Category Archives: Entrepreneurs and Start-ups

U.S. pot industry: High tech, high finance, and high times

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VentureBeat | By: Reuters | Dec 6, 2017

Two years ago, Alan Gertner was head of Google’s Asia-Pacific sales team in Singapore, handling more than $100 million in business.

Now, he begins his day in a small Toronto office, building a cannabis brand that sells fancy smoking accessories such as vaporizers and bongs that cost up to $335 CAD ($261.72 USD).

Gertner is among a growing group of entrepreneurs and investors who are trading in high-paid corporate jobs in the technology and finance sectors to launch start-ups focused on the fast-growing marijuana industry.

Two decades after the first legalization of medical marijuana by a U.S. state, pot-based businesses are professionalizing their operations by luring top talent from other industries and billions of dollars in investments from Wall Street firms. A new commodity index even offers data on the going rates for greenhouse and field-grown weed.

Gertner still gets surprised reactions to his career change, as when his mother asked: “Can’t you just get another job at Google?”

And yet he’s raised $10 million in capital in ten months as the chief executive of Toyko Smoke, despite the continuing taboos and legal risks in the industry.

See: True Leaf: Crowdfunding Legal Cannabis Products Across North America

The legal cannabis market, currently worth about $8 billion, is predicted to triple in size to $22.6 billion in total annual sales by 2021, according to cannabis industry tracker, Arcview Market Research. That could make it bigger than the America’s most profitable sports organization, the National Football League, which saw about $13 billion in revenue last year and aims to reach $25 billion by 2027.

So far in 2017, there have been at least 27 investments by venture capital funds in cannabis companies, compared with just 10 deals in 2016 and 9 deals in 2015, according to venture capital data provider CB Insights.

The influx of capital helps finance the paychecks of 150,000 workers in the legal U.S. pot industry, representing job growth of 20 percent from a year ago, according to an estimate from the cannabis website Leafly, a marketing firm for dispensaries and other cannabis firms.

Eric Eslao, founder of Defonce Chocolatier – which makes artisanal cannabis-infused chocolates costing $20 a bar – was a senior production manager at Apple just over a year ago. He feared the stigma of joining the weed industry, but it didn’t stop him.

“The opportunity was too good not to make the jump,” he said.

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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, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, 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.  For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

 

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VanFUNDING 2017 Brings Over 50+ Leading Blockchain, Fintech & Capital Innovation Experts to Vancouver NOV 28 @Morris Wosk Centre

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NCFA Canada | Craig Asano | Nov 15, 2017

Looking for world class education, funding, partnerships and growth within the blockchain and financial tech sector?

VanFUNDING 2017 GOING MAINSTREAM is the premier West Coast conference dedicated to connecting people looking to form long-lasting partnerships, investment and business opportunities.

In less than 2 weeks, VanFUNDING2017 Blockchain, Fintech & Funding Conference and Regtech Hackathon  descends on Vancouver November 28th, 8am-6pm at the Morris Wosk Centre for Advanced Dialogue. There is also a VIP networking event on November 27 from 530-8pm at the Diamond cocktail lounge where you can meet the biggest names in Fintech.

VanFUNDING 2017 offers world class program and education delivered via keynotes, TEDx-style presentations, panels and workshops covering Blockchain, Fintech, Regtech, and Innovation Finance topics from a diverse range of perspectives including technology, finance, legal, global innovation and humanity.

The title sponsor is Raymond James, with Gowling WLG, Victory Square Technologies, Blockchain Intelligence Group, and Etherparty as platinum partners.

“We are proud to sponsor The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada,” says Sean Martin, Managing Director, Investment Banking at Raymond James Ltd.  “There has been an explosion of blockchain technology that has proven 2017 to be the tipping point of financial innovation.”

The conference features over 50+ expert speakers and mentors from companies and organizations such as Microsoft, IBM, TSX Venture Exchange, Blockchain Intelligence Group, RightMesh, Grow VC, AIBB.io, CoinPayments, Pegasus Fintech and TokenFunder. They will be covering ground-breaking topics such as Blockchain smart contacts, Initial Coin Offerings, emerging regulations, and opportunities in PeerToPeer crowdfinancing, investment opportunities, cryptocurriences, intelligence applications and global financial marketplaces.

