Category Archives: Entrepreneurs and Start-ups

Canadian securities regulators provide additional guidance on securities law implications for offerings of tokens

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CSA | Staff Notice 46-308 | June 11, 2018

Montréal  The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) today published CSA Staff Notice 46-308 Securities Law Implications for Offerings of Tokens, which provides additional guidance on the applicability of securities laws to offerings of coins or tokens, including ones that are commonly referred to as “utility tokens.”

“Since publishing initial guidance, we have engaged with numerous businesses considering token offerings and have found that most of these offerings involve securities,” said Louis Morisset, CSA Chair and President and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers. “Our notice sets out additional guidance based on situations we have seen to date and common inquiries we have received from businesses and their advisors.”

CSA Staff Notice 46-308 outlines specific situations that may have an implication on the presence of one or more of the elements of an investment contract in the context of an offering of coins or tokens.

This notice supplements the CSA’s August 2017 publication of CSA Staff Notice 46-307 Cryptocurrency Offerings, which outlines how securities law requirements may apply to initial coin offerings, initial token offerings, cryptocurrency investment funds and the cryptocurrency platforms trading these products.

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Any business planning to raise capital through an offering of coins or tokens should consider whether it involves the distribution of a security. In order to avoid costly regulatory surprises, businesses are encouraged to consult qualified securities legal counsel about the potential application of, and possible approaches required to comply with, securities legislation. Businesses should also contact their local securities regulatory authority to discuss possible flexible approaches to complying with securities laws, including time-limited exemptive relief.

The CSA Regulatory Sandbox is an initiative of the CSA to support financial technology (fintech) businesses seeking to offer innovative products, services and applications in Canada. The CSA has granted, through the CSA Regulatory Sandbox, exemptive relief from certain securities law requirements to firms in the context of offerings of coins or tokens that involve the distribution of securities, subject to conditions to ensure adequate investor protection.

CSA staff monitor cryptocurrency offerings activity and will continue to take action against businesses that do not comply with securities laws.

The CSA, the council of the securities regulators of Canada’s provinces and territories, co-ordinates and harmonizes regulation for the Canadian capital markets.

Source:  Security law implications for Offerings of Tokens

Download CSA Staff Notice 46-308 --> here

 


The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with cryptocurrency, blockchain, crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Nikola Tesla Unite to use Alianza Motorsports to Educate Race Fans on Crypto

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Race Tech Development Group | Dean Jessop | Jun 8, 2018

Nikola Tesla Unite is new to the cryptocurrency market, but cryptocurrency is not new in the minds of the founders. Working for many years to bring the concept and idea to market, NIKO Coin is set to be one of the major players in not only digital currency, but also business-to-business programs through their partnership with Alianza Motorsports.

“This is a true partnership,” explained Alianza Motorsports’ Lorne Kelly. “We are working together both on and off the track.

NIKO Coin promotion is being done on the side of our racecar, race hauler and with trackside functions and displays while we all work hand in hand to educate fellow teams, drivers and racing enthusiasts on the advantages and benefits of using digital currency.

We have had several meetings with suppliers, other team partners, series and organizations on how we can help them get in on the ground floor of the digital currency market all with the help of NIKO Coin.”

With a digital wallet offered by NIKO Coin and that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, NIKO Coin can now connect with a wider demographic of users.

See:  Highlights from FFCON18: VELOCITY – Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Alternative Investing Conference (March 5-6, Toronto)

Kelly continued, “With NIKO Coin, the general public can conduct peer-to-peer transactions and trade cryptocurrency at local NIKO Coin outlets. The whole idea seems futuristic but the writing is on the wall and we are definitely headed to a more digital society. Alianza Motorsports is happy to have this connection to cryptocurrency and we are excited to help bring it to the world of motorsports.”

“Our mission is to facilitate fundamental change in societal interactions while having a significant impact on many of the ways our world functions by building solutions that will have a profound impact on how global society interacts,” explained Dean Jessop of Nikola Tesla Unite. “

Our values of community, decentralization, and inclusion are all closely and deeply aligned with our belief in the forthcoming digital economy. A future where the people and technology will be a part of a fully liquid system open to everyone. Our group is advancing this state of technology and pushing it forward through innovative development. We are building solutions that will have a profound impact on how global society interacts. Leveraging a top-tier network of global providers, we are building an ecosystem more robust and far-reaching than anything to date.”

