Rick Segal on Albert Lai, Canadian VC Money, "The Venture Gap", and "The Idiot Gap"

Wow... Rick's got an incredibly interesting post regarding Albert Lai's comments in a recent Canadian Business magazine article "The Venture Gap".

So what is it in the article that turns Rick into "Cranky Rick"? Albert's comment:

"As a purely business decision, you'd be an idiot to start a company in Canada, he says, unless you can get some capital from the U.S."

Rick's response:

"As a purely business decision, you'd be an idiot to listen to Albert Lai when it comes to where to start up a company."

It just gets better and better from that point on...

Here's the dirty little secret: Albert turned the Canadian VC money down.

Again, check out Rick's full post here as it's worth reading in full...

He's also got some really good Pro-Canada facts and commentary I think are worth calling out:

Let us not spend our time pounding on Albert's embellishments and complaints, rather let me give you some actual Pro-Canada facts that I hope give you pause with respect to as our whiz kid puts it "being an idiot."

Fact: The SRED claims and other federal and various provincial benefits are superior to those of the United States.  The programs of pay subsidies regarding the hiring of tech grads from University's can get you a development team for less than half of what it would cost you in the cheapest corner of the U S of A. And that's just one of many programs that make Canada an amazing place to start a company.

Fact: In terms of government support of business, no country does more then Canada when it comes to export help, worldwide promotion, use of little things like Embassies for hosting business meetings, etc.  The country is off the charts amazing when it comes to support her business community from the smallest one person start up to the multi-million dollar enterprises.

Fact: Canada has a superior work force.  Memo to the whiz kid: The U. S. companies line up around the block when it comes to university recruitment.  Waterloo grads, to name one, is responsible hundreds of technical innovation inside companies large and small.  My start up company in Seattle (HealthUnity) grabbed some great people from Canada. And superior people are everywhere in this country. From Labrador all the way over to Victoria, British Columbia. Solid people, super brains, hard working, non-idiots, Albert.

Fact: There are dedicated programs in Canada specifically designed for start ups.  Get to know Maxx Hollott at Growthworks.  He works on the Growthworks commercialization fund which is targeted at, surprise, whiz kid like start up projects.  Maxx is a great guy and the program works.  Paymentus, a JLA portfolio company, started life in that fund and is now rocking along.  Canadian program, Albert, run by non-idiots trying to help the Canadian non-idiot entrepreneurial scene.

Fact: There are Venture Capital firms in Canada that would love to hear from you.  RHO-Canada, Garage Canada, Growthworks, Celtic House, Ventures West, and yours truly are all talking to entrepreneurs about start ups, medium, and large companies.  Non-idiots, Albert, as are the entrepreneurs.

Fact: There are amazing companies run by amazing people all over Canada. They are not idiots. Leila Boujnane, CEO of IDEE, is one such a non-idiot and a women I adore. She, along with her co-founder Paul Bloore, have done a fantastic job of building IDEE into one of best visual search and advanced image recognition companies on the planet.  As they will attest to, I've been after them for years to make an investment.  They are not idiots. They are making it without VC money and will probably get an amazing offer one of these days and be yet another non-idiot Canadian success story. Too bad for me, great for them as they work hard, have great products, and deserve all the success that comes their way. Oh, did I mention they aren't idiots, Albert?  Then there are the brothers running Net Shelter, Jeremy Wright running B5, Alec Saunders running Iotum, the super brains at Truition, PlanetEye, Shoplogix, Overlay.TV, Maximum Throughput, VoIPshield, AudienceView, Dabble DB, etc, etc.  Hmm, this paragraph is just bursting with non-idiots, Albert. I'd keep going but the Starbucks triple whatever is starting to wear off.


Comments (2)

  1. catherine says:

    and you can’t forget the Toronto-based start-up, JobLoft.com!

  2. The whole premise of the original article in Canadian Business was poorly researched. A number of press publications have run stories on the decrease in VC funding without doing the necessary homework on the underlying facts. Yes, there were less investments in total dollars compared with the previous year, but if you look carefully at the numbers, the difference can be explained by a couple of deals that skewed the data the previous year and if you take out the outliers, the money invested actually increased. Yes, there is less money from VC’s this year, but those numbers are skewed based on the cycle of fund completions and new funds being raised by the VC firms – within a year the amount will bump up again. Another key fact is that Canadian VC’s are becoming more skilled at co-investing with their US counterparts meaning there is more leverage for the capital they have – the press doesn’t understand that US investors tend not to invest in Canadian companies unless there are also Canadian VC’s involved and that companies with a mix of US and Canadian financiers tend to be more successful at achieving exits down the road. The other fundamental point missed by the article was that there is very vibrant startup investment that is not coming from VC’s … Angel investing and other forms of non-VC investing are on the rise.

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