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CP   2003-05-17 03:00:20  

Software chief executive rides long, hard road to riches

TORONTO -- Trundling 450 kilometres to Toronto on a two-wheeled battery-powered contrivance with a top speed of 20 kilometres an hour may not be everyone's idea of a dream road trip on the Victoria Day weekend. But when your dream is to find venture capital for an anti-spam software startup, you do what you think you have to do.

Versature Corp. chief executive Paul Emond left Ottawa yesterday riding a Segway human transporter, aiming to hit downtown Toronto Tuesday for the Canadian Information Technology Financing Forum. "In a tough venture-capital climate, this gives new meaning to the term road show," said Emond, who hopes to attract $1.5 million to expand his five-person company. Wearing a "Will Give Rides for Venture Capital Funding" T-shirt, he is accompanied by a support vehicle carrying extra battery packs for the high-tech scooter. Emond, 31, bought the Segway as a prize for customers of his company, whose e-mail filter technology targets small businesses and Internet service providers.

Cottage-selling market hot

TORONTO -- For every Canadian planning to sell a cottage, there are four people wanting to buy, according to a poll that points to a spring and summer forecast of hot prices. The April survey by Ipsos-Reid for Royal LePage Real Estate Services found six per cent of respondents hope to buy a recreational property during the next three years. Currently, eight per cent own vacation homes and of them only 17 per cent regard themselves as likely to sell in the foreseeable future. The poll, which claims 95 per cent accuracy within 4.3 percentage points, also found rising prices are prompting buyers to look for ways to offset the cost. Forty per cent of prospective buyers say they plan to cover expenses by renting out the vacation home they might own some day. Among current cottage owners, only 10 per cent rent out their properties when not in use. The survey also asked owners and potential buyers what they want from cottage life and 50 per cent said their top priority is peace and tranquillity. Unfortunately for them, nine per cent see a cottage as a place "to party and let loose." A tight supply of listings "continues to exert pressure on property prices across the country," says Sherry Chris, executive vice-president for network services at Royal LePage.

Scam rate rising, OSC says

TORONTO -- If you're frustrated with low investment returns and high taxes, beware: scam operators are eager to play on that emotion. "They will pretend to share your opinions and sympathize with your frustration," the Ontario Securities Commission says. "They may make promises of huge profits from investing in offshore markets and may even guarantee the returns to give you a sense of security." However, as the promised return rises, so does the risk you will lose your money. In particular, the commission cautions against offshore investment proposals. Once your money is outside the province, you lose the protections of provincial law and scams tend to involve a foreign institution to make it harder to trace transactions. A guarantee is only as good as the institution offering it, the commission says, and if a smooth-talking operator could borrow from a bank at the prime rate and invest the funds for a guaranteed 15 per cent, "why are they willing to pay you 15 per cent on your money?"

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