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Networking on the beach (Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Networking on the beach (Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Small Business Briefing

Startup paradise is real - just don't go searching for it in Canada Add to ...

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The best cities for startups are not in Canada

In a list of the best places for startups compiled by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), 12 entrepreneurs gush about their favourite cities and why they're ideal startups.

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On Chicago: “Aside from the incredibly friendly and supportive culture of the Midwest, Chicago is a paradise for B2B startups because we have the largest concentration of the Fortune 500 companies in the US,” says Seth Kravitz, CEO at Technori.

On Washington, D.C.: “We have as much diversity that rivals any other city in America, which allows a free flow of ideas to be passed around.” - Angela Pan, Owner/Photographer at Angela B. Pan Photography

Notably absent from the garden of Eden are Canadian cities. Not even Toronto, which was recently considered the fourth best place in the world to start a tech company by Startup Genome. (Worth noting is the fact that this study was based on responses from 16,000 startup founders - not 12).

So as Canadians, should we have hard feelings about the YEC's informal survey? No. That a U.S.-centric organization like the YEC would favour its own – a whopping 11 of the 12 cities on the list are American – is not surprising. Also, the qualitative nature of the list, coupled by the fact that other well-respected cities such as Singapore, San Paolo, London and Austin don’t make the cut, eliminate any of the survey's real authoritative heft.

But what may be cause for concern for Canada is the fact that Tel Aviv makes the list, demonstrating that young entrepreneurs are looking beyond their own borders, at least to a certain extent. Problem is, they're not looking North.

Small business owners keep eyes in the rear view mirror

At the crux of a American Express' new survey on small business owners is a paradox. Though owners and operators consider innovation one of their top priorities, their intolerance for risk means their focus is not on developing new products, but on improving on existing ones.

The quarterly AMEX Small Business Monitor, based on research from 535 small business owners across Canada, shows that while SBOs understand that bringing new products to the market is critical, 43 per cent are more interested in focusing on their current offerings, rather than creating new products (31 per cent).

The survey also reveals a knowledge gap. Though SBOs demonstrate a willingness to increase their investment in research and development in 2013 (from 11 to 12.7 per cent), more than half (58 per cent) of businesses have not taken advantage of government resources in which they are eligible, including the the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit.

Other findings of the study reveal that over half (61 per cent) of SBOs say sales, marketing and branding is an area where innovation is most required, followed by customer service (56 per cent). Also, while 81 per cent of SBOs say they are confident about the growth of their business over the next six months, only 38 per cent say their financial position is improving, down 8 points since last quarter (46 per cent) and down 11 points since November 2011 (49 per cent).

The eBay of tutoring goes live

Rayku.com, the world’s first market-driven platform for accessible tutoring, is now available for high school students. Dubbed 'the eBay of tutoring' by its founder, Donny Ouyang, Rayku.com allows tutors to set their own fees and students to select their tutors based on price and quality.

"Students can be instantly matched with the best tutor right at the moment when they need help and only for as long as it takes to solve their question. This saves students time and money, while getting them the help they need, says Mr. Ouyang.

Compared to traditional tutoring services, Rayku.com saves users an average of 60 per cent per tutoring session, according to a press release.

In 2011, Mr. Ouyang was named the Student Entrepreneur Ontario Champion by charitable organization Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE). In an online discussion with The Globe and Mail, he discussed his business accomplishments and the biggest hurdles he faced as a young entrepreneur.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

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FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

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Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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