Love seeing JPG (John Philip Green) leveraging different types of assets to grow CareGuide. We talk about “venture capital” as only equity investment (or an approximation like convertible debentures or SAFEs or KISSs which are all really balance sheet items but with different implications and impacts on founders and investors). Would love to see additional conversations/lessons as we have more companies getting into the “scaling” phase.
How ironic that these two born with trust funds attached, nannies and other spoils that come with status and money are preaching to masses about social justice and fairness. How much do they really know or care about the struggles of the middle class or small businesses. Looks like smart political gaming aimed at winning NDP voters and the next election ... See MoreSee Less
Blake ConnoyI don't understand the personal attacks on Trudeau or Morneau. What does their personal circumstance have to do with their ability to read? The average Canadian household income was less than $81k in 2015. The "polarization of incomes" or the "growing divide between the rich and the poor" has been talked, and talked, and talked about for years. It's good to finally see that there's some intention to actually do something about it. That said, the current proposal isn't perfect as-is (and I know we all agree on that), but that's what public consultation is for. Resorting to personal attacks is petty and just continues to undermine your position.
Ben LucierWhen I was at Tucows we ran out of real estate and decided to focus on remote employees for customer service. There are lots of little 'nuanced' things to consider in order to ensure engagement. We made sure to have hot desks setup if employees decided they miss "home" and wanted to come into work. We also asked staff to spend at least 2 weeks in the office every quarter to 'reconnect' with colleagues. Lots of other things to consider... some of them you've probably already run into I'm sure.
4 days ago · 2
Ben LucierAlso, unrelated to remote workers, but critical for us: the relationship between manager and employee. I find many companies get this wrong. My managers dedicated 30 minutes of their week to each of their staff, for a discussion about their career. The agenda was 100% employee driven and the meetings always kicked off this "what's on your mind?" I think success with remote workers depends on a strong management team.
4 days ago · 12
Amrita GurneyWe are not going down this path at CrowdRiff for the time being. I find that going remote works best when the majority of people are remote, like the Basecamp & Buffer folks. I've worked at companies that had just a few remote employees and they felt like second class citizens. If you haven't read the book Remote by Jason Fried I recommend it.
4 days ago · 3
Austin HillHappy to chat with you about the +/-'s of this we faced at Blockstream that had two major centers of core office and 30% remote and distributed team. It's a challenge and if I did it again, I would have specific requirements about team member types, some tools & commitments from people about modes of sharing & communication and also be more specific about who can be remote and who can't.
Mark OrganGreat post - really comprehensive. This trend towards remote work is a big one and it's gaining steam. One of the things I have seen is that these companies are starting to develop strong culture. As you develop more insight into making the mixed remote culture work I'd appreciate learning from your experience.
4 days ago · 2
Yves BoudreauWe've tried it in the past and it's definitely challenging. I also don't think it works for all roles. Above all the skills you're looking for you have to make sure they are great communicators.
The hardest part in my opinion was making sure they felt part of the team, because by not being there in person, they miss out on small moments that can bring people together.
4 days ago · 6
Simran KambojAh it's really really tough. We have monthly hands on to align but I think having people in one place is just much better to build team chemistry.
Even the monthly hands on don't help because they're usually a packed agenda.
It's easier when the roles are very very rigid in your organization which in startups is never really the case in the early days.
