Haskayne Hour

Haskayne Hour

Connecting academic research and business

Bringing together researchers and executives to explore big ideas in one hour. Discussions are focused on new research conducted by Haskayne researchers and the application to business. Haskayne Hour leaves attendees with new knowledge and ideas for better business practice.

Upcoming Haskayne Hour

Thank you for joining us for the 2021-2022 season of Haskayne Hour. We look forward to connecting with you again in fall 2022 for a new season of Haskayne Hour where we will continue to connect you to big ideas.

In case you missed it

Watch the past four Haskayne Hours here. If you want more, check out our Haskayne Hour YouTube playlist for more and don't forget to subscribe.

Are platforms dominating society - do we all use Amazon?

April 28, 2022

With major platforms like Amazon or Alibaba – is it possible to challenge their dominance? Do we want to?

We invite you to join us as we bring together a Haskayne researcher, Dr. Barrie Nault, PhD along with Maureen Higgins ISACA, ICD.D, IT Advisory Leader in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP. Together, they will explore the way platforms have changed the way we work and shop - for better or for worse. They will discuss the benefits of centralized control and facilitation of work – and the impacts on trust and privacy. They will use insights from research and experience as they debate if our experiences in remote work have boosted the impact of platforms permanently. Whether you are in IT or managing the transitions in the workplace, this hour promises to get you thinking.

Maureen Higgins, ISACA, ICD.D is the IT Advisory Leader in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP. With over 34 years translating conceptual ideas and models into growth and operational strategies, she has helped several industry leaders realize significant savings and cost avoidance. She has worked in a variety of industries including oil and gas, utilities, telecommunications and financial services. She is a certified information security manager and holds an ICD.D designation from the Institute for Corporate Directors.

Dr. Barrie Nault, PhD is a Distinguished Research Professor in Business Technology Management and is the director of the Informatics Research Centre (iRC) at the Haskayne School of Business. His current research includes exploring how information technology (IT) affects productivity directly and indirectly through outsourcing, through complementarity with other capital and labor, through transaction costs and through relationships along the supply chain. He also studies the impact of ownership, incentives, membership, and investment in new organizational forms such as alliances, networks, virtual organizations and supply chains.

Moderator will be Catherine Heggerud, Instructor, Director – Strategic Initiatives, Haskayne Teaching Fellow.


Are tech firms making excess profits?

January 27, 2022

The market has seen tech companies garnering huge demands for their shares and realizing unprecedented valuations despite what is presented on their financial statements. In this new era of tech companies, do the traditional accounting metrics deliver the information that investors need?

We invite you to join us as we bring together Haskayne researchers, Dr. Anup Srivastava, PhD and Dr. Rong Zhao, PhD along with Danny Chiarastella, Finance Leader with Amplify Advisors Inc. They will engage in a discussion that will get investors, accountants and tech leaders all thinking.

Do traditional accounting metrics miss genuine innovation, unique business models and the advantage of being first market movers? How should intangibles be measured to ensure the markets are moving on information and not simply hype? Expect some stats, debate and an opportunity to ask your questions.

Danny Chiarastella, CPA,CA, is a Finance Leader with Amplify Advisors Inc., a rapidly growing accounting and business consulting and recruiting firm. He acts as a fractional CFO for various private companies. Previously, he was the Head of Finance, Americas for 3P Learning, a global leader in online education, and the CFO of a publicly-traded oil and gas services company. With over 20 years in various senior finance roles, Danny has extensive experience in financial reporting and strategy, debt and equity financing, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate tax and treasury management. He volunteers as the National Sponsorship Committee Chair for Financial Executives International (FEI) and Board Chair for the CanLearn Society.

Dr. Anup Srivastava, PhD, is the first Canada Research Chair at the Haskayne School of Business. His research shows how management practices change when knowledge-based companies like Apple and Google replace asset-intensive companies such as Ford and Exxon, to become the most valuable companies. Beyond scholarly publications in top academic journals, he has published over twenty practitioner-oriented ideas in Harvard Business Review. Dr. Srivastava’s work has been cited in Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Economist, Forbes, and Barron’s. Having worked as a banker, consultant and corporate executive in the United States and India, he brings a unique lens to his research with over 14 years of corporate experience,.

Dr. Rong Zhao, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Accounting at the Haskayne School of Business who researches analyst and management forecasts, limitations of financial reporting and supply chain information. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Zhao was a Certified Public Accountant licensed in Texas and worked as a tax accountant and business systems analyst at the RIA division of Thomson Reuters.

The moderator for this event will be Candace Moody, Haskayne accounting instructor and director of the Master of Management program.


Enhancing start-up success

September 21, 2021

Calgary’s start-up ecosystem is valued at $2.7 billion and the city is a hotbed for innovation with more patents per capita than the rest of Canada. There is no doubt that start-ups will play a big role in the future of Calgary and Alberta.

