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  • 24 Nov 2023 by Ashima Gupta


    Every successful startup has a team of individuals at its core, and their dynamics can determine the fate of the venture. In our previous blog, "Why the Founding Team Takes Centre Stage for Angels.", we talked about why founding teams are crucial for angel investors, and how they play a significant role in deciding whether to invest in a startup. Angel investors understand that investing in a startup is not only about a great idea but also about the people driving that idea forward. They know that a startup's success often depends on the founders' capabilities and the cohesion of their team. Evaluating a startup team is both an art and a science, and it involves looking beyond resumes, understanding collaboration intricacies, and appreciating the stories that shape founders' visions.

    This blog takes it a step further, exploring the qualities that make startup founders and their teams appealing to angel investors. We'll also touch on various tools and frameworks that angel investors can use to evaluate seed-stage startup teams.

    When investing in seed-stage startups, angel investors should tailor the due diligence process. Here are some key considerations for assessing the founders, their team, and their HR systems.

    Founder and Team Background:

    For angel investors, getting to know the team behind a startup before making any investment decisions is crucial. Angels should consider the team's educational and professional background, skills, and experiences, and how they align with the startup's specific industry and market. Understanding the team's strengths and how they can contribute to the startup's success is vital in deciding whether to invest.

    Another critical factor to consider is the founders' entrepreneurial experience and track record in their previous ventures. Investors should examine their successes, failures, and the lessons learned. Having the experience of running a successful business is obviously ideal because they understand the path to scaling and exiting a business. However, building a business that ultimately fails is still extremely valuable because many important lessons are learned along the way.

    Platforms such as LinkedIn, AngelList, and Crunchbase offer valuable insights, while reference checks from previous employers and industry contacts provide a deeper understanding of the team's work ethic and leadership qualities. Investors can browse through individual profiles to gain insights into their expertise, previous roles, and the strength of their professional networks. 


    Roles and Responsibilities:

    Team Dynamics play a significant role in achieving success. The best teams have a collaborative spirit and each member contributes unique skills to the shared vision. Examining how team members complement each other in terms of skills and responsibilities is essential. As Helen Keller once said, "Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much." Seeking out such teams will only increase the likelihood of successfully executing the company vision. Therefore, investors should assess not only individual competencies but also how well the team works together as a collaborative unit.

    Investors can use Team Assessment Frameworks like Belbin Team Role theory or Tuckman's Stages of Group Development to assess team dynamics, identify roles within the team, and evaluate how well the team collaborates and resolves conflicts. It’s also a great idea to visit the team’s physical office or factory and speak with some of the other leaders and long-standing employees if they have a physical location.

    Adaptability and Learning Ability:

    In the dynamic world of startups, adaptability, and learning ability set successful teams apart from those that fall behind. So assessing the team's ability to adapt to changing circumstances and market conditions is essential. A team that embraces challenges as learning opportunities is better equipped to navigate the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. Learning orientation and resilience are also crucial for a startup team. They are like the silent engine that propels a startup through challenges. Angel investors should seek founders who view setbacks, not as roadblocks, but as opportunities to learn, adapt and emerge stronger. In the words of Winston Churchill, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." It is essential to determine how quickly the team can learn from mistakes and iterate on their strategies. The hallmark of a growth-oriented team is the ability to learn from past failures. Investors should be inclined to work with founders who openly discuss their past mistakes, demonstrate an ability to overcome challenges, and are committed to continuous improvement. As Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." 

    To test a startup team's adaptability and learning ability, angels can provide feedback during due diligence and observe how the team responds to a new perspective. Additionally, they can ask the team about instances where they had to pivot or iterate on their business model to assess their openness to change. In both cases, angels are looking for founders and teams that have humility. 

    Network and Relationships:

    When assessing a startup company, one of the most important factors to consider is the team's industry connections, advisors, and mentors. It's crucial to evaluate how well they can leverage their network for the benefit of the business. Additionally, the quality and relevance of the advisors or mentors associated with the team should be taken into account. Starting a business can be a challenging journey, but it's easier when supported by experienced mentors who can guide the startup through key milestones. For angel investors, it's important to find founders who are open to feedback and are willing to learn. Being coachable is crucial, indicating that the team can set their egos aside and adjust their strategy accordingly with new information and advice. Milestones are not just accomplishments; they are also indicators of progress and their capability to hit future milestones. 

    Decision-Making Process:

    Investors should scrutinize the decision-making process when assessing a team's leadership styles. They evaluate the decisions made and the thought processes and strategic thinking underpinning them. To understand this process, it's important to know the decision-making structure within the team and how major decisions are reached. Assessing the team's risk tolerance and ability to make informed and calculated decisions is vital.

    Scenario analysis is a powerful tool for due diligence, allowing investors to test a team's problem-solving abilities and strategic thinking. By presenting hypothetical scenarios, it's possible to gauge how the team would navigate the unpredictable twists and turns of the business landscape. Investors can also look to the financial model to see how different scenarios play out and should discuss the various contingency plans the team has in place. 

    Commitment and Passion:

    Investors should assess the level of commitment and passion that the founder(s) and team have for the problem they are solving. The intangible yet powerful qualities of commitment and passion anchor a team's journey. Full-time involvement, personal investment, and a profound understanding of the target customer showcase a mindset crucial for success. A team that goes beyond surface-level analysis and dives deep into market insights should be highly valued by investors. As Steve Jobs noted, "Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves." Investors should not just look for a great product; they should look for a great market. A team that understands its target market's size, potential, and nuances demonstrates a strategic mindset crucial for sustainable growth. 

    When conducting due diligence on startup teams, it is crucial to explore beyond surface-level information. This involves delving into intangible factors that contribute to a team's success. Angel investors who possess the skills for team due diligence not only make sound investments but also have a better chance of nurturing successful and long-lasting relationships with the founders. 

    Raymond To, who is an award-winning recruiter, HR advisor, angel investor, and passionate supporter of startups with 32 years of experience, advises that engaging in open and transparent communication with the founders and the team is the key to diving deeper into a company. He is an active member of eFund and has invested in companies like INETCO, lifebooster, and Netskrt. Here are a few approaches that Raymond recommends for assessing teams:

    • When evaluating a company, approach it like a hiring process. It could be a friendly chat where you interview the founders and the team. Don't worry if you're not an expert interviewer. You can always ask other experts for help or develop good questions and ask yourself, "What are the good answers I expect?". Remember, nobody's perfect, so it's not about finding the perfect team but finding a team whose flaws you can live with.

    • Using assessment tools or asking the founders how they build their team and develop their people can help you uncover any blind spots. This is a great way to learn more about the company and how it operates.

    • Finally, don't worry too much about the HR and recruitment systems. Knowing that the company has those systems in place is a great start. The most important thing is understanding how the team uses those systems and how they align with the business objectives. This way, you can see if they fit your needs well.

  • 20 Oct 2023 by Ashima Gupta

    The world of startup investing is constantly changing, but there are two major investor groups in this space that remain constant: Angel investors and venture capitalists (VCs). Both are key in helping early-stage businesses grow and succeed, but they have different areas of focus and expectations. This blog takes a closer look at why the founding team is the main focus for most Angel investors.


    Angel investors typically engage with startups during the pre-seed and seed stages, which are critical phases in a startup's journey towards refining its prototype, testing it in the market, and validating its business plan. At this stage, founders face inherent uncertainty and risk. They make multiple hypotheses, experiment with different approaches, and adapt to the lessons they learn. For Angel investors, a primary focus is therefore on the founding team’s ability to pivot, adapt, and drive necessary changes.


    In the realm of entrepreneurship, generating ideas is often the easy part, while transforming those ideas into successful businesses requires a unique set of skills and a lot of resilience. Angel investors recognize that a brilliant idea is only as good as the team behind it. The founding team's experience, skills, and track record are essential factors that help determine their potential for transforming their vision into a profitable reality.


    When seeking investment, founders should strive to possess certain qualities that appeal to Angel investors. 


    In the early stages of a startup's journey, the spotlight often shines on the founding team's ability to navigate the turbulent waters of entrepreneurship. Angel investors primarily focus on the people behind the business, recognizing that this phase is marked by hypothesis testing, market validation, and change. At this juncture, roughly 75-80% of the investment decision hinges on the founders. While ideas are in constant flux, an agile team can pivot and adapt to changes. Therefore, founding teams at the Pre-Seed/Seed stage must be open to change, whether it involves shifting the target market, modifying the product, or even altering the entire business model. Founders must be humble enough to accept when their initial hypotheses prove incorrect and be willing to explore new directions. 


    Angel investors seek founders who are passionate, innovative, agile, and willing to embrace change.


    When evaluating a founding team, Angel investors consider four critical factors: business and sales skills, industry knowledge and experience, technical expertise, and startup experience. These are the foundation upon which a startup's success is built. 


    1. Business and Sales Skills: Founders must excel at selling their vision to customers, employees, investors, and partners.

    2. Industry Knowledge and Experience: A deep understanding of the target industry and customer is critical for gaining traction and navigating challenges.

    3. Technical Expertise: Demonstrating the capability to develop the envisioned product and continue to innovate is vital.

    4. Startup Experience: Knowing and overcoming the inherent challenges of running a startup goes a very long way to giving investors confidence in the founding team’s ability to execute.


    While it is ideal for a founding team to cover these areas comprehensively, only some teams can check all of these boxes. Supplementing the team with the right advisors and experts is the next best option to ensure these areas are covered. These external relationships also help validate the startup. When potential investors see a respected industry expert or advisor endorsing the business, it enhances the startup's credibility. Consequently, having strong advisors and a robust network can provide a significant advantage for any startup.


    Investors recommend having multiple founders for a business to increase its chances of success. While a solo founder can certainly succeed, certain risks can be mitigated by having multiple founders. For example, having more than one founder reduces the risk of the company failing because a single individual gives up when faced with challenges. Additionally, it lightens the entrepreneurial load for any one person and reduces the likelihood of burnout. Therefore, entrepreneurs should consider finding a co-founder or two, to ensure all areas of the business are covered and to increase investor confidence.


    As a startup progresses from the Pre-Seed and Seed stages to Series A and beyond, the focus shifts towards scaling the business and making strategic decisions for growth. Angel investors prioritize the founding team's ability to navigate early uncertainties, while venture capitalists enter the scene when a business has been validated and exhibits potential for accelerated growth. While venture capitalists still value the capabilities of the founding team, they put greater emphasis on the business and the market. It is not uncommon for venture capitalists to bring in experienced executives to help take the business to the next level and seize new opportunities. 

    While the focus of Angels and VCs may differ, both can agree that the founding team is the driving force behind early-stage success and is critical to shaping the future of the business, regardless of how long they steer the ship. Therefore, finding a passionate, agile and well-rounded leadership team just makes sense.


  • 22 Sep 2023 by Ashima Gupta

    We are thrilled to share that VANTEC has formed strategic partnerships with Sales Primer and Volition. We warmly welcome Colin McWhinnie and Chris Stairs from Sales Primer, as well as Paul Brassard and his team from Volition, to our community. These partnerships aim to contribute to the investor-readiness of companies that present at VANTEC in two key areas. 


    Founder Support: VANTEC constantly seeks new ways to support founders in presenting their innovation in a way that investors will find compelling. Our collaboration with Sales Primer and Volition aims to equip founders with the tools and expertise to craft investor-ready pitches, ensuring their ideas capture investor's attention and confidence. 


