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January 29, 2018

10 Questions Anthony Lacavera wants us to ask

Seeing Anthony Lacavera in his casual suit and hip haircut at my formal Bay Street Investment Club made me curious. Yes, Anthony has his book to promote, but what would be his message for the room of mostly public market investors?

I was not disappointed. Anthony challenged the room of influential investors about our shared responsibility for the future of Canada. Anthony quickly picked apart the realities of our laws and our attitudes that if changed, could mean a radically different future for Canada. All of these points are expanded upon in his very good book, How We Can Win.

I have entrepreneurs as my client base, and Anthony’s book is giving me a treasure trove of discussion points for my client meetings in 2018. There are stories about Canadians such as heroes I have been fortunate enough to know such as Claudia Hepburn who helped found The Next 36, Michael Serbenis who created the Kobo, Andy Burgess of Somerset Entertainment, Michael Hyatt of Bluecat and Craig Campbell who built a security company. 

There are also discussions about the Canadian-centric issues I have heard too many times and, quite honestly, I have stopped discussing because they do not seem to change. It was refreshing to hear Anthony's passion.

These were my pick of Anthony’s many questions directed to my Bay Street Finance Club. These ten points particularly sparked me and made me grit my teeth. This year, I hope to use these to bring my best to Canada:

  1. Why do we think it normal to go for gold when it’s hockey but we are satisfied with being fourth or tenth in business ratings? The Americans go for survival of the fittest but Canadians think it is mean to crush competitors like cockroaches. Anthony says, "We need to start clawing our way up the value chain."
  2.  Why do our government leaders go to the Google offices to get their photo ops? Surely, politicians should prioritize their support of Canadian companies such as Hootsuite? Stop by the Hootsuite HQ in Vancouver, politicians, and you will be surprised by the results. 
  3. Can we stop being afraid of picking winning companies and rewarding them? This requires we get past the “everyone’s a winner” attitude and to pick one leader and focus the financial rewards.This means putting government funding in large placements into fewer businesses. We need to be comfortable that competition is positive.
  4. Why is not one Canadian VC or private equity firm invested into one of the leading Waterloo area companies, Thalmic Labs? Why does it take Americans to do the investing? Thalmic Labs comes out of the Next 36 program and are a great Canadian venture. 
  5. Why should we care where investment money originates? Globealive had the government tell him his investors had to get out of his company because they were from a different part of the world. The Middle East is not banned from my bank as potential clients and Anthony's investors certainly cleared the barriers. 
  6. Why do we have such difficult inter provincial trade barriers and what does it cost business?
  7. Why do most Canadian companies not think of being an export business? They are satisfied with being big enough. 
  8. What is Canada known for? Why do we have investors into cannabis but not into Ai, Machine learning? Uber, co-founded by a Canadian, is in MaRS and has a Canadian Ai expert leading it. Surely our VC investments should be going into these tech endeavours but we seeem to like the drug industry more.
  9. Why are Canadian entrepreneur leaders not known and celebrated?  We all know Bill Gates or Elon Musk (ironically a Canadian) of America but how about Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite?
  10. What can we do to reduce the brain drain of our tech students to America? We are losing our youth to the USA. My son is graduating from Waterloo and is off to Seattle to work for Microsoft so that point really hurts! Ouch.





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