Posts Tagged ‘ Chris Arsenault

Show me the Money! $50,000 “prize” for one Startup present at the International Startup Festival

We are thrilled to announce that at this year’s International Startup Festival 2012 (, one deserving Startup will leave with an investment of at least $50,000! And the award won’t be limited to one of the Startups selected to pitch on a main stage; any Startup present and badged for the event will be eligible to win.

A group of angels and VC investors, including the Festival’s Founders Phil Telio and Alistair Croll, Anna Goodson, Rory Olson, and Danny Knafo, quickly jumped at this opportunity and banded together as equal partners to create the prize.

The prize will be an investment in a Startup, in the form of an entrepreneur-friendly convertible debenture (reasonable interest rate with no cap on valuation). Terms and conditions with details will be posted on our website soon.

Montreal’s Chris Arsenault, managing partner at iNovia Capital, will curate the process, including forming a selection panel made up of representatives of the fund, along with an equal number of independent but startup-savvy judges. We will be sure to create ample opportunities for any badged startup to get in front of one or more of these judges. But ultimately, the event will imitate real life and startups that want the $50K (or more) will bear the responsibility of seeking out these decision makers.

The fund is not closed, so any Angel or institutional investor interested in participating in the fund, should contact us at [email protected]

There you have it. The International Startup Festival 2012 will deliver insightful speakers, a wide profile of users and influencers to network with, pitching opportunities of all kinds – all wrapped in a true Montreal summer, Festival atmosphere. And now topped off with a chance to walk away with a $50,000 investment. Register here

For more details please contact Philippe Telio: phil@startupfe[email protected]

CVCA to provide Conference participants with an enhanced mobile experience

Attendees to Receive BlackBerry PlayBook Tablets Preloaded with Conference App

The CVCA – Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association has chosen Montreal to hold its 2012 Annual Conference (May 23-25), one of the largest gatherings of the private capital industry in North America. Confirming its role as a leading source of advocacy, networking, information and professional development, CVCA is giving each attendee a BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet from Research In Motion (RIM) preinstalled with an app designed for the conference. CVCA is the first association to give PlayBook tablets to all conference attendees as the primary source of conference materials along with an official conference mobile app.

The official conference app will contain the conference agenda, speaker bios and other conference information, and will allow the participants to ask questions of moderators and interact with other conference attendees through social media.

“We are proud to work with RIM to offer our conference participants a one-of-a kind mobile experience. This innovative approach aims at enhancing networking opportunities, and the dissemination of information about issues, industry trends and deal flow,” states Chris Arsenault, 2012 Conference Co-Chair and Managing Partner, iNovia Capital.

“The BlackBerry PlayBook combines powerful web browsing, multimedia and multitasking capabilities with top of the line communication features and productivity enhancements. It also provides users with access to a diverse and rapidly growing portfolio of apps spanning enterprise, gaming, publishing, multimedia and social,” said Alec Saunders, Vice President, Developer Relations and Ecosystems Development at RIM. “We are happy to work together with CVCA to enrich the conference experience with the powerful and ultra portable BlackBerry PlayBook.”

The CVCA Annual Conference is the premiere networking and professional development event for Canada’s venture capital and private equity industry and repeatedly sells out with over 650 industry professionals and influencers from across Canada and around the world. This year’s theme is “Venture Capital & Private Equity: Outperforming the Markets”. For more information the program and confirmed speakers, please visit


The CVCA – Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, was founded in 1974 and is the association that represents Canada’s venture capital and private equity industry. Its over 1900 members are firms and organizations which manage the majority of Canada’s pools of capital designated to be committed to venture capital and private equity investments. The CVCA fosters professional development, networking, communication, research and education within the venture capital and private equity sector and represents the industry in public policy matters.

The BlackBerry and RIM families of related marks, images and symbols are the exclusive properties and trademarks of Research In Motion Limited. RIM assumes no obligations or liability and makes no representation, warranty, endorsement or guarantee in relation to any aspect of any third party products or services.

L’Association offrira une expérience mobile unique en son genre aux participants de sa Conférence Annuelle

Les participants recevront des tablettes mobiles BlackBerry PlayBook qui incluent l’application de la conférence

L’Association canadienne du capital de risque et d’investissement (l’ACCR) a choisi Montréal pour tenir sa conférence annuelle 2012 (23-25 mai), l’un des plus importants événements de l’industrie du capital d’investissement en Amérique du Nord. En tant que chef de file en défense des intérêts de l’industrie et fournisseur d’occasion de réseautage, d’éducation et de développement professionnel pour ses membres, l’Association remettra à chaque participant une tablette mobile BlackBerry® PlayBookMC de Research In Motion (RIM), sur laquelle sera téléchargée l’application officielle de la conférence. L’ACCR est la première association à offrir des tablettes mobiles PlayBook et une application officielle à l’ensemble de ses participants comme première source d’information pour la conférence.

L’application officielle de la conférence contiendra le programme de la conférence, les biographies des conférenciers et d’autres renseignements sur la conférence. Elle permettra aux participants de poser des questions aux modérateurs et d’interagir avec les autres participants présents à la conférence par le biais des médias sociaux.

