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Small Business Report on Small Business Newsletter: Wattpad goes to India; Billions flows into startups

Happy Thursday. Here are the top reads on small business for the week:

Wattpad strikes deal with Times Group to expand in India

Wattpad Corp. has struck a deal with Indian media giant Bennett Coleman to expand the social media firm’s reach into the world’s second most populous country. Toronto-based Wattpad, which is attempting to build a global entertainment business fuelled by user-generated content published on its online platform, said it will receive funding from the global investments and partnership division of India’s oldest and largest media conglomerate (better known as Times Group). Times will also help Wattpad turn popular stories published on the platform into books, TV shows, films and digital projects for the Indian market. The parties did not disclose terms. Story

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Canada's venture-capital investment flattens after years of growth: report

Canadian venture-capital investment plateaued in 2018 with $3.7-billion flowing into Canadian startups and scale-ups, holding the country back from a fifth consecutive year of growth, according to the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. The CVCA will release its annual year-in-review report on Wednesday. It found that venture-capital (VC) investment in Canada fell 2 per cent to $3.7-billion last year, while the total number of deals it recorded rose to 610 from 600 – ending 2018 relatively flat on both terms. The average size of all deals fell 3 per cent from 2017 to $6.1-million. Story

Is it time for Canadian startups to look beyond venture capital?

With our small population size, limited access to capital and constant competition from the United States, Canadian tech startups have been sold the idea that the best way to grow is through venture capital. Indeed, we’ve been taught to be happy that we’re on the radar of VCs at all. But a growing number of examples illustrate that giving up control in exchange for investment is not always a recipe for success. Gone are the days when Canadian startups had to go begging for venture capital. VC investment in Canada increased by 113 per cent between 2011 and 2016, as more Canadian firms opened for business and their American counterparts discovered the potential sitting on this side of the border. Yet access to capital in this country remains far below what’s available in the United States and Britain, with comparatively smaller financing rounds and lower exit values. Opinion

Serial entrepreneur Devon Brooks taps into the popularity of coaching for her new venture

When Devon Brooks was in her early 20s, she co-founded Blo Blow Dry Bar in Vancouver, a hair drying salon that was a fast success and grew rapidly. It was an intense time for Ms. Brooks, as she learned to lead on the job, and outside work she was embroiled in two legal cases that stemmed from a rape and an assault she suffered. Ms. Brooks said the coaching she received from others during the period was fundamental to her success. Story

Malls and retailers look to co-working startups to fill vacant space

Faced with rising e-commerce competition, retailers and malls are targeting a new type of tenant: office-sharing companies. For several years, co-working startups – of which New York-based WeWork Cos. is the standard-bearer – have been a growing force in office buildings. Now, they’re beginning to pop up in shopping centres and existing stores as landlords look to fill excess space amid a shift in consumer preferences that has led to a wave of faltering retailers, from Sears Canada Inc. to Target Corp.'s Canadian division. Story

Tax-saving tips for entrepreneurs, investors, snowbirds and everyone else

This year, federal tax changes will affect almost all of us. There are changes to the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, small businesses taxes and the Canada Workers Benefit, to name a few. To make tax-filing season a bit less confusing, we’ve rounded up our best tips for maximizing the deductions and benefits available to Canadian taxpayers. Story

WHAT WE’RE READING ELSEWHERE

Feds to invest $100M in steel, aluminum sector

Federal Minister Navdeep Bains announced $100 million in government funding on Monday to help retain jobs in the steel and aluminum industries across Canada. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development said the money, given through innovation initiatives, will help support 5,000 jobs across the country in the steel and aluminum supply chain. “This investment is about making sure small- and medium-sized businesses succeed and can continue to compete,” he told a small gathering at the Nova Steel plant on South Service Road that hosted the event. Just over $39 million of the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation steel and aluminum initiative has been set aside for southern Ontario companies. Hamilton Spectator

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Arlene Dickinson joins forces with Sunterra Market

A new partnership between Alberta-based grocer Sunterra Market and Calgary entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson will help startup companies commercialize their new food and beverage products and raise the profile of the Canadian agri-food sector. On Thursday, Sunterra Market opened a brand-new Calgary store adjacent to District Ventures, the business accelerator founded by Dickinson in 2015. The store — Sunterra’s eighth location provincewide — will feature familiar Sunterra products and brands, but will also provide shelf space for new products from startup companies involved in the accelerator. Calgary Herald

Winnipeg startup chosen for Silicon Valley accelerator

Winnipeg startup Jackfruit Systems is one of only 22 companies selected out of a group of more than 500 startups from around the world to participate in the prestigious Plug and Play accelerator in Sunnyvale, Calif. in its supply chain stream. Jackfruit has developed a platform using blockchain technology that would aggregate all the validated vital statistics of licenced truck drivers in North America providing a one-stop shop for shippers and trucking firms who need drivers for one-off trips. The idea is to provide a way to get a whole bunch of licenced drivers who have left the industry back on the roads in a more organized part-time scenario. Winnipeg Free Press

Local beverage companies Wize Monkey and Faculty Brewing create first coffee leaf tea beer

Vancouver’s budding beverage company Wize Monkey is joining forces with another local company to keep the innovation stream flowing. Wize Monkey creates coffee leaf tea beverages that are sold in more than 800 stores worldwide. The company has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings on a $12,000 Kickstarter campaign in 2014. Business in Vancouver

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Hudson’s Bay Company stocks Fort Smith line of fur hand warmers

With a small cadre of artisans in Fort Smith, N.W.T., Brenda Dragon designs and manufactures beaver fur hand, foot and finger warmers for sale in small retail locations and online. The fur pads trade on the renowned warmth of beaver fur, something Indigenous northerners have relied on since long before Canada was Canada. “To have a product that’s manufactured here in the Northwest Territories by northern people … is for me very satisfying because of my real commitment to sustainability,” Dragon says. CBC

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