Entrepreneurial Advice

start - blog imageSo, you are starting a business? This is a difficult decision, and congratulations on taking the leap. You have an idea you’ve been researching for years. Picture this: time to launch, you sit down at your desk at home, in a coffee shop, or even better a coworking space :). But now… What do you do, day one? It is generally understood time is of the essence when launching any new venture. So then why, on day one, week one, or month one, are you focused on building a flashy website, setting up an LLC through a lawyer, or even designing a logo?

Most people will say they are setting the groundwork or even getting everything laid out to start operating business. While certain activities are necessary to facilitate business, most activities are not crucial to testing the viability of the business.

Think about any business idea you had before or are pursuing now. What is the gamble that must work for you to be successful? What is the hardest thing you need to achieve to make this new venture successful? Maybe it is a good idea to focus on that. (Note: If you do not know what this variable/gamble is, please re-examine your business plan.) Use whatever rule you want - 80/20 seems to make sense. Spend 80% of your day ensuring your business is viable: get that first client, build that list of subscribers, anything that is crucial/hard/important for the business. 20% can be used for the other areas.

Too many times you see smart, driven people drowning in work being side tracked with these “nice to haves” that are not pinnacle to the company’s success.

I invite you to examine your daily activities and label an activity as vital and nice to have. This sometimes is sobering, but well worth it.

Think of a car, many people would agree A/C, decent stereo, leather seats are all great features. But, all of these don’t matter if the pistons aren’t firing. Build that engine, make sure those four wheels are rolling, and then add the nice to haves. GM gets a bailout when they mess up, entrepreneurs aren’t always so lucky.

Alex MazurewiczAlex Mazurewicz is the Community Director of the Burlington HiVE. Burlington’s only co working office space. For more information visit www.burlingtonhive.com or for a tour or questions please email him: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Follow the HiVE @BurlingtonHive

Hire a Gen Y

Hire a “Gen Y.” - The Benefits to Youth, Community & Your Business

Gen Y

The Millennial Generation (aka Generation Y’s) are people born sometime between the mid-80s to the late 90s. Ambitious, confident and achievement-oriented, they are the fastest growing segment of our future workforce.

Many of Ontario’s young people possess definite employment and career advantages, such as education, innovation, tendencies toward social development and strong global connections. A global generational study conducted by PwC (a network of member accounting firms) characterized today’s youth as “civic-minded with a strong sense of community both locally & globally”, these future leaders and employees of our companies and organizations are talented, team-oriented and certainly, tech-savvy.

However, even with the employability odds stacked in their favor, the unemployment rate for Halton’s young workforce is unacceptably high - almost double the average provincial rate. The cause and determining factors are mixed – some say companies hire only those with work experience requiring minimal training, while others cite the rise of minimum wage as a deterrent for hiring. Nonetheless the fact remains many youth are not being hired and if this issue is not addressed, it will have a negative, ripple effect on our aggregate economic health.

The issue of youth unemployment can persist for many years. The impact of this prolonged detachment to the labour market may result in individuals not having obtained the necessary experience to support career progression and advancement. Also, the economic loss can be substantial, significantly hindering their ability to become financially independent/self-sufficient and preventing them from making the necessary contributions to their communities.

As part of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, the Youth Employment Fund was developed to support the expansion of employment opportunities and assist youth with acquiring work experience and real-life skills that will benefit them throughout their careers. The goal is to connect businesses with talented, career focused job seekers from 15 to 29 years of age in an effort to help 30,000 young people across the province build skills, find work and/or start a business.

By providing the opportunity of a job placement, employers may be eligible to receive incentives that help cover the cost of wages and training for new hires.

The Youth Employment Fund benefits youth in the workforce and also provides eligible employers with the following:

  • Up to $6,800 for training incentives
  • Support funds for additional skills development
  • Free recruiting support and job matching service

There are various programs, supports and assistance available for businesses and organizations who hire youth talent, students and young entrepreneurs.

Kimberly Neale 150x150Kimberly Neale – Job Developer with The Regional Municipality of Halton, Employment Halton. To get more information or to apply to be eligible for the Youth Employment Fund initiative, please contact Kimberly: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. // 905-825-6000 ext. 2705

Silicon Halton Proud to Sponsor Angel One’s 2014 Founders and Funders Celebration

June2014-FoundersAndFunders

We’re honoured and proud to be a sponsor and supporter of Angel One’s Founders and Funders Celebration taking place June 18th at the Ron Joyce Centre located at McMaster University’s Degroote School of Business in Burlington, Ontario.

The evening is an opportunity to meet with and learn more about Angel One's members and their investee companies. This year will mark a special milestone for Angel One Network with the recognition of two successful exits in 2013.

Silicon Halton members are invited to come out and help us celebrate the winners of the Pauli Awards for Founder of the Year, Funder of the Year and Contributor of the Year.  Last years winners are depicted below. Members can register here.

2013FoundersAndFundersCelebrants

2013 Founders and Funders Celbrants (left to right):  Dan Lawrie - Funder of the Year; Paul Subject - Contributor of the Year; Larry Innanen - Chair; Karen Grant - Executive Director; Stefano Plati - Founder of the Year.

