Category Archives: Startups

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The children are our future

We’ve been talking about how much support and infrastructure has changes for young entrepreneurs. When I graduated from the University of Waterloo, I did not know about startups. I looked at places like Interval Research Corporation, Xerox PARC, Advanced Technology Group as where new technology and innovative products were built and launched. When I thought about becoming an “entrepreneur”, it looked more like owning a sports store or being a consultant. I did not have role models or experiences that showed me the path to becoming an entrepreneur.

I have been lucky to be a part of the creation of UW VeloCity. VeloCity happened because of a generous donation by Ted Livingston, the vision of Bud Walker and  the leadership of Jesse Rodgers. For me, VeloCity was that thing I wish I had as an undergrad, beyond the cooperative education. The simplicity and support that high potential growth, technology companies were something that I could do (sure I had a degree in Kinesiology, but I was building software on NeXT machines). I did not have context or exposure to founders and the “startup” mindset.

It is great to see the support that IAF continues to offer Ontario entrepreneurs. The announcement of the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund is amazing. It was launched in 2013. We haven’t talked a lot about it as a funding source. But it is unique. The program invests up to $250,000 per company in technology-based startups founded by entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

The program has announced it first investments that include:

Go read Ian Hardy’s BetaKit piece for more details on the companies.

I continue to be surprised at the level of support for Canadian entrepreneurs with the government programs. There are conversations that need to be had about the efficacy of the direct versus indirect investing and services model. And it seems like this is happening at many levels from the Venture Capital Action Plan. (This is a conversation that needs much social lubricant – bring on the whisky).

I love seeing the changes and support of entrepreneurship as a career path with programs like UW VeloCity, Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, UofT Creative Destruction Lab and others. The additional support of programs like the Youth IAF (and the IAF proper) where capital is deployed by real VCs to companies is fantastic.

Keep up the good work Barry, Michelle, Scott, Jared, Rob and the whole team.

Get them out of the building: Travel support from Volta

Graffiti at VoltaWhen Ben Yoskovitz moved to Halifax to join us at GoInstant he left the growing Montreal community and brought a lot of fresh perspective to what needs to happen in Nova Scotia to grow the startup ecosystem.

The #1 thing he noticed was the successful startups were the ones getting out of the building and on to a plane. Spending significant amounts of time in San Francisco, New York or wherever you need to be is an important part of growing your network of people you can rely on to build your business.

Today Volta is announcing a travel support program for startups. You have to be small (<10 employees) and young (<3 years old).

This hits home for me. When I was living in Charlottetown and 19 years old I had my first attempt at a product startup, it was called Blogtrack. It had what seemed like an insane number of daily active users at the time, just under 10,000, and I had no idea what I was doing (still working on that). I also had no money really, certainly not enough to blow on a trip to Boston for Bloggercon. A guy named Lee Brammer at what is now called “Innovation PEI” offered to help cover some of the costs for the trip, which meant it was (just barely) affordable. It was, for me, an eye opening trip, eating dinner at a table for 4 with Dave Wiener, Betsy Devine and Dan Bricklin just about blew my mind.

Anyway, the point is that sometimes you really need to get out there and just do something you might not have otherwise. Good things almost always come from it and the truth is that it can be hard to make up for sitting across the table from someone and really getting to know them.

The Unicorn Awards

The Unicorn Awards 2013

Our friends over at TechVibes have posted a call for nominations for 2013 Canadian Startup Awards. This just screams that we also need an Ig Nobels/Darwin Awards equivalent.

  • Zombie Startup of the Year Award – Recognizing a Canadian startup that continues to live on the brains of its’ founders, but not customers.
  • The Snapchat Award – Recognizing a Canadian startup that won’t sell to Facebook, even if the offer was for more than $4B.
  • Stop the Gravy Train Award – Recognizing sketchiest use of tax payer money in our burgeoning startup ecosystem.
  • The Twerk It Award – Recognizing the media accomplishments of an exemplanary Canadian entrepreneur, who is getting as much coverage  as Miley Cyrus in 2013.
  • Keeping up with the Kanadians Award – Recognizing the startup that has watched previous episodes of startup reality TV but failed to comprehend the complex plot lines.

We’ll be announcing the awards before Christmas…And we need your help. Send us a tweet, leave a comment, or just drop us an email with a suggestion for the awards. Or just leave an anonymous nomination.