Category: Mentor Advice

A Boost for Real Estate Startups – TBDC’s Proptech Initiative

Real estate technology, or PropTech, is a rapidly growing industry transforming how we buy, sell, and manage properties. Many startups have emerged in recent years, offering innovative solutions for the real estate industry, and development companies are taking notice.

According to a global study conducted by EY, 90% of real estate developers have considered or have already adopted technologies to help with data and analytics, and 60% are evaluating IoT tools.  However, startups face the challenge of being noticed by developers the right developers.

To bridge this gap, Paul Frith of Paul Frith Consulting and the Toronto Business Development Centre recently organized a PropTech initiative where real estate startups pitched their technologies to three of the biggest developers in Canada – Minto, Tridel, and New Horizon. This initiative was a game-changer for many startups, allowing them to showcase their products to industry leaders and potentially secure partnerships that could help them scale their businesses.

The event was a great success, with 22 applicants and 6 finalists presenting their technologies. The range of solutions was diverse, including everything from virtual reality tours to smart building management systems. The developers were impressed with the quality of the pitches and the innovative ideas presented.

Meet the Proptech Startups

Colab tools

Colab Tools is a cloud-based platform simplifying construction project management and monitoring activities. With its intuitive and user-friendly interface, Colab Tools offers real-time data collection and analytics capabilities, making it easier for developers to manage their projects efficiently. The platform allows developers to take field notes, even without an internet connection, and perform data visualization to understand project progress better. 

Additionally, Colab Tools provides more accurate job costing, enabling developers to make informed decisions on project budgets. Overall, Colab Tools is a powerful tool that streamlines construction project management, making it easier for developers to stay on top of their projects and ensure successful outcomes.
Learn more about them here.

Pinmicro India Ltd.

Pinmicro is a digital twin company that enables organizations to have a complete digital footprint of their operations and resources (workforce/inventory/assets etc.). Pinmicro helps realize significant value and savings in speed to market, improved operations, reduced defects, and new business models to drive revenue. Pinmicro detects and solves physical issues faster by detecting them sooner, predicting outcomes with a higher degree of accuracy, and designs & builds better products.
Learn more about them here.

Naked Energy

Naked Energy has developed an innovative hybrid solar technology generating combined heat and power. The versatile, modular design of Virtu® places crystalline photovoltaic cells in an evacuated solar thermal collector. Their patented heat transfer mechanism enables them to convert the sun’s energy into heat and electricity (80% of the 1000W/m2 available). Thermal and electrical outputs are optimized irrespective of geographic or climatic conditions. With the isothermally cooled PV cells protected from the environment, Virtu® is especially suited to harsh high-insolation markets.
Learn more about them here.

Cence Power, Inc.

Cence Power offers a Safe, High & Low Voltage, Plug & Play DC Distribution System. It offers a Class 4 DC power distribution system that can distribute up to 450V DC at distances over 3000m and uses low-voltage wiring practices. It can detect faults in its branch circuits and shut off power in microseconds. They’ve helped companies like EllisDon and HHAngus save up to 30% in operational costs. 
Learn more about them here.

Tangible Materials

Tangible Materials is a climate technology company focused on building sustainable materials that are not harmful to the environment. Tangible is a unified software platform that catalyzes the adoption of sustainable building materials by allowing real estate developers, architects, and contractors to seamlessly identify, manage, and report on products that meet their carbon, environmental, and social goals.
Learn more about them here.


Upbrella Construction offers a new way to mount the structure and envelope of high buildings made of either concrete or steel. Upbrella utilizes an assembly of composite, hybrid and Mass Timber structures to eliminate risks and increase productivity by providing a shelter for construction.
Learn more about them here.

Overall, the PropTech initiative was a win-win for both startups and developers. Startups got the opportunity to showcase their technologies to industry leaders, while developers got a glimpse of the latest innovations in the real estate space. This event was a great example of how collaboration between startups and established companies can drive innovation and growth in an industry.

TBDC’s PropTech initiative significantly boosted real estate startups looking to expand into North America. Events like this give startups a chance to show off their technologies and gain exposure, which can help them make meaningful connections that will propel their businesses forward. 
Thank you to Minto, Tridel, and New Horizons for supporting the industry. And a big thank you to one of our valued startup mentors, Paul Frith. With the continued growth of the PropTech industry, we can expect to see more initiatives like this in the future.

