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Freire had some concerns about competing with countless other drone products on Indiegogo and rival crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, including many that were very early in their development stages. But he was confident that the Indiegogo community would respond to the fact that the PlexiDrone was a far more polished product almost ready to be manufactured.“You could say it’s a saturated market to some extent, but there are a lot of people who are making money just from building custom products for a small number of end users where they’re not really thinking about the larger-scale picture and the regulatory aspects of it,” he said.“Our background is in aerospace engineering so from Day 1 we went out and we met with Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration, we got special flight operating certificates in Canada, we’re working with the FAA on allowing people to use the PlexiDrone commercially as well for film and photography. So we’re thinking ahead of the game in a couple of dimensions.”The third most successful Canadian campaign was for the Vanhawks Valour smart-bike, which offers riders turn-by-turn navigation, blind spot detection technology, and digital tracking of trips. More than $820,000 was raised to get the bike into production.Both Freire and D’Souza said they only expect crowdfunding to grow as a trend next year.“I certainly see it as something that’s here to stay — people assumed that eBay would go the way of the dodo too after free local online classifieds came around,” D’Souza said.If anything, Freire said he’s concerned that crowdfunding might get too big and overrun with campaigns launched by large companies.“The one thing that I worry about is that it’s going to become a platform for larger companies that are already well established to come in and use their funding for better marketing, better PR and it’s going to be easy to exploit and take away from the spirit of what crowdfunding currently is,” Freire said.Tam said he’s heard those concerns but thinks it would only help small companies if huge corporations also used Indiegogo and Kickstarter. He feels it would further legitimize the crowdfunding concept and lead to more consumers supporting start-up companies.“Tech companies understand that big companies coming in and playing in this space is not necessarily taking anything away from them, if anything it’s bringing credibility and it’s bringing public awareness,” Tam said.“Companies who are crowdfunding their products know that they’re not in competition with Samsung and LG and Sony and Apple, they’re aspiring to bring products to market that those companies don’t have a product for yet.”Mass Fidelity, DreamQii and Vanhawks have yet to deliver their products. As crowdfunding campaigns have ballooned in size and popularity, concerns have grown about companies making promises about products that they can’t keep.But horror stories of badly botched campaigns are relatively rare, argued D’Souza, who added that his supporters have not been skeptical of his claims to date.“Most of the failures are the little guys out there, most of the big campaigns have actually delivered — and if not (they’re late) on the delivery schedules they may have promised,” he said.“We might have had one or two out of 3,000 (supporters) who are skeptics and said, ’How can I be sure your product will deliver on its claims?’ Being a serious company, we made some casual promises of money back, we plan to launch in retail and offered the crowdfunding customers the same warranty we would for retail customers.” TORONTO — There was $1.3 million raised for high-fidelity wireless speakers, almost $1.2 million for specialty drones and $820,000 for smart-bikes.In 2014, three tiny Canadian companies went from teetering in obscurity to making headlines on tech blogs around the world thanks to successful crowdfunding campaigns that spurred exponential growth almost overnight.Once the domain of hobbyists and tinkerers, crowdfunding is increasingly becoming a growth strategy for real — but still small — companies with big ideas.“An older paradigm about crowdfunding was four guys in their garage who couldn’t find money any other way,” said Steve Tam, a marketing manager with Indiegogo Canada.“Now we’re seeing an increasing number of companies who are either already in market or have a very validated product and are using crowdfunding as a part of their marketing campaign, or their fundraising, or their access to international markets.“This is a really cool place for people to find new ideas and concepts.”Mass Fidelity, headquartered just east of Toronto, turned to Indiegogo earlier this year. The company sought about $55,000 to help get its Core wireless speaker system from the prototype stage into production.“We considered it a bit of a get-the-word out exercise, we were a small company no one had heard of based in sleepy old Toronto. It was the ability for us to make a sales pitch to a much wider audience than we normally could,” said co-founder Neil D’Souza.Crowdfunding? 7 steps to help you prepare for a successful U.S. campaignFour ways to get the media behind your crowdfunding campaignHow to make your startup’s crowdfunding campaign a hitTo the Core team’s astonishment, the modest crowdfunding campaign raised more than 25 times what the company was originally seeking, eventually surpassing $1.3 million.“It literally has changed our company. We’re going to accelerate our growth in a manner that we couldn’t have possibly managed. We’re going to be somewhere in 12 months that we were probably going to be in 36 months,” D’Souza said.The second most successful crowdfunding campaign in Canada this year was for the PlexiDrone, targeted at photographers and videographers, which raised $1.17 million after setting a goal of about $115,000.“We could’ve spent $2 million on PR and marketing and we would not have gained the worldwide exposure that we have,” said Klever Freire, chief executive of DreamQii, the company that created the PlexiDrone.Michael Barker/CNW Group/DreamQii read more