"Vancouver is quickly establishing itself as a prominent market for blockchain innovation on the global scene. Victory Square has always supported events that facilitate discussion and collaboration on disruptive new technologies and the VanFUNDING conference falls in line with this mandate. We look forward to an excellent event that will allow our local tech community access to some of the global thought leaders in the blockchain space," said Shafin Diamond Tejani, CEO of Victory Square Technologies.

"We look forward to a great conference & BCs first ever Regtech Hackathon and would like to thank everyone involved from organizers, volunteers, sponsors, community partners and of course our awesome speaking roster!  Special thanks to the BC Securities Commission for their support, and a growing list of Regtech Hackathon partners such as Vancity, Supirio and Launch Academy who all recognize the need for a collaborative approach to developing innovative Regtech solutions.

While Regtech is new in Canada, its gaining significant traction globally, and firms are gaining a competitive advantage.  Participation in the hackathon is inclusive and we encourage entrepreneurs and regulatory experts, innovators, data analysts, designers and developers to all join us in helping discover and launch some amazing BC Regtech-focused projects", said Craig Asano, CEO VanFUNDING.

VanFUNDING 2017 brings together start-ups and leading industry professionals in a unique venue, selected to promote interactive dialogue and discussion. Combined with workshops and a Regtech Hackathon co-hosted with the BC Securities Commission where $20,000 is up for grabs in cash and prizes, this is a not to be missed event that provides opportunities for all types of businesses in the blockchain and financial technology sector to innovate, learn and network.

 

For more information about VanFUNDING 2017, please visit:  http://vanfundingconf.ca/

 


The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, 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.  For more information, please visit:  www.ncfacanada.org

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Crowdfunding 101

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Rogers Small Business | Robin Roberts | Nov 10, 2017

How to launch a successful campaign for the funds you need

Now that seven provinces (B.C., Sask., Man., Ont., Que., N.S. and N.B.) have legalized crowdfunding for businesses – which involves collecting small contributions from a large group of people – Canadian entrepreneurs have amassed between $250 million and $300 million in the last year alone to start up and scale up their businesses.

But successful crowdfunding is not just about posting a pitch on Facebook and expecting the cash to roll in. Craig Asano, founder and CEO of the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA), offers some tips and tools for launching a winning campaign.

Choose your model

There are many types of crowdfunding, but for entrepreneurs, there are really only two models: investment/equity and donation/rewards.

Investment/equity models allow an investor to either buy shares or securities in your venture, or to receive a profit from your product. The equity option is the most successful, according to the NCFA, but tends to work better for established companies looking to expand, rather than bootstrapping startups.

The donation/rewards model, on the other hand, allows people to give money without getting anything in return – other than rewards in the form of whatever the company is selling or providing (e.g., their name on a funders plaque, a free meal at the restaurant, etc.). This model works best for raising capital for a specific product or idea.

Plan, prepare and promote

“You wouldn’t go to market without a strategic plan,” says Asano, who recommends spending up to three months preparing your crowdfunding campaign, adding that you need a good value proposition to present to your customers or investors.

Present your project clearly – have a prototype, if appropriate – so potential donors are confident your venture is on solid ground.

To reach the maximum amount of potential investors, says Asano, you should already have a following, online and off – preferably made up of people who will care about your idea. Use social media, attend networking events, and let your family and friends (and friends of friends) in on your venture. If you can attract media attention, all the better. Research other successful (and failed) campaigns to see what worked, what didn’t and why.

See:  Learn all about the latest innovation finance models in venture funding:  VanFUNDING Nov 28, Vancouver

And once your campaign is launched, keep your donors or investors in the loop about its progress.

Tell a story

To boost your crowdfunding campaign’s potential for success, create an emotional connection between you, your idea and your supporters. Use video, photos and narration to tell a compelling story about why you want to launch your business or product, or grow your company. Two of the most popular crowdfunding portals, Indiegogo (for entrepreneurs) and Kickstarter (for creative projects), walk you through the process and provide online support, as do other platforms, such as Canadian companies Seedlify and FrontFundr.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both investment and social crowdfunding, blockchain ICO, alternative finance, fintech, P2P and online investing 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 vibrant and innovative online financing industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit www.ncfacanada.org.

