Category Archives: Entrepreneurs and Start-ups

Women-Focused Crowdfunding Platform Is Accepting Its First Cohort Seeking Capital

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Brick City Live | August 16, 2017

A new women-focused crowdfunding platform has just launched in Newark and is accepting businesses into its inaugural cohort.

iFundWomen is a crowdfunding platform specifically designed to help women entrepreneurs secure funding for their small businesses and startups.

The new platform is looking to set women-led businesses vying for crowdfunding dollars up for success by vetting prospective funding recipients, who must enter their business by September 21st. According to the iFundWomen Newark webpage, an iFundWomen coach will contact applicants soon after they submit their applications.

Entries will then be evaluated by a team at iFundWomen for a spot in the crowdfunding platform’s first cohort in the Greater Newark area. Businesses that are accepted into the cohort will receive one-on-one coaching in business, crowdfunding and video production services to help them launch successful campaigns that meet their funding goals.

“Women are starting businesses at two times the rate of men, and operate with only half of the working capital, so it’s critical that we partner and mobilize our collective resources to help close the female funding gap,” said iFundWomen CEO Karen Cahn, according to a statement about the local launch

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While crowdfunding campaigns have become a popular way for entrepreneurs and small business owners to raise money for projects and businesses, people sometimes underestimate the investment in time, planning, marketing and reward managing necessary for launching and operating campaign that reaches its goal. iFundWomen Newark will help selected projects and businesses execute the necessary preliminary work for launching a successful campaign, and for managing it during its run.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Indiegogo’s New Hub for Entrepreneurs Is an Important Reminder to Us All

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Entrepreneur | Entrepreneur Staff | August 7, 2017

Indiegogo announced last week it’s getting into the content marketing game. The crowdfunding site has launched an education center and experts directory specifically catered to entrepreneurs. Of course, the company isn’t alone in these efforts, but still, there’s a savvy reason you should pay attention.

Indiegogo doesn’t just want entrepreneurs -- it wants entrepreneurs before they have a business to promote or a product to sell. The project is an important reminder that content marketing, done right, can develop trust with a customer base before its members realize they are even potential clients.

See: Indiegogo Founder Slava Rubin Talks Equity Crowdfunding on Reg CF Anniversary

According to marketing firm Conductor, customers are 131 percent "more likely to buy from a brand immediately after they consume early-stage, educational content." Its study also found users who read content trusted brands more. Companies that post at least 11 pieces of content a month also saw three times more traffic and four times more leads than those who didn't, according to Hubspot.

Indiegogo’s articles aren’t intended as just a branding effort, sharing company info or staff stories, like the blogs produced by Kickstarter and Crowdfunder, two of Indiegogo’s main competitors. Instead, the articles on Indiegogo’s education center are designed to lead to more informed users and therefore more successful campaigns, thus boosting the platform's bottom line.

"As more entrepreneur ideas are successful, more backers choose to be part of the Indiegogo community and more entrepreneurs choose Indiegogo as a platform because they see the the many ways Indiegogo can help them," Indiegogo CEO David Mandelbrot told Entrepreneur. "We have learned that entrepreneurs launch their projects with the best of intentions but often can use expertise or partners at key points in their journeys to succeed."

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Dubai Regulations for Crowdfunding: Issuers May Raise Up To $5 Million

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CrowdfundInsider | By JD Alois | August 1, 2017

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) announced the enactment of a regulatory regime designed to engender a robust crowdfunding ecosystem for the country. The new regulations are part of a strategy to foster an innovation driven economy. Empowering entrepreneurs and startups by providing the access to capital they must have. DFSA specifically pointed to the importance of small business to the local economy.

But what is hidden in the crowdfunding rules? First of all, the new rules are designed to regulate both debt and equity crowdfunding offers. As in the UK, crowdfunding is a blanket term that includes peer to peer lending platforms

As for the specifics of the rules, you may view them here. A DFSA representative guided us to this section of their web site and indicated that Appendixes 1 through 7 includes the details of the new rules.

At a high level, crowdfunding offers are capped at $5 million. This is in line with the UK but far higher than Reg CF in the US. But then Dubai has crafted a single regime, more in line with the UK. You may view how Dubai defines an exempt offering here.

