The challenges facing first-time CEOs are numerous and are rarely discussed – it’s not a job that most folks train for. We have shared several posts with practical pointers on the topic in this blog before. Below is another take from an experienced practitioner. Note from Paul: The post below was authored and submitted … Continue reading A Word (or two) to the First-Time CEO
This could be big, really BIG! For entrepreneurs and startup founders this could be a monumental change, potentially opening the floodgates onto the dry and barren land of seed funding. At the very least it should offer new options for cash-starved startups and early-stage businesses. The recently proposed (as of March 20, 2014) Ontario Securities … Continue reading Equity Crowdfunding Comes to Ontario – finally!
Years ago my very first startup had a Founders Team consisting of myself and three other colleagues who were fellow engineers with entrepreneurial ambitions. It failed miserably after 6 months of operation. One of the key reasons was that the founders were all very much alike: technical, with little business experience and big on personal … Continue reading Forming the Founders Team – Agony and Ecstasy
“When the horse is dead – dismount” is succinct practical advice sometimes attributed to the famous cavalry general Lord Mountbatten. No matter what its origin, the essence of it is clear: stop agonizing and procrastinating when something ends; the only thing left to do is to get off the horse and move on with your … Continue reading To Hang In or to Let Go? When to KILL your Startup
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you lead them, and how much you get it.“ This quotation from S. Jobs was … Continue reading Innovate, Adapt, or Die
Originally posted on Anything's Possible:
Nearly every week, I receive an email from one of our portfolio founders that reads something like: “Hey, Eric, great news! We just got out of a meeting with Dave from AwesomeVC and he loves what we’re doing. I have a good feeling he’s going to lead our Series…
There is no point in re-inventing the wheel. The existing time-proven British Columbia Equity Capital Program (BCECP) provides excellent blueprints to be adopted by the Government of Ontario following its election promises (see this post). The program provides individual investors (angels) incentives by way of a refundable tax credit when they invest in eligible small … Continue reading Angel Investment Incentives – Blueprint for Ontario
If you were an experienced hang-glider pilot could you fly a Jumbo Jet? Of course, not. Surprisingly though, some folks hesitate when asked: would the reverse be true? Actually, in my younger days I was a glider (motor-less aircraft) sports pilot. It took a lot of professional training and practice to master that skill. Later … Continue reading Start-up CEOs Attributes – Hard Lessons
Canadian high-tech has always struck me as politically naïve and immature. Perhaps it is due to the nature of engineering work requiring a bit of an introvert personality, focused on hard data and attention to details in a narrow technical field. It could be that the mantra “If you build it, they will come”, the ethos … Continue reading Impressed by Matthews and his Tech Lobbying Efforts
Paul’s Comment: There is no True or False answer to this philosophical question: “Are founding CEOs better to bet on than hired-CEOs?” It all depends on the individual and the context often riddled with conflicts and politics. But the important point is to be aware of those choices, analyze the context with circumspection and while … Continue reading Why Founders Fail: The Product CEO Paradox
It is hard to find more emotionally charged environments than at a newly forming startup. The excitement, passion, exuberance, uncertainty and fear create quite a potent mix. All of this makes the interpersonal team dynamics even more delicate than normal. Having been on both sides of this equation – as a founder and as a … Continue reading How to Survive a Startup – Tips for New Team Members
The recent phenomenon of AngelList in the US holds a promise of revolutionizing seed funding for startups. The reason for it is three-fold: it addresses the toughest stage of startups – I call it “Two guys and a piece of paper” – financing, it applies the effective principle of risk-sharing, and thanks to the recently … Continue reading How Can Canadian Startups Access AngelList?