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How to Take Advantage of the New Trends in Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Financial Technology

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VanFUNDING 2017 | November 6, 2017 | Morris Wosk Centre for Advanced Dialogue, Vancouver

In just 3 weeks timing, on Nov 28 the 3rd VanFUNDING 2017 (#VF2017) takes place in downtown Vancouver at the Morris Wosk Centre for Advanced Dialogue, an immersive financial innovation forum and premiere hackathon dedicated to connecting people looking for leading education, funding, investment opportunities and partnerships within the financial tech sector.

Hosted by the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada in partnership with Raymond James, Gowling WLG and Blockchain Intelligence Group, VanFUNDING is back for a third year. This year’s theme is “Financing Infrastructure Eruption – Going Mainstream” and features:

  • Nov 27:  Pre-event networking on November 27 from 5:30 – 8:00pm at the Diamond Cocktail Lounge
  • Nov 28:  First ever BC ‘Regtech Sandbox Hackathon’ co-hosted by the BC Securities Commission, with $20,000 value of cash and prizes for winners on November 28
  • Nov 28:  Full-day interactive conference including keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and a facilitated Town Hall on November 28

VanFUNDING showcases an amazing lineup of speakers from leading blockchain, fintech and crytocurrency experts from Raymond James, Gowling WLG, Blockchain Intelligence Group, Launch Academy, Robocoder, Sweetbridge, Responsive.AI, Katipult, LendingLoop, Blocksale, NewsBTC, PrivacyShell, RightMesh, Digital Futures, Frontfundr, Venture Law, Grow VC Group, Pegasus Fintech and many more, with 40+ speakers / 30 sessions discussing ground-breaking topics such as:

  • 2017 Fintech Disruption and the Future of Money
  • The Explosive Nature of Bitcoin and Investing in Crypto Assets
  • The ICO Revolution and Global Token Economy
  • The Potential of Distributed Ledger Technologies to De-risk Unsecured Loans (for the masses)
  • GOING MAINSTREAM: Scaling Opportunities & Challenges of Global Finance: Blockchain, Regtech, AI, Crypto, P2P and Fintech
  • How to spot a fraudulent ICO
  • SAFTs do they protect investors or entrepreneurs?
  • Workshop:  Public Initial Blockchain Offering (PIBCO) - The process and benefits for your business
  • Best Practices of Raising Capital Online
  • Why the Benefits of Fintech Partnerships May Outweigh Competing
  • Regulatory Perspectives: Can Canada Unlock its Blockchain and Fintech Potential?
  • Regulation of Tokens Offerings and the Value of Self-regulating Code of Conduct
  • Transacting in a Global Digital World: What P2P Technology Can do for Humanity

#VF2017 is a not-to-be missed BLOCKCHAIN and FINTECH FUNDING conference that pushes boundaries to discuss the latest developments, educate, inspire, and connect leading innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, thought leaders and policy makers in the quickly emerging sectors of fintech, P2P, crowdfinance, blockchain ICOs, digital currencies and alternative finance.  Learn more at:  vanfundingconf.ca

 

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Register BEFORE NOV 8 and Save 30%:   Get a Discounted Ticket Now

Register today and get 10% off with promo code NCFA_COIN Link to apply deal

Chance to win a free pass to #VF2017:  Tweet 2 Win Contest

Sign-up and become a VanFUNDING affiliate partner

 

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both investment and social crowdfunding, blockchain ICO, alternative finance, fintech, P2P and online investing 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 vibrant and innovative online financing industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit www.ncfacanada.org.

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Lending Loop Surpasses $10M in Loans to Small Businesses Across Canada

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Lending Loop | | Oct 18, 2017

TORONTO Oct. 18, 2017 – Lending Loop has officially helped provide financing of more than $10 million to small businesses across Canada. To date, the company, which is Canada’s premier peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform, has helped over 180 small businesses in a variety of industries access funding to expand their businesses.

