Thursday, March 01, 2012

Startup Canada: The Start of Something Big

Startup Canada is launching in March 2012 with one clear message:
"Entrepreneurship empowers everyone. But it is more than just a message; it’s a MOVEMENT!"

The Not Very Shy Victoria Lennox
I'm really looking forward to see what Startup Canada can do. Founded by indefatigable entrepreneur Victoria Lennox, the association is bringing together entrepreneurs and support groups to celebrate and promote the power of entrepreneurship - and clear away some the barriers that prevent entrepreneurs from flourishing in Canada.
Lennox has signed up an amazing roster of supporters, sponsors, provincial ambassadors, contributors, patrons and governors. The founding chairman is Ottawa-based Adam Chowaniec, founder of Tundra Semiconductor and former president or CEO of a host of Canadian technology companies, and one of the developers (several millennia ago) of the Amiga personal computer.

Patrons include Heather Reisman of Indigo, former Dragon W. Brett Wilson, Canada Goose’s Dani Reiss, and James Temerty, chairman of Northland Power, Canada’s entrepreneur of the year in 2010.

The support from the corporate sector has been a bit disappointing. Microsoft and Gowlings are in as platinum sponsors, but the gold and silver sponsor categories are still sadly vacant. Where are the banks, brokers, wireless carriers, insurers, suppliers, couriers, automakers and real-estate companies who have made so much money from this sector for so long?
Startup Canada has done its homework. Look at all the community partners, from Accelerate Okanagan to Newfoundland’s Genesis Centre, who have already joined the crusade:

Startup Canada is planning a national launch tour to focus all Canadians on the power of entrepreneurship. It kicks off in Halifax on March 19 and winds up in B.C. in September. More details here:
The tour will culminate in creation of a white paper on entrepreneurship to be delivered to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper. We'll see how that works out.
In the meantime, it’s empowering to see such widespread entrepreneurial passions focusing on entrepreneurship itself in this country. I think this is the start of something big.

Disclosure: I’m signed on as an “external advisor” to Startup Canada. Not sure what that means yet, but I know it will be great.


David Tran said...

We don't have a shortage of entrepreneurial spirit or ideas in Canada, we have a commercialization issue. I don't think anyone needs convincing that entrepreneurship will create jobs or is good for our community.

The real problem is Startups have no access to money to help get to them to the next level... even when they demonstrate they're building stuff people want and are willing to pay for.

Tech accelerators like Extreme Startups, Founder Fuel, and Grow Labs offer hands on mentoring to promising upstarts and groom them with the skills needed to succeed, but without a funding injection after they 'graduate', they're forced to go south of the border, or join the pack of walking dead.

Rick - given your involvement with so many entrepreneurs, what will create real wins for entrepreneurs?

Rick Spence said...

We need to create better linkages between startups and established business. We can't expect government to fund startups, and VCs add very little value in Canada.
We have to tune startups into establishing partnerships with bigger companies, whether it's Rogers or the CPR, in the hopes these will lead to profitable relationships and prompt the bigger businesses to invest.
Best of both worlds!

David Tran said...

That's a really interesting alternative. Are any organizations or companies in Canada working to match make startup and corps?

Rogers Ventures don't have much deal flow and if i'm not mistaken, they've moved their team to the valley now :(

Torstar Digital's strategy team will opt to buyout an early startup, but over the last few years only Wagjag, FoodScrooge and TravelAlerts have made the cut.