    Elevating Investor Experiences: These synergistic partnerships will also play a pivotal role in delivering on our commitment to provide our esteemed member investors with high-quality deal flows and the most promising startups. 


    Synergy with Volition

    Volition offers personalized advisory services and educational programs to help startups rise and thrive. They provide founders with the resources, support, and expertise they need to succeed and become investment-ready. Through our partnership with Volition, we can help presenting companies improve their investment readiness and align their strategies with investor expectations by leveraging Volition's extensive experience in pitch coaching and preliminary due diligence. Our collaboration will include dynamic Pitch Roundtables and Follow-on 1:1 Coaching to provide tailored guidance to founders. By improving the quality of their pitches and presentations, founders can build confidence with investors when pitching at VANTEC monthly meetings and increase their chances of attracting investment.


    Paul Brassard, Managing Partner of Volition, says, "Through this partnership, we are dedicated to equipping startups with the skills, knowledge, and support they need to succeed in today's competitive fundraising landscape while increasing investor confidence and thus interest in investing in the companies presenting." 



    Instagram: @thisisvolition 

    Twitter: @thisisvolition 


    Synergy with Sales Primer

    With years of experience designing successful revenue strategies, the Sales Primer™ program and its accompanying application can assist business founders and sales leaders in creating a dependable and consistent sales engine that will attract customers and quickly generate revenue. It provides a variety of tools and insights to help businesses develop repeatable sales processes and scalable traction, as well as training and support to achieve these goals. As a VANTEC partner, Sales Primer will assist founders in both ensuring they have a repeatable and scalable sales engine, and  communicating their sales traction to potential investors. 


     Chris Stairs, Managing Partner, Sales Primer, expresses, "Helping Founders understand what it takes to achieve repeatable sales and scalable traction is our passion. We're especially pleased to have VANTEC Angel Network approach us to provide our Sales Primer "Sales-Readiness" content for their participating Founders. It's great to be recognized as a valuable resource for entrepreneurs in the BC market. "




    We are fully committed to showcasing the most promising startups. Our partnership with Sales Primer and Volition will help us to elevate your investing experience with more investment ready pitches.

  • 28 Aug 2023 by Ashima Gupta

    When it comes to startups, angel investors are the unsung heroes who do so much more than provide financial backing. They help shape the entrepreneurial landscape and propel society towards progress. This blog explores the realm of angel investing, its rewards, benefits to the startup ecosystem, and its vital role in fostering societal growth. Let's dive in!

    Understanding Angel Investment: A Snapshot

    In the dynamic and cutting-edge realm of entrepreneurship and innovation, startups often need financial support to bring their groundbreaking ideas to fruition. In such situations, it is often angel investors that step up and provide much-needed capital to these early-stage startups, typically in exchange for equity ownership or convertible debt. These investors, who put forth their personal funds, are often seasoned entrepreneurs, industry experts, or professionals eager to support promising ventures. Angel investments are often the first outside capital invested and can occur as early as the concept or pre-commercialization stage of the business. This is often a time when traditional funding sources are often in short supply or are not willing to take on this level of risk.

    The Rewards Angels Reap

    You may have different motivations as an investor. You might want to maximize monetary wealth by investing in the asset class with the highest risk reward ratio, seek non-economic rewards, or have altruistic motivations of supporting entrepreneurs whose vision aligns with your values. Investing in startups as an angel investor can be financially rewarding, but it also allows you to be a part of the exciting entrepreneurial journey. You can provide valuable guidance, industry knowledge, and access to your network to help founders overcome challenges and efficiently scale their business. This active involvement significantly increases the chances of success of both the company and your investment.

    Societal Impact and Progress

    The ripple effects of angel investments extend far beyond the realm of startups. When startups succeed, they introduce new products, services, and technologies that address societal challenges, improve efficiencies, and enhance the overall quality of life. Angel investments directly contribute to the expansion of these startups, creating more employment opportunities and a brighter future for all. Successful founders often reinvest in their communities and give back through various initiatives, including becoming angel investors themselves.

    Let's explore How Angel Investing Works 

    Getting started with angel investing can be daunting, but we're here to help you navigate this exciting world of innovation and opportunity. Let's explore the potential for financial growth and adventure. The angel investment process involves several key steps:

    1. Deal Sourcing: Having good deal flow is crucial for finding great companies to invest in. As an angel, you identify investment opportunities through personal networks, referrals, startup events, incubators/accelerators, or specialized communities like VANTEC that connect investors with startups seeking funding.

    2. Due Diligence: The art of due diligence is something that angel investors refine over time. Each investor will weigh different aspects of a business differently, and it is up to you to figure out what you think creates the optimal conditions for success. Perspective is an important asset when assessing a business and discussing amongst your peer angel investors and with the different stakeholders of a business can help you gain perspective - it also makes due diligence more fun! 

    It is not difficult to find templates online for what should be included in a company’s data room or in a due diligence report, but knowing how to analyze a business comes with practice. To get you started, here are a few things we suggest you pay attention to when analyzing a company: the experience, technical expertise and industry knowledge of the founding team and their advisors; a well researched and comprehensive plan; strong tailwinds that support the timing of the venture; and clear market validation.

    1. Negotiation and Investment: One of the most difficult aspects of angel investing is negotiating fair valuations and terms for investment. When getting started as an angel investor, it is usually best to focus on finding companies with great potential and leave the negotiations to experienced angels or investment funds. Over time you will learn what terms you like and dislike. Finding a mentor that can teach you this side of angel investing or asking the lead investor to explain their rationale for the valuation and proposed terms is a great way to learn.

    2. Mentoring and Support: Beyond capital infusion, angels play a significant role in company growth by providing guidance, mentorship, and industry insights to the startup.  Strategic advice and introductions to potential customers and partners can be the difference maker for a startup. Even if you don’t have the expertise or experience to help the startup yourself, perhaps someone in your network does. Therefore, the bigger your network becomes, the more value you can create.  

    3. Exit Strategy: An exit is when a company provides liquidity for their investors. This is usually achieved through an acquisition by another company, taking the company public on a stock exchange or by the company buying the shares back from their investors. Since, as an angel, you are getting in at the ground floor of a business, there is usually a fairly long expected time horizon attached to an investment at this stage. 5-10 years is fairly typical for a successful exit, but it can take less or more time, depending on market conditions and the growth rate of the business.  


    Angel investments are a testament to the symbiotic relationship between experienced individuals and aspiring entrepreneurs. Beyond financial gains, angel investors bring expertise, mentorship and passion to the startups they support. Their contributions are the lifeblood of innovation, propelling the startup ecosystem forward and shaping a brighter future for society. As the startup landscape continues to evolve, the role of angel investors remains pivotal in driving progress and fostering a culture of innovation.

    The world of angel investing is exciting and rewarding, and our team at VANTEC is here to help you every step of the way. We offer a variety of exclusive benefits to our members, such as pre-screened deals, due diligence resources, opportunities to build your network of peer investors and more. Let's take the first step together and schedule a call to discover the endless possibilities that are waiting for you in our wonderful community. Reach out to us at

  • 09 Mar 2021 by Frank Leffelaar


    Not all startup pitch decks are created equal, and that’s a good thing. Each should be unique, like the innovation, business and founder that it presents. The truth is – and we’ve all seen it – there’s a fair share of pitches that fall short or flat. How to master a winning pitch deck for angel investors comes down to how the most relevant information is presented.

    There is certainly no lack of advice on what makes the perfect pitch. While the fundamental elements are similar, largely focused on core content, many best practices for preparation and design are often overlooked. These can help a pitch standout and win over angels!  Here are some practical reminders of how to improve startup pitch decks, especially when preparing first-time pitches:


    Make the Audience the Hero

    When it comes time to pitch for funding, early-stage tech entrepreneurs are often fixated on presenting data and functionalities that they want to share. But these facts are not enough for investors to get behind an idea. Remember, the speaker is not the hero of the pitch but the guide. So, founders should approach it with the audience in mind, that is - what prospective angels would want to know and how to engage them. For tech founders looking to raise seed capital for early-stage startups in British Columbia, get to know the province’s top five angel investor groups before pitching. 


    Connect with a Story

    It’s a well-known fact, a story is the glue that connects an audience to a presentation, and it activates a higher retention rate far more than features alone. Rather than focusing on an overwhelming stream of sterile details, presenters would do well to narrate their pitch with a purposeful and relatable story around the founder’s experience with the problem, the unique solution, and attractive opportunity. By bringing the audience on a journey through the pitch, angel investors may find it both memorable and motivating. 


    Frame the Message with Great Design

    When founders get caught up in a laundry list of facts/features, the look and feel of the pitch deck is often a lower priority and neglected.  No matter how great the content may be, a low-quality deck design can erode credibility. For details to be persuasive and clear, a pitch needs to look polished and professional to engage the audience. Having an original design that can deliver the story’s most compelling points should be a higher priority when preparing a pitch.

    Therefore, it is essential that tech founders choose the best design – with a modern and progressive visual quality - to frame their pitch. Generally, PowerPoint is the commonly known and used tool because of the large pool of free or premium PowerPoint templates as a starting point.  But there are a variety of other presentation software to consider, such as Google Slides (handy for co-creating), Ludus, Keynote, Slidebean, etc.

    Ideally, a startup should create a master template that is unique to their brand style. More importantly, the framework layout for slides should follow a cohesive design with a consistent style format (fonts, icons, alignment, spacing, columns, image cropping, etc.). A mix-and-match approach on every slide is unappealing and challenging to follow. With a good design template, adding (and limiting) content will be much easier. 

     Some core slide etiquette tips to follow:


    • A base of 2-3 highlight colours and fonts (<30 pts) that compliments the product/service.
    • Graphical motifs or image textures of a brand. 
    • High quality images (same look/feel) only.
    • Unique icons as sub-titles and instead of plain bullets.
    • 16:9 format ratio, optimized for YouTube, devices, and websites.
    • Subtle page numbers.  


    • A black or dark background. Text, images and graphics show up better on a light background.
    • Fancy special effects or animations that distract.
    • Too many slide transitions.
    • Small, hard-to-read text.
    • Too many images on one slide or textless images on all slides.
    • Spreadsheets or tables. Instead, shape data with infographic elements.


    Keep It Simple and Clean. Less Is More 

    The dreaded overcrowded slide with a volume of confusing facts is usually the main reason for loosing an audience’s attention. The key to a successful pitch is to know what to leave out.  Whether it’s a 2 or 5-minute pitch, startups should realize the importance of brevity and aim to condense details down to pivotal differentiators that are presented in a simple and clean manner. The goal should be to increase the likelihood that investors will take the next step and leave the nitty-gritty facts for an angel’s due diligence stage. 

    One might argue that a listicle or point form style offers more advantages than full sentences. Using simple, bite-sized phrases that are easy to digest allows investors to listen to the presenter rather than reading long sentences. There’s also nothing worse than too many bullet points on one slide; therefore, sticking to three highlights is better. The trick is to craft each bullet like it was a punchy caption or a headline. Just as important – avoid the urge to display large tables of data. Instead, transform key numbers into a graphical format for easy consumption and to draw viewers to a focal point. 

    As for images, they should only be included if they are high quality, self explanatory, and reinforce a point. Resist using image cliches to fill space, like the handshake or thumbs up. It’s often better to have more white space then overburden slides with large or the wrong pictures. When it comes to images, size matters; therefore, keep the file size down while maintaining a good resolution (<1000 pixels and < 500 bytes at 96 dpi). 