« Nous sommes fiers de collaborer avec RIM pour offrir aux participants de la conférence une expérience mobile unique en son genre. Cette approche novatrice vise à améliorer les possibilités de réseautage et la diffusion de l’information sur les enjeux, les tendances de l’industrie et les flux d’affaires », a déclaré Chris Arsenault, co-président de la conférence de 2012 et associé directeur d’iNovia Capital.

« La tablette BlackBerry® PlayBookMC combine une navigation sur le Web de haute performance, des capacités multimédia et multitâches et les meilleures caractéristiques de communication et d’amélioration de la productivité. La tablette permet également aux utilisateurs d’avoir accès à un portefeuille diversifié et en croissance rapide d’applications en tous genres, qu’il s’agisse d’applications pour les affaires, de jeux, de publications, ou de multimédia et réseaux sociaux », a déclaré Alec Saunders, vice-président des relations développeurs et du développement de l’écosystème de RIM. « Nous sommes heureux de collaborer avec l’ACCR afin d’enrichir l’expérience des participants de la conférence avec notre puissante et pratique tablette mobile BlackBerry® PlayBookMC. »

La conférence annuelle de l’ACCR est le premier événement de réseautage de développement professionnel pour l’industrie canadienne du capital de risque et d’investissement. Dans le passé, la conférence annuelle s’est maintes fois vendue à guichet fermé auprès de plus de 650 professionnels de l’industrie et d’influenceurs à travers le Canada et partout dans le monde. Le thème de cette année est « Le capital de risque et le capital-investissement – plus performants que le marché capital de risque et investissement privé : surperformer les marchés ». Pour plus de renseignements sur le programme et les conférenciers confirmés, veuillez visitez le


L’ACCR – L’Association canadienne du capital de risque et d’investissement a été fondée en 1974 et représente l’industrie canadienne du capital de risque et d’investissement privé. Elle compte au-delà de 1900 membres, soit des sociétés et des organisations qui gèrent la majorité des capitaux canadiens mis en commun et destinés aux investissements en capital de risque et en capitaux propres. L’ACCR favorise le perfectionnement professionnel, le réseautage, la communication, la recherche et l’éducation au sein du secteur du capital de risque et d’investissement et représente l’industrie dans le cadre de dossiers de politiques publiques.

Les familles de marques, d’images et de symboles associées de BlackBerry et RIM sont des propriétés exclusives et des marques commerciales de Research In Motion Limited. RIM n’assume aucune obligation ou responsabilité et ne fait aucune représentation, caution ou garantie par rapport à n’importe quel aspect de tous les produits ou services de tiers.

You are invited


Dear friends,

The CVCA annual conference is the premiere gathering for relationship-building and insight into the current state of Canada’s venture capital and private equity industry. With over 600 limited partners, fund managers, and industry influencers from across Canada, the U.S. and around the world in attendance – the CVCA Annual Conference is one of the largest gatherings of the private capital industry in North America.

The CVCA Annual Conference sells out in advance every year – register early to guarantee your participation.


The Theme

This year’s theme is “Venture Capital & Private Equity: Outperforming the Markets”. Since the beginning of time, investors have focused on stocks and bonds, shifting their allocations between these traditional asset classes with the times. Alternative assets like private equity and venture capital were rarely considered and poorly understood, since the traditional assets were considered safe and reliable. But the world has changed: major equity markets have traded sideways with growing volatility through the past several years, and fixed income investments are near zero real returns. The traditional model is broken as investors rethink the risk/reward equation and look for alternatives.

Private equity and venture capital can provide exactly what investors are looking for today: strong returns and companies that will take a leadership position in an increasingly competitive global economy. This is the opportunity to create new companies and transform existing ones. Active management by highly skilled private investors is the secret sauce. These investors jump right into their portfolio companies, working alongside management to truly transform these businesses. How do they do it? The 2012 CVCA Annual Conference will show you! How do they do it? The 2012 CVCA Annual Conference will show you!

The Agenda explores the timely topics that are central to driving forward in Canada’s venture and private equity industry.  Plenary sessions, and dedicated break-out PE and VC sessions, will dive into the challenges, changes, and opportunities in the current fundraising, investing, and exit environments.

Networking is important to you.  Our conference offers abundant networking opportunities beginning with a welcome cocktail event our first evening, a Networking Lounge throughout the conference to meet up with your industry colleagues, plus the conference mobile app makes connecting with other attendees and speakers easy. Thursday’s programme will conclude with a Gala dinner featuring CVCA’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award presentation, followed by our popular scotch-tasting event.

Attendees return year after year for the invaluable benefits of networking with key industry leaders and for the topical issues presented and discussed. Participants and sponsors at this prestigious event include the following: Private Equity Investors ● Venture Capitalists ● Limited Partners ● Institutional & Corporate Investors ● Investment Bankers/Intermediaries ● Placement Agents ● Security Exchanges ● Government & Academic Institutions ● Specialized Service Providers: Legal, Accounting, Financial, Insurance & Executive Search Advisors.


