The TVG is dead, Long Live Ventures

The rumors are true, The Toronto Venture Group is no more.

The TVG, like the Toronto Angel Group (which is probably dead too, more on this soon), is one of the many often-flirted with, rarely treaded on groups that court Canadian Startups to get on stage, or to send their business plans around. The effect on the startup was feeling more like they were being asked to take their pants off in the waiting room before going in to the Doctor’s office. More often than not, it was some sort of witch doctor behind the door anyway, and you would have kept your pants on if only you had known.

That leaves us with a slew of angel groups who are all still asking Startups to take their pants off well in advance of a typical show-all timeframe for a real relationship.

Do these groups actually work? One telling aspect is that many of them claim to model themselves after Silicon Valley groups. The problem is, there is no evidence (and conversations tell me otherwise) that these groups actually do many deals themselves. The world of Angel, Venture or other investment is about relationships. When you, as a startup, start to meet Angels and VCs, your focus should be completely on building a relationship with them, the deal can flow from that.

There are always exceptions to the rule, I know that b5media was funded out of a TVG event in Toronto pretty quickly. I don’t know of any others though.

Like I do our friends in the Den, I tend to question the value of these groups, especially the ones that charge upwards of 3000$ to the entrepreneur for participation (like First Angel Network), but it’s also important to recognize that the members of these groups can been keen, hungry and able investors. The trick is to pick them out of the pack and focus on dealing with the individual directly. Your $250,000 deal doesn’t need 4 weeks worth of legals holding it up when a simple note and issuance of shares could do the trick.

The obituary after the jump. Who wants to sing the requiem?

Effective May 18th, 2007 the Toronto Venture Group has ceased operations. As of the same day a proposal has been filed and all suppliers, sponsors, annual subscribers, members and angels will be receiving a communication package outlining the process that is underway.

The Board of Directors would like to acknowledge the support we have enjoyed over the years from our corporate sponsors, subscribers, members and those who have given so generously of their time as speakers, volunteers and board members. We are proud of our 17 years of service to the industry and we wish all investors, entrepreneurs, business founders and service providers a healthy future of continuous success.

It looks like TVG has a little bit of debt, on the order of $200,000, but has enough money to pay most of that debt.

  1. Mars: $17,1712
  2. Toscano Consulting: $18,311
  3. Brandhealth Communications: $48,844
  4. Marriot: $74,179

The group has about $17,000 in secured and $236,513 in unsecured debt. It looks like repayments will be on the order of 60cents on the dollar.

There is a note in the package: “Reduced revenue streams and increasing expenses have resulted in overhead costs exceeding reveneue earned and accordingly Venutre is unable to pay its debts in full as they become due.

The official reason, sent along with a bankruptcy package to stakeholders, was a slightly obfuscated way of saying that the TVG became irrelevant.

The TVG couldn’t build enough goodwill, with their investors or a community of entrepreneurs, to support even marginal operating costs.

That isn’t a criticism of their work, or the very real effort that was put in to building the TVG and it’s worthwhile goals, but it is a reflection on the sheer amount of ambition and effort it takes. It might just be that creating a community of investors AND entrepreneurs is just plain impossible.

In full:

The entrepreneurial support industry has experienced changes in the recent past.
Nationally and within the GTA, there have been extensive competitive opportunities for both business founders and business funding organizations.

The industry reality, coupled with a slowing of funding due to legislative changes within Canada has redirected and refocused the venture capital industry.

Sponsorships have been redirected to targeted areas of focus for funds as opposed to general networking.

Therefore, the market is no longer sufficiently supporting the efforts of the organization.

  • http://www.b5media.com Jeremy Wright

    Just as a note, our funding wasn’t a direct result of the TVG. It didn’t hurt, but the VC’s who funded us were VC’s we already had relationships with (to add strength to your point).

    I’m still a fan of events like the CVF, because it forces companie to get to a certain level of preparedness before pitching… But yeah.

  • http://www.b5media.com Jeremy Wright

    Just as a note, our funding wasn’t a direct result of the TVG. It didn’t hurt, but the VC’s who funded us were VC’s we already had relationships with (to add strength to your point).

    I’m still a fan of events like the CVF, because it forces companie to get to a certain level of preparedness before pitching… But yeah.