The delicate relationships between founders and venture capitalists are rarely openly discussed and even less frequently have carefully laid down rules that protect both sides sensitive interests. Since nothing ever goes smooth in early-stage company, the reality of the situation calls to put in place measures which would allow to deal with unavoidable conflicts in … Continue reading Venture Money In, Entrepreneur Out
“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door” is a saying derived from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Apparently many take this metaphor quite literally, with more than 4,400 patents issued by the US Patent Office for new mousetraps, with thousands of more unsuccessful applicants, making mousetraps the “most frequently invented device in U.S. history”. … Continue reading Startup Math for Techies
In the exciting early days in life of a startup, when the founders team is being setup or the external investors were just landed, one of the most important legal documents that defines the rules of the game, the Shareholders Agreement, is often treated lightly or its power underestimated by the first-time founders. Having been … Continue reading Shareholders Agreement 101
Oh, the pleasures of having your ego tickled! Who is immune to that? I bet even the pope upon election cannot suppress an inner smile from having all those impressive titles bestowed upon himself. However, the trouble with startup founders is that it is so easy to ingratiate yourself with a grandiose feel-good title which often … Continue reading On the Virtues of Controlling Your Ego
Originally posted on David Cummings on Startups:
With the massive drop in cost to start a tech company, combined with successful VCs raising larger funds requiring bigger investments, there opened up an opportunity in the market for super angel / VC seed funds. In Atlanta alone we’ve seen several new funds within the past 12…
Why do so many founders in high-tech startups fail to successfully go through the corporate transitions and come out as winners at the end? A good example is the story of SiGe Semiconductor. Founded by John Roberts with 2 other cofounders back in 1996 and ultimately acquired by Skyworks in 2011 for $210M, the company went through several reincarnations with three waves … Continue reading Founders, Investors, and CEOs
There is a fierce battle going on right now in Canada’s high-tech sector, lobbying for the legislative changes in the country’s security laws to enact, so-called “crowdfunding” or “crowdsourcing” legislation, which would permit Canadian entrepreneurs to raise up to $1M for their startups in small chunks solicited (often over the Internet) from a fairly large number of individuals. What … Continue reading The battle of crowdfunding in Canada
The last two nails were hammered into the semiconductor business in Canada recently with the acquisition of GENNUM by Semtech and ZARLINK by Microsemi (both out of California). This follows the recent acqusition of SiGe Semiconductor by Skyworks and earlier TUNDRA by IDT. For all practical purposes we are left with no significant size Canada-based … Continue reading Eulogy for semiconductors in Canada
Can managers learn anything from the old fashioned tango? Isn’t this musty stuff relegated to dustbins of the previous generation and of little interest to the modern crop of today’s MBAs? In the spirit of the carnival season this post is on a lighter note. In preparation for my upcoming vacation trip to Buenos Aires … Continue reading 5 Leadership lessons from Argentine tango
Out of the 20 winners of the “CIX Top 20” competition at the recent Toronto conference (www.canadianinnovationexchange.com) there was only one, bitHeads – not exactly a young start-up, out of Ottawa this year. Most of the presenting companies were from Toronto, Waterloo or Montreal area. What’s wrong with us, guys? Here are some of my … Continue reading Ottawa start-ups suck?
“Today, the optimum financial strategy for most technology entrepreneurs is to raise money from angels and plan an early exit to a large company in just a few years for under $30 million.” That’s the essence of the message from Basil Peters’ book “Early Exits” which I have discovered for myself recently. Coming from the … Continue reading Early Exits – way to go!
Recently, the so-called Jenkins Report, “Innovation Canada: A Call to Action,” was released by the Independent Panel on Federal Support to Research and Development (R&D). Its purpose was to provide “advice in respect of the effectiveness of federal programs to support business and commercially oriented R&D, the appropriateness of the current mix and design of … Continue reading The Jenkins Report – risks for refundable SRED
Canadian Innovation Exchange (www.canadianinnovationexchange.com) taking place this year on December 1st, 2011 at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, is a cross-breed between a traditional VC Fair, a conference and a giant networking event. You can expect a mixed crowd of hungry company founders and entrepreneurs, jaded investors who have heard it all, benevolent government folks, … Continue reading CIX – you need to be there!
No matter what your personal political convictions or choices are, if you are a technology entrepreneur you need to be paying attention to what is being proposed, if anything, by the major parties in the current provincial elections in Ontario. What is at stake here is the dismal state of capital funding for high-tech startups … Continue reading Seed funding and Ontario politics
It has been with relief that many of us in the Ottawa high-tech community greeted the recent appointment of Bruce Lazenby as a President of OCRI (currently re-named Invest Ottawa). Bruce is an experienced entrepreneur, a doer, an action man, and not yet another bland bureaucrat who never took any risks, never had to worry … Continue reading OCRI Leadership
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