Developing a start-up is both an art and a science – and we invite you to join us as we bring together a Haskayne researcher, Dr. Michael Robinson, PhD along with Dr. Terry Rock, PhD, President and CEO, Platform Calgary. Together, they will share some of the specific steps needed to develop an effective start-up and how the Calgary innovation ecosystem is working together to support entrepreneurs – with insights from research and from experience. Expect some statistics, some debate and an opportunity to ask your questions.

Dr. Terry Rock, PhD. is the President and CEO Platform Calgary. Platform Calgary, alongside partners in the Calgary Innovation Coalition, are driven to make Calgary a global hub for startups and innovation by increasing the number of technology startups in Calgary by ten times to 3,000 core tech startups by 2031. Prior to joining Platform Calgary, Rock has been Executive Director of the Alberta Small Brewers Association and founding CEO of Calgary Arts Development Authority. He worked on Civic Partnerships at the City of Calgary, and was an Assistant Professor in Strategy at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Michael Robinson, PhD. is a Professor and the Chen Fong Fellow in Entrepreneurial Finance in the Haskayne School of Business. He was the first site lead for the Creative Destruction Lab Rockies program and continues to serve as its Academic Director. He founded the Calgary Portfolio Management Trust (CPMT) program, a hands-on student investment fund, at the Haskayne School of Business in 1993. Earlier in his career, Robinson was a venture capitalist while on a three-year leave from the University of Calgary where he was the lead investor for several multi-million dollar investments in high technology firms in Western Canada.

Moderator is Dr. Alice de Koning, Ph.D., Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Haskayne School of Business, RBC Teaching Fellow in Entrepreneurial Thinking and Academic Director, Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking.

Question: Do you have any examples of start-ups in energy, and/or tech related to energy that you are involved with?

Michael Robinson Answer: The following is a link to ventures that have graduated from the CDL-Rockies energy stream: https://www.creativedestructionlab.com/companies/?stream=energy&location=calgary.

Question: A 2014 HBR article mentioned that research has not provided evidence that firm formation contributes to economic growth. Has that changed and do you feel Canada, or Alberta specifically, is making the right policy changes to promote and support an ecosystem for high-growth ventures? If not, is there anything that needs to happen on a policy level to spark the change? For example, exemption policies around accredited investors to include those with specific designations (MBA, CFA, etc).

Michael Robinson Answer: This is a much larger question than can be answered with a short answer. Having said that, here are some ideas. Firm formation is not a useful proxy for economic activity as we have to distinguish between small businesses (measured by firm formation statistics) and start-up (a subset of new business formations that focus on develop a new business model). There is evidence that encouraging more start-ups, as opposed to small businesses, will increase economic growth. Canada, and Alberta, are trying a number of initiatives including voucher programs to support start-ups in their earliest phases and providing venture capital either directly (BDC Venture Capital) or indirectly (Alberta Enterprise Corporation). You can access reports from those two organizations highlighting how their activities are increasing start-ups. Those sources of funding are typically provided during the later stages of a corporation’s development and the exemption policies you are referring to are designed to fill the financing gap prior to VC financing being available. Those securities exemptions are newly designed, but were created based on consultations with industry professionals, so time will tell if they will help increase capital for early-stage start-ups. One policy that I have heard suggested, but which has not yet been implemented, would be to increase the lifetime capital gains exemption for start-up founders beyond the current level. A related policy would be to allow an investor in an early-stage start-up to reduce the taxes, or at least defer the payment of those taxes, on any capital gains if they redeploy that capital back into other early-stage start-ups.

Terry Rock Answer: Alberta’s Innovation Capital Working Group had some great work along these lines (https://open.alberta.ca/publications/innovation-capital-working-group-report-and-recommendations). Alberta is notably absent as a province without an early-stage investor tax credit, a top priority topic for the sector.

There’s mixed evidence on where job creation comes from. My view is we should take a macro view on this and look at our current economy… will the energy sector, undergoing major shocks as well as significant automation, be a source of significant job growth? For sure it will be the backbone of our economy for some time (especially if we think “energy” vs “oil and gas”), AND it is also true that we should look to other areas of growth/demand. Tech can power any sector, and thus is a great bet to make as a sector that will see long-term growth, high quality jobs, exports, etc.

Question: What’s a successful formula to forecast your cash/financing needs as you scale?

Michael Robinson Answer: This is a key part of creating a successful corporation, being able to accurately forecast cash needs, being able to raise the necessary financial capital, and then being able to effectively use that financing to execute the business plan. The best way to consider this process is to think in terms of corporate milestones, e.g. significant changes in the corporation’s business activities, that show progress. Examples of milestones would be to develop a minimum viable product (MVP), to develop pilot customers, to achieve commercial sales, etc. There is no one formula that can be used to determine how much cash is required to achieve a given corporation’s milestones, but there is an effective process that can help the entrepreneur develop effective forecasts. The process is the build-up method, where the entrepreneur creates a monthly cash budget identifying all expenses to be incurred in a given month and aggregating those expenses across time until a milestone is reached.