About Paul Frith

Paul Frith is an innovative, dedicated leader who advocates for low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies. In his Government Relations role for the Ontario Geothermal Association, he educated development organizations and collaborated with government officials to shape policies. With a proven track record in lobbying and fundraising, he is an excellent mentor for startups looking to break into the North American market. He is involved with organizations like CAGBC, Future Cities Initiative, and Building Energy Innovators Council and is passionate about the role of technology, innovation and improvement in business.

Connect with Paul here.

Looking to Expand Your Startup in North America?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Globevestor and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here.

Tips for Conducting North American Market Research

Market research is one of the best investments any start-up can make for success. History has proven consistently that a deep understanding of your market can sometimes be the sole differentiator between a successful and unsuccessful business. “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” said statistician, author and one of the Founding Fathers of Total Quality Management, W. Edwards Deming.

This holds more gravity than ever now as start-ups increasingly blur the lines of geographical boundaries. A start-up in New Delhi, India, could solve a problem relevant to audiences in Canada, US or Germany. However, many start-up founders pride themselves on making decisions based on a gut feeling, and many have been accused of functioning within a bubble of yes-sayers. These habits could result in poor product-market fits and ineffective expansion journeys.

How Market Research Should Direct Your Start-up Expansion

At the crux of it, market research helps you decipher whether your product or service has a market at all. It can inform numerous vital decisions in your Product Development, Pricing, Distribution, and Marketing Messaging strategies. Here are a few objectives you can bookmark to plan your market research goals:

  • Learn the size of the market, and its growth rate
  • Find out local government grants, funds and other business resources
  • Track industry trends and how they can impact the demand and supply in your industry
  • Find out more about your competitors in the market. How are they doing?
  • Identify potential customers and understand their demographic profile
  • Determine price points for products and services based on consumer responses
  • Discover the best distribution channels for selling your product or service at optimal prices and volumes

Primary Market Research for Start-Ups

A Plethora of methods exists to conduct primary research across borders today. Primary research involves businesses deep diving into data collection on their own with uniquely defined objectives instead of depending on data collected by third parties like governments and research agencies.

Previously, primary research was considered time-consuming and expensive, but digital primary research methodologies have made it easy.

Types of Primary Market Research Tools and Resources in North America

Online Surveys

Online surveys are an extremely convenient way to gather large numbers of responses to your questions. You can place your surveys on your website and use Social Media, Email Marketing and Google ads to draw in the respondents. They are incredibly cost-effective and don’t need much time or resources because of the array of plug-and-play tools available.

The new trend of Gamification, used very often by marketers to collect data, has also reduced the acquisition cost of data collection. For example, instead of publishing a formal survey to discover a customer’s vegan food consumption habits, you could create a quiz or an interactive form that masks survey questions as a fun quiz or game. In the process, your potential customers feel entertained while the brand can collect their preferences. Companies also incentivize users with rewards to reduce the barriers to form submission.

To make online surveys try: Survey Monkey, Typeform, and Google Forms.


A more time-intensive and personalized method of gathering information but equally essential to understand the nuances of consumer behaviour, which may not be apparent in quantitative research such as online surveys. Interviews allow you to get more detailed information about your customers and their needs. You can use your website, social media groups, networking groups, email marketing and google ads to identify interviewees. Although this requires a lot of human resources, unlike before, it doesn’t require much physical one-on-one anymore. Video calls with potential customers will also help you read between the lines. Many market research companies take on one-on-one surveys and would have trained interviewers for this purpose.

To hire professional qualitative market research companies, try Stitch, Decision Point Research, and Lux Insights.


Observing customers or prospective customers allows you to see how they behave in a store or with a product. For example, suppose you are visiting Toronto for market research and belong to an industry like F&B, Retail. In that case, you can locate similar competitor spaces where your audience may be and observe their actions and behaviour. This is also a cost-effective method of primary research, but often the why is left unanswered unless someone agrees to be interviewed by you. The online version of this primary research can also be found in reviews and comments on social media content.

Focus Groups

Focus groups involve bringing together people with similar characteristics (age, location, income level, purchase behaviour) to discuss issues related to your business or product line in an informal setting led by someone trained in qualitative research methods. This is another qualitative method of research that can throw light on many insights customers rarely reveal in one-on-one interviews or online surveys. Brands can quickly understand the ‘why’ behind decisions, reactions or purchase behaviours.

