For up-and-coming businesses, finding solid investors is incredibly important. Since getting started is one of the hardest parts of running a business, receiving support in the form of investor capital can make all the difference. Furthermore, investor-business relations can be beneficial for both parties, since the business and the investor (hopefully!) each make money in the end. However, even though finding investors is important for businesses that hope to succeed, some entrepreneurs have trouble finding initial investors, or struggle to maintain investor interest over time. In order to shed some light on the process of finding, maintaining, and benefiting from investors, Business in Edmonton magazine contacted two well-known companies to provide their unique perspectives, based on their experiences, on what it takes to attract the capital small businesses need.
TIQ Software’s goal is to help companies make the employee onboarding process more engaging and effective. They do so by providing companies with software that gamifies the employee onboarding process.
As Jason Suriano, founder and CEO of TIQ Software puts it, the company is attractive to investors because it represents “a small group of automated enterprise software products that have been classified as the ‘future of work.’” Scrapping the redundant process of going through online courses during the onboarding process, TIQ Software’s gamified onboarding software presents employees with playable tasks and other gamified elements that make the process more engaging and enjoyable. By making the process more interesting and rewarding, TIQ Software ensures that employees enjoy the process and pay attention to the details more, resulting in a higher rate of effectiveness on all objectives. In addition to this, the software tracks the status and progress of the player over the course of the onboarding. This allows companies to easily see where their onboarding needs improvement.
In order to continue growing and attracting investors in the future, TIQ Software is actively building toward a seed round investment—that is, an investment or series of investments that essentially “plant the seed” for a company’s future growth and development—by midway through 2020. Furthermore, they also hope to continue attracting investors by expanding the company’s software offerings across all of Canada and into the United States.
Like many entrepreneurs, Suriano knows that finding investors can be difficult, especially early on. Nonetheless, he does have advice for small companies that have been struggling. In his words, “The key [to attracting investors] is to focus on building a great product, a stable of reputable clients, and to continue working with your clients to create case studies that promote your product.”
Suriano believes that Startup Edmonton—an organization that actively works with and helps tech-enabled companies in the city to develop and succeed—has been instrumental for his company’s success. He explains, “Initially when we were looking for a flexible work space for our remote workforce, Startup Edmonton provided the best mix of company support services and a workspace for our team to use as needed.” By providing Suriano and his team with company support services, as well as a great workspace, Startup Edmonton greatly assisted TIQ Software in its earliest stages, and Suriano believes Startup Edmonton will continue to be an instrumental part of their future success as well.
Three Knights Investments Inc.
Three Knights Investments Inc. is a company that mentors entrepreneurs and assists them with investing. They focus their investments in the home improvement market through their group of companies at Mosaic Home Services Ltd., which works to launch franchise locations for each of their seven independent brands across the country. Three Knights is also active in the commercial construction market through their investment in Downright Demolition Ltd.
Three Knights focuses on working with businesses that are seeking growth and that are comfortable with change and working in dynamic environments. As Steven Knight, creator of solutions and opportunities, states, “If an organization has dedicated and passionate people in positions that impact change, it can overcome any challenge.”
If they can tell early on that a company is unwilling to change, or that they will make the process an uphill battle, Three Knights will most likely decide against working with that company, while leaving them with the knowledge that change is actually necessary for growth.
The businesses that Three Knights work with are a good fit for investors since they already possess the qualities necessary to succeed, but simply need mentorship and assistance to do so. Therefore, even if businesses have underperforming revenue, Three Knights will help them if they are filled with passionate people who have the right ideas. This gives the investment and mentoring firm a lot to work with in expanding a business’ client base, without losing focus on what made the business stand on its own in the first place.
Once Three Knights has agreed to assist with a business’ growth, that business can expect the investor to be very involved in their day-to-day operations. They mentor business owners according to each entrepreneur’s specific strengths and weaknesses, creating an environment where everyone can work effectively. By helping the entrepreneurs running the business to understand their pain points, identify opportunities, and achieve their growth goals, the investors allow the decision makers in the business to spend time on what they are passionate about. This has resulted in massive growth for the businesses in which Three Knights invests.
According to Knight, providing mentorship is just as important as providing capital to emerging businesses. He points out, “Owning and running a business is a stressful, lonely endeavor, and it’s our mission to make sure the people we partner with aren’t alone.”
However, many businesses still forget to ask, “who is going to buy this?” If businesses cannot adequately explain to investors who is going to buy their product, those investors will most likely go with a different company that can. Therefore, Three Knights Investments Inc. pushes entrepreneurs to learn and develop the skills necessary to thrive as a business. By focusing on identifying who their customers are, who else is in their market, how much they can sell their product for, and how many units they can move, businesses can be very successful, according to Knight.
On the Road to Success
Despite working at different companies, with different goals and focuses, both Jason Suriano and Steven Knight recognize how important it is for emerging companies to receive investor support. For TIQ Software, the great support that Startup Edmonton provided them with in their earliest stages has been instrumental in helping them to succeed. For Three Knights Investments Inc., while capital investment can be very helpful for a company, proper mentorship and assistance is equally important in helping an up-and-coming company succeed.
As we move further into 2020, Business in Edmonton magazine would like to wish all the startups and small businesses in our city success in the future, no matter what direction you wish to take.