Cloud gaining traction among Canadian entrepreneurs

Posted by Peter Wilenius, Vice President, Business Development

It’s been a busy spring for the DAIR team as we partnered with Fundica to participate in the 2015 edition of Funding Roadshow which just wrapped up an 11-stop journey across Canada. The event provides start-ups and small businesses with new business ideas the opportunity to pitch their company to a panel of public and private investors — and potentially secure financing. The grand prize winners travel to San Francisco to pitch to Silicon Valley investors.

At each stop up to 20 entrepreneurs pitched their concepts to a panel of potential funders. Local incubators and accelerators in each location provided a venue and local marketing to their communities.

With a scoring system based on the market potential, solution potential, team, pitch quality and readiness for San Francisco, each stop had a winner who will receive a package of goods and services to assist in evolving their business. In addition to the pitchfest, the Roadshow also served as an educational component for all local startups designed to provide education and support through a series of roadtalks that covered a gamut of subjects from financing, business strategy, market positioning and technology utilization. Each stop on the roadshow also provided a great opportunity for networking amongst the local community of participants.

This was the second consecutive year in which CANARIE sponsored the Roadshow, building on last year’s great success in which 2 of 10 winners had previously developed their early prototypes and completed customer pilots using the DAIR cloud program.

We’re strong supporters of the work that the Fundica team are doing as there is strong alignment in our objectives to help Canada’s startup community take the next step in commercializing great ideas. While the format was essentially the same this year, it has certainly matured and is gaining traction as a go-to event for entrepreneurs across the country.

A few observations:

  • The vast majority of this year’s applicants to Funding Roadshow are building cloud solutions. Anecdotally, we saw a doubling year over year in applicants whose solutions and business models were predicated on a cloud computing architecture. Not surprising, considering that use of cloud services can drastically lower barriers to market entry and improve time to market.
  • We noticed an increase in the startup community’s awareness and knowledge of the value of cloud technology.  While last year it was more of an introductory message, the focus this year shifted to practical issues of implementation as the startups are eager to learn about and leverage the strategic benefits of the technology.
  • It’s also clear that the message is resonating beyond the traditional technology hotspots. While interest remained strong in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, smaller centres such as Halifax, Winnipeg and Victoria are developing critical mass of new businesses with global growth potential which exploits virtualization technology.

All in all, it is encouraging to see a fundamental shift in Canada’s cloud readiness as is evidenced by our experience with Funding Roadshow and within the DAIR Program in general.

There is still lots of room for growth but the trends are encouraging. In 2015, new DAIR user enrollment is on track to hit 40% growth. In no small part this growth reflects the response of the Canadian startup community to the Fundica Funding Roadshow.