Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staffKevin O’Leary- Harley has story-Canadian entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary was in Red Deer for meetings and spoke at the Sheraton Hotel Monday.

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staffKevin O’Leary- Harley has story-Canadian entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary was in Red Deer for meetings and spoke at the Sheraton Hotel Monday.

Taxes, banks stifle: Kevin O’Leary

There’s nothing wrong with Canadian entrepreneurs, says a man who has had countless business ideas pitched his way.

There’s nothing wrong with Canadian entrepreneurs, says a man who has had countless business ideas pitched his way.

Rather, insists Kevin O’Leary, the celebrity venture capitalist from CBC’s Dragons’ Den and its American counterpart Shark Tank, the aspirations of businessmen and businesswomen in this country are being stifled by an onerous tax system and conservative banks.

“I believe that every province, every federal government agency, wastes about a third of the money that they get. So why not drop taxes down and make it very competitive here; leave the money in the entrepreneurs’ and the Canadians’ pockets and let them invest it themselves? Then you’d see productivity and innovation.”

O’Leary was in Red Deer on Monday to speak with investment advisers about O’Leary Funds, a mutual fund company that he co-founded in 2008.

He later shared some of his views on entrepreneurship with the Advocate, including his belief that the growth of many businesses is constrained by tight capital.

“Canadian banks, although they talk a good story, don’t lend anybody any money that has sales under $10 million,” he said. “That’s just the conservative nature of the Canadian banking system.”

O’Leary and his counterparts on Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank have provided a financial boost to many businesses, but they’re not motivated by generosity.

“I’m not trying to make friends on Dragons’ Den or Shark Tank, I’m trying to make money,” said O’Leary. “I don’t care if people like me or don’t like me — I want to be a good investor.”

The two programs, in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investment moguls in hopes of gaining well-healed and business-savvy partners, have proven to be fertile ground for venture deals, he said.

“I used to have to go and find them, but now with Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den, I just wait for them to come to me.”

O’Leary said that generally speaking, only about one in 25 venture investments make money.

“But on Dragons’ Den in England and Canada, and Shark Tank in the U.S., it’s one in 15.”

He credits this in large part to the huge marketing benefit that an appearance on those programs can bring to a business.

“Last Friday, I invested in a company called Wicked Good Cupcakes in Boston. We sold $100,000 in cupcakes because of their appearance on the Shark Tank show in one day.”

The entrepreneurs who do best under the television lights typically have a few things in common, said O’Leary. They can succinctly describe their vision and how it will generate money, and they can justify why they’re the best person to execute the plan.

“And thirdly,” said O’Leary, “they know their numbers.”

Red Deer-based GoTire Mobile Tire Service, which was featured on a Dragon’s Den episode in January, met these criteria, he said.

“That’s an example of a good pitch,” said O’Leary of the mobile tire-changing and replacement service, which was founded by Craig Howes and Heather Murphy and is now being franchised. “Everybody who saw that understood what they did, how they made money and how they were going to grow the business.”

Among O’Leary’s other pursuits are a line of wines (O’Leary Fine Wines) and O’Leary Mortgages, which he expects to launch in September.

He’s also written two books: Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women & Money and Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money, and Life. In the first, O’Leary stressed the importance of learning how to manage money throughout your life — including as a child.

“I’m a huge advocate for educating kids about money,” said O’Leary.

“I want my child at the age of five to understand what debt is, because it’s a very bad thing if you don’t understand how to deal with it in life.”

He described the consequences of failing to learn how to handle debt.

“If you think alcoholics have problems, you should go to a debtors anonymous meeting and see the devastation that debt can create and bankruptcy creates; how it breaks up families and wipes out lives and kills careers.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
Most unvaccinated Canadians uncomfortable with AstraZeneca vaccine: survey

Just 41 per cent of Canadians who aren’t vaccinated, but intend to… Continue reading

Advocate file photo
Red Deer County approves winery in central Alberta

Winery proposed for rural property northwest of Innisfail

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that was administered to seniors, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. A second COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated for possible links to blood clots, though the syndrome appears to be extremely rare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rogelio V. Solis
Canada receives report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

OTTAWA — A Quebec woman is the first in Canada to develop… Continue reading

Jennifer Lopez, left, and Alex Rodriguez take a selfie as they arrive at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in January 2020. VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World will showcase Lopez. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
Selena Gomez and J.Lo headline vax concert for poor nations

NEW YORK — Backed by an international concert hosted by Selena Gomez… Continue reading

A vial of the vaccine by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson. Federal health officials in the U.S. said early Tuesday they were urging a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of six serious blood clots, and officials in Washington state and around the country quickly complied. (Aristide Economopoulos/NJ Advance Media)
How J&J and AstraZeneca differ from the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine has hit a stumbling block in… Continue reading

An emergency response worker carries an air monitoring device at the site of a crude oil spill at a Trans Mountain Pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, on Sunday, June 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Failed fitting caused 190,000-litre spill at Trans Mountain site in B.C.: TSB

VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board report says the failure of a… Continue reading

Indigenous leaders, experts urge Ottawa to quickly pass UNDRIP bill before election

OTTAWA — Indigenous leaders and legal experts are pushing federal lawmakers to… Continue reading

Visitors to a roadside memorial pay their respects in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Canadian Red Cross confirmed today it has collected $6.2 million in donations to help the families in rural Nova Scotia affected by the mass shooting last spring that claimed 22 lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Red Cross collects $6.2 million for families affected by Nova Scotia mass shooting

HALIFAX — Canadians and people from around the world donated $6.2 million… Continue reading

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

Most Read