Dawn Walton

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Dawn Walton is freelance journalist based in Calgary. She has worked for The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business magazine, Ottawa Citizen and The Kingston Whig-Standard. Dawn is a National Newspaper Award winner and has been nominated for the Canadian Association of Journalists and Michener Awards.

Blog Posts by Dawn Walton

  • Four ways to beat the long odds of venture capital

    Canadian start-ups looking to lure venture capital typically face long odds. Of those jockeying for investment, at most two per cent actually get cash injections, according to Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA). And, the Canadian investment market has been in a slump since the so-called tech wreck of 2001, which has seen fundraising slide even as the number of requests for financing has soared.

    According to Industry Canada, overall VC investment in Canada reached almost $1.47-billion in 2012, a slight drop from the previous year, but deal making was on the rebound in the first half of 2013.

    Richard Rémillard, CVCA’s executive director, pointed to other bright spots for start-ups including the IPO market heating up, along with mergers and acquisitions. He also pointed to the federal government’s “venture capital action plan,” which pledged a $400-million injection while a matching program now in the works with an aim of attracting close to $1-billion from the

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  • Coastal Contacts breaks out from e-commerce with expansion plans

    Coastal Contacts Inc., a dominant player in online eyewear sales, is now setting its sights on opening bricks-and-mortar locations in major cities across Canada after a successful test run with a shop in Vancouver.

    Roger Hardy, the founder and chief executive officer of Vancouver-based retailer, which claims sales in Canada to one of every five contact lenses and one in every 10 pairs of eyeglasses, says the company’s first physical store has proved to be more successful than just a “short-term lab experiment” and will have two locations in its hometown by this fall.

    “The store really initially was all about having a lab to connect us to consumers,” Mr. Hardy said in an interview. “We pretty soon found we were attracting new customers and existing customers.”

    That store, located on busy Robson Street in Vancouver with a boutique size of about 1,000-square-feet of retail space, has been ringing in sales of between $2,000 and $2,500 per square foot since it opened in March.

    By comparison,

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  • Why Saskatchewan’s economy could be rocked by Potash shakeup

    Saskatchewan could be hit hard by a Russian-led shakeup in the potash business, according to economists assessing the potential damage to the Prairie province, which is the world’s second-largest producer of the crop fertilizer.

    But Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall downplayed concerns Thursday insisting there’s no need to push the “panic button” while pledging to maintain one of the few balanced budgets on the continent.

    “We need to be measured. We need to stay calm,” Wall told John Gormley, a popular radio talk show host in Saskatoon.

    Concerns about the province’s finances come after Russian potash producer OAO Uralkali announced this week that it would abandon Belarusian Potash Co. (BPC), which effectively breaks up the world’s largest potash cartel.

    BPC is the marketing organization that exported potash for Uralkali and Belarusian producer Belaruskali. The dispute came after Uralkali alleged its partner violated export agreements by making extra deliveries. Uralkali also wants to sell

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  • Vancouver most expensive city in Canada

    Vancouver has eclipsed Toronto as the most expensive city in Canada for expatriates looking to relocate, but it’s nowhere near the priciest place to set down roots, according to a new report.

    According to Mercer’s 2013 Cost of Living Survey, Vancouver ranks as the world’s 64th most expensive city among 214 locales that were financially dissected for everything from monthly housing costs to the tab for a cup of coffee. Toronto previously held the top Canadian spot at No. 61.

    While Mercer released only a smidgen of its data on Tuesday - its detailed report is for sale to multinationals keen to send employees to far-flung places - the global consulting firm said every Canadian city it studied, including Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa, fell slightly in the annual rankings.

    Luc Lalonde, who is a Montreal-based principal with Mercer, said it’s “not a dramatic year-over-year” decline, but he chalked it up to a weakening Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar. And, he said the prices for goods and

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  • Gen Y investing earlier than parents

    In the ongoing fiscal war between Millennials and the Baby Boomers, chalk up at least one battle to the youngsters: they might not have much money, but they invest it far sooner than their parents ever did.

    According to the latest TD Investor Insights Index, Millennials, also know as Generation Y, made their first investment at age 20 compared with Baby Boomers who didn’t reach the same financial milestone until they were 27.

