Blogs

  • 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

     

    TICKETS & MORE INFORMATION

  • 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 

     

    Pieter

     

  • 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: www.bioenterprise.ca) 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.

  • 02 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.

     

     

    Interview with Keith Ippel of Spring

     

    What is your organization's mission?
    Spring is THE global community for purpose-driven leaders. We provide the tools, knowledge, mentorship, and support network to help entrepreneurs to launch, grow and change the world. Through our Leaders Roundtables, Impact Startup Visa Program, workshops and advisory services, we support early stage and growth entrepreneurs leveraging technology to make the world a better place. Spring is making impact mainstream by being action-oriented, connected, open and fiercely entrepreneurial. We believe in changing the world through entrepreneurship.


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

    This is one of the hottest markets right now as we tackle big issues in food sustainability from local to global markets. This need is creating amazing opportunities for solid businesses with effective technology and business models to win big in the coming decade.

    With startups working on exciting new projects like irrigation innovations to beat draught, nut and citrus orchard management software using satellite data, a new oxygen management technique that extends the shelf life of fresh protein and so many more, people are starting to put money into ventures that are actually going to change the world.

    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?

    There are a few. First, entrepreneurs need to focus on ideal investments and ignore geography when seeking and engaging investors. Second, Canadian entrepreneurs need to think global from day one in their sizing and pursuit of the market. Lastly, entrepreneurs need to get on their due diligence early to be ready to move quickly when investors start to show interest.

    Spring supports entrepreneurs through the most complete training workshops and programs (in person or online with New Ventures BC), and with funding Roundtables which provide ongoing mentorship, advisory, and introductions all the way to the end of the round.


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

    Spring has helped companies raise more than $12M in early stage equity in the last three years. Since 2015, we have worked with over 650 alumni, created over 280 companies and 300+ jobs across 13 different industries.


    What is the best way for an entrepreneur to learn more about what you can do for them?
    Check us out online at spring.is or reach out to help@spring.is and set up a time to chat!

    We also have an upcoming Meet and Greet info session on March 6 for those who would like an introduction to Spring and our Leaders Roundtables. At the Meet and Greet, they will get to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs, chat with current members and alumni and meet the Spring team to ask any questions they may have on our programs. We also hold a short panel discussion and Q&A with select members to shed some light on how the whole thing works.

    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?

    The global food system needs to increase productivity by more than 70% just to feed the population within 20 years.  There is huge pressure on the desire for local and ethically sourced nutrition from both millennials and baby boomers and the economic opportunity of responding to these trends is huge.

    Investors can bring industry and business model experience, along with their network, to help these entrepreneurs to launch and grow well.

    Is there an other organization that you’d like investors and entrepreneurs to know about?
    A number of the best food & ag startups will be at the pitch event on the 7th, and we can’t wait to hear from each of them. Feeding Growth is a great community of progressive food entrepreneurs, led by UBC Farm, Fluid Creative, and Vancity.

     

    Keith Ippel, CEO & Cofounder

    With over 15 years experience as a leader in technology centric businesses, Keith has accelerated the growth of both small and large companies, launched new products, and raised over $20m in angel investment and venture capital. He has an unparalleled ability to collaborate with entrepreneurs, employees, and investors to deliver amazing products to the market. Keith is passionate about creating opportunities that previously did not exist for people and co-founded Spring to bring that into the social venture space.

  • 31 Jan 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.

    Interview with David Gauthier of Natural Products Canada

     

    What is your organization’s mission?

    We want to see Canada become the Silicon Valley of natural products. In other words, we’re trying to foster a connected, vibrant and well-resourced ecosystem that takes natural products to market faster, cheaper and more efficiently.

     

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

    We’re at an incredible spot where consumers want more and more from their food in terms of energy, nutrition and health benefits, yet they have less time to actually prepare meals from raw, fresh ingredients. That’s creating all sorts of opportunities in value-added snacks, beverages, and prepared food, as well as in functional ingredients and natural health products.

     

    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?

    There tends to be four main challenge areas: product development, which can include everything from understanding market needs and where your product fits, to research and development and scale-up; business planning; financing; regulatory; and general management and operations. We help by assessing the stage of the company, and helping them identify the most pressing hurdles as well as the potential sources of expertise to tackle them.

     

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

    Ah, the best part! We see entrepreneurs gaining clarity around their direction, getting the introductions they need to overcome key challenges, and in some cases, like Mazza Innovation, getting the financial backing of a group of smart investors, including NPC.

     

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

    We have the luxury of being very flexible to accommodate the needs of the ecosystem. The best thing is just to contact me directly. We can set up a time to chat about your business, and then I can determine the best way we can help.

     

    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?

    Companies in the food and ag space in the US are receiving very high valuations as investors are eager to jump into these opportunities. In contrast, Canadian food and ag companies are typically much more competitively valued, yet still have tremendous potential for growth. That’s a huge opportunity for Canadian investors. The wisdom of investors is crucial for early stage companies. If investors can provide ‘smart money’ that includes experience, mentorship and time, they’ll see those investments grow, which is great for the whole ecosystem.

     

    Is there another organization that you’d like investors and entrepreneurs to know about?

    The Nutrition Capital Network is known around the world for their in-depth industry knowledge and extensive network of corporate leaders and active investors. For over a decade, they've delivered highly-focused and effective investor meetings, introducing promising companies to capital investors. We’ve partnered with them to bring their investor meeting to Canada this June in Toronto. That’s a meeting I’d highly recommend companies and investors check out.

     

    For more information and a conversation contact David Gauthier at Natural Products Canada

     

    Vice President, Investment

    Dr. David Gauthier has over 20 years’ experience in the commercialization landscape.

    With a PhD in plant biology, David has a passion for science and technology, and its potential to make a difference through innovation in the real world.

    Along with his scientific knowledge, he has a wealth of business, finance, and technology transfer expertise developed through a diverse career in university research, technology commercialization and regulation, venture capital, entrepreneurship, federal government program management, not-for-profit management and governance, economic development, and management consulting.

    In each of his roles, he has been involved in the strategy, implementation, management, and measurement of innovation and commercialization, giving him unparalleled insights into the various programs, policies, and practices that can help companies evolve from start-ups to success.

    He has served as Director of Business Development with Performance Plants Inc. and as Vice-President with Foragen Technologies Management Inc., which managed a national venture capital fund specialized in advanced agricultural technology investments. He was a Regional Director for the National Research Council Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, and was the Chief Executive Officer of the Entrepreneurial Foundation of Saskatchewan. He has also operated a consulting company, advising entrepreneurs on corporate strategy and financing and assistance with various regulatory requirements.

    David has served on a number of boards for both profit and not-for-profit organizations, including AgWest bio Inc. and is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of Genome Prairie. David was educated at Queen’s University where he obtained BSc Honours (Biology), PhD (Biology) and MBA degrees.