earliest stages. As important as the capital invested is the senior level industry experience that angels contribute in a time when speed-to-market is critical. Angel networks bring scale and diversity to both sides.” said Patricia Lorenz, chair of NAO-Ontario.

NAO-Ontario President W. Daniel Mothersill stated,

“The Angel Network Program in Ontario has clearly demonstrated the importance of Angel capital in the commercialization ecosystem.  We have also shown that a small amount of support for the Angel community can provide significant leverage in terms of capital invested in companies, which, in turn, results in job creation.  With FedDev Ontario’s support, we expect that Ontario’s Angel community will continue to thrive and to grow more start-ups.”

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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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.

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By Bryan Watson

Come join us for Startup Drinks on Wednesday, July 28th! We’re continuing to keep the spirit of the startup community alive, one pint at a time.

It’s a simple concept: a grassroots effort to make sure startup folks get in touch and stay in touch.

All it took was for Raymond Luk of Flow Ventures (http://www.flowventures.com/blog/) (a moving force behind Montreal Startup Drinks) to recruit Toronto all-round-instigator David Crow (http://davidcrow.ca/) who was on board immediately. Now, I am involved through the National Angel Capital Organization (http://www.angelinvestor.ca) and CEO Fusion (http://www.ceofusion.org) is stepping up to help out. We are looking forward to an even better Startup Drinks Toronto 12!

Here are the details for your agenda:

  • Date: Wednesday, 28 July, 2010
  • Venue: Grace O’ Malley’s, 14 Duncan Street, Toronto, ON M5H3G8
  • Time: 6:00 pm – Late

Sign up here, come on the night for a drink and networking! Everyone is welcome.

Not going to be in Toronto? Thats ok! Simultaneous Startup Drinks events will be happening across Canada! Click here to find out!

Register

Local Organizers:

Robin Gittens, Bryan Watson, Mark Evans, and David Crow

Please visit the Fusion Calendar for listings of events/workshops!

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.

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By David Crow

Is there any questions that the Canadian venture capital industry is in turmoil? There is a change that is happening, it might just not be happening as fast as it could. Mark McQueen talks about  the creative destruction of the VC industry in Canada.

“There’s no robust “new class” of VC firms coming in behind the current oligarchy, with a similar amount of capital to deploy as those they are planning to replace. We are witnessing the destruction piece of the equation, for sure, but not the rebirth that is the essence of “creative destruction” if it is to succeed.” – Mark McQueen, Wellington Fund

While there are a few new players entering the market (I’m looking at you ExtremeVP and Mantella VP), we’re seeing a lot of roadkill. There are firms that are not able to raise their next fund, partners that are on life support, startups that are left to wonder what happened to their partners in raising additional capital. However, many that remain are digging in and fighting for their way of life. They are lobbying for support to “manufacture an environment that is hospitable to their investment style”. Adam Adamou at Caseridge Capital Corporation argues that the existing venture players, the Canadian VC oligarchy, have successfully lobbied for restrictions that have kept out new players including the public/private venture capital that was used to fund RIM.

“The traditional venture capitalists see themselves as the founders of a “Silicon Valley North” and they follow the US trends, which unfortunately do not apply to our Canadian market. They seem to see themselves as avant-garde investors in tomorrow’s technology companies, however, they behave more like bankers[sic] – preferring security and downside protection over opportunity”

Yikes, that’s a damning review of the Canadian venture industry. However, I’m not sure that the suggested alternatives including Capital Pool Companies and the TSX-V are really better choices for Canadian entrepreneurs (or investors). (I’m not an expert on CPCs or TSX-V but when my friends and trusted advisors like Mark McLeod provide commentary, I listen). What I took away from The Adamou Rant is that many of the funds have a vested interest in the maintaining something akin to the current system. Governments should look critically at the numbers being presented and who is presenting them.

The State of a Nation

Is the sky falling? What is the state of venture capital in Canada? Is it really this bad? And why does it matter to early-stage entrepreneurs? Should we all just move to Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston or somewhere else?

