Friday, August 10, 2012

Influitive and Investing in Toronto Startups

Congratulations to Influitive for closing their $3.75 million round. I joined the Influitive board over a year ago during a convertible debt round; it's been the easiest board seat I've ever held since Mark Organ is such a great CEO. He does all the work and I come to the board meetings and eat sandwiches.

It was also my first investment in a Canadian startup, which has been an interesting experience. If you are an American reader, you may not be aware that Canada is this foreign country on our northern border and, as a foreign country, has a separate currency, banking system, tax regime, and media establishment. Toronto, in particular, is like the New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco of the country since it is the center for the Canadian financial, media, and technology sectors. So there is a lot going on here, maybe more than in jolly old New England.

Toronto, and Canada in general, is actually a good place to start a company or for established companies to locate R&D and customer-facing business functions. NAFTA has eliminated most cross-border issues and I've found that the talent pool is great, they're in the same time zone, and labor costs are lower than in the US, primarily because employers don't pay for health care. The Canadian government also has a number of refundable R&D tax credits, and Canadian-controlled startups can usually leverage this to get an extra few months of cash at a critical time.

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