Atlee ClarkI'm a huge advocate for remote/distributed teams. Challenging but the positives covered in the article are real and can be even better than one location teams if done well. I run a team of about 25 that is distributed between SF, Toronto and Ottawa (built from 3 when I arrived). I was in SF alone for the first two years, now 4 here. Two most important things to make it successful IMO. 1) commitment to enabling technology and remote centric formats to meetings, standups etc. one of the brilliant ways I have seen this can work is for video calls. no matter how many people are in one office, have everyone join the meeting individually (or max 2 in a room) This makes everyone "remote". It removes the regular pitfalls of one room being "the" meeting room and others just dialing in. (You can also do it every once and a while to build empathy and understanding for remote employees) it's so easy to say "we use hangouts!" And think that covers it. It doesn't. 2) watch out for making one location more top heavy than another. E.g. It's tempting to hire more senior people in SF (not because they are better, just because there is more of a concentration of them here) it's critical to have leadership distributed not just employees. I have thought/experimented/made mistakes a lot on this topic so happy to chat more 🙂
Zeze PetersI worked remotely as a Senior Leader for 3 years, and built SWAT teams of engineers who dealt with the toughest problems. Great remote teams like to have your ear and TRUST, same as people in the same room as you.
We are audio-visual social creatures, so get tools that match that premise -
group video chat (video scrums, video adhocs, video everything), screen sharing, peer conversations and monthly reviews helped build super tight bonds.
3 days ago
Eric KryskiJevon MacDonald So much YES in that post! 👏
We've opted for the fully distributed setup for many of the reasons highlighted. Our team has worked in all environments and personally I've found working remote to be a challenge unless the entire company is bought in and has processes in place to support and work entirely distributed and asynchronous. I feel like you also need go the extra mile to keep documentation up to date and create an environment that fosters camaraderie because you are lacking more of the face time you would have in an office.
Happy to chat about some of the processes we have in place, how we hire and onboard new employees and ensure everyone feels included.
3 days ago
Catherine GrahamWe're a 60/40 split - 60% at head office in Toronto and 40% working remote. Two from our leadership team are in the U.S., the other remote folks are spread across southern Ontario and we have even had one team member continue to work for us while Airbnbing his way around the world ;)
Primary reason for going the remote route has been finding and retaining talent.
Key things that have made it work for us:
1. Fostering a culture of inclusivity and over communication. You really have to be conscious of compensating for the day-to-day chatter and decisions that are made in the office that the remote folks miss out on.
2. Having the right tools in place - we rely heavily on video (Google Hangouts and Go to Meeting) and collaboration tools like Slack, JIRA and Asana
3. Clear performance metrics and expectations - a major benefit for remote workers is greater flexibility which is particularly attractive for parents. It makes it easy to not worry if they're sitting at their desk all day being productive if you are super clear on what success looks like in their role and they have the freedom to get there in their own way.
Happy to chat further if that would be helpful.
1 day ago · 2
Daniel Debow and I started Helpful.com because we both felt disconnected after our companies were bought by US Co’s and HQ was moved to SF.
It’s why we only have one office today and don’t allow remote work.
But when we are out, we’re able to get that *feeling* of being with our team when we use Helpful.
Open to all feedback 😎
ISO your ideas for spaces on a Toronto techie/startup bingo card? (Trying to keep it fun, largely positive, but also humorous.. nothing too derisive please)
My first thought was Jason Goldlist (of TechToronto) on a hoverboard. Largely inspired by his appearance in typical TechTO fashion at Elevate Toronto this week. 😂
ping pong table inspirational wall mural "proudly Coded in Liberty Village" "the uber of..." "high level" "agile" "product market fit" "pivot" business plan involves Big Data name of company is missing one or more vowels and/or is in unconventional CaSE "hiring for culture fit" nap room / bean bag chairs
I appreciate the leaders who have started the public outcry over the proposed tax changes, but I haven’t seen enough concrete suggestions about what we’d like to see.
Let’s be careful not to conflate start-up asks with those of doctors. Doctors are pretty much guaranteed a decent income in this country. Entrepreneurs are not. I’m going to let the MDs lobbyists earn their money and suggest the startup community get our talking points gathered up. There was talk of several successful entrepreneurs forming a lobby group a few years ago, if that's still going, this is a perfect opportunity for them to help us get our points across.
Let’s begin by recognizing that most start-up entrepreneurs won’t cash out. Therefore, it’s not just about preparing to protect large wealth, it’s about making it easier for us to try.
