Start-up,
Technology,
Innovation.

Events to foster the entrepreneurial spirit.

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February 10, 2017 brian prokopowich1

With Canada’s debt mounting, it is more important than ever for investors (whether angel or not) to put money back into our country to try and create jobs, and 2017 is the best time to do it.

For starters, by way of Google, University of Toronto and the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms Canada is poised to be one of the global leaders in the research of artificial intelligence.

According to Sam Sebastian, Managing Director of Google Canada, “large companies, startups, incubators and federal investment coming together to support a shared vision: To make Canada the global leader in AI research.”

Stephen Lake, Co-Founder and CEO of Thalmic Labs is another industry leader and investment seeker who has made predictions for 2017. One of those being wearables, saying “Wearables continued to fight and make traction in 2016, but new form factors will open up new possibilities in 2017.”

After raising $120 million USD in 2016, Lake seems poised to keep pushing this momentum forward, which is good news for Canadians everywhere.

Thalmic Labs was also listed on Betakit’s 11 companies to watch in 2017, which includes businesses that are hot and ripe for further investment. Digital health insurance from League  and online real estate from Zoocasa are just a couple examples.

With so many industries switching to online tech, these are where the investments are really going. Customer service and market evaluation are booming too, like Hopper, an app that analyzes and predicts airfare, which is incredibly handy if you’ve ever become frustrated trying to book a flight.

Once companies like this hit the ground running, it’s a safe bet that duplicates will pop up. Food-delivery apps are popping up out of every corner as fast as applications for Snapchat and Instagram are.

As the Financial Post (via Bloomberg) points out “There have only been two Canadian IPOs in the past 12 months larger than $100 million. In the U.S., several tech companies have been waiting in the wings during the election. Now that markets have stabilized, big-name companies such as Snap Inc., parent of Snapchat, Blue Apron Inc., and MuleSoft Inc. are expected to pursue share sales next year.”

Of course Canada needs more of this, now more than ever. Restrictions, taxes and electricity costs have been a huge hurdle for Ontario businesses to overcome, let alone attract sexy investments into companies which stifle initial public offerings (IPOs) from coming about down the road.

It would be somewhat of a tragedy to have to wait until an election in 2018 for changes to be made to increase business expenditure in Canada. However, as the tech industry often does, it is possible to defy the odds.

One example the aforementioned article is Mississauga’s ‘PointClickCare’, which is poised to be going public in 2017, following the lead of real-estate data company Real Matters Inc.

It is companies like these Canadians need to invest in and support, to continue to develop tech companies in our future.

StartupTechUnleashed aims to support more and more Canadian companies as the months pass, with a lot of high expectations for 2017. Keep checking back, as the Canadian climate keeps building in a positive direction.

Written By: Andrew Chapados


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December 9, 2016 Meg Marshall0

So what is a startup exactly? The term is used very loosely and to describe anything from someone with an entrepreneurial idea to a group of people trying to create a solution to a problem to even a specific type of culture. When the question is posed to many individuals or organizations, their answers are slightly different yet all have similar elements. We have compiled a list of few different definitions from media and government organizations to piece together themes.

Investopia

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As a global source for finance news, tips and strategies, we thought this would be a great definition to lead off the comparison with.

“A startup is a company that is in the first stage of its operations. These companies are often initially bankrolled by their entrepreneurial founders as they attempt to capitalize on developing a product or service for which they believe there is a demand.” – Investopia

Government of Canada

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Found embedded within the Canadian Startup-Visa Application, the Government of Canada describes a startup as:

“…innovative entrepreneurs who have the potential to build dynamic companies that can compete on a global scale” – Government of Canada

Canada is the first company in the world to offer this unique yet modern type of opportunity called The Start-up Visa Program. It is an attempt to allow immigrant entrepreneurs a chance to contribute to the Canadian economy by way of job creation and to learn about the Canadian business market.

City of Toronto

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“A startup is defined as an “organization formed to search for a repeatable
and scalable business model”. – City of Toronto

The City of of Toronto has committed itself to making a Startup Ecosystem with an extensive 5 year plan that can be viewed here. It identifies digital media, technology, advanced manufacturing and life sciences as key areas that startups are involved with.

