Bruce Croxon: The Start-up Sector In Canada
Technology Mediaplanet sat down with former Dragons’ Den panelist and founder of capital venture firm, Round13 Capital, Bruce Croxon, to discuss the current landscape of technology start-ups here in Canada.
Mediaplanet How has the landscape of enterprise IT affected tech start-ups here in Canada?
Bruce Croxon By landscape I assume you mean the shift to the cloud and more technology being made available to more people at less cost. This trend is good for everyone, Canada included. It makes life a bit tougher for start-up entrepreneurs because there is no longer a technology barrier to entry, but the opportunities to create companies and valuable services has never been greater.
MP Do tech start-ups here in Canada have access to the same resources as our neighbours in the United States?
BC Depends what type of resources you mean. On the human resources front I would argue that Canada can be a better place to build a business. The demand for developers, for example, is lower than the valley, the loyalty is higher and the talent is comparable. Business development can be sourced in the States. Given that customers are global and can be accessed from anywhere, Canada is as good as it gets.
When it comes to capital on the other hand, we are at a disadvantage. There is an abundance of early stage capital to be had and our incubator ecosystem is solid but the growth cheques when a company is ready to scale are harder to find. This is being fixed as we speak.
MP How important are incubators and accelerators for Canada’s tech start-up sector?
MP How significant a role can cloud computing play for a tech company that is expanding on a global scale?
BC I would turn this question around a bit and ask: ‘how is it possible to rapidly expand when speed is of the essence without making use of cloud technology?’ We are in a time now where it’s less about the technology and much more about being able to adapt to and orchestrate rapid change. That means partnering, preserving capital for people, marketing, and speed to market. This is increasingly hard to do without the benefits of cloud computing.
MP How do you see the Canadian start-up landscape progressing over the next few years?
BC I think the next decade is going to be all about rapid growth for IT companies. We have done the legwork to set ourselves up for success (government programs, large number of high functioning and well supported incubator programs and a growing number of ‘been there done that ‘entrepreneurs) and I believe we will reap the benefits as entrepreneurs and investors for some time to come.
MP Can the government do more to encourage entrepreneurs to pursue investment and effort into tech start-ups?
BC More is always welcome and I think any investment in tech is a good investment, but overall our government is pretty good. If you asked me about the big five banks my answer would be very different.
The shreds program, once it was tightened up, has been a boon to technology companies and I believe has helped to foster some world-class innovation. It took awhile, but the Vcap program is finally underway and this will help immensely. Canada can hold their own with any tech ecosystem in the world—for example, the growth capital—and the government has contributed to this and needs to be acknowledged.Bruce Croxon is a featured speaker at Interzone, March 11-13th at the Fairmont Banff Springs.