Posts Tagged ‘ Charles Sirois

Angel War Stories & Early Exits – at NAO 2010 National Summit Panel

Check out the new NAO Summit web site:

Good news for the tech and investment community in Canada!

The National Angel Organization is hard at work planning for their 2010 National Summit that will be held in Montreal this year from October 6th to 8th.

This year’s event includes some of Canada’s best angel investors sharing their experiences and insights. Such as:

Keynote by Charles Sirois, an entrepreneur, angel, venture capitalist and chair of CIBC, is the luncheon keynote speaker on October 8th, and he is just the start of a great procession of distinguished keynote speakers and panellists coming this year.

Other speakers and panellists typically embody decades of hard-won expertise in the global early-stage space, of inestimable value to any individual or group providing seed, early-stage, and expansion capital to early-stage enterprises.

The series of panel on Angel War Stories & Early Exits which review some of the best and worst of the year in Canadian Angel Investing, will this year welcome Andy Nulman and Chris Arsenault:

Andy Nulman is the newly appointed President, Festivals and Television, of Montreal’s renowned Just For Laughs International Comedy Festival, the world’s first and largest comedy event.  This is not Andy’s first go around at JFL. From 1985 until 1999, he literally transformed the event from a two-day show to a month-long cultural happening, attracting over 2 million visitors per year. He is also former President & co-founder of Airborne Technology Ventures, a company celebrated as a pioneer in the industry of mobile media and marketing.  Check him out at

Chris Arsenault is President & CEO of iNovia Capital, one of Canada’s premier managers of seed and early-stage venture capital funds.  Chris is an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist! Having founded, co-founded or launched almost a half a dozen tech companies over the last 17 years all within the software, Internet and Communications space. Chris now has the pleasure of working with an amazing team of investor entrepreneurs in Montreal, Calgary and New York. Chris was an early investor in Airborne Entertainment (which was subsequently sold to Japanese based Cybird for $100M) and thereafter participated in the birth of Airborne Technology Ventures alongside the founding partners. And continues to be on the lookout for the next entrepreneur to back!

Register here

October 6th – 8th, 2010

Montreal, Quebec

The premier event for Angel

networking and education in Canada!

Contact NAO at [email protected]

or 1600-401 Bay Street

Toronto, Ontario M5H 2Y4

The Changing Face of the Canadian VC industry – Tandem, Cycle, Teralys, Kirchner…


By Chris Arsenault Managing Partner & COO, iNovia Capital

New yet familiar faces are marching into the Canadian VC landscape with different approaches towards supporting tech entrepreneurs in their endeavour to change the world. At last’s year CVCA annual conference, the theme was utmost appropriate: The Face(s) of Change! Only one year has gone by, yet so much has already changed, new and familiar faces are showing leadership and paving the way for an industry revival.

Today’s BDC announcement of a $75M commitment towards the newly created Tandem Expansion Fund (link to press release), is yet another example of how the Canadian venture capital landscape is being reshaped from an entrepreneurial angle. The managers behind this $300M later stage fund are experienced operators, with investment backgrounds and core entrepreneurial values. Interesting enough are the powerhouses that will provide global networks behind this new fund: Charles Sirois (Telesystem Ltd) and Brent Belzberg (Torquest). I know Charles Sirois and the Telesystem Ltd group pretty well, having worked for Charles for a few years in the past and for having co-invested with his other VC funds (note: Telesystem is a small investor in iNovia Capital’s second fund). I have much respect for Charles, not only because he founded and managed companies, some he built from scratch and lead them to several hundreds of millions and even billions in value, but rather because Charles has been a fervent and active supporter of entrepreneurship, understanding what drives entrepreneurs and accepting that they have the right to try, to fail, adjust, and succeed.

What does Tandem means to me?

It means that many great Canadian companies and strong tech entrepreneurs having built their businesses up to the point where a substantial amount of capital is needed to either help them consolidate a market segment, or to simply support their growth, won’t be obliged to only look south for a strong financial partner. For iNovia Capital, it means that in some cases we will have a later stage co-investor able to lead those few $10-20M rounds required to further fuel the growth of our most successful companies.

The Tandem Expansion announcement comes on the tail of Quebec based Cycle Capital – who has recently launched its cleantech investment activities with the addition of new partner/recurring VC fund managerBernhardt Zeisig; Western Canada’s warming up to the recent formation of an interactive entertainment venture capital fund called Vanedge – the team are all gaming industry veterans from Electronic Arts and Dreamworks Interactive – Paul Lee, Glenn Entis, Owen G. Mahoney and Jason Chein; Celtic House’spreparation for their new fund IV fund raising activities with the addition of entrepreneur and VC experience Pierre-André Meunier; and Steven Hnatiuk and his team out in British Columbia at Yaletown Venture Partnerswho announced not too long ago the first closing of a second early stage cleantech & IT fund.

