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Government commits $3.5-million to digital entertainment

Yannick Bission (Murdoch Mysteries), Gary Goodyear (minister of federal economic development agency for Southern Ontario), Slawko Klymkiw (CEO of CFC), John Carmichael (MP Don Valley West) and Ana Serrano, (chief digital officer of CFC) in front of the Heart of Stars installation at the Canadian Film Centre.

Danilo Ursini/CFC

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CFC project gives ideas a boost

The Canadian government has committed up to $3.5-million over three years to the Canadian Film Centre's digital-entertainment initiatives, MP Gary Goodyear announced at the CFC's annual barbeque in Toronto on Sunday.

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The minister of state for science and technology says the money will go toward funding the tools and training required to help media and businesses showcase new and interactive products, and that it is expected to create good quality, high-paying jobs. The CFC now has added financial support for its recently launched ideaBOOST development lab, for co-productions, and for broadening the skillsets of its employees as digital continues to disrupt the film business.

Ana Serrano, chief digital officer at the CFC, says there has been some great innovation on the digital entertainment front "but to bump it up a level, we need to pump up the business side. Solid audience engagement is a key part of developing a business model."

IdeaBOOST is designed to "socialize" its projects by creating traction on three fronts: tweeting, liking and "boosting." Applications from startups and small businesses with annual revenue up to $5-million are being accepted until Sept. 18. Canadians can visit the website during that time to view submissions, share them on social media, and vote on the ideas they want to see "boosted." Top vote-getters will be shortlisted, and then a jury will whittle those selections down to the final six to eight participating companies or teams.

Ms. Serrano says this process will help ensure that winning submissions have a ready market for their digital-entertainment products. Like a crowdfunding model without the funding. She adds ideaBOOST is based on a vacuum she saw in the market and that technology accelerators rarely touch entertainment businesses. Her goal is to make sure that at the end of the four-month program, companies in this space are armed with a prototype, a global business strategy, and a plan for audience engagement.

"The viability of these ideas is crucial," Ms. Serrano says. "Has the team built anything like this before? Is there market support? Can the ideas be extended into other properties?"

We'll know soon enough.

How to boost your presence abroad

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Ontario-based water infrastructure firm Clearford Industries knew there was demand for its product in Asia and South America, but it needed help compiling the market insight required to drive sales. How did it multiply its 'feet on the ground' and get that key intelligence quickly? Check out this short video from the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service to find out.

Client attraction and retention findings

The latest American Express Small Business Monitor measures how Canadian entrepreneurs feel about client attraction and retention. Rogers Connect Market Research conducted the online survey from June 29 to July 26, with a sample of 593 Canadian small-business owners each employing two to 100 people. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Here are some of the key findings:

  • 96 per cent report client retention is a top priority for their company and every client is important to them.
  • 83 per cent said they do not conduct regular client feedback surveys.
  • 40 per cent offer a loyalty program to incentivize repeat visits from customers.
  • 23 per cent do not have an online presence for their brand.
  • 46 per cent report the current financial position of their companies is improving, down 14 points since last quarter (60 per cent).


The right marketing plan

How do you ensure your marketing is the best it can be for your business? A session in Toronto on Sept. 27 is aimed at entrepreneurs who want to create more effective marketing programs to grow their business. It describes how to build a marketing plan that takes into account your prospects, their buying process and the market space you play in. It offers examples of how to execute, measure and improve those programs to maximize revenue and profit. It takes place at MaRS from noon to 1:30 p.m., cost is $15.

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Pitch a panel for a chance at $25,000

To celebrate the launch of Plug and Play Accelerator Canada, Calgary hosts its first Startup Showdown on Oct. 9 at the Assembly Coworking Space from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Startups are invited to pitch to a panel of investors for $25,000 investment and a spot in Plug and Play Accelerator Canada.


Raising two babies

Rearing a child and a business at the same time can be tough. But some entrepreneurs have decided to forgo day care, babysitters or nannies, and instead raise both under the same workplace roof so that they can be together in those early years. Shelley Rinehart, a professor in the business faculty at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, says this flexibility is a great strength for entrepreneurs who want to integrate family and business life.


The value of interns

For small businesses, bringing on interns can be a smart strategy for finding new talent, as well as filling in workflow gaps, and creating positive relationships inside the company and with the community, Jen Silver, owner of Toronto-based recruitment company Silver Recruitment, says in this story from February.

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About the Author
Sean Stanleigh

Sean Stanleigh is the product manager of Report on Small Business. His goal is to make ROSB the primary destination for readers in search of information and compelling stories about Canada's small-business community, which continues to grow in size and influence. Mr. More


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