- The government must figure out how to incentivize Canadian entrepreneurs to stay in the country.
- Canada’s talent forms the foundation of its strengths in entrepreneurship and innovation.
- While Canadian entrepreneurship is growing, there are still siloes that prevent widespread collaboration across the country.
More financial support or incentive programs from the government can do a lot to keep entrepreneurs going, but also to keep them in Canada. Competition from American companies, in particular, may cause Canada to lose some of its brightest entrepreneurial talent.
Tell us more about yourself and what Kudos does.
When it comes to myself and my role at Kudos, I am focused on how we create our vision and activate our vision inside the organization. I’m all about our culture, how we nurture it and how we ignite and motivate people. Those are the core areas I tend to focus on.
Kudos is based out of Calgary. We are a human resources (HR) technology company and we focus on virtualizing employee recognition and culture. Virtualizing means a lot of different things and there are many organizations out there that either do not have an employee recognition platform or they have a legacy platform that is focused on rewards.
“With great culture comes great retention, recruitment and better, more profitable, more productive business.“
Kudos gets to the heart of how we motivate and engage with people. We do not want to just provide them with incentives but rather truly engage and connect with them. That is why we tend to focus primarily on recognition. There is a big difference between recognition and rewards. Recognition is values and culture aligned. We have cultural enablement tools inside the platform with a focus on driving that culture. With great culture comes great retention, recruitment and better, more profitable, more productive business.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian entrepreneurial system?
The Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem is interesting. There have been pockets of entrepreneurialism all over the country, but when it comes to technology, the ecosystem was concentrated at the Toronto-Waterloo corridor. That was where the tech companies were, but that is now changing. There are many cities aside from Toronto and Waterloo across Canada that are developing great entrepreneurial ecosystems, even here in Calgary. The tech ecosystem is flourishing here and it is not like the oil and gas days of yesterday. The days are better and we are focusing on building a brighter future.
Kudos is an HR tech firm and there are a number of successful HR tech firms here in Calgary. There is Benevity and Absorb, and they are all in a similar category as us. It is interesting to see how there are specializations across various parts of Canada.
“Calgary has world-renowned talent. Organizations all over are trying to get people from Canada to join them.”
Canada’s strengths are in our people. Calgary has world-renowned talent. Organizations all over are trying to get people from Canada to join them. We also have some of the greatest schools around as well.
Canadian talent is innovative and resilient. They are unique in that way. Good talent creates businesses and allows them to become resilient and innovative.
We also have weaknesses. While the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada has been growing in various regions, it is still siloed. There is Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and all these different areas. They have to operate the way they have to operate but we should think about how we represent ourselves globally as there is an opportunity for us there to come together as a country.
What will the investment from the Canadian Business Growth Fund (CBGF) enable your company to do going forward?
When it comes to Canadian capital, there is actually a lot of it. The difference is that the capital type is very different. Whether you are raising capital in Canada or the US, or from private equity or venture capital, capital comes in different flavours and has different outlooks. One thing businesses must consider is how to find the right partner and that is what we did with CBGF. We were lucky to find the right company for us. There was a really strong alignment of values.
Ten years ago, when we would go into organizations and talk about recognition, people would say they didn’t need it. The truth is, that is not sustainable as paychecks can only take unsatisfied employees so far.
What the pandemic did for us is that it created awareness which created a market opportunity and the market opportunity is something that CBGF saw as well. The subsequent funding they provided is really going to help us grow. With this capital, we are going to double in size to about 120 employees within the next 12 to 18 months.
What has to be done and by who to improve the support we have for Canadian entrepreneurs to scale and go global?
That is a very important question. I would talk to all the stakeholders but now, I want to focus on the Prime Minister and the government.
Our neighbour in the south has a stronger currency than we do and they also have a more aggressive orientation when it comes to business. Especially within the tech industry, many American organizations are taking our talent and offering them up to double in salary. They are not just offering jobs, there is the currency piece which allows them to offer up to double in salary sometimes.
“The government needs to figure out how to incentivize Canadian residents and employees to stay with Canadian corporations.”
The government has an opportunity to do something about this. The government needs to figure out how to incentivize Canadian residents and employees to stay with Canadian corporations. There could be programs like tax incentives catered to people who work for Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs). That could be applicable to salary or to options. Government programs like tax incentives can help equalize the playing field between the US and Canada. American companies are offering more money to Canadian talent, and at the end of the day, it is all about what you take home. The Canadian government should provide a mechanism by which we can become more competitive and incentivize our residents and employees to stay here.