How I Leveraged Government Support to Grow my Startup

Posted on Apr 25, 2016 in Spotlight on SaaS | By: Steve Cody

Steve Cody, founder and CEO of The Better Software Company (TBSC), details the ways in which both federal and provincial government agencies and NGOs have benefited his growing company. At a recent panel discussion held at Kivuto, representatives from each organization outlined how they’ve helped the startup with hiring, financing and R&D. Steve has recapped his experience with each of the organizations, and how their programs have been important to every aspect of his company.

Pre-panel networking at L-SPARK's 'Support for Your Startup' panel discussion held at Kivuto.

During my time in the L-SPARK Accelerator, I was still adjusting to the ins and outs of the tech and startup world. I had previously ran successful businesses, but I wasn’t selling software in any of them. As a novice tech company entrepreneur, I was uninformed about the potential ways I could leverage government programs.

Less than a year out of L-SPARK, we’ve increased our company size from four to over 80 employees and we’ve closed several rounds of funding from institutional investors. Through this continuous progression, I still turn to government organizations and NGOs for support.

TBSC has greatly benefited from the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP).

IRAP provides advisory services such as strategic and business intelligence. They can also identify potential partnership opportunities, both in Canada and internationally.

Through IRAP, we’ve been able to obtain over $650,000 that’s non-repayable. This has been helpful because as an early stage company, we need to retain as much capital as possible.

The Business Advisory Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure can offset the cost of hiring an Export Manager by tapping into the Ontario Exporter’s Fund. We’re currently in talks to bring on an export manager that can help us acquire and retain customers globally.

The Export Market Access program also subsidizes costs related to attending conferences and tradeshows including transportation, booth rental and marketing materials.

We’ve made firm partnerships with companies in Turkey through Export Development Canada. Their mandate is to connect Canadian companies with international business opportunities.

Mitacs is heavily focused on funding multidiscipline projects and helping with R&D activities. We’re happy to leverage Mitacs to leverage the technology and innovation behind IBM Watson to develop our next product for small businesses, Sherlock.

We’re in talks with the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to bring on summer students who can get real-world experience helping us with our R&D. I look forward to bringing in post-secondary students who can potentially come on board full time when they wrap up their studies in the future.

As TBSC’s employee count has skyrocketed, we’ve heavily relied on ITO 2.0’s employment services to help us recruit talented individuals for our sales, marketing and customer success teams. The agency also runs job fairs and recruitment events on behalf of employees. I have a weekly meeting with our IT0 2.0 representative to get an update on some of the candidates that are a potential good fit for TBSC.  

We’re having an initial conversation with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) who offers wage subsidies for positions in the ICT field. I look forward to leveraging their employment services, in addition to capitalizing on their ICT business intelligence services.

We’re also discussing financing options with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Their services are exclusively for entrepreneurs and businesses, and they provide business loans and other consulting services.

Welch LLP helped navigate our successful SR&ED claim, and their accounting services have helped us to maximize tax credits and kept our finances in order.

I’ve relied on the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) long before I was a tech company founder. I rely on the organization’s strong background in servicing tech companies, and continue to consult with them as we fundraise.

Steve Cody

Steve Cody

Steve Cody is the Founder and CEO of The Better Software Company (TBSC) that provides an easy-to-use SaaS solution that helps small business owners simplify their operations. As a serial entrepreneur, he has started 15 local and national businesses in the service, rental, e-commerce and retail markets which have generated over $250 million in sales. TBSC entered the L-SPARK Accelerator in January 2015 and exponentially grew their revenue and team, maintaining MoM growth of 35%. In late 2015 TBSC closed a seed round of $2.1 million.

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