Archive for November 2008

Why Edmonton is better than Vancouver and Toronto

November 25, 2008

It’s funny how Toronto and Vancouver always seem to be suggested as a couple of the best places to do business in Canada, at least when it comes to technology companies.

What everyone doesn’t realize is that it’s actually Edmonton. This city far outstrips those other two cities in terms of quality of life and a number of other factors.

If you’re thinking of starting any kind of technology company, the Edmonton tech community is the perfect place to set up shop.

Why not Vancouver?

Quality of life is one thing. Resources are another. Sure the mountains are great, but Vancouver is a polluted valley with terrible traffic problems. And do you really want an office looking out at those mountains? Your employees will either want to climb them or ski them. They won’t be focused on work. Oh, on those rainy days they might want to work. So, that will account for half the year. And if you want to live in a shoebox, go for it. That might be all you can afford there with Vancouver’s real estate prices!

Toronto? Puh-lease!

Where do I begin? If you would like to be a human air filter to clean up the big brown smog dome over the Greater Toronto area, go for it. You’ll be doing it while you’re stuck in traffic or recovering from a car accident. Toronto might think it’s the centre of the universe but it’s go less going for it than Vancouver.

So Edmonton is better?

Yes, I am being a little tongue in cheek, but Edmonton really is a great city. From a quality of life perspective, the air quality is far better in Edmonton. If you’re looking for an attractive city, Edmonton is. Yes, a prairie city can be beautiful. The city is full of beautiful architecture, it’s nicely treed, there are great walking trails throughout the river valley and other parts of the city and if you like festivals, Edmonton has more than its fair share.

Who wouldn’t want to live in one of the 21 smartest cities in the world? Edmonton is on the cutting edge when it comes to developing its high tech infrastructure. Governments are on board when it comes to supporting and developing the high tech community in the province, and the Edmonton tech community is the province’s technology hub.

With world-leading educational institutions like NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) and the University of Alberta, life sciences discoveries and other technological achievements are announced regularly. Both of these institutions provide a steady stream of creative and energetic grads that are eager to work and contribute in the Edmonton tech community. Angel investors should take note of this. Edmonton has a strong tech community with great investment opportunities.

Economic fundamentals are good

From an economic standpoint, Edmonton has experienced an incredible boom that is still continuing. The slowdown felt in so many places hasn’t really been felt here yet and will likely not affect the province as much as other jurisdictions. Unemployment has remained stable. The same can’t be said for many other places.

While the boom has led to increases in real estate prices, the market is still strong, but prices are still better than in places like Vancouver.

The province is blessed with abundant energy and other natural resources and Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, is an important hub that services the energy and other industries. Edmonton’s growth prospects remain strong for the foreseeable future.

The Edmonton tech community is vibrant, the economy is strong, Edmonton has great educational institutions, many successful tech companies and more. Why wouldn’t you want to come here?

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Online research easier with SemantiFind

November 20, 2008

An underlying problem with researching online is actually finding useful websites. Often researchers have to sift through page after page of Google results before they can even find one article that comes close to what they are looking for. Even the term “Google Search” brings up 122,000,000 results. How is that possible?

 

It’s possible because search engines use algorithms to search for key words rather than the meaning of those keywords. So if a website has the words ‘Google’ or ‘Search’ within it, the search engine produces that web page as a result, even if it has absolutely no significance to you.

 

SemantiFind, eliminates that ambiguity. SemantiFind is a plug-in that sits on top of Google and refines and personalizes your searching experience. By marking the pages you find useful, SemantiFind begins to understand your preferences and will, with time, produce meaningful websites.

 

In addition, SemantiFind eliminates the categories, sub-categories, and sub-sub-categories of bookmarks. With SemantiFind you are able to mark a web site and return to it time and again with ease. And we all know that while the theory of bookmarks is genius, the practicality of its application is leaves something to be desired.

 

So what are you waiting for? Learn how to operate SemantiFind in 90 seconds.

Angel Investors say, “Out with the Old, in with the New.”

November 20, 2008

In 2007 the angel investment market experienced a growth in investment activity, according to the Center for Venture Research. However, it is noted that angel investors are taking a more cautious approach to investing. But a cautious approach does not necessarily mean that investors are not looking for the “new.” According to the CVR, investors have a preference for new rather than follow-on investments.