Speaking on the achievement, Lending Loop co-founder and CEO Cato Pastoll said:

“We’re excited to have hit this milestone in such a short period of time. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our rapidly growing community of 12,000 Canadians who are all helping to contribute to our collective success. Everyone knows how important small businesses are to the continued growth of our economy and we’re proud to be playing a part in helping their growth.”

Lending Loop’s unique P2P lending model allows Canadians across the country to lend their money to small businesses posted on Lending Loop’s online marketplace. These investors derive their return from the interest rate attached to each loan, which in turn corresponds to the risk rating of that business. By cutting out the banks and the middlemen, Lending Loop loans are often significantly more affordable than loans from other financial providers, with rates starting as low as 5.9%.

See:  Lending Loop launches “Auto-Lend” after raising new round of funding

When asked about the milestone, Lending Loop co-founder and CTO Brandon Vlaar said that:

“Our team is deeply passionate about helping the small business community thrive. We’re looking forward to helping even more small businesses learn about our better way to borrow, while also educating Canadians about how they can grow their wealth through this new and exciting investment opportunity.”

Continue to the full article --> here

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both investment and social crowdfunding, blockchain ICO, alternative finance, fintech, P2P and online investing 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 vibrant and innovative online financing industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit www.ncfacanada.org.

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It’s Official – Google District – Ground Breaking – Today

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LinkedIn Pulse | Sydney Eatz | Oct 17, 2017

Google parent company Alphabet announces ground breaking Sidewalk Labs - Google District

The neighbourhood of the future.  Remember - May 11th - 2017 - this article from Co-moderator of Google Local guides moderator. Richard Trus - reprinted with his permission

With the recent announcement that Sidewalk Labs LLC, the urban innovation unit of Alphabet Inc, has applied to develop the 12 acre site Quayside property there have been many who have been scratching their heads.

What is a Google District? Why Toronto?

Don't worry if you don't get it - what is Google up to? Google is known for research and development and coming out with projects that in the beginning pivot into larger products for the company. Most of these Google products become part of your daily routine. If you have ever used Streetview - the companion to Google Maps that let's you see panorama's of where you are going in 360 - well that project started out 17 years ago as the Stanford City Block project.

See:  Canada is North America’s up-and-coming startup center

For the past 17 years pre-visualization has slowly taken form in projects across North America. Pre-visualization is a requirement for simulation and training that are used by major corporations and governments now.

Having been involved in one of the largest pre-visualization projects in the world - the product you see, is often not necessarily the product that is produced. For example the military needs to train soldiers. In order to get the assets (video of explosions, gun fire, helicopters) they partner with film and television companies. So you as the consumer see the final product of a movie like Terminator, while the pre-visualization assets are used by the military in training. It's a win-win scenario as the cost of film production is subsidized to produce content for pre-visualization and it gives both the movie viewer and the soldier trainee a high quality video to experience.

Moving to the Google District Toronto - pre-visualizing decisions in cities has always been an expensive proposition. There was no way to test alternatives for example of building a subway line and the economic benefits or problems associated with it, until you actually built the subway.

Now with pre-visualization you can use a 3D model of the city to test out A/B testing and find the best route, the problems to avoid and how to best accomplish city planning goals.

See:  4 reasons you should move your startup to Toronto today

For the past year a group that I have been one of the moderators have been building a 3D model of the city of Toronto as the progression of technology has always followed three stages. Text - Image - Sound - Video - 3D - this has been repeated in industries over and over again. Industries progress in a linear fashion in media - the newspaper - to telegraph - to radio - to TV - to Internet 3D.

The world of Maps is also making that transition - from paper maps now to 3D - both panorama's to complete 3D models. A mentor of mine once described it best as the "Long nose of Innovation" that any technology that is going to impact our lives today is technology that has been around for at least 10 years.

So as pre-visualization seems new to most - it has been around for almost 25 years. One of the problems was that 25 years ago - a terrabyte of storage didn't exist, internet connection was starting, and there were no mobile devices. So many of us had to wait for the technology to catch up to fix the problems that prevented technology like pre-visualization to be used by the masses.

