After a bit of a hiatus, I am pleased to say that @StartupDrinksTO is back on! After many requests and some great support form Aman Moolji (who really did the work to organize this, not me...) we have our next date: June 8th at Hotel Ocho.
For those who have never been out, it's a simple concept: Have a pint, connect, share experiences and issues you are facing, and meet some of your fellow up-and-coming startup company leaders! This is a low-key event with only a 5-minute agenda the entire evening which is made up of up to 5 companies presenting for 1-minute each to tell us a) who they are, b) what they do, and c) what they need so that the community can help them reach their goals. That's it.
So, if you are interested, come out join us for a pint!
5 of the fastest growing startups in Waterloo are partnering with 5 great craft breweries, what could go wrong? Startups and Beer June 15th in Downtown Kitchener. Save yourself a beer and RSVP today ... See MoreSee Less
Yikes - there are two Toronto-based software startups in the news recently using the same brand name. I wish them both well so won't get into naming/discussing them here (and hope no one else does as well), but there is an important lesson for other entrepreneurs here (their trademark is actually registered / defended by yet another Canadian software company, and there is also another US startup with the same brand name, not to mention another well-heeled registered trademark owner in other classification..all using the same brand name :O )
When you launch a startup or think you have that unique product name you are really excited about, it is worthwhile to see if anybody else in your general domain is also using it. Try searching the US and Canadian trademark database for the exact word and for mis-spellings and similar pronunciations of it. It is free, and even filing an online application yourself (for a very unique name) is straightforward after some coffee or beer and costs only about $200-$300 (done it a few times in both countries, and my background is programming!). You can look at successful applications filed by others professionally to use as a template from the publicly available trademark databases. If you can afford it, obviously hire a lawyer to do it for you. Having a registered trademark gives you the upper hand with getting preferred treatment from 3rd parties when someone else has cyber-squatted on your name, even though inadvertently.
Someone here wisely noted that traction is the new IP, but hey, choose a unique enough name so people can differentiate your service from the others and also so that no one else can prevent you from using it in the future after you have already built some brand recognition.
PS: If anyone with more experience here (especially IP lawyers) feel I am off base, please correct as the community here could benefit from it. ... See MoreSee Less
Varun MathurSent you a PM with what I had dug up. I don't think naming them here benefits anybody - they are both doing great innovative stuff but I don't see how all of these can hold on to the same name in the same category in the same jurisdiction..
6 hours ago
Matt MastracciI've seen an example of a Canadian startup naming themselves after an actively-marketed product from another Canadian company that is arguably in the same space. It's a bit disappointing that they didn't do basic diligence on their name - or even worse, ignored the Google results.
5 hours ago
Andrew Noop SmithGreat advice! I trademarked Final Wish and it was very easy to do online. Also the staff at the CIPO (Canada) and USPTO (USA) are very helpful.
Hi everyone! Sampler needs an office space for 15-18 people starting July-ish. Because we expect to grow headcount significantly within the year, we don't want to take on a long lease. Therefore we are open to either sharing with a company who has a larger space and/or taking over a lease for a company who is moving out of a space they've outgrown. Anybody have something like that in their back pocket? Or advice on how to manage office space during this "in-between" phase (considering a lot of co-working spots are over capacity)? Appreciate the feedback! ... See MoreSee Less
Aram MelkoumovWe are looking for a subtenant but you are too big for us. Why don't you get a bigger space and sublet out what you don't need and just grow into it? Happy to connect you to our agent. He's been very helpful and patient with us.
Julia FriesenHi Marie, it depends what kind of space you are looking for exactly but we at MakeWorks may have a good office solution for you. Shoot me at an email at [email protected] and we can chat details!!
OMERS Ventures is often associated with later stage deals. On a $ basis, I'm sure most of their capital goes there. But Managing Director Jim Orlando has crunched some numbers and most of their deals are actually early stage at the time of the first cheque ... See MoreSee Less
John RuffoloCorrect. Many people confuse late stage investors with life cycle investors. A late stage investor (such as the outstanding investors Insight) has a very focused strategy around Series B and later and do it exceptionally well. OMERS Ventures, as a lifecycle investor, wants to FIRST fund at the seed or Series A timeframe but have enough dry powder to keep on funding right through an ultimate exit or liquidity event so that a company is able to scale throughout their entire lifecycle.
Tom WilliamsTotally second Leif's feedback here. Don't work with outside consultants. Get your financials prepared by any accountant and do the application internally.
2 days ago · 2
Adarsh PallianWe used www.revenueservices.ca 2 years in a row and both times we got our SRED money in less than a month. They seem to have the best reputation with the CRA and won't take you on as a client unless you qualify. They also claim to have a 100% success rate. May be worth talking to them.
Mark MacLeodCRA is cracking down - especially on web apps. For that reason alone, the right consultant can be helpful. The Flow Ventures team has a great track record here. I can intro you www.flowventures.com/
Jevon MacDonaldWe (founders) need to shift our SR&ED thinking from competitive must-have to nice-to-have. SR&ED consultancies are rent seekers who do not have your companies' best interest at heart.
There are founders who disagree with me (I've seen Allen Lau beautifully articulate how to use SR&ED as an advantage) but for me it's just too much cognitive dissonance to focus resources on early in the life of a company. Instead I think of SR&ED as a growth-powering tool, not a seed-startup funding strategy. For that reason I spend time getting to know the local NRC team and make sure they know what we are doing and the challenges we are tackling.
