1 2007 Report to Stakeholders TORONTO BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTRE Empowering Toronto s Entrepreneurs
2 A MESSAGE TO OUR COMMUNITY In service to help build new and emerging businesses: TBDC staff and advisors in our two locations. For graduates of the many entrepreneurial programs delivered at the Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC), time spent in our classrooms, halls and offices often marks the passage of a life transition to self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship. More than 3,500 people have been engaged in our programs since the Centre opened its doors in 1990 with a mandate to nurture the growth of new and emerging businesses in the city of Toronto. As one of Canada s leaders in the field of business incubation, TBDC is a longestablished hub for entrepreneurial development. In addition to our core business incubation programs, supported by the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO); we offer a range of entrepreneurial training programs with funding from the provincial and federal governments. This past year saw TBDC assist a record number of entrepreneurs who contributed to local economic development and job creation. Toronto Centre Campus. From front left: Marlene Burke, Laurie Fleming, Laura Booth, Danny Brennan, Katherine Roos, Shif Bitew, Ann Parkitny, Sally Wilkie, Joan White, Van Truong, Greg McCormick, Cheryl Mulgrave, Maureen Kelly, Jim Pullen, Michael Donahue, Rene Morrison, Christine Porter. TBDC also delivered business training focused on the needs of people with disabilities and summer programs for youth. Today, TBDC and several of its partners in economic development are focusing on building a virtual presence by looking at the feasibility of new opportunities to make both business incubation and training more accessible, particularly for entrepreneurs with disabilities. You will see from the following pages that the delivery of all these activities together creates a learning environment and support network that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. It allows TBDC to serve as a catalyst in the creation of new enterprises and new jobs in our community. In service to our clients are our dedicated staff, business advisors, volunteers, past graduates and public sector partners who share a passionate belief that entrepreneurs are a vital force in our community. We are privileged to collaborate with these colleagues to ensure that small business will always find a good home in Toronto. Toronto West Campus. From front left: Elizabeth Verwey, Barbora Dudinska, Mike Mouradian, Lynn Tremblay, Richard Sakanashi, Cheryl Mulgrave, Michael Donahue, Bob Conway, Danny Brennan, Del Vopni, Sheryll Reid, Ted Barton. Finally, we would like to thank the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO), its President and CEO, Jeff Steiner, and its Manager, Incubator & Economic Development Programs, Judy Dunstan, for their ongoing support of business incubation in Toronto. Ed Hobbs General Manager Toronto Business Development Centre
3 INSIDE A BUSINESS INCUBATOR Role is to nurture entrepreneurs A business incubator is like a laboratory of commerce, where entrepreneurs can test ideas and strategies against the expertise of seasoned advisors and peers. Unlike a business centre, which simply provides affordable office space or shared business services to clients, an incubator also provides skills development and mentoring through residency programs, management training, informal networking and regular progress reviews. The goal is to provide a nurturing environment in residence or through training where small business entrepreneurs can build a foundation for viable and sustainable enterprises that graduate into our community, contribute to the tax base and create jobs. A new entrepreneur can count on an incubator s resources for hands-on advice and guidance on business planning, business management issues, marketing, finance and technology, as well as finding sources of venture capital. They also benefit from being close to a network of peers and on-site advisors; an entrepreneurial environment which encourages the informal exchange of ideas and experiences. Ultimately, the goal of a business incubator is not just to help launch new ventures; it is to produce confident graduates who are well-versed in business planning and secure in their knowledge to independently run a business within two or three years of start-up. Their contribution helps diversify the local economy, accelerate job growth and generate a significant return on investment for each economic development dollar invested in Business Incubation at the Toronto Business Development Centre. LEADING THE BENCHMARK Results of a first-ever survey of business incubators published by Statistics Canada in 2006 indicate that the Toronto Business Development Centre far surpassed the national averages during the previous year in the following areas Revenue Generated by Clients: Well in excess of $ 5,000,000 Number of Client Businesses Served: Over 350 Job Creation by Clients : Over 400 Both locations of the Toronto Business Development Centre became summer headquarters in 2006 for enterprising youth accepted into the Province of Ontario s Summer Company Program. TBDC provided business training and mentoring to young entrepreneurs through this program funded through the Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. One fine example of a participant in this program is Jesse Wadon who commercialized a simple fix to a common four-legged problem experienced by Toronto residents keeping raccoons out of green recycling boxes. His business, Rocky Raccoon Proofing (www.rockyraccoonproofing.com), installs raccoon-proof lid locks which have successfully tested against the onslaught of the rowdy raccoons of High Park. TBDC successfully inaugurated the first year of operation of its second location at 105 Judge Road. The Toronto West Campus allows TBDC to accommodate Business Incubation Program clients and to expand delivery of the Ontario Self-Employment Benefits Program.
