A new fund dedicated to helping local startup companies is expected to boost Victoria’s reputation as a major tech hub in the country.
Tectoria Venture Partners, a new Victoria-based investment management initiative, is launching the first angel fund in the city. The $20 to $30-million fund, supported by angel investors such as Rasool Rayani, Hannes Blum, Todd Dunlop and Elton Pereira, who have experience in the industry, will be used to fund local startup companies that otherwise might have trouble finding funding to get the company off the ground.
“An angel fund is the key missing puzzle piece in Victoria and taking the tech sector to the next level,” said Joelle Blaikie, associate at Tectoria Venture Partners. “It will be a catalyst for the tech industry in Victoria. It will attract more investors and more talent to Victoria and just overall build Victoria’s reputation and brand as being a major tech hub in Canada and put us on the map down south.”
Startup companies will present their pitch to investors (in a Dragon’s Den-style presentation, minus the competitive aspect), how much money they need and how much ownership they’re prepared to give in exchange for funding. The fund will decide if they want to invest in that company and investors will provide mentorship.
Investors will be looking for startups companies that have passionate founding teams, good ideas with high potential market size (something available to a large market), if the market is ready to accept the idea, and a solid business model.
The fund emerged as a result of a report by Tectoria Venture Partners, where 41 key stakeholders in the tech community were interviewed. According to the report, 75 per cent of entrepreneurs reported raising capital in Victoria was challenging, while 70 per cent of angel investors reported they lacked the time to do proper due diligence on potential companies, proving to be a major deterrent from investing more.
According to Blaikie, the fund will help bridge the gap between high potential startup companies and the lack of early stage funding available.
“For investors, it’s beneficial because they don’t have to do all the work of researching the company and finding out if it’s a good opportunity. The fund does all of that,” she said, adding many other cities such as Vancouver also have angel funds.
“From the perspective of startup companies, it gives them a centralized access point. A lot of CEOs are having a hard time tracking down who are the people willing to invest in a company. It will be a go-to place.”
Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC, a non-profit society representing the local advanced technology community, said Victoria has seen a significant increase in startup activity in recent years and noted a fund is necessary to help companies participating in the local tech industry.
“We have been swamped with over 300 applications. While many of these companies have done well it is obvious that now, more than ever, the next key piece of the puzzle is an organized, local investment fund, led by experienced entrepreneurs and tech leaders that are dedicated to recommitting some of their returns back into the community,” he said.
The fund is expected to be launched later this year. If the fund is successful, Tectoria Venture Partners will look into establishing a second, larger fund in the future.