Canada’s VC Blueprint: Review in Global Context with Olav Sorenson, Yale School of Management

June 25, 2012 at 10:43 am | Posted in OCTIE, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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UPDATE: July 31, 21012 – Thank you to the Financial Post for publishing this summary of our position.


Original Post …

In late March the Federal Government announced $400-million to help increase private sector investments in early-stage risk capital, and to support the creation of large-scale venture capital funds led by the private sector.

Olav Sorenson, Yale School of Management

Yale’s Olav Sorenson will lead this invitation only dinner to ensure that we place our conversation about Canadian venture capital in a contemporary global context.

On June 5, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), with the leadership of CEO John Reid and Sir Terry Matthews, released a recommendation of how to best deploy the $400M promised so as to maximize the potential to re-start large scale private sector VC Funds in Canada, pointing to a Canadian styled Yozma inspired model that would seem to lead to four new $200-million funds to be 50% private sector funded, each with a pre-determined separate theme.

Yet in early May the Kauffman Foundation released an indictment of the traditional venture capital industry based upon its twenty years of investing experience and Israel’s Yozma program was conceived and first implemented over two decades ago.

Few would argue that the venture capital industry is not experiencing rapid change due to the emergence of low cost startups (supported by cheap computing and bandwidth), the resulting explosion of angel investors and the slashing of regulations by governments desperate to kick start growth (witness the legalization of crowdfunding in the United States and Canada’s recent changes to Section 116).

Please take this opportunity to add to the quality conversation about Canadian venture capital. Share your opinion either confidentially or for the record.  We will be sure to incorporate all views.

To ensure that we place our conversation in a contemporary global context, we are grateful to welcome Olav Sorenson, Frederick Frank ’54 and Mary C. Tanner Professor of Management, to lead this small invitation only, casual dinner exchange (

Before moving to Yale’s School of Management, Olav was the Jeffery Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management so his return to Toronto is somewhat of a home coming. He has also taught at the University of Chicago, UCLA, and London Business School.

His most extensive line of research examines how social networks affect transactions, thereby shaping the geography and evolution of industries and he has most extensively studied the entertainment and venture capital industries.


Coral CEA and the Digital Media Zone build on an ecosystem to expand Ontario’s software capabilities

February 21, 2012 at 8:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ottawa and Toronto, ON ­­– February 14, 2012 – Ottawa-based Coral CEA has invested $120,000 in four companies located at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), and Coral CEA is reviewing possible investments in even more firms at the DMZ.  “We are attracted to teams who are ‘getting it done’ versus talking about innovation and we want this type of collaboration to set a new standard in Ontario,” says Brian Forbes, Executive Director at Coral CEA. Forbes believes the DMZ has taken a hands-on approach with entrepreneurs that is a perfect fit with Coral CEA.

At the DMZ Coral CEA has invested in:

  • ARB Labs Inc. designed a software application that that allows any video display to create an immersive 3D effect – without the need for goggles or glasses
  • Greenguage Inc. developed a software tool for smartphone and Web that blends mobile technology with the green movement allowing monitoring of Corporate Social Responsibility efforts
  • HitSend Inc. offers an online platform to enable and enhance community-based change by tapping into the community’s collective voice
  • ViaFoura Inc. created a cloud-based plug and play user engagement and gaming platform for online content sites
“Coral CEA’s funding will allow us to add two more people to our current staff of five. The DMZ and Coral CEA are not just paying lip service to innovation, they are not just talking, they have a plan of action,” says Warren Tanner CMO at HitSend. He adds, “There is no better business school than starting a business and that is exactly what we do.”


The DMZ launched in the spring of 2010 with over 6,000 square feet of downtown Toronto office space. In just over a year and a half, the DMZ has almost doubled in size and has assisted more than 190 innovators to incubate and accelerate 38 startups, launched more than 61 projects and fostered over 350 jobs. The DMZ is a centre for creativity, collaboration and innovation that acts as a catalyst for cross-pollination of skills. The focus is on the commercialization of software applications.

Ryerson students use the DMZ as a home base to establish new companies. “Young people work in a business realm that never existed before and they naturally embrace collaboration and open innovation like never before. Coral CEA brings the Open Innovation ecosystem to our companies and that is a crucial addition,” says Valerie Fox, Director of the DMZ.

“Ontario’s creative environment, world-class education system and proven business experts are second to none,” says Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation. “Collaborations like this are the key to success.  That’s why we helped establish Coral CEA and why we’ve made it easier for entrepreneurs across the province to get the help they need to succeed; while creating jobs and prosperity for all Ontarians.”