Startup Here TO 

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“…a newly established business or team project. Especially in the tech industry.” – Startup Here Toronto

Startup Here Toronto is a great platform that is really trying to draw the attention of others both in and out of Toronto as a destination hot spot for startups to consider setting up shop. They also support existing startups by featuring their story and promoting workshops and seminars throughout the city.

Urban Dictionary

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We had to throw this source’s definition in for good measure and a chuckle. For those that don’t know what Urban Dictionary is, it is a resource to learn what various slang words mean, populated by the general public and often with obnoxious explanations.

“A recently formed company. In modern terminology, it has come to describe a company formed with a business model relying on the internet.” – Urban Dictionary

Common Elements from All Definitions

  • Ability to grow and expand, especially with employment
  • Technology based
  • Early to moderate stages of the business cycle

While none of these three out of four truly credible sources provide quantitative metrics or time frames, the definition will probably always remain very vague, and open to interpretation. Here at Startup Tech Unleashed, we embrace all entrepreneurs and creative innovative spirits.


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December 9, 2016 Meg Marshall0

We’ve all been there. Under the gun to get that project done for a tight deadline. Client meetings and presentations are looming ahead but there is still so much to get done. We have rounded up 5 keys tips to help ease the pain, burden and frustration to get the job done. These are all tried, tested and true too!

Fiverr

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Many people may already know about this key resource called Fiverr. But for those that don’t, this will be a life saviour. In essence, it is a marketplace of freelancers who have varying skill sets from SEO to web development to graphic work. In many cases, work can be completed within 24 hours for a very inexpensive fee.

 Join the Local Neighborhood Association

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Community or resident associations exist in many neighborhoods, The LVRA (Liberty Village Residents Association) is the biggest one in Canada, and possibly North America. Post what job is needed. Many times, local yet talented neighbors can lend a hand and often immediately. There could be so many hidden resources just a few hundred feet away from needing help putting a shelf, to graphic design and development work to accounting advice!

 

Know Where the Local Internet Cafes Are

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A neighborhood internet cafe. Photo courtesy of Meg Marshall.

It may be 2016 (almost 2017) but these hole in the wall establishments, known as Internet or Cyber cafes still exist. They are often open late and have printing services available. So when the internet stops working after hours in the office or at home, make a mad dash to an Internet cafe. Printer ran out of ink? Head on over to the Internet cafe to help meet the deadline.

Join Zipcar

 

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There is a crucial document for the project all the way on the other side of the city. The delivery person just called to say he is no longer available and the proposal is due in the hands of the prospective client in an hour. Get around the city stress free and when you need to with the ease of Zipcar. With over 800 vehicles throughout Toronto and beyond, there is a vehicle near you. Drive by the hour or by the day with gas and insurance all included. It really doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Zipcar has a great offer for Startup Tech Unleashed members and readers. Use code ZIPTECH20 to receive $20 in free driving credit and receive a special annual membership rate of $35. Click here to get started!

Never Underestimate Coffee

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Coffee helps many of us start the day with it’s caffeine properties. Whether there is an old standby shop that brings comfort and familiarity or the nearest Starbucks will suffice, coffee helps us get the job done. The Coffee Association of Canada stat that 2/3rds of Canadians consume 3.2 cups/day. And even more when there is a deadline in sigh. Never underestimate the power of coffee!

Did we miss any tips? Comment below and share!


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November 23, 2016 Meg Marshall0

T-A-X-E-S. This word can often make people cringe. Whether you have begun the journey of creating a startup business or are involved in an established business, taxes are something that legally and legitimately can not be avoided. Many individuals are not comfortable doing their personal taxes so business taxes can become a whole different ball game. We are here to hopefully make things a little less scary and provide some tips and suggestions to help make taxes a little less of a chore.

We got the chance to sit down with Erik Douglas. Erik is a tax accountant who focuses on helping small business and start-ups with their tax and accounting needs. He owns and operates a tax practice located in Liberty Village.

