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The DMZ’s News Roundup: What went down in May

News Roundup

Tag Archives: startup

The DMZ’s News Roundup: What went down in May

Canada’s venture deal woes, the country’s latest unicorn company and the DMZ’s incoming Bootcamp cohort – this is your monthly DMZ news roundup.

Power up with the DMZ’s News Roundup: a blog series dedicated to providing you with a quick look back on what went down in the Canadian startup and innovation ecosystem this past month.

We’ve got you covered with the most relevant news and notable wins from the ecosystem, DMZ updates and more.

Here’s a rundown of what went down.

INDUSTRY NEWS

New BDC report reveals a record-breaking 2021 for venture capital and private equity deals, while 2022 is expected to experience turbulence

A new BDC report revealed that 2021 was a shattering year for VC, with Canada breaking records by almost every metric. Canada saw a jump in domestic and international VC investing, with 752 deals made, representing $14.7 billion CAD. However, this past quarter, VC deal counts and the money behind private equity deals took a fall. Despite the forecasted challenges, BDC suspects that the startup economy and Canadian entrepreneurs are well-positioned to take them on.

Check out the full report here.

Neo Financial secures $185 million CAD in Series C funding, becomes the country’s newest Unicorn status company

Calgary-based Neo Financial closed their Theil-led Series C funding round, in which they raised $185 million CAD. This additional funding launched the company’s valuation to more than $1 billion CAD, making them the newest tech company to earn official unicorn status in the country. Neo Financial is an online bank bringing a low-fee alternative to the Canadian financial market, helping users save costs on spending and earn high interest on savings.

Learn more here.

Neo Financial becomes Calgary's latest $1 billion tech 'unicorn' | The Star

STARTUP NEWS

SPM solution provider, Forma.AI, is expanding platform development with $45 million CAD secured in Series B funding

DMZ alumni Forma.AI (Incubator ’18), a sales performance management solution provider, recently closed its Series B funding round. With the $45 million CAD secured in funding, they plan on expanding the marketing and development of their fintech platform.

Read more here.

Fable secured $10 million USD to make online accessibility a reality for disabled users

Fable (Incubator ’20), a Toronto-based startup that helps companies make digital products more usable by people with accessibility challenges, announced a $10.5 million USD round in venture capital funding to support the company’s growth. Alwar Pillai, CEO and Co-Founder of Fable, says the company is focusing on unlocking access to more clients by targeting large corporations’ digital teams to target their users.

Check it out here.

WBI-affiliated technology firm CyborgTech to acquire DMZ FinTech alumni Fortuna.AI

DMZ alumni Fortuna.AI (Incubator ’18) announced its acquisition from WBI-affiliated technology firm CyborgTech, home to robo advisory platform Cy, for an undisclosed amount. Fortuna.AI is an AI-powered platform helping financial services scale digital tools to get new clients in the marketing and advertising sector. Fortuna.AI was the winner of the DMZ-Bank of Montreal Fintech accelerator program.

Learn more here.

DMZ NEWS

Introducing the DMZ’s Bootcamp Fall 2022 cohort of cutting-edge tech companies

In a new DMZ blog, we welcome 13 up-and-coming tech companies into our new Bootcamp cohort. Hailing from across Canada, the United States, Brazil, Estonia and Africa, this new cohort is already hitting above their own weight in a diverse range of industries. Check out all the companies in our new Bootcamp cohort here.

Looking for more startup ecosystem news and DMZ updates? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to stay in the know here.

Meet the DMZ’s Spring ‘22 startup cohort

Introducing the DMZ’s newest cohort: 11 tech startups that are disrupting the Canadian tech ecosystem 


The DMZ Incubator is a market validation and traction program that helps venture-backable pre-seed and seed-stage startups execute their go-to market strategy, acquire lighthouse customers, gain media exposure, explore global expansion, preparing for the next round of funding, and much, much more.

Out of hundreds of the high-calibre startup founders that applied from Canada and around the world, the DMZ hand-picked 11 tech companies to join a new 18-month cohort in the Incubator. 

This cohort has startups joining from Vancouver, Canada to Budapest, Hungary, across diverse industries like logistics, insurtech, fintech, proptech, and more.