4 ENTREPRENEURS IN THE COMMUNITY Business ideas take flight TBDC grads create jobs, enrich the community TBDC consistently hears from successful graduate entrepreneurs, both old and new, who share news about the progress of their businesses and reflect on how their experiences at the Toronto Business Development Centre shaped their entrepreneurial journeys. From innovative technology companies to consumer product designers to in-demand social services, TBDC s graduates are proud business owners who create jobs locally, pay taxes in the community and have their eyes set on growth and leadership in their field. Not child s play When Libby Lund-Pedersen applied for what is now known as the Ontario Self-Employment Benefits (OSEB) Program in early 2005, her idea was to establish a daycare centre in one of Toronto s up-and-coming neighbourhoods, King West Village, in response to a growing need among the area s Photo: Yvan Marston young professionals. It also happened to be near the vicinity of the TBDC s King Street West location, in a building that Lund-Pedersen had often passed by but never knew what it offered, she says. Lund-Pedersen became a regular at TBDC, working out the details of her daycare business: I was there all the time: I think I used every single service that was available, she says. At the time, she was in transition from a career as a public relations executive to self-employment. Lund-Pedersen says she s not sure she would have followed through with her plans if it weren t for the influence of TBDC. Having the support of the training program behind me made me feel like there was no turning back, whenever anything got me discouraged about starting this business, she says. Challenges included meeting stringent provincial licensing requirements and finding certified childcare staff. It was a place that really helped in building confidence, and my business advisor was wonderful to work with, she says. Today, after a year in operation, Lund-Pedersen s new venture, The Downtown Kids Academy (www.downtownkids.com) at 905 King St. West, is bustling with active toddlers. She leases a 3,000-foot, light-filled space and adjoining courtyard. With a current staff of six, the daycare has already earned recognition as one of T.O. s best daycares by the National Post. Nurturing innovation Another important aspect of business incubation and training is to identify entrepreneurs at the leading edge of developing new and innovative products and services. In the technology field, one of TBDC s all-time success stories is graduate Chris Carder, founder of marketing company ThinData Inc. (www.thindata.com). In 1995 he was convinced that the Internet was going to be a valuable channel for companies to connect with their preferred customers. His business offered effective strategies to build customer loyalty and deliver newsletters by subscription messages people would find informative and would enjoy receiving. If you ve ever signed up for news from Mirvish Productions, Aeroplan or Delta Hotels, for example, it s thanks to ThinData which counts them all as clients. I always knew I would be able to do this, but I wasn t quite sure it would get this big, says Carder, whose company has grown to become Canada s market leader in permission-based marketing. He competes with the top international firms for contracts and currently employs 55 people. Much of the difference between people who have a great idea, and people who can realize it as a successful business is the ability to find great mentors. The Toronto Business Development Center was, for me, that great source of mentorship, says Carder. So strong is his belief in the value of mentoring, he serves on the TBDC Board of Directors to support the organization s activities. ThinData has more than doubled in size over the last two years alone, and relocated to expanded office space on St. Clair Ave. East. The company serves clients all over the world and is staffed with a wide variety of people who have top-level marketing and technology skills; from web developers to project managers and strategists.
5 Much of the difference between people who have a great idea, and people who can realize it as a successful business is the ability to find great mentors. The Toronto Business Development Center was, for me, that great mentorship. Start-up springboard Not everybody who approaches TBDC s Business Incubation Program for assistance is starting from scratch. The Centre has also been a valuable stepping stone for owners of emerging businesses looking to grow their operations to the next level. For Kaleem Ahmad, owner of consulting and software company Web Impact Inc. (www.web-impact.com), the advisory resources and office space available at TBDC were a springboard for business development plans. TBDC is not only there for start-ups, says Ahmad. It also serves emerging companies, and we were there through a period of early-stage business growth, he says. At any given time, there may be up to forty or more entrepreneurs in residence, locating their businesses in TBDC s facilities. Not only can they tap into the expertise of the Centre s on-site business consultants, instructors and volunteers, these entrepreneurs often learn from each other by sharing information and moral support with their neighbours in this unique entrepreneurial community. Web Impact was a resident business in the Centre between 2001 and 2004, while Ahmad refined his business model and grew his business operation. I