FindBob Helps Canadian Financial Advisors Grow and Protect their Practices

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Roland Chan is a matchmaker of an entirely different kind. Rather than pairing up lonely hearts, Chan, a serial entrepreneur, technologist and financial advisor, is seeking to help other financial advisors working in the financial services and insurance world find the right match for their book of business with his company FindBob.

“Financial advisors in Canada today are responsible for managing over $1 trillion in wealth. At the average age of 59, many themselves are nearing retirement age, and yet, for all the retirement counsel they give others, more than 80% of financial advisors have no succession plan of their own,” says Chan.

Chan understands the financial service industry very well. He grew up in the business, so to speak. His father established his own successful financial services and insurance practice 26 years ago, and was joined by his son in the business in 2008.

“I began my career as a software architect, but after stepping into the financial services industry to help my father I grew to love the industry and the millions of dollars it puts back into the community and the economy,” says Roland Chan. “There are some terrific people working in the business who have committed their lives to their clients and to educating the public on the best way to build savings and protect wealth.”

Chan also knows too well the consequences of poor succession planning.

“Around the same time I joined the family practice, we had an advisor who had been with the firm for 15 or 16 years pass away suddenly.  He didn’t have a continuity plan to protect his book of business. In financial services, both the firm and the individual own a percentage of recurring revenue flowing in from clients. Because there was no succession plan in place, it took me over a year to transfer the value from that book of business to our advisor’s widow. And unfortunately, by that time, close to 50% of its value had eroded, due to clients moving on and/or or other agents poaching his business.”

It is a story that Chan has heard repeated over and over again through his work in the industry, and as VP of Advocis, the Financial Advisor’s Association of Canada’s, Toronto Chapter. He also learned why advisors were so reluctant to plan for their own future. “Most advisors don’t participate in succession planning not because they expect to live forever, but rather they can’t find an adequate partner, or find the whole process too daunting.  Their firms want to support and encourage them to do so, yet they lack effective and scaleable processes.”

Realizing there was an unmet need for a more effective solution to aid advisors with succession, he decided it was time to put his decades of technology experience to work to build FindBob, a unique marketplace that pairs advisors looking to scale back or retire, with others in the industry (ideally in the same firm) who are looking to enter the industry or expand.

FindBob’s platform has strongly resonated with the financial advisory community. Since becoming a client of the Accelerator Centre in 2015, Roland Chan’s venture has achieved steady market traction. The company is on the brink of closing its fourth Canadian enterprise client, and now represents the largest insurance practices in the country and the second largest trade association for investment and insurance advisors. “We provide real value to these firms,” says Chan. “We help them protect their existing assets, generate new revenue, recruit new talent and meet their fiduciary responsibility to clients. Currently, FindBob is the only platform focused on on assisting financial institutions with internal transitions. Our marketplace is allowing advisors to discover opportunities within their own firm and connect with others seeking to buy, sell, merge or find a successor. “If you are able to move a block of business internally within a single financial institution that achieves the best outcome for advisors, for industry and for client.

To fuel its next stage expansion, FindBob was able to tap into $30,000 in AC JumpStart funding, made possible through FedDev Ontario.

“Obviously getting an injection of non-dilutive money is tremendously helpful,” says Roland Chan. “It allowed me the freedom to hire a person devoted to customer success, a role that creates real value for the company and for our clients.  Thanks to the AC we added a critical non-technical hire, and now Sylvia is our point person on many enterprise engagements.” – Roland Chan

Based in Toronto, Chan travels the Toronto-Waterloo corridor as often as possible to also connect with the Accelerator Centre’s team of mentors.

“From Kevin Elop, who sends me a five page email response to my question; to Kevin Hood who has saved me from jumping off a cliff on 3 or 4 occasions; to Bob Rushby and Steve Fyke who always offers poignant technology and design advice; to Jackie Lauer’s hiring expertise; to Ellyn Winters, who has forced me to focus on inbound marketing and PR – areas that are decidedly not in my comfort area; the mentors have helped me look at my business from many different points of view.” – Roland Chan

ACJumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.