I hope you will join us in Montreal!


Chris Arsenault                                                                   Pascal Tremblay
Managing Partner, iNovia Capital                                Managing Partner, Novacap
Co-Chair, CVCA 2012                                                       Co-Chair, CVCA 2012
CVCA – Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association
416-487-0519 (tel)
416-487-5899 (fax)
[email protected]

Vous êtes invités

Cher collègues,

Nous sommes heureux de vous informer que vous avez le privilège de profiter du taux des membres de CVCA pour le colloque annuel 2012 de CVCA qui aura lieu à Montréal du 23 au 25 mai 2012.


Le colloque annuel de CVCA constitue une réunion de première importance pour renforcer les liens dans l’industrie du capital de risque et du capital-investissement, ainsi qu’être au courant de ses plus récents développements. Rassemblant plus de 600 bailleurs de fonds, gestionnaires de fonds et personnes influentes dans l’industrie de partout au Canada, des États-Unis et de partout au monde, le colloque annuel de CVCA est l’une des plus grandes réunions de l’industrie de l’investissement en Amérique du Nord.

Chaque année, le colloque annuel de CVCA fait salle comble : réservez tôt pour vous assurer de pouvoir participer.


Thème du colloque

Cette année, le colloque a pour thème « Le capital de risque et le capital-investissement : plus performants que le marché ». Depuis toujours, les investisseurs ont mis l’accent sur le capital-actions et les obligations, variant la répartition de leurs investissements entre ces catégories traditionnelles d’actifs selon le moment. On tenait peu compte des autres actifs, comme le capital de risque et le capital-investissement, qui étaient peu compris, puisqu’on croyait les actifs traditionnels sécuritaires et fiables. Le monde a changé depuis : au cours des dernières années, les principaux marchés boursiers n’ont pas montré de réelle tendance si ce n’est une volatilité accrue, et les investissements à revenu fixe ont offert des rendements s’approchant de zéro. Le modèle traditionnel est brisé, et les investisseurs réévaluent l’équation entre le risque et le rendement en cherchant des solutions de rechange.

Le capital-investissement et le capital de risque peuvent offrir précisément ce que cherchent les investisseurs aujourd’hui : des rendements solides et des entreprises qui deviendront des meneuses dans une économie mondiale de plus en plus concurrentielle. C’est là l’occasion de créer de nouvelles entreprises et de transformer celles qui existent. Le secret repose dans une gestion dynamique par des investisseurs privés hautement qualifiés. Ces investisseurs jouent immédiatement un rôle actif au sein des entreprises de leur portefeuille : ils collaborent avec les équipes de direction pour véritablement transformer les sociétés. Comment le font-ils ? Vous le verrez lors du colloque annuel 2012 de CVCA !

Le programme explore les sujets qui sont aujourd’hui au cœur de la force motrice de l’industrie canadienne du capital-investissement et du capital de risque. Lors de séances plénières et de séances dédiées au capital-investissement et au capital de risque, nous explorerons les défis, les évolutions et les occasions des environnements actuels du financement, de l’investissement et des sorties.

Le réseautage est crucial pour vous. Notre colloque offrira de nombreuses occasions de réseautage : après le cocktail de bienvenue de la première soirée, un salon de réseautage sera à votre disposition pour rencontrer vos collègues tout au long du colloque. L’application mobile du colloque facilitera les rencontres avec les autres participants et les conférenciers. Le programme du jeudi se terminera par un dîner de gala lors duquel sera décerné le prix de « L’entrepreneur de l’année » CVCA, qui sera lui-même suivi de notre populaire événement de dégustation de Scotch.

Les participants reviennent d’année en année pour profiter des avantages précieux du réseautage avec les meneurs de l’industrie ainsi que pour les sujets présentés qui font ensuite l’objet de discussions. Les participants et les commanditaires de cet événement prestigieux comprennent : des investisseurs de capital-investissement ● des investisseurs de capital de risque ● des commanditaires ● des investisseurs institutionnels et d’entreprise ● des banquiers d’investissement ● des agents de placement ● des représentants des bourses ● des institutions gouvernementales et d’enseignements ● des fournisseurs de services spécialisés : services juridiques, comptables, financiers, d’assurance et conseillers en recrutement.


Au plaisir de vous voir à Montréal !


Chris Arsenault                                                               Pascal Tremblay
Associé directeur, iNovia Capital                                Associé directeur, Novacap
Co-président, CVCA 2012                                            Co-président, CVCA 2012

CVCA – Association canadienne du capital de risque et d’investissement
Tél. : 416 487-0519
Téléc. : 416 487-5899
[email protected]

Canada is back, and it needs to stay back in a big way!

On the eve of CVCA’s annual conference, the ‘rebirth’ of the country’s PE and VC markets draws attention from around the globe

First published on the nextMontreal blog and in the Spring 2012 Private Capital Privé magazine

In October 2010, the CVCA released a report entitled “Think Canada (Again).” It is obvious that the PE and VC markets were paying attention, and have spent the past 18 months heeding the call. Call it a reawakening, rebirth or revolution – call it whatever you want, but the story is simple: Canada is back, and back in a big way.