  • Jim Rudnick

    Just wanted to add, that our new startup CAN-LEND Ltd. was one of the lucky 11 companies in last month’s TVG “SpeedDating for Capital” run with the help of Joe Olivier of RBC, Sean Wise of Wise Mentor Capital and Ben Kaak of PWC. The event itself was greatly appreciated by us as well as the other 10 companies and we got 3 solid leads to VC companies, whom we’re all approaching in the near future. The fact that we’re up and running and are looking for mezzanine finances after scouring for angel startup funds worked well for us and if the TVG is really no more, then I say “shame!” What a great way to learn and maybe earn at the same time!

    Jim

  • Jim Rudnick

    Just wanted to add, that our new startup CAN-LEND Ltd. was one of the lucky 11 companies in last month’s TVG “SpeedDating for Capital” run with the help of Joe Olivier of RBC, Sean Wise of Wise Mentor Capital and Ben Kaak of PWC. The event itself was greatly appreciated by us as well as the other 10 companies and we got 3 solid leads to VC companies, whom we’re all approaching in the near future. The fact that we’re up and running and are looking for mezzanine finances after scouring for angel startup funds worked well for us and if the TVG is really no more, then I say “shame!” What a great way to learn and maybe earn at the same time!

    Jim

  • http://www.b5media.com Jeremy Wright

    Agree with Jim. The learning opportunity of many of the TVG’s smaller events was huge, and the CVF itself even more so. Losing these events is probably the biggest hit to the city. Methinks some of the startups and VC’s will need to band together to keep the education circuit going…

  • http://www.b5media.com Jeremy Wright

    Agree with Jim. The learning opportunity of many of the TVG’s smaller events was huge, and the CVF itself even more so. Losing these events is probably the biggest hit to the city. Methinks some of the startups and VC’s will need to band together to keep the education circuit going…

  • http://simplyalbert.blogspot.com Albert Lai

    Jevon: I too have heard from many entrepreneurs that have found the CVF of little relevance or assistance. Still, sad to see one less attempt/organization that supports the venture community.

    Jeremy/All: StartUpCamp and VentureCamp anyone?

  • http://simplyalbert.blogspot.com Albert Lai

    Jevon: I too have heard from many entrepreneurs that have found the CVF of little relevance or assistance. Still, sad to see one less attempt/organization that supports the venture community.

    Jeremy/All: StartUpCamp and VentureCamp anyone?

  • http://socialwrite.com Jevon MacDonald

    Perhaps this is the push we all need to finally follow through on StartupCamp?

  • http://socialwrite.com Jevon MacDonald

    Perhaps this is the push we all need to finally follow through on StartupCamp?

  • http://www.b5media.com Jeremy Wright

    Guys, let’s do a sit-down in the fall (after everyone’s travel’s slowed down) and at least kick this around. SOMETHING needs to be done!

  • http://www.b5media.com Jeremy Wright

    Guys, let’s do a sit-down in the fall (after everyone’s travel’s slowed down) and at least kick this around. SOMETHING needs to be done!

  • http://www.WiseMentorCapital.com Sean Wise

    Hey I agree with the above.

    But it isn’t the event, it is what you do with it.
    That’s why I think guys like b5 media did so well through TVG and why so few do.

    oh well, what’s done is done, the real questions is what’s next?

  • http://www.WiseMentorCapital.com Sean Wise

    Hey I agree with the above.

    But it isn’t the event, it is what you do with it.
    That’s why I think guys like b5 media did so well through TVG and why so few do.

    oh well, what’s done is done, the real questions is what’s next?

  • http://ricksegal.typepad.com Rick Segal

    Jevon,

    I actually avoided commenting on this until today primarily because I’ve gotten 4 links to your blog post in the last week. So, well done on that front.

    First, I was a board member so consider the source.

    The issue of TVG being helpful to start-ups can certainly be questioned. Through the Venture Forum event, millions of dollars have gone to companies seeking funding that were a direct result of an investor seeing the company at the event. I get the point about it being “look to the left and cough”, but you miss the event’s other purposes.

    First, the opportunity to have a space where essentially all the money walks around and talks to you is of real value. Despite Albert’s conversations with many, most CEOs/CFOs that I spoke with, post conference, found the networking of value. I sat on the board of the event as well and spent the effort to follow up with hundreds of companies over the years.

