AccelerateOTT – June 14, 2013

AccelerateOTT - June 14, 2013

It’s almost time to shave off yer playoff beards. Summer time is upon us. And summer’s in Canada mean cottages and startup events.

Our friends at the C100, who are continually helping to build the Maple Syrup Mafia across the globe, are hosting a series of events in Alberta, Ottawa and Montreal (invite only). The C100 does a great job making sure that connected Canadians from the Silicon Valley attend these events. It’s a great way to meet and connect socially with Canadians who are transplanted in the Valley or who are doing a stint there, but who still have strong interests in seeing a stronger set of Canadian companies. These local events are great low social capital ways to begin building your social network of people that might care (if you aren’t a douche).

Our other friends (and Hot Shit List 2013 awardees) Tobi and Harley at Shopify have put together an amazing event in Ottawa. As you are driving back to town with working on your mind. Take a side trip from Bobcaygeon, and see the constellations. There is an amazing group of speakers including:

Go big and stay home

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Wattpad announced today a $17.3MM raise from Khosla Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, Union Square Ventures and Jerry Yang. This is huge.

“It has been recognized as highly significant due to having two top-tier US funds investing at this level in a Canadian-based consumer internet company.”

We are seeing Canadian entrepreneurs build companies and demonstrate global traction. The changes to foreign investment related to Section 116 changes in the Tax Act, have allowed Canadian companies to go big and stay home.  The changes to Section 116, coupled with the desire of Canadian entrepreneurs to go big and stay home. Evidenced by Wattpad’s big raise, Wave Accounting’s $12MM series B from Social+Capital, Hootsuite’s $20MM round from OMERS (sure they’re not foreign capital but its a big round), Shopify’s $22MM ($7M series A + $15M series B from Bessemer), Beyond The Rack’s $36MM raise, Fixmo’s $23.4MM Series C from KPCB, Achievers’ $24.5MM Series C from Sequoia, and others. There are startups and there is capital. It’s possible to build a growth company in Canada and raise foreign capital. The game has changed for Canadian VCs, geography limitations can help these funds identify early but it potentially will relegate many to second tier status if they can not enable their startups beyond their geographies.

The great thing in talking with many of these entrepreneurs is that they want to build successful companies in Canada. Allen Lau, CEO of Wattpad, mentioned that his desire was to grow a large successful company in Toronto. He is not looking to move the company. The same is true of my conversations with Kirk Simpson at Wave Accounting, Tobi at Shopify, Mike at Freshbooks, etc. There are a lot of reasons to want to be way from the tensions and pulls the exist in the Bay Area. Canadian startups have access to great talent. While there is some pull between the different startups, many of these companies aren’t competing with each other for employees or mindshare. Just check out Shopify’s recruiting video and tell me why you wouldn’t choose to work for Harley and Tobi instead of a financial institution or a government organization.

It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in Canada. It’s a great time to work for a startup. You should check out the opportunities on the StartupNorth job board.

DFAIT Technology Growth Initiative Business Bootcamps

Departement of Foreign Affairs and International TradeDFAIT is sponsoring the Technology Growth Initiative (TGI) Business Bootcamps Spring 2011 to help Canadian companies go-to-market in specific US markets (BostonDenverLos AngelesNew YorkPalo AltoSan DiegoSan Francisco/Silicon Valley and others). The program provides startups with access to webinars, a one day bootcamp session and direct connections with VCs and local entrepreneurs to share experiences and find funding.

The one day bootcamps are being help in April and May 2011 from Halifax to London. The bootcamps are interesting, they provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch and get feedback from trusted experts (yeah right I think I served as an “expert” in 2009 ;-). But it is a great opportunity to get a different set of eyes on your pitch. And it plays to the old adage, “how do you know when an entrepreneur is dead? he stops pitching”.

Registration for One Day Business Bootcamp

  • Halifax: April 27th, 2011 – Cleantech and ICT
  • Quebec City: April 28th, 2011 – ICT
  • London: April 29th, 2011 – Cleantech, ICT, Life Sciences
  • Toronto: May 2nd, 2011 – Cleantech, ICT, Life Sciences
  • Ottawa: May 3rd, 2011 – Cleantech, ICT, Life Sciences

There is also the upcoming April 6th, 2011 11:30EST seminar with Mike Grandinetti (he’s also a TechStars mentor) focusing on “Lean and Mean Startups”.

April 6th: 11:30 EST (Upcoming Webinar – Soon)

  1. Lean and Mean Start-ups – Presented by: Mike Grandinetti, Managing Director, Southboro Capital, Boston.
  2. So you think you are ready? – 10 things you need to know before presentation day – A candid talk on presentations gone horribly wrong and how you avoid that – Presented by: Coby Schneider – Miller Thomson & Others.

These are great opportunities to learn about expanding into specific US markets. The DFAIT team brings key players to local markets and makes it easy to establish relationships that allow companies to grow. There are lots of opportunity to criticize some of the efforts, but the team at DFAIT have run this program for the past few years with varied success. It’s worth the time of startups actively looking to expand their customer base (this means that you’re beyond seed stage, you probably have customers, you have a product, you’re looking for a scalable business model) to explore how DFAIT can help.

The event is co-hosted by our sponsors and friends at KPMG are corporate partners helping DFAIT and startups. There are a lot of cross-border issues concerning corporate structure, financing, taxation and other where KPMG can leverage their experience to help early and growth stage companies.