In the world of venture capital, the most noticeable sign of change has been the influx of U.S. investors seeking out early stage opportunities and backing Canadian category leaders in pursuing aggressive growth strategies. The launch of organizations such as the C100 kick-started this trend, helping secure over $400 million in cross-border venture capital since inception. These Canadian deals included industry titans such as Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Union Square Ventures (amongst others), all of whom made significant investments in Canadian start-ups in 2011.

In fact, over 30 high profile Canadian companies capitalized on this trend in the past year, numbers not approached since the heady days of the dotcom boom years. Montreal-based Beyond the Rack, Toronto-based Fixmo and Ottawa-based Shopify made the largest splashes at the end of 2011 by raising almost $80 million between them (post). However, unlike some of their turn of the century counterparts, these companies raised capital on the basis of quickly rising revenue growth curves and extremely profitable business models. There are no signs of this foreign interest abating, as strong Canadian companies looking to accelerate their path to market leadership continue to attract the attention of investors eager to back the best and brightest entrepreneurial teams, regardless of location.

” For more insights, don’t miss hearing about what the main actors have to say at the CVCA Annual Conference in Montreal, May 23 to 25.”

Early bets
Of course, it’s not just U.S. VCs who are taking advantage of the dynamic growth of the Canadian startup ecosystem. Early bets on talented entrepreneurs by CVCA members have provided the bulk of early stage financing for Canadian companies raising follow-on capital from foreign funds. Local funds have profited handsomely from this renaissance in Canadian tech startups that saw nearly $2 billion in early-stage exits in 2011 alone.
A whole new generation of talented founders is now being mentored by experienced advisors and investors through incubator/accelerators such as Vancouver’s GrowLab, Montreal’s FounderFuel and Toronto’s Extreme Startups. Events such as the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) and the GROW Conference are cementing the bonds between the Canadian entrepreneurial and investment communities, as well as providing a showcase for the talented and experienced leaders who are at the forefront of each. The foundations are now in place for an explosion of value creation over the coming few years, the rewards of which will flow back into supporting the growth of future Canadian success stories.

Canadian private equity funds have also been hard at work, reasserting their standing amongst the world’s best investors and operators in the buyout industry. Canadian firms were buoyed in 2011 by the rebound of the broader M&A market. According to data compiled by PwC’s Deals Team, Canadian deals represented 10 per cent of the global M&A market in 2011, up from seven per cent at the 2007 market peak. The overall value of Canadian acquisitions into the U.S. outpaced the value of U.S.-led deals in Canada in for the first time ever. Domestic funds were still very active in Canada, with involvement in 215 deals worth $52 billion. This represented 28 per cent of all Canadian M&A activity, measured by value, up from market share in each of the three years prior. Unlike their foreign counterparts, Canadian PE buys outpaced sales by $7 billion, signalling a robust appetite for continued growth.

Headline making deals such as CPPIB’s active participation in the $8.5-billion sale of Skype to Microsoft and OMERS Private Equity teaming up with Berkshire Partners to buy Onex Corp.’s Husky Injection Molding Systems for $2.1 billion were just a few of the transactions that propelled the Canadian PE industry to the forefront of the international stage. Low debt yields, government austerity measures, public market volatility, and a baby boomer-driven family succession wave are just a few of the factors uncovered by PwC that are expected create even more opportunities for the Canadian PE industry, proving that it indeed is a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

CVCA 2012 Conference
And now, this spring, CVCA members and industry leaders will congregate in Montreal to focus on sustaining this momentum well into the future. We will host our  industry’s outperformers. The city provides the ideal setting for such a gathering, having long served as a symbol of Canadian excellence around the world in finance,  aerospace, transportation, entertainment, commerce, technology, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and fashion.

With strong public and private sector commitments to both the VC and PE industries, Montreal is also in the midst of redefining itself as a global hub for  entrepreneurship and investment activities. Canada’s entrepreneurial capital is fostering an environment that is conducive to creating opportunities by leveraging  traditional industry expertise, access to capital and extended personal networks to carve out a global leadership position for both its entrepreneurs and investors.  Initiatives being held in Montreal the same week as the CVCA Annual conference, such as the Cirque du Soleil and Sid Lee sponsored C2MTL event, the  FounderFuel Demo Day and C100 AccelerateMTL events, are testament to the commitment of our local potential and recent performance.

In light of these developments, perhaps it is appropriate that instead of inviting others to “Think Canada,” we encourage ourselves to “Think Global.” We stand on the verge of an era in which Canadian entrepreneurs and investors can carry their domestic strength to the international arena, and stand as shining examples for the rest of the world. All eyes will be on Montreal from May 23 to 25, 2012 to see if CVCA members are indeed up to the challenge.