Q: When should individuals or businesses start planning for their taxes?

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There is no time like now to start preparing and organizing your taxes. Photo taken by Meg Marshall.

A: When it comes to tax planning I really don’t think there is any better time than now. Even if you’re in the start-up phase it’s still important to start thinking about the future. I also believe that if you reach out to an accountant and give him some re-assurance that you’re not shopping around for opinions, they will most likely help you get started free of charge.

Q: What are some ongoing things that individuals and businesses can do throughout the year to make taxes less stressful and chaotic?

A: For those individuals who don’t enjoy filing and taxes I would say the smallest thing that will go a long way is keeping your documents centralized and organized by category. Don’t be overly concerned about the categories, just something that makes sense. The reason I say this is that if you bring a box of receipts to your accountant that is incomplete and disorganized you will end up paying for it. It will end up costing you by increased billings due to the extra time, or increased taxes due to something missing that your accountant doesn’t know exists. After all, we are only human.

Q: Are there any credentials that should be considered when choosing a company or organization to do taxes?

A: I think the logical answer here is you want to find a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). This is because CPAs have to follow a strict code of ethics (there is a 193 page manual of dos and don’ts!) and have an annual responsibility for continued education. It’s not to say an accountant who doesn’t have a CPA isn’t able to provide the services, it’s more of a safer bet when choosing a CPA.

The thing is there are a lot of accountants who are CPAs so that might not help narrow the search. Instead I think generally the best bet is to find someone that you fit with. You really should feel comfortable talking to your accountant so you really want someone you trust and are not afraid to go to when you need help. It may be a bad generalization but I really think that most accountants will do a good job with your taxes, accountants don’t get into tax to do a bad job. What I am trying to say is choose the accountant that feels right. Focus less on the qualifications, and focus more on the personality match.

Q: What are some of the common expenses that can be “written off” that people often overlook?

A: Every time I see the phrase write off I can’t help but think about Kramer explaining write offs to Jerry.

The infamous Seinfeld episode where Jerry tries to explain taxes to Kramer.
The infamous Seinfeld episode where Kramer tries to explain tax write-offs Jerry. Photo courtesy of Seinfeld.com.

Seinfeld aside, 3 of my favorite business expenses that are overlooked are:

  • Home-use-of-office expense. This allows you to deduct rent, utilities, mortgage interest, etc. as a % of business use (to a reasonable limit!).
  • Vehicle Expenses. There are a few ways to handle vehicles, usually choosing the calculation that brings the most benefit.
  • Business losses! If you’re in start-up phase and working at the same time it’s possible the costs of your side gig can reduce your taxable income from your employer potentially generating a refund (sole proprietor only)

Although those expenses are great the big overlooked way to save on taxes is income to partners, spouses, and adult children. If you’re making money and starting to think about taking a salary there are ways to distribute the income that could potentially save you a lot on taxes.

Q: Is there an optimal amount a company should donate to charity that will give a tax advantage?

A: Honestly tax shouldn’t impact your decision to give to charity, but the things that you should know is that you can only donate to charity up to 75% of your profit. In a business any donations over this limit can be carried forward.

What I would say though is that you should ensure that the charity you are giving to is registered and in good standing. You can search all registered charities, and even charities that have been terminated or suspended by CRA here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html. Find one that fits your cause and don’t let tax affect your decision to donate.

Q: What are some common mistakes that individuals make that can be avoided?

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Stay organized for your taxes. This will help save you time and money. Photo taken by Meg Marshall.

A: This is a perfect ending question as it allows me to really try my best to help those who are starting a new business.

The biggest mistake made, which causes all the other common mistakes, is not contacting an accountant early on. I see too often clients coming to me that have really missed out on things in the past because they got advice from their friend or was referred to “their guy/girl”.

Just last month I was talking to a friend of mine and brought up the topic of HST (as I write this I realize it sounds pretty lame talking about tax with friends). Regardless, I asked if he was using the quick method for HST. He wasn’t! I couldn’t believe it as it really is easy money for freelancers in the tech scene. We were lucky but we had to file the return that night to be eligible. However the problem was he was getting advice from another tech friend up until that night.

