There are bound to be more US-led foreign investment firms making their way across the border with the elimination of the long dreaded Section 116. There have been a number of US firms that were making investment in Canada prior to the removal of this taxation law including: Rho Ventures, GrandBanks Capital and Bridgescale Partners. Bridgescale is an interesting firm. They are focused on the later stage deals but realize that these deals are part of a larger ecosystem.
Bridgescale is led by Rob Chaplinsky. Chaplinsky is a Mechanical Engineering grad from the University of Waterloo (with an MBA from Harvard). He cut his chops as a general partner doing early-stage deals at Mohr Davidow Ventures. He’s a little old school, investor in Bluecat Networks, and a little new schook, he’s an investor in lean startup ninja Eric Reis’ IMVU.
There is also Howard Gwin. Howard’s located in Canada. He’s on the ground helping companies, serving on boards, and generally helping companies grow. Currently he serves on the boards of Coveo, dna13, Kinaxis and others. He’s on the ground and focused on helping Canadian companies. He was on the board of Taleo which has a market cap of >$1B. Not a bad guy to have on your board.
The interesting part is the desire to build connection and community. It’s similar to the efforts that the C100, which aim to help Canadian startups connect with senior level talent and connections in Silicon Valley. The Bridgescale team has created Digital Puck. Apparently all Canadian startup CEOs and founders are hockey fanatics (well, that’s not far off from the truth). Digital Puck is an opportunity for Canadian startup leadership teams to connect with each other and other key players. The goal is to help bootstrap the next generation of companies, and if I’m not a rocket scientist to help educate and grow companies that Bridgescale can invest in. The goal is to build the connections. It is through the connections that value is transferred. It may not always be a direct transfer, and the Bridgescale team seems to understand the need for individuals to be connected across Canada.
Mentor Monday is a mentoring forum for private company CEOs that will take place in the afternoon of the last Monday of every month. There will be three CEOs at each event – a mix of early and later stage companies. On hand will be several very experienced Digital Puck board members – current or past CEOs, CIOs, COOs, and other VP level technology backgrounds. The CEOs will get a great forum to test your business strategy, explore growth plans, look for contacts, board members, advisory board members or just discuss things on your mind. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP on the “Events” section of DigitalPuck.
Whether this is a Silicon Valley firm looking for better valuations on mid-to-late stage deals in Canada or a set of Canadian expatriates looking to make investments in their country of origin, it’s all good for Canadian startups. I participated in today’s inaugural Mentor Monday session that saw 3 companies present today including:
It will be interesting to see this event evolve, but I think the session was incredibly valuable for each of the startups. It was most valuable as an participant when the founder introduced their business and then described the business problem they needed advice solving. It was very similar to a board meeting with a lot of outside connections. Where else do you get feedback from CEOs, technologists, funders, lawyers, accountants, etc. There is some evolution that needs to happen to the format, but it was a great session. Definitely a great forum for companies that are looking for go-to-market strategies, sales channel discussions, and other growth questions.