“We stand on the verge of an era in which Canadian entrepreneurs and investors can carry their domestic strength to the international arena – Chris Arsenault”

See you in Montreal in May!
Chris Arsenault is Co-chair of the CVCA 2012 Conference
and Managing Partner at iNovia Capital

Canadians in favour of a strong tech start-up visa

Curated content – frst published by Eric Brooke, Startup Visa Canada

When polled 72% of Canadians stated that Canada needs to stay ahead of the US in attracting entrepreneurial talent and two-thirds of Canadians (66%) think the US have the right idea with the Start-up Visa Bill. *

The Canadian start-up visa campaign wants to upgrade the immigration program to make it easier for people who want to create science and technology companies in Canada by reducing the funding needed to enter the country on the conditions that they have Canadian investors and create new jobs within a couple of years.

Eric Brooke, a campaign spokesperson “The end result should be more jobs for Canadians, stronger economic growth and a larger number of science and technology companies in Canada both large and small”

“There is a opportunity here for Canada to get ahead of the game, as the US political system does not seem to have the collective will to take this issue by the throat and encourage technology or science entrepreneurs from other countries to create businesses and jobs in the US.

Boris Wertz, an investor and co-founder of GrowLab “ Its worth remembering that 52.3%** of start-ups in the Silicon Valley are founded by immigrants, with an effective start-up-visa program maybe we can convince foreign entrepreneurs and job creators to build their companies here in Canada instead of the US. We are already falling behind countries like Chile, Singapore and Britain who have already upgraded their programs, but I believe we can learn from their programs and make ours better.”

One of Canada’s’ leading venture capital associations (CVCA) is onboard with the idea. “The direct experience of a number of our member funds that have been launched by immigrants in Canada; these funds have made enormous contributions to our industry as well as to portfolio companies and to the economic well-being of Canada” said Chris Arsenault, Director at CVCA. “Our belief that we must promote a culture of entrepreneurship in order to successfully compete in the new global economy; Canada can become a beacon, attracting the best and the brightest from across the globe”

Danny Robinson, BC Innovation Council member, Entrepreneur and investor believes there is an opportunity for the provinces to step up. “It seems to me there is a possibility for one of the provinces to create a pilot using their Provincial Nominee Program (PnP). I believe the province that upgrades their PnP first will be able to pick the best entrepreneurs. ”


In a poll conducted by Vision Critical conducted on the Angus Reid Forum, earlier this year the following results were found:-

A large majority of Canadians believe Canada could become a real hub of entrepreneurial activity in North America with the right policies in place (86%) and 72% think Canada needs to stay ahead of the US in attracting entrepreneurial talent.

Two-thirds of Canadians (66%) think the US have the right idea with the Start-up Visa Bill being introduced, with 72% agreeing that it will attract entrepreneurs to the States and 70% seeing that there could even be a risk of attracting Canadian talent as a result.

Just over two-thirds (68%) would support a Start-up Visa being introduced in Canada. (Almost three-quarters of those with University upwards education, 74%)

The majority of Canadians agree that securing Canadian investment is a reasonable alternative to requiring large sums of money in personal funs, and approaching half, 44%, realise that most start-up entrepreneurs would not have $300,000 in personal funds as per current requirements.

Half of those with university education upward agree that current processing times are too long.

Three-quarters of Canadians believe that the entrepreneur should retain at least a third of the equity in the business.

** 52.3% is from the following report page 10 table 4

Attracting foreign entrepreneurs

Canadian investors push for a Startup Visa to compete with aggressive new policies in other parts of the world

Curated content: First written for the Summer 2011 edition of the Private Capital Prive Magazine

by Chris Arsenault, iNovia Capital

No entrepreneur wants to start a business if he runs the risk of being expelled from thevery country in which it has been launched. This is the situation facing two Romanian citizens after embarking on a social network business in Vancouver. The two businessmen were participants in Vancouver’s Bootup Lab Seed Accelerator program last year, where they raised half a million dollars in venture capital for their company. They have already hired one employee and are now looking to hire a second one.

But despite their best efforts, the two men were unable to obtain an entrepreneur visa and will be forced to leave the country by the end of the year. One is in Canada on a business visa, which has already been extended twice, and the other has a work permit from another employer that lasts only until December.

“These guys were engineering interns at Google and Microsoft before they came to Vancouver,” says Boris Wertz, founder of W Media Ventures and one of their investors. “They could have gotten a job in California, but preferred to stay here and launch their own business. Instead, they have spent a third of their time trying to regularize their situation, without success.”

Current Canadian immigration rules require a foreign entrepreneur to own at least $300,000 in personal fixed assets and have no less than two years experience heading a company in order to qualify for an entrepreneur visa.

These rules do not reflect the new reality of startups launched by bright young entrepreneurs straight out of university, with little money in their pocket, like Mark Zuckerberg when he founded Facebook, says Wertz.

A new visa

That is why Wertz, along with Danny Robinson and Maura Rodgers from Bootup Entrepeneurial Society, issued a proposal to establish a new visa in Canada for foreign entrepreneurs in the knowledge-based sector.

Called Startup Visa Canada, the new scheme would require a foreign entrepreneur to raise seed capital of $150,000 from qualified venture capitalists in place of the $300,000 current personal assets requirement.

The entrepreneur would also need to get a one-third equity position in the company, be actively involved in its management and create at least three full-time equivalent jobs over the course of a two-year program period.