    Unless it’s necessary, don’t insert a video.  For one thing, a video can eat up precious pitch time, especially if it fails to launch. Be mindful of display efficiencies, that slides load quickly and are readable on any device. Both can be achieved by making the slide deck available in a PDF that is under 10 mb for investors or a pitch event. Bottom line - keep it simple and clean! Be straightforward. In a pitch, less is more.


    Balance the Number of Slides 

    The slide deck is the backdrop for the pitch, not the script! Too many slides are a red flag. So, in addition to designing a minimalist deck to get a story across, angel-ready startups need to find the right balance in the number of slides. Easier said than done, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s safe to say that 10 slides in a 1-minute elevator pitch or 20 slides in a 2-minute pitch is too much! The ideal number for an appointed timeframe will depend on how the concepts and story of the pitch unfolds when designing the presentation. 

    All of this said, our best advice is to continue finessing the slides and script until the optimal number of slides is achieved to prompt interest. Think quality over quantity. For a 5-minute pitch, aim for 10 slides and each slide should be dedicated to one topic. At the end of the day, a good presenter needs to accept when enough is enough and respect the assigned timeframe. 

    Core content for a startup pitch deck:

    • Title slide - executive introduction
    • Customer problem or pain
    • Solution - value proposition
    • Magic - tech innovation
    • Market Opportunity – business model
    • Go-to market – strategy & plan
    • Competitive Advantage
    • Team – management, mentors & advisors
    • Financials – key metrics & projections
    • The Ask – raising & using funds

     Reference: Guy Kawasaki’s The Only 10 Slides You Need In Your Pitch.


    Tap into Presentation Design Expertise 

    Many tech founders tend to be skilled scientists or engineers, not marketers. Despite their best efforts, reimagining their business in a contemporary and story telling presentation is generally not their strength or expertise. If no other team member has the skill to build a standout presentation, then they need to find a creative professional that can upgrade and elevate the pitch deck.  In the perfect world, use a marketer with presentation expertise who has experience in the startup space and is closely familiar with the nuances of pitches. 

    Aside from the time savings for busy entrepreneurs, outsourcing the design or redesign of the pitch deck has many advantages. For one thing, a talented marketing expert is not emotionally attached to the material, so they can customize a fresh and streamlined approach. They also have an arsenal of creative software to enhance the slide deck. If delivering presentations is also not a natural strength for a founder, then use the same marketing specialist to fine tune the voice and style, along with coaching tips on the script or delivery.


    Practice Makes Perfect 

    It may be obvious, but it never hurts to check, check and double check all the content in the pitch. In addition to knowing the material well, there is no such thing as practicing too much or over preparing. Make dry runs in front of business mentors, coaches and advisors to get valuable feedback.  

    Covid-protocols may make it more efficient for startups to pitch online, but it doesn’t mean that presenters should read their pitch script or their slides verbatim behind the camera. In order for investors to get behind a startup, they want to be convinced that founders can deliver results. Founders that can speak about their business with confidence and passion in a short pitch is an important first impression. 

    At the end of the day, startups need to invest in the time, effort and budget to achieve a pitch perfect slide deck. This is especially true of first-time pitches. It’s not enough to just share a great idea and cover a check list of required content. A winning startup pitch deck needs to be designed and prepared to impress investors. Following the above proven pitch deck best practices will improve the chances of capturing the attention of angels. There’s no substitute for getting it right from the start!

  • 22 Feb 2021 by Frank Leffelaar


    For BC tech founders looking to raise seed capital for their early-stage startups, the top five angel investor groups in the tech innovation ecosystem to consider are: VANTEC Angel Network and its member angel funds WUTIF Capital and eFund, Vancouver Angel Forum, and the Keiretsu Forum Vancouver Chapter. These organizations are actively helping high potential ventures in British Columbia to reach and connect with experienced angel funders.


    Angel Investors

    When startups seek capital – beyond sweat equity, money from family & friends, government grants, or crowd sourced investments – angel investors are often the next source of funding for companies with a promising technology. A growing number of wealthy professionals are boosting startups with their expertise, connections and capital because of their interest in i) supporting local entrepreneurs, ii) fostering innovative technology, and iii) making an early bet on an investment that may yield a big return if the company succeeds. In 2019, Canadian angels invested a total of $163.9 million in emerging opportunities. (source: Canadian angel investing set a 10-year record, Investment Executive)

    Generally speaking, angels are high net worth individuals who qualify as an Accredited Investor*. They invest privately – on their own or with a group or fund - with their own money in early-stage businesses, typically in exchange for an equity position and with hopes of a lucrative 10x return in 7-9 years (but it often takes longer) through an exit.  Exits may be a merger, acquisition or a public offering (IPO).

    There are no hard and fast rules about how angels assess companies and conduct due diligence. Saying that, they often enjoy getting to know companies in a space that they are passionate about and they tend to seek out entrepreneurs in their local region or community. Furthermore, they can be seasoned entrepreneurs themselves. Although an angel’s key role is to inject financial support, they also have the potential to provide expertise and/or social capital, that is - their valuable network of connections. Seed funding from angels can vary from 10’s of thousands to hundreds of thousands, or super angels’ investments can be a million or more.

    *See National Instrument 45-106 for the definition and requirements of an Accredited Investor in Canada (source: BC Securities Commission)


    BC Angel Investor Groups

    While entrepreneurs think it is a challenge to find the right investors, private investors also feel it is a challenge to find promising impactful investment opportunities. One of the most efficient ways to discover prospective investors and startups is at local angel investor groups. For fellow angels, the advantage of sharing knowledge, as well as risk, makes these group communities attractive. For emerging businesses, they may benefit from the expert guidance of the group’s investor team during the vetting process.

    Not every group functions the same and formats can range from monthly pitch sessions and annual events to closed meetings. Fellow angels can partner on a deal or join an angel team to collaborate in a fund. Despite the pandemic restrictions, these groups are thriving by pivoting to virtual environments.

    By reviewing and understanding group formats and dynamics, entrepreneurs can assess how the screening, selection or deal process may work in order to help them seek out the right investors. Entrepreneurs should also get familiar with the types of companies that have already secured angel investments via groups. In British Columbia, the more popular sectors of interest to angels include IT, MedTech, BioTech, FinTech, AgriTech and CleanTech.

    When angel-ready founders want to meet potential investors, know that the selection process is highly competitive with success being contingent on how prepared and how well they will do during the angels’ due diligence. From the get-go, founders must be ready to make a positive first and lasting impression. More importantly, know the audience and know how to engage and connect with interested investors - whether it is through a presentation, discussion, follow-on conversation or deep dive meeting.


    Most angel preparedness guidelines recommend the following information, at minimum:

    • Business plan and exit strategy
    • Concise and compelling pitch deck (5 and 10 minutes)
    • Unique market opportunity – target audience and size
    • Competitive landscape with barriers and risks
    • Clear business milestones and key metrics
    • Strong founder(s) and management team plus network of advisors
    • Thorough customer validation results
    • Strategic customer acquisition methodology
    • Minimal viable product and early traction
    • Revenue - scalable projections
    • Financial – current valuation and milestones for next fund raise
    • Investment ‘ask’, equity shares, terms and use of capital


    BC Angel Groups In Vancouver Leading The Way With Seed Capital


    VANTEC Angel Network

    VANTEC has been providing investors with a steady flow of pre-vetted, quality investment opportunities since 1999. It is the largest, member-based angel group in British Columbia with 150+ members across BC and the Pacific Northwest. VANTEC is dedicated to helping qualified investors find the right opportunities, as well as tech startups raise funds to accelerate growth. They are considered the first place to pitch to investors. Monthly angel investing meetings are hosted virtually during the pandemic with presentations (90-second previews and 5-minute full) from 8-12 early stage companies that have been screened by an investor panel two weeks prior to the pitch. The investor meetings are typically attended by 80-100 pre-registered investor members, investor guests and VANTEC’s community partners. In general, investors are interested in great early stage tech companies that raise pre-seed, seed 1 or seed 2 money, particularly in IT, Health and Life Sciences, CleanTech and Agrifood Tech sectors. Members of VANTEC are also members of Canada’s National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) and the US based Angel Capital Association (ACA).

    VANTEC also counts several active angel funds as its members. WUTIF was founded and managed by Mike Volker who also started VANTEC. eFund was founded and managed by Thealzel Lee who also runs VANTEC’s monthly investor meetings.


    WUTIF Capital (VCC) – Western Universities Technology Innovation Fund

    WUTIF Capital co-invests with angel investors in promising new technology ventures in British Columbia, such as those being developed in universities and institutions. This includes communications and information technology, health and life sciences technologies, physical sciences, energy and fuel cells. The fund strives towards a broad portfolio. Formed in mid-2003, WUTIF targets early stage (typically <5 years old), ground floor opportunities with a preference for valuations under $3 million.   As of Dec 2020, WUTIF has raised $11 million in capital with 110 companies. Companies may apply at any time.  WUTIF is a Venture Capital Corp (VCC) and only invests in EBC eligible businesses


    eFund (VCC) – Angel Investing Via Teams

    Formed in 2011, eFund (VANTEC’s Entrepreneur Fund) is focused on investing via angel teams and in a portfolio format. They invest in early-stage (seed 1 and seed 2), BC-based technology companies that align with eFund’s investment criteria, particularly innovative companies in Life Sciences, CleanTech, AgriTech, and Information & Communications. Promising companies are introduced by members of the eFund investment team, which carry out an active multi-stage validation process.  In a team environment, investors benefit from thorough due diligence and a range of expertise or experience within the investor group or more than 150 investors.  Investments are made by fund cohorts that are continuously refreshed with new and follow-on investments, resulting in a diversified portfolio across industries, markets, and stages of maturity which deliver a better spread of exits over time. eFund is a Venture Capital Corp (VCC) and only invests in EBC eligible businesses. 


    Vancouver Angel Forum

    The Vancouver Angel Forum started in 1997 and is one of the oldest angel gatherings in Canada. They have a member affiliation with Canada’s National Angel Capital Organization (NACO). Prior to the pandemic, Vancouver Angel Forum organized bi-annual all-day events in rotating locations around British Columbia, with around 100 angels attending presentations from approximately 30 companies. With pandemic restrictions, the Vancouver Angel Forum is offering virtual meet-ups, workshops and educational webinars. Their members are from across BC, Canada and the US, and are interested in all seed stages of companies.


    Keiretsu Forum Vancouver Chapter

    Keiretsu Forum is a community of international angel investors spanning four continents and was originally founded in San Francisco in 2000. Launched in September 2012, the Keiretsu Forum Northwest Chapter, of which Vancouver is the host city for Western Canada, includes the Boise, Kirkland-Eastside, Portland, Seattle, Spokane-Inland, Tacoma-South Puget Sound chapters. Thus far the Keiretsu Forum Northwest Chapter has collectively funded over 300 companies and has invested a total amount of over $192 million in seed 2 and series A funding rounds. 

  • 25 Oct 2020 by Randy Fisher

    Source: Investment Capital Program Guidelines 
    The BC EBC (eligible business corporation) tax credit supports investment in high risk early stage. It is available to friends & family investors (after the first $25,000), angel and private equity investors. 


