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Attendee sports a bow tie at Casey House's SnowBall 2012 held at Avenue Road.

Della Rollins/The Globe and Mail

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How do you like our ties?

U.S.-based Tie Try had only 110 subscribers to its service when it appeared on the latest episode of Shark Tank.

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According to Business Insider writer Megan Rose Dickey, that small customer base, combined with a lack of expressed passion, were two key elements missing from what was otherwise a strong pitch. Company founders David Powers and Scott Tindel were seeking a $100,000 (U.S.) investment for a 25-per-cent stake in their tie subscription service.

Panelist Kevin O'Leary offered to contribute $50,000 if the entrepreneurs could convince at least one other panelist to invest. "I didn't hear one word about fashion in this whole discussion," Daymond John said. "I didn't hear about ... the excitement about the beauty of a tie."

An important lesson for any entrepreneur seeking funding: Don't forget about why you launched in the first place.

A solution using actual growth

Ontario-based PlantForm Corp. landed a $1.8-million contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to develop an antidote for nerve gas poisoning, the company states in a press release. The goal of the project is to develop a lower-cost, larger-scale alternative to the plasma-derived product that is currently available. The company uses plants to produce antibodies, protein drugs and vaccines. It will partner with Kentucky BioProcessing and Aragen Bioscience, and Defence Research and Development Canada, for the next year. "It's tremendously rewarding to apply our technology to a project that could help prevent suffering and deaths from nerve agents like sarin," says PlantForm president and CEO Don Stewart.

Santa or Scrooge?

The annual American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Monitor, compiled based on phone interviews with 501 U.S.-based small-business owners and managers from Oct. 11 to 25, found more than half are planning to give to charity this season. A few other key findings:

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  • More owners say staff will get year-end bonuses (35 per cent, an increase from last year’s 29 per cent)
  • Forty per cent of owners are throwing holiday parties, a jump from 35 per cent.
  • Slightly more than half plan to give gifts to customers and clients. The figure last year was only 43 per cent.


Year-end tourism bash

Industry leaders gather in the Gatineau-Ottawa area this week for the Tourism Congress, Canada's national tourism conference, featuring more than 35 "visionaries and strategists." Outstanding business achievements will be celebrated, industry builders will be added to a hall of fame, and Chris Cahill will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Events take place Nov. 20 and 21.

The Globe's Small Business Summit

The Globe and Mail presents its third Small Business Summit of the year, this Thursday in Toronto. Keynote speakers Rebecca MacDonald of Just Energy and Jamie Salter of Authentic Brands Group bookend a day of networking, case studies and panel discussions, including sessions on hiring strategies, launching an e-commerce site, raising money, mentoring, and overcoming regulatory hurdles. Register here to fill up on information and inspiration.


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Why you need insurance

Many small business owners think they don't have the time or money to go through the insurance protection process, but failing to do so puts their companies – and possibly their own personal assets – at risk, McCann Corporate Consulting Associates points out in this story.


Too many customers

Business was busy at Massage Athletica Inc. in Winnipeg, where the five registered massage therapists see more than 150 patients a week when the company was profiled in July. With revenue at the then 10-month-old business growing by 10 per cent to 15 per cent each month, the sports massage therapy clinic's appointment calendar is often booked to full capacity, especially during its peak hours, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The challenge was how to best alleviate this situation and increase revenue.

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