The Canadian VC environment has been challenging for a lot of entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, you need to understand the environment that you will start, fund, and grow your company. Canada has a strong track record of access to capital, a stable economic policy and should be a great spot for entrepreneurs. It’s also unique. Canadian companies tend to be at a later stage of corporate development and raise less money than their US counterparts. I’ve written about the impact of the state of the funding environment has on startups. And what entrepreneurs can continue to expect to see, includes:

  • The number of investors will continue to decrease
  • Valuations will continue to decrease
  • Customer uptake will be slower
  • Need to become cash flow positive
  • Acquiring entities will favour profitable companies

Mark McQueen provides the best summary of state of the Canadian Venture Capital landscape I’ve seen in a while:

  • VC investments in Canadian firms hit a 14 year low in 2009
  • US venture market saw US$18 billion invested in 2009, Canada saw only $1 billion (5.5%) our economy is approximately 12.5% the size of the US economy
  • Up to half of current Canadian VC funds will not be able to raise their next fund
  • Ontario government has sunset the $1 billion Retail Venture Capital Industry
  • “Section 116″ was fixed in the 2010 Federal Budget, however, this is not a silver bullet
  • 117 disclosed cross board investments since January 2008 (this includes Canadian investments in US companies)
  • Canadian Fund of Funds have lots of capital to invest in foreign led funds: EDC ($1.2 billion); Teralys ($700 million); OVCF ($205 million)

A New Hope

We need to hope that from out of the ashes will emerge a better funding environment for Canadian entrepreneurs. Whether this is led by new funds, angel investors, US funds, or the existing players learning from their mistakes, it doesn’t matter.

We’re starting to see a strong set of the big players making acquisitions across Canada:

Our startups need real capital to continue to compete on the world stage. But they can’t survive on SR&ED credits alone. We need to hope that this creative destruction happens quickly, so that something can rise from the ashes and we can witness the rebirth of the Canadian tech startup.

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 David Crow

It has been crazy lately for Canadian startup acquisitions.

First there was Bumptop announced their acquisition by Google. There is StandOutJobs.com being acquired by an unnamed company. Now Ottawa-based dna13 has been acquired by CNW Group. Read the Social Media Release for more details

“This acquisition reinvents the newswire and we’re terribly excited about it. It’s of benefit to our clients because we’re taking dna13’s technology platform, which is best-in-class, and marrying it with CNW’s suite of offerings. For the first time we’ll be providing an end-to-end solution that will really allow communicators to manage every facet of the communications process. Everything from creating content; targeting your message; distributing your news and information; understanding how that information is being received by your audience to further refining your message and developing metrics. That will all be available to CNW clients in one, single platform.”
Carolyn McGill-Davidson, President and CEO, CNW Group

This makes a lot of sense since CNW Group is a reseller of the dna13 platform under the MediaVantage brand. No details about the purchase price have been disclosed.

Looking at the cached Board of Directors page we find:

We can hope that this was another 10 banger for a Canadian startup.

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 David Crow

Our friends at the C100 are hosting 20 Canadian companies on May 18-20, 2010 in Silicon Valley. Interesting tradeoff, accepted startups will need to weigh participation in the C100 with participation at OCE Discovery, MeshU and Mesh (assuming you don’t win the GOAP ticket from StartupCamp Montreal). It shouldn’t be a huge debate, because the opportunity to engage with Canadian mentors in Silicon Valley should be pretty straightforward for most startups.

This is a variant of TechStars for Canadians. You get the chance to connect with the most connected Canadians in Silicon Valley. You can the opportunity to pitch, receive mentorship, and gain access to business development resources. This is a great opportunity for local startups to gain access to markets, companies, and decision makers in Silicon Valley.

“These customers and markets don’t need to be located in Canada. In fact, Canada can often serve as a providing ground, an incubator, for a variety of market segments. We need to leverage the unique attributes of a diverse population of immigrants for the creative tension of differing viewpoints, and to help forge connections with remote markets.” Creating a Venture Culture, The Mark News

It is an opportunity for a Canadian startup to build locally and market globally.