    Eligible Business Corporation (EBC)

    In BC, one of the first thing that investors want to know after you piqued their interest is if your startup is an Eligible Business CorporationBC residents get a 30% tax credit when they invest in an EBC-eligible business. They can further reduce the costs of their investment by using the RRSP deduction of up to 49.8% depending on their tax bracket (i.e., 30% EBC + 49.8% RRSP tax benefit, making it close to 80%). Investors who want to diversify their current RRSP or TFSA investments can also receive the 30% tax credit - and should speak to their tax advisors for the details.

    Startup founders can find information about applying for EBC status on the BC Government website

    “Under the 'direct' investment model, a small business registers as an Eligible Business Corporation. EBCs can accept equity capital directly from investors without having to set up a venture capital corporation (VCC). This investment structure is ideal for an investor planning to be actively involved in the growth of the small business.


    A Mutually-Beneficial Partnership

    VANTEC has partnered with Western Pacific Trust (WPT) as it can help startup founders and investors benefit. Unfortunately, most wealth managers and banks can’t help with this significant opportunity; so WPT has developed a specially-structured investment account that enables investors to have eligible private capital investments in their RRSPs and TFSAs. This saves a ton of effort - and makes raising money easier and faster.


    Startup Funding Makes Economic Sense

    “It’s one of our best kept secrets,” says Alison Alfer, President and CEO, Western Pacific Trust. “We help startups and founders raise capital more easily by making their story and pitches more attractive to their investors.” “This opens up a whole new pool of capital to the founder,” she says, “because banks and brokerages don’t let you put a private investment into an RRSP.” 

    Many people know others who have substantial funds sitting in the bank earning next to nothing. They can choose to diversify their portfolio and gain higher risk and higher reward and invest in BC Companies.”


    Independent Trust Company

    Established in 1999, WPT is an independent trust company that provides financial services to corporations and individuals. The company offers its services in all provinces except Saskatchewan and Quebec. “We specialize in working with startups,” she says. We’re working hard to educate the community about this important mechanism to raise capital.” 

    To get started, founders have to properly set up their investment account. An application to the WPT Onboarding Team gets the ball rolling. After a short review process and documentation, founders can focus on raising money. 

    “It really builds trust and credibility with investors,” says Alison Alfer. “When you’re raising money, it’s critical to think about investors’ needs. They want - and need - an investment vehicle that easily and legally holds private capital investments in their RRSPs and TFSAs. Investors reap the myriad of tax benefits from investing, and saving.  “It makes it so much easier for founders to raise money, and for investors to use and leverage the funds in their RRSPS and TFSAs. Everyone wins.


    The Process for Founders

    1. Register as an Eligible Business Corporation (EBC) to provide investors with a 30% BC provincial tax credit.

    2. Enable investors to invest in your company via their RRSP and or TFSA. Contact the WPT Onboarding Team to set up an investment account. There’s a short review process (approx. 10 days) and a one-time fee of $1,000+ tax (full refund WPTC does not accept the application).

    3. After WPT approves the account, the Founder can go out and pitch his / her company as an eligible investment with the option to invest in via their RRSP or TFSA.


    The Process for Investors

    1. Set up your RRSP / TFSA at Western Pacific Trust to ensure that your private investments are eligible for tax benefits as stated in the Income Tax Act.

    2. Invest in startup companies, and take advantage of the 30% EBC tax credit.

    3. Shelter the growth in the investment, and get an RRSP refund.

    4. WPT handles all of the reporting. 


    To learn more:

    Website: BC Eligible Business Corporation Guidelines  | Email: | Phone: 1 800 665-6597

    Website: Western Pacific Trust | Email: | Phone: (604) 683-0455 

  • 19 Aug 2020 by Randy Fisher



    VANTEC is focused on bringing BC’s Angel Investor community together with promising early-stage entrepreneurs for learning, insight and meaningful conversations.


    We’re proud of our active role in the BC’ ecosystem and the valued partnership to generate solid returns for investors, grow companies and contribute to Made-in-Canada job and knowledge creation. Every year after the summer break we invite BC's accelerators to present their programs and some of their most promising ventures.


    Vancouver and Lower Mainland Accelerators


    adMare BioInnovations - Health & Life Sciences Accelerator

    AdMare BioInnovations is Canada’s Global Life Sciences Venture, building the Canadian life sciences industry from sea to sea. We source therapeutically and commercially promising research from leading academic and biotech partners to create new companies of scale, providing specialized expertise, infrastructure, and capital to help existing companies scale up, and driving the growth of those companies into Canadian anchors by training the next generation of highly-qualified personnel. Companies include: Zymeworks, Mesentech, Precision Nanosystems, Sepset Biosciences, Sitka Biopharma. 


    Creative Destruction Lab Vancouver - CDL West

    CDL-West is located in Vancouver, BC at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia. It is a fast-growing nonprofit tech hub on the West Coast, that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. It runs 15 program streams including Prime (general) and AgTech, AI, Climate, Health, Energy and more - focusing on the commercialization and convergence of technologies that improve human well-being, health and progress and advance solutions to improve our world. |


    Discovery Parks - Health Tech Accelerator

    Discovery Parks uses its assets to create capital through Investment in early stage technology companies, with a focus on Health Technology.  It provides business mentorship, capital investment and value creation through its Investment Corporation, Nimbus Synergies Inc., to grow its equity base and to support its Vision. Programs include office, laboratory space and a 5,000 sq. ft incubator space - ‘The Generator’ - offered in collaboration with the City of Vancouver. An annual competition for startup technology firms offers 12 months of free office space to firms deemed most likely to succeed.


    Entrepreneurship@UBC propels UBC innovations out into the world through venture creation, providing UBC students, researchers, faculty members, alumni and staff with the resources, networks, and funding they need to succeed. To date, entrepreneurship@UBC ventures have raised more than $221 million in funding, generated more than $30 million in revenue and hired more than 500 employees, stimulating the economic and social landscape of B.C. while building anchor companies that have a global impact.


    Futurpreneur Canada

    Futurpreneur Canada has been fueling the entrepreneurial passions of Canada’s young enterprise for two decades. We are the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Our internationally recognized mentoring program hand matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of more than 3,000 volunteer mentors.


    Founder Institute - Pre-Seed Accelerator

    The Founder Institute is the world's largest pre-seed accelerator, having helped launch over 4,300 companies across 200+ cities and six continents. Founded in 2009, it was apparent that most entrepreneurs at the idea and launch stages lacked the structure, feedback, and support network needed to be successful. In total, Founder Institute Alumni have raised over $950M and are worth an estimated $20B. 


    Foresight Cleantech Accelerator

    Foresight is Western Canada’s clean technology accelerator. We build industry-supportive ecosystems that help drive the growth, commercialization, and adoption of SME developed technologies focused on progressive climate targets and transitions to a green economy.


    Launch Academy

    Launch Academy is Vancouver’s leading entrepreneurship facility that has incubated more than 3500 entrepreneurs of which 300 have grown their startups to Seed and Series A stage and raised over $300M in funding. 

    Praxis Spinal Cord Institute

    Praxis Spinal Cord Institute brings together the best in class research, commercialization and consumer experts in the area of SCI to provide companies with the tools needed to scale and develop their innovation internationally. Praxis’ 12-week commercialization program is geared towards healthcare companies with a product ready-to-launch into the market, transforming the lives of people living with SCI.


    RADIUS @ SFU - Social Innovation Hub

    RADIUS is a social innovation hub based in the Beedie School of Business, SFU, in the heart of Vancouver at the Charles Chang Innovation Centre. We have supported over 150 social ventures, diving deep into social innovation lab and systems change work with a multitude of partners; training hundreds of SFU students and community members; and engaging thousands of people through events and knowledge sharing.


    SFU VentureLabs - Accelerator

    VentureLabs accelerates innovation-based ventures through the BC Venture Acceleration Program, helping businesses accelerate market validation, access mentoring from experienced serial entrepreneurs, learning opportunities and workshops, co-working, meeting, and maker spaces, as well as access to financing.


    Spring Activator - Impact Accelerator

    Spring Activator is a global incubator, accelerator and advisory firm that helps impact entrepreneurs, investors and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders thrive. We have helped 750+ entrepreneurs, created 500 companies and raised $24M+. We support 40 communities on 5 continents.


    Tamwood - Global Startup School

    Part business school and accelerator the Startup School helps individuals discover and learn the skills to launch their Business. Students can take courses in innovation and entrepreneurship and then follow on to use the skills they have learned to start their own company. 


    VR/AR Association - Vancouver Chapter

    Vancouver is the 2nd largest VR/AR ecosystem in the world! The VRARA Vancouver chapter is the leading voice of VR/AR in BC and the larger ecosystem. This includes original content creators & creative distributors to innovative hardware companies and ambitious researchers. 


    BC Regional Accelerators


    Accelerate Okanagan

    As the Okanagan tech community and companies within it continue to grow, so does Accelerate Okanagan’s (AO), support model. Coined ‘Continuous Acceleration,’ AO delivers unique programming for different stages of growth.



    Alacrity Canada facilitates success and economic growth in the Western Canadian technology sector by providing support and entrepreneurial mentorship to promising entrepreneurs, in addition to finding and connecting these individuals with the venture capital funding needed to develop thriving local tech companies.


    Innovation Central Society

    Innovation Central Society supports technology entrepreneurs in starting and growing successful companies. We host events and run programs that focus on developing and supporting an innovative technology community in the northern interior of British Columbia.


    Innovation Island Technology Association

    Innovation Island Technology Association (Innovation Island) is Vancouver Island’s regional voice for technology entrepreneurship, We support entrepreneurs to start and grow technology companies by providing them with programs and resources they need to succeed. Our companies have received more than $20M in investment, generated $25M in revenues and created nearly 200 jobs. We provided business support, special events and a startup accelerator.


    Kamloops Innovation

    Kamloops Innovation gives new and growing technology-enabled businesses the mentorship, connections and community they need to thrive. We offer affordable programs that guide, coach and mentor entrepreneurs.


    Kootenay Association for Science and Technology

    Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) is a nonprofit technology organization serving the entire Kootenay regions. We are passionate about connecting people, businesses and their innovative ideas. Since 1998, we’ve led our region’s economic development through technology and innovation. 


    Purppl- Social Enterprise Accelerator

    Purppl accelerates ideas, projects and enterprises that work for the public good. We help social entrepreneurs build sustainable revenue models and sustainable impact models.


    VIATEC - Victoria

    Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC), started in 1989. Its mission is to cultivate a most cohesive tech community by providing resources to tackle shared opportunities and challenges. It offers an EIR program, free business coaching, and a venture acceleration program in association with Innovate BC.


    Other BC Organizations Supporting Startups 


    Innovate BC

    Innovate BC represents the Government of British Columbia in BC’s innovation ecosystem. We link innovators to funding, resources and support to help grow companies in every corner of the province. We help entrepreneurs take innovation from the white board to the real world.


    Interface Health

    Interface Health Society is a not-for-profit digital health organization based in Vancouver, BC, has launched Interface Health: a global digital health accelerator and online community. The accelerator is a place for digital health innovators to find the resources they need, anytime, anywhere. That means faster access, reduced costs, improved experiences and better outcomes for everybody. Interface Health is an integrated multi-platform consisting of an annual global competition, a social network and an annual summit.