 

Welcome to 44 Gaukel: Accelerator Centre Launches New Hardware Innovation Lab

img_8815webAn incredible mix of art and technology in a groundbreaking new facility

Today we’re thrilled to announce the official opening of our new hardware innovation lab in the heart of downtown Kitchener. Located at 44 Gaukel St., this newest expansion offers hardware startups 10,000 square feet prototyping and lab space, access to tools and resources, including 3D printers, as well as a freight elevator and loading dock for shipping and receiving.

The facility is run in partnership with ArtsBuild Ontario, an organization dedicated to supporting local artists by providing tools, training and resources that support the development and sustainable creative spaces. The facility is also supported in part by the City of Kitchener.

“We’re very excited to work with the City of Kitchener and ArtsBuild Ontario as we expand our world-class incubation offering, helping innovative hardware and IoT companies grow and scale their businesses here in Waterloo Region, ” says Paul Salvini, CEO of the Accelerator Centre. “Expanding into Downtown Kitchener allows the AC to support our clients who want to be in a central, urban environment, while continuing to bring the same excellence in programming, mentorship, and experience that we’re renowned for.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the Accelerator Centre and the City of Kitchener in providing creative space for our community’s artists and arts organizations,” added Lindsay Golds, Executive Director, ArtsBuild Ontario. “We are so pleased to offer those in need of rehearsal or administrative space an affordable and suitable location for their important work in Downtown Kitchener. We are excited by the potential for collaboration opportunities between the tech and the arts sector that this location can provide.”

The historic building, originally built as a Canada Post depot, also houses the University of Waterloo’s Critical Media Lab and part of Conestoga College’s School of Media and Design on the first floor. Joining the Accelerator Centre and ArtsBuild on the second floor is MyShop, an industrial makerspace, offering an array of industrial prototyping tools, as well as training, allowing Clients at the AC to rapidly design and build their products right inside the building.

“Being a part of the new hardware lab at 44 Gaukel Street is an important and exciting move for us. The Accelerator Centre’s support has been pivotal for our business and we’ve already developed new customers through people visiting the facility. Being in the business of 3D printing, InkSmith is right at home in a space where art and technology collide.”
Jeremy Hedges , President, InkSmith

“There are so many great things happening in hardware and advanced manufacturing right now in Waterloo Region,” says Josh Kubassek, President at MyShop. “It’s important for us to be a part of the AC’s lab at 44 Gaukel, helping to empower startup companies to design and prototype these amazing new technologies.”

The Accelerator Centre and ArtsBuild Ontario invite the community to celebrate the opening of 44 Gaukel on Tuesday, October 4 at 4:00 – 8:00 p.m., on the second floor. Tenants from both the arts and technology sectors will be showcasing their work at the event.

The space is filling quickly, however both the Accelerator Centre and ArtsBuild Ontario are currently accepting applications for tenancy. Apply to the AC.

Applications now open for Phase One

We’re excited to launch our new four month, cohort-based program

Applications are open for the first cohort of our newly developed Phase One program, launching this September!

Phase One is an intensive four month program focusing on market validation and investment readiness.

I am very excited to launch this new program because it offers a truly unique combination of expert sessions and peer-to-peer learning, blended with the world-class mentorship the AC is known for. The select ten companies we accept into Phase One will also have access to our newly developed Advisory Network; a group of incredibly talented advisors from industry.

— Paul Salvini, CEO, Accelerator Centre.

This new program is the first of four phases within the our recently restructured two-year incubation platform, which is tailored to the unique needs of each company as they scale.

The first phase culminates with Presentation Day; an open house event where companies present to a panel of experts and business leaders who determine who is ready to enter the second phase of the program. Companies successfully entering Phase Two are automatically considered for up to $40,000 in funding and mentorship through the AC JumpStart program.*

The deadline to apply to the Accelerator Centre is Sept. 9, 2016.