To hire professional focus groups or market research companies, try JMRS, Respondent, and Innovative Research.

Secondary Market Research for Start-Ups

Secondary Research involves data already collected by a third party relevant to your industry, product or service. Secondary market research provides an essential zoomed-out insight into designing a start-up launch or expansion strategy. Primary research goals are often built out of hypotheses created out of secondary research.

Types of Secondary Market Research Tools and Resources in North America

As the start-up ecosystem booms in North America, entrepreneurs worldwide need to know where to look to find the research data they require.

  • Business Development Canada’s (BDC): BDC is a Canadian bank for entrepreneurs. Apart from great funds and loans for start-ups, they also curate analysis and research about Canadian markets relevant to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Statistics Canada: Statistics Canada is the official website of the national statistics office of Canada. Their website has data and statistics related to the economy, society and environment.
  • Canadian Official Website: This section is managed by the Canadian Industry Statistics department on the government website. It pulls out only key information from the Statistics Canada data and showcases them by industry. This is an excellent place to start if you want a quick summary or snapshot of GDP, Industry Trends, Labour Productivity, and Trade data.
  • Business Improvement Association (BIAs): Canada has BIA members across the country; these BIA Members are a group of local businesses tied together by the area they are located at. They are a not-for-profit group that curates fantastic information about local businesses in their area. It also lists federal assistance programs applicable to the members in the area.
  • Industry-specific data could be found on trade news and industry-specific websites like Fintech Times, Healthcan, Canadian Manufacturing and Canadian Food Business.
  • Other secondary research resources consist of reports available for free from companies like PWC, KPMG and MarketResearch.com
  • A fundamental competitor analysis can also be conducted with a detailed inspection of Google reviews and Social Media pages.

Market Research is both a science and an art. It can be put together in many different ways and with budgets. Market Research budgets can start from a few hundred dollars using plug-and-play tools and a lot of man-hours and can stretch up to thousands of dollars if the business needs are very specific. Companies that need to invest more funds to start up or expand generally prefer to spend more on formal market research agencies to ensure they extract the best data. The above resource and tips should help you streamline your market research efforts before starting or expanding your business to North America.

Do you want to explore expanding your business to North America?

TBDC, a government-designated partner for the Start-Up Visa Program based in Toronto, is the perfect starting point. Their Soft Landing Program is specifically designed to help international entrepreneurs start up and scale to international markets. Reach out to us to book a call.

10 Marketing Podcasts Every Startup Founder Should Listen To

With marketing tools, trends and strategies evolving daily, it would be an understatement to say that keeping up is difficult. Especially as a startup founder, you always want to ensure you’re giving your business the best chance at success. Growth hacking, performance marketing, account-based marketing, customer acquisition costs, marketing automation, there’s much more to stay on top of.

Thankfully, great quality insights and resources are readily available today from around the world! Books, blogs, courses, and podcasts are at the tip of our fingers to upgrade our startup journey. We have compiled some of the best marketing podcasts you should tune into if you’re aspiring to be a global entrepreneur.

Marketing Over Coffee (US)

Marketing Over Coffee is a weekly marketing podcast hosted by John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn. They discuss all things marketing, from the newest trends to best practices for startups. Each episode features a guest, often another successful marketer or entrepreneur from around the world, who shares their insights on everything from content marketing to conversion optimization.

Christopher, the host, is a subject matter expert himself as a Professor of Internet marketing and Advanced Social Media at the University of San Francisco. This show is great for beginners looking to get into the nitty-gritty of how marketing works, as well as more advanced marketers who want to expand their knowledge base with new ideas and strategies. They publish episodes every Thursday morning, don’t forget your coffee!

Social Media Marketing Podcast (US)

This podcast is hosted by Michael Stelzner, the founder and CEO of the well-known Social Media Examiner. Michael has become a name synonymous with Social Media for marketers all around the world. His podcast has been running for 10 years and has over 100 million downloads. Michael has a unique step-by-step method of breaking down his questions, which is highly appreciated by his listeners worldwide.

It’s a great source of information for startup founders to keep up with the latest trends in social media marketing and gain insights from its many experts on the topic. He publishes new episodes every Thursday.

