Michael Moszberg was part of the 2014 PME funding round. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Praktice Health, he identified a gap in the market for wellness activities specifically for businesses. In the process of starting a business Michael joined many accelerators and utilized many of the resources available to entrepreneurs in Quebec. He shares some very valuable insight and advice based on his experience in Montreal accelerators, what he would change, and where entrepreneurs can find the help that suits them in the city.
Q: What sparked the idea to start Praktice Health?
A: Through Praktice Health we started to talk to HR managers about corporate wellness activities. What we discovered was that HR managers were looking for variety and modern solutions, nothing was available to them. We went around to see what the most engaging activity possible was. The real problem was that there was low engagement in wellness activities. There were no alternatives for HR managers to put in a wellness activity.
Q: How were you able to differentiate yourself from other fitness programs and apps offered?
A: There is a lot available for consumers but there is nothing available for businesses. A lot of the features that businesses need is the planning, the communications, the administration, the analytics, the surveys, the photos. It also needs to be private and secure. When you get bigger businesses they want more analytics based on department. Nothing like that is available to the corporate environment. What is available are expensive, 12 month corporate agreements. These are programs that take up the entire wellness budget. Then you have consumer apps that are not private secure, or have HR features.
Q: You’ve been a part of many accelerators over the years. What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages of accelerators?
A: I think that the biggest advantage with accelerators is also the biggest disadvantage. The number one thing you get is community. Whether you’re at District 3, McGill or FounderFuel, they all offer a certain level of community whether it be advisors, colleagues or peers. I think that when you’re first starting out it’s good to join an accelerator but after a while you have to start to focus on your business. Having too many events and people around can be a distraction.
Q: Based on your experience, what would you change from the whole incubator/accelerator process?
A: They want to help so many companies that it becomes hard to give dedicated attention to any one. The model with almost every incubator is that they put up the general information and want to make the company shine. But 1 in 10 succeed. If they had the resources to dedicate more to each company perhaps they would have more than 1 out of 10 success rate. But, they are limited by their resources so I understand. More resources is what they need.
Q: What is your most valuable takeaway from your experience with the different incubators?
A: The depth of advisors that I’ve collected over the years is most valuable. The challenges with mentors is that it’s hard to find one that is good for you in all aspects. I think that you should have one that is good in sales, one that is good in IT, another in fundraising, etc. There is no one mentor that is perfect for any company. It’s important to have a diverse group of mentors.
Q: What are the best places for an entrepreneur to find resources in Montreal, whether it be financial or just advice?
A: Every incubator is unique. District 3 in providing free office space and getting people from point 0 to getting started. McGill has a great alumni network and good people that work there as well. The McGill Dobson Cup is a fantastic way for people to get money at the very beginning. Then you have FounderFuel, which is very good at accelerating your company. The thing about FounderFuel is that if you get in too early you’re going to miss your chance to get that acceleration. You have to be at a certain level for their accelerator to make sense to you. A lot of people don’t realize how long it takes to start a company. Of course PME (ProMontreal Entrepreneurs) is a great resource too. So all in all, District 3 is good to get started, McGill too. Then you have organizations like PME, PME Mtl, SAJE, and Angels for additional support. If you’re more established in your business you have FounderFuel and other companies. So there’s my convoluted answer. It takes a whole community and all these things add to the eco- system no one accelerator makes the city.
Q: What’s your opinion about being an entrepreneur in Montreal? Do you think the eco-system works in favor of the entrepreneur?
A: I believe that MTL is a fantastic place to start and build a company. Because of the low wages, talent, and tax credit. To start a company in Montreal is fantastic. It’s hard to sell into to the Montreal market though. For example, In Israel you have lots of resources for start-ups, but you don’t see many companies that are going to sell in Israel. Montreal is a fantastic place to build, but plan to sell globally.
Q: How has PME helped you and your business?
A: PME truly does support the entrepreneur. They really do invest time and effort in every single one of the companies to succeed.
This is some great practical advice from someone who started their business in Montreal. Montreal has some great resources available to you. You have to know which ones are right for you at your current stage of business development. Michael has come a long way since we met him in 2014. We’re sure that better things are yet to come for him and Praktice Health.