While the next on track action is still six weeks away, Alianza Motorsports continues to prepare for their home event at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Taking on the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix during the July 6-8 weekend, this will be the home event for team driver Anthony Simone and provide the perfect backdrop for NIKO Coin to educate potential users of cryptocurrency.

For more information on Nikola Tesla Unite and the NIKO brand of cryptocurrency, please contact Jane Anderson at 1.833.TESLA 56 or via e-mail to Media@NIKO.eco. To visit them online, please visit www.NIKO.eco. or www.nikolateslaunite.com.

Photos: Alianza Motorsports

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The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with cryptocurrency, blockchain, crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

 

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Element AI: The market is still figuring out how to share data with enterprise AI startups

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VentureBeat | | Jun 7, 2018

It’s no exaggeration to call Element AI one of the top startups in the world right now. With the help of deep learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio, the company is making AI-powered products for the enterprise. And from its beginning in October 2016, Element AI has broken the rules of what to expect from a startup.

In December 2016, Element AI was the very first company to receive funding from Microsoft Ventures. Six months later, the company raised a $102 million series A round.

Element AI has yet to release a single publicly available product, but the company is already working with customers, has opened offices in Singapore, South Korea, Toronto, and London, and already plays an advisory role to startups that receive funding from the Global AI Fund in South Korea.

At the creative tech conference C2 in Montreal last month, VentureBeat sat down with CEO Jean-François Gagné to talk about challenges enterprise customers face in implementing AI, his company’s first publicly available products, and why he believes AI is allowing startups to challenge incumbent businesses in tech and finance.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

VentureBeat: Are there any specific kinds of challenges companies encounter in terms of implementation of AI? When you come in the door of a business, what’s stopping them from implementing AI?

Gagné: We’re still all trying to figure out how the IP, data access, and learning component of the technology is going to play out. The market is currently trying to figure that out. The big dynamic that we see is all the conversations about “What piece of IP will your AI keep?”

See:  The forces of change are trumping banks and regulators

Because we totally understand that large chunks of the IP we build on top of the data of our customers is their own, but there is stuff that needs to flow back to our platform so we make the product better. And defining that has been something where we need to spend a lot of time every time educating the customers, making sure they see it’s transparent and understand what are they going to own, what are we going to own, and this is one thing that is right now a big puzzle for the industry to solve as a whole. And because we’re one of the first to really do that at scale, I think we’re opening the way there, and that’s one thing that comes to my mind.

VentureBeat: Lately I’ve heard a fair deal of companies talk about how they want to build common sense and perception into AI; it just keeps coming up as part of some evolution to go beyond narrow applications of artificial intelligence. Where do you think we’re going on that?

Gagné: So here’s the thing: Google doesn’t want to interact with the customer. They want their system to run by their own, so the way they’re approaching the problem is by wanting the assistant to have some sort of common sense and figure things out by themselves, and we have a very different opinion there. We believe in human-in-the-loop systems that are highly efficient, highly flexible, highly agile, but where people are still driving and are in control of the governance, still involved in the decision process.

You look at the work they’re doing with DeepMind and everything, where things are just going to take off by themselves eventually — and first, I don’t believe that this is going to happen anytime soon. The black box effect this creates, going down that road and all the potential downside of having people think that they don’t need to look at what’s going on, is extremely bad given the state of the industry, so I don’t think it’s the right way to go at it.

VentureBeat: They say they want to be more transparent.

Gagné: They don’t want to be evil, they want to be transparent … what matters are the actions. What are people really doing? We have to actually look at that concretely, so the way we’re going at this is really to make sure that we maximize explainability [and] transparency as we’re deploying this, to enable our customers and people who are using our tools to have the right governance on top.

So [we] invest tons of money in all the monitoring systems and explainability of the models.

There’s more effort put in this than in the models themselves, generally speaking, in whatever product we do, whatever thing we roll out, and so of course they don’t want that. They’re at the top already, so they want to make sure that they maintain that edge, so that’s why you’re hearing that from them.

More:  The Age of Artificial Intelligence in Fintech

VentureBeat: So then what should people expect from Element AI in the next six months?

Gagné: At this point it’s all about scale, like we’re literally in the bottom of the hockey stick looking to be 500 people before the end of the year, 1,000 next year, so we’re really starting to hit that phase. And then for us it’s all about repeatable deployments: successful, repeatable deployments. It’s just about repeatability, getting our cybersecurity product out there, our product for insurance, banking, and we’ve got stuff coming for logistics companies.

