MINDING THE GENDER GAP IN TECH FUNDING

Article provided by BDO

These are exciting times for female tech entrepreneurs in Canada.

The Business Development Bank of Canada is investing $200-million in women-led technology companies, through its Women in Technology Fund. Venture capital fund Disruption Ventures has set its sights on female-led startups. And StandUp Ventures also invests only in women-led companies — primarily in tech.

Yet female tech entrepreneurs still face systemic inequities when raising capital. This despite research showing that investments in companies with at least one female founder outperformed those in all-male teams — by 63%.

To help you navigate these hurdles, we brought together four industry insiders to deliver perspective and practical tips — from both the founder and funder side of the boardroom table:

  • Sophie Forest — managing partner at Brightspark Ventures. Sophie received the NACO Angel of the Year Award in 2017.
  • Katie Kaplan — leader of the GTA Emerging Technology group at BDO Canada. Katie is also a tax partner in the firm’s Private Client Services group.
  • Emma Harris — founder and CEO of Healthy Pets. Emma appeared on Season 12 of the CBC series Dragons’ Den, where she pitched to a panel of investors that included Arlene Dickinson. She later received a $500,000 investment from Arlene Dickinson’s District Ventures Capital.
  • Prathna Ramesh — managing director and chief compliance officer of Maple Leaf Angels Corporation, a Toronto-based angel network that connects angel investors with tech entrepreneurs.

Silicon Valley, we have a problem

While exact stats for tech funding in Canada remain elusive, the numbers we do have point to a problem.

In the first half of 2018, only 12.5% of all U.S. venture capital invested went to companies with at least one female founder, according to Pitchbook’s data. This follows the now-famous 2017 figure that only 2.2% of all VC funding went to companies founded solely by women.

“It’s a real problem,” says Katie Kaplan, “and not just from a fairness point of view. The long-term success of the Canadian economy depends on innovation that spurs productivity. As we increasingly compete in a global marketplace, we need to source the next best ideas from all segments of our diverse Canadian population.”

Explanations vary for the funding gap, but observers often focus on the funders doling out the cash. Only 14% of partners at Canadian VC funds are women, according to a report by Female Funders. Male investors, the argument goes, are more likely to trust male founders.

“The gap is partly caused by natural biases towards women in an entrepreneurial role – most of the venture funding comes from males,” says Sophie Forest, who has been the “only woman in the boardroom” for much of her career.

How to answer the “family life” question

The biases female tech entrepreneurs face usually remain unspoken. Sometimes they surface in subtle ways: men are asked about the potential for gains; women, about the potential for losses.

But how can women tackle the rare questions that make gender a headline topic?

“Maybe 10 or 15 of the 500 questions I’ve been asked were gender-specific,” says Emma Harris. “And they were always unwarranted because they had to do with a timeline on when you were going to reach a personal milestone like getting married or having a child and when that will affect the business.”

You probably don’t want to partner with investors who ask those types of questions, says Harris. Still, she advises, composure is key.

“The best way is to answer them as professionally as you can while acknowledging that the question is totally irrelevant to your business. Maintain your professionalism, but there’s nothing wrong with pointing out when a question doesn’t belong.”

The confidence gap

If one personality trait distinguishes entrepreneurs, it’s confidence. Perhaps overconfidence: one study of American entrepreneurs found that one-third rated their chances of success at 100%.

For female founders, the challenge often goes in the opposite direction. Instead of confidence, they default to conservativism.

“We tend to avoid shouting from the rooftops about our successes,” says Kaplan. “Many VCs I’ve met support female-led startups — they just don’t see enough of them coming through the door saying how great they are.”

Theories run the gamut to explain the phenomenon. Some have pointed to historical roles in society, which socialized males to express confidence and females to seek approval. Other observers have faulted the funding climate itself. It’s no wonder women are less confident, they point out when they face biased treatment and see few female investors.

Insecurities can pop up in surprising ways once the high-stakes pitching begins.

“Sometimes women mention gender in their pitch as part of their struggle,” says Ramesh, “and while that is an important part of the story, I have found that highlighting it too much may take away from the essence of the presentation. The pitch should really be just about your business.”

