4 years ago we made a strategical choice (aka gamble) to setup our European office in Berlin. It's quite interesting to read a story like this post Berxit.
If anyone is interested in learning about EventMobi 's growth in Europe I'm happy to chat. Our team in Berlin is now just short of 10 fulltime staff and generates more revenue than local sales in Canada! It's been a great experience seeing the team grow in Berlin and having excuse to spend time there :) that said the journey was full of land mines that you have to carefully navigate !
Francois-Pierre MarcilThanks Bob, insightful to say the least. I'm curious about the land mines. Could you share one of these experiences?
5 hours ago
Bob Vaez1. Employment law (it's very different in EU)
2. Subsidiary vs arms-length entity (Transfer pricing)
3. There is no European market! (how do you cover each country/language/etc)
4. Remote teams/cultures/ideals/communication
5. Currency fluctuation (hedging)
6. Product design requirement (multi-lingual, time format, etc etc)
7. Channel conflict (resellers crossing geographies)
8. taxes, legal , accounting
9. vacation days/sick days!!
10. data security!
I'll stop there :) also the parties in Berlin are just off the hook.
4 hours ago · 2
Mykyta PonomarenkoDo you have an office in the US as well or do you use the Toronto office for US sales?
4 hours ago
Bob VaezWe are registered in US for taxes but we don't have an office in US. The Berlin office was primarily due to support our clients better, having a sales team that is awake when the clients are! and be able to build relationships on the ground.
4 hours ago · 2
Mark OrganAin't gonna happen, this article is naive. London has so many advantages relative to Berlin. London wasn't the startup capital of Europe because of the EU. Brexit is not going to make all of those VCs and founders leave. For gods sake in Israel there can be a shooting war going on and capital and talent still flock to the place.
Mike ShaverEquity lockin is a big deal for early employees who don't already have some wealth to exercise the options. You're seeing some companies, like Pinterest, extend the post-separation option exercise window to 5+ years, which I hope becomes a trend.
(As an aside, someone looking for a pop on IPO day is doing it wrong, IMO. Day-one pop means that the offering was mispriced: money went to speculators, not to the company. It's a missed opportunity to get more value for the equity the company gives up.)
"Some of the best companies have been created in times of great economic turmoil. And, because of that, some of the best venture capital investments have been made in times when everyone was risk averse. I am not for getting too excited when times are good and I am not for getting too conservative when times feel bad. I am all for looking for opportunity at every turn."
Some Thoughts On Brexit Clearly the UK’s decision to leave the EU is a big deal. The implications for the UK and Europe are large. And there is a feeling that similar politics will be adopted in other parts of the world. All of that is concerning. But my immediate reaction to the news when I woke to...
Marketplaces: Huge opportunities exist (see the Pew Research linked, even the most popular categories like ride and home sharing are barely used), yet building marketplaces are incredibly hard and there have been a slew of failures recently. But there will be winners who would learn/iterate from these mistakes. I came across the below fascinating stories (mostly by founders) explaining in detail why they failed and what are the challenges associated with building marketplaces that scale:
Mark OrganWow, what a mess. The move to SF makes more sense now, it is a complete reset of the business. There is a tremendous amount of skill with marketplaces in SF - probably one of the most difficult businesses to get to minimum scale and also one of the most rewarding.
James MartindaleAn interesting article. A bit of a disdain for sales people there clearly not to dissimilar to what was seen on HBO's Silicon Valley. If you treat your sales people as part-time then unfortunately those will probably reflect in your numbers.
Sean MoffittGreat job Betakit crew rooting this one out - hopefully a cautionary tale for others who decide to move stateside in the future on throwing the Toronto tech talent base under the bus as the key reason
2 days ago · 1
Joel LessemGoogle founder (Brin) just said he would do a startup anywhere but the valley, it's harder to start up in the valley, high costs and competition for employees.
Ian KingThe real question here is how to frame our national investment in education. If we're taking a purist moral stance of education existing as a fundamental human right, then we can not place any restriction on what receivers of subsidized education do with said education. However, that is a deeply naive and fundamentally flawed stance that does not take into account the real politik of global factors at play of a nation existing within a system of nations. Subsidized education is a national investment in our talent development funnel and we need an ROI on our tax dollars. If all the talent we invest so dearly in to develop does not contribute back to our companies and if those grads are not paying taxes to help support our national economy, it's even detrimental to the US who is profiting so dearly from this - that parasitism of our talent will eventually collapse Canada and the US won't have its cheap talent incubator anymore. I've had several conversations with Tannishtha on this in the past.
The only comparable initiative that comes to mind are military-subsidized tuitions that are tied to mandatory years of service. Granted, we are not completely subsidizing tuition and so we can't expect military-levels of lock-in yet the degree of lock-in should be commensurate with the degree of subsidies received.
The alternative discussion here which I've seen Tannishtha propose in some other threads is that rather than restricting movement, the goal should be to create systemic factors that make Canadian talent want to stay and work in Canada. Nonetheless, this really is a a chicken-and-egg phenomenon - which one do we focus on first?
