March 30, 2009 by raymond
We’re happy to announce that we’ve made an investment in Symtext, a Toronto-based startup. Led by digital media industry veteran Ian Barker, Symtext has created a platform for building “liquid textbooks” which combine content from e-books and other digital content into unique learning tools. Containing both licensed works and royalty-free works, Symtext allows professors to create unique liquid textbooks for their courses and provides students with an interactive learning experience that goes beyond traditional textbooks.
Symtext has made great progress and is already working with recognized learning establishments such as Athabasca University and the Queen’s School of Business. It is also working with several major publishers (more announcements to come).
Flow Ventures has a unique investment model that combines Angel-level financing with strategic services including interim management and direct operational support. We look for opportunities where we can accelerate the development of a startup using our experience as technology entrepreneurs.
Keep an eye out for more Symtext announcements to come, as well as more from Flow Ventures. If you are a professor interested in using Symtext in your course, contact Ian Barker for details.
March 27, 2009 by raymond
ConnectMcGill, the inaugural tech entrepreneurship event at McGill was a huge success. Two computer science students, Nicolae Rusan and Ladan Mahabadi, had the idea of organizing an on-campus meetup for students interested in entrepreneurship. I was immediately interested in getting involved, especially to try to help bring people from the startup scene to mingle with students. We had over 80 participants and a lot of enthusiasm for making this a regular event.
James Duncan (from Joyent) and I gave brief presentations on getting started in entrepreneurship but the real highlight of the event was seeing students mingling with Montreal startup folks. I believe that one of the most important things you can do to encourage students to become entrepreneurs is to give them access to people who are actually doing it. Half an hour spent chatting with a startup CEO is worth 40 hours plugging away at a business plan, in my opinion.
We’ll be organizing our next event with the involvement of students from the other Montreal universities as well. If you are a student, a startup, an investor or a mentor, contact me and we’ll get you involved.
March 23, 2009 by robin
Mark it in your calendar folks: Startup Drinks month at Brutopia (Crescent St, just south of Ste-Catherine), on March 25 from 5:30pm. Look forward to seeing you there!
Register now at TechEntreprise!
March 20, 2009 by raymond
This is a great time to be building startups in Canada. Ontario and Quebec have recently announced over a $1 billion in funding for new ventures through matching funds and fund-of-funds. There may be more good news when Ontario tables its budget on March 26.
Here’s a quick summary:
Quebec (link to budget):
- $825 million for a fund-of-funds to invest in 15-20 VC funds ($700 million from the government, $125 million from the private sector)
- $125 million for the creation of 3 seed funds ($100 from the government, $25 from the private sector)
- 10-year provincial tax holiday for new ventures that commercialize research from a Quebec university or research centre
So how does this trickle down to startups?
- If you’re raising your first round it means there will be more seed funding sources and more money in existing funding sources. Private investors may be more willing to invest since the government is matching their dollars 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 in some cases.
- If you already have investment it means your investors may be more likely to top-up if they are on the receiving end of these funds.
- If you’re commercializing research, which Canada does a poor job of, you look a lot more attractive to investors. Not paying provincial corporate tax for 10 years has a huge effect on investor returns (assuming you’re planning on profitability).
The best part of these initiatives is that they support the existing investment ecosystem rather than trying to replace it with something government run. We already have the pleasure, privilege and intestinal fortitude to deal with the government for SRED and other subsidies. Best leave investment to experienced managers.
So is there any bad news? Timing will be an issue as nobody can deploy this much money quickly. It’ll be awhile before funds actually trickle down to companies. I personally don’t like any initiative with a geographical limitation. I understand the desire to create jobs in a particular place but technology companies can be spread out. In Canada, where we don’t have the density of markets and talent, an Ontario-only company doesn’t make sense.
But enough complaining. Does this mean that we at Flow are more likely to make investments in the near future? You bet!
(Link to more budget analysis from Chris Arsenault from Inovia)
March 17, 2009 by robin
Startup Drinks is back this month at Brutopia (Crescent St, just south of Ste-Catherine), on March 25 from 5:30pm. Happy hour prices will be in effect and maybe – just maybe – we can get a taste of their terasse.
There are no presentations to distract people from making their own fun. If you think you’ve got a good idea, this is the place to find a sounding board. If you want to get a taste of the tech community generally and the startup community specifically, this is your spot. Everyone is welcome!
Registrations are open soon at TechEntreprise!
Hope to see you there,