About Angel One

Since incorporating in September 2011, Angel One members have invested over $12 million into 45 investments.  According to the National Angel Capital Organization's surveys on angel group activity, Angel One has ranked as one of the top angel groups in Canada for 2012 and 2013.

Additional facts:

  • Syndication investments with: Golden Triangle Angelnet, Niagara Angel Network, York Angel Investors, Georgian Angel Network, Capital Angel Network, Maple Leaf Angels, Boston Harbor Angels and MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund
  • Members are accredited investors who live, work or have strong interests in Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and other communities in Southern Ontario.
  • Close to have of their investments are in technology companies
  • Network works with the following RIC Centres: Innovation Factory (Hamilton), HalTech Regional Centre (Halton Region); Innovation Guelph, The RIC Centre (Mississauga), VentureLab (Markham), and Innovate Niagara (St. Catharines)

[Sources: 2013 Founders and Funding Program Guide; Karen Grant, Executive Director of Angel One]

You can check out Angel One member investments and follow them on my unofficial investees Twitter list. Better yet, come and meet some of the founders and funders June 18th! Remember to register, there's limited seats!

 

Silicon Halton Hits 1000 Members

We are thrilled to announce that Silicon Halton has reached 1000 members, with our 1000th member joining the LinkedIn Group last week. This milestone puts us well on the way to our BHAG goal of 2500 members this year and shows that our three pillars of Technology, Community, and Growth are really resonating with high-tech professionals living or working in Halton Region.

alan-montgomery-200hMeet Our 1000th Member!

Our 1000th member is Alan Montgomery (LinkedIn profile), a telecom tech serial entrepreneur based in Burlington. His latest venture is ModTel Installations, a telecom service company. Alan lists his title on LinkedIn as "CEO, shipping clerk and janitor", so we had a feeling he would be an interesting person to talk to.

So this intrepid reporter caught up with Alan on the Internet and asked him a few questions.

Alan Montgomery on Entrepreneurial Beginnings

Q: Can you tell us about how you got started and your current company? 

A: Voicetouch (my first venture) was created in 1991 as an entirely different venture than what it became. It began as a part time venture with my dad here in Burlington providing telecom based check-ins on seniors on behalf of their children (think of a proactive alternative to "I've fallen and I can't get up"). That didn't really develop as well as we had hoped, and the company lay dormant for a couple of years while I worked in sales and marketing for several industrial control firms.

I've loved finding deals and buying/selling ever since I was a kid, and an opportunity presented itself where I could do that all day, every day and get paid for it and I've been at it ever since. The nice thing about being a small company is that it's very fluid and responsive to opportunities. There are no huge bureaucratic hoops to jump through to get approval for a new product or market. I've pursued several of these over the years, and subsequently sold off that part of the business. As examples, we supplied PDA parts to the North American repair centers of major retailers for 6 years, as well as sold large quantities of surplus computers and blackberries to eastern Europe and Africa. Every day was different and exciting - what every job should be! For the last 8 years or so, VoiceTouch has been focused mainly on the wholesale space in the telecom sector as a telecom equipment broker.

A little over a year ago, I acquired ModTel Installations (http://www.modtel.ca/), which was a good customer of mine. ModTel focused on installing and maintaining telephone systems for retail clients (such as Dr.'s offices and school boards). Since then, I've spent most of my time growing that business, and now have 5 technicians serving customers across the GTA. Being more vertically integrated than our competitors, we have a distinct price advantage as well as a substantial inventory (with warehouse space in Burlington as well as Niagara Falls, NY). In the past year, we've ramped up the VoIP and networking side of the business as well as entering into a couple of strategic partnerships to better serve our customers.

 

Q: Are you facing any business challenges at the moment?

A: I face the same ones that most (all) small businesses face: finding good people, cash flow and finding a balance between traditional marketing and online/social media... all while trying to run and grow a successful business!

 

No Place Like Halton for Home, Work, and Community

Q: Do you live or work in Halton (or both)?

A: I live and work in Halton, and have my whole life. I went to school at Nelson and Sheridan College, and now my kids are going to the same elementary school that I did. I've traveled a fair bit, but have never found a place I'd rather live (other than an island off the coast of Australia, but the telecom opportunities were pretty thin!).

 

Q: How did you hear about Silicon Halton?

A: I found you through LinkedIn and also through a friend who works out of the Burlington HiVE.

 

Q: Why did you decide to join Silicon Halton?

A: I wanted to join because I've found that being around innovative people spawns, well, innovation and creativity. I think I can both contribute to, and benefit from, that dynamic.

 

Q: What can you help other members with? 

A: A lot of people find the whole VoIP topic quite daunting and confusing. Hopefully, I can distill some of the cacophony down and help people decide if VoIP is something they should be considering... it's not for everyone.


Welcome to Silicon Halton, Alan, along with everyone else who has joined in the last few months! 


Author Bio:
dave-headshot-100hDave Truman writes about technology and makes technical information easier to find and use. He has done information architecture, marketing writing, and technical writing for companies ranging from Dell to lean software startups. Learn more and contact Dave at <http://davetruman.com> .

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Silicon Halton is a grassroots high tech community focused on Technology, Community, and Growth