    But Gen Y, which for polling purposes counts as those aged 23 to 33, may have learned a thing or two from their folks. Boomers - those between 53- and 66-years-old – are a key source for financial advice.

    The survey released Monday found that 41 per cent of Millennials said their parents or relatives were the ones who prompted their first investment. That compared to just 19 per cent of Boomers who said they were encouraged to initially invest by their family.

    And, unlike Boomers, Gen Y isn’t as likely as their parents to seek outside advice. The poll found that while

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  • Telus VP Ted Woodhead, tech analyst Michael Geist trade blows over wireless fees

    Canadians, who often gripe about the high cost of their cell phone plans, should actually be paying more for their mobile habit, according to an executive with wireless giant, Telus Corp.

    The provocative notion, which comes with a caveat, is from a recent blog post by Ted Woodhead, the company’s senior vice-president of federal government and regulatory affairs, who challenges the findings of a recent Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development report – and the subsequent analysis of well-respected Canadian technology analyst, Michael Geist.

    The OECD report and the professor confirm what Canadians have believed for years – wireless pricing here is among the highest in the world.

    “When you consider our enormous investment, challenging geography, sparse population and outstanding networks Canada really SHOULD be the most expensive country for wireless service in the OECD, but we’re not,” wrote Mr. Woodhead, using Owen Meany-style capitalization for emphasis. “That’s a great

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  • Confidence of Gen Y women in the workforce soars

    A funny thing happened on the way to the office.

    Women, particularly the youngest, newest entrants to the workforce became more confident - so confident in fact, that men are beginning to feel left in their dust.

    A recent survey by Ipsos MediaCT titled Women, Power & Money found that women considered Generation Y (also known as Millennials and aged 21 to 34) are far more likely than their male peers to describe themselves as “smart” - 70 per cent compared with 54 per cent.

    But that disparity between the genders diminishes among older respondents. Generation X women (those aged 35 to 49) still outpace the men in perceived cleverness, but by just 8 per cent. And, regardless of gender, Boomers (those aged 50 to 69) consider themselves equally smart.

    And, that pattern – Gen Y women outperforming men, but the gap shrinking with advancing age – was a constant theme as other measures of happiness and accomplishments were gauged. Gen Y women, for example, generally saw themselves as more

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  • Banking group steals man’s identity to prove a point

    If bank fees weren’t scary enough, a group of Belgian financial institutions have commissioned an anti-identify theft campaign that’s enough to make anyone unplug, cut up their plastic and carry only cash.

    The 4 minute and 16 second ad, titled “See how easily freaks can take over your life,” is the diabolical work of febelfin, an umbrella organization for the country’s banks, and the award-winning ad agency Duval Guillaume Modem.

    “Would you panic while internet crooks took over your life?” they ask. “We put one real victim through the test. We scared the hell out of him by gradually taking over his life.”

    So pity Tom Degroote, a purportedly real guy, whose Facebook account is used as the target for various acts of fraud. I sent him a message to determine if he’s really real or in on the joke. He did post this yesterday, “got punk'd. And how...” which dozens of his friends seem to “like.” But no matter, even if this is a really elaborate Truman Show-style hoax, the warning is stark.


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  • Tim Hortons missing the point with PR push on payment?

    Tim Hortons Inc. will now allow its customers to, wait for it, use their American Express cards to load up on their daily fix of coffee and doughnuts.

    In fact, it’s the third form of credit card payment accepted at the iconic Canadian chain behind MasterCard (since 2007) and Visa (since 2012). Press releases were sent out when those widely accepted payment methods were announced, too.

    But for American Express Canada to kick off Monday with news of this expansion to its “everyday spend” category is kind of like bragging about being the third largest city in Manitoba. (Sorry, Steinbach, but watch out, Portage la Prairie is nipping at your heels.)

    Yet today through Aug. 18, Canadians can expect to see and hear “an integrated radio, digital and social media marketing campaign” to spread the word about this new corporate relationship.

    "We are excited to share this news,” Jennifer Hawkins, vice-president and general manager for merchant services with American Express Canada, said in statement.

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