Why you need Canadian VCs

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I was sharing the news yesterday about Canada’s newest VC fund, Vistara Capital Partners, when my friend Boris Mann asked this question. My objective with this post is not to call Boris out. I’m sure many people ask the same question. But as a former Canadian VC and a huge fanboy of the Canadian startup scene, I feel pretty strongly that our companies should raise capital locally. Here’s why:

Local networks: The best companies can get money anywhere. It all looks the same. So, it’s the other stuff that differentiates capital. One area where VCs look to help is in recruiting. If you’re in Toronto, your SF-based investor can’t help much. Yes, their name brand might help. But they can’t actually help you. Whether it’s sourcing local team members, advisors, banks, etc. your homegrown VC can help. Read More

Managing Investor Pedigree

It’s a known fact that not all venture firms are created equal. Cambridge Associates, an advisor to the Limited Partners that invest in venture capital firms, says that only about 20 firms – or 3% of all firms – generate 95% of the industry’s returns. 

Those 20 firms remain pretty consistent over time. Sequoia, NEA, Accel, etc. have figured out the secret recipe for generating consistent premium returns. That recipe centres around getting into the big outliers; The unicorns that make or break fund returns.

There’s a funny thing happening in today’s venture market: The fear of missing out is bigger than ever. Success (i.e. traction), when it comes, comes faster than ever. The best venture firms have highly tuned radar screens, proactive early stage scouting programs, demo day attendance and many other tactics to make sure they get access to back the winners.

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Can this be a $B Startup???


How often have you sat in front of VCs or advisors and been asked ‘Can this be a billion $ business?’. I have. I find it to be an incredibly frustrating question. When you’re at the start of your business, if you’re spending time thinking about how to be a billion $ business, you’re wasting time.

Here are some stats: There are 100s of venture firms investing in many 1,000s of startups. Out of all of that activity there are 80 privately held technology companies worth $1B (source: CBinsights) in the US. In Canada, there are two (Shopify and Hootsuite).

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I was reading this morning about Slack‘s rumoured $ 160M round, coming hot on the heels of last Fall’s $ 120M round. If this round closes then in the space of 7 months the company will have raised $ 280M and grown it’s valuation over 10x from the previous funding rounds.

This is a beautiful illustration of the importance of momentum in building a valuable company. Most startups take some time to find their stride. But once they find product/ market fit and scalable customer acquisition channels, the market-leading startups seemingly never stop raising capital. Instead, they raise more money, quicker to keep piling on to the growth they already have. This is why in most markets, the bulk of the market value goes to the leader. There’s just such a huge gap between that company and the ‘also rans’.

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