See: Why crowdfunding appeals to the Middle East

As for investor limits, a retail investor may lend nor more than $5000 to a single borrower. In any given calendar year, an investor may lend in total $50,000.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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500 Canada to shut down fund investments following Dave McClure scandal

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Betakit |

In a letter sent to portfolio founders, 500 Canada’s managing partners have announced the decision to terminate the fund’s investment period.

The letter, obtained by BetaKit, states that 500 Canada was in the process of securing $25 million in “imminent commitments” from Canadian institutional LPs. However, the recent allegations of 500 Startups founder Dave McClure’s sexual misconduct, and subsequent resignation, essentially torpedoed the fund’s investment goals. BetaKit has received confirmation of the decision by 500 Canada but no official comment.

In late June, several women entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley came forward to the New York Times, claiming that McClure had made inappropriate advances and comments towards them. He eventually resigned as GP of the firm he founded a few days later.

According to one source with knowledge of the situation, the investments were on hold as long as “$1 of profit still went to McClure.”

According to 500 Canada’s managing partners, each of the target LPs informed the fund they would not make an investment if McClure continued to exercise any form of control or receive economic benefit from the Canada Fund (McClure is both a member of 500 Canada’s investment committee and on the board of directors for Canada Fund).

According to one source with knowledge of the situation, the investments were on hold as long as “$1 of profit still went to McClure.”

While beginning the process of removing McClure from those roles, 500 Canada also entered a renegotiation of its relationship with 500 Startups. Sources indicated that the current relationship with the organization meant that 500 Startups set direction on 500 Canada’s operational budget, received a percentage of profits from Canada Fund, as well as other forms of control. 500 Canada was unable to reach an agreement with 500 Startups regarding independence and a revised monetary relationship, so the decision was made to axe the fund. Arguments between the two organizations are ongoing as decisions are made regarding spinning down the fund (e.g. if and how investors into the Canada Fund get cash back).

See:  For Canada’s tech to thrive, startups must grow up

As part of the termination of the fund’s investment period, 500 Canada will make no follow-on investments to the 38 portfolio companies it has invested or committed to invest in, but states it will continue efforts to support their future fundraising. The fund will be making no new investments and no new calls for capital.

500 Startups first announced its intention to launch a Canada-focused venture arm in March 2016 to much fanfare, led by Simply Audiobooks founder Sanjay Singhal. The firm would later announce associates with footprints in Toronto, Waterloo, Calgary, and Montreal.

By January 2017, the fund closed $15 million towards its $30 million goal from investors including Globalive Capital, W Investments, and TWG. The 500 Canada team has made co-investments in companies like AmpMe, Avidbots, Element.AI, Mejuri, Motorleaf, and Synervoz.

Additional information obtained by BetaKit provides further clarity as to how 500 Canada will spin down the Canada Fund. Expecting the official termination of Canada Fund’s investment period by end of September, 500 Canada will make keep on a reduced staff to manage investments (no decisions have been made at this time on who will manage wind-down). Management fees will also be reduced.

“It sucks for 38 Canadian startups. Each of them have 500k+ cheques to worry about on their next raises.”

While interest in the fund is not redeemable, 500 Canada is willing to buy back any interested LP at cost. With no active manager for new investments, 500 Canada will not accept increased commitments or contributions from LPs to support the existing portfolio.

See:  Canada’s fintech adoption rate doubles in18 months; yet ranks 18th of 20 countries in EY Global Adoption Index

Overall performance for Canada Fund as it stands is expected to be positive per current performance reports (a new report is expected in August).

It is undetermined at this time if the 500 Canada leadership team will pursue a new fund following the termination of Canada Fund. Speaking on background to both 500 Canada employees and portfolio startups, the general consensus seems to be extreme disappointment caused by bad decisions, bad timing, and a (potentially) missed opportunity.

“It’s sad it’s come to this,” said one 500 Canada member, who stated that the relationship with 500 Startups remained tense but cordial. “I’m pretty pissed at Dave, but there’s no animosity [with 500 Startups].” The person indicated that the organization believed internally that McClure’s actions and subsequent extrication would slow the fund, not torpedo it.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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5 Real-Life Lessons About Crowdfunding

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VictoriaEcommerce | Guest Post by Victoria Greene | July 28, 2017

Image credit: unsplash

Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to get a business noticed by potentially millions of people. With a successful crowdfunding campaign you can build anticipation for a new product launch, promote a good cause and spread awareness of societal issues, and advertise a company’s existing offerings to bring in more publicity and sales. There are thousands of companies that owe everything to the crowdfunding campaign that started them off. Here are five real-life lessons about crowdfunding learned from the successes of others.

