• Money and finance

Financial advice from a CleanTech start-up

Futurpreneur | October 8, 2013

Andrew White founded Char Technologies in Toronto, Ontario in 2011 – a company that makes SulfaCHAR (Activated Bio-Carbon), which is similar to the Activated Carbon you would find in a Brita Filter. SulfaCHAR is produced from the biosolids left over from Bio-Energy plants and is used to clean contaminants out of renewable natural gas (which is produced from landfills or organic waste, and can be used to create electricity). It also converts the contaminants into a useful product which has further applications in the agricultural sector, creating a truly zero-waste solution.

When asked about the importance of understanding business financials, Andrew had the following tips for fellow entrepreneurs:

Understanding basic accounting is vital for start-ups. Although it can take time, entrepreneurs should do their own bookkeeping.  Doing your accounting, even once a week, really helps to keep your finger on the pulse of the cash flows of your business and helps avoid any cash-related surprises.

Financial literacy is critical for all entrepreneurs. Even if you’re working with a team where someone else is responsible for the financial aspects, it’s everyone’s responsibility to understand the financial position, and critical amongst that is cash flow. Without cash, you’ll have trouble growing the business.  You need to understand the basics so you can have an engaged discussion about your financial position and overall health of your business.

Investors can really give a boost to your company. Having “value-added” or “smart-money” investors is important as you go after other sources of money, especially grants, as it shows they’ve done due diligence and are willing to write a cheque to be behind your company. If you find the right ones, they can also be critical sources of introductions; to follow-on investors, potential clients or customers, partners, service providers etc. They can also be advisors, helping you to avoid potential pitfalls as you move your business forward.