would credit TBDC on the value of its business and consulting advice, for sure, says Ahmad, who now leases office space on Atlantic Avenue in the city s reinvented Liberty Village district. The company now serves Fortune 500 companies such as Honeywell and Fujitsu and customers like the Business Development Bank of Canada, and has seen sales grow 1,000% over the last five years, says Ahmad. Web Impact employs programmers, software application developers, sales and marketing staff, and technical writers, among others. Another former client who similarly outgrew space at the King Street West Centre right according to plan is Daniel Merizen, owner of Onigo Imports (www.onigo.com), a designer and wholesaler of home décor fabrics and fashion accessories. In 1997, the biology major found himself out of work but eligible to enrol in what is now known as the Ontario Self- Employment Benefits (OSEB) Program, delivered by TBDC. Once he finished the program, he applied to become a participant in the Business Incubation Program to get things rolling. The business incubator was really great. They helped me to get a line of credit and set up a business plan with proper cash flow projections, says Merizen. Efforts to build a predominantly US retail clientele for his products have helped propel the business to the point where he was able to graduate from TBDC and buy a 5,000-sq.-ft. warehouse near Dupont and Lansdowne where he now employs four people. They were fantastic in every way, says Merizen of the TBDC advisors who guided him. The Centre allowed me to have a stepping stone, especially to get the credit I needed in place and have support at the very beginning. Test of time One successful Toronto business executive can look back at TBDC with the fond memory of having been one of the first incubator residents in the King Street West building in the early 1990s. I think I was the third client of the Centre. The fees for the Business Incubation Program, which include use of a small office were very affordable, says Lorice Haig, who is now president and CEO of Xenex Enterprises Inc. (www.xenex.ca), a business process and technology specialist that employs seven full-time staff and up to 50 developers to create custom software for companies. Haig has long since moved the company he founded into its own space, currently a 2,000-sq.-ft. office on Rexdale Blvd. He now shares his business acumen as active member of the Etobicoke Chamber of Commerce, as chair of its Advisory Committee. All these years later, Haig remains passionate about what his experience with TBDC and its advisors brought to him: The entrepreneurial spirit lives within the walls of that place, he says.
6 BUSINESSES IN RESIDENCE Inside the Incubator Business Incubation is the focus of activity at the Toronto Business Development Centre, which accepts applications from new and emerging businesses to become resident clients. Business advisory support, starter office suites and access to valuable business linkages are available in two locations for the benefit of early stage business ventures. Incubator residents receive assistance with business plan development, marketing, operations and financial management from TBDC. Program support is flexible to suit the needs of early stage companies. Plus, the Centre s collegial environment and shared resources encourages networking with resident entrepreneurs and instructors. AUDIO EXPERTISE: David Drage and Heather Pajuluoma are co-owners of Renegade Audio (www.renegadeaudio.ca) which specializes in post-production audio editing for film and television. They are specialists in adding sound effects and editing dialogue and are also highly regarded for their work in animation. Recently, Renegade Audio has also branched out into forensic audio work for the legal field. FIT AND FASHIONABLE: Fashion designer Brenda Beddome has a loyal following of women who love the style of her urban clothing collection not just for its look, but its comfort, thanks to her special attention to cut and fabric. This business-minded designer also offers a unique level of service to her retail distributors across Canada, providing options to customize details and fabrics for customers. KNITS TO SUDS: Jacqueline Sava founded her line of hats and fine knitwear with Jacq s-hats several years ago. Now, from a studio at TBDC s King Street West location, she s broadened her enterprise under the banner of BRidGE Industrial Design, (www.soakwash.com), a design and product development studio. A new product launched in 2005 called SOAK was developed to fill a perceived niche among knitters and crafters looking for a delicate hand wash for fine knits. An effective marketing campaign led to rave media reviews, and the line is now carried in stores across North America. Here s just a small sampling of the variety of people and their businesses that currently reside inside the city of Toronto s Business Incubator: UPPER-CASE TYPE: Alan Morris of Type Morris (www.typemorris.com), works with companies and organizations to produce printed promotional materials and marketing pieces to effectively connect with customers. Not only is he a resident entrepreneur, Morris has also been a guest speaker at networking events demonstrating how eager many residents and grads are to share their special area of expertise with others at the Centre. SEE MORE ONLINE: Visit our website at for links to all these companies and to see a directory of Business Incubation Program clients.