For Harris, of Healthy Pets, the confidence gap affected her funding target.

“Men generally set out larger goals than women,” she says. “I see it in the quantities of money they raise and what they intend to do with it. I went on Dragon’s Den looking to raise a ridiculously low amount of money, but a venture like this eats up money, so it would have killed the business to raise so little.”

Whatever the cause and wherever it applies, female tech entrepreneurs need to remember that first impressions count. As the saying goes, investors often invest in people, not ideas.

“The first impression you give is either going to get you a second meeting, or it won’t,” says Forest. “If you are competent and you get to that second meeting, then you have a shot. But if you can’t convey your competence in that first meeting you’re never going to get anywhere. Female entrepreneurs need to go into meetings believing in what they’re doing and show how confident they are in their business and what they can build.”

Relationships matter

The pitch process receives the brunt of entrepreneurs’ focus — and for good reason. But industry veterans say the smart money is on funders who also build relationships outside the four walls of the boardroom.

“Finding a mentor and a champion who is able to help you navigate the waters is really important,” says Ramesh. “It’s been an old gentlemen’s club for some time, so find someone who’s able to invite you in as a guest. View the entire fundraising scheme as a relationship, instead of a transaction.”

When building these relationships, entrepreneurs sometimes forget a best practice that fostered their success in the first place: perseverance.

“We see so many entrepreneurs who come to us, send us an email, leave a message, and never follow up,” says Forest. “And you know, maybe I would have been interested in that business, but I receive 10 to 15 business plans a day. And maybe that day I was super-busy and I never got to that email or I forgot. It doesn’t mean I’m not interested.”

For tech entrepreneurs such as Harris, the increasing profile of women like Michelle Romanow and Arlene Dickinson – Dragon’s Den veterans both – has generated new role models to consult.

Yet Harris also cites her relationship with OMERS Ventures managing partner Damien Steel as critical to her success. She tends to access her female-focused networks for female-focused issues, such as balancing marriage and motherhood with entrepreneurship.

Don’t overthink this

This generation of female tech entrepreneurs faces an odd balancing act.

Pretending they don’t face institutional obstacles as women is not an option. Check that: as trailblazers on the ground, they are best positioned to highlight them. At the same time, female founders know that success depends on staying positive.

It comes down to perspective, say industry insiders.

“Yes, it’s sometimes harder for women,” says Forest, “but don’t let that stop you. I think doing things differently because you’re a woman doesn’t work. You’re a founder, you’re going to build a great business, you’re going to build a great business case. Be aware that it might be more demanding, but remember that it’s difficult for everyone to raise money.”

Waiting on the world to change?

Women should take advantage of the funds and programs that support female-led tech startups, says Kaplan. Consider them part of the overall funding strategy.

By bringing talented women to the forefront, these initiatives help correct historical imbalances.

“In general I wouldn’t have been in favor [of female-focused initiatives],” says Forest, “but right now we need it. It’s been done for various underrepresented communities, not just for women, and I totally agree with it. That being said, I don’t believe in supporting an ecosystem here in Canada where women that are not competent get funded simply because they are women.”

Long term, all signs point to improved fairness for female tech founders, as the funding community and society at large make diversity a priority.

“More and more women are becoming leaders in the investment and startup communities,” says Kaplan. “Yes, the process may take a while, but I’ve already seen improvements, and I think we’ll see more and more as we continue down this road.”

For more information on how BDO’s Emerging Technology team can help your company, contact us today.

The Government of Canada announced a new fund for women-owned and women-led businesses called the Women Entrepreneurship Fund which provides up to $100K in funding for one year. Contact us today if you would like to learn more.

Haltech Highlights October 2018 – Monthly Moments from Our Executive Director Shann McGrail

Have you ever been so absorbed by work, that has totally captured your attention, to realize that time has flown by?

That’s how I feel about my first few months at Haltech. Meeting our clients, talking with partners and sponsors about their views on innovation and opportunities, and listening to input from the team has been informative, engaging and exciting. While there is more to learn and work to be done to build out the roadmap for the future, I am confident that the best tools to put to use in this effort are collaboration across the community, a deep understanding of what clients need to be successful and creatively using all available resources to drive bigger results.