“There is so much talent out there, in Asia, in Europe, in Australia, (people) who might not have $300,000 in their pocket,” says Wertz. “We need to be able to attract these bright people so they can start their business here and generate wealth for Canada.”

The group began a petition and now has 400 signatures supporting the Startup Visa proposition. Signatories include more than 50 venture capital funds, such as iNovia Capital, Real Ventures and W Media Ventures, Canadian tech organizations, such as the Canadian Innovation Exchange, as well as leading Canadian entrepreneurs. A letter was also sent to Minister of Industry Tony Clement, calling on him to start a pilot-project with the new rules.

CVCA- Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association is behind the initiative as well. “We believe startups to be the driving force behind job creation and prosperity,” says executive director Richard Rémillard. “We need to be more attractive to foreign entrepreneurs.”

“We will run out of engineers, mathematicians, physicists and other knowledge industry people needed to spur innovation,” adds Jean-Sebastien Cournoyer, partner at Real Ventures,

a new $46-million seed fund created last year and backed by angels, entrepreneurs and the government of Quebec. “Innovation is global, and so is the talent. If we want to be a competitive hub for Internet companies, we must remove barriers such as this one.”

Canadian immigration rules do not reflect the new reality of startups launched by bright young entrepreneurs straight out of university, with little money in their pocket

Around the globe

Rémillard says Canada has to move quickly because aggressive legislation is being introduced elsewhere in the world to attract and retain the world’s brightest. On March 16, for instance, the British parliament approved changes to the immigration rules that came into effect on April 6.

Under the new rules, the standard investment threshold for an entrepreneur will remain at £200,000, but the government will allow high-potential businesses to come to the U.K. with £50,000 in funding from a reputable organization. As well, entrepreneurs will be allowed to enter the U.K. with their business partners so long as they have access to joint funds.

In addition, a new type of visitor visa will be created for prospective entrepreneurs coming into the U.K. They will be permitted to enter the country so that they can secure funding and make arrangements for starting their business before they transfer to an entrepreneur visa while there.

There will also be 1,000 visas per year available for “exceptional talent,” i.e. people who will be let in for three years and four months without requiring sponsorship by an employer.

Furthermore, the new rules give more flexibility to investors: they will be able to spend up to 180 days per year, rather than 90, outside the U.K. without affecting their right to settle there.

In Singapore, entrepreneurs can obtain their visas in only five weeks – compared to a year or two here in Canada – with a minimum US$50,000 investment.

In Chile, a new program lures entrepreneurs with a one-year visa and an investment of just US$40,000.

Closer to home, a Startup Visa Act was introduced in the U.S. in February 2010 by senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar. In the latest version of the bill, entrepreneurs living outside the country will get a visa if a qualified U.S. investor agrees to financially sponsor their entrepreneurial venture with a minimum investment of $100,000. Two years later, the startup must have created five new American jobs and have raised over $500,000 in financing or be generating more than $500,000 in yearly revenue.

The bill also addresses the situation surrounding workers on an H-1B visa, or graduates from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or computer science. If these graduates have an annual income of at least $30,000 or assets of at least $60,000, and have had a U.S. investor commit investment of at least $20,000 in their venture, they get a visa. Two years on, the startup must have created three new American jobs and have either raised over $100,000 in financing or generate more than $100,000 in yearly revenue.

What’s more, foreign entrepreneurs whose business has generated at least $100,000 in sales from the U.S. can get a visa. Two years later, the startup must have created three new American jobs and either have raised over $100,000 in financing or generate more than $100,000 in yearly revenue.

With rules like these, one can easily think of a situation where a bright Canadian student would prefer to launch his company in California instead of in Canada.

Many well known investors and startup promoters are behind these changes, including Brad Feld (Foundry Group), Eric Ries (IMVU), Paul Graham (Y Combinator) and even Canadian Paul Kedrosky (Kauffman Foundation). They are launching a campaign to gain political support for the bill, using social-lobbying tools to gather tweets, Facebook posts and SMS messages and hand-deliver them to Congress.

Where will Canada be when the bill gets passed?

Check out the full Summer Magazine Edition of Private Capital Privé at

A brave new world: Amid the recent industry turmoil a rash of new VC players have emerged in Canada

This post was originally written for the Private Capital Privé winter 2010 edition of the printed magazine. And was Curated for nextMontreal on November 22, 2010.

No point in letting a good crisis go to waste. Opportunity emerges during times of market challenge. At the tail end of perhaps the toughest decade that the global – and Canadian – venture capital industry has endured, a flurry of new fund managers has hit the fundraising trail in Canada and successfully raised first-time funds.

It takes guts, and patience, to launch a new venture at times like these. You may have heard that the venture industry in Canada has been declining for years, that LPs are ‘pruning’ managers rather than adding new ones, and that raising a new fund is nothing short of a suicide mission. Nonetheless, you can’t say that entrepreneurial spirit and guts are not alive and well in the Canadian venture capital industry.