    The TVG Breakfast events was a place where the venture community, which is not just VCs, could (again) network, pass around the cards, talk about opportunities, hear from people in the industry, etc.

    When TVG started, nobody was doing this stuff. Now, breakfast events, venture forums, conferences, etc, are all over the place. Some clones of TVG’s work, which is fine, more is better for start ups.

    TVG had a tough mandate and, frankly, we did not do a reasonable job of getting the audience right, adjust for the next set of requirements so we shut it down versus doing more of the same. We shut it down because the things TVG was doing were now being done by a host of others and, well, so be it. If lots of people were going to Banff or Ottawa for venture forums, excellent. If MARS puts on sessions for start ups, excellent. So long as the start up folks – and other companies- have these resources, doesn’t matter what the thing was called.

    Keep in mind TVG was not for profit. Nobody was making coin off this gig and there was tons of people working lots of hours to help the community.

    Every single start up or potential start up in this country needs things like TVG to exist. You need to have a healthy ecosystem where ideas can make it over the finish line.

    You need a place where the law firms and accounting firms see the young start ups and cut em a break in the hopes of a big client later. You need speed dating type events, not the Den, to give start ups a place to practice the pitch, hone the message, get tons of feedback in one shot.

    I can appreciate you questioning the value of these groups. You might, tho, consider the bigger picture and look at this from different angles.

    You need groups like TVG in some form, events like MESH, UnCamps, Bootwhatever, etc to keep the ecosystem alive and thriving.

    It is very important.

  • http://ricksegal.typepad.com Rick Segal

    Jevon,

    I actually avoided commenting on this until today primarily because I’ve gotten 4 links to your blog post in the last week. So, well done on that front.

    First, I was a board member so consider the source.

    The issue of TVG being helpful to start-ups can certainly be questioned. Through the Venture Forum event, millions of dollars have gone to companies seeking funding that were a direct result of an investor seeing the company at the event. I get the point about it being “look to the left and cough”, but you miss the event’s other purposes.

    First, the opportunity to have a space where essentially all the money walks around and talks to you is of real value. Despite Albert’s conversations with many, most CEOs/CFOs that I spoke with, post conference, found the networking of value. I sat on the board of the event as well and spent the effort to follow up with hundreds of companies over the years.

    The TVG Breakfast events was a place where the venture community, which is not just VCs, could (again) network, pass around the cards, talk about opportunities, hear from people in the industry, etc.

    When TVG started, nobody was doing this stuff. Now, breakfast events, venture forums, conferences, etc, are all over the place. Some clones of TVG’s work, which is fine, more is better for start ups.

    TVG had a tough mandate and, frankly, we did not do a reasonable job of getting the audience right, adjust for the next set of requirements so we shut it down versus doing more of the same. We shut it down because the things TVG was doing were now being done by a host of others and, well, so be it. If lots of people were going to Banff or Ottawa for venture forums, excellent. If MARS puts on sessions for start ups, excellent. So long as the start up folks – and other companies- have these resources, doesn’t matter what the thing was called.

    Keep in mind TVG was not for profit. Nobody was making coin off this gig and there was tons of people working lots of hours to help the community.

    Every single start up or potential start up in this country needs things like TVG to exist. You need to have a healthy ecosystem where ideas can make it over the finish line.

    You need a place where the law firms and accounting firms see the young start ups and cut em a break in the hopes of a big client later. You need speed dating type events, not the Den, to give start ups a place to practice the pitch, hone the message, get tons of feedback in one shot.

    I can appreciate you questioning the value of these groups. You might, tho, consider the bigger picture and look at this from different angles.

    You need groups like TVG in some form, events like MESH, UnCamps, Bootwhatever, etc to keep the ecosystem alive and thriving.

    It is very important.

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  • Hawkman

    Is it true? The Toronto Venture Group is no more? I can see many reasons for their lose and drawbacks. What will be their most important for the being weak. If it realizes it helps other companies to stay bold and will strengthen their own. The blog says that It looks like TVG has a little bit of debt which is about $200,000.
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  • Hawkman

    Is it true? The Toronto Venture Group is no more? I can see many reasons for their lose and drawbacks. What will be their most important for the being weak. If it realizes it helps other companies to stay bold and will strengthen their own. The blog says that It looks like TVG has a little bit of debt which is about $200,000.
    banff alberta

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