Introducing our Spring ‘22 Incubator cohort:

 

AssetFlo is building the next generation of location products to help the supply chain increase visibility with a single device that works everywhere and eliminates costly infrastructure.

Baoba is creating street-smart insurances by combining location intelligence with technologies to create geo-triggered coverages. Baoba’s vision is to become the #1 global ecosystem orchestrator for on-demand insurance needs and the platform for connecting a fragmented market.

Carmodity partners with car dealerships to provide lease-financing to customers in a debt-free and interest-free model.


Cozii Technologies provides sustainable residential and commercial properties management services. Their flagship product Cozii Proptech allows residential landlords to manage their rental properties from anywhere in the world. 

Lightster is a mobile platform that enables tech startups to build instant user communities for input and co-creation, and rewards users for their time with exclusive access and cash.

Monosens helps industrial machine builders and maintenance providers predict which machines need maintenance or aftermarket services using IoT technology and AI.

Businesses, governments, and individuals share many important documents every day. myLaminin uses Blockchain to deliver security, convenience, and control to the document issuer, document holder, and third-party document verifiers.

Reyts is a marketplace that allows individuals to swap currencies seamlessly and securely.

SizeWize offers an AI-backed fit recommendations eCommerce app that ensures online shoppers can buy the right size online, providing reduced returns, increased conversion, increased AOV, targeted marketing and optimal supply chains. 



ShiftRide is a car subscription service allowing people to subscribe to cars listed by owners and dealerships in the community. Every subscription comes with maintenance, insurance options, and flexible terms that suit any lifestyle.

VRapeutic is an Ontario-based UNICEF Innovation Fund portfolio software house specializing in developing therapeutic and rehabilitation solutions, with a focus on virtual reality (VR) for learning and developmental challenges.

 

If you are an early-stage tech founder interested in joining the DMZ Incubator, check out more about the program details and selection criteria here.

Why your startup needs an accountant

It’s easy to understand why early-stage entrepreneurs might see hiring an accountant as unnecessary. Tight profit margins, little-to-no investment and a small working staff mean even the tiniest expense can make or break a company. However, an accountant’s job is about more than just filing taxes and crunching numbers.

A dedicated accountant is like a year-round business partner. It’s a lifeline for entrepreneurs during the bad times and reassuring one during the good ones. Considering almost half of all new businesses fail in their first year, bringing on experienced financial assistance is less of a luxury and more of a necessity.

Avoid scam artists. Pick a professional

 
David Silber, a Senior Tax Manager at Crowe Soberman, has spent the last seven years working with investors, startups and small businesses across Canada. He’s seen how easy it can be for entrepreneurs to mismanage their company into trouble and out of a money.  

“Entrepreneurs are very good at looking at the big picture,” Silber explains. “However, they can lose sight of the fact that there are some financial reporting and obligations that go along with running a business that they can’t afford to ignore.”

Canadians convicted of tax evasion face five years in jail and a 200% fine on owed taxes

Mac Killoran, a partner at Fruitman Kates LLP, agrees. Startups tend to ignore how crucial professional planning is and don’t always understand why it sets them up for success down the road, he says. “I would say entrepreneurs for the most part try to reduce upfront costs and not pay professionals. When they do it on their own, it often results in penalties and larger headaches resolving the issues with CRA.”

Find resources you can afford

 
In a perfect world, every entrepreneur should have enough money set aside to pay a professional bookkeeper. But, since reality rarely works out as planned, a smart backup plan is to consider online accounting tools, like QuickBooks.

This helps businesses stay on top of their financial responsibilities in the interim, so they don’t rely on faulty memory or overworked staff.

If you can’t afford an accountant, online software will help you track expenses and payroll

 

It’s also important to separate personal and business expenses from the very beginning when starting a business. Founders that commingle the two can end up costing themselves money or garnering unwanted attention from the Canada Revenue Agency.

“If you can borrow money from your corporation, even unintentionally, there’s a rule in place that if that debt isn’t repaid within one year the money is added to your income and gets taxed the following year,” he explains. “Just don’t do it.”