The Conference Board of Canada rates Canada 14 out of 17 nations for innovation. Innovation is the ability to turn knowledge into new products and is the crucial factor that will allow Canada to compete in the global economy. “Canada is a resource-rich nation, including knowledge resources. We also have a rich history of innovation, especially in communications.  Communications innovation helps refine knowledge resources, adding value for global export,” says Forbes. Coral CEA has assisted more than 50 companies to capitalize on innovation.

Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy became aware of Coral CEA and encouraged collaboration with the DMZ. In a recent speech Levy called on universities to better educate young people on how to create their own businesses and take their innovations to market. “Youth are the primary users of digital media but lack the skills to turn ideas into reality,” says Levy. He believes schools must to do three things

  • Connect innovators to each other, and to business, at the earliest stages
  • Teach innovators how to be their own bosses
  • Support research that leads directly to markets and economic benefit
Coral CEA has also partnered with Ryerson in a first-ever study on innovation in Ontario. The research team of the Ontario Cross-Border Technology Innovation Ecosystem (OCTIE) released preliminary findings in October 2011 stating that the more entrepreneurs network, especially with social networking, the more investment money they acquire. “Socializing your ideas enables more focused targeting so that entrepreneurs align with capitalists that better understand their value – which results in better valuations. Social networking enables an entrepreneur to reach people they could not have by other means,” says Forbes.


“We need to embrace Open Innovation and collaboration,” says the study’s primary author Professor Wendy Cukier, Vice President of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University. “The DMZ at Ryerson fosters innovation with a lean methodology and small teams that are very focused on going to market. Ontario will see action from our collaboration with new jobs, companies and applications,” says Forbes.

About Coral CEA

Coral CEA is a not-for-profit Open Innovation Network composed of member companies and organizations focused on the commercialization of Communications Enabled Applications (CEAs). Coral CEA was founded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, Carleton University, IBM, GENBAND, Eclipse Foundation and ITAC. The mandate is to create sustainable companies and jobs by supporting members in the commercialization process of new products and services. This includes business development, distribution and brokering of alliance and capital relationships.

About Digital Media Zone and Ryerson University

The DMZ is a multidisciplinary workspace for young entrepreneurs. It is a hub of digital media innovation, collaboration and commercialization that is home to both entrepreneurial startups and industry solution-providers. With access to overhead and business services, students and alumni can fast track their product launches, stimulating Canada’s emerging digital economy through spending and job creation. Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education with more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to 28,000 students.

PricewaterhouseCoopers participation confirmed

December 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP, Canada.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP, Canada, is a member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited and is one of the “big four” accounting firms.

Their 5,200 partners and staff in 23 locations across the country provide industry-focused assurance, advisory and tax services for public, private and government clients in all markets.

Their Canadian Executive Team is led by Bill McFarland CEO and Canadian Senior Partner.

As a leading Canadian organization with clients and offices across the country, the support of their business depends on in-house staff with specialized skills in the following areas:

  • Administrative Support
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Human Resources/Learning and Education
  • Information Technology
  • Legal Services
  • Marketing and Communications/Knowledge Management
  • Operations
  • Security

They help business solve problems by providing an extensive selection of services. Services are divided into four areas (Audit and Assurance, Consulting, Deals and Tax) and supported by their Internal Firm Services group.

Their Consulting and Deals practices provide advice and assistance based on their financial, analytical and business process skills to enhance the performance of companies of all sizes. They provide services relating to:

  • Creating, acquiring and financing businesses
  • Integrating strategic goals into current operations
  • Improving management and control
  • Dealing with crises
  • Restructuring and realizing value

PwC offers Audit and Assurance services focused on the specific needs of their clients. They support them so they can provide quality information to the capital markets and their other stakeholders. They offer services including:

  • Year-end audits
  • Quarterly reviews
  • Financial accounting advice
  • Regulatory compliance assurance for meeting legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

PwC’s Tax Services professionals work with clients to find and manage their tax opportunities. Every business transaction that their clients make — domestic or international — has direct or indirect tax consequences.

With thanks to Chris Bodnar.

GrandBanks Capital participation confirmed

December 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of GrandBanks Capital.

GrandBanks Capital partners with entrepreneurs to create and build dominant, market-leading companies through their established experience set, operating expertise and insight, and extensive top-level industry relationships.

Understanding the challenges that arise when building a world-class company, GrandBanks Capital guides entrepreneurs in the direction of market leadership by utilizing the team’s early-stage investing experience and broad network of contacts through some of the fastest growing industry sectors. These markets include Internet infrastructure, software and software services, security and storage applications, media technologies and services, financial technologies and services, and wireless technologies and services.