The multiplier effect of start-ups is substantial. Vantage has developed world-leading AI for retailers and brands and along the way, we’ve generated dozens and dozens of person-years of work both hiring full-time employees and a lot of freelancers.
So here’s what I’m looking for (in no particular order), please feel free to contribute your own asks:
1) When someone gets laid off work and they take a severance package and stretch it to start a company, make it easy for them to get taxed for the severance over the appropriate future time period, instead of taking 50-75% of the severance cheque in immediate taxes.
2) When an entrepreneur hires a caregiver for their kids or for elder or infirm dependents, let them write it off… even if the startup doesn’t make enough money to pay the entrepreneur a salary for a few years.
3) Income sprinkling, or income splitting - I don’t care what you call it, but if an entrepreneur is able to startup because their spouse covers the bills, recognize that.
4) Create a way to recognize that we often risk our houses or other savings to finance the startup. Maybe something similar to the way that I can take a small amount money out of my RRSPs to finance a house.
5) hiring students - right now it seems to be all or nothing. Vantage waited until mid-July to be told that we didn’t get a summer student job position (which is foolishly late by the way), why weren’t there better incentives for us to do anything to hire summer students in February when they students were looking not July or even April when they were coming out of school?
6) Double the lifetime capital gains exemption. If I do cash out, I deserve to take a few years and not work while I figure out my next step. You know what I need to do that? A house. You know what a house costs in a lot of the startup parts of Canada? More than $700k.
7) Keep the lifetime caps but remove the annual limits on what I can contribute to my kids RESP.
8) Recognize when entrepreneurs cash out and don’t move to Barbados and forget about the rest of us, but actually invest in other start-ups. These folks are not doing it because they think it’s the easiest way to make money, they’re doing it to build our entrepreneurial ecosystem and foster more growth, more innovation, more startup jobs. Most of that angel/VC money isn’t invested in a sure thing like Vantage, there needs to be a better tax incentive for them. ... See MoreSee Less
Elena YunusovI agree we need to present united front on this, pinging Benjamin Bergen
2 weeks ago · 3
Daniel DebowYes, there is a group - CCI that Benjamin Bergen runs.
2 weeks ago · 2
Ben LucierThis was awesome and well-articulated Aran. Thanks for starting this.
2 weeks ago · 5
Daniel DebowThere are lots of challenges I've heard about with the tax proposals. The one that I think will long term impact incentives is the removal of the cap gain lifetime benefits for family. Today, by shared ownership in a company (or as beneficiaries of a trust) all family members can claim their lifetime capital gains exemption on exit. It is about $800k. So - for a family of four that has risked it all, dealt with all the stress, etc. - when an exit comes the tax free portion can be $2.4M. This is a huge difference for a family over a long period. My understanding is that the Feds propose to remove this ability - only one person can take advantage. To the extent after tax returns matter to decide to start and build a company - this will, imho, have a meaningful impact on the number of people trying to risk it all to start a biz in Canada.
2 weeks ago · 20
Chris HamoenCompletely agree with all of this and nice to see some real content in SUN.
2 weeks ago · 4
Debra ChandaThank you for detail overview. Advocate Jenkins Report - angel/VC tax credits - currently our investors in certain sectors invest in start-ups MN / MA / CA because those states and more provide this incentive even if investor residence is non U.S / OUS.
Parveen KalerToo complicated/clever for its own good. HST everything. Get rid of all of these deductions, incentives, subsidies that muck up the tax code.
The goal should be the simplest tax system reasonable.
2 weeks ago · 2
Debra ChandaAran Hamilton I like some of your critical thoughts; however, mixing socialism with capitalism ideologies "universal income." I get it b/c other capitalistic incentives are lacking and certain technology plays lack local demand here to invest in the innovation/pilots to fully productize. I do get why you presented this though.
2 weeks ago
Tobyn SowdenSome great (and seemingly reasonable) asks here, however definitely asking for more than we have now, meanwhile the government is proposing taking away the few benefits we have now.