Paying yourself a salary

 
Whether or not you should draw a salary during your startup’s early years is a question
that has plagued even the most frugal founders. Should company leaders pay themselves a salary when bootstrapping or focus on reinvesting that money? The answer, like everything in business, is complicated.

According to the experts, it all depends on a company’s future goals and cash flow. For Silber, he suggests entrepreneurs first recognize what their priorities are and then decide whether drawing a salary hurts or helps in the long run. A good compensation plan may be to pay a mix of salary and dividends.

Not taking a salary while bootstrapping your company isn’t always the smartest thing to do

Startups that pay into a dividend benefit in two ways. First: They lower their tax bracket so they pay less tax at the end of the year. Second: Later, when their business is doing well they’re not bumped up to a higher tax range. “What I do is tell entrepreneurs to pay a dividend of $30,000 or $40,000 for their salary, which results in less tax,” explains Killoran.

The future is up to you

 
The world of business is tough.

The hard truth is that every year hundreds of startups across the country shut down and
close up shop. It makes sense for entrepreneurs to use every tool they have at their disposal to tilt the odds in their favour. It might just be that an accountant’s experience and money knowhow may be the one factor that helps
their company thrive and survive in today’s cut-throat economy.

Looking to boost your money knowledge? Check out our previous post about the best money podcasts to listen to online.

How Toronto startup Roofr is using tech to go global

Not too long ago GTA homeowners hoping to repair a faulty roof had very few options available to them. They could either scour online want ads to find contractors or reach out to one of the big pricey construction firms that dominate the industry.

A huge endeavour considering the Ontario roofing industry is projected to reach a whopping $800 million this year. Meanwhile a Mckinsey & Company report found the construction and home renovation industry is one of the few remaining industries lagging when it comes to adopting new technology.

In 2016 all that changed when cofounder Richard Nelson and his two partners, Kevin Redman and Zach Melo, created Roofr. The Toronto-based startup makes it easy for consumers to find local, vetted contractors in as little as 30 seconds.

Fixing the industry’s flaws

 
The startup’s satellite technology gets customers access to cost predictions that analyze everything from man hours needed to materials required on site. This also helps roofers provide the best quotes and takes all the guesswork out of costly renovations. Customers can use the site for free any time, while contractors pay Roofr a nominal fee after each job.

A roofer by trade since he was 12 years old, he saw first hand how the out-of-date the industry was costing consumers money.  

“The problem with the roofing industry… [is] that it was a complete disaster,” Nelson explains. “You have the large roofing companies charging an arm and leg, or companies that weren’t experienced providing inferior services for a lot of money. We get around that by connecting people to the best sellers at the most competitive price.”

Since launching, the team has managed to turn their cost-efficient-roofing startup into a thriving business. Recently it hit $200,000 in gross merchandising volume and now boasts a 50 per cent month over month growth rate.

First Canada, next the world

 
Right now the company’s services are open only to Ontario residents. However Nelson hopes to expand south of the border in the coming weeks. Once the team wraps up their residency at California-based accelerator Y Combinator they’ll drum up business for their American operations. “Within the next five years, we’ll be present in every city in North America. Our first market and primary focus [right now] is California.”

When asked about the company’s recent wins, Nelson is quick to praise the DMZ. The Toronto accelerator prepped the team ahead of their Y combinator interview and introduced them to investors that kept the business afloat in its early years.

“Laith [the DMZ’s investor liaison] introduced me to a bunch of investors and angels with office hours when we were in Toronto,” says Nelson. “They helped us practice leading up to our Y Combinator interview too. So we were really prepared and knew what to expect.”

How one Canadian entrepreneur survived and thrived in NYC

The Bay area — once seen as the only top spot for tech — is no longer the be-all-and-end-all place for innovators. NYC-grown tech scions like Etsy, Blue Apron, ZocDoc and Buzzfeed have proven that building a billion-dollar company in Silicon Alley is not only possible, but slowly becoming the norm.

For those who have the money (and resources) to live in New York, success is within reach. Unfortunately, not all entrepreneurs can easily pack up and move to the Big Apple. Meanwhile, working part-time in New York is often not enough for businesses on the hunt for high-value growth.

Meet the Canadian conquering NYC

 
Canadian entrepreneur Ami Shah knows better than most how difficult it can be to work and network part-time in the city. Not too long ago the cofounder of education software company Peekapak spent weeks flying back and forth between her office in Toronto and NYC for work. Without a dedicated space in the city it meant relegating meetings with U.S. clients to subpar hotel lobbies or crowded coffee shops.

dmznyc-blogmap-1

“It’s not easy when you don’t have an office,” Shah explains. “We didn’t have a homebase so everyday [tasks] like networking or meeting clients were difficult.”

Thankfully things changed for the better in June 2017. That was when Shah and her team were chosen by the DMZ, North America’s number one university-based tech incubator, to work out of its brand new space at Primary. The co-working office, located in the heart of Manhattan, gives select Canadian entrepreneurs, like herself, a place to call home while in the big city and easy access to a host of free amenities, like desks, reception services, conference rooms and wellness classes.

The opportunity has — for all intents and purposes — changed her business in ways that she could never have imagined. “We’re focused on growth in the New York and New Jersey area now and since last year we’ve grown our sales three times,” she explains, while crediting the DMZ with playing a pivotal role in the company’s recent good fortune. “Having an office here signals to our partners that we want to spend more time in the region. We have [the] space to spend that time and, I think, it gives a lot of confidence to our partners.”

New and improved

 
The good news doesn’t stop there either. Since working out of the DMZ’s office in New York her team has moved out of its temporary home at Yonge and Dundas and into their very own office in downtown, Toronto.

The tech accelerator’s NY space has also improved Shah’s overall health and wellness, she says. The U.S. Primary location is now her home away from home where she can work, eat and also relax at the end of a long day.

“Usually when I’m there I’ll pick up a yoga class. In a city like New York where you’re rushing out to meet people it helps that there’s a place called ‘The Studio’ where any member can drop into a relaxation session.” Getting her “zen on,” as she calls it, even if it’s only for a few minutes per day, is helpful for the entrepreneur who regularly pulls 12-hour days.

Right now Shah and her team plan to maintain their presence in NYC well into the future, but don’t plan to give up their Canadian roots any time soon.

“We love being a Canadian company,” she says. “There is so much going on in Toronto in the tech scene and being part of the DMZ community showed me that. Being in NYC was never about not being a Canadian company; it was about taking advantage of this opportunity that we couldn’t have before.”

Is Rewordly the savior content creators have been searching for?

Traditional news publishers are fighting an uphill battle these days.

A 24-hour news cycle, online social media platforms that regurgitate free news and a decline in advertising rates have created a hurricane of hurt for the news industry, but today’s biggest companies refuse to go down without a fight.

Media companies – like Toronto Life and Now Magazine – are looking for new ways to make money and turning to tech startups for a helping hand.

Enter: Rewordly, a Toronto-based tech startup. The company has created an AI-powered product called Readefined that lets publishers better gauge how readers engage with online stories, determine how much content users read in real-time and what multimedia aspects of a story people actually like via behaviour tracking software. These important metrics are the cornerstone for any publisher since it helps not only attract high quality sponsors but new advertising partners.

“We have a vision to truly transform– and help –  the publishing world,” says Mario Vasilescu, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We’ve won some awards and are in discussions with Canada’s top four publishers and associations from around the world. It’s still early days, having just launched.”

A closer look at Readefined

 

Here’s how the platform works: A user signs up at Readefined and installs the company’s tracking software or downloads the official WordPress plugin.
Afterward the software starts interpreting patterns for every person that visits a publisher’s page and can even make AI-based suggestions about what writers can do to improve their content before they publish future stories.

dropoff

The company is currently in beta and working towards a mid-August launch, but for now publishers with views under 500,000 per month can sign up to use its software for only $19 per month. Companies with more readers are charged on a per view basis.

For Vasilescu, his company’s product is a way for newspapers – and content creators of all kinds – to truly understand what readers want in the digital age. No more guessing and conjecture.

Of course, the startup’s team has never worked for a newspaper, but they understand the difficulties legacy newspapers can face. Adapting to a changing industry is something Rewordly is all too familiar with. The company has undergone several pivots since it launched in 2012.

“We’ve had a winding journey. The initial product took shape while working at a management consulting company in Paris. It was really shaped by seeing how inefficiently content was managed internally and externally,” explains Vasilescu.

“As naive first-time founders, we initially built a single product that – with the benefit of hindsight – we now see was attempting to solve all of the world’s content-related issues in one behemoth of a platform. People got really excited about it, but would be totally overwhelmed using so we went back to the drawing board and created this.”

How are publishers adapting?

 

For most publishers, it’s the company’s machine learning software – which gets smarter over time as it processes different reading behaviour and content – that could provide the most return. Keeping readers online longer, more engaged and even being able to predict what will work best is crucial.

And a focus on superior engagement data couldn’t come at a better time. Online advertising is now under attack. Over $7 billion in click fraud is reported every year. Meanwhile, over 50 per cent of online users are using adblocking software and a little over one-third of traffic is fake, according to a Wall Street Journal story.

“Now is the time,” Vasilescu adds. “We’re ready to change how the publishing world works for the better. We’re excited to see what comes next.”

The startup lessons today’s top shows can teach you

Whether it’s a killer queen bent on reclaiming her ancestral throne or complex villains wrestling with their humanity, there’s a lesson for every entrepreneur in this year’s crop of popular TV shows. These programs are more than just entertaining; they provide inspirational examples (and in some cases cautionary tales) that will make any dealmaker, founder or mogul-in-the-making a better businessperson.

Here’s a look at the best fictional shows on right now and how they can help startups up their game before it’s too late. (Warning this post may contain tv spoilers).

Game of Thrones

Lesson: Find allies with similar goals

via GIPHY

It’s hard to imagine how a show about a medieval (yet magical) world inhabited by dragons and the undead could provide any real value for entrepreneurs at first glance, but the HBO show has a lot to offer.

Exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen, one of the main characters, is on a mission to reclaim her throne, which often pits her (and her army) against assassins, city uprisings and family betrayal. Her closest friends help her navigate dangers at every turn and without them it’s all too clear that this inexperienced warrior would surely have died long ago.

Like Targaryen, entrepreneurs should seek out experienced allies who can help guide, advise and nurture their ambitions. Forging alliances with the right people (and investors) is an important part of turning an idea into a million-dollar product.

Orange is the New Black

Lesson: Do your due diligence

via GIPHY

While betrayal, sleepless nights and poor diets perfectly sum up the day-to-day lives of the fictional characters on this Netflix show it could also easily describe the lifestyle of many early-stage entrepreneurs and acts as an important lesson for new startups hoping to find success.

The award-winning Orange is The New Black tells the story of inmates at Litchfield — a minimum-security, women-only prison — who must deal with everything from food strikes to abusive guards.

The show’s protagonist Piper Chapman is sentenced to jail for criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges early in the series and throughout her sentence learns, the hard way, how important it is to do her due diligence when picking friends and allies in jail. For instance, her failure to properly vet friends resulted in one later stealing her money from a short-lived prison panty business in season four and later time in solitary confinement. Entrepreneurs should look to Piper Chapman when bringing on new talent. It doesn’t hurt to make sure your staff are trustworthy and the people you partner with are worthy of your time.

Glow

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself

via GIPHY

When you’re an entrepreneur and things don’t go your way it’s all too easy to end up wallowing in self-doubt. Failure, at any stage, is a gut-wrenching pill to swallow. Founders in need of inspiration about what to do if their company flounders should look no further than Glow, a fictional series about 1980’s female wrestlers in the U.S.

In the show failed actress Ruth Wilder decides to reinvent her career by taking on a role in a low-budget, traveling wrestling show. While wrestling isn’t exactly what she had in mind when she left her small town it turns out to be her biggest break thus far and finally gives her the success she craves. Like Wilder, entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to pivot their business and use the skills they already have in their arsenal to start again.

Silicon Valley

Lesson: Always remain professional

via GIPHY

In an industry that’s consumed with power, prestige, and pride it’s easy to forget that one wrong move can throw an entire company into chaos. HBO’s Emmy-nominated Silicon Valley showcases just how complicated the startup world – and the individuals who work in it — can be. Egos can easily get in the way of success and threaten future opportunities.

The unforgettable Erlich Bachman is the perfect example of someone with an oversized personality that lands himself, and the company he represents, in hot water. His crude remarks and frequent off-the-cuff observations have alienated not just his coworkers at times but potential investors too. It’s too difficult to truly discern how successful Pied Piper — the company he works for — could have been if Bachman had been a little nicer in his dealings with investors and workers, but in a town where who you know is just as important as what you know it’s obvious it couldn’t have hurt the company’s chances either.

Westworld

Lesson: Keep employees happy and engaged

via GIPHY

Employees are the lifeblood of any company and Westworld knows that better than most. For most startups, it would be difficult to create, sell and promote any product without great staff, but for Westworld it would be almost impossible.

In this fantasy show about a futuristic amusement park where wealthy tourists can shoot, kill and otherwise abuse humanoid robots that act out western-influenced situations, employees represent more than just tools. They’re robotic staff who are the main attraction, keepers of the park and entertainment all rolled into one, which is why it came as no surprise to fans that they later revolted and attacked their creators.

When the park’s poorly treated robots go on a murderous rampage at the end of the series it’s an accurate, although unrealistic, representation of how a company call fall apart when its team aren’t treated fairly.

The top 6 apps entrepreneurs need to improve productivity

Staying productive isn’t easy. Especially when so many of us are bombarded with a steady stream of notifications, breaking news and emails every day. Is it really any surprise that overall productivity is on steady decline these days?

It can be difficult for even the most dedicated worker to stay on track in the face of so many distractions, but for entrepreneurs — who are expected to juggle multiple responsibilities alongside financial pressures and few resources — staying productive can be an almost hellish task.

If you’re looking for ways to combat distractions and improve your work efficiency, here’s a list of the most popular (and little known) apps that will change how you work for the better.

Awesome Screenshot

For developers and designers, it can be hard keeping track of the minute changes that seem to crop up on a daily basis. Projects that require group input often involve sending blueprints or mockups to group members that can end up clogging up inboxes or, in some cases, being ignored entirely.

Awesome Screenshot has found a way to get around that problem using its unique software that lets individuals snap a picture of a project that colleagues can then use to add comments, edits and even blur out sensitive information. These images are saved to an external database, saving crucial email data and giving internal team members or clients a chance to review documents at their leisure.
Where to get it: Find it online and Google Play

Streak

This fairly new plugin may not be widely known, but is definitely an app designed with entrepreneurs in mind. The platform turns your Gmail account into a powerful tool that lets any team member process sales, track product development and group customers into custom boxes to make it easier to contact and analyze.

Its free email templates and in-depth reporting function make it a great system for startups with limited funds.
Where to get it: Find it on the Apple store and Google PlayMove — daily activity reminder

Taking the time to maintain physical health is important. While most apps concentrate on ways to better manage our time, it’s been proven that physical activity can not only increase productivity, but provide long-term mental health benefits.

One of the easiest ways for entrepreneurs glued to their computers to fit in some daily exercise is to take walks. The iPhone app will remind you to take regular, active breaks throughout the day and record your progress over time. It also plays double duty as a gym buddy that features over 300 fitness exercises and the ability to create your own custom circuit training.

For Android users, an app called ‘Move It’ offers up many of the same features listed above with the added option to sync it with Google Fit to provide better step data and calorie counting.
Where to get it: Move: Find it on the Apple store and online. Move it: Google Play store

Have you ever had a great, life-altering idea pop into your head, but forget it because you didn’t have some way to write it down?
Well, Evernote may be able to help fix this annoying problem. The free platform helps users work smarter by letting them create customized to-do lists, upload notes from their mobile device, which can be shared with other users, and even craft personalized audio checklists.
Where to get it: It’s available via the Apple store, Google Play Store and online.

Asana 

Asana is the swiss army knife of online management tools. This oddly named application helps you manage tasks, oversee work projects from shared dashboards and track conversations all in one place.

It also allows you to collaborate with team members, assign tasks and schedule due dates so colleagues know exactly what to do and when to do it. Track progress on shared projects and chat about updates with other members all in one place so you can finally ditch those never-ending email chains for good.
Where to get it: Get Asana by going on the web, from the App store & Google Play Store.

Expensify (tracking expenses)

Keeping track of your employees’ financial statements and your receipts can be headache inducing, but Expensify wants to be the antidote to your money woes.

The app’s algorithms not only analyze company expenses in real-time to combat fraud,but also detect which items need an extra pair of eyeballs, such as managerial approval, if the purchase is sensitive in nature or exceeds set company limits. Expensify’s SmartScan features allow users to take pictures of receipts while on the road that are then automatically uploaded and saved indefinitely.

The best part is that it can be integrated with financial products offered by firms like QuickBooks (small business accounting platform), Zenefits (HR management software) and Xero (a data management software company).
Where to get it: Find it online, the iTunes store or Google’s app store.  

4 must-read books for every entrepreneur this summer

If you’re looking for a great read for your next commute, something to ease your time in between flights or just a book to unwind with you on your next summer vacation, these page turners are sure to inspire and entertain.

No one said being an entrepreneur is easy, but with the right advice (and book) the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or aspiring business owner, there’s something you can learn from this reading list, which is complete with tips, lessons and facts from the most successful business owners in the world.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss


After spending years interviewing celebrities and successful entrepreneurs for his self-titled podcast, Tim Ferriss finally decided to write a candid (and at times somewhat provocative) book about it all. The self-help guide combines the best lessons, tips and advice and routines into an easily accessible read.

Some of the most prominent names included in this tell-it-like-it-is story include Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger and top investor Chris Sacca. Although, Ferriss is no slouch either: The well-known entrepreneur is an early-stage technology investor and advisor for Silicon Valley heavyweights, such as Uber, Facebook and Shopify.

Why you should read this book: What sets this book apart? It’s an all encompassing toolkit full of tricks, recommendations, strategies and philosophies from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Bonus: At 707 pages, it’s a nice, quick read. Get it on Amazon while you still can.

Unshakeable by Tony Robbins


By all measures, Tony Robbins didn’t have a very pleasant nor easy upbringing. An absent father and abusive mother meant the motivational speaker grew up in what he describes as a “chaotic” and “abusive” household.

Despite skipping college and, a couple of lost years spent working as a part-time janitor, he later went on to launch a successful self-help business and work as a coach, businessman and New York Times bestselling author.

His latest book called Unshakeable is a summary of interviews with 50 of the world’s most successful investors and full of great nuggets about what entrepreneurs should do when things go wrong. Fighting off bankruptcy? Not sure how to boost market share? Struggling to hold on to investment opportunities? Then this condensed read is for you.

Why you should read this book: Robbins knows his stuff. The NYT-bestselling author is the author of over six books and throughout his life has founded over a dozen companies. If you’re looking for ways to stay sane in the non-stop world of business or just hoping for lifestyle tips this it. Buy Unshakeable from Chapters-Indigo here.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk



A winning social media account is more than just developing high quality content, but also adapting it to several platforms and mobile devices. This book has some strong ideas that organizations must adapt as part of their social media strategy such as content placement, telling a cohesive story and focusing on benefits rather than selling. “It took thirty-eight years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television thirteen years to earn an audience that size. It took Instagram a year and a half,” Vaynerchuk says in his book. It also focuses on the importance of driving engagement with an audience and finding opportunities to build communities, which in turn, strengthens your brand. Buy it on Amazon here.

Why you should read this book: Skip all the ridiculous startup jargon and buzzwords and get straight to the point with Vaynerchuk’s fight-inspired tome. The venture capitalist — named to both Crain’s and Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list — knows what he’s talking about and has the insights necessary to take to turn any organization into a well-oiled, money-making machine. Find this must-read here.

Success never Smelled So Sweet by Lisa Price



From bankruptcy to successful entrepreneur, Lisa Price shares her story of how passion created “Carol’s Daughter,” a luxurious, all-natural line of bath and beauty products. With only $100 in cash, Lisa started following not only her heart, but her nose, as she started creating sweet scents that celebrities such as Jay-Z, Solange, Halle Berry and Mary J.Blige support and use religiously.

In the book, she walks the reader through her childhood with stories of her Trinidadian grandmother and a harsh school system where she was bullied. Her story is a reminder that success is attainable even when life throws many obstacles in the way. Currently, the company is valued at $27 million and was acquired by L’Oreal in 2014. From life advice to business tips, this is a light summer read with an extra dose of motivation. Regardless if it’s a morning commute or sunny day outside, this is your perfect summer-time read, grab it, here.

Why you should read this book: A good success story can be inspirational for anyone trying to find their path to success, especially when the author is now a multi-millionaire. As a young black woman in financial straits, Price’s story is encouraging and engaging as it reminds you to keep persevering. Get your hands on Price’s guide for success from Amazon.

Is your startup prepared for a PR crisis?

The startup world is no stranger to scandal.

Silicon Valley is riddled with the remains of startups and companies forced to close their doors after falling prey to scandal. This year a series of well-known companies have landed in hot water for everything ranging from sexual harassment allegations to discrimination claims.

So, why does this keep happening in tech? The answer is fairly simple: Fast-growing businesses are more likely to prioritize product over crisis communication plans since the former provides immediate returns. It’s kinda hard to showcase the benefits of a communication crisis plan when there’s no crisis on hand.

Fortunately, there are some easy things startups can do to get ahead of any potential problems. Here are three easy steps early-stage companies can follow courtesy of Erin Richards, a former public relations officer for CBC and founder of communications firm Hype PR.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

For startups on a shoestring budget, time is a valuable resource that’s always in short supply. It’s easy to see why some would rather spend time networking instead of creating an in-depth framework for future issues that, technically, may never arrive.

As much as it might make sense to avoid all things PR related Richards believes it’s a bad idea. To combat any possible negative publicity entrepreneurs should invest in creating a strong brand before missteps occur in order to develop a trove of goodwill that can be leveraged to diffuse bad situations and grow the business.

“Most people don’t understand that public perception is a huge part of a brand narrative and story, and if those elements aren’t figured out, the media relations strategy is likely to fall flat.”

Creating long-lasting buzz isn’t an easy task, but entrepreneurs hoping to generate a positive public perception must focus their efforts on giving back to their community on a regular basis. This includes having team members volunteer to speak at conferences or community events to build good will. Local nonprofits and community organizations are always looking for guests to help teach and knowledgable experts are always in demand

Constantly Monitor Your Brand

Keeping tabs on how your brand grows and changes over time isn’t easy. It requires a lot of hard work, tons of follow-up and a keen eye that can easily differentiate between spam and important data, which is likely why most companies hire outside firms to perform this task.

Finding problems before they mushroom into bigger ones is an effective way to manage communication tragedies.

Companies need to be proactive and constantly be diligent. If they can’t afford to hire an outside team to monitor their brand they should make sure an individual is tasked with doing basic searches all the time.  Simply enlist someone on their team to monitor social media and online channels for news.

“They should have someone on the team allocated to the role of social and traditional media monitoring to ensure they are on top of any potential brand related issues that may arise,” Richards adds. “They could also look into having an independent consultant develop a PR plan and strategy that they could attempt to execute internally.”

Here are a few social media companies that startups can use to help find out if they’re being discussed online:

Twitter: Companies can use Twitter’s advanced search buttons to look for specific sentences, names and dates.

Facebook: It can be a little trickier for startups to find mentions of their brand on Facebook since many users take advantage of the social media company’s privacy settings.

Google: Getting alerts about when and if your company is mentioned online can be as simple as setting up a Google account. This platform doesn’t include social media platforms but does extend to blogs, news and websites.

Teach Your Team How to Interact With the Brand

For good or bad, founders are the de facto representative for their company. A startup can rise and fall based on the actions of a founding team member or staff. Teaching startup teams how to interact with customers online is vital, even when their “off the clock” or on their down time.

They need to remain professional at all times since now-a-days one embarrassing moment is merely a screengrab or email forward away from becoming PR nightmare.

“Once you become an entrepreneur, you become synonymous with your brand. Entrepreneurs should seek out mentors in the industry to help them network, grow and evolve and also look into how public figures they admire conduct themselves in public and in the media. Of course, there are also the obvious ones such as, watching the alcohol intake at professional events and avoiding weighing in publicly on potentially contentious issues.”

 

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