The GrandBanks team and its partners collectively have more than 100 years of venture capital investing and senior operating experience, a proof point to their insight and expertise that helps entrepreneurs build the next wave of premier companies in emerging markets. Comprised of recognized business builders within targeted investment sectors, the investment team possesses a sought after reputation within the venture capital community for actively building successful companies.

Recognizing new technologies with the potential for significant impact, GrandBanks Capital team members and partners have been lead investors and senior executives for some of the most successful companies in their respective sectors, including Yahoo!, E*Trade, Art Technology Group, GEAC, GeoCities, Multex Systems,, GSI Commerce, SOFTBANK, EMC Corporation, Thomson Financial, First Call, CCBN, Lycos, The Learning Company, and Phoenix Technologies LTD.

GrandBanks Capital also has an extensive network that they put to work for their portfolio companies – executives and recruiters to assist in hiring, other top-tier venture firms as co-investors, senior partners in major legal, accounting and investment banking firms, and business contacts at the highest level throughout the industry.

The team includes:
Charles R. Lax, Managing General Partner
Tim Wright, General Partner
Jeffrey P. Parker, Partner
JJ Healy, Venture Partner
Raymond H. Edelman, Administrative Partner
Alden Reid, Associate

FreshBooks participation confirmed

December 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of FreshBooks.

FreshBooks is an online invoicing service that helps you keep your time and expense organized, send professional branded invoices, and even collect online payments by credit card, PayPal, or eCheck. That will save you time, impress your clients, and get you paid faster.

Their mission is to deliver fast and simple invoicing and time tracking services that help you manage your business. They call these Unaccounting™ services and they will:

  • Save you time
  • Be easy to use
  • Make you look professional (think Fortune 500)
  • Let you manage your books without an accountant
  • Secure, encrypt, and back up your data
  • Be available 24/7 from anywhere with any computer

The team includes:
Mike McDermont – CEO & Co-Founder
Joe Sawada – Co-Founder
Levi Cooperman – VP of Operations
Stuart MacDonald – Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer
Mitch Solway – VP of Marketing
Corey Reid – Chief Cat Herder
Michal Berman – COO

Their Advisors include:
Brian Jones
Bill Mann
Tom Wellner
Jerry King

RIC Centre participation confirmed

December 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of The Research, Innovation, Commercialization (RIC) Centre.


The RIC Centre, Peel Region’s hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, was launched in 2008 as a not-for-profit organization supporting the development of innovation and entrepreneurship in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. RIC Centre provides commercialization support to help new entrepreneurs and seasoned business people take technical innovations to market.

The RIC Centre provides important services to start-ups and SMEs such as market research, mentoring and coaching and strategic planning. They also provide entrepreneurial training with their monthly ‘Growing Your Business’ sessions and connections to investors, through their relationship with Maple leaf Angels.

Since 2008, RIC has worked with over 150 companies, and  46% of all successful clients at RIC have either received funding or been introduced to funding sources and investors.


RIC Centre offers a comprehensive range of supporting activities for entrepreneurs including practical training and networking events. Their experienced advisors and Entrepreneurs in Residence guide their clients every step of the way.

RIC Centre works with innovators in a range of sectors, including:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Life Sciences
  • Emerging Technologies

Their Vision and Their Mission

To build an innovation ecosystem to support community prosperity in Peel Region.  To facilitate connections between the entrepreneurial imagination and practical resources for commercialization.

  • Represent the cluster, and collaborate with other nearby clusters.
  • Develop the business environment in order to attract and grow large established firms, as well as more indigenous young firms.
  • Develop the human resource environment through formal academic programs and informal training and mentoring.
  • Develop the community environment to improve the health and welfare of local citizens.

The management team includes:
John Switzer – Chair
Pam Banks – Executive Director
Tim Scott – Entrepreneur-in-Residence
James Sbrolla – Entrepreneur-in-Residence

The Advisory Board includes:
John Switzer – Founder of Winesights Inc.
Sheldon Leiba – President of the Mississauga Board of Trade
Adolf Proietta – Managing Director of A.V.More
Bill Matthews
Ulrich Krull – Vice-Principal of Research at University of Toronto Mississauga
Bryan Watson – Executive Director of NACO
David Arbuckle – Manager of Public Policy and Government Relations in Region of Peel
Kevin French – Life Sciences and Health Services at RBC Royal Bank
Steve D’Agostino – Founder and President of Avega
Darren Lawless – Dean of Applied Research at Sheridan College
Fred Haussman – Managing Director of Funding Research and Development Group Inc.
John Oxley – Director Breath Technical Evangelism at Microsoft
Gary Kent – Corporate Strategy and Innovation City Manager’ Office for City of Mississauga
Cassey DiBattista – Owner of FT Consultants
Susan Amring – Manager of the Economic Development Office for City of Mississauga
Steven Desrocher – President of ASI Technologies
Nancy Johnston – Manager of Business Development and Marketing for City of Brampton

GrowthWorks participation confirmed

December 5, 2011 at 1:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of GrowthWorks.

