We promised you a surprise at StartupCamp Toronto, and we did our best to deliver. At the end of the night, we asked Sundeep and Amar from Extreme Venture Partners to come up, tell us about themselves, and take some questions from the room. Extreme VP is a new venture fund based in Toronto, and this was their coming out so to speak.
Jumping in to the startup scene here and telling everyone you are a couple of freshly minted VCs can’t be easy to do. I was excited to introduce the guys because I am one of many who believe that venture capital has to change in Canada. I don’t pretend to have all the answers about where venture capital is going or where it should be going, but if a new venture fund is going to try and do things differently, I am on their side.
When I first got an email from Sundeep and Amar I was intrigued, excited and a little pessimistic. My guess is that those are the exact same feelings that most people in the room had at StartupCamp. The fact is that a large number of startups in Canada are going to need some sort of capital, whether it is early stage, acceleration capital or expansion capital later on. As Albert Lai said when he kicked off with his keynote: finding early stage and acceleration capital in Canada can be painful, if not impossible.
Amar (on the left in the above photo) is an engineering grad from Waterloo who has spent the last 5 years working as a VC here in Toronto. He has worked on something in the area of 40 transactions in that time, and has learned a lot about “traditional” VC it seems. Sundeep has some notches on his belt, having founded and sold a few successful startups over the last few years while living in San Francisco.
Sundeep and Amar have not raised a huge fund by any stretch. At $10 million, they aren’t taking a management fee out of the fund, nor can they afford to throw money at unrealistic startups. What they plan to do is invest early in good ideas and provide up to $1 million in funding over the life of a company.
There are a few things that I think sets Extreme VP apart from other Canadian VCs: They can do deals as small as $25,000, they try to complete a deal within 1 month if it is a ‘yes’, they are probably more tuned in to what is going on right now with web startups than most other VCs, and they have a good set of connections that they can use to help the companies that they fund.
One thing that has impressed me so far is that they are also accessible. Even before they officially ‘launched’ their fund, I saw them out at democamps, pub nights, and breakfasts where I could not find another VC if I tried. To me, that says something. The other thing is that these guys are actually doing some deals. In a short period of time they have funded something in the range of 3 startups and I believe they have more that are looking good.
What do I hope Sundeep and Amar accomplish? Disruption. I hope they are a wake up call to many of the VCs in Canada who have taken their deal flow for granted. By being accessible at the grassroots level, Extreme VP will see valuable deals before they land on the desks of the more established VCs. Some of them may have to hit the ground and start looking for good deals before they get picked up by the new guys in town.