2 weeks ago · 1
Debra ChandaMN Angel Tax Credit 101:
“Minnesota’s Angel Tax Credit provides a 25-percent credit to investors or investment funds that put money into startup companies focused on high technology, new proprietary technology, or a new proprietary product, process or service in specified fields. The maximum credit is $125,000 per person, per year ($250,000 if filing jointly). The credit is refundable. Residents of other states and 'foreign countries' are eligible” — MN DEED Yuri Navarro just added you to this string, as why are Canadian investors going start up investments OCAD?
Dan Tsipe50 plus percent of all new business fail. The proposed tax changes will increase this number significantly, decreasing number of good jobs available to all Canadians. How is that helping the middle class when more business start to fail because their founders are squeezed financially and have less incentives to take on financial risks and stress. I think the government is totally blindsided by populist agenda and losing touch with economical reality.
2 weeks ago · 3
Scott BellGood points Aran. #3 and #6 are available via trusts today that you need to setup years before you know if you will need it... And 90%
Fail so no need. If fhe govt change sthe rules now,. We need a way to rearrange our startups. We analyzed where to startup and the combined corp/ personal was ok here vs US. If these rules go thru them the answer would be Brain drain. Start-up founders spend a bit of time in these overhead discussions but the govt is encouraging us to spend more time on it and take our startup risk south. We all need a good plan and then focus our displeasure on the local politicians. Trudeau and Morneau have their minds made up.
Saul ColtI had a conversation today with someone who is a subject matter expert on all of this. Would anyone want to do an AMA with him here in Startup North? If there is interest I can ask but pretty sure he would be up for it. cc: David Crow
2 weeks ago · 2
Richard RemillardThe government has opened an absolute Pandora's box by attempting to 'fix' one small part of the tax system without touching other parts. Consequently, it may have inadvertently opened up debate on the proper balance between small business and larger corporate tax levels, personal versus business taxes, taxing individuals or family units(however defined) and income taxes versus sales taxes(HST). Lower income tax levels overall, by increasing reliance on the HST, would reduce the tax incentives for incorporating,and stimulate economic growth via savings, while lower taxes on faster growing companies would promote scale ups versus our current system that favors SME's versus large corporates and, in fact, may even penalize company growth.
2 weeks ago · 3
Yuri NavarroThanks for looping me in Debra. To be clear, NACO is working on a response, but it would be good to coordinate with others like Benjamin Bergen at CCI.
My personal point of view is that this policy was not intended to affect startup entrepreneurs and investors (the potential for harm to investors seems even greater).
I am optimistic that if communicated to with clarity and facts, the government will listen.
Alex De BoldAgreed - solutions are better than complaining.
#1: Active Angels: If we want to build a pay it forward ecosystem like SF then we need to clarify what that looks like.
#2: Canada's Unicorns like Hootsuite, Shopify, Wealthsimple that are PR stops on the PM's media tour lend their use their voice to the debate. They're incubating the next generation of would be start-up entrepreneurs.
2 weeks ago
Navid Nathoo+1 on incentives for hiring students. Affordable, high quality, and can work with a timeline of a fast changing startup.
2 weeks ago
Dan TsipeJoseph Puopolu, great information. I wish we could arm the public with these facts and some real life examples of the impact this tax reform will have on various businesses and general public. The government propaganda is misleading and self serving. I don't believe for a second that the real agenda here is helping middle class and fairness. Even within this group, we came to a conclusion that the reform will do more harm than good to viability of businesses. That's simply a short sighted money grab, more tax revenues are needed to continue to expand social programs and support large labor sectors that strategically vote pro liberals. It will look good on liberals resume before next elections
Darrell MacMullinCurious to hear why people think this is a win? Don't get me wrong. Great people at svb. What does svb give that a canadian bank couldn't provide ? Coolness factor? Label? Or something fundamentally better in offering that what CA banks could be doing to support canadian ecosystem. I think the CA banks should hear / understand