Capital and the US Market for Canada’s Entrepreneurs
- Canada has more conservative investors, driving Canadian entrepreneurs to seek early-stage funding from the US.
- Canadian businesses need more support for crossing over to the US so that they can access a much larger market.
- Without government support to access US markets, Canadian businesses will not likely remain at home and would rather migrate fully to the US.
The next big thing in the energy industry is going to be at the intersection of industrial internet of things devices, automation and data. Entrepreneurs looking to get into the industry should sharpen up their knowledge of evolving blockchain technologies in order to capitalize on this growing trend.
What does Cold Bore Technology do and why did you decide to start the company?
I decided to start the company because I realized I am probably 100% unemployable. The only way I would have gotten a job would be if I created one for myself. Cold Bore is a software, hardware and service company in oil and gas. We provide software development services and control in automation systems primarily for fracking and we work with some of the biggest companies in the world and a lot of the biggest services companies as well.
How would you describe Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, and what are its strengths and weaknesses?
That is a great question. It is an interesting one because my business is primarily in the US nowadays. Ninety percent of my operations are down there. As you probably know from talking to different entrepreneurs, most Canadian entrepreneurs end up in the US while raising capital because there is way more money down there. The markets are usually bigger unless there is some niche up here, and people are just more apt to investing in early-stage companies down there, whereas it is much more conservative up here in Canada. This is my perspective of the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem versus the US one.
In general, Canada is a little hamstrung just by its size of market and access to capital. A lot of projects up here get started by really smart people but never get off the ground because it is harder to find capital and figure things out as compared to the US. It is just not in the culture up here in Canada. The Canadian business culture is exemplified by starting small, taking forever, getting traditional debt vehicles like bank loans or a line of credit and then taking time to grow the business. In the US, companies tend to quickly raise millions of dollars, hire many workers, and either crash and burn or explode quickly.
What must Canada do to improve our entrepreneurship ecosystem?
We have some good incentive programs with tax rebates, agencies like Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) and grants that entrepreneurs can access here in Canada. I personally have not done a lot other than SR&ED and the tax credit program as my project does not lend itself to that, but I know they are out there.
The biggest improvement we can make here in Canada that would have the most impact today is something that is not ideological, for instance trying to change the culture here so that more people will want to support entrepreneurs. Certainly, you could start a campaign to try and raise awareness but the fact is Canada needs more cross-border ramping programs or assistance programs to help us develop into the American market. The Canadian government, people and economy want to try and keep businesses here so that tax dollars keep rolling in and Canadians have employment. However, people need ramps to the US market so that they can have a dual business model where the Canadian half runs the US half and the US half focuses on operations.
“ If we can educate people that expanding in the US is possible and support them in that, then we will be building a bridge to 300 million people instead of 30 million.”
If we can educate people that expanding in the US is possible and support them in that, then we will be building a bridge to 300 million people instead of 30 million. This way, Canadians can still grow their businesses here and we will not have a brain drain problem. We can keep those tax dollars and start growing out the talent here. Right now, there is not a lot of that. There is not much support for helping people get to the US. People are scared that once they do that, Canadian businesses will run away and take the business with them.
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What makes up an entrepreneur’s DNA?
That is a good question. You must have done a little bit of research because my whole family, going back to my grandparents on both sides, never had jobs.
“If you grow up in an entrepreneurial environment, you get used to that life and that makes you unemployable.”
If you grow up in an entrepreneurial environment, you get used to that life and that makes you unemployable. You get used to everyone having their own time all of the time, but at the same time everyone is also under a lot of pressure and you will have seen all the ups and downs of it. Our family has had some great successes. Both my mother’s sisters married very successful men who were worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, you get exposed to intense levels of success but also complete failures. I have seen people who have lost everything and had to start over. That happened multiple times when I was growing up with my uncle and father.
By the time you turn 18 or 20, you realize that being exposed to entrepreneurship early on helps you to not have an aversion to risk. People always ask me how I take such big risks, but I do not see the risks they see. This may be cliché but for me, the bigger risk would be working a job for my whole life and getting to the end of my life without ever knowing why I did any of that and what the purpose of it all was.
It seems you already have the gold watch at 35 years old.
Yes. For entrepreneurs, life is about creation. Whether it is tangible or intangible, what I make has to make a difference. Whatever it is you want to make, entrepreneurs are all really creative people. Most of the people in my family are not analytically strong or detail orientated. I do not want to use the word ‘visionary’ because it sounds like I am tooting my own horn but entrepreneurs tend to like to look at bigger problems and try to solve bigger problems. We like breaking a problem down then dividing tasks up and building teams around how to solve those problems. That process helps us feel like we are creating something. That is why most of my family went into the technology field as you can make a technology problem as big as you want.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to start or grow a company in the Canadian energy industry?
Industrial internet of things devices that are out there are growing exponentially and automation is taking over a lot of what used to be done manually. When I talk about data I do not want to just say big data because it is a cliché; we are really talking about mega data. The ecosystem of IIoT, automation and data is coming into its own in energy. If I was starting a business now, I would focus on areas that are on the periphery of IIoT, automation and data. This includes products that can help manage or deliver services from data. Think about all these big companies that were traditional brick and mortar companies—they are implementing platforms for internet of things and large data consumption. They are just getting a grip on that right now.
In three to five years, the companies that are going to be the biggest and have the most opportunity in raising money are going to be the companies that are providing services or products to these large corporations. They will take the data from these corporations and turn it back to them as strategies for businesses practices or how to make their company exponentially more profitable and efficient.
I am already looking at this space too by keeping up with blockchain and directed acyclic graphs (DAG). The DAG Constellation Network is being developed by a company in the US. They are going to be the next big blockchain that is not a linearly developed blockchain; it is a directed acyclic graph chain. If you know what that is and you are looking at moving from smart contracts to DAG, then you are in a good spot to raise some money and interest.
If anyone out there has knowledge of DAG, get in touch with Brett right away.
Yes, if you have a lot of experience with DAG already, get in touch with me as I have a job for you.