SixPixels (Canada)

Canadian Mitch Joel has been in marketing since 1999. He started a digital marketing company with three other partners back in 2002. Since then, he has built an illustrious career after being an early entrant into the blog and podcast space.

His podcast 6 Pixels of Separation is still a big hit with listeners and readers because of his deep analysis of consumer behaviour, advertising and technology. On his podcast, you can look forward to Mitch’s own insights along with his guests from across the globe. If you’ve read the book Six Pixels of Separation and are wondering which one came first – it’s the podcast. He releases an episode every week, and the topics vary from creativity in advertising, consumer trust in brands, nuances of design in advertising and understanding data in marketing.

Obscurity To Authority (Canada)

This podcast by Canadian entrepreneur Darren Cabral is about helping you grow your business, brand and authority. Darren is the CEO of digital marketing agency Suits Social Inc, where he shares his thoughts on marketing, entrepreneurship and more.

Cabral founded Suits Social when he was just 17 years old. Since then, the company has grown from a small startup to a team of 30 people with offices in Toronto and Montreal. In his podcast, he shares his own story and the story of many other entrepreneurs of how they successfully managed to get their brands into the limelight.

Everyone HatesMarketers (Ireland)

Ireland-based Louis Grenier interviews guests and shares his own no-fluff, actionable marketing insights every week. His straightforward and no-nonsense approach has garnered many fans. With over 1m+ downloads, he tackles marketing topics on a large and minute level. How to build communities on social media, how to get free press, and how to market to Gen Z are some of the unique themes you can find on his podcast.

CMO Talks (Canada)

IT World Canada’s Chief Marketing Officer, Fawn Annan, speaks to other CMOs and CEOs on this podcast. You can expect to find senior professionals like the CTO of KFC, the CMO of SugarCRM, the CMO of PandaDoc, and more sharing their experiences and insights on new developments in the marketing landscape. Her episodes are an easy 30-minute listen.

Online Marketing Made Easy (US)

For any startup founder with an online business Amy Porterfield’s podcast is just right. Her personal expertise in lead generation and building online courses are some of the common themes on the podcast. She often shares real insights from listeners and students who have used her digital marketing tips to help understand the execution journey. Her style is encouraging and actionable for entrepreneurs looking to feel inspired as a whole, not just with marketing.

Marketing Technology Podcast by Marketing Guys (Netherlands)

The Marketing Technology Podcast is a weekly talk show that interviews professionals who leverage marketing tech for brands every day. Netherlands-based Elias Crum and Mark van Horik talk to C-level executives, software vendors, and entrepreneurs about how to best use marketing tech, like podcasts, digital marketing, ad engineering and more. They release one episode a week. It is a dual language show with English and Dutch.

Marketing School (US)

Marketing School is a daily podcast that teaches you how to grow your business through the latest online marketing tactics. Neil Patel and Eric Siu host the show. Neil is an author and marketer who has helped companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Airbnb, and Google.

Eric is an investor, founder and advisor to companies; he runs a digital marketing agency whose clients include Amazon, Uber, and Salesforce.Marketing School has over 100 episodes; their episodes are short and crisp. It can be added as a great daily habit for startup founders to tune into this real quick every morning. They have over 1 million downloads.

Perpetual Traffic (US)

With more than 300 episodes, Ralph Burns and Kasim Aslam share what’s latest on lead generation and sales conversions through paid traffic. Ralph’s runs a digital marketing agency with social media advertising clients in over 55 industries, managing annual spending of over $100 million. 

Kasim is a Traffic Coach for DigitalMarketer.com’s ELITE coaching program. He is also the author of The 7 Critical Principles of Effective Digital Marketing. They share their learnings and also interview guest speakers.

Martech Pod (US)

The Martech Pod is a part of the large Hubspot podcast family; they have a plethora of marketing podcast content that interviews experts from corporates and agencies. You can find the podcasts detailed under multiple sub-topics such as Content Marketing, Data & Analytics, Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Influencer Growth and more. Their podcasts also have notes under each audio, so you can always go back and read the highlights and takeaways too.

Startup Marketing is a Journey

The world of startup marketing is changing and will continue to do so. At the forefront of these changes are entrepreneurs who are always learning. Learn from experts, peers, local and global.