As just one example of collaboration, Haltech and TechPlace are teaming up for a road trip. The first ever Innovation in Action Tour kicks off on November 13th. Insights, networking, tours, and talks from leaders in our Region promise to get you out of the office, connecting with others, and thinking differently.

Haltech is thrilled to welcome almost 50 new clients in the first half of the fiscal year, a considerable jump over the same period last year. When asked ‘why Haltech’, I hear answers that include referrals from others who have had a positive experience, the expertise of our advisors, and a network of knowledge. The take away for me is that we need to deliver more of that and celebrate client successes. We also need address feedback that clients want to understand key milestones on their entrepreneurial journey and how to make the best use of available support.

Finally, nothing happens without enthusiasm and teamwork and I’m lucky to have an abundance of that around me every day. Just one more reason time is flying by – we’re having fun!

Share your thoughts and input – Shann.mcgrail@haltech.ca

 

5 Cyber Safety Tips for Business Travellers

Information provided by CCV Insurance

Whenever an employee travels for business, it’s likely that cybersecurity is one of the last things they’re thinking about. However, cybersecurity is not only important in the home and office, but on the road as well. Business travellers are particularly vulnerable, as they often carry multiple devices (e.g., smartphones, laptops, and tablets) that all store sensitive data—both personal and company-related.

In order to protect your employees that travel for work, instruct them to do the following:

1. Install antivirus protection on all applicable devices. Keep this software up to date.

2. Lock devices down with a PIN, fingerprint or password. If available, employees should consider using two-factor authentication—a security strategy that is commonly used to add a layer of security to your online accounts by requiring multiple forms of password verification.

3. Be wary of public Wi-Fi, particularly if the network is unencrypted. These networks are highly susceptible to cyber attacks, making it easy for criminals to steal data. If employees must use local Wi-Fi, instruct them to avoid accessing personal accounts or sensitive data while connected.

4. Keep the operating systems on their devices updated. Older versions of operating systems and software often have unpatched security vulnerabilities. Performing a simple update can help keep information safe.

5. Avoid leaving their devices unattended. One of the easiest ways cybercriminals steal data is by having access to the physical devices themselves.

To learn more about cyber risks and liabilities, see CCV Insurance’s September+October newsletter HERE

 

Innovation In Action Tour Agenda

On November 13, 2018, Haltech and TechPlace are inviting you to Innovation in Action –

a full day tour of Halton’s Innovative Tech Companies.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Learn Why it is important to adapt your mindset towards Innovation Economy 
  • Visit 3 progressive and innovative companies in Halton (Javelin Technologies, Urtech Manufacturing, iLLUMA DRIVE)
  • See how these companies are adapting and revolutionizing old systems using innovative thinking
  • Network with CEOs and Founders
  • Support local economy and connect with local businesses

Breakfast, lunch, cocktails, transportation- provided


Agenda:

  • 8:00 am – Registration, networking, and breakfast
  • 8:30 am  – Innovate or Become Utility, Mark Majewski, Business Development Manager, OCE Adapting the Innovative Mindset, Tracey Kadish, Associate Dean, Business and Media Graduate Studies, Applied Research and Entrepreneurship at Mohawk College.
  • 9:30 am – Bus tour begins
  • 10:00 am – Arrive at Javelin Technologies and Cinema Suite.
    • Cinema Suite will provide an immersive experience and talks on additive manufacturing best practices, 3D scanning and Augmented Reality.
    • Javelin Technologies will give a talk on Javelin’s latest innovation practices
  • 12:15 pm – LUNCH at Urtech Manufacturing
  • 1:15 pm Urtech Manufacturing Tour
    • Tour the facilities including the ‘UrStart Hardware Accelerator’, enabling local Canadian hardware ventures to launch their products from prototype, to production
  • 3:00 pm – Arrive at iLLUMA-DRIVE.
    • Tour the facilities, check out ILLUMA’s include energy storage product, NEO, IoT application Thea and ground-breaking CENSE low voltage DC system.
    • Hear from Derek Hopkins and Robert Keane on how iLLUMA-DRIVE continues to revolutionize a 120-year-old industry using innovative technological practices using Digital Smart DC power and Energy Management.
  • 4:45 pm – Arrive back at TechPlace
    • Cocktail reception and networking sponsored by Nickel Brook Brewing Co.