Altogether though, I guess we should end on this note: why are we accepting national subsidies on our education if we're not willing to give back to our country? We take investor dollars and are eager to give them ROI and yet why don't we think this way about our country and its investment in our collective development?
Matthew YangPunitive measure never work, and all they will do is cause frustration and anger among the targeted groups (university students), and it won't do anything to solve the original brain drain problem. If you want talent, be willing to spend money and effort on attracting them, rather than blaming the talent for leaving.
Anthony ReinhartIn recent conversations with Canadian expats working in tech in the Bay Area, most told me they would move back if they saw more opportunities here to work on big, meaningful projects. For whatever reason, they're not seeing them. Another suggested Canada's tech companies cannot claim to want to attract top global talent on one hand, while paying discount wages on the other. If we want to compete with Valley employers for the absolute best talent, we have to be willing to at least match Valley compensation, he argued; otherwise, we're signalling to the world that we're not serious about competing. This is anecdotal feedback based on a small number of interviews, so I can't claim these people's views are representative of all 25K Canadians in the Valley. But to solve this problem, we should probably start by talking to the very people this kind of payback proposal would target.
2 days ago · 7
John RuffoloThanks Ian King. This penalty idea is not a policy plank of the Council of Canadian Innovators but the reporter seems to have written it that way. The current highest priority of the CCI is the talent agenda and together with the CEO members are developing ideas to increase the talent pool in Canada through innovative immigration and emigration ideas. Lots of great ideas are coming in and being formulated. One idea I heard bandied about is the double taxpayer hit when we taxpayers educate folks and then they immediately leave Canada. We paid for the education yet lose their economic input. So, in Ontario for example, when the Liberal Gov't announced a broad idea to pay for university education, is there a concept to pay for a students education by the taxpayers in exchange for them staying in Canada for say 3 years. This concept would be more of an incentive than a penalty. But as far as I am aware, the idea has not been fully fleshed out. I spoke to the ED of CCI who confirmed that the only point that was raised was the conundrum of taxpayer dollars leaking out ie. Akin to a churn issue for startups.
Ethan HenryNice work Mark Organ. The basic truth is that you have to compete with companies paying a lot of money. Talent follows the money. Working at Eloqua was great, but making 3x my Canadian income in the US is hard to argue with. And if you want senior talent, free lunches and gym memberships are nice but ultimately irrelevant. People beyond their 20's need higher comp, autonomy and flexibility - honestly not things most Canadian companies are famous for.
2 days ago · 3
Julian D'AngeloYour average grad isn't flocking to the states because they simply can't compete there, my guess is that it's the top 5-10% that are leaving, maybe less. (Though concrete data would be nice.) If you don't have an ecosystem to tend to the brightest minds, you're only holding them back. It's like a junior hockey coach saying, we invested so much into you, and now you want to go play in the NHL?
Mike ShaverMy perspective on this is either informed or tainted by spending 6 years on the board of Canada's largest post-secondary institution, just as a disclosure. I didn't attend a Canadian post-secondary institution myself, but I am reliably informed that they're great. I've hired probably dozens of Canadian grads into positions in Canada and the US.
I think that this sort of initiative would meet with substantial resistance from educators. The ones I know *celebrate* their students finding a position they are willing to move a long way for, and one where their employer values them enough to do visa and relocation work. That sort of actualization is a wonderful educational outcome, and it will be extremely challenging to get educators onside with pushing people into "lesser" (as perceived by the graduate) jobs via financial penalties.
(It's also not clear that it would work. Companies put claw-backs on tuition when they pay someone to get an MBA, and it rapidly just became part of the calculus of a hiring package. If Google or Microsoft or Facebook have to put an extra $50K Canadian into a hiring package to pay the emigration tax -- I can't believe that we're talking about such a thing as serious adults -- then that's pretty likely to just happen, with some clawback. Existing signing bonuses and relo budgets can easily be 3 times that anyway, and one-off costs for hiring are regarded as below the noise floor in many places.)
What these CEOs actually want, I think, is to increase the value that Canadian industry gets out of the Canadian educational system. That's a reasonable thing to want, even if this is a pretty distasteful approach to it. There are lots of things they could be lobbying for that aren't punitive towards people starting their careers by working for a company that is excited to have them. One example: better investment in education-industry research collaborations, especially in the area where colleges have been pretty neglected, and often able to provide more readily productizable work.
(Education is actually a provincial investment, so taken at face value this would penalize a U of T grad going to work in Montreal.)
Benjamin BergenI'm the ED at CCI -- In today’s Globe and Mail our goal was to create a conversation around issues of retention for domestic tech companies. I want to clarify that ideas discussed in the article are not official policies CCI is currently advocating. CCI is instead encouraging provincial governments to design policies that will ensure made in Canada companies can grow and thrive and talent is one of the critical issues. There are many different views on how best to tackle it and we welcome all ideas. CCI is simply seeking a dialogue with government to tackle this important issue for tech sector.
