Startup Canada recently hosted a townhall in Calgary as a part of their six-month National Tour to celebrate and inspire entrepreneurship across the country. The highlight of the event was an interactive workshop, Funding Your Startup, where entrepreneurs asked four panelists how to secure capital for their ventures.
The panelists were:
Gary Ziegler, CEO at eThor which won the title of the most innovate startup in the world
Henry Kutarna, AB Deal Generator, Alberta-based angel investment group
Harold Fast, Business Development Bank of Canada
Alex Popa, Partner at Boast Capital, Alberta-based SR&ED consulting firm, and Plug and Play Accelerator Canada, a tech incubator that connects Canadian entrepreneurs to investors and mentors in Silicon Valley
Some of the key takeaways from the workshop were:
- You have to put skin in the game i.e. put your own money in. Investors and lenders need to see that if your business fails, you’ll be bankrupt, and so you will do everything you can to make this a success.
- Investors are looking for a strong team with integrity that can work together and execute.
- Every investor knows that your business is going to change as you grow. They want to know that you’re willing to adapt and take advice from experts and surround yourself with a strong advisory board.
- Entrepreneurs must adapt to the needs of lenders and investors, not the other way around
- The key to tapping bank funds is a strong personal credit record. Banks only lend to businesses that are already performing. When you get a loan, your first interest payment is due in 30 days. You have to be that close to making a profit.
- If angel investors aren’t willing to fund your startup, some may be willing to finance your receivables, a service known as factoring.
- Have your financial reporting in order, even if it’s just a P&L. It’s important to keep track of things. Consider a month-by-month cash flow forecast to demonstrate how the cash will flow in and out of your business.
- There are several government grants and incentives that entrepreneurs can leverage, including: SR&ED, IRAP, AITF, AVAC, MITACS.
The Startup Canada Calgary Town Hall also introduced new ideas to the Startup Canada portfolio of community-backed projects:
- UnBanked positioned the development of a micro seed fund that would provide small-scale investments to local businesses to help them address practical business challenges. The group indicated that initially they would look to raise around $200,000 in seed capital, which would then be provided to an investment group, and the money generated through interest or returns would be available for investment into local businesses.
- Who Moved Our Mouse proposed a provincial/national entrepreneurial webinar series where successful entrepreneurs and notable investors would teach upcoming entrepreneurs how to raise business startup capital from friends, family, fools, and other investors.
- Risk is Good proposed an entrepreneur-to-big-business connection platform to create valuable partnerships between skilled new entrepreneurs and medium to large scale companies looking to secure specialized advice, technology support, or business services.
- IM Harmony proposed a mentor matching service to connect new entrepreneurial immigrants in Canada to seasoned local entrepreneurs in their area.
- Mentor Link proposed a mentor platform to identify specific business areas where help is required and secure appropriate mentors.
- Canadian Startup Venture Fund proposed a fund that would secure capital from Canadians through crowdfunding and hire an experienced fund manager to help invest exclusively in small Canadian startups.
Overall, the Calgary Town Hall was a great platform for entrepreneurs to share their challenges, exchange ideas and get feedback. We look forward to the next one.