I’ve been thinking that we need to create a local incubator, and I’ve started to wonder where this fits in Jevon’s vision of saving VCs in Canada. And it’s an easily understood way to go about deploying small amounts of capital and managing the risks associated with the investments. There are folks beginning to do this in Vancouver, and Montreal. They provide entrepreneurs with capital, education, mentorship, promotion mechanism, market development, among other offerings. They are angels, VCs, and others hustling to find deals, to help their portfolio grow and be successful. Most of all we need to lead by example. We need to build real companies like Well.ca, FreshBooks, DayForce, Rypple, PlentyOfFish, ElasticPath, Idee, and others. The focus needs to be, not on raising money, but on finding customers and solving problems for the marketplace. There is money is available to help companies once they’ve found a customer, when they need to do marketing, additional product development, etc.
The gap that is identified is at the very earliest stage of the investment pipeline. There are less entrepreneurs starting fundable companies. This is because there have been less successful startups that spinout human capital, culture and ideas. The lack of Fairchildren means there are less successful individuals that have earned their pedigree and training at a successful startup. Basically, there is a bunch of stuff that can be best learned by doing it for another startup (success or failure). It’s not only about technology, it’s about finding customers, raising money, building products, doing business development, developing personal and professional networks, learning how to do sales, etc.
But we’ve had a dearth of these startups? Maybe not, but there has definitely been a dearth of Fairchildren from these companies. Definitely not enough to create a viable, self-sustaining ecosystem of entrepreneurs and angel investors in the technology space. And this has left a gap in the very early-stage entrepreneurs and funding creating early-stage technology ventures. This gap may have longer term repercussions, the most easily identifiable is in the declining number of early stage investment in Ontario.
Who is motivated to create an environment with early stage deals, educated entrepreneurs and culture of educated risk taking? Who is going to do the hustling to make these ventures happen?