Enterprise Toronto conducts its Morning Seminars Series for small businesses in July & August

Topics: Financing Options for Your Business; WordPress – the Perfect Website Solution for Small Businesses; Building a Small Business Benefit Plan; Self-employment and Entrepreneurship for the Boomer Generation; Legal Issues in Small Business, etc.
Learn the tools and resources you will need to forge ahead in your business. Admission is FREE but registration is required at www.toronto.ca/enterprisetoronto or telephone at (416) 395-7416.

International Innovation Conference at the University of Waterloo

On July 10-11, 2013, the International Conference on Innovation was held in Waterloo, ON.

One of the conference organizers was CERBA – Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association. The main topic of the conference was creation and growth of small and medium innovation businesses with international focus at large science hubs. The purpose of the conference was to promote innovation among youth and to stimulate productive collaboration among scientific&educational institutions and industrial  enterprises, development of professional collaboration and international cooperation, and creation of an open environment for cooperation, education and knowledge exchange.

The first day of the conference included three  sessions:

1: Commercialization of Innovations Projects in the Global Market: Challenges and Perspectives
2: The Economics of Leadership and Innovation
3: Innovation Journey: Path to success.

The fourth session (on the next day) was on academia and industry collaboration.

The speakers were renowned educators, scientists, CEOs, heads of research centers, government representatives, embassy officials etc. Some of the keynote speakers were: George Wright, Director, Global Industrial Partnerships, Office of Research, University of Waterloo; Peter Molnar, Advisor, International Research Collaborations, Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, and Employment, Ministry of Research and Innovation; Emil Strumban, Director, Multinational Startups, International Centre for Innovative Technology Transfer; Alina Pekarsky, President, Sci-Tech Ventures Associates; Senior Account Executive, Russia & CIS Programs, Schulich Executive Education Centre, York University; Irina Muhina, Managing Director, Manulife Asset Management Centre; Cedric Jeannot, CEO, I Think Security, and many others.

Here is what Peter Braid, MP, Kitchener-Waterloo said during his welcome remarks: “Waterloo Region is well-known as a centre of technology and innovation. Our first-rate universities and research institutions attract bright young minds that are generating new and exciting discoveries that will change the world. At the same time, our supportive ecosystem helps to channel this creativity towards economic opportunities that will ensure a prosperous future”.

The audience wanted to learn more about the Canadian Foreign Investments regulations and how Canada provides incentives to the foreign investors from different industries. The panelists explained that Canada has a decentralized approach between Federal and Provincial Government having differing strategies when it comes to attracting foreign investments and the related regulations. Moreover, they noted that the government at various levels provides tailor made incentive packages to each individual FDI project. The Canadian government is focused on creating an innovative commercially-dynamic and entrepreneurial-friendly business climate which will attract more FDIs. The country doesn’t offer specialized incentives to foreign investors, however they have a strategy to stimulate investments in innovative industries.

The advice that the speakers gave to the entrepreneurs is to never go alone, instead they should seek technological soulmates. Stay persistent; don’t expect too much help from the government. On the other side, students should be encouraged to implement their ideas and find professors who will continuously support and motivate them. And, most importantly, students were advised to create a great network of professionals around themselves in order to realize their goals more efficiently.

After the end of the conference, the attendees were taken for a tour in the Communitech hub, an innovation hub where industry leaders, startups, and students come together.

Communitech outside
Velocity
They were told a success story of Bufferbox, an innovative and successful startup based in the Hub.
BufferboxBufferBox Inc. is a Canadian startup company from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada co-founded by Jay Shah, Aditya Bali, and Mike McCauley. It is a service offering users a temporary parcel pickup station for packages ordered online. After conducting a pilot trial at the University of Waterloo, the service began spreading to various locations in the Greater Toronto Area. A deal was announced in early November 2012 to install kiosks at GO Transit stations.
In 2012 BufferBox had been acquired by Google for more than $25 million. The acquisition is seen as a step to compete with Amazon’s Locker service.

Virtualreality A demonstration of virtual reality environment (created by a company member of the Hub) for the conference attendees.

MaRS Introduces the impact 8 venture bootcamp

With a view to boosting the investment pipeline and accelerating innovative, sustainable solutions to social and environmental challenges, the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is launching a new initiative—impact 8—to fast-track social ventures to a greater stage of investment readiness, help them attract financing and scale their impact.