GrowthWorks is a recognized leader in the Canadian venture capital industry, specializing in the management and growth of regionally based venture capital funds. GrowthWorks has combined assets under management of more than $800 million.

Invest in their experience

GrowthWorks offers you more: more accountability, more experience and more proven know-how to make the most of your investment.

A principled approach to adding value

Over the last 19 years, they’ve built GrowthWorks into one of Canada’s leading venture capital management companies. They’ve done that by managing funds that rigorously follow core principles: structure strategic investments in growth-oriented companies, value portfolio assets conservatively, build vital industry connections and minimize risk through diversification. It’s a simple formula that delivers powerful results.

Regional know-how. National Reach

At GrowthWorks, they offer regionally based retail venture capital funds (RVCs) right across Canada.

GrowthWorks specializes in the management of and growth of regionally based venture capital funds and has assets under management of approximately $480 million. The funds under management include the following RVCs: Working Opportunity Fund, GrowthWorks Canadian Fund, GrowthWorks Commercialization Fund and GrowthWorks Atlantic Venture Fund.

Partners in performance

They have specialized teams in each of their core sectors to identify and structure investments in potential winners. These skilled teams also help create success by helping the companies that GrowthWorks managed funds invest in to grow with strategic management support and advice. This way, the companies get guidance from experienced leaders. In turn, the funds’ investors know that these companies receive direction to help them thrive.

The Senior Management team includes:
David Levi – President & CEO
Thomas J. Hayes – President & CEO of GrowthWorks Atlantic Ltd.
David Balsdon – COO
Clint Matthews – CFO
Tim Lee – CIO, Venture Capital
Jim Charleton – Senior VP Investment, British Columbia
Debbie Gray – Senior VP, National Sales & Marketing
Pia Collins – Senior VP, Human Resources

Martyn Bassett Associates participation confirmed

December 5, 2011 at 1:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of Martyn Bassett Associates Inc.

Martyn Bassett Associates Inc. build teams that drive revenue, connecting top-achieving sales and marketing executives with the emerging software leaders.

Since 1983 they have been the executive recruiters Toronto has relied on to deliver excellence and place high performing professionals in the software/high-tech industry. If you are looking for ‘A’ players you need an executive headhunting firm that builds top achieving teams. Their candidates are part of the niche group who are able to win clients, drive revenue and own markets. They help their clients build teams with experience, energy, talent & conviction.

You know what you want, they know where to find them. Inappropriate or bad hires are one of the most costly mistakes that companies make. You may accidentally stumble upon genius, but they will track it down with certainty! Their placements have helped set companies on the fast-track and have transformed early-stage ventures into multi-million dollar success stories.

Their approach to headhunting in Toronto is backed by their years of experience, market intelligence and their in-depth understanding of the ideal candidate; someone who understands your unique market value, because they have led a similar organization to success.

They really are different. They believe that your success is the secret to their own success. Perhaps their greatest offering is the long-term commitment they provide to their clients as a strategic partner in their organization’s successful evolution. Simply put – they deliver the real deal.

Martyn Bassett is the President and Founder.

StoreMarker participation confirmed

December 5, 2011 at 1:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of StoreMarker.

StoreMarker strengthens the relationship between people and business.

StoreMarker enables businesses to engage their customers like never before while allowing people to maintain control over their own information and control how they communicate with their favourite businesses. The end result is a strengthened relationship between people and business.

Mike Cunningham is the founder of StoreMarker.

HomeStars participation confirmed

December 5, 2011 at 12:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OCTIE welcomes the participation of HomeStars. is a growing online community of homeowners and home improvement companies throughout Canada and the U.S.

HomeStars offers a free service for homeowners to find reputable renovators, repairmen and retailers by searching its database of almost 2 million companies. Homeowners write reviews based on their home improvement experiences – both good and bad. This builds a collective knowledge base that is invaluable in helping homeowners make better decisions on whom to hire. Our forum allows homeowners to dialogue with each other, ask questions, help others and tell their stories.

Reputation matters. Companies see the value in this feedback, and proactively respond to reviews written about them as well as participate in the issues and discussions homeowners are struggling with.

The team includes:
Nancy Peterson, Co-Founder
Andrew Goodman, Co-Founder

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