Event Sponsored by:

Scaling Up Your Tech Start-Up: Paying Yourself and Attracting Top Talent

Article provided by MNP

Your business is gaining traction and you’re attracting investors; now it’s time for you to scale up. The big question is when and how can you fairly pay yourself while also attracting top talent. There’s a lot to consider. Building a strategic compensation plan will help you prioritize these factors, set your business up for success – and make sure you get paid.

Early Cashflow and Tough Calls

In the early days of a start-up, you are busy securing funding to get your business up and running. In this stage, cashflow is precarious and operational costs are prioritized over compensation. As you wait on profits or additional investment, you might find yourself asking: who can we afford to pay? Who can be paid first? Should all partners be paid equally? Can we afford to hire the talent we need?

It’s important to note salaries (even your own) are operational costs and need to be part of your overall cashflow management approach. In the technology start-up world, your company’s competitive advantages often are ideas, innovation and skills – all of which are a direct result of having great talent. As a start-up, your challenge is balancing your operational costs, which as noted above, include salaries, with your business needs to achieve your strategic objectives and satisfy your investors.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Knowing what a workforce will cost is just as important as obtaining estimates on supply costs. Technology entrepreneurs aren’t making widgets and don’t need to invest extensive capital to purchase inventory, machinery or physical assets to build a factory. Instead, they have to bring in the right talent to drive revenue and profit growth. They need intellectual capital: the right people with the right networks, creativity and innovation to drive growth and profits. The investment is now in human capital.

To manage costs and cashflow, many start-ups are looking beyond base salary to deliver total compensation packages that include non-cash elements like a balanced lifestyle, flexible work hours, generous vacation policies and a fun work environment. Delayed cash elements like equity or phantom-equity plans also provide start-ups with flexibility and insurance – only paying out if the company grows in value.

This approach is working for employees. More than ever, the work environment, company culture and a sense of contributing to something that is growing are powerful motivators for top talent to join a company. Innovation attracts innovation.

By creating a total compensation strategy, you can accurately capture the true cost of doing business, even if you actually delay paying yourself until cashflow is available. With this information, you can build a viable business plan and make better decisions to drive growth and profitability while paying everyone involved fairly and showing investors your business success is sustainable.

How MNP Can Help

We work with entrepreneurs from across a broad range of industries at all stages. We benchmark salary and benefits and help you design compensation systems that invest wisely – and fairly – in yourself and your hired talent. When you’re hitting your stride, we help with job design, performance management and building incentives. In a world where talent is your competitive advantage, let us help you optimize it.

Contact Jessica Steed, Senior Manager, Consulting Services, Organization and People, at 416.515.5065 or at jessica.steed@mnp.ca

BEYOND CODING

Article supplied by Linda Smith of Codify Zone

Here at Codify Zone, we make sure our students learn how to develop Games, control Robots and create beautiful Websites while using their computational and critical thinking.

In our company we promote and teach open source software. We want our students to contribute, share and support each other in a world where access to knowledge and ability is open to everyone.

We have designed custom curriculums for each of our programs.  At Codify Zone students will have flexibility and control over every aspect of their Computational and Engineering learning. They will be using good open source platforms that will allow them to gain knowledge of things like electronics, programming, reason, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation.

We want our students to create their own games, projects and simulations, and then share them with other young programmers from around the world!!

Register NOW for our FALL COURSES

11 Must Have Apps For Students

Productivity • 2 Minute Read | By Charles Javelona of Univjobs

I know you’re headed back to school and dreading the idea of taking notes after a summer of playing Fortnite and other Gen Z things. Here at UnivJobs, we decided to curate a list of useful tools to make your first week of school way easier.
Grammarly

1. Grammarly

Grammarly fixes all of your typos in your most import papers for professors and emails to recruiters.

2. Helium

Helium floats a small browser (for Netflix) above your other windows, so you can watch shows on mute while taking notes in class.