Question: What are the Calgary connections to other city/regional eco-systems? Am available to share global eco-systems ranked higher than Calgary--such as Smart Waterloo Region,          Brazil Sebrae, Colombia, Indonesia, global India-based network for medical devices, as well as Calgary/global EdTech cluster.            Cheers, Dr. Bob

Terry Rock Answer: We are part of the Startup Genome global network, are connected to most of the tech hubs in Canada through our membership in Canada’s Tech Network (led out of Kitchener-Waterloo’s Communitech). Soon, Alberta will be home to several global accelerator programs with locations in dozens of cities worldwide.

Question: Does CDL or Platform Calgary have any program in place to connect potential co-founders?

Michael Robinson Answer: CDL-Rockies only formally responds to submissions by founders seeking entry into the program. Having said that, if the CDL-Rockies Venture Leader who is in charge of screening applications sees the ability to connect potential collaborators, they will work to make that connection on an exception basis.

Terry Rock Answer: There is nothing formal in place as of now to connect individuals. However, this is an area of active interest and exploration. Models such as EntrepreneurFirst could work really well in a city with deep engineering talent like Calgary. We are betting that some matchmaking will happen through the informal networking that will happen daily at the Platform Innovation Centre.

Question: Talking about importance of CEO and VC looking for CEO that has run successful startups to scale how does an experienced CEO get that credibility in the startup space to win with VC acceptance?

Michael Robinson Answer: VCs always make risk/return tradeoffs when considering investment decisions. The least risky CEO will be the one who has extensive start-up experience in the industry that they are planning to enter. The next least risky CEO would be one who has extensive experience in a larger corporation in the industry in which they are planning to enter. The most risky CEO would be one with limited to no experience in either a start-up or in the industry they are planning to enter. Thus, if a CEO has extensive industry experience, but limited to no start-up experience, that does not warrant an automatic rejection by the VC. What that individual needs to do is identify how they are going to address their experience gap, i.e. develop an effective management team that includes team members with start-up experience or have identified and attracted talented advisors or directors with strong start-up experience. What the CEO has to signal to the VC is that they realize that they have a knowledge/skills gap and are taking steps to address this deficiency.

Terry Rock Answer: Reps are really important. Our Junction program (for first time founders) starts with the assumption that the first venture is JUST the first venture. We’re trying to help founders create good habits that will help them in the first, second, third start and beyond…


Blockchains Beyond Bitcoin: The Rise of Decentralized Finance

April 14, 2021

There are numerous applications of blockchain technology beyond cryptocurrencies. Blockchain is a decentralized form of record keeping with almost no limit that also delivers security and transparency.

How does decentralized finance change the way we can use money? What are the challenges of regulation in a decentralized environment? What effect will decentralized finance have on asset management and banking? How will central bank digital currencies change the way we make payments and settle contracts?

Dr. Alfred Lehar, PhD is an Associate Professor in Finance at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary. His research interests include fintech, bank regulation, financial stability and corporate finance. Lehar holds a Limited-Term Professorship to study the impact of blockchain technologies on capital markets awarded by the Canadian Securities Institute Research Foundation. He is currently researching mining fees and price differentials in Bitcoin markets He was a member of the University of Calgary team that advised Bank of Canada on how to design a central bank digital currency, a “digital loonie”.

Amy ter Haar is an independent lawyer who assists industry leaders to implement frontier research into practical business applications. Her expertise is in demand as a speaker, including presenting at the International Telecommunication Union’s World Conference, the World Council of Credit Unions, and as witness before Parliament of Canada. She is the Program Director for the Osgoode Certificate in Blockchains, Smart Contracts and the Law as well as the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy and Cybersecurity Law. She was a contributing author to the first edition of A Practical Guide to Smart Contracts and Blockchain Law (LexisNexis) and co-author of the forthcoming second edition. She is presently pursuing a PhD in law.

Moderator is Dr. Yrjo Koskinen, PhD, Associate Dean of Research and Business Impact and Professor of Finance at the Haskayne School of Business.

Question: Which industries do you think will be some of the first ones to adopt blockchains for the purpose of increasing transparency of transactions?

Amy ter Haar Answer: In contexts like supply-chain management, provenance and trade finance, companies lack a unified view of information because they don't fully trust their business partners. Blockchain enables translucent collaboration - sharing data without giving up control (and this is useful in these contexts). Whether it's an improvement over the status quo, depends on the context. 

Question: Do we need the central entity? Who governs if they are not present?

Amy ter Haar Answer: Decentralized solutions add value in a narrow set of circumstances. When those circumstances are not met, then more centralized solutions that rely on traditional intermediaries and relational contracts are unlikely to be replaced. This is because the benefits of transitioning to a blockchain-based system are unlikely to counterbalance the costs introduced by a decentralized infrastructure and governance, and the replication of state across the network. In Decentralized solutions the governance exists in the protocols. This varies depending on a number of reasons (public vs. private blockchains.)

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