    New Ventures BC

    New Ventures BC (NVBC) is a nonprofit organization that has supported 2,530 early-stage tech startups, creating 3,720 jobs and raised $335 million in financing over 20 years of operation.Through government and corporate support, our programs, events and competitions provide the education, tools, networking, and grant funding for tech startups to succeed. 


    Vancouver Entrepreneurs’ Forum

    The Vancouver Entrepreneurs Forum (VEF) is an online and offline platform for entrepreneurs within the technology realm. Through monthly forums, we bring together like-minded people to cultivate connections and create conversations designed to stimulate ideas. We host eight events per calendar year, kicking off our season in September and running until May with a hiatus in December.


    Tandem Innovation - Investment Ready Program

    Tandem Innovation provides a network of Contract CFO’s, Accounting and Bookkeeping Professionals with co-founder mindsets to collaborate with visionary entrepreneurs to innovate and grow businesses from startup to exit. 


    Volition Advisors

    At Volition, we support entrepreneurs across Canada and beyond by providing space for conversations, connections, and practical skill-building and knowledge-sharing across sectors and stakeholders. We've hosted over 90 pitch events with 5,000+ attendees.


    Women’s Enterprise Centre

    Women’s Enterprise Center (WEC) is a non-profit organization helping BC women start, lead and grow their own businesses. We provide business loans up to $150K, with access to an additional $100K through a partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). WEC has fueled the success of women-led businesses since 1995, providing business skills training, personalized business advice, mentoring, practical business resources and a supportive community to help women business owners gain the skills, mindset, financing and networks to realize their business potential. We have offices in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria. 


    Other Canadian Organizations Supporting Startups 


    Natural Products Canada

    Natural Products Canada (NPC) is the driving force behind Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster–a strategic community of SMEs, research institutes, corporations, investors, government departments, and service providers who support the development and commercialization of naturally-derived products and technologies in health and life sciences, natural resources, agriculture and agri-food, and sustainable bioproducts. As part of its role in the Cluster, NPC offers a suite of Commercialization Programs to help companies and researchers advance high-potential products and technologies; provides connection and innovation scouting services to industry and investors through its Innovation Hub; and leverages its Investment Fund to help develop and de-risk promising Canadian opportunities. NPC has over 500 opportunities in its pipeline, has completed six investments, and has already experienced two exits.


    Let us know if we missed anyone or if you’d like us to include or link to more details on programs, demo days etc. Just send an email to 

    In a next post we'll look at the seed stage investors.


  • 01 Jun 2020 by Randy Fisher

    An interview with Lawrence Buchan, Co-Founder & CEO, Arbutus Medical


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company?

    I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto, and then at the University of British Columbia, where I achieved a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering. While at UBC, I became involved with a cool multidisciplinary program called Engineers in Scrubs (EIS) which brings engineers and healthcare professionals together to solve challenging problems in clinical settings.

    As part of EIS, I was at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) working with the Orthopaedic Trauma group, where they conducted biannual humanitarian missions to Uganda to help local surgeons develop training programs. Two VGH ortho-trauma surgeons, Dr. Peter O’Brien and Dr. Piotr Blachut, explained that in Uganda, and many other low-resource settings, hospitals were unable to afford orthopaedic power drills due to their high cost (i.e., $30K per unit). The surgeons asked us to develop a radically-affordable alternative: this led us to create Arbutus Medical’s flagship DrillCover – a orthopaedic power tool system 30x less expensive than conventional drills.

    We were fortunate to secure funding from several global health organizations and began receiving a lot of inbound interest. During this time, I learned that 5 billion people didn’t have access to safe surgery. What made this huge problem worse, was a lack of access to safe equipment. I was appalled. My co-founders and I felt a sense of responsibility to help as many patients as possible and decided to pursue commercialization of the DrillCover. Our motto: Safe Surgery for All.

    While developing the DrillCover, I became enthralled with the concept of “frugal innovation” - creating simple products that save cost by design. The rising cost of healthcare and a growing global population is on pace to create major societal problems for every country over the next 100 years. So, my co-founders and I decided that frugal innovation could help every hospital in the world was part of the solution to save money – and a medical device business utilizing this focus could play a key role in the healthcare system of our future.

    In December 2014, Arbutus Medical was established.  We are on a mission to improve millions of lives. We have already enabled 58,000 safe surgeries and have a stretch goal of reaching 5 million safe surgeries this decade.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers?

    We sell our power tools to orthopaedic surgery providers and help them reduce costs. We sell to global health NGOs, veterinarians, military field medicine teams, and trauma centers in North America and globally. Our products have been used in over 35 countries.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs?

    Our DrillCover platform consists of a sterile cover and chuck mechanism. It enables the use of a nonsterile power tool in surgery. This is a more cost-efficient design compared to conventional surgical drills that have a sterilizable stainless steel casing. We sterilize the covers, not the whole drill, motor, and battery. We’ve developed strategic partnerships with hardware drill brands like DEWALT to radically reduce cost while giving surgeons a reliable, easy to use, powerful tool. We sell a kit that includes the drill, cover, and chuck attachments. The entire system is patented, and we’ve attained regulatory licenses with Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration.

    The products were developed based on an initial clinical need and we went through many design iterations gathering feedback from surgeons in Uganda and Vancouver General Hospital. We continue to collaborate with our customers to make product improvements and tailor features of the system to surgical needs in every one of our target markets.


    What differentiates your company from the competition? 

    We are a medical device company driven by a social purpose – Safe Surgery for All.

    There is no other orthopaedic device or surgical power tool company with an ethos of frugal innovation and performance. We are meeting an important need and gap in the world’s marketplace. We are responding to an audacious challenge: successfully building a platform of frugal innovations that improve access to surgery for millions of patients and reduce the cost of orthopaedic care worldwide.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets. He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.

  • 31 May 2020 by Randy Fisher


    A conversation with Bryan Statham, Co-Founder, CEO, LifeBooster


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company?

    Entrepreneurship and business were ingrained in me throughout childhood: my mother was a strong business person and my father was a successful entrepreneur. I knew from a young age that I would become an entrepreneur myself solving problems to help protect people and ensure they were safe.


    With that goal in mind, I studied biomedical sciences and was focused on becoming a medical practitioner. Upon graduating, I felt I was missing something... adventure! So, I travelled, working in clinics, hospitals, orphanages, and various care facilities to support myself. When I returned, I worked in a number of different industries from warehousing operations to hospitality to investment banking. I learned how to drive a forklift, motivate people, manage teams, and negotiate deals. Success was always dependent on the quality of the team and our ability to work well together.


    During those years, I missed the passion I had helping others while travelling abroad. I also suffered back strains and tendonitis on-the-job. Many of my close friends and family members had worked in demanding industrial environments and they too were seriously injured on-the-job. The devastating physical, emotional, and financial impacts of these injuries resonated with me deeply as I felt strongly that all of these injuries were preventable. I asked myself: “How can we stop these injuries from happening in the first place?”


    This observation and frustration with the current state of worker safety in an industrial setting led to the creation of LifeBooster and its connected worker and risk analytics platform. The experiences I had managing warehouse and hospitality operations gave me deep knowledge and insights about the “what”, “how” and “why” of workplace health and safety. Today, we are a market leader in Digital Safety Technology – helping to ensure that every worker goes home safe every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our vision is to be the trusted provider of real-time worker risk and safety analytics offering a comprehensive view of multivariate injury risk data to industrial employers.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do? 

    LifeBooster is operating at the intersection of industrial IoT, insurtech and data analytics. We are serving all sectors of the industrial economy, especially essential service sectors such as energy, manufacturing, utilities, and logistics.


    Our value to our customers flows from the shop floor to the boardroom. Employees gain confidence knowing they are safe and protected on-the-job. Safety Managers gain visibility and presence onsite, allowing them to digitally assess the workplace and scale their capabilities to drive effective programs and injury prevention. Employers benefit from reduced costs for workplace injuries, such as medical and insurance costs, and indirect costs related to lost time / productivity losses and administrative burden.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs? 

    We have developed Senz, a connected worker and risk analytics platform. It pairs an industrial-grade wearable multi-sensor platform with a cloud-based analytics engine that delivers risk assessments in near real-time.

    LifeBooster is also developing a suite of risk modules that address different types of risk in industrial work environments. Today, our risk modules include ErgoSenz (ergonomic assessment) and ThermalSenz (heat stress risk).

    We have validated our core business model and the value of our technology through a series of deployments with Fortune 500 employers across a range of target industries. We have also partnered with one of the top workers’ compensation insurers globally. We collaborate and partner with global risk consultancies. Further validation has come through our customers experience: continuing reduction of injury risk exposure in the workplace.      

    What differentiates your company from the competition? 

    LifeBooster offers a multi-sensor, multivariate comprehensive injury risk solution - capable of assessing a multitude of risk types simultaneously – whereas competitors typically are single-sensor and/or single injury solutions. We have intelligence on all forms of workplace injuries and embed this knowledge in our data and analytics platform.


    Fundamentally, we are a data analytics platform company and not a wearables company: wearable devices offer us the ability to obtain worker safety and risk data, which we analyze with machine learning and provide to our industrial customers for business decisions and risk mitigation. Employees who feel safe on-the-job are going to produce at a higher level and continue working. Employers who respect this important reality gain a more productive workforce and minimize operational disruptions.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets.  He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.


  • 28 May 2020 by Randy Fisher

    A conversation with Lukas-Karim Merhi, CEO and Co-Founder, Biointeractive Technologies


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company? 

    I was trained as a biomedical engineer with specialization in medical/optical imaging. I decided to pursue entrepreneurship and technology commercialization vs. a PhD. I spent a number of years in academia, familiarizing myself with great technology that could meet massive unmet needs in the market.

    My life has revolved around business – my family have had multiple small businesses and been involved in venture-backed enterprises which have instilled an entrepreneurial spirit. My first attempt at a healthcare startup was a spectacular failure – However, I did learn three important lessons:

    • Do not build accessories to accessories
    • Only work with decision makers in healthcare
    • Don’t run out of money

    These important lessons are embedded in my latest venture. After I stopped working at my first startup, I needed a job to pay the bills and found myself back in academia (initially as a researcher turned lab manager). I met my current co-founders at this lab. They were working on tracking technologies for hand impairments

    Because of my personal journey with physical therapy, I truly resonated with their work. Let me explain. I spent four years doing physical therapy to avoid back surgery. The entire process was inefficient and riddled with self-reporting and guesswork. I thought there had to be a better way – the entrepreneur’s credo!  Access to data, guidance and feedback would have my addressed the problems I faced during my recovery journey.

    The Vision for the company: is to be a category leader in the Digital Physical Therapy market. And, enable everyone to have healthy hands and stay active!

    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do?

    They are patients suffering from neurological and orthopedic hand, wrist and elbow impairments caused by conditions like wrist fractures, stroke, spinal cord injuries, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, arthritis.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs?

    We solve this problem with our patent-pending TENZR wristband which is capable of tracking the hand. We combine the data from TENZR with a companion app to guide patients through their recovery journeyWe have a couple dozen peer-reviewed publications validating the technology in addition to market validations via clinical publications. Our technology is also enabling/supporting clinical trial research across Canada


    What differentiates your company from the competition? 

    Our real competition is the status quo. This includes lists of exercises; self-reporting and guesswork.

    This does not solve the heart of the problem – patients don’t feel / believe they have the knowledge, guidance or data to take them all the way through to a successful recovery.