VentureBeat: You guys are in a bit of a different position than most companies, but do you feel like the monopoly that large companies have stifles the innovation that could be happening in the AI startup ecosystem?

Gagné: No longer, actually. I think they’re [banks] getting challenged to the point that if they don’t do something about it, they know their business is going to start to — their margins and everything are going to start to diminish, and in the financial sector it’s definitely there.

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The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with cryptocurrency, blockchain, crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Equity crowdfunding is eroding the best returns VC funds used to enjoy

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VB | | May 13, 2018

There’s been a sea change in Series A investment rounds that has been gradually – but persistently – eating away at venture capital (VC) funds’ highest-ROI category investments, and the reason it’s happening may surprise you.

According to Cooley’s VC trends, the median Series A valuation has moved up from $16.5 million to $23.0 million in just the past two years. VCs aren’t just competing for fewer early-stage deals, they’re also paying a lot more for them. Around the time that orange became the new black, seed rounds became the new Series A, with valuations doubling between 2012 and 2017, according to Pitchbook. (What used to be called seed-stage is now termed “pre-seed.”)

How we got here

You might think this is just an organic consequence of too much money chasing too few deals, especially given that the last time we saw this much VC investment was in pre-bubble 1999. Ironically, one of the most powerful changes brought about by dot-com was the democratization of angel investing in startups, taking many early stage deals off the table before VCs could get a look at them.

Based on over 30 years of raising capital, plus my own participation in the ecosystem as an angel investor for the past last 20 years, my sense is that widespread angel investor empowerment began after the dot-com bubble. By 2000 a lot of “new money” investors were minted, and only a relative few had taken enough gains off the table before the bust to be able to invest in venture capital funds. Many took to the streets, joining angel investment clubs and online communities to start sprinkling their money around on green shoots.

See:  Jan 8, 2018: Intro Presentation on Raising Equity and Funding for your Startup

As fans of the TV show Startup Junkies will recall, in 2007, my company at the time, Earth Class Mail, was faced with the dilemma of whether or not to accept a venture investment from Ignition Partners (the largest VC fund in Seattle at the time). We raised a lot of eyebrows among Silicon Valley VCs for raising $12 million in angel money, including $8.9 million from 96 Keiretsu investment club members alone (what “crowdfunding” was before it moved online). Most VCs were dismissive of the investment prowess of angel groups at the time.

Take VC money, lose control

Our concern over taking VC instead of more angel money? By investing just $6 million out of a total of $18 million, one VC would redefine the Series A term sheet, effectively take control of the board, and ultimately determine the company’s destiny.

That concern turned out to be justified. After all, we had a good thing going with an army of “brand ambassador” angel investors who helped us find customers, strategic partners, and plenty of capital. Alas, our management team was drawn to the allure of a prestigious VC investment like a moth to a burning light.

We knew that taking institutional VC with aggressive Series A preferences meant ceding control to a single concentrated investor.

Just one year later, Ignition had its own internal scandal that caused an implosion within the partnership. The shrapnel impacted many of its portfolio companies, including us. As a result of this external event, our founders, 70 percent of our employees, 140 angel investors, and three board members were kicked to the curb. The company lost its engine room and bridge in one catastrophic event, sending it into survival mode for the next five years and an eventual packaged bankruptcy designed to get only the VC’s money out when the fund reached its 10-year term.

For my next startup, I went to the fledgling AngelList platform (before they introduced deal syndication) and put our seed round together from a handful of savvy angel investors pitched over a web conference, and a F500 corporate strategic investor.

I used AngelList again with my current startup, iMovR, to raise a quick $225,000 round through the Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners syndicate in 2015. Even angel groups were beginning to lose their popularity due to the many time-consuming stages of their processes.

An exciting alternative: Equity crowdfunding

It was the JOBS Act of 2012 – creating Title III and Title IV equity crowdfunding structures – that ultimately squeezed VCs out of many of the best early-stage deals. Why? Instead of just the four percent of the population that have the income to declare themselves accredited for participating in Reg D rounds, anyone in the general public could invest in a Reg CF or Reg A+ offering.