The impact 8 venture bootcamp targets high-impact entrepreneurs with blended value propositions: social enterprises, social purpose businesses and co-operatives with the potential to turn investment into positive social or environmental impact and financial returns

Impact 8 provides:

  • Skills development
  • Advisory services
  • Mentorship
  • Expanded networks
  • Peer learning
  • Opportunities to pitch to impact investors

The eight-week program is intensive yet flexible, consisting of two days of on-site workshops bi-weekly, select guests speaker and networking events, online programming and one-to-one meetings with mentors and expert advisors.

More details here

APPLY HERE BEFORE JULY 12, 2013

Long time no write

Just realised it’s been over 6 months since the last time I posted here.

Nothing special happened in the meantime, except that my elder son has been accepted to a master program in Carnegie Mellon and I am taking him there in early August. I am very happy and proud.

Yesterday I’ve been to Camaraderie  [re]Launch Party. Camaraderie is a coworking space that used to be in the east part of the Toronto downtown. Now they have moved to a nice place on Roncesvalles, just a few minutes’ walk from Dundas West subway station. Here’s their website: http://camaraderie.ca. They have a nice collection of books on business on premises (together with a coffee-maker and other things vital for business), and, since I am moving into a smaller apartment, I decided to donate my collection of business books to them. However my hoarding instinct cannot tolerate me parting with the books, so maybe I should give each of them one final reading and review them here. Stay with me for updates on great books such as The Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt.

 

(Almost New Year) resolution

Talked to Ian G. today at Joey de Villa‘s birthday (Joey, thanks again for the great party!). Ian recommended this book titled Get Clients Now!
 It’s a 28-days actionable marketing program for professionals, consultants and coaches. So Ian and I decided to have something like a contest – each of us will follow the book and blog about it, and, of course we will exchange our impressions and basically help each other stay on the bandwagon. I have just ordered the book from the Toronto public library. I write here about it as an additional motivation. Shame on me if I don’t do the entire program! In this case, any of you may say that I don’t really fulfill my promises! 

P.S. Ian G. recommended this excellent one hour podcast (targeted at Rails consultants but broadly applicable) talking about Get Clients Now! and some other good books about consulting business development.
http://rubyfreelancers.com/the-ruby-freelancers-show-035-book-picks/

Maker to Making a Living

Maker to Making a Living is a workshop series designed to guide crafts-people through the process of under-standing, designing and building their individual businesses. CraftSmarts are the Ontario Crafts Council’s year-round series of professional development workshops. The program focuses on fostering the skills required to be successful as a small business owner, as an exhibitor, and overall, as a maker that needs to ‘make it’ in the greater cultural community.
Led by maker and award winning business leader Jacqueline Sava, attendees will be guided through an eight-part series of lectures, exercises and activities focused on the development of their own craft-based business practices.
For OCTOBER 2012 dates, please visit: http://www.craft.on.ca/Programs/CraftSmarts#making

Pan Am Toronto 2015 – information for would-be vendors

Learn more about business opportunities with the Pan Am Toronto 2015 games at http://www.toronto2015.org/. $300 million will be spent on suppliers ranging from cleaning, uniforms, food and furnishings, etc. There are opportunities for suppliers
Involvement resulting in a greater impact in the games. Learn how to apply for procurement opportunities at http://bit.ly/qGBk53.

2012 YOU Innovate Canada Tournament Deadline for sign up: October 15, 2012

The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) is pleased to announce that the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), has announced the YOU Innovate Canada secret everyday household object in Ottawa and already generating a lot of social media buzz. The 2012 YOU Innovate Canada tournament object is……an egg carton.
Participants are asked to turn an egg carton into something valuable for the chance to win a share of $10,000 in cash awards and a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil to attend the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Congress. Winners will be announced during Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 12-18, 2012. Full details can be found on the website: www.cybf.ca/youinnovate
Sign up for the tournament today at:  https://yitc.myreviewroom.com

Launch your Start-Up! A new program that teaches business skills and gives $30,000 of seed capital

If you are an entrepreneur with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics in Southern Ontario, and are looking for business support services and financing to successfully launch and manage your start-up business, VentureStart is an ideal opportunity you should explore.
VentureStart is a new program that enhances the success rate of start-up enterprises by providing essential business training for technology entrepreneurs. Plus, your start-up enterprise has the opportunity to be approved for matching seed financing of up to $30,000 (subject to approval).
See details on www.venturestart.ca

How to have a business website for (almost) free

A friend of mine asked today how people who start a business get a website for that. I decided that it might interest other people too, hence this post.