    We are disrupting a broken model. When it comes to tracking technologies, our unique sensing capabilities make TENZR the only device capable of tracking the hand using just a wrist-band, without needing data gloves or cameras.

    Our sensing technology can be applied to other joints in the future. Our team members have, and will identify business development opportunities to pursue. We create a fertile and encouraging environment to help them pursue new market opportunities – and share their program and impact with our wider team and community.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets.  He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.

  • 28 May 2020 by Randy Fisher


    A conversation with Rahul Samant, CEO of Rehabtronics


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company? 

    I became involved with Rehabtronics, as I longed to once again build a product, to transform discovery into products. I saw an opportunity to have a tremendous impact on the quality of life of people with mobility deficits. I am the CEO of the company and have increased revenues by 70%. I have guided the company into cash-flow positive situation and with 2 consecutive profitable years. 

    Rehabtronics is a spinoff of the University of Alberta’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. It was started to bring state-of-the-art neural interfacing and neural rehabilitation technologies into clinical practice. Our vision has always been that technology-driven innovation will drive sustainable healthcare by more efficiently delivering better outcomes to more patients. Our mission has been to bring state-of-the art neuroscience technology into rehabilitation and expand the clinical settings in which these medical technologies are used. In other words, go beyond the rehabilitation clinic into the home and acute care settings.
    Our first product, the ReJoyce was among the first products to bring gaming and computer-based functional assessment to the world. We followed up the ReTouch, the world’s first touchscreen-based rehabilitation for cognitive, visual, and motor rehabilitation. ReGrasp is a neural prosthetic that restores grasping function (opening and closing the hand). Our products are used by over 500 clinics around the world.

    We became increasingly aware of pressure injuries and the enormous impact they have on health care while working with the patients that use our products - those with impaired mobility and sensation such as people with chronic stroke or spinal cord injury -

    Pressure injuries are among one of the greatest unmet medical needs in health care today. It’s a huge problem – for example, in the US, pressure injuries kill an estimated 60,000 people each year - almost as many as diabetes.

    Pressure injuries are prevalent in all health care settings: from critical care and home care to long-term care. Indeed, 25% of patients in healthcare facilities have a pressure injury. They are among the most common, expensive and deadly hospital acquired illnesses. Despite the impact of pressure injuries, there has been no innovation in this space in 100 years.

    While our understanding of the patho-physiology of pressure injuries has advanced, our approaches to preventing them has not.  21st science explains that pressure injuries form as a result of ischemia and tissue deformation. 

    We realized that the neural interfacing technology platform used in our ReGrasp Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to restore motor function (based on research at the University of Alberta) - could also be used to prevent pressure injuries.

    We now have a patented technology called Intermittent Electrical Stimulation (IES). We can alter the pathophysiology of pressure injuries by increasing tissue oxygenation and preventing deleterious tissue deformation. No other pressure injury prevention technology does this.

    Our vision is technology-driven sustainable transformation in health care. Our mission is to use neuroscience technology to eliminate deadly pressure injuries.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do?

    Pressure injuries are among the most common, expensive and deadly medical complications. In the US, they kill over 60,000 people every year and cost the health care system an estimate $27 B each year. They are seen in all health care settings - critical, acute, rehabilitation, long-term, and home care.

    Pressure injuries are one of the most common hospital-acquired injury. Estimates of pressure injury incidences in hospitals can be as high as 30% in critical care. The average treatment cost of pressure injury is over $30,000. That is if the patient survives - 70% of those that develop a so-called full-thickness pressure injury in a hospital will die within 6 months.

    In the US, hospitals are not reimbursed for hospital-acquired pressure injury expenses - hospitals must pay for the treatment of pressure injuries acquired in their facility. According to the Agency for Quality Health Research (AJRQ), nearly 2.4% of all hospital discharges in the US developed a hospital-acquired pressure injury (HAPI) in 2016.

    It is the only hospital-acquired condition to increase in incidence. It is estimated that HAPIs costs US hospitals $11B per year. Hospitals need more effective means of preventing hospital-acquired pressure injuries in order to capture these costs. For example, a 300-bed hospital in the US will see over 16,000 admissions, nearly 400 HAPI events, and spend approx $10MM+ on treatment.

    Our focus will be in acute and critical care where nearly 30% of patients will develop a pressure injury iin 4-7 days. Moreover, HAPIs are deadly in a a population of critically-ill patients.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs? 

     Our patented Intermittent Electrical Stimulation (IES).  technology uses a proprietary electrical stimulation protocol to increase and maintain tissue oxygenation - a key factor in the formation of pressure injuries. Animal studies have shown that IES reduces injury volume by 80%. Human studies have demonstrated that IES increases tissue oxygenation by as much as 28% and maintains tissue oxygenation at 20% above baseline. 

    In Alberta, IES was tested on 68 patients – all of whom were considered at-risk of developing a pressure ulcer. IES was found to be easy-to-use by nurses; and easy to deploy (even in complex environments such as critical and acute care). Most importantly, no pressure injuries were observed in any of the 68 high risk patients.


    What differentiates your company from the competition?

    Despite the magnitude of the problem, there has been very little technology innovation in pressure ulcer prevention. While the market is mature and there are many products in this space, they invariably fall into one of two approaches: (1) Patient Turning (developed in 1800s); or (2) Pressure Redistribution Mattress (mid-1900s)

    21st century modern science has enabled us to have a much better understanding of how pressure injuries form.

    They start deep inside tissue as a deep tissue injury (DTI). As pressure is applied to soft tissue, especially over bony-prominences, it deforms the tissue and restricts blood-flow - causing ischemia. In as little as 1 hour, a DTI begins to form. Over the next several days, the DTI grows from the inside out until it breaks the skin.

    In either case, there are no products on the market that prevent pressure ulcers by altering the pathophysiology of ischemia and mechanical stress and promoting blood circulation, tissue oxygenation and tissue reformation. Patient Turning - where nurses turn patients every 2 hours to temporarily relieve pressure, was first started in the 1850s. The practice continues to today. However, it requires significant nursing time (i.e., at least 2 nurses 10 minutes every 2 hours and as many as 5 nurses 30 min every 2 hours).


    It is also the Top Cause of work-related injuries to professional nursing staff.

    Relieving the pressure on the patient, while helpful, is not sufficient to restore health oxygenation to the tissue at risk. Additionally, tissue oxygenation can become depleted in a matter of minutes and a pressure ulcer may develop in less than 1 hour.

    Pressure redistribution is achieved by using mattresses made of foam, air or gel. The mattresses spread (redistribute) the pressure. However, like with Patient Turning, this fails to bring blood, oxygen and nutrients into the tissue.

    These beds are very expensive, and many hospitals rent them. Moreover, a specialized bed can often take days to arrive. In the meantime, the patient has already developed a pressure injury – creating a painful, expensive and difficult problem to solve for all involved: the patient, nursing staff and the hospital.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets. He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.

  • 28 May 2020 by Randy Fisher

    PathMaker’s MyoRegulator device for the treatment of muscle spasticity. 

    A conversation with Nader Yaghoubi, President, CEO and Co-Founder of PathMaker Neurosystems


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company?

    I graduated from the combined MD/PhD degree program at Boston University School of Medicine, and did my Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology, where my dissertational work was in single-cell electrophysiology and ligand-gated ion channels.

    After entering the surgical residency program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, I realized my real interests were for early-stage technology development. I pivoted to a track where I’ve been focused on early-stage investing and company formation – I’ve been doing that for 20 years.

    Along the way, I met Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy at City University of New York. He was pioneering breakthrough multi-site neuromodulation techniques for the treatment of serious neurological conditions. I saw how his revolutionary approach could change the standard of care for millions of patients worldwide.

    We founded PathMaker Neurosystems to bring this non-invasive, painless technology to patients who need it - and who are otherwise forced to rely on uncomfortable, invasive, unsafe and unreliable treatment options. We recently decoded the molecular mechanism of action of our multi-site stimulation technology, a world-first across all neuromodulation technologies.

    Our first product, MyoRegulator®, is the world’s first neuromodulation device for the non-invasive treatment of spasticity, a debilitating condition found in people with SCI, stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain injury and cerebral palsy.

    Last year, we published our first human feasibility study showing clinical efficacy in post-stroke patients. We are working to bring this product to market as soon as possible.

    Our second device, ALSuppressor™, is the first neuromodulation device for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and represents a groundbreaking advancement in the treatment of this fatal neurodegenerative disease.

    PathMaker Neurosystems is making strides in understanding and improving the treatment of serious neurological disorders. It is leading the way towards the wide use of non-invasive neuromodulation systems that replace the need for drugs or surgery.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do?

    Our devices will be used by clinicians in hospitals, medical offices and rehabilitation or spasticity clinics. They treat patients with neurological disorders such as spasticity with limited and often non-optimal treatment options. The first line of treatment consists of either oral medications (baclofen, tizanidine) or botulinum neurotoxin injections, which often have significant undesirable effects. Other more invasive treatments options include: implantation of an intrathecal baclofen pump, or surgical procedures that cut tendons or nerves. None of these treatment options are simultaneously painless, non-invasive and efficacious. We provide clinicians with a strong alternative to drugs or surgery with our non-invasive neuromodulation products, so they can take care of their patients without these drawbacks.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs?

    Our breakthrough non-invasive neuromodulation technology was originally developed by Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed. We demonstrated its efficacy in a mouse model of spasticity and described the molecular mechanism behind its effects in a mouse model of spinal cord injury.

    In 2019 we published the results of a pilot trial in upper-limb post-stroke spasticity, and showed that five consecutive 20-minute daily treatments with MyoRegulator® significantly lowered spasticity levels and improved motor function for up to five weeks after the end of treatment.

    Today, a pivotal randomized, sham-controlled European trial is ongoing at the Paris Brain Institute and sponsored by INSERM. Clinicians and physicians want to see proof of efficacy and safety before adopting a new treatment into their practice, so we are building a strong case for our technology before entering the market.


    What differentiates your company from the competition?

    PathMaker Neurosystems has pioneered a new field of multi-site neuromodulation.  We have 35 issued patents protecting our technology and products globally.  We are the only company developing non-invasive neuromodulation products for the treatment of spasticity and ALS. The best opportunities are coming to us organically by stakeholders who are realizing who realize the impact of our current and future products. They understand the commercialization potential and the paradigm-shift in clinical practice.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets. He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.

  • 05 Nov 2019 by Frank Leffelaar

    In our upcoming investor meeting Investing in Agrifoodtech & Cleantech on Wednesday, November 6th, we are excited to introduce you to some of the most promising seed stage companies in the Agrifoodtech and Cleantech. The Agrifoodtech industry is one of the largest sectors in British Columbia today. By 2025, experts have predicted that the value of the agriculture and agri-food exports from Canada will be at least $75 billion. 

    You still have time to buy a ticket and be part of our investor meeting and meet the CEO's of the 16 companies that will be presenting.


    For this month’s meeting, we are featuring 5 promising companies that will be presenting. This includes Open Ocean Robotics, Susgrainable Health Foods, Scout Canning, BarrelWise Technologies, and ThisFish. 







    ThisFish Inc. is a smart technology solution for seafood processors. They are a leader in seafood traceability and production software that strives to improve social, environmental, and financial sustainability of the fish industry. 

    In recent news, Ecuador was given a warning for its poor enforcement and traceability in the seafood sector. NIRSA, the country’s largest tuna exporter, processes 340 tonnes of tuna everyday. ThisFish’s team has been commission and will be flying to Ecuador to install their Tally Software for NIRSA.