What I am trying to say is. As an accountant who does a lot of start-up networking and works with a lot of tech companies I see all too often people getting advice from the wrong source. Take the time to find an accountant who works for you when you’re starting a business. Even if you’re your still in the planning stage it could still be worth a small fee (if they charge you) to have peace of mind knowing the information is more likely correct.

There you have it! Some great tips and suggestions to help make the daunting task of taxes less intimidating.

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Erik Douglas – The friendly and extremely helpful accountant.

A big thank you to Erik Douglas for providing answers and insight to the questions. If you want to connect with him, visit his website, follow him on Twitter and Facebook or check out his blog.


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November 17, 2016 Meg Marshall0

No idea is too far fetched or cray, as seen with one company. Airvinci, founded by Tarek Ibrahim, is on a mission to building a personal helicopter. Many other startups have great ideas like creating health care apps or a revolutionary fintech solution, but to build a flying machine is pretty incredible.

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Soaring above gridlock traffic with an Airvinci personal helicopter. Image courtesy of Airvinci.com. 

Flying High

So we have all been stuck in gridlock traffic in some shape or form. Driving from work, stuck on a bus across trying to get across the city or in an Uber trying to make it on time for a romantic date. Ibrahim got frustrated one day and thought to himself that there has got to be a better and faster way to get from point A to point B. Until cities completely revamp highway infrastructure by adding in double or triple the amount of traffic lanes, any sort of automobile invention would not solve this problem. It then dawned on Ibrahim that if he could fly in a personal helicopter, then it would create an alternative option for commuters.

Personal Helicopters for the Masses

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The Airvinci will be classified an Ultralight Aircraft. Photo courtesy of Airvinci.com. 

Of course we know that private jets exist, and my hobbyist pilots fly for fun on the weekends. A runway is needed for these aircrafts. The key element in the creation of the Airvinci machine is that it would be utilizing vertical take off and landing so that the need for a runway would be eliminated. A pilot’s license would not be required to operate an Airvinci aircraft, although some basic training would be prudent to safely fly it. The initial cost of the first couple of versions will be high, but as more and more are manufactured, the price would drop. The hope is that one day, the Airivinci would  be comparable in cost to a Honda Civic.

Design Specifics

A flying machine is a pretty amazing thing, but it has to be meticulously designed and no detail left unnoticed. The aircraft will be 9 feet tall and weigh less than 254 lbs so it can be classified as an Ultralight Aircraft. It will be able to carry up to 260 lbs and have a flight time of up to 10000 feet. Ducted fans will be used to reduce the risk factor. Two engines will power the aircraft, so if one fails, the security of the second one will kick in. To learn more technical details, click here.

Calling Toronto Home

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Tarek Ibrahim is a creative mastermind, and one thing to note about him, he is always full of amazing energy and laughs. Photo taken by Meg Marshall. 

Toronto holds a special place in the heart of Ibrahim. Moving to Toronto in his teen years, he has experienced many great things here. He is a graduate from the University of Toronto with a degree in Architecture. Back in fall of 2015, he also had the amazing opportunity to be a guest speaker at the TedEx Toronto event. Toronto lends itself to being a fantastic central location to gain access to many resources whether it be finding someone with a particular skill set to help with a certain element of his project or just embracing the diversity of the city.

Stay tuned to see what is next for Airvinci and when they are ready to take over the skies. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 


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July 23, 2016 brian prokopowich0
Aviva Ventures is coming to Canada and is ready to invest $180 million CAD over the next five years in high-potential digital startups around the globe. We are hosting our own ‘Dragons Den style’ event called Aviva Pitch Day in October at our newly built digital development shop in downtown Toronto. Call for submissions is now open!
 
We are looking for Canadian tech & digital startups who can offer innovative and creative ideas that will disrupt the insurance industry. Short-listed finalists will be invited to pitch their business idea to a panel of Aviva advisors for a chance to be considered for an investment of up to $10 million CAD.
 
Stay up-to-date on Pitch Day: