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The Canadian Tire store in downtown Toronto, at Dundas and Bay, as seen on Sept. 19, 2012. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
The Canadian Tire store in downtown Toronto, at Dundas and Bay, as seen on Sept. 19, 2012. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Small Business Briefing

Canadian Tire turns to startup hub for help Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz.

A lot more to it than tires

Major retailer Canadian Tire is looking to the startup community to help it create a more entrepreneurial company. According to a press release, the company is opening a digital development lab at Communitech, which helps tech companies “start, grow and succeed” from its space in Kitchener, Ont.

“Our Communitech partnership puts us deep inside the smartest brain trust in Canada and will deliver the ‘next in class’ thinking that we need to lead the retail industry and deliver a better customer experience,” Canadian Tire COO Marco Marrone said.

The company will place five full-time employees in the Communitech hub, with an eye on improving online and in-store shopping experiences for customers through technology. The 91-year-old retailer has the most-visited retail website in Canada. Communitech hosts startups, a business incubator, and an accelerator, but it’s also home to large multinational companies with an eye on innovation.

Funding news, part one

Online menswear company Indochino has raised $13-million in series B funding – a second round of financing – led by Highland Consumer Fund, along with Madrona Venture Group, Acton Capital Partners, and Indochino chairman Jeff Mallett, former president and COO of Yahoo. According to the press release the money will be used to help bolster the management and operations team and to enable the Vancouver-based company to invest further in marketing and product development. Indochino is springing a pop-up Traveling Tailor store in Boston from March 22 to April 15, where customers can be measured and styled in person.

Funding news, part two

Video marketing platform Vidyard has scored $6-million in series A funding – a first round of financing – led by OMERS Ventures, along with iNovia Capital and SoftTech VC. “We are now poised to grow our market leadership via world-class product integrations and a continued focus on enhancing the features that our marketers crave,” Michael Litt, founder and CEO of Vidyard, said in a press release. The company gives marketers the tools to measure, optimize and drive video campaigns to help generate sales leads and ultimately convert customers.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Chance to win a mentoring slot

PwC is conducting its 10th annual Canadian CEO survey of emerging technology companies, and those that complete it by March 22 will be considered for a mentoring spot at the Vision to Reality conference in Toronto on April 18.

Chance to accelerate in New York

The CTA @ NYC aims to provide Canadian digital media entrepreneurs with access to resources and contacts to accelerate the growth of their startups. The Trade Commissioner Service at the Consulate General of Canada in New York is issuing calls for applications and selecting six participating companies on a quarterly basis during 2013. You have until April 3 to apply to join its Canadian Technology Accelerator in New York from May 29 to Sept. 3. To receive the call for application, write to venturenorth@international.gc.ca.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Corporate blogging is on the rebound

Corporate blogging has turned from a website filler into an integral tool for reinforcing a company’s brand personality. A social media channel that stagnated for a long time, corporate blogging is on the rebound, with about 44 per cent of companies now using blogs. Corporate blogs can be a highly efficient way for brands to communicate with consumers.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

How did that work out?

Igloo Inc. is a 50-employee firm that offers software to help companies collaborate virtually. Since starting the business in 2008, the company had developed a client base made up mostly of what it defined as mid-sized firms – businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees. They were more open to the adoption of new technology. To really juice Igloo’s growth, however, the goal was to land some “Global 1000” clients – businesses with more than 10,000 employees.

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