Evernone

3. Evernote

Evernote is the best note-taker and organizer out there. Public/private notebooks, to-do lists, tables, web clippings, attachments – it’s everything you need to crush that frustratingly boring required class.

Paperspade

4. Paperspade

Paperspade lets you type your math homework. Your professor and the environment will thank you.

5. Pocket

Pocket lets you save for later. Put articles, videos or pretty much anything into Pocket.

Want more tips? See full Univjobs article HERE

 

Alternawork Now Open: a Dynamic Cowork Space Designed for Entrepreneurs and Tech Startups

The way we work is changing, and alternawork is providing a new alternative for entrepreneurs and tech companies looking to lease office space.

Over the last few years, there has been a sharp rise in the use of cowork spaces, or facilities that provide an office environment without the commitment of leasing a full office space. And there’s a good reason for this trend—coworking offers a number of benefits over traditional offices or working from home.

alternawork’s brand new 6,000 SF Oakville co-work space is now open. The state-of-the-art office is conveniently located within minutes of Bronte GO station, allowing for easy access to the downtown core without the high costs of renting in the big city. The facility features 14 private offices, 12-14 dedicated workstations, and shared boardroom space to hold team meetings or host clients.

Catering to the thriving tech community in the GTA, the office boasts enterprise-class infrastructure and reliable, high-speed internet to meet the network needs of growing tech companies.

Mark Arteaga, founder of software consulting and design company RedBit Development, is already reaping the benefits of coworking. “The fabulous space that we lease from alternawork has allowed our team to creatively grow and thrive. It has brought us all into one room again, making for better collaboration and a much more fun working environment,” he says. “It’s a very collaborative culture. There are other businesses coming into the alternawork building now, which is always exciting to have the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people. It provides the opportunity to share our successes and skills with others.”

Membership comes with its perks, too: no matter which plan they choose, users will enjoy 24-hour access, shared kitchen and lounge space, free coffee, and free parking.

Wondering whether coworking at alternawork is right for your business? Book a tour of the facility or check out alternawork.com for more information.

Stay tuned for details on the next phase starting in the fall by signing up for the newsletter.

 

Want to see more from Alternawork? See their new post on “Top 5 Ways Coworking Can Benefit Your Business”

 

 

Cowork Considerations: Why Location and Network Matter Most

There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing a cowork facility. Things like location and ease of transportation, cost to rent space, technology and infrastructure, and amenities included will probably play into your decision. Here, we highlight why location and network are two of the most important considerations when choosing a cowork facility.

A Convenient Location is Key

Traditionally, tech companies and startups have stationed themselves in the heart of big cities like Toronto and Vancouver. However, that’s all changing — many tech companies are now seeing the value in relocating to the suburbs.

Companies are increasingly attracted to suburban office markets because rents for class-A space there tend to be significantly lower than in urban settings. This is an ideal option for smaller or early-stage tech companies and startups. Offices in suburban areas provide an affordable alternative to the big city and allow for a healthy work-life balance all while maintaining the convenience and amenities that downtown offices offer.

It’s crucial for facilities to be easily accessible via various forms of transportation, whether workers choose to take the train or the highway to work. Being near to transportation hubs also allows for easy access to and from downtown. Whether meeting clients or business partners, it’s handy to be able to invite guests to your space or travel to the city with ease.

A Network to Support Your Needs

Having access to an internet connection simply isn’t enough in today’s work world. According to WiredScore, over 90% of Toronto office workers struggle with connectivity issues, causing productivity to take a big hit. Toronto’s startup scene is thriving, with a 33% increase in the tech workforce between 2011 and 2016—meaning the importance of having a fast, reliable network is only going to grow.

Here are a few questions you can ask to determine whether a cowork facility’s technology will meet your business needs:

  • Is the network secure?
  • Will I be on a public network?
  • What are the network usage restrictions?
  • Does the facility have a dedicated IT person in case of any issues?
  • What is the guarantee for bandwidth?