At TBDC, we have mentors and entrepreneurs from all over the world who have successfully built businesses out of Canada. Our 8-month business incubation program is specifically designed to help international entrepreneurs with high-potential companies scale to international markets. Book a call now!

Global Startup Expansion: Landing your First North American Client

Deciding to move to a new country is rarely an easy decision. When you are looking to move and start up a business at the same time, you must really be a go-getter. Starting a business comes with many learnings, costs, and experiences that change your life, and trying to do it in a country without a solid support system is setting yourself up for trouble.

If you are looking to open the North American headquarters for your start-up, there are a few things you can do to help prepare yourself for the move. Research the market, and client, and consider even interviewing a couple of potential clients before you you build your roadmap to North America. Not sure what your next steps are? We’re here to help.

An Introduction to Canadian Business Culture

While India may be the 7th largest country in the world by population, Canada is the second largest in space. These two countries are vastly different in terms of culture and lifestyle, but they both include a wide range of cultures and are politically stable, with well-developed economies that attract foreign investment.In 2021, Canada was ranked the best place in the world to do business, mainly due to our highly skilled talent pool and the soft infrastructure in place to help businesses operate. One of the reasons companies have lagged in doing international business with developing nations is because of ‘institutional voids’, services that we take for granted in the North American market.

But, increased service, connectivity, and resources do come with additional bureaucracy and red tape, with a corporate tax rate in Canada of nearly 28%. If you’re looking for a further breakdown of Canadian regulations and Corporate Taxes, this is a great place to start.

Canada is perceived globally as one of the most socially just nations, placing a high value on racial and gender equality, human rights and racial and ethnic diversity. Anyone can succeed here, and there is a range of resources and funding available for people with a wide variety of needs.

A North American Sales Timeline

Like anywhere else in the world, your sales timeline will vary greatly depending on the industry you are in. Not only will you be exploring your sales market, but to operate in North America (or any country, really), you should also consider researching the product market that is competing with your solution, as well as labour and capital markets. If you want to consider an international sales team, a single salesperson operating more than half the year in a country could leave you paying taxes there.

Your pre-sales research should include

    1. Local Political and Social Systems
    2. Economy openness
    3. Local Product Markets
  1. Labour markets
  2. And Capital Networks

If you are selling a lower-cost service or product to consumers, your industry might already have publicly available benchmarks so you can compare your strategic goals. If you are selling to a corporation, expect timelines well over a few months, and multiple calls with different stakeholders. Canadians are known to be conservative in business and overly polite. Take your time with small talk and introductions, and know you will have to provide lots of information before a formal negotiation begins.

Building a digital presence for the North American Consumer

In our increasingly connected world, Canadian, and North American consumers in general, will look for social proof and customer reviews when considering a new product or service. Build your online presence early, look for ways to build an engaged community and brand advocates, and ensure there is a cohesive feel between your digital and live personas.

Customers will look for a well-built website that validates your business story and provides robust product details. It’s also a great place to host a media kit, press coverage, and collect data on your demographic.

You’ll also want to fissure out what social channels are relevant to your niche. There are hundreds of specialized social media for every industry and social inclination, so don’t be afraid to test a few.

Finally, if your customers engage with you online, make sure to be responsive. Customers like to feel that you are accessible and will help them if something goes wrong. Reply to online reviews and user-generated content to create customers that advertise your products for you.

Grow your Start-Up Internationally

Taking your start-up internationally does not need to be a solo venture. As Canada’s premier designated entry for the Start-up Visa Program, the incubation program was designed to help global entrepreneurs take the next step. Get access to thousands of dollars in business services and receive guided start-up advice today!

A Collection of Finance Advice + Resources for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, you will come to realize that there is a never-ending amount of information about business, marketing and money. But, you don’t always have the time or resources to spend learning the ins and outs of every skill it takes to run a business. Flipping through hundreds of books, podcasts and online courses to grab the best pieces of business advice is overwhelming. So we searched near and far for some of the best courses, podcasts, and books that help entrepreneurs master startup finance.

Online Finance Courses for Entrepreneurs

Financial Markets with Bob Shiller by Yale University

Learn the basics and then some from this Nobel Laureate in Economics and one of the most important thinkers in finance. The course includes ideas, methods, and institutions that permit human society to manage risks and foster enterprise, with an emphasis on financially-savvy leadership skills. Get the groundwork for your startup’s success well laid before there are too many moving parts, and equip yourself with the knowledge to help make great decisions as your company grows.