Why Toronto?  Toronto is now one of the best mapped cities in the world. Recently Toronto placed 4th worldwide in a Global competition

Continue to the full article --> here

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both investment and social crowdfunding, blockchain ICO, alternative finance, fintech, P2P and online investing 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 vibrant and innovative online financing industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit www.ncfacanada.org.

 

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Five common options for financing your small business

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Financial Post | Danny Bradbury | Oct 10, 2017

Which method you choose depends on your company's current situation and its goals

For most small businesses, financing can be a challenge. Whether you need bridge capital to keep the business running in tough times, or structured debt for long-term growth, it pays to have a strategy for seeking out those elusive financing dollars. Statistics Canada found that just over half (51.3 per cent) of businesses requested external financing in 2014.

Equity-based financing options like venture capital often make the headlines, but less than one per cent of small businesses requested this in 2014. Debt-based financing is far more common, as is trade credit from suppliers.

Here are five financing options to turn to, depending on the type of small business you run, and its situation.

Bootstrapping

Funding yourself is a long-established and responsible way to get a small business off the ground. Bootstrappers are risk takers but also lateral thinkers. Rather than saddling themselves with debt or giving up ownership of their small company, they will use their own savings and potentially sell some assets to help finance their business in the early days.

Bootstrappers may work a side gig until they are confident that their new business idea has the legs to stand on its own. They may pre-sell products and services to help fund early-stage development. The successful ones cleave to one overarching principle: get to revenue quickly. If you’re going to bootstrap your company, the only thing that counts is the sale.

Small business loan

A small business loan is the most traditional route for those taking a debt-based approach to small business financing. Banks are often a first port of call, although they are naturally conservative, and they understand the higher risk involved with smaller operations that may have little to no credit history or collateral. This can make bank loans difficult to secure and could drive businesses toward such alternative lenders as OnDeck. Always ensure you understand the exact terms – and your payment commitments – before agreeing to a loan.

In Canada, another option is the government’s Small Business Financing Program, which provides up to $1 million in financing for purchasing or improving land, property or equipment. There are limitations though: working capital, inventory, labour and advertising are all excluded under this initiative.

Friends and family

If conditions from a financial institution are not to your liking, you could always borrow money from the Bank of Mom & Dad. Friends and family funding is a common way for small, high-growth businesses to get started, but it comes with some baggage.

See:  Current Fintech, Altfi, P2P, ICO, Crowdfunding News

It’s easy for money issues to cloud personal relationships, so small business people pursuing friends and family financing must be careful not to let emotion get in the way. Set out clear expectations around loan terms, including a percentage and payback date. Just because you were raised by those doing the lending doesn’t mean you can do away with legal advice. It keeps everyone on the same page.

Angel investors

Small business owners willing to give up some equity can go in search of an angel investor. These full-or part-time investors put their own money into early-stage businesses, hoping for future return if they succeed.

You may give up part ownership of your company to these investors, but they often bring contacts and experience difficult to find elsewhere. It also means that you aren’t saddled with loan payments that can cripple your cash flow. AngelList connects investors with startups, while Canada’s National Angel Capital Organization has a directory of potential investors.

These investors suit entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses and a clear exit strategy. Would-be Mark Zuckerbergs should apply. Owners of family-run laundromats with no plans to take over the world should look elsewhere.

Crowdfunding

If your business idea is that good, why not spread it around? Crowdfunding is a growing financing model, with $133 million raised in 2015 alone, according to a report from the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada. Consumer-focused businesses with some digital element to their products or services tend to do well with this model.

See:  VanFUNDING 2017 - NOV 28 Vancouver:  Raise Funding for Your Business leveraging All the Latest Methods

You can crowdfund using two broad approaches: reward/donation-based models, or debt/equity funding. The former are unregulated outside of traditional consumer protection and business laws. Selling equity in the company or taking loans with some promise of payback will bring you under regulatory scrutiny, but is still possible in some regions.

The Government of Canada’s Canada Business Network says equity crowdfunding is currently an option in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Conditions vary between provinces and depend on exactly how your crowdfunding process works.

Continue to the full article --> here

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both investment and social crowdfunding, blockchain ICO, alternative finance, fintech, P2P and online investing 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 vibrant and innovative online financing industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit www.ncfacanada.org.

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