The coming Canadian Tech Renaissance

CdaThis Monday I went to the Labour Day classic Argos vs. TiCats CFL showdown. As I watched the unfurling of the largest Canadian flag ever, listened the screaming CF-18 overhead and sipped my Molson Canadian I couldn’t help think about the state of our tech scene in Canada.

I’ve been in this industry since the late 90s. When I showed up, the tech boom was in full swing. Everyone with a pulse was getting funded. Their was a booming tech IPO market in Canada. All good.

Continue reading

FreshBooks First Venture Round

FreshBooks_logo
Today, FreshBooks announced that it raised $30M in its first venture funding round ever.  This is the single largest transaction I’ve been a part of and I am super excited to welcome our new investors to the team.

The path to this announcement began many years ago. For years, we have fielded calls from VCs looking to learn more about us. We knew from the beginning we were looking to build an enduring market leader. So we knew that at some point, seeking institutional backing would become part of the story.

  Continue reading

Building your C Level Team

team-justice-leagueBack when I was a seed stage VC I was always amazed to meet founding teams where every one of them had a C level title. CEO, CTO, etc. Now the beauty of having your own company is that you can call yourself whatever you want. But when dealing with institutional investors its important to be open and self aware enough to judge whether you truly have a C level team in their eyes.

I’ve been part of many startups now as either an investor or management team member. But FreshBooks is the biggest so far (Shopify is bigger but was much smaller when I was involved). We are at the growth stage, well beyond startup. And what we need in terms of leadership and management differs very much from what my past companies have needed.

Continue reading

The Startup Treadmill

going-nowhere-fasterDo you know why startups fail? Because they run out of money. Yes, there are lots of root causes: wrong market, timing, team, product, execution. But you can get past these sins and keep fighting as long as you have cash.

Ironically, the reason why startups run out of money is because they raise capital too early. And they raise the wrong kind of capital too early.

As soon as you raise institutional capital of any kind you get on a treadmill where the VCs want you to run harder and burn faster. They want you to use their capital to accelerate – spend, hiring, marketing and ultimately growth. Acceleration is of course why you raise money and give up part of your company in the first place. But premature efforts to accelerate usually don’t work.

Continue reading