How To Demonstrate Market Value

The rise in popularity of sites like AngelList have brought crowdfunding to the mainstream. In fact, many angel investors and venture capitalists see a notable crowdfunding campaign as evidence that a product has value in the eyes of the general public.

Initially, businesses like CareGuide attracted a lot of public attention on equity crowdfunding sites because the service provided a lot of value to people looking for carers. By opening up to equity crowdfunding, founder John Philip Green could attract further investment from smaller investors looking to put in sums from $25,000 to $50,000.

In an interview, Green told Globe and Mail that equity crowdfunding democratizes the investment process, giving smaller investors and companies the means to grow faster.

How To Bypass Conventional Lenders

If you have a great idea for an invention or business venture, but no previous experience in running a successful business, it can be very hard to approach conventional banks for the funding you need to get your ideas off the ground.

Jamil Kahn, founder of Smart Parka, invented a coat with gloves and a scarf attached. But he faced the very same problem when trying to secure conventional routes of funding from banks. With no previous trading history, lenders saw his business idea as too much of a risk.

However, by uploading a video of his friends modeling the coat, he was able to raise over $3.28 million through crowdfunding sites.

As one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns of all time, he was able to pre-sell many of his Smart Parkas for $300 each.

See:  Crowdfunding raises a roof:  Tips for newbie Crowdfunders

How To Attract Masses Of Media Attention

Crowdfunding platforms allow brands to promote their products before going to launch, attracting lots of attention before going to market.

Within 16 days of starting her KickStarter campaign for her luxury lingerie brand, Stefanie Mnayarji had exceeded her initial target of raising $10,000 by 220%. In fact, her brand Luxxie Boston attracted a huge following among women who were looking for high quality, supportive underwear. Thanks to the site, she was able to raise enough money to continue business operations for the next few years, allowing her to concentrate on building publicity.

How To Maximize Business Expansion When The Time Is Right

In its decision to sell 5.5 million business shares, Ottawa-based company Shopify has become one of Canada’s most successful companies, worth over $1 billion since its launch in 2006.

The site shows you how to open a online store and manage much of it yourself with little previous experience. To promote rapid business growth, its company bosses decided earlier this year to sell a record number of shares. This allowed them to invest in marketing and new business acquisitions to keep the brand name strong. In fact, Shopify’s Head of Investor Relations, Katie Keita, revealed that this attempt to strengthen their balance sheet will result in the company returning to profitable status towards the end of 2017.

How To Build A Better Local Community

Small businesses form the backbone of a society’s prosperity. As smaller businesses grow, they provide jobs, acquire new assets, and eventually start investing in other small businesses.

From a nonprofit perspective too, crowdfunding allows the public to take more of an interest in local community development and invest in projects that mean a lot to them. In Liverpool, UK, civic crowdfunding platform Spacehive raised £40,000 to pay for a park to be built on an abandoned flyover in the city center.

Related: Cities Using Crowdfunding For Community Projects

Crowdfunding is quickly becoming a business funding favorite for company bosses who may be looking to plug the gaps in their working capital. Your ability to successfully raise money through a Fintech platform hinges on your ability to market your brand effectively.

For businesses that are just starting out, who may not be in the position to approach conventional lenders, equity crowdfunding provides a great alternative. In some cases, crowdfunding can provide you with unimaginable figures of investment funds for growth.

Victoria Greene is a freelance writer and brand consultant. She blogs at VictoriaEcommerce and loves to share tips for growing businesses looking to make the most out of the digital marketplace.

 


The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

 

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LAST CHANCE: CIX Top 20 Showcase Deadline in 3 days! Apply Today

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CIX | Lauren Linton | Jul 27, 2017

CIX is looking for the most innovative new Canadian tech companies!  LAST 3 DAYS TO APPLY - DEADLINE JUL 31

The CIX Top 20 program is Canada’s largest national showcase of the hottest and most innovative emerging tech companies. Hundreds of applications are submitted each year from across Canada. The CIX Selection Committee will evaluate and select 20 companies based on five criteria including Business Model, Quality of Product, Service Offering, Market Opportunity and Depth of Management.

