2012 Predictions for Montreal’s Tech Startup Community

Some people love ‘em, some people hate ‘em … but regardless, predictions are fun, and now is a perfect time for some of Montreal’s tech community leaders to make their own. I asked a number of people to share their predictions for 2012 and encourage you to share your own in the comments below.

Here are some of the answers:

Hugh McGuire from Pressbooks has a few predictions:

1. We’ll start to get a sense of the worth of incubators

The city is now packed with them, with YearOneLabs (RIP), FounderFuel, and more, giving small amounts to tens of short-term projects, along with coaching. Do incubators make for more successful companies? We’ve had a few good signs so far, notably LocalMind. I hope we can get the YComb model working in this city, because it seems like a better path to successful companies than a more standard VC approach.

2. Many of the Best Incubator & Lean Startups will Leave Montreal

If I had a dollar for every time someone said: “If you want to raise money/succeed, you should leave Montreal and move to San Francisco, New York or Boston…” I would have, well about $20. In general I think they are right. You don’t NEED to be elsewhere to succeed, but Montreal has a problem: we don’t have that many successful entrepreneurs to talk to. And that, I am convinced, is the X-factor that helps build success: talking to other successful startup entrepreneurs. Talking to other entrepreneurs who’ve done it is worth about a million blog posts about Lean Startup methodology. So: many companies will heed the advice. Some won’t. Hopefully we’ll maintain a growing and increasingly successful startup scene in Montreal. Maybe some of those big-shots will come back.

Hugh shares a bit of concern around the lack of exits in Montreal as well:

There were a couple of exits in the Montreal tech scene in 2011: Tungle and Coradiant. Were there others? Will we see more? If we don’t see more, we’ll have to start scratching our heads and wondering what’s wrong with us.

Mark MacLeod from Real Ventures is much more optimistic and bold:

At the risk of being controversial, I predict that Montreal will become the #1 city for startups in Canada.

Why?

* Density: between Founderfuel and Real, a lot of seed funding is happening.

* Capital: As above. Plus now iNovia has a shiny new fund and will likely invest part of it here. Rho will likely also have a new fund.

* Visibility: these funds, founderfuel demo days and events like International Startup Festival are shining a big light on what’s happening in Montreal.

I don’t know if that’s really controversial, but it’s definitely bold. Toronto saw much more capital raised and many more exits than Montreal. If you include Waterloo as well, Ontario pulled far ahead of anywhere else. We’ll see what happens in 2012.

For more information about Montreal’s tech community. Click here.

Why Every Startup Should Consider Creating an Advisory Board Early On

I firmly believe that a strong and effective advisory board can play an important role in the success of any startup.

Established organisations almost always benefit from having a reputable board. Regardless of the stage in which the company is situated in its development, all organisations, even emerging startups, should set up a board of advisors.

A board can guide the founders and help them make important business decisions. A board is also a meaningful signal given to outsiders such as potential investors, clients, and employees. The founders are likely to be perceived as serious, ambitious business owners supported by a strong team. This aspect is especially critical when seeking capital to grow the business. Investors, especially angels and venture capitalists, will interpret the establishment of a board as a sign of the founders’ maturity and willingness to listen to advice – a key consideration for a successful investor-entrepreneur relationship.

In their early days, companies typically don’t have enough money to hire excellent professional advisors (M&A, financiers, consultants, bankers, accountants, lawyers, tax advisors, head hunters, etc.). Startups can face difficulties attracting experienced mentors or senior advisors. Consequently, crucial elements may be overlooked.

A board of advisors provides professional guidance on multiple key business issues during the startup phase and also afterwards. Any board should include core professionals (finance, law, accounting, marketing/sales, HR) as well as industry specialists.
What makes a successful board member? How do I recruit and select board members? How should I remunerate board members? For clues to answering these questions, the links below should provide you with a good starting point.

If you still need to be convinced of the benefits of having a board of advisors, I highly suggest that you watch the video below. It is an excellent case study. Ty Danco is a former investment banker, Olympic athlete, angel investor (in the U.S. and Quebec), blogger and entrepreneur. He is highly experienced and has an intimate knowledge of startups. Ty talks about how the right advisory board not only provides insight and guidance, but can also provide the credibility needed to launch a business. I couldn’t agree more.

For more information about bank investment. Click here.

Zappos Stops Shipping to Canada

E-commerce in Canada generally sucks. The selection is crappier on the Canadian equivalent of U.S.-based stores (think: Amazon), shipping is more expensive and the overall experience is much worse than in the U.S. And now, Zappos is shutting down completely in Canada.

Go to http://canada.zappos.com and you’ll see this message:

Hey, everyone. While we often have fun things to talk about in this space, we sometimes have less pleasant topics to share.

We have made the difficult decision to shut down the canada.zappos.com site and stop shipping to Canada. One of our core values is to “deliver WOW through service”. That means the best selection of brands and products that can meet just about every individual’s needs as well as fast, free shipping and free returns, all at competitive pricing. Our Canadian customers know that we have not lived up to these service levels.
Product selection on canada.zappos.com is limited due to distribution agreements with the brands we sell in the United States. In addition, we have struggled with general uncertainty and unpredictability of delivering orders to our Canadian customers given customs and other logistics constraints.

We would like to thank our loyal Canadian customers and are sorry that we will not be able to serve you in the same way. Beginning April 1, 2011, we will no longer ship orders from canada.zappos.com. Some of you may have electronic certificates with open balances. If that is the case, please be sure to redeem them prior to April 1, 2011. Of course, as always, we will still be accepting your orders placed from Canada and shipping to US addresses on www.zappos.com. Customers can always reach us 24/7 by calling 1-800-927-7671 or emailing cs@zappos.com.

Thank you for reading this. While you may not like our decision, we hope you understand the reasons.

Zappos is a hugely successful company, and they’ve got an amazing culture and story. They’re looked upon as one of the best online companies. And it’s not necessarily their fault – distribution agreements and shipping are largely out of their control. It’s just a shame. And they’re making a business decision that must make financial success for them or at least not have a significant enough impact on them for them to try and solve the problems.

For more information about best online companies. Click here.