THE BLOG

28
Sep

Reminder: Startup Drinks in YOUR city!

Well, if you happen to be in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto or Waterloo, that is!

Startup Drinks is a monthly gathering of people working in and around startups of every stripe.  In each of these fine Canadian cities, there are people in your community spending their time and energy to keep it alive. The aim is to do what you mostly call networking – it’s fun, easy and involves drinks.  Yeah!

Montreal: SIGN UP HERE!

Venue: Brutopia, 1215 Crescent St

When:  Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from 5:30pm

Toronto: SIGN UP HERE!

Venue: Fionn MacCool’s,  70 The Esplanade, Btw Church and Victoria

When: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from 6pm

Ottawa: SIGN UP HERE!


Venue: Cornerstone Grill, 92 Clarence Street (in the market)

When: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from 5:30pm

WaterlooSIGN UP HERE!

Venue: McMullan’s on King

, 56 King Street North

When: Wednesday, October 6, 2009 from 5:30pm

22
Sep

Startup Drinks: Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and now Waterloo!

We’re now onto our fourth city joining the Startup Drinks bandwagon thanks to Dan Silivestru. Waterloo is a little out of sync for this one to avoid conflicts with DemoCamp Guelph.

So, here are the details:

Montreal:

Venue: Brutopia, 1215 Crescent St

When:  Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from 5:30pm

Toronto:

Venue: Fionn MacCool’s,  70 The Esplanade, Btw Church and Victoria

When: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from 6pm

Ottawa:

Venue: TBA

When: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from 5:30pm

and the newest addition (drum roll please!):

Waterloo:

Venue: McMullan’s on King, 56 King Street North

When: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 from 5:30pm

Look out for sign up information shortly!

19
Aug

August Startup Drinks in Toronto and Montreal! Update: now Ottawa too!

The inaugural Startup Drinks Toronto had over 100 people thanks to David Crow and his organizing efforts.  Montreal had another really nice mid-summer showing as well! We’re back for another round this Wednesday, August 26 in Montreal and Toronto for more startup networking.

For Toronto:

Venue: C’est What,  67 Front Street East, Corner Farquhars Lane

When: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 from 6pm

Sign up: here or on Facebook, if you prefer

For Montreal:

Venue: Brutopia, 1215 Crescent St (South of Ste-Catherine, Metro Guy)

When: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 from 5:30pm

Sign up at TechEntreprise

As always, I look forward to seeing you there!

Robin

UPDATE!

If you’re reading this from the fair city of Ottawa, you can also join in the synchronous fun too thanks to Scott Annan from Mercury Grove!

Here are the details:

– Date: Wednesday, 26 August, 2009
– Location: Metropolitan Brasserie, 700 Sussex, Street level entrance (map)
– Time: 6pm until late

Sign up here!

04
Aug

Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund: Good for Investment, Not Good for Angels

The Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund was unveiled last week and I know investors across the country have been anxiously awaiting the details. Here’s the skinny:

  • $250 million fund size
  • Matches investments for qualified investors (more on that later)
  • Invests in Ontario companies
  • Sectoral targets: clean technology, life sciences and advanced health technologies, and digital media and information and communications technology sectors

Most Angels I talked to previously were wondering what the qualification process would be and whether the fund would discriminate against out-of-province investors.

Now that the details (at least version 1.0) have been released, I can say that there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that, over five years, $250 million will be flowing to early stage tech ventures in Ontario. This is nothing to sneeze at and a much-needed shot in the arm for Ontario entrepreneurs. Will this encourage new investments? Absolutely, especially in clean tech and life sciences where capital needs are greater.

But several aspects of the fund are not great for Angels and other seed-stage investors, especially in ICT or even the earliest stages of clean tech and life sciences.

Investment Round Must Be $1 Million or More(p. 10, Fund Guidelines, link to PDF)

According to the Kauffman Foundation (Appendix to Returns to Angels Investors in Groups) the average Angel investment is less than $200,000. This is consistent with what I’ve seen in Canada. Many Angel groups and seed funds invest in this range. So why the $1million threshold?

If this is a conscious choice by the OETF to favour later stage deals, they may actually draw Angel dollars away from pure startups and towards later-stage entitities. This would be a bad thing for growing the number of startups in Ontario.

If this is a subtle encouragement to Angels to invest more dollars, it ignores the fact that many (I’d say most) pure startups don’t need $1 million. I would personally never invest in a startup whose capital needs from day one were in this range. It’s not exactly “lean”.

Angels Must Re-Apply for Qualification for Each Investment (p. 7, Fund Guidelines, link to PDF)

Venture funds can apply for qualification once and have this remain in place for all future investments. Angels, on the other hand, must re-apply for each investment they make. I’m going to give the OETF the benefit of the doubt and assume that getting qualified once will mean getting qualified again. But this doesn’t exactly reward Angels or Angel groups who have a proven track record. Why not treat them the same as VCs?

Ontario Footprint

OETF is not the only fund tied to a specific geographical region so this is not a new complaint. But it still bothers me to see penalties for a company no longer having “enough” of an Ontario footprint:

  • OETF has the right to force repurchase of its shares at a price set by a 3rd party, or
  • OETF has the right to force refund of its investment + 10% compounded annually

As an investor, I prefer the highest return on my investment no matter where the company needs to grow. These kinds of terms discourage investment from outside the province and outside Canada.

Favouring Ontario-Based Investors

Finally, there are some silly questions in the Angel application about proving that you are dedicated to investing in Ontario. Presumably, this doesn’t apply to Angels who live in Ontario. This is counter-productive. It’s better for Ontario to draw in investment dollars from outside the province. And why do I have to prove that I want to invest in Ontario when I’m already showing that by applying to invest in a specific deal?

The not-invented-hear syndrome is not good for startups and it’s not good for regional investment.

Conclusion

I applaud the Ontario Government for taking steps to encourage early-stage investments in the province. It’s difficult for governments to truly take a back seat to private investors when it comes to investments and the OETF is a good example of this struggle. It’s not really the matching investment fund that we had hoped for, but a new investment entity with specific regional and sectoral focuses. It’s still good to have a new player on the scene and I hope that the model evolves based on market feedback.

Angels and entrepreneurs: what do you think of the OETF?

27
Jul

Don’t Forget Startup Drinks in Montreal and Toronto!

This Wednesday, July 29 is the date when Toronto and Montreal Startup Drinks sync up!  If you’re in either city, there’s no reason to stay in.

For Toronto:

Venue: Pogue Mahone, 777 Bay St (Cnr College St)

When: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 from 7pm

Sign up: Startup Drinks Toronto Facebook Event

For Montreal:

Venue: Brutopia, 1219 Crescent St (Sth of St-Catherine)

When: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 from 5:30pm

Sign up:at TechEntreprise

AND if you’re a developer looking for a new opportunity, find me or my comrade Peter Bailey!

Robin

P.S. Startup Soccer was super fun!  The bruise on my toe is my new Startup Badge of Courage.  Thanks Daniel and John for organizing!  I’m up for another game before the winter is upon us.