Compelling market opportunities, good teams, and perseverance in a difficult fundraising environment is paying off for a new generation of emerging VC managers in Canada.  In more than one way, we are witnessing the re-birth of the Canadian venture capital industry.

Canada has always been, and continues to be, a venture market that is dramatically underserved by capital, and so there is plenty of room for new entrants – indigenous, entrepreneurial and from outside our borders. Over the last year, against all odds, a new generation of emerging “entrepreneurial investors” teamed up around specific domains and market segments, built strong teams the same way a startup builds an A-team, and launched into a world of opportunities and chaos.

Impressive accomplishments on the fundraising trail by upstart GPs has created a dramatically changed landscape in Canadian venture capital.  Not to belittle the effort, it should be pointed out that some of these debut funds were on the money raising trail for a few years.  And now we have a whole new crop of opportunities being pursued, by a whole new crop of new venture investors.  Global digital media funds, global water business funds, expansion capital where none existed before in Canada, to name a few.

Vanedge Capital

Capital: $100M first closing

First Close:  May 2010

Partner Locations:  Vancouver and Shanghai

Investment Focus: Digital media

Sources of Capital: Numerous Canadian and foreign institutional, corporate and private LPs.

Team: Paul Lee is the former president of Electronic Arts responsible for the worldwide studios, as well as an active and successful angel investor. Glenn Entis is the former chief visual and technical officer of Electronic Arts and former CEO of Dreamworks Interactive.  Divesh Sisodraker is the former CFO of Taleo Corporation, former CEO of Pivotal Corporation and former finance head at ALI Technologies (McKesson).  Jason Chein is former general manager of EA China and former Asia developer relations with Microsoft’s Xbox group.

XPV Partners

Capital: $100M+

First Close:  February 2010

Partner Locations:  Toronto

Investment Focus: Water technologies and water-related businesses

Sources of Capital: Canadian and International institutions.

Team: XPV’s team is a marriage of investment expertise, sector knowledge and deep industry operating experience.

“Tenacity, focus and an enormous team effort has positioned XPV to capitalize on the growing investment opportunities now present in the water sector,” said David Henderson.

Georgian Partners

Capital: $50M+, first closing

First Close: July 2010

Partner Locations: Toronto

Investment Focus: Growth equity firm investing in expansion and later-stage enterprise software and information aggregation companies.

Sources of Capital: Institutional investors form Canada and the U.S.

Team: Georgian Partners Justin LaFayette, Simon Chong and John Berton; all have hands-on experience in operating and managing expansion stage technology ventures.

Tandem Expansion

Capital: $300M first close

First Close: November 2009

Partner Locations:  Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver

Investment Focus:  Later-stage Canadian technology companies

Sources of Capital:  Anchored by commitments from BDC, EDC and Teralys, which sponsored the formation of Tandem in collaboration with two of Canada’s best- known business leaders.

Team: Tandem’s managing partners – David Bookbinder, Andre Gauthier, Christopher Legg and Alex Moorhead – all have significant investment and entrepreneurial experience domestically and internationally.

“Tandem is the only Canadian based growth equity fund, this give us a unique advantage in both sourcing and working closely with our portfolio companies,” said  Christopher Legg.

Mantella Venture Partners

Capital: $20M

First Close:  March 2010

Partner Locations:  Toronto

Focus: Invest in domain expert entrepreneurs who are building early stage mobile and Internet software companies, surrounding them with an ecosystem of experienced operators to get their ideas from conception to market.

Sources of Capital: A family owned commercial and residential real estate developer

Team: The main investment partners are Robin Axon and Duncan Hill. Robin is ex-Ventures West and Duncan was an EiR at Ventures West and previously founded Think Dynamics (acquired by IBM back in 2003).

“At MantellaVP we believe strongly in maintaining alignment between founders and investors. We work shoulder to shoulder with entrepreneurs to build their business, and provide the right capital at the right time. This ensures that at all stages of the company’s evolution, a good outcome for the founders is a good outcome for everyone,” said Duncan Hill.

Real Ventures

Capital: $50M initial closing

First Close: October 2010

Partner Locations:  Montreal

Investment Focus: Seed stage venture capital firm investing in Internet, software, mobile, digital media, social and casual gaming startups.

Sources of Capital: Invest Quebec, Fonds FTQ and private LPs

Team: John Stokes, JS Cournoyer, Alan MacIntosh, Mark MacLeod, Austin Hill and Daniel Drouet, who have all been entrepreneurs, angels and/or VCs.

“The Web and mobile web are creating major disruption, incumbents are being challenged and new markets being created. The productizing and commercialization of ideas can be done with significantly less capital and as innovation is becoming harder to realize internally, established companies are using acquisitions to fuel revenue growth…what a great time to be starting a business … or a venture fund!” said John Stokes.

W Media Ventures

Capital: undisclosed

First Close: Started investing in November 2007

Partner Locations:  Vancouver

Investment Focus: Consumer Internet, social media, online commerce

Sources of Capital: personal investment fund of sole partner, Boris Wertz

W Media has completed over 20 investments to date, with a majority done in the Pacific Northwest. WMedia also has a unique connection with Vancouver based Bootup Labs.