Tannishtha Ray PramanickSlightly concerned here that whenever the topic of the great Canadian tech brain drain has come up as an issue to deal with, people automatically assume that anyone looking to rectify the situation is hinting at closing borders/restricting emigration. I get this article is sort of hinting at that, but even in past discussions when that hasn't been hinted at, people have taken a critical stance by calling out a point that no one is making, namely; restricting movement. Relax guys, no one is saying Canada has only one way of dealing with the issue, and that's by becoming like North Korea. I don't know why this keeps happening.
Gustavo Melo", where salaries are much higher because of the weak Canadian dollar" - let's clarify one thing, the weak Canadian dollar has little to do with this discussion, if anything at all. Many tech companies in Toronto do business primarily in the US, get paid in American dollars, have many of their employees' salaries partially subsidized by the government through programs like SR&ED and IRAP, and still underpay their talent vs. American companies.
Leo LuoJaxson Khan, you got a good point. Talents will only follow the good opportunities, just like smart money! Your can't really force a mutual fund manager to invest in below average companies, what make those high-tech CEOs think Canadian graduates should spend their life with less competitive companies? The only way to attract talents is to be strong and competitive... nothing else.
Mark MacLeod nails it again. Corp dev is not a bad thing. Particularly to have relationships when it comes time to start filling out a round or start acquisition discussions. It's way better to have started the conversation, be on the radar, and have positive social capital beyond the surface level reasons to connect.
PS this is why i love the C100 for asymmetric access to these players in SF and NYC. ... See MoreSee Less
Paul Graham, co-founder of YCombinator, is a smart dude. Founders rightfully listen to what he has to say. One of his many pearls of wisdom is that founders should NOT talk to corporate development groups. Having spent the last 3 days in SF doing pretty much nothing but talking to corp dev groups, a...
Mark OrganI dunno. I think PG had a good point to not spend that much time with Corp Dev unless you want to sell. I've had mostly negative experiences with these folks. Except Matt Switzer from Hootsuite who can think for himself and has a broader, more strategic role in the company.
Rather than Corp Dev I work directly with a potential acquirer CEO, CFO, VP Product. I establish partnerships with companies who I would be interested combining with in the future. The leverage is with these guys not the hired hands in the Corp Dev department.
Varun MathurAbsolutely loved the story. I am a little perplexed though as YC has also funded YourMechanic in the past, which seems to be your direct competitor once they expand north or Fiix expands south :O
Ali Rushdan TariqI was a bit skeptical on how Snapchat could be used for VC pitches, but I gotta say, I'm sold. This was probably the best use of Snapchat I've seen yet (not that I'm all over Snapchat to begin with, but still!).
1 day ago · 1
Zain ManjiThanks Ali! Yeah, we're glad we had the opportunity to be one of the first people to try this new method of pitching, and it was a lot of fun. It was a nice way of keep things interesting and exciting!
Sometimes it is important to remind ourselves of all of the amazing things going on here in Canada. In just the last few weeks:
- Influitive passed the elusive $10M ARR threshold. - League announces a monster 'A' round. - Hubba passed over 20,000 companies on the network. - Shopify announces a major partnership with Apple Pay - Andela raises a ton of money from Mark Zuckerberg - Resson, a company out of Fredricton lands big growth funding from a huge strategic - 500px was selected by the White House's New Tech Inclusion Pledge - Nudge lands a hefty seed round. - TechCrunch posts a really positive article about the community here. - Harvard/IHS found Toronto to be the #6 city in the world for Female entrepreneurs but we all know there is still a lot of work to do here. - Wattpad partners with Turner, a major U.S. studio/broadcaster.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.These are just the things on the top of my mind. I am missing a bunch, particularly from the west coast.
What is your company proud of? Would love to pile on all of your great news too (without too much shameless self-promotion of course). ... See MoreSee Less
Mudit Singh RawatWe don't talk about this enough, but the startup community here is tightly knit and is always open to making great introductions - I can think of all the intro's the team at Hubba has made for us at Urbery which is now resulting into multiple CPG partnerships! Plus great support from various incubators (shout out to DMZ at Ryerson University) and access to vibrant/cost effective shared spaces (like Project Spaces).
Rokham FaardVery well said and great to see some attitude for gratitude :)
4 days ago · 2
Sarah KatyalAwesome! Love this Ben, and congrats on your new book. The female part still needs a lot of work ahem... ;)
4 days ago · 4
Ivan TsarynnyA big announcement from OMERS that OneEleven will be opening phase 2 with 1/4 Million SQF office space in downtown
4 days ago · 15
Ameet NathwaniEndy has joined hands with Furniture Bank Toronto to design and manufacture a low-cost/quality mattress to service their over 10,000 clients annually. As a basic necessity in any home, we share their vision to bring dignity and comfort to those in need in our beautiful city.
Craig MorantzWe've been flying a bit under the radar not having even announced our recent Series A. Funding announcements are awesome, but I am really proud of what the team has built, marketed and sold, nearly $2M in ARR. Probably the metric I'm most proud of is 100% retention. We've not lost a single higher ed client since we pivoted to higher education.