Apply now


About the Accelerator Center
The Accelerator Centre (AC) is dedicated to building and scaling sustainable, globally competitive technology firms; and to commercializing advanced research technologies emerging from academic institutions. The AC offers an intensive, milestone-driven program to help Clients gain traction and establish early growth; begin to scale and prepare for global expansion.

*About AC JumpStart
AC JumpStart provides eligible companies with $30,000 in seed capital (to be matched by recipient firms), $10,000 in mentorship, and access to market research and connections to investors. The program is funded through an $8 million commitment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Waterloo. Companies considered for AC JumpStart must meet the eligibility requirements posted at www.acjumpstart.com

The AC Announces Major Expansion

Reactor provides space for 30+ early-stage tech companies

Today, we are excited to formally announce a major expansion of our facilities and services to better serve early stage companies and entrepreneurs within Waterloo Region.

Reactor, our new 8,000 square foot facility located in the Innotech Building in the David Johnston Research + Technology Park, represents a significant expansion in both space and capacity for us. Dedicated to early-stage clients in the AC Momentum program, Reactor nearly doubles the number of companies that the AC will house, allowing us to help even more technology businesses.

“AC Momentum was launched in the fall of 2014 to address the growing number of early-stage companies that were coming to us, but weren’t ready to enter our flagship Accelerator Program,” explains CEO Paul Salvini. “We could see the tremendous potential of these companies and, rather than turn them away, we created AC Momentum and developed a one-year curriculum that is tailored to the needs of early-stage companies; validating their idea and preparing them to enter the Accelerator Program and start scaling their business.”

“There are limited resources for an early-stage company and as an entrepreneur, it can be challenging to play every role, from product development to marketing, by yourselves,” says Peter Whitby, CEO of O2 Canada. “But through AC Momentum we have a place to develop our technology and access to expertise in those key areas that allow us to make the best decisions as we build our business from the ground up.”

Leveraging research from the University of Waterloo’s Air Pollution Research and Innovation Lab, Whitby and his Co-founders, Brandon Leonard and Rich Szasz, are working in Reactor to develop the world’s first connected respirator, with a replaceable smart filter and accompanying application for monitoring and tracking.

AC Momentum was initially housed in a 1700 sq. foot space within our existing building. However, that space filled quickly and demand continued to rise. Working in partnership with Cora Developments, we were able to carve out a new home for the program – one that is more than four times larger than the original space, offering start-ups an open concept space built around the theme of creative interaction. In total, Reactor will house approximately 30 companies.

“The Reactor expansion would not have been possible without the support of Cora Developments, the City of Waterloo, the Canada Accelerator Incubator Program, the Campus-Linked Accelerator Program, and The Cowan Foundation, whose generous contributions have allowed the AC to expand support for early-stage innovation,” notes Salvini.

Helping define success in Waterloo

Video series looks at why entrepreneurs are choosing Waterloo

Today the City of Waterloo launched a five-part video series, entitled Why Waterloo, aimed at explaining Waterloo’s growing appeal.

“There is a buzz about our city and we all feel it,” said Mayor Jaworsky during this year’s state of the city address. “Whether we are long-time residents, established community leaders, young students…or youth about to embark on their post-secondary journey, we all know that Waterloo is the place to be.”

In the series, a selection of local businesses spanning different industries are asked to share what being in Waterloo means to their organization.  Common themes like talent, collaboration, support and quality of life are prevalent throughout the series.

We’re excited that the first installment showcases the Accelerator Centre. Watch as Paul Salvini, CEO and Shane Pegg, VP Strategic Initiatives answer the global question: Why Waterloo?

Having just received $8 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southwestern Ontario to support AC JumpStart, and an additional $200,000 over four years from Waterloo city council, the AC is set to expand; supporting more clients, more graduates, and making a bigger impact in the community. For more information about the Accelerator Centre, visit acceleratorcentre.com.

For more information about the city’s economic development initiatives, visit wearewaterloo.ca.

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