Requirements

To qualify, companies must:

  • Be substantially Canadian in leadership, employees or location
  • Have a product/service with users/customers
  • Be in a position to expand its business in the U.S. and internationally
  • Be willing to cover its own expenses (flights, hotel, some meals)
  • Be endorsed by a C100 Charter Member or a C100 Seed Partner
  • Apply online

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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david crowBy David Crow

Part 2

Reposted from StartupNorth post.

In my Part 1 yesterday I talked about reading Michael Cusumano’s Dealing with the Venture Capital Crisis in the October 2009 issue of Communications of the ACM, and how I was struck by the idea that our geographical proximity to the US, advanced economy, good universities and strong intellectual property rights might be the spawning ground for new ventures, sources of wealth, social welfare and employment.

I suggested we look at the positive factors and exploit the constraints to build opportunities and isolated two of these where entrepreneurs can have an impact.

  • Advanced economies
  • Sophisticated customers
  • Good universities
  • Strong intellectual property rights
  • Favorable tax laws
  • Vibrant entrepreneurial cultures

Sophisticated customers

For entrepreneurs, we need to work on helping develop sophisticated customers. Often these customers are located near where the entrepreneur is building their product or service offering. However, this is not a requirement. Entrepreneur should look for sophisticated customers around the globe. Including customers in your product design and development process is key to creating products that meet customer needs and to developing more sophisticated customers. Steve Blank and Eric Reis have proposed the Customer Development Manifesto and Lean Startup as ways for founders to engage customers in the earliest work. All startups should read these posts.

Vibrant entrepreneurial cultures

Isn’t this what we’re trying to do? Read our thoughts on:

Part of the reason that we are lucky enough to have Dave McClure in Toronto (and he had a great time). First Round Capital had office hours with Chris Fralic and Phin Barnes. We continue to see folks from Atlas Ventures, General Catalyst, and Microsoft (Don Dodge presented at StartupEmpire and will be presenting at CIX). This is a result of your participation. Canadian cities have a lot of buzz and attention based on the things that are going on.

It’s cumulative!

It is the force of a thousand butterflies flapping their wings. All of the blogging, twittering, attending conferences, showing up to events, participating online. It’s about the DemoCamps, Launch Parties, StartupDrinks, Social Media Breakfasts, Third Tuesdays, Founders & Funders, NEWTECH, SproutUps, Meshes, and everything else.  It is a cumulative effect. It doesn’t take a lot of extra effort, but it adds up to the rest of the world paying attention to the noise.

We have great spokespersons like Saul Colt, Mathew Ingram, Mike Lee, Michael McDerment, Leila Boujnane, Brian Sharwood, Sarah Prevette, Pema Hagen, Bryan Watson, Anand Agarawala and others running around the world telling their stories of being a startup and the reasons they are doing it in Toronto. In Vancouver there’s Robert Scales, Kris Krug, Boris Mann, BootupLabs, Boris Wertz, Andre Charland, amd others. In Montreal it’s Austin Hill, Heri Rakotomalala, John Stokes, George Favvas, Ben Yoskovitz, Fred Ngo, Pinny Gniwisch, Ray Luk and others. Let’s not forget Social Media Breakfast, StartupOttawa, Scott Lake, Allan Isfan, Jacqui Murphy, and everyone that I’ve missed (it’s on purpose, because I don’t like you any more and I hate your startups).

But it is up to us to make noise. It’s up to us to build successful companies. It’s up to us to make Canada a better place for startups. No one is going to walk in and make it easier. We all have to participate and build a vibrant entrepreneurial culture. We need to talk about entrepreneurship as a career path. We need to talk to politicians about policy decisions.

So the first rule of being an entrepreneur is to reach out. Invite a friend. Make a connection. Tell a customer. Most of all, do the things that make the ecosystem better for you.

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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