Some people have more robust network needs than others, so it’s important to consider how you will use the connection. For example, if you’re a web developer, or use video conferencing frequently, you may require a faster internet connection. If you’re thinking about using a shared office space, ask the facility about the network speed, security, and any usage restrictions.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of reasons why startups and tech companies are thriving in cowork facilities. Just make sure you do your research to ensure that the facility has the infrastructure to support your needs, and a convenient location that will work for your employees and business partners.

alternawork is a dynamic cowork facility serving the thriving tech community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). To book a tour or discuss your office space needs, contact us today!

Factoring; the key solution that many business are missing…

Liquid Capital will be hosting the next Coffee Grind on Friday July 13th from 10:30-11:30 AM. Stop by to meet the team, enjoy some refreshments and ask any business or funding questions!

 

Factoring, also known as Accounts Receivable financing, is a brilliant solution that can be underestimated by business owners. For many of them, factoring is just a last resource solution, but they are certainly missing out.

Last year, business owners worldwide used factoring solutions worth over 3 trillion dollars, from which 64% were facilities issued in Europe. North America accounted for just 4% of that amount, and most of that occurred in the United States.

Why are Canadian companies missing out on factoring?  The only explanation is prejudice and misinformation. In the modern days of fake news,  factoring is one of its victims. Often times factoring is seen as a last resort solution for their business, but the truth is,  if you are a business owner doing factoring, you are effectively and proactively taking measures to ensuring a healthy cash flow for your company. Most customers today expect that you offer generous terms for paying invoices, and the fact is, unless you are in the banking business, you need to focus your time and efforts on increasing your sales in the most effective way, instead of acting as a bank for your customers.

But what is factoring? It is no more than allowing your business to access the funds tied up in accounts receivables, and using them to your advantage. The factoring company will purchase your invoices and advance payment so that you will faster have access to the proceeds from your sales. That way you have the working capital to pay for your inventory, payroll, and all other expenses that can’t wait to get paid.

Savvy business owners could benefit more from factoring than from a traditional bank line of credit.  Factoring is a very quick and reliable solution to fast growth.  A company such as Liquid Capital, can approve your line of credit very fast, without any covenants, and can give you the possibility to borrow only when you need it. You can draw funds according to your company’s growth. Yes, you understood right, your credit limit will grow parallel to your sales. This can give your company the cash it needs, when you need it, and you could even use it to take advantage of supplier discounts, and shorten your cash cycle.

In addition to all these advantages,  factoring companies, such as Liquid Capital, will take over the collections and management of your accounts receivable, a task that may represent a headcount for your company, or if you are doing it yourself, it will free up time that you can use to grow your business.  Liquid Capital would even perform credit checks on your customers, serving as your credit department, so that you avoid the risk of non-paying customers. In fact, having a factoring facility with Liquid Capital will come hand and hand with credit insurance, which will protect you against non-payment from your customers. In addition to that, factoring is not considered credit, freeing your balance sheet from liabilities and improving the way your books look.

Businesses that qualify for factoring are generally B2B companies that have outstanding sales to dependable, credit-worthy customers. They usually invoice their clients on credit terms and have strong sales opportunities in the pipeline.

Still have doubts if factoring is for you? Feel free to contact Liquid Capital Directly at lrizopulos@liquidcapitalcorp.com, or call at 647 330 0331 for assistance!


Why choose Liquid Capital?

  • North America’s leading factoring specialists
  • We offer a customized, flexible approach with local decision-makers ready to respond quickly with funding
  • Our Liquid Capital Principals are growth strategy and funding experts.
  • Credit coverage can be included to reduce risk, time and overhead expenses
  • Funding is not dependent on your balance sheet, or time-in-business
  • Our 24-hour online reporting system gives you full access to funding status 24-7
  • No long-term contracts, hidden fees or debt
  • Keep in mind: Not all factoring entities are the same. Many are not transparent, having hidden triggers for higher rates, or contracts that make it hard to move away from a funding solution. That’s not us. Our terms are straightforward. We have built our business on building relationships fueled by trust, understanding, and capability. We are proud when our clients evolve into traditional funding relationships with banks.

 

 

Want free advice? Liquid Capital will be hosting the next Coffee Grind on Friday July 13th from 10:30-11:30 AM. Come stop by to meet the team, enjoy some refreshments and ask Liquid Capital any business or funding questions!