Small businesses play an integral role in Canada’s sustainability and growth as they account for 98% of employer businesses in Canada. Employing over 8.2 million people across 11 provinces, small businesses contribute more than 30% to Canada’s GDP and according to StatsCan employ “90.3% of the private sector workforce”. A boon for the economy, a CIBC report notes, “the next decade might see the strongest startup activity in the Canadian economy on record”. With new small business growth potentially surpassing the current rate of 104,000 businesses per year, entrepreneurs will need to be prepared to face increased competition.
Canada provides a welcome environment for startups, offering billions in funding through venture capital, angel investors, incubators, bank loans and government grants and subsidies, yet 43% of startups state that finding the right investor is the biggest funding challenge. Which begs the question, why are so many entrepreneurs struggling to secure funding?
The answer may be simpler than expected and Stuart Browne, CEO of Pycap Venture Partners, has an explanation: “I hear hundreds of pitches per year, and time and time again, I meet entrepreneurs who aren’t prepared with the information needed, for an investor, to make a sound decision”.
Browne goes on to comment that many new entrepreneurs lack the overall understanding, knowledge and skills needed to identify appropriate sources of capital, and position their offering effectively. This, in part, may be because entrepreneurs often have a tech background instead of business or finance. Browne notes, “The world of private equity is opaque; investors often seek different information than public companies. Entrepreneurs need to educate themselves on their funding options and how to approach different investors.”
Browne aims to address entrepreneurs funding challenges through his new course Financing an Early Stage Company at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. “I wanted to offer this course through the School as they provide courses and programs to help entrepreneurs and startups at all stages”, says Browne. Browne’s course focuses on preparing entrepreneurs with the knowledge they need about financing. From valuation to funding options, entrepreneurs will learn strategies and insight on when and how to approach venture capital funds, angel investors, and the government; how to create a successful crowdfunding campaign and the mechanics of Initial Coin Offerings. The course will also draw upon Pycap’s network to provide students with guest speakers who are industry leaders within the various topics covered.
Browne has been involved with the venture capital industry for seven years, is an Expert Reviewer for the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and has given lectures on startup financing at major conferences throughout Canada, China, Mexico, Slovenia, and Mongolia.