You do the following:

1. Decide on a domain name. It must be short, sweet, easily recognizable and easy to remember. It must attract customers and be informative. For example, my website for tax credit consulting business has the domain name sred4you.com (SR&ED is one of the main technology-related tax credit programs in Canada). Another of my business sites is getyourmessageacross.com. Don’t call your website “mynews.com”, because no one is interested in your news. Call it “yournews.com”. It should be about your customer, not your own good self.
There are other considerations. A .com domain is more expensive but looks better. If you want a .ca domain, you will have to register with CIRA (it is free and very easy, you basically just need to confirm that you live or do business in Canada). .org domains are good for non-profit organizations. If your business is related to IT, you can get an .it domain which is cheaper than .com and you don’t have to live in Italy to register it.
2. Go to a website that sells domains (I went to godaddy.com but people tell me there are better ones) and check whether your domain name is already taken. It probably is – pretty much all the one-word domains already are. In this case you can either invent another domain name or try to buy your original one from whoever got there first. Some people buy domain names or even all the possible 4-letter acronyms hoping that one of these will be in high demand (like, for example, MSDN or AIDS) and they will make a profit. Your second-level domain name (this is the ABCD part in ABCD.com) may be available with another first-level domain, e.g. ABCD.org instead of ABCD.com. Sometimes, if your domain name is not available, the registrar site will offer you variations, like precisionABCD.com instead of ABCD.com. Don’t go for  that. Everybody knows this trick, and someone with the precisionXXXX.com domain name will appear a) cheap, b) lazy, c) devoid of imagination, and d) prone to choose the least resistance path. That is, unless your business really deals with precision machinery or something. What you can do is search the available domain names for your keywords right there on the registrar’s site: if you are going to be in patent research business, for example, you may search for “patent” and find out that “fastpatentsearch.com” or “thebestpatent.com” are not taken and can be yours.

3. Pay for the domain name. It will cost you somewhere between 10 and 20 dollars per year. While you are paying, the registrar site will probably offer you to buy their hosting (for just $20 a month) and their services for website development (just another $15-20 per month). Don’t do that. In a minute I am going to tell you how you can have free hosting and develop your site for free which will save you about $600 per year.

3a. Never ever be late with the annual payment for your domain name. Once you fail to pay, the name is up for grabs, even if it is your own brand name or something. Anyone can buy it and will have no obligations to return it. This happened to Microsoft when it forgot to renew hotmail.co.uk (I am not kidding!)

4. Go to a blogging platform (either blogger.com or wordpress.com) and start a blog. The URL for it will be something like mynewblog.blogspot (or wordpress, or whatever).com. Add a few pages and a few articles (the difference is that a page is pretty much like a page on any other site, while new articles are added from the top to one and the same page which looks like a blog we are all used to see). Honestly, it is not difficult at all. Anyone can blog. Now play with various “skins”/appearances. There are lots and lots of them available for free. You can select a serious theme or a frilly one, dark blue or magenta colour schema, a two-columns or three-columns layout, a header to which you can add any image you like, etc. The “blog” page is by default the main page of your site (yes, you almost have a site now!)  but if you like you can make another, stationary, page the main one.

5. Now go to your blog’s settings and set up redirection of your blog name to your domain name (johnsmith.blogspot.com must redirect to yourchosendomainname.com or whatever your newly bought domain name is). Blogspot allows you to do that for free, WordPress will charge a small amount of money per annum. Both of my sites, sred4you.com and getyourmessageacross.com, are on Blogspot. When setting up the redirection, if you are on Blogspot too, don’t forget to check the “add www in front of the URL” flag, otherwise the URL would not redirect to your website. (I.e. http://www.sred4you.com would work, but just sred4you.com would not.)

6. Wait a little (up to 24 hours) until all the domain name servers on the Internet get wind of your new domain name. Now you can type http://www.yourpreciousdomain.com in the browser address line and actually get to your website! Indeed, you have a website now!

7. To further customise the layout, you can add widgets (they are just building blocks of text, basically) with any text you like or content from other sites. For example, my blog that you see now has a widget that displays my tweets from Twitter and another that displays my books from Goodread. No programming was required – you just go to the Appearance/Layout view and drag and drop the widgets you like to the site layout.

8. You will see ads on both sides on this article in my blog. Don’t have ads in your business website. Your business website should advertise only one thing, and that’s your business.

9. If you are very serious about all that, you can buy hosting and create a standalone site using one of the platforms available for free, e.g. WordPress I already mentioned, or Drupal. WordPress is a fully fledged content management system (CMS, for short) by now. Drupal is also available for free and very easy to manage. This site (it belongs to our church parish) was made in Drupal.If you can program (even a little), you can do many wondrous and beautiful things with Drupal.

Now your website is ready, don’t forget to add its name to your business cards! Good luck!

Another of my  articles about media needs of a startup business with a small budget