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Contestants guzzle green beer at the first stage of the annual tjree- legged race on St Patrick's Day in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday March 17, 2005. (JOHN MCCONNICO/JOHN MCCONNICO/AP)
Contestants guzzle green beer at the first stage of the annual tjree- legged race on St Patrick's Day in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday March 17, 2005. (JOHN MCCONNICO/JOHN MCCONNICO/AP)

Small Business Briefing

How St. Paddy's Day can bring your business (good) luck of the Irish Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Use St. Patrick's Day to marketing advantage

Every business is always on the lookout for another marketing opportunity to push business -- so use St. Patrick's Day to advantage, suggests this Digital Journal posting based on this release.

And how might you do that?

Well, for starters, suggests author Charles Gaudet, founder of PredictableProfits.com, capitalize on the term "luck of the Irish" by creating contests or offering discounts to give customers a chance to try their luck or have a "lucky day."

Another of his ideas: Offer a one-time reduction on prices for everything green inside your store. Or work the leprechauns' "pot of gold" into a promotional offering.

Here's another: Use the four-leaf clover as a marketing ploy -- buy three, get the fourth free.

"St. Patrick’s Day offers entrepreneurs a creative reason to reach out and communicate with your customers.”

And what might leprechauns and entrepreneurs have in common? Click here for seven things they may share.

No idea for a business? This incubator wants you

Have no idea for a startup business? Then you might just be what Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, is looking for.

A blog posting of the startup incubator said it is "trying an experiment this funding cycle. We're going to have a separate application track for groups that don't have an idea yet."

The reasoning: Partly, it says, because of a realization that the incubator was already doing that. "A lot of the startups we accept change their ideas completely, and some of those do really well," the posting says.

As well, experience has shown that "smart people who think they can't come up with a good startup idea are generally mistaken. Almost every smart person has a good idea in them....They just don't know it."

So "if the only thing holding you back from starting a startup is not having an idea for one, now nothing is holding you back. If you apply for this batch and you seem like you'd make good founders, we'll accept you with no idea and then help you come up with one."

This isn't exactly new thinking from Mr. Graham. In the past, he's given away some of his best billion-dollar ideas, this posting points out.

Y Combinator is looking for groups of people who are "really good at what you do, and have known each other for a while and work well together." If no light bulbs are going off and you think you fit the bill, here's where to apply.

FedDev invests up to nearly $5-million in research innovation centre

The Research Innovation Commercialization Centre (RIC) will receive up to nearly $5-million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario ( FedDev Ontario) through its Scientists and Engineers in Business initiative, it was announced today.

The contribution of up to $4,999,575 will be used for a project coordinated by the centre to provide business skills development and entrepreneurship training to up to 450 graduates in science, technology, engineering and math to help them develop ideas and launch new businesses, the release said.

"With this funding, the Research Innovation Commercialization Centre will provide mentoring and financial support for 160 innovative new startup businesses in southern Ontario," said Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario in a release announcing the funding.

The centre was launched in 2008 as a not-for-profit organization supporting the development of innovation and entrepreneurship in MIssissauga, Brampton and Caledon in Ontario. The centre has teamed up with the Canadian Innovation Centre and Communitech in Waterloo, MaRs in Toronto, Lead-to-Win in Ottawa and Conestoga College in Kitchener to develop online tools for eligible graduates throughout southern Ontario, an accompanying release said.

Under RIC's new VentureStart program, entrepreneurs who complete the training may be eligible for up to $30,000 to support their business launches.

Toronto firm receives $925,000 in angel investor funding

Toronto-based Rna Diagnostics Inc. has received $925,000 in funding from an investment syndicate of four Ontario angel investor groups.

The molecular diagnostics company, which is developing diagnostic tools to aid cancer chemotherapy management, received the money from York Angel Investors, the Golden Triangle Angel Network, the Georgian Angel Network, and the Niagara Angel Network.

The company was the 2011 winner of the TieQuest annual business development competition.

We are delighted with the investment," said Rna president and CEO Ken Pritzker in a statement. "This funding will support the ongoing development of RDA, a groundbreaking diagnostic test that will improve patient outcomes and reduce breast cancer treatment costs."


Digital media summit

Arianna Huffington, president of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, will be keynote speaker at the inaugural Digital Media Summit, a social media and interactive marketing conference being held March 21 and March 22 in Toronto. The two-day event will also feature other speakers, discussions and presentations on branding, social media and interactive marketing, which could be helpful for your own digital media strategy and gaining insights on how best to engage with consumers. For more details, click here

Nicol Award gala

The Nicol Award ceremony and gala will feature former Home Depot Canada president Annette Verschuren, now executive chair of NRStor Inc., as keynote speaker. The gala and ceremony for the award, which is aimed at generating and rewarding entrepreneurship among students, takes place March 27 in Ottawa. For more information, click here.


Push on to relax rules around crowdfunding

A second vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on legislation supporting t he new way of raising smaller individual amounts of money from a larger pool of investors through the Internet and social media.has taken place and the Senate is the next stop. In Canada, one national industry group has taken up the cause while Canadian securities regulators are waiting and watching what happens south of the border. Through crowdfunding sites like Vancouver-based SoKap and New York-based Kickstarter, people contribute a few, or a few hundred, dollars to a business, project or a good cause. The problem is, until laws change, it’s a legal grey area.


Believe it, an online funeral service

The Internet may seem to offer it all, but creative entrepreneurs are still coming up with businesses that you might not expect to go looking for online, recounted a story in March, 2011. Sure, you may order books and clothing from online stores – but funerals?

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