As Mike Lee did consulting work with entrepreneurs and companies looking for financing help from private and public sources, it started to find it increasingly difficult to keep track of the all the programs.
While Lee would have in-depth knowledge of a dozen popular programs, there was no way he could provide clients with information about the thousands of programs available.
"I could never keep track of more than five or 10 programs, and I can't comprehend 200 programs and pick the right one out for the right company," said Lee, a partner with Fundica, which provides consulting services to entrepreneurs looking for financing.
In January, the Montreal-based company launched an online service that provided entrepreneurs with easier and up-to-date access to financing programs in Quebec. In May, financing sources in Ontario were added, and then last week, Fundica unveiled an updated service featuring sources from across Canada.
The directory now has more than 12,000 funding sources, including private investors such as venture capitalists and angels, as well as federal, provincial and municipal programs. It includes information about equity funding, loans, grants, tax credits, and loan guarantees. The information is kept current by Fundica researchers, as well as letting financing providers update their own information.
Using proprietary search, intelligent filtering and timely notifications, Fundica optimizes the match between funding programs and entrepreneurs. By partnering with Ajah, they are also able to provide tools for non-profits and fund-raising organizations.
Lee said the creation of the national database started last year when a developer was hired. It picked up more momentum as people were added to work on the user-interface and research.
"To be honest, we are reinvesting a lot of money, which otherwise would be paid in salaries," he said. "We are investing but we're still an ongoing consulting business so we don't need the database to desperately make money tomorrow."
Lee, a partner with Montreal-based Fundica, said a key part of the national launch was the decision to do away with the $200/year subscription in order to provide startups, entrepreneurs and funding sources with extensive access.
Fundica also offers a professional service for $499 a year which provides additional services and access to a variety of application forms, enhanced contact information, e-mail notification, an hour of free consulting, the ability to track ten programs at the same time, and ability to export search results into an Excel spreadsheet.
Lee said another revenue source is consulting because while there is a lot of information available, there are entrepreneurs and companies that want expert advise to maximize their efforts and results.
To use the database, entrepreneurs can use a variety of filters to locate programs that meet a company's specific needs and interests. Companies can then analyze and compare the programs that would be the best fit.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.
Join The Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT
Our free weekly small-business newsletter is now available. Every Friday a team of editors selects the top picks from our blog posts, features, multimedia and columnists, and delivers them to your inbox. If you have registered for The Globe's website, you can sign up here. Click on the Small Business Briefing checkbox and hit 'save changes.' If you need to register for the site, click here.