Incubators 2.0 (aka “Accelerators”):

In the late 1990s, the first wave of private incubators arrived on the scene in Canada, emulating the models of their U.S. counterparts.  A few short years later, precipitated by the technology and equity market implosion, this part of the Canadian venture and startup eco-system entered extinction. Various government programs attempted to fill some of the gaps in providing services (but usually not capital) to the new generation of post-bubble era technology startups.  Now, nearly a decade later, with an explosion of new startup activity in Canada’s major technology clusters in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, a new wave of entrepreneurially driven accelerators – such as Montreal StartUp, Vancouver’s Bootup Labs, Ontario’s BaseCamp (Mantella-related), Extreme Ventures NeoTech, Bolidea and newly-launched Year One Labs  – are taking the Canadian startup landscape by storm.

Newcomers such as these are helping build a more savvy roster of entrepreneurs eager to attract follow-on financing from VCs. Some are already generating exits before VCs have an opportunity to get a seat at the table; witness Extreme’s two visible exits, one to Google and the other to Electronic Arts, within its first few years in operation. All provide hands-on support at every stage of a company’s creation and growth – from business development and marketing to financing and team development – to help facilitate early market traction. Oh yeah, and some also have cash, which, not surprisingly, still matters an awful lot to most startups, even if the amounts they need are smaller.

Silicon Valley comes calling:

Not alone in their optimism for the Canadian investment landscape, the new crop of Canadian venture capital players are also joined by a number of new entrants from the Silicon Valley who are exhibiting keen interest in the Canada.  In each case, there is knowledge of the Canadian market opportunity owing to one or more partners having roots in Canada.

Altos Ventures, Bridgescale Ventures and Panorama Capital – all Sandhill Road firms – have made investments in Canadian companies during 2010.  All three firms focus on expansion-stage venture financing, while making selective earlier-stage investments on occasion. The deals being done by these Valley funds split quite evenly between Western Canada and central Canada. What is most striking is the visibly increasing commitment of partner time to the Canadian market. In the case of Bridgescale, two Canadian-based partners have been added, both in Toronto, including the October 2010 announcement that Derek Smyth – the final partner remaining at now defunct Edgestone Venture Capital – was joining the Bridgescale team.  Bridgescale is the first Silicon Valley firm to locate partners in Canada.  A betting man might wager that they won’t be the last.

This fall, Silicon Valley’s technology accelerator on steroids, Plug and Play Tech Center, announced expansion plans into Canada.  CEO Saeed Amidi made the announcement at a private gathering in Vancouver (where he also happens to have a second home), stating a keen personal interest in “strengthening and leveraging the bridge between Canada’s technology sector and Plug and Play’s industry and venture capital network in the Valley.”   Virtually every major technology company in the acquisition game, and a list of venture capital funds that appears only in the wildest dreams of most Canadian entrepreneurs, is partnered in some way with Plug and Play in Sunnyvale, California. Plug and Play plans to set up shop in Vancouver in 2011 and its venture arm Amidzad Ventures, which has seed funded dozens of Valley startups including major players such as PayPal, comes along with the deal.

Canada goes calling in China.  Russia comes calling in Canada:

With only a few short years into a landmark fund structure involving a major corporate capital commitment from Research In Motion, alongside commitments from U.S. and Canadian institutional LPs, the Black Berry fund managers – a new partnership between JLA Ventures and RBC Capital – announced the first closing of a new Blackberry Partners China Fund.  With $100M+ in initial commitments, this vintage 2010 fund represents a first in Canadian venture capital – a Canadian venture fund manager successfully establishing an international fund. Interestingly, VanEdge Capital, which closed during the same month as Blackberry China, also has designs on Asia, and one of its initial three partners is based in Shanghai. Previous attempts to establish funds with an Asian focus, including efforts over the past decade by private independent managers such as McLean Watson and even the Canadian government’s own BDC Venture Capital, have not taken flight.

More evidence of the growing international presence of Canadian venture capital is found in the Russian-Canadian partnership led by Rusnano, who has recently announced plans to partner with John Varghese, CEO and managing partner of Canadian venture fund manager VentureLink. Varghese plans on assembling a new nano-technology focused fund that will pursue investments from a Canadian base. Is this a sign? A new direction for Venture Capital? A new Canadian reality? The Fund will invest in Canadian companies that have the potential for global expansion. The wrinkle or added benefit of the partnership with Rusnano is that each investment will have a corporate sponsor in Russia prior to the first investment being made. Thus the go-to market strategy of each company will be established with a customer that can be referenced, facilitating global expansion.  Can we say procurement assistance?

Domain expertise, cross-border partnerships, a growing network of valuable industry and private capital relationships, value-added support, seed acceleration facilities and teams: these are all trends gripping Canadian venture capital.  A brave new world – with brave new leaders – is evolving, and fast.

Co-written by Chris Arsenault and Steve Hnatiuk

NOTE: this post was originally written for the Private Capital Privé winter 2010 edition of the printed magazine. And was Curated for nextMontreal.

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