Interesting enough, many new VC faces are in fact venture capital knowledgeable operators and entrepreneurs. Others, like Bud Kirchner of Kirchner and Company are not only showing leadership, they are taking ownership! The Kirchner and Company team havebeen extremely active and involved on both sides of the equation: as a VC, by partnering up with existing fund managers to raise funds and actively oversee direct investments such as with Avrio Ventures where Bud joined as a Partner; then, by being one of the most active investment bankers doing M&A and divestitures in Canada, sometimes representing the buy-side and other times assisting the sell-side; and finally, as a key partner to secondary fund managers, acquiring and managing the exit process for a broad range of portfolio companies (rumour is that they recently came to an agreement with Coller Capital for the management of the old portfolio of Innovatech Montreal which was sold to to Coller in a secondary transaction a few years ago).

The following chart outlines what Kirchner & Company say makes them different. Funny thing is that it doesn’t sound any different, right? Wrong. Its different because Kirchner and Company, like many new entrants in the VC ecosystem, are building their business on new paradigms, where the people in the team are less alike, more complementary and more driven by entrepreneurial fuel. Just take a look at Kirchner’s recent additions to the team: Barry Gekiere (ex-Ventures West), Les Lyall (ex-Growthworks), Claude Vachet (ex-Multiple Capital), Andy Agrawal (entrepreneur), Chris Butlin (entrepreneur), Mike Cooke (entrepreneur)… and I can keep going. Doesn’t this start to sound way more like a next generation VC fund than the typical investment banking firm?   

It will be interesting to see how these new and returning faces in the venture capital landscape will affect the type of VC transactions we were once used to seeing.  

My recent post about our industry being at a turning point is more and more appropriate. With the recent announcement of Teralys Capital, a $700M + Fund of fund, managed by Jacques Bernier, an entrepreneur turned VC who then turned Fund of Funds Manager for the largest Quebec based labour sponsored fund (Fond de solidarité FTQ), and who now manages Canada’s largest Fund of funds, it seems like we are witnessing change within change.  

For Tandem Expansion as well as for Teralys Capital, our governments (both federal and provincial) are playing key roles of being “enablers”. By participating as pure investors, by expecting full return of capital in addition to reasonable returns, at the same rate and on the same terms as their private co-investors, our governments are setting a new tone: where they aren’t providing any bailout, any grants, any loans; they aren’t selecting or politically influencing the type of companies these funds should invest in; they aren’t trying to save any specific industry by giving tax credits for job creation; they are enabling sophisticated fund managers to attract important amount of capital into their funds (as we all know size does matter) as well as providing the level of commitment necessary to attract foreign co-investors into investing in promising Canadian tech companies. Anyway we look at it, having the means to invest and to support our entrepreneurs, directly creates high paying jobs, clusters of expertise and put Canada on the map (just think of what would of happened to these industries without venture capital: Quebec’s gaming and media production industries; British Columbia’s Biotech industries; Ontario’s semiconductor and telecom industries; Toronto’s software industries, Montreal’s aerospace industry, and I can go on and on). Our governments are doings the right things, now it’s up to our fund managers to do things right!

What is next?

Our governments and our large Canadian institutions alike, need to further value the impact that the venture capital and private equity industry has on the competitiveness of Canada on the world markets. One day, soon enough, I hope to see our Canadian government, as well as other provincial governments, follow in the footsteps of the Teralys Capital model and allocate substantial amounts of capital ($300-500M each) towards enabling private fund managers in their endeavour to attract local and foreign institutional capital, in order to better support our tech industry and our entrepreneurs, and by the same means, generate important returns on capital over the next ten to 15 years, while, as a result directly impacting the success level of Canadian innovation commercialization and job creation.  

As the Canadian Venture capital industry matures, we will witness higher returns, recurring entrepreneurs and an increase in local success stories. More high growth companies will not be obliged to be acquired by a foreign entity in order to provide exit opportunities to its stakeholders and with the recognition that this class of investment (venture capital), although considered high Risk, will prove to generate High Rewards. That should be enough to attract more Canadian pension funds, banks, insurance companies and private institutions,  with allocations of a fraction of their capital towards Canadian venture capital funds.

With this year’s CVCA annual conference, themed “Embrace our Energy”, being once again sold out, I take it that allot of the above will be subject of discussion in Calgary.  

Thoughts and comments welcomed.

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