Register Here

Game Theory with Mathew O. Jackson by Stanford University & The University of British Columbia

Look at the incentives and behaviour driving everything from what we traditionally think of as games to competition among firms, trading behaviour on stock markets, and Google keyword auctions. This famous and well-studied methodology for modelling is commonly used in economics as a valuable tool to aid in the fundamental analysis of industries, sectors, and any strategic interaction between two or more firms.

Register Here

Entrepreneurial Finance: Strategy & Innovation by Duke University

This course was designed to help entrepreneurs understand their financial strategy and look at it strategically to appeal to investors, banks, and other types of funding to create long-term financial growth. Learn how to evaluate entrepreneurial ventures—including high-growth startups, build and manage capitalization tables, study blockchain success and failure applications, and use R programming to determine the rate of return on stock portfolios.

Register Here

Startup Financing Books

The Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank

Taught at top business schools, Amazon’s #1 title under entrepreneurship, and tens of thousands of positive reviews. This entrepreneurial book is more than just finance, but should be a must-read for all people thinking about starting their own business. Explore the title even further through Steve Blank’s website which has teaching resources, speeches, podcasts, & more.

Find the Book | View His Site

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Written by the co-founder of PayPal, this book is just over 200 pages but packs a punch. It’s a part self-help book, part call to action for startups to build a better world. Dive into a ‘profound articulation of capitalism and success in the 21st-century economy’, ‘bursting with bromides and sunny confidence’, – Derek Thompson. The book focuses on basic concepts that are easy to implement for every industry, which is surprising coming from a man who has invested in; an anti-aging biotech firm, an organization dedicated to building ocean communities underwater, and a foundation that pays teenagers to drop out of college and start new companies.

Find the Book

Startup Financing and Business Podcasts

The Backbone

The LinkedIn profile of Shubham Datta, CPA, CA, includes names like KPMG and Shopify. And he was an adjunct professor for the University of Waterloo, teaching a master’s course in an introduction to startup finance. Skip the hefty tuition fees and listen to Datta interview financial leaders at tech startups whenever is most convenient for you. Don’t work, this podcast launched in 2017, so there is lots of content to binge.

Listen Now

The Top Entrepreneurs

Serial Entrepreneur Nathan Latka releases a 20-minute interview every day with up-and-coming or top startup executives to discuss. how much they sold last month, how they are selling it, and what they are selling. People consistently praise Latka for his ability to get the people he interviews to open up about very sensitive information.

Listen Now

The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss is an Angel Investor and advisor to Uber, Evernote, Shopify, Automattic (WordPress.com), Early investor in Twitter, Facebook, and 20+ others. He’s the author of the 4-Hour Workweek, and his podcast interviews experts in all industries and specialties to find out tips, rules, and processes that can be applied to all areas of business. A refreshing look on what business can mean.

Listen Now

Looking to take your startup to the next level?

As a leader, you should always be striving for self-improvement. No matter which way you learn best, there are so many great ways to get your hands on new ideas, materials, and ways of thinking.

TBDC is Toronto’s oldest business incubator, and we are a designated partner for the Startup Visa Program. Our 6-month business incubation program was specifically designed to help international entrepreneurs with high-potential companies scale to international markets. Come join thousands of business leaders, ecosystem partners, and other founders looking to change the world! Apply today.

Sourcing Talent for Innovative Start-ups

Hiring talent for your growing company can be stressful. It’s costly, time consuming, and hiring the wrong people can kill a small company. There’s a balance you need to find, as you’ll be spending a lot of time with these people, but you can’t be blinded by your interpersonal connections.

Needs for each start-up will vary drastically, and even month-to-month within the same start-up. While you can’t prepare for everything, you can do some work to ensure you’re making the best decisions for your growing company.

Preparing for the Hire

Salaries will be one of your more expensive business costs at the beginning of growing your Start-up. By having a clear onboarding plan, company literature, and learning prepared, you ensure that your new hire is ready to tackle their job.

Identifying Key Tasks of the Role

To save time and frustration, you can plan out the work for your new hire just like you plan your marketing schedule or company roadmap. Have your questions ready to go and know your budget before posting your job application so you don’t waste time sorting through unimpressive resumes.

