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Progress Looks At Staffing Startups

When Karma Gaming announced a $4-million fundraising round in June, it also said it would double its employees, from about 10 to 20, as part of its growth strategy. The Halifax-based company, which raised an additional $1 million from Vanedge Capital in September, has become one of the hot start-ups in Atlantic Canada over the past two years as its video games for regulated lotteries have met with overwhelming demand from lottery corporations in several companies. As it has grown, it has had to add qualified people in a measured, disciplined way. “Our method is never to go on a hiring frenzy for human resources,” says CEO Paul Leblanc. “But we did have to fill critical gaps.”

This past summer, Karma Gaming began hiring staff for its headquarters in the historic brewery building on the Halifax waterfront, but as is often the case with start-ups, it found it difficult to find the best people in any one place. So it added staff in New Brunswick who will work for Karma remotely from that province as they prepare for a satellite office expansion. Company executives have also interviewed candidates in London, England, and the United States, and they have hired a contract worker in New York. “We’re making sure that when we scale up, we do so with talent first and geography second,” says LeBlanc.

A lot of regional start-ups are working hard to find the right talent to meet their needs and coming up with creative ways to get them. These young companies will need capital to grow, but just as importantly they’ll need talented executives and staff. In fact, talent is one of the five focus areas that the 4Front Atlantic conference identified as an issue the Atlantic provinces must address (the others are access to capital, government, going global, and innovation/productivity).