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Ex-boss of SNC Lavalin, Pierre Duhaime, arrested by Quebec anti-corruption unit AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email MONTREAL – The former head of Canada’s biggest engineering firm, who once mused that Quebec was taking sufficient measures to fight corruption in the construction industry, was arrested Wednesday by the squad at the centre of those efforts.Pierre Duhaime, the former chief executive of SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC), was taken from his home by police in connection with alleged fraud involving one of Montreal’s huge new superhospitals.The arrest warrant alleges that Duhaime and Riadh Ben Aissa, another former top executive, also committed conspiracy to commit fraud and uttered false documents in connection with a contract pertaining to the multibillion-dollar McGill University Health Centre.The infractions are alleged to have taken place between April 30, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2011.Duhaime was released from custody late Wednesday and is expected to appear in court at a later date after being questioned by provincial anti-corruption squad investigators.He walked out from provincial police headquarters around 7:45 p.m., brushing past a number of journalists, covering his face with his coat and an arm as he approached an awaiting BMW. He sat in the back seat with his head down as the car pulled awayMeanwhile, squad chief Robert Lafreniere said “international proceedings” have been initiated against Ben Aissa, who is currently detained in Switzerland.Ben Aissa, SNC’s former head of construction, is accused of fraud, money laundering and corrupting a public official tied to his dealings in North Africa.Duhaime received a $5-million payout after he stepped down as SNC-Lavalin’s CEO last March.He was “relieved” of his duties after an independent review conducted by the company discovered he signed off on $56-million worth of payments to undisclosed agents, breaching the company’s code of ethics. His departure was classified as a retirement.In 2011, Duhaime said in an interview he didn’t see the need for a public inquiry into construction, although he said he found revelations in a report by Jacques Duchesneau, former head of the anti-collusion squad at the Transport Department, to be “troubling.”Concerned about the use of anonymous sources in the report, Duhaime said at the time the province was already getting results in its battle with corruption.The strike by the anti-corruption squad at the heart of corporate Canada came within days of SNC-Lavalin being recognized by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants for excellence in financial reporting.An SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman said the company has been co-operating with police and will continue to help in the investigation.“We are categorical, no unethical acts or illegal acts should be tolerated,” she said in a statement. “We believe that anyone who has committed an offence . . . should be brought to justice.”However, the company said it wouldn’t comment on the allegations against Duhaime.One industry observer said Duhaime’s arrest didn’t come as a total surprise given the RCMP raids on SNC-Lavalin’s headquarters in April and the detention of Ben Aissa.“If you are an investor and you are trying to look at the scenarios of probabilities, this was in the scenarios, that’s for sure,” said the analyst, who didn’t want to be identified.He said it’s normal that the company’s shares would come under pressure following the arrest, but added that SNC-Lavalin has a new chief executive and remains fundamentally strong as a company.Denis Durand, a spokesman for Jarislowsky, Fraser Ltd., the largest shareholder in SNC-Lavalin at 14 per cent, acknowledged the dollar amounts being mentioned are of concern but noted the investigation seems limited to a small group.“The more that is revealed, the better it will be for the understanding of the situation,” Durand said.”But it doesn’t, we think, impair significantly the value of the company. The company is still a great company.”He pointed out that SNC-Lavalin still has a large backlog of orders and he doesn’t believe the scandal will be a roadblock to getting future contracts.“The new president is certainly very competent and new rules, new regulations, better controls are being put in place. We’re confident for the future.”Wednesday’s arrest is the latest blow to the 101-year-old SNC-Lavalin, which is considered a Canadian success story.In September, an Ontario judge certified a $1-billion class-action lawsuit against SNC-Lavalin on behalf of investors who saw the value of their investment in the company plummet following revelations of mysterious payments in North Africa.The lawsuit was brought on behalf of all investors who purchased SNC-Lavalin securities between Feb. 1, 2007, and Feb. 28, 2012, or who bought debentures through the company’s June 2009 prospectus offering.The lead plaintiff is Brent Gray, a resident of Surrey, B.C., who purchased 600 shares in January at $52.20 per share.In addition to current and former members of SNC’s board of directors, those named in the Ontario lawsuit include SNC-Lavalin International chairman Michael Novak. The claim said certain officials, including Duhaime and former controller Stephane Roy, assisted Ben Aissa in arranging “improper or unlawful payments” to secure contracts in Libya.Roy lost his job along with Ben Aissa and Duhaime.The engineering and construction giant has never identified the two projects that received a total of $56 million of payments but insisted that none of the funds were directed to Libya. A newspaper report said one of the projects in question is the Montreal hospital.SNC-Lavalin did acknowledge this week that it paid commercial agents Duvel Securities Inc. and Dinova International Inc. in connection with projects in Libya between 2001 and 2011 that are part of an investigation by Swiss authorities. A Swiss TV report said Ben Aissa has been formally charged in relation to at least $139 million in payments in North Africa.SNC-Lavalin removed $900 million worth of Libyan projects from its backlog in 2010 amid the civil war in the North African country.The RCMP has already executed search warrants at SNC-Lavalin’s headquarters at the request of Swiss police.In Quebec, the anti-corruption unit was created in the wake of other scandals surrounding collusion in the construction industry and its links to political parties and organized crime.Since its creation last year it has arrested numerous construction-industry players as well as people tied to municipal political parties.On the Toronto Stock Exchange, SNC-Lavalin’s shares dropped another 92 cents to $39.99 in Wednesday trading. The shares have fallen nearly 29 per cent in the past year.— with a file from Graham HughesNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version contained a misspelled name by Nelson Wyatt and Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Nov 28, 2012 11:57 pm MDT read more