Do Canadian entrepreneurs have a chance?

Photo by Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures

In a recent blog post for the TVO current affairs program The Agenda, Stavros Rougas says that there’s something about Canadians that makes them averse to entrepreneurship.

Speaking with Ali Asaria, founder of Canada’s largest online health and beauty retailer, he notes that the Canadian university experience tends to make students want to attach themselves to major tech companies like RIM, Microsoft, and Google, rather than to lead their own enterprises.

“Canada doesn’t have the same risk-loving culture as our more entrepreneurial neighbours south of the border,” writes Rougas.

Indeed, the plight of the Canadian entrepreneur is not his or her lack of good ideas.

A recent poll by Angus Reid found that almost seven out of ten Canadians said they could easily come up with a surefire  business idea, however, about 72 per cent of those polled said they were worried about not being able to find money to fund their venture.

It seems that Canadians’ confidence in their own ideas is offset by the lack of support by venture capital.

Deloitte recently investigated VC opionions of Canadian entrepreneurs and startups, finding that they are less keen on investing in homegrown businesses than ones in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, the UK and the US.

Drawing from this study, Dachis Group partner Jevon MacDonald concludes that the divide between entrepreneurs and VCs in Canada is wider than anywhere else in the world.

Obviously many Canadian entrepreneurs such as Asaria have found what they need to succeed – even if it means finding foreign investors, or even moving abroad – but some individuals are working to make Canada a healthier place for startups.

Co-Founder of iPhone photo sharing app Burstn ( Dave Senior notes, “Entrepreneurship is important because it creates jobs, creates opportunity, and changes society.” Senior is also a participant and community builder at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (, a project designed to give young entrepreneurs the space and resources to develop, collaborate and market their products and services.

Efforts such as the Digital Media Zone are clearly a step in the right direction, however, more needs to be done to encourage potential Canadian entrepreneurs not just in Toronto, but across Canada. If not, Canadian business will merely follow the lead of nations that are more willing to take chances on their fellow citizens.

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