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Small businesses weighted down by fraudsters' bills in phone scam

Some Canadian small-business owners are calling on the country’s largest telecommunications companies to do more to protect customers from being hacked by scammers who rack up tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent long-distance calls by infiltrating their voicemail systems. Nadine Speirs, owner of Winnipeg-based Metal Depot Ltd., said she received a 430-page bill from Bell MTS Inc. in May for more than $61,000 in calls abroad stemming from hacking that occurred in April and early May. “I shouldn’t have to mortgage my house to pay a phone bill,” Ms. Speirs said. Ms. Speirs said Bell offered to reduce her bill to $17,000, which she could pay in installments. But she still thinks that’s too high. “I would rather pick up my phone and have it dead than have [this bill],” she said. “If it weren’t so tragic, it would be comical how poorly they have dealt with this.” Story

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Venture capital has strongest first half on record, with $2.15-billion raised

Venture-capital investment surged to its strongest first half on record, injecting $2.15-billion into Canadian startups and scale-ups, according to the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA). Helped along by a record second quarter, which saw $1.28-billion invested over 143 deals, venture capital (VC) investment in Canada beat the previous record of $1.7-billion set in the first half of 2018, according to the CVCA’s market overview report, released on Tuesday. Eleven “megadeals” – investments worth $50-million or more – accounted for 42 per cent of VC investment, the CVCA said. Four of those deals reached more than $100-million. Overall, the average deal size was $9-million, a 22-per-cent increase from the second quarter last year and up 26 per cent compared with the average deal size over the past five years of $5.9-million. “You’re seeing more dollars, bigger deals, a variety of financing options, and that is a direct correlation to the quality of businesses that are being started by Canadian entrepreneurs,” CVCA chief executive Kim Furlong said. Story

Startup DealMaker, a cloud-based platform for private placements, is 'like TurboTax for securities law'

Rebecca Kacaba says her journey from capital markets lawyer to startup entrepreneur started with too many late nights reviewing documents. Ms. Kacaba, who specialized in securities law for more than a decade, says getting all the required documents together to close a private placement deal was a cumbersome process. Forms would be printed out and scanned multiple times as they were e-mailed between brokers and investors, and lawyers would often find errors or deficiencies, requiring them to be sent back, she says. Ms. Kacaba says that when she began a practice focused on startups with colleague Mat Goldstein, they developed technology to simplify the paperwork. “We used it in our practice and got it up to a point where it worked and it made sense and then we decided, okay, we either have to make the jump or stop putting money into this,” she says. Ms. Kacaba and Mr. Goldstein made the jump, co-founding a company that now operates under the name DealMaker (legally registered as Novation Solutions Inc.) in Toronto. In the summer of 2018, DealMaker launched a cloud-based platform for private placements. Story

A new crop of ice cream vendors gives new life to Dickie Dee bikes

It takes Jacqui Keseluk about four hours to sell out, less on a hot summer day. Up and down the Halifax waterfront, Ms. Keseluk slings her frozen treats and builds her following. The feedback she hears most often from customers is, “Hey, I haven’t seen one of these bikes since I was a kid.” She sells her Glory Pops out of a refurbished Dickie Dee bike, a modified tricycle with a freezer compartment. Dickie Dee launched in the 1950s in Winnipeg and its bicycle-riding vendors selling ice-cream products were a common sight during the company’s zenith in the late 1980s and ’90s. Ms. Keseluk and a business partner purchased their bike this spring, paid for the business licence and insurance and got started, thinking they would sell a few frozen pops as a side business in the summer. Instead, Glory Pops has taken off, Ms. Keseluk has left her day job as a restaurant server and recently she hired her first part-time employee. Glory Pops is one of a growing crop of small businesses that are eschewing traditional retail and restaurant spaces and embracing the ice-cream bikes of last century as a way to reach customers and cut overhead costs. Story

WHAT WE’RE READING ELSEWHERE

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Trump order on China will hurt us, small businesses say

Although President Donald Trump has told U.S. companies to stop dealing with China, small business owners say complying would hurt, even devastate them. If Vanessa Topper can’t work with a manufacturer in China, “I’m going to have to fold a quarter of my business,” she says. About 25 per cent of the promotional products Topper sells are imported from China. She estimates that if she were to look for a supplier in another country, it would cost her company, TopNest Designs, at least $100,000 and she would risk losing clients, companies that produce wine, beer and liquor. Associated Press via New York Times

‘Systems are going to start going down’ say IT contractors, as Alberta government stops renewing contracts

IT contractors who say the Alberta government’s decision to stop renewing contingent labour contracts two months ago is hurting small business, CBC reports. [The business owners] say it’s likely taking money out of the province and could have major service impacts for Albertans. The information technology contractors say some online services — like the provincial scholarship system — are already breaking down, and other websites and applications likely will soon. But, the government says those contracts are under review as part of regular business practice and Albertans won’t notice any service issues. CBC

In midst of labour shortage, Quebec to subsidize recruitment of temporary foreign workers

The Quebec government is looking to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to recruit temporary foreign workers to help counter the province’s labour shortage. The $21-million plan includes subsidizing recruitment missions by Quebec companies overseas and offering to cover $1,000 in moving expenses for temporary foreign workers. Labour Minister Jean Boulet said Monday businesses are increasingly turning toward temporary foreign workers to deal with the shortage. CBC

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B.C. restaurant introduces QR-code 'robo-servers' to streamline bill payment

Diners at B.C. restaurant chain Tap & Barrel can now view, split and pay their bill by scanning a tabletop QR code with their smartphones. The so-called “robo-server” feature will allow diners to scan a QR code and be connected to the bill at their table, view and select which items to pay for, and finally pay by tapping their phone. “When your meal is done, the last thing you want to do is wait another 30 minutes to pay and leave, especially when you’re in a big group and servers are busy getting the bills out and processing payments,” said Laurent May, whose company Ready is responsible for the self-pay technology. Vancouver Sun

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