While equity crowdfunding rounds attract large numbers of small investors, these angels become avid brand ambassadors for companies and help them generate more visibility and sales. The SEC even managed to catch some of the lightning of Kickstarter’s popularity by enabling “investor perks” as part of the security offering, now a fairly common feature of crowdfunding deals.

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Eighteen months ago, I started a spreadsheet to track dozens of crowdfunded deals to help us choose between Reg CF, Reg A+, and the new breed of “side-by-side” Reg CF/Reg D hybrid offering structures. At the beginning there were virtually no other companies at our stage of revenue ($10 million+). A study commissioned by the SEC indicated one-third of the crowdfunded companies were pre-revenue, and the majority had generated under $1 million in sales. Issuers were often first-time entrepreneurs.

Remarkably, in recent months there have been numerous Reg A+ and side-by-side rounds issued by companies with $5 million-$15 million in revenues-to-date and led by seasoned entrepreneurs who clearly had the connections and track records to raise traditional VC. In interviewing some of these CEOs I sensed many of them chose this path after having similar challenges with VCs in their prior ventures.

Many angel investors have startup experiences of their own and have seen first-hand how some VCs can push perfectly good companies to exit too fast or for valuations that advantage the VCs over all other stakeholders. They also recognize that investing directly into companies means they get to pocket the fund expenses and 20 percent profits interest that are deducted before winnings are shared with limited partners.

Continue to the full article --> here

 


The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with cryptocurrency, blockchain, crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry.  Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE!  Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit:  www.ncfacanada.org

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A Focus on the Future: How to Run a Forward-Thinking, Profitable Business

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May 24, 2018

Many brands claim to be forward-thinking, but few fail to formalize the practice in their business, which can reduce their profitability. If you want to embody the word, you must strive to proactively look to the future to increase your revenue and grow your company. Learn how to run a forward-thinking business.

Hire a Technology Scout

Companies serious about competing with their competitors and satisfying their customers must hire a technology scout. It is their job to identify the best-emerging technologies that can be applied to your business, which can improve the customer experience, streamline internal processes, and increase business profitability. If you do not have a big budget to hire a technology scout, identify if an employee who has a technical background and can make recommendations for the business.

Alter Your Perception of Demographics

If you want to connect with modern consumers, you must change your tactics when targeting audiences. Changing lifestyles have ultimately led to a blurring of demographics. So, rather than targeting people by their age, gender, location, or salary, you must tap into their values, aspirations, and lifestyles. You can find more about how to target new demographics with Sage’s advice in here.

Conduct Annual Scenario Planning

Prevention is always better than cure, which is why you should conduct annual scenario planning. Asking “what if?” for a range of realistic problems in the future can prevent them from becoming a reality, or could help the business to quickly bounce back from a disaster. There are multiple scenarios your business should consider that involve financial issues, PR disasters, data breaches, global economic environment, political problems, product availability, and industry changes.

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Review the Past

If you want your business to enjoy a profitable future, you must review your company’s past to identify productivity problems, internal mistakes, or poor marketing campaigns. You could also learn from a successful campaign or can utilize past data to strengthen your company.

Dare to be Different from Your Rivals

If you want to capture your audience’s attention and set your business apart from your rivals, you must be prepared to take risks. This means embarking on a new idea or process, which could improve brand awareness, profitability, and growth. Not every risk will pay off, but you simply need to learn from the mistake and try again.

Read As Much as Possible

If you want to develop a forward-thinking mindset, you must read as much as possible, so there is always substance behind your thoughts and ideas. Read industry books and articles will help you to easily spot emerging trends, and you can learn from others’ mistakes to ensure your company’s success. The more knowledgeable you are about your industry, the easier it will be to pitch a new process, technology, or vision to board members, management, and shareholders.

Share Your Vision with Your Team

It’s imperative that every member of the team is working towards the same goals, so the business can quickly and easily reach its vision. Encourage your staff to offer their ideas and opinions to create a more creative, visionary business, which will make your team feel excited to be apart of the company’s future.

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The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with cryptocurrency, blockchain, crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry.  Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE!  Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit:  www.ncfacanada.org

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How To Start a Startup: 10 Steps to Launch

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Startups.ca | Wil Schroter | May 18, 2018

Serial entrepreneur and Startups.co founder and CEO Wil Schroter walks you through 10 steps for starting a startup, and explains why it isn't just about opening your doors or launching a website.