Identify if you need an assistant (low skill, high performance, is willing to learn) or an expert (high skill, unknown performance, needs to be coachable). Many successful founders say that they always tried to make sure they were hiring people smarter than them, so you may also need a standardized way to test the skills you are hiring for.

How To Structure Work in Your Start-Up

Start-ups can be structured a few different ways. The two most common are flat and hierarchical. Chances are, when your’e first starting you’ll be so small that the team will be flat. When you’re hiring more than one person per department, you’ll want to let everyone know who reports to who to avoid conflicts. You should have a little intuition on which structure will work best for your business.

Remember that you don’t have to complicate things. Most small businesses only need a simple structure and, chances are, they will retain said structure for the foreseeable future. So, make your organization chart, anticipate the evolution of roles, and be sure to adapt to growth.

Parag Datta is one of our esteemed mentors here at TBDC, and he has over a decade of experience in Clean Energy & Infrastructure. Here is some of his advice for hiring as an early stage start-up;

Recruiting talent for small businesses is different. You need someone who can handle the administrative roles, even when less people are checking in on you. You need someone who can make decisions and own them.

Really, you need talent with the ability to think outside the box. You’re almost creating the market and the demand so you need to be able to find that. It’s critical to find talent that is highly skilled in technicalities but has the business acumen to solve real world problems.

A good start-up employee has to be very bold and embrace a lot of change, someone who’s okay with a little instability. As your’e recruiting talent, especially leadership, you need to be able to embrace and influence change. For a small innovative company you need to be able to look at things and make quick strategic decisions.

Identifying Key Soft Skills of the Rolls

Many companies in established industries have the luxury of sourcing talent from educational streams that train people for a specific industry. But what do you do when your industry is new, or you’re the first to marry a few industries?

Ibentos is an innovative Start-up that started participating in the TBDC Start-up Visa program in January 2022. Founded in 2020 as an Event Technology company, they have had a few key moments when they adapted technology to stay ahead of the curve. Currently, they provide one of the most comprehensive digital platform for virtual and hybrid events and this is their advice for hiring new talent.

Harpreet Singh, CEO & Co-Founder – There are no books available, the perfect talent won’t be out there. You need to train them, guide them, and build them. The internal training and the personalities need to mesh to create a great team. Generally, you won’t find everyone who is perfect, there is a lot of training and leadership work required when you begin hiring.

Jaspinder Bhatia, COO & Co-Founder – Retaining the talent can be an issue when you’ve invested so much. You have to keep open communication and motivate your talent every day. We dream together, and we succeed together.

Preparing for the Interview

Currently, the job market is hot, and talent is expecting more out of their workplace. In Canada, Common workplace culture includes;

Remote work – 81% of employers and 78% of employees think they have all the tools necessary to effectively work remotely, and 15% of Canadian employees prefer a remote work model. On top of that, 41% of employees believe their productivity has increased since pre-pandemic through remote work. (source) On top of that, 61% of employees think that their corporate culture has changed since going remote, and 56% believe it’s changed for the better.

Employee Morale – 62% of Canadian employers say that their biggest work challenge since the start of the pandemic was managing their employee morale.

Mental Health – 46% of Canadian employees claim mental health issues have been their biggest concern since the start of the pandemic. How are employers adjusting to these new attitudes? By being more flexible, doing more 1-on-1 check-ins, focusing on improving workflow processes, and being more open with their employees about the challenges they are facing.

In Conclusion

Hiring is a necessary step in growing any business. By preparing, you can ensure that you have a smooth hiring process, and you’re finding a qualified candidate to suit your business needs. If it’s your first time managing others, ensure that you have the skills you need to be the best leader you can be.

Have you come across any great hiring tips? Share them with us on LinkedIn!

Want more personalized business advice?  Check out our business incubation streams to see if we’re the right fit for you. TBDC is Toronto’s first incubator, with a track record of helping 1000’s of start-ups launch and scale in North America.

The Future of Health Tech and Medical Devices

Expanding your Medical Device Start-up internationally comes with more rules, regulations, and regulatory bodies than most other industries. But, the industry tends to operate on start-ups developing niche technology, and larger companies buying up the cream of the device crop. But not every Medtech start-up is a sure bet. In fact, only 25% of medical device companies ever make it to market.

