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Should We Buy from Local Startups?

startupsTo support and bolster the local startup scene should Canadian companies and consumers buy local?

It is an interesting proposition put forth at a forum last week by BelAir Networks Corp., chairman Adam Chowaniec, who contends making purchases from local startups is an important way to support startups scrambling to establish a foothold in the market.

While I’m an enthusiastic flag waver for the local startup community, I’m not sure it makes sense to buy local – unless the products are competitive from a price, features and value perspective.

If they fit the bill, it is a good way to not only buy local but spread the word about these startups. If not, buying local is bad for buyers because customers are not buying a high-quality product, while startups have less incentive to improve their products to be competitive beyond their borders.

Truth be told, there’s no reason Canadian startups shouldn’t be capable of creating world-class products. We have top-notch talent, an enthusiastic entrepreneurial ecosystem, and, slowly but surely, more capital to support them.

But startups compete in an ultra-competitive, cut-throat world so they need to develop products that can compete against the best. It means creating uncompetitive products is a recipe for failure. It also means buying local can instill a false sense of confidence if the product can’t stand on its own two feet otherwise.

By buying local from world-class companies, Canadian companies consumers can get top-quality products, they can support startups and, as important, help raise the profile of  these startups within professional and social networks.

Canadian startups need a helping hand but not buying the best products is bad idea for them and their customers.

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