    Seafood is a $143 billion industry and the world’s most globally traded protein. Traditionally, the massive amount of data has been all paper-based. There has been no place for the seafood processors to sync their data. Because of the lack of traceability, there has been problems including illegal fishing, seafood fraud, and human slavery. Their software is being used in Canada, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. 

    TheFish’s Trace software allows for improved traceability and efficiency.  They make it easy for seafood enterprises to code their catch, upload their seafood catch’s information, upload information on handling and shipping, and trace their seafood to connect to their harvester. 

    TheFish Inc. was selected as a finalist for the $100,000 Neptune Award in 2019. Eric Enno Tamm, CEO and Co-founder has been asked to join the Consultative Committee of Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability. In this role, he will be providing technical advice on the development of guiding principles for electronic catch documentation and traceability systems.

    Eric Enno Tamm, CEO will be presenting at the VANTEC Investor Meeting on November 6th during the company presentations at 4:15pm. 

    For more information about ThisFish, please visit:







    Open Ocean Robotics is a cleantech solution to collecting ocean data. Using proprietary solar and wind-powered autonomous boats equipped with sensors and cameras, the start-up is on a mission to provide actionable, real-time ocean insights. 

    With over 80 percent of the ocean still unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored, the ability to collect and analyze ocean data has potential to impact a $3.25 trillion ocean industry. 

    A clean technology solution like Open Ocean Robotics can make a huge difference in the ocean industry. Their boats can be in the ocean and travel non-stop for months without producing greenhouse missions, noise pollution, or oil spills. 
    In the industry, boats in Canada produce more than 1,000 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. Their boats can plot more fuel-efficient roats to conserve fuel and reduce emissions altogether. This is like taking 100 cars off the road for an entire year. 

    Their boats can patrol the ocean, safeguard Marine Protected Areas and crack down on illegal fishing. Illegal fishing accounts for 20 percent of all the wild fish caught. 

    Open Ocean Robotics can help us better understand climate change by measuring the changes in the ocean. The melting Arctic ice has tripled the amount of traffic to the area in the last 25 years. These boats can help provide a cost-effective way to map the Arctic while reducing the amount of boats running aground. 

    The clean technology company was founded by Julie Angus and Colin Angus. Open Ocean Robotics has partnered with MaRS Cleantech and Natural Resources Canada. In June, they won the Most Promising Startup of 2019 Award from NACO at the World Angel Investment Summit

    Julie Angus, CEO and Cofounder will be presenting at the VANTEC Investor Meeting 

    For more information about Open Ocean Robotics, visit:









    BarrelWise Technologies Ltd. (BarrelWise)’s proprietary interlocking winemaking system makes managing wine barrels simple. Their unique system allows winemakers to keep the barrel sealed throughout the entire aging process. Winemakers can barrel tap, sample, sulphate, and analyze the chemical composition all in one interaction, without opening the barrel. 

    Usually, wineries manage 2000+ barrels of wine. These barrels need to be sampled, chemically analyzed, topped and have sulfites added every 2-4 weeks. This process takes about 5 minutes or more per barrel. However, BarrelWise makes this process simple and reduces the time spent on barrel management by 70 percent. 

    Currently, there are over 150,000 wineries worldwide with more than 35 million barrels. The wine barrel industry is growing with a potential $1.4 billion market. 

    BarrelWise has recently launched a technology solution, Barrel by Barrel Data. This is a sensor within the barrel gun that measures the free sulfur content in each barrel. This data is shared in the cloud and allows winemakers to get real-time data on their barrel’s sulphur content, trends, and alerts. 

    Jason Sparrow, CEO, will be presenting at the VANTEC Investor Meeting

    For more information about BarrelWise Technologies Ltd. please visit:









    Susgrainable Health Foods upcycles ingredients including spent grain from food and beverage producers to create healthy and sustainable flours and products. Their movement started after realizing most local craft breweries in Vancouver were producing a large amount of spent grain which ended up being wasted. 

    Their proprietary processing technology is exclusive to North America and provides significant cost and quality advantages compared to their competition. Susgrainable Health Foods is able to produce 2,000 to 3,000 kg per month. 

    With over 11.2M tonnes of edible food wasted in Canada every year, Susgrainable provides a massive solution between the $47 billion upcycled food waste and $80 billion functional flour industries. 

    Their product line includes Susgrainable flours, baking mixes, and baked goods. These are currently being delivered through wholesale and retail channels. 

    Susgrainable Health Foods was founded by Marc Wandler and Stuart Karol. They were a finalist in the Small Business BC Award’s Best Concept category. They were also a top 100 finalist in the TELUS Pitch in 2019. 

    Marc Wandler, Cofounder and President will be presenting at the VANTEC Investor Meeting

    For more information about Susgrainable Health Foods, visit:










    Scout Canning modernizes canned seafood for consumers by giving them a premium ‘seacuterie’ product. Scout is the first premium North American canned seafood brand. Using tradition canning techniques combined with modern, chef-prepared recipes, their produce high-quality canned seafood products with a long shelf life. 

    Seafood consumption is the highest it has been in decades. The global canned seafood market is expected to reach $38 billion USD by 2025. With more and more consumers wanting local products, Scout is North AMerican sourced and hand-packed. 

    As an activist brand, they have developed an Ocean Program where 1 percent of their profits are given back to ocean health projects. They also use 100 percent recyclable packaging and no plastic. 

    Their first phase of products include Atlantic Canadian lobster, PEI mussels with roasted red peppers and tomatoes, and Ontario lake trout with dill. Scout has plans on expanding to vegetarian source seafood products and prepared foods in the near future. 

    Adam Bent, CEO will be presenting at the VANTEC Investor Meeting on November

    For more information about Scout, please visit:


  • 31 Aug 2019 by Pip Brangam

    VANTEC’s mission is to grow the Angel investor community in BC and to present investors with vetted investment opportunities in BC’s most promising startups.


    Every year after the summer break we invite BC's accelerators to present themselves, their programs and some of their most promising ventures.


    VANTEC Open Network Meeting

    As our startup eco system evolves, so do our university programs and accelerators. This is a great event to get a quick update on who and what's new in our eco system, meet some promising startups and network with all these great people. All presentations and pitches are 90 seconds and the companies have a chance to show their wares and have investor conversations. VANTEC Open Network 2019 is on the 11th of September at VentureLabs downtown Vancouver, 11th floor, 555 W Hastings St.

    What accelerators do?

    The BC Tech Ecosystem has a rich network of resources available to startup founders. For early-stage companies who want to get on the fast track to being ready for investment, accelerators are a great option. 


    Accelerators are often lumped in with other institutions supporting early-stage startups, such as incubators, but they differ in several respects. Often Industry-specific in their focus, they offer a highly immersive period of intense and focused instruction providing founders with the opportunity to learn at a rapid pace. 


    During an accelerator program, companies are partnered with mentors and a cohort can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Competition to be accepted into the program is high. Accelerators cherry-pick what they determine to be scalable, high growth companies and coach them over that period to become ready to seek investment. Some accelerators also offer financing as part of their program. At the end of a cohort, there is a demo-day, an opportunity for the cohort companies to present their company pitch. Often angel investors attend these events scouting for potential investments. 


    Here are a selection of BC accelerators, their industry of focus, where applicable, and how they assist early stage companies. 


    Accel RX - Health And Life Sciences Accelerator

    With a focus on life sciences, the Accel program is Canada’s national health innovation accelerator fund providing seed capital and expertise to promising early-stage companies developing therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices.


    Entrepreneurship@UBC - eHatch Accelerator

    e@UBC is a unique program that delivers a combination of education, venture creation, and seed funding to maximize the number of successful ventures coming out of UBC and UBC Okanagan 


    Foresight - Cleantech & Agtech Accelerator

    With a focus on Canadian transformative clean technology start-ups Foresight helps companies go from  launch to scale in collaboration with industry, corporate partners, universities, government agencies, and local service providers.  Foresight has three pillar programs,  Launch, Growth and Challenge. 


    Founders Institute - Pre-Seed Accelerator

    The world's largest pre-seed startup accelerator,  Founders Institute has helped launch over 3,500 companies across 180+ cities and six continents. During their 14-week program companies work through a rigorous company building curriculum with a focus on doing rather than learning. Local Industry experts are on hand to mentor and demo days are streamed to the global network. 


    Launch Academy

    Cited as a pre-accelerator program. Launch Academy helps early-stage tech entrepreneurs from diverse industries execute on their startups through education, mentorship, and networking opportunities to launch and find their product-market fit, scale, and grow their companies. The Launchpad is space offering a community for entrepreneurs to support each other in their journey. 


    Radius SFU - Social Innovation Hub

    The RADIUS Slingshot Accelerator is a six-month program that supports early-stage, social impact ventures that are ready to grow. Through their combination of cohort-based learning, individualized mentorship, and equity investment, they help companies to become investment and market-ready.


    Spring Activator - Impact accelerator 

    Spring is committed to global tech ecosystem development offering a startups school for impact entrepreneurs. They offer an IMPACT Startup Visa Accelerator, helping founders and companies to move to Canada to scale their businesses and maximize their impact. They also offer a 2X acceleration program for B2B companies. 


    Tamwood - Global Startup School

    Part business school and accelerator the Startup School helps individuals discover and learn the skills to launch their Business. Students can take courses in innovation and entrepreneurship and then follow on to use the skills they have learned to starting their own company. 


    SFU VentureLabs - Accelerator

    VentureLabs accelerates innovation-based ventures through the BC Venture Acceleration Program, helping businesses accelerate market validation, access mentoring from experienced serial entrepreneurs, learning opportunities and workshops, co-working, meeting, and maker spaces, as well as access to financing. 

    Let us know if we missed anyone or if you’d like us to include or link to more details more details on programs, demo days etc. Just send an email to


  • 27 Oct 2018 by Randy Fisher

    Lessons-Learned from Seasoned Digital Health Entrepreneurs
    At VANTEC Angel Network on October 3rd, 2018


    Ingenious local talent and smart money are meeting a growing and global appetite for digital health innovations. A critical mass of digital health investors and entrepreneurs are enabling Vancouver companies to reach new heights and achieve faster and greater returns.


    That was the central message delivered at VANTEC’s Angel investor meeting on October 2018. A frank, lively exchange was led by Geoff Hansen, a serial entrepreneur, advisor and seasoned tech investor who has presided over 7,000 investor pitches since 1998.


    “There are so many promising companies in BC. Digital health is one of the hottest tech areas for investment,” said Geoff Hansen. He kicked of a Digital Health presentation and lively panel discussion with four digital healthcare CEOs, followed by company updates, preview pitches and full presentations.


    Digital Health Stars

    In 2018, health information management and personal health applications are the stars. Business models are as simple as ‘pay-as-you-go’ to getting insurance companies to foot the bill for a solution that reduces the cost of healthcare delivery.

    The digital health sector covers a broad range of areas that leverage technology from self-care to professional care: measuring and monitoring health and disease indicators at an individual level (e.g. DiaBits); increasing operational efficiency and clinic management (e.g. Jane’s software); and reducing overall costs for individuals and organizations (e.g. Claris Reflex).


    Go Global Faster

    Digital health is a fluid, dynamic sector that leverages technology to identify, qualify and penetrate global markets.