What makes a great medical device start-up? A highly professional and technically skilled workforce is your first key requirement. It will take you anywhere from 3-7 years to enter a new market, so you also need the funds to sport said team. To remain competitive, ensure that some of the company has a strong ability to assess product-market fit and be able to adjust designs to remain competitive during your development cycle.

Overview of the Canadian Medical Device Market

The global medical device market is expected to grow from US$455.34 billion in 2021 to US$657.98 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 5.4%. Canada’s medical device market is US$7.5 billion in 2020, accounting for about 1.8% of the global market. In 2020, the key business segments of the Canadian medical device market were:

The global medical device market is expected to grow from US$455.34 billion in 2021 to US$657.98 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 5.4%. Canada’s medical device market is US$7.5 billion in 2020, accounting for about 1.8% of the global market. In 2020, the key business segments of the Canadian medical device market were:

  • Diagnostic imaging (21%)
  • Consumables (15%)
  • Patient aids (16%)
  • Orthopedic and prosthetic (10%)
  • Dental products (8%), and
  • Other, including wheelchairs, ophthalmic instruments, anesthesia apparatus, dialysis apparatus, blood pressure monitors, endoscopy apparatus, and hospital furniture (30%)*

*( Note: may not add to 100% due to rounding)

TBDC is Toronto’s first start-up incubator, and we are grateful for our well-rounded group of mentors. Meet George Furtado, VP of Business Development for Launchpad Health, and the Global Head of Business Development for Britannia Life Sciences. He’s got decades of experience helping medical device and software companies increase revenue and profits, and improve sales and marketing operations. Here is some of his advice for expanding into the Canadian market.

One of the first things to remember about Canada is you’ll need local specialists who can help you understand our marketing, sales, and financing regulations. The geography of our county is quite large compared to the market size, so one salesperson for the entire country usually isn’t enough. Canada has been a predominantly hard market to crack because of established companies that physicians use. If you don’t have the resources to scale quickly it’s hard to compete with the large players. Because of this, many companies coming into the market will take a consortium approach.

Canadian Trade in Medical Devices

2015 to 2020, Canadian medical device exports increased from CAN$3.2 billion to $4.4 billion and imports increased from $8.6 billion to $9.9 billion. Like most industries, Canada’s largest trading partner is the United States. In 2020, the US was the recipient of 70% of our medical device exports.

Why should you consider expanding your company straight into Canada and trade with the US? The Canadian healthcare system is organized and run at provincial levels. In Canada, you can’t just sell to the hospitals directly, and your contract lead time can take 6 months to a year and a half, and you need the production capacity to fill a large contract.
While building up, take advantage of our 4.8 million graduates who hold degrees in STEM or healthcare making Canada the 4th largest available talent pool of scientists and engineers globally.

The Canadian Government’s Support

The Canadian medical device industry remains innovative and competitive on a global scale by applying the research and analysis conducted by some of the top Canadian hospitals, universities, and other research institutes.

The Government has shown its support for the medical device industry by initiating federally funded research programs that can help exponentially in developing and commercializing medical technologies. If medical device companies need funding or professional advice, they can get in touch with the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Networks of Centres of Excellence, National Research Council, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
What’s more, Canada is also providing tax incentives to businesses of all sizes to conduct research and development domestically. Medical device start-ups can utilize these tax incentives to get either cash refunds and/or tax credits for any eligible research and development they perform in the country.

Medical Device Industry Associations in Canada

Aside from the government grants and loans available to Medtech companies, Canada has multiple reputable industry associations for medical device companies that help with everything from industry knowledge and access to information to larger industry news and how it affects the medical devices industry. The Canadian-wide association is Medtech Canada, and the Ontario association is the Medical Device Reprocessing Association.

How to Move your Medical Device Start-up into the North American Market

Breaking into the North American market can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be hard. When looking to expand your medical device start-up globally, our incubator has 3 key performance indicators;

  • Proven product-market fit
  • Proof of concept
  • Strong founding team

If your company has all three, we encourage you to apply for our Start-up Visa, as you’ve already done most of the hard work. If Mr. Furtado could impart one last piece of advice to you, it would be to truly understand the pace at which your target market works. Understanding what your client needs and when your sales process can be adjusted for any market you try to expand into.

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