Starting a startup isn’t just about opening your doors or launching your website. Long before that happens, it’s about planning to launch.

There’s a real art form in the planning, and those who have launched a lot of startups — as we have — approach launching a new idea very differently from someone who’s just taking on their first startup.

Simply put — we emphasize spending as little time as possible on chasing ideas that may not work. We’re nuts about efficiency.

We know that time is both our friend and our greatest enemy. And we do everything we can to protect our time so it’s spent in the most efficient way possible.

So what does that actually look like? Here are 10 steps to launching a startup, from someone who’s been there (a few times).

 

1. Identify the Problem — Not the Solution

We all get enamored with brilliant solutions: “Wouldn’t it be great if…” is the mantra of every new startup. But it’s much more important to articulate the problem than the solution right now.

For example, the solution might be that Netflix delivers movies on any device for $15 per month.

But the problem is far more important: Cable is too expensive. Broadcast television severely limits your choices of what you can watch.

See:  Meet The Female Entrepreneur Who Raised Over $3 Million From Crowdfunding, Not VCs

People are now using mobile devices, as opposed to their TVs, to consume content, so multi-form factor output is important. All of these concerns should form the basis of what your solution will ultimately become.

The solution can change over time as you get more familiar with the problem, but spending some serious time articulating the core problem will help guide your efforts around everything from marketing to product development — at every step of the way.

It’s the North Star of a startup.

2. Conduct Basic Research

Before you lift a finger or talk to anyone about your idea, research the hell out of it online. Every minute you invest in researching online saves you 10 minutes of building your startup blindly, only to find out out that customers are flocking to a different solution to the problem you’re solving.

Don’t limit your research to “Is there another company doing the exact same thing?” There may not be.

Instead, focus on “Where can I find examples of how people are solving this problem in a different way?”

People were watching plenty of movies before Netflix. So it’s not like the problem of watching movies wasn’t already being solved in different ways.

Find out what customers spend on the problem now. Read online reviews to find out if they’re happy about it.

You’re building a picture of how the problem you’re solving is currently being solved — and where the holes are — so you can start to formulate the best possible product.

3. Interview Experts

Nine times out of ten, the answer you’re seeking already exists in someone’s head. Often that head belongs to someone who’s worked in some version of your industry before.

If you’re Netflix founder Reed Hastings, you’d be interviewing people who worked at the highest levels of Blockbuster, HBO, Time Warner Cable, or major studios.

You want to find out why the existing solutions don’t seem to be working as they should. You want to hear their war stories and learn from them, instead of having to learn the hard way yourself.

If you’re nervous about approaching an expert — who may be someone you’ve looked up to for years — I have a pro tip: You’d be shocked at how willing people are to help.

Nothing gets an industry expert talking like asking questions about the world they’ve lived in for so long. Reach out to strangers and ask hard questions. Go deep on interviews.

Think of every question you get answered from an expert as a shortcut to an entire lifetime of experience you don’t have to gain from scratch.

4. Develop a Product Concept

Long before you actually start working on the actual product, you need a product concept.

This is the story you would tell a prospective customer about what the product will be some day. You need to give it as much detail as possible, without actually having the product.

Reed at Netflix would say “Imagine you could open your Web browser and instantly access thousands of movies and TV shows whenever you wanted them, on any device.”

See:

He’d go on to explain how you could watch entire seasons of shows, jump from one device to the other while watching the same show, and all the other wonderful features that Netflix boasts.

Your product concept is critical. It’s what you’ll share and refine a million times before you start spending actual cycles building the real thing.

Functionally, it can be anything from a paragraph text description to concept sketches to a PowerPoint presentation.

What’s important is that it paints a picture that potential customers can react to.

5. Get Beta Users

Beta users are your very first customers. In some cases, they’re customers before you have “real” customers.

They’re the people who are willing to try your stuff out when anyone else wouldn’t even think about it. They are your early adopters.

You don’t have to wait until you have a product to get beta users. You can start by identifying those who would be a likely customer (not just your roommate who happens to be sitting next to you on the couch).

You can begin with your product concept and eventually transition to your actual product later on.

What’s important now is that you identify these users and keep learning from them as you refine the product.

It doesn’t have to be a massive group — it could be  five to 10 people — but you have to keep presenting your idea to them until it clicks.


 


The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with cryptocurrency, blockchain, crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry.  Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE!  Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit:  www.ncfacanada.org

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