    “Our market is huge,” said Alexandra Greenhill, co-founder and CEO, Careteam and myBestHelper. “We can die on the vine trying to conquer various provinces in Canada” or we can pursue global markets and rapidly find new customers in other countries and increase our valuation. I believe in “Go Global Faster”.


    Family Origins, Global Markets

    The origin of many digital health startups often stems from a family member or dear friend affected by a disease or chronic healthcare condition. People are often incredulous at the barriers and challenges a person has to go through to achieve better health outcomes. “There has to be a better way,” is often the mantra of a passionate, newly-minted or seasoned entrepreneur.

    Established companies continuously scan their customers’ needs and frustrations to develop new products with significant market potential and adoption. (i.e., QLT’s widely-successful drug for macular degeneration arose from a mom’s concern about improving her vision). QLT built a powerhouse company with a global footprint by listening to its customers and acting swiftly in response to their needs.  


    Rapid Growth, Complexity

    A decade ago, a digital health company had a slow ramp-up time to get to critical mass, but now when they understand the nature of digital technology, they get to grow very quickly, said Hansen.

    “I want to inform our investment community about the tremendous opportunities for growth.” He believes it is an “interesting sector” with complexity regarding product development, financing options and strategic partners for growth and exit.

    Indeed, a digital health company is not a typical technology company. It’s a complex blend of health and high tech dynamics that can accelerate growth (and exit options) through rapid market penetration, customer adoption and scale.

    “It is something that is complicated - like a life sciences company. It is something that you have to prove yourself - like a cleantech company,” said Hansen. “Digital health companies tend to  grow fast - like a software company.”


    Healthy Returns @ Scale

    Investment in the digital health sector is skyrocketing, driven by angel investors and aggressive corporate venture capital companies (CVCs) for example Telus Ventures, Samsung & US companies with deeper pockets, cross-sector expertise and valuable connections and partnerships in Canada, the US and globally.


    The digital health market accelerated in 2014, with $7B of investment in 2017 and is on track for $8.5B of investment in 2018. The average time from seed to a round is 15.7 months, said Hansen. On average, digital health companies IPO after 10 years after raising $136M in venture funding.



    Smart Exit Options

    There’s an exciting array of exit options for investors - ranging from acquisition (i.e., big companies buying small companies); consolidation (roll-ups of related companies in a specific area); and IPOs. A strategic partnership with a corporate venture capitalist is more complex and requires greater due diligence to assess the match and overall fit. With the right expertise, there are “workarounds” to the conditions of the strategic partnership, said Hansen.


    Presentation: Trends in digital health - Geoff Hansen


    Panel Discussion: Digital Health Startup CEO's

    Alison Taylor and Trevor Johnston Co-CEO's at Jane Software

    Geof Auchinleck CEO at Claris Healthcare

    Alexandra Greenhill CEO at Careteam Technologies


    Watch the digital health startup investor presentation videos

    The company presentation are accessible by VANTEC and Associate members only.

    See the list of companies that presented 


    You can  apply to become a member (only $500) or an associate member ($300).

  • 05 May 2018 by Info Vantec

    VANCOUVER, May 1st, 2018 – Angel investor network VANTEC and online investment platform FrontFundr are pleased to announce a partnership. The two organizations will collaborate in the areas of deal syndication, due diligence, and the mobilization of a diverse investor community across Canada.

    Thealzel Lee, Co-Manager at VANTEC: “We support promising BC-based entrepreneurs in technology ventures with angel investment, advice and connections. Our collaboration with FrontFundr enables these entrepreneurs to present themselves to a diverse pool of investors.”

    Registered as an Exempt Market Dealer (EMD), FrontFundr can distribute securities to not only accredited investors, but non-accredited investors too, enabling the public to invest alongside VANTEC members.

    This partnership will enable VANTEC members who are accredited investors, and the public across Canada to invest in companies that have presented at VANTEC meetings, through an online, streamlined process in as little as 12 minutes, and at lower investment minimums.

     “We are extremely excited to partner with VANTEC to increase access to capital for companies”, says Peter-Paul Van Hoeken, Founder & CEO of FrontFundr. “The partnership with VANTEC provides companies an online channel to efficiently access angel investors and the public across Canada.”

    About FrontFundr

    FrontFundr is Canada’s leading online investment platform providing investors access to investment opportunities in vetted companies. FrontFundr uses technology to assist companies in raising capital efficiently from both seasoned investors and the wider public through a streamlined online investment process. FrontFundr is a nationally registered Exempt Market Dealer.

    About VANTEC Angel Network

    We are angel investors who support promising entrepreneurs with investment, advice and connections. Each month, 12-15 start-ups pitch and present their investor package. Since 1999, VANTEC has presented 2,000+ companies to investors and helped them to raise seed funding.

    Companies can  apply to pitch at the monthly investor meetings free of charge. VANTEC presents about 150 vetted companies per year to accredited investors for a $500 annual membership fee.

  • 26 Mar 2018 by Info Vantec

    Technology companies can be started, grown and exited faster than ever. The market for selling companies has never been stronger. Your chances for a successful exit multiply if you put the pieces in place early. Planning your exit can start as soon as you found the company, and before you talk to investors, and it should be a regularly reviewed activity after you've taken your first seed round.


    Many of the things that help you to be prepared for an exit will also help you to fill your round, so it pays to be prepared early. 


    We have created a short Exit Preparedness Self Assessment to give you a sense for what prospective investors are looking for. Being prepared will help you to dedicate more time on the exit opportunity and stay on top of the day to day business rather than scramble to collect the requested information


    In this workshop you will learn:

    • How to build alignment of all stakeholders around your exit strategy
    • How to prepare your business and your team for an exit
    • What information to prepare for your digital data room and how to manage it
    • How to be ready for due diligence and minimize distraction of your core team


    Join David Rowat, Basil Peters and a panel of experienced investors, exited entrepreneurs and advisors from 3-6 PM on April 19 , 2018



  • 21 Mar 2018 by Pieter Dorsman


    Over the past few years I have been taking my ‘Deal Structuring and Term Sheets’ workshop all over Canada, and even a few times to the Caribbean. In the presentation there are a few slides on valuation and I usually spend around five to ten minutes talking about the subject. Attendees, be they investors or entrepreneurs or professionals that service the ecosystem, invariably get excited over valuation. It is an emotional subject for many and very often they lose sight over what founders and investors can achieve together if they do not get stuck on valuation.  There is an old joke that where the investors says to a founder “you can set your own valuation, as long as you will let me set all the other terms …” In other words, valuation is not nearly as important as some think it is.

    Still, there are lots of questions around valuation. Between investors and founders the valuation debate often leads to difficult, protracted and totally unnecessary negotiations and conflict. The need to simplify and demystify this issue became very apparent over the years and I have thus put together a stand-alone workshop that focuses entirely on the issue of valuation. The goal is to get founders and investors over the hurdle quickly and do a deal so that a company can grow for the benefit of all.

    In preparing for the workshop I did an inventory and found not less that 13 approaches to valuation for early stage technology companies. I am sure there are more. During the workshop I will discuss each of them in detail and combine them with some case studies. At the same time the workshop will look at the broader impact valuation has on a company, the relationship with its investors as well as the many plusses and minuses of high and low valuations. We also get to discuss how founders often get it wrong when determining how much money needs to be raised and which ultimately has an impact on determining the value of a company at the outset of a financing. An overview of the Canadian and US markets will give attendees a good handle once they go out and try and close deals.

    Above all the goal is to ensure that investors and entrepreneurs get to work together and are able to map out a plan for the company that is served by the best possible financing structure. And that begins with setting the valuation such that there is no time wasted and that each party feels they have given up a bit, which is the general definition of a good compromise.

    I hope you can join me, investors and founders on April 19, 2018 from 12-3 PM for an engaging workshop and conversation.

    You can register here and save $50 with promocode vantec$50off 




  • 20 Feb 2018 by Info Vantec

     VANTEC’s mission is to grow the Angel investor community in BC and to help investors find more investment opportunities they want to invest in. Entrepreneurial programs, incubators and accelerators provide valuable support to budding entrepreneurs and their companies and help them on their journey to become a thriving business.

    The February 7th VANTEC meeting focused on Investing in Food & Ag Tech has brought 4 great organizations together that each provide unique and valuable services to entrepreneurs by supporting them in the journey to become investment ready.



    What is your organizations’s mission?  

    Bioenterprise’s official mission statement is to become the leading commercialization organization in Canada for companies engaged in agri-technology, but there’s more to it than that. We want to see the agri-technology and food sectors grow and increase in both level of innovation and competitiveness on a global scale. Bioenterprise aims to empower entrepreneurs and provide the resources to create sustainable, profitable businesses.


    What excites you about the investment opportunities in Food and Ag Tech today and looking ahead.

    There is a global push towards innovation and adaptations in the Food and Ag Tech industries. The global population is growing, our arable land is decreasing, fresh water is becoming scarcer, climate change is impacting crop yields, and the population is becoming more educated about their food sources and looking for sustainable, nutritious options. All of these factors are contributing to a growing food and agri tech sector and causing larger organizations, not traditionally focused on agriculture, to look for sustainable alternatives to traditional materials, such as plastics.  


    What do you see as some of the biggest challenges that new entrepreneurs have to overcome on their journey to become investment ready? How does your organization help them with that?

    Many of the entrepreneurs that we see entering the market understand their niche and technology, but often haven’t spent enough time analyzing their market and understanding their customer and that customer’s needs. These entrepreneurs need to learn how to identify their target market and how to ask the questions required to refine their product for commercial success. Another big challenge for the entrepreneurs we meet is understanding how to grow their business strategically. Bioenterprise can help companies identify their target market, facilitate strategic connections/partnerships, and coach entrepreneurs through customer discovery. We also work with the entrepreneurs to develop and implement a strategic growth plan including a review of their investment materials, creation of an appropriate strategy and introductions to investors when the time is right.


    What proof are you seeing that entrepreneurs benefit from working with you and from being part of your community?

    Over the last 10 years, the companies we have worked with have successfully launched more than 1,000 new products, services and technologies; created thousands of new jobs; and generated over $268 million in revenues. Bioenterprise has also worked closely with 30 companies in helping them secure more than $120 million in investment.


    What is the best way for an entrepreneur to learn more about what you can do for them?

    Talk to us! (And check out our website: Fill out our short online application or drop us a line and we’d be happy to walk you through our process. The more background information you can provide the better. This allows us to make sure we have the right experts at the table during our conversation and can customize a project for your unique needs. 


    We are seeing rapid changes in how people can invest in Food and Ag. What opportunities do you see for seed stage investors to benefit from these opportunities? How can they add value to the local eco-system?

    British Columbia has no shortage of promising agri-tech ideas, technologies and products.  Seed stage investors play a critical role in a growing venture, helping them grow their market, competitive advantage or scale operations.  This growth helps position ventures for follow-on investment and successful exits for the seed investors. 


    A great example of this is from DeeBee’s Organics, with certified organic TeaPops, which are free of chemicals, refined sugar and artificial flavours and are made from all-natural fruit purées and juices.  DeeBee’s secured a $1.5 million investment round and their products can be found in more than 2,000 stores across North America, including heavyweights like Loblaw’s, Sobeys, Whole Foods, Safeway and Costco.  DeeBee’s also recently landed an agreement with Walmart USA, and sales are expected to at least double in 2018 to more than $4 million.

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