Eligibility

To apply for the CIX Top 20, your company must:

  • Be an incorporated Canadian business (Quebec excluded from requirement)
  • Be privately held and not listed on any exchanges anywhere in the world
  • Have a unique innovative, digitally-based business idea that brings commercial or social value
  • Have a functional prototype (at minimum) of the product, service or application (must be in market, can be pre-revenue)
  • The company CEO or Founder must be available to present at CIX in Toronto on Oct 17 or 18, 2017.

Benefits

20 companies will be selected by the Selection Committee and awarded designation as a 2017 CIX Top 20 company. The benefits include:

  • Your company CEO/Founder will present to audience of 800+ investors, customers, partners at CIX on either Oct 17 or 18 during one of the CIX Top 20 Showcases;
  • Participation in the CIX Top 20 MENTOR DAY, which includes free media training, advice on tax, raising capital, government incentives, etc;
  • Invitation to CIX VIP events attended by investors, corporates and media such as a TOP 20 private dinner, TSX market open, and various VIP events;
  • Exhibit space in the CIX Top 20 Lounge over two days of CIX on Oct 17 & 18 2017 in Toronto;
  • Posting on CIX website;
  • Inclusion in CIX marketing elements shared with CIX community of 10,000+;
  • Recognition in CIX media releases and media interviews;
  • Ongoing support from CIX including tracking and celebrations of successes, participation at future CIX events.

How to apply

Complete the online application by creating an account. No cost to apply. The deadline to apply is 5:00 pm EST on July 31, 2017. You may begin the process and save your application, without submitting. The selection process takes place in August and successful applicants will be notified by the end of August.


The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

 

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More venture capital invested in Montreal than any other Canadian city in Q2

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Montreal Gazette | By Jacob Serebrin | July 24, 2017

Almost half of all venture capital invested in Canadian companies between April 1 and June 30 went to Montreal-based businesses.

Buoyed by interest in artificial intelligence and a couple of big deals, Montreal-based companies raised US$189 million during the second quarter of 2017, according to a report released by PwC Canada and CB Insights, the creator of a data intelligence platform. (The report cites figures in U.S. dollars, as most venture capital deals are denominated in that currency.)

That’s more money than was invested in companies from any other city in Canada.

It’s also a 145 per cent increase from the previous three-month period when local companies raised $77 million in VC.

The money was spread across nine deals, with the lion’s share going to two companies — artificial intelligence firm Element AI, which raised $102 million, and cancer drug developer Repare Therapeutics, which raised $68 million. Those were the two biggest VC deals in Canada during the quarter.

“Montreal is really placing itself to have great success in the artificial intelligence field, not just across Canada, but internationally,” said Andrew Popliger, an assurance, technology, media and telecom partner at PwC. “Governments, institutional investors, private investors, VCs — they’re all coming together to ensure that Montreal has an important place in the world in terms of artificial intelligence.”

See: Why Venture Capitalists Are Turning to Crowdfunding

While local companies may have raised more money during this period, there were fewer deals. During the first three months of the year, VC investors made 16 investments in local companies.

“Some quarters, you have a higher volume of transactions and lower value. I think when there are larger-value transactions, it’s definitely positive. These are companies with a lot of potential,” Popliger said.

Of the remaining seven deals, Popliger said many were “seed-stage” investments, which are small investments in young companies.

For Popliger, one of the most notable venture capital trends in Montreal during the quarter was the increased number of companies, and not just venture capital funds, investing in startups.

“I see that as one of the biggest positives coming out of the report,” he said.

It’s a sign that bigger companies believe in Montreal’s startup ecosystem and are willing to back it financially, he said, adding that it will lead to further economic growth.

“That’s really the key to success for the Montreal economy,” Popliger said.

Despite the positive signs, venture capital activity in Montreal was down from the second quarter of 2016, when local companies made 18 deals worth $195 million.

That mirrored a nationwide trend.

Across Canada, there were 58 venture capital deals during the quarter, worth a total of $400 million, down from 67 deals worth $529 million during the same period last year.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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