So when Bruce Johnson released Semanti, a search tool that sets on top of Google to enhance and personalize the searching process, angel investors took notice. It was the dream angel investor scenario. After all, larger corporations such as Google are already a favorite of angels by providing them with a sense of stability. And Semanti brought out the new that so many angels are seeking. But what does new really mean?

It has been common in the past for angel investors to remain fairly close to their investments in order to maintain a hands on approach in the decision making process. But with all the innovations coming out of Edmonton, angels are beginning to realize that being close to their investment is nothing more than an “old” theory that now no longer applies.

Good time to be an angel investor?

November 19, 2008

With the obviously weak economy, I wonder what angel investors are thinking right now. Is it really a great time to start a business and invest in speculative ventures?

You’d think that right now would be a great time to be an angel investor. Layoffs and a bad economy spur creativity in many ways, even just for survival. There’s a growing pool of creative people out there that now have some free time to be able to work on their ideas. That’s not necessarily a positive thing from one perspective, but opportunity grows from adversity.

From an angel investor perspective, you don’t want to be putting money in at the top of the economic cycle, if you can help it. It’s better to invest at the bottom to be able to maximize your returns.

Yes, it is a good time to be an angel investor

It’s a timely subject, as it’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and according to this article it would seem that being a startup right now is a good thing. There are more employees available and better quality candidates. Looking at the economic side of things, it’s better because there’s less emphasis on high wages, people are willing to work for equity and basic expenses like rent are more affordable too.

The credit crunch has tightened credit up to the point where even established businesses are having trouble getting the funding they need, as witnessed by Linens ‘n Things and Circuit City.

While that may be the case, if you’ve got a solid business model, good management and have the groundwork in place, you might be able to find the right angel investor to come along. By the time we’re out of the woods on this recession, you could be well placed to profit from the next upswing in the economy. It feels like the end of the world now, it always does, but it always rebounds.

Edmonton angel investment

Edmonton is a good place for angel investors to be looking for their next deal. Many of them already are, from what I’ve heard. The Edmonton tech community is active and creative. Perhaps some people write off Alberta as all oil and gas, but there is a lot of creativity in the Edmonton tech community and they’re not just working for the oilfields.

Edmonton might not be Sand Hill Road, but it could be the Sand Hill Road of the future. The city has a lot going for it. The University of Alberta is a life sciences sector leader and it seems like there are important life sciences discoveries announced there every week.

NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) is a leader in the tech education community, turning out highly skilled grads in a number of fields. NAIT grads are certainly out there shaking up the world.

While the rest of the world’s economy is weak, Alberta still has a strong economy and has good prospects to weather the recession well.

If you’re looking for a pool of creative talent in a vibrant and successful city, Edmonton might just be the right place to start your next venture or find your next angel investment deal.

A Start-Up Business YouTube?

November 7, 2008


It seems that in the state of the current economy more and more cities like Edmonton are seeking new ways to promote their young entrepreneurs and technology sectors. Just recently we discovered some striking similarities between the technology sectors of Edmonton and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


It seems that young entrepreneurs are beginning to find success in promoting and raising awareness of start-up businesses in areas that are not technically considered hubs of entrepreneurship.


Case in point, ActionsTalk.com promotes start-up businesses in the Milwaukee area and the country. The owners, Ryan Graves and Blake Samic share between themselves a wealth of information technology experience that could launch their website into the next “YouTube” for start-up businesses. In a sense, their site could become a popular source for young entrepreneurs and investors to gather and share information through the use of video and other sources of technology. But will they succeed?


When Bruce Johnson released Semanti, a brilliant search technology that sets on top of Google to personalize the searching experience, he probably never would have guessed the level of the technology’s current success. Though Graves and Samic do have a long way to go before they can consider themselves as being the next start-up YouTube or even as successful as Bruce Johnson, the potential is definitely there, and just as Semanti’s potential was recognized and marketed, so too will the idea of these two young entrepreneurs.


It serves as a reminder to all social networkers, young entrepreneurs and investors alike that we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to ideas. New ideas are developing and will continue to develop in our current economic crisis, and as Edmontonians Visionaries often discovers, technology is always at the heart of those developments.