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.
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.
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!
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!
Dave 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> .
By Richard Bolton of Centricity360
It’s a world filled with email SPAM, phishing schemes and malicious software attacks. We see it in our inbox every day and watch it on the nightly news as more and more Canadians and being taken advantage of. To combat these unwanted attacks, Canada has developed a new piece of legislation that comes into effect on July 1st, 2014, Canada Day. Its called the Canadian Anti-Spam legislation or affectionately known as CASL. Although we are one of the last of the G8 nations to adopt legislation against SPAM, it is one of the most aggressive anti-spam laws in the world. But, is it enough to stop the global dilemma of SPAM.
As business owners or leaders in organizations, what do we need to know? CASL is based on consent. Call it permission marketing if you will. As of July 1, 2014 you will need to obtain proper consent from the recipients of a commercial electronic message or CEM. A CEM is really any electronic message that is sent for the purpose encouraging action in a commercial activity, regardless of whether there is an expectation of profit. Emails, SMS text, instant messaging and social media messages (e.g. Twitter) are all forms of electronic messages. After July 1, 2014 you will be required to obtain consent, either express or implied, to send an electronic message. Express consent meaning someone actively gave you permission to send them a CEM, like an email opt in on your website. Implied consent meaning you have their consent based on a prior relationship, i.e. a customer from a business transaction. There are some exemptions that you will need to be aware of, like you will not be required to receive consent to send a quotation. Once you have received consent it is good for a 2 year period. Is your head spinning yet?
What I am recommending to my clients is that they first complete a CEM audit and process review. Make certain that everyone in your organization that communicates through CEM with clients, prospects, partners and suppliers know about the extent of the new law. Complete the audit and review of all your electronic communications methods, as an example review existing email lists and online data capture forms. Make certain that you have some systems in place for tracking consent from your clients and prospects, like an email marketing solution or a CRM customer database. Now is the time to reconfirm your consents with your existing clients. Why you ask? Because after July 1, 2014 you can’t send an email to get consent. Also, you’ll need to change some process by adding what they are calling “prescribed information” to all your outgoing electronic messages identifying yourself and providing an unsubscribe mechanism. Sound like a lot of work? It is, but it’s the new law and we will all need to comply.
Remember, the penalties for each violation can be up to $1-million for an individual and up to $10-million for companies. Yes, steep!
Richard Bolton, Centricity360. As President of Centricity360, Richard Bolton is an independent consultant specializing in small business growth. Focusing on internet marketing strategies, online selling techniques, increasing customer value and implementing value added technologies. He works with business owners, professionals, and organizations as a trusted advisor producing dynamic results.
The ever-changing technology field has resulted in tremendous opportunity, growth and profitability for business owners quick to identify and meet marketplace demands.
Fundamental to financial success is maximizing profit and minimizing operating expenses. Yet equally important, is managing your after-tax cash flow through smart tax planning to ensure you take full advantage of the tools available. Here’s a sample of the tax areas that should be reviewed to maximize profits:
For 2014, corporate tax rates remain unchanged, calculated at 15.5% of the first $500,000 of associated company income and 26.0% on any remaining balance of income. If your corporate income is above $500,000, then there may be opportunities to restructure the operations to use multiple companies to reduce the corporate tax burden.
There are many tax planning options that can be considered. Although some options are more complex, the tax advantage can be significant:
Attention to the above points early in 2014 should be of assistance to help identify and understand tax planning options. However, in the end, tax planning strategies that are implemented should be customized around the specific facts of your corporate and personal financial situation.
If you'd like to learn more about tax planning strategies for your business, or have any questions about the information above - please feel free to contact me.
This blog summarizes the technical and financial changes made to the SR&ED program as of Jan 2014.
For project descriptions, CRA wants project descriptions to include the following five elements:
A good example illustrating these aspects is as follows:
These stringent new requirements are coupled with a reduction in tax credits. These reductions are more significant for larger corporations; for small, private corporations (CCPC'S), the following are reduced: