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Feds show some love for VC funding program; could a sequel be in the works? Add to ...

The federal Liberal government is strongly hinting to the tech sector it may launch a sequel the previous Conservative government’s Venture Capital Action Plan.

The venture capital industry has been clamouring for a repeat of the program, introduced in 2013, which saw the government commit $340-million to four venture capital "fund of funds" firms, alongside another $112.5-million from Ontario and Quebec. To get the government money, the fund-of-funds firms – which in turn disburse money to venture capital firms that directly back early-stage companies – had to raise another $900-million from private investors,  which they did. (Ottawa provided another $50-million directly to four venture capital firms).

That fulfilled an objective of the late finance minister Jim Flaherty to get more Canadian institutions to pony up risk capital to fuel the country’s tech sector.

The venture capital industry has already hailed the first VCAP program a success – the sector is having one of its busiest years ever – and said it needs at least one more VCAP to make the industry self-sustaining. The Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association has been making its case as the government prepares to unveil its innovation agenda in the coming months. Full story.

New Ryerson council of business leaders aims to boost entrepreneurship in Canada

Ryerson University’s DMZ startup incubator is launching a blue-chip advisory council with the lofty goal of solving Canada’s entrepreneurial problems. The 20-member council is headed by Nadir Mohamed, chairman of ScaleUP Ventures and former chief executive of Rogers Communications, and is composed of a range of business leaders from across the country. IBM Canada president Dino Trevisani, Round 13 Capital partner and former Dragons’ Den personality Bruce Croxon and Adidas Group Canada president Michael Rossi are among the members. David Walmsley, editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail, is also a member. Full story.

Five mistakes you’re making on your website

A restaurant’s mission statement and glamour shots of the food might seem like the top priority. But most of the time, people are landing on such sites to find out one of four things: hours, menu, location and contact information. At best, it’s annoying to customers to have to click through several pages to find out if you serve lunch or take reservations. At worst, it might make them give up and go elsewhere. Full story.

Tips to tame fierce workplace electricity bills

By having the heating and cooling switch on automatically at set times when they’re needed most, a business can save between 10 to 70 per cent on heating and cooling costs. Other measures that work are more low tech – adding insulation and weather stripping and installing shades, awnings or window tinting. These measures might require an investment by the landlord, but one does not – keep the door shut as shoppers come and go. Full story.

Shopify’s resident entrepreneur makes e-commerce look easy

Jane Lee is using her knowledge and experience in the world of e-commerce to help fellow entrepreneurs. At 26, she already has three years of e-commerce experience under her belt after graduating from the business program at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. Full story.

More small business news from around the web

Ottawa should use purchasing power to help startups, says minister

The Canadian government will use its purchasing heft to help young companies scale up by focusing on awarding contracts to homegrown startups, the federal innovation minister said Thursday. Full story.

E-commerce's 'big, bold' Shoes.com: Model or a mess?

Shoes.com has been hailed as the hottest startup in the country, raking in awards and constant praise from the business press. But a Vancouver Sun investigation has revealed an e-commerce darling in turmoil, as it juggles unhappy customers, allegations of unpaid bills, and big staff reductions. Full story.

Meet the refugee family whose business Trudeau mentioned at the UN

A year ago, members of the Hadhad family were living as refugees after fleeing the war in Syria—but now they’re running a booming chocolate business in Nova Scotia with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau telling their story at the United Nations. Full story.

How a junior mining company’s video featuring bikini-clad women spouting Ring of Fire facts became a cautionary tale for marketers

Here’s a cautionary tale for marketers everywhere. If somebody at your next marketing meeting suggests using two scantily clad young women to convey terribly mundane facts about mining — yes, mining — suggest they reconsider their chosen profession. Unless, as the chief executive or business owner, the idea was yours. In which case you need to heed the sage advice of your marketing team and change course before embarrassing your company. Full story.

Small business growth is not as strong as it was 10 years ago: BDC study

Canadian businesses are losing momentum as growth is anemic at best, a recent research report by the Business Development Bank of Canada found. BDC followed the growth of Canadian business for the 10 years to 2013. The report titled Scale Up Challenge: How Are Canadian Companies Performing? shows  Canadian companies are slightly smaller than they have been in the past — and in some provinces the number of businesses are declining. Full story.

Compiled by Sarah Efron

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