7 ACCESSIBLE PROGRAMS Milestone year for program More support for entrepreneurs with disabilities The Toronto Business Development Centre graduated one of its own home-grown training programs in 2006, recognizing the entrepreneurial dreams of people with disabilities. The BIZ Futures Program Self Employment & E-Commerce Skills Development for Persons with Disabilities officially moved from pilot project to become an ongoing offering. For over four years, this program has positively served the needs of people with disabilities who aspire to self-sufficiency through self-employment. Graduates from the program have successfully started businesses that range from commercial photography to producing art cards to delivering holistic healthcare and much more. The BIZ Futures pilot was launched in 2003 as a funding partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services Ontario Disability Supports Program (ODSP). Since then, links were also formed with a variety of organizations, including The Toronto Consortium of Employment Services and the Metro Association of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, to support the success of participating entrepreneurs. A passion for art has become a viable enterprise in the hands of Ashley Proctor, a young entrepreneur and graduate of the BIZ Futures program in Proctor was injured in a road accident five years ago while riding her bicycle to the Ontario College of Art and Design, as a student. She has since struggled with chronic pain and limited mobility, making her eligible for the Ontario Disability Support Program. However she found the business guidance at TBDC to independently launch Creative Blueprint (www.creativeblueprint.ca), an artists representation agency that now has six clients. The program s advisors really understood what I needed, and where I most needed help, says Proctor, whose disabilities are not obviously visible, so not always easily recognized. Another 2006 BIZ Futures graduate, Maria Cruz, knows what a difference the right tools can make to people who face physical challenges in daily life. After learning about the program through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), she enrolled in TBDC s entrepreneurial training program with the idea of designing assistive devices. The instructors really stick with you. They helped me with my business plan, and the idea came up to start with a website as a way of developing my market, says Cruz. And so, was born, a portal with a wide range of helpful devices with room to grow. JOB CREATION SOURCES OF FUNDING TBDC has launched a steady stream of job creation Total New Jobs Created Entrepreneurial Training Programs New Incubator Companies TORONTO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (TEDCO) 11% COMMUNITY PROGRAMS 18% INCUBATION ACTIVITIES 12% ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAINING PROGRAMS 59% Continuing Incubator Companies New Graduates from the Incubator Total NEW JOBS The Centre manages multiple training and incubation mandates COMMUNITY-BASED PROGRAMS 11% INCUBATION ACTIVITIES 32% APPLICATION OF FUNDS ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAINING PROGRAMS 57%
8 TORONTO S BUSINESS INCUBATOR Board of Directors Chair Chethan Lakshman Senior Advisor Corporate Communications RBC Financial Group President John O Grady Economist Treasurer Mario Cordeiro The Dain Group General Manager Ed Hobbs General Manager Toronto Business Development Centre Corporate Secretary Cheryl Mulgrave Administration Manager Toronto Business Development Centre Councillor Case Ootes City of Toronto Chris Carder President, Thindata Catherine Doncaster Creative Director, Cat Creative John Martin Manager, Entrepreneurship and Youth Partnerships Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Glenn Pincombe President, Touristics International Brian Shell Shell Jacobs Lawyers David Smith Vice President, Digital Mandrake Management Consultants James B. Warren Vice President, Strategic Relationships Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation This Report to Stakeholders is published to inform our clients, community partners and the municipal, provincial and federal agencies we collaborate with to nurture small businesses and self-employment in Toronto. It complements our annual financial statements, which provide an account of our financial performance. The Toronto Business Development Centre has been recognized at home and internationally for its achievements in helping entrepreneurs succeed and as a role-model in the field of business incubation. Named Incubator of the Year in 2003 by the U.S.-based National Business Incubation Association, the Centre has built success in three main streams of activity: 1. BUSINESS INCUBATION Business incubation is a business support process that accelerates the successful development of new and early-stage companies by providing entrepreneurs with access to an array of strategically valuable resources. Business advisory support, appropriate office space, meeting rooms, strategic linkages and the opportunity to participate in a dynamic entrepreneurial community are all part of the offering. Business Incubation Program participants and graduates commercialize innovative technologies and services, create jobs, pay taxes and strengthen local economies. 2. ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAINING The Toronto Business Development Centre delivers streams of business training geared to the needs of various entrepreneur groups. The Ontario Self-Employment Benefits Program (OSEB) supported by Ontario s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and funded in part by the Government of Canada, offers business training and advisory assistance to eligible entrepreneurs. For entrepreneurs on social assistance, the Ontario Works Self-Employment Development Program funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, assists with start-up of new ventures. Through the Summer Company program, enterprising students aged 15 to 29, receive hands-on business training, mentoring and financial awards to start and grow a successful business. This program is funded by Ontario s Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. 3. COMMUNITY OUTREACH TBDC hosts networking events, trade exhibits and training sessions tailored to specific needs. On a monthly basis, a series of Small Business Seminars introduce management principles and the business planning process. These seminars, open to the public, are an ideal first step for anyone thinking of starting a new business venture. The BIZ Futures Program Self Employment and E-Commerce Skills Development Program for Persons with Disabilities provides access to entrepreneurial training to people with disabilities, in a program sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services Ontario Disability Supports Program (ODSP). Marketing and Sales Clinics are held to accommodate the needs of entrepreneurs with a disability growing their businesses. TORONTO BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTRE Nurturing the growth of new and emerging businesses in Toronto since KING STREET WEST, TORONTO, ONTARIO M6K 3K2 TORONTO WEST CAMPUS 105 JUDGE ROAD, TORONTO, ONTARIO M8Z 5B5 (416) Supported by TEDCO