The Follow-on Investment Forum, presented by the Network Angel Organizations Ontario, was an event showcasing eight early-phase companies who pitched to a representative cross-section of leaders and influencers in Ontario’s investment community.
Photography by Justyna Sokolowski
These startups were chosen from an “overwhelming” number of applicants according to the NAO selection committee. 110 people attended the event. The event was considered of significant importance in bringing together Ontario’s Investment Community and fostering new connections.
The event was focused on these groups,
- Angel investors (private equity, accredited investors)
- Early-stage private equity & venture capital firms
- And Angel-backed Ontario-based companies
I phoned John Ruffolo, one of the leaders in the space as CEO of OMERS Ventures, the day after the event and asked him, in hindsight, what he thought the significance of this event was.
“Angels and VCs need each other and should be co-investing more. Historically, angels are weary that VCs will ‘cram down’ the value,” he said. “VCs should be mindful of certain actions they take that may impair a continuous investment ecosystem.”
Angels “de-risk opportunities” and make more companies available for VC investments, Ruffolo said.
Although there are government programs for companies and entrepreneurs, the vast majority are for nonprofit organizations,said Patricia Lorenz Chair of NAO-Ontario.
“The Follow-On Investment Forum helped celebrate our network’s economic impact, and provided entrepreneurs exposure to a province-wide audience,” she said. “For investors, it is frequently an opportunity for investment in later-stage early companies, such as those with a developed product, revenues or an improved business model.”
The following Venture Capital Firms were in attendance as well as more representatives and an extremely impressive cross-section of Angel Investors.
- OMERS Ventures
- BDC Venture Capital
- RBC Ventures
- Tandem Expansion
Welcoming Remarks came from Jeffery Steiner, president, NAO-Ontario, and Lorenz.
After came a showcase of Ontario-based start-up companies, XYZ Interactive Technologies, Pond Biofuels, Rna Diagnostics Inc, and Excelion Technology Inc. A lunch was given with talks from the speakers Hon. Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation, as well as Yuri Navarro, executive director at NAO.
This was followed by more startup presentations from MLM1 Corp., Shiny Ads, SavvyDox Inc., and Imagistx Inc. A talk came next called Eight Steps To Lucrative Exits followed from Parker MacDonell, founding member, Ohio TechAngel Fund & Board Member-Elect, ACA.
Shannon MacDonald, managing partner, Deloitte, spoke on The FutureOf Productivity: A Wake Up Call For Canadian Companies.
Dave Wright, president at David Wright and Associates, someone I know as being informed on the startup community in general, told me that he noticed that “The Minister spoke to everyone there personally. It was a quality networking event with a packed crowd and many insights. I saw more than one company receive a commitment for investment that day.”
I spoke with Gerard Buckley, founder and president of Jaguar Capital and chairperson of the board of directors at Maple Leaf Angels.
“These were startup companies with high growth potential. They had seed financing and prior angel financing.” he said.
Gerard said, “I see companies like Shiny Ads as shining examples of how Angels are able to add value, not only with their money, but with their mentorship, and engagement with the company.”
Gerard Buckley also said to me, in summing up the importance of the event,”John (Ruffolo) had great things to say about the alignment between VCs and Angel Investors.”
See more information on the work done by Network Angel Organizations Ontario on their website.