20% fee + lost time (consultants reduce complexity but I've rarely seen them effectively remove the management burden) + increased risk of an audit = not worth it to me.
Ian Andrew BellI think that the risks of IRAP are overblown in general, as in practise NRC has never intervened in a company exit (or even a move) despite their rights. They don't want to be seen as impeding companies.
However, SR&ED is the least understood and therefore the most manipulated of these programs. I myself lost a company on the rocks of a ruthless SR&ED audit, and where ultimately we appealed the decision, which cost us 80% of a $300,000.00 SR&ED claim, the CRA acted as judge/jury/executioner and wilfully killed us despite our obvious innovations.
EBC is pretty easy-going in British Columbia, as well.. and is always undersubscribed. It's not a well-understood program but from the government's perspective seems to be largely fire-and-forget.
SR&ED needs to be reformed and defined under law, or scrapped. I agree it is massively abused, but the audits more frequently punish vulnerable startups than they catch culprits.
2 days ago · 1
Ted GrahamI'd like to hear where you net out this since I'm actively looking at our own approach.
2 days ago
Peter McMathWe've always used our accounting firm. They take a % of what we get back, and they take nothing if our claim does not get approved.
2 days ago
Aram MelkoumovWe use KPMG, and submitted out claim a month ago and got approved last week. Having our FTACS next week. Didn't pay KPMG anything upfront, just a percentage if we get a return approved. Great and very smooth experience.
2 days ago
Aram MelkoumovI've heard good things about Flow Ventures as well but never worked with them directly.
2 days ago
Dominic BortolussiWe've used and loved working with Alexei and Khalid at MobileCapital , there is always the option to use a bit of help and file it with your accounting team. We've been audited and it worked out fine in the end... Just took awhile.
2 days ago · 1
Ryan LazanisHi Heather, I'm the founder of Xen Accounting, a Canadian online accounting firm. We have partnered with Flow Ventures (recommended above) as we feel that there are 2 parts to a successful SR&ED claim (the technical writing and the financial/tax component). Flow handles one aspect, we handle the other. Flow have an excellent reputation. Feel free to PM me with any questions :)
1 day ago · 1
Richard ReinerHonestly, if you can read and follow simple instructions and can write a couple of pages of text, there is no reason you can't write your own SRED claim. I've done it about a dozen times in my various companies. All were paid out in full. One was audited (a 1.5 day visit to talk through the claim and look at some documentation) before they paid. This is not rocket science, folks, nor is it very time-consuming -- you can, and perhaps should, do it yourself.
Bryan WatsonFirst off... Thank you to everyone that has said such wonderful feedback on Flow Ventures; Claude G. Théoret, Ryan Lazanis, Bernie Li, Amanda Levin, Mark MacLeod and Aram Melkoumov. It is always nice to hear positive feedback.
Second... Heather Anne Carson, my recommendation is that if a SRED provide is being pushy, aggressive or greasy as you say, stay away! For those that know Raymond Luk, Peter Bailey, and I, you know we all live by the "create more value than you capture in the community" mantra that this community acts on so hopefully none of us ever come off in a greasy way. If so, let us know. :)
Third... There ARE a lot of unsavory practices in this government-created market for SRED consultants. Personally that is why I had stayed out of the SRED side of things for so many years aside from referring companies to Flow prior to joining the team there. Some things to watch out for when looking at a consultant include:
- Long lock-ins on SRED contracts (and then failure to deliver in later years - always check w a few of their long-term clients and see if they are happy);
- Audits not being included in the % and being charged for at an hourly rate above the contingency fee; and
- Personal guarantees of fees from founders! Yes... you heard me right there are those that seek guarantees of fees form the CEOs like banks do.
Finally, I would look at what you are getting in a consultant. The SRED process provides a great deal of information on the operations of your company. A good consultant should be able to use this to provide you with a value-add beyond SRED. This could include recommending other programs, making sales or other introductions, identifying other sources of capital, etc.. If you are going to engage a consultant for this, I recommend you be sure they act as a partner, helping you grow your company... not just process your SRED filing.
If the consultants are leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth and are putting restrictive terms in their contracts, these are all red flags and I suggest you run for the hills.
5 hours ago · 1
Bryan WatsonPS - If it wasn't clear and to comply w David Crow's rules on disclosure, I joined Flow Ventures over a year ago. :)
It's an incredibly difficult decision to host or not host an event. Having hosted DemoCamp (2005-2010-ish) and StartupEmpire (2008), neither of which were the size or intensity of Grow, I can only imagine how much soul, heart and passion Debbie has put in. It is incredible when you realize that the original mission has been picked up and is supported by other organizations.
Thanks for the great events in BC, Canada is stronger because of your efforts. And I hope to attend what ever is next.
I have been getting a ton of questions and thought it was time to let everyone know that I will not be producing the GROW Conference in 2016. This was not an easy decision. Over the last few years I’ve wanted to move on and try new things, from starting a company to joining a team but each time I’ve...
Meredith J PowellDebbie Landa - thank you for everything you've built with Grow! It's been a fave (and most productive/valuable) event for years now and will be sorely missed. Excited to see what else you might cook up, though...?! ;)