VC in Canada

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Hi everyone,

Requesting commentary from anyone with knowledge about the Canadian VC landscape to shed some light on the industry. VC in Canada seems to be incredibly small, but I'd like to gain insight on the following:
- Is it a growing area in Canada?
- How does the pay compare to buyout funds? For example, I see some seed-stage funds with very little AUM... e.g., VC areas in Canada? E.g. CPG?

Hopefully many others are interested and would benefit from shared discussion points!

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Comments (11)

 
Jun 1, 2020 - 3:56pm

Landscape is tiny and there's not a lot of funds out there. Some pension funds (ie. OMERS) have started building VC team, but otherwise funds are really small. The startup ecosystem in Canada is growing, but still relatively minor. It's quite common for Canadian entrepreneurs to move to the US to start their business. And for those few who stay in Canada and show promise, they tend to rely on US funds for larger raises.

 
Most Helpful
Jun 1, 2020 - 4:26pm

As with private markets in general the space is really small in Canada, but there are some good players (by Canadian standards).

These would be firms like OMERS Ventures, Portag3 (Fintech investments) and Arctern (clean tech). Arlene Dickinson of Dragon’s Den has a CPG VC fund out in Calgary called district ventures that might be cool. As another user said, the pension funds have started doing more VC pieces as well.

The big banks have also started doing a lot of early stage pieces and incorporating them into their business offerings, RBC Ventures is an interesting example of this.

It seems most of the VC areas are within technology though, and they’re rife with random small funds and BS surrounding crypto and cannabis. Stay away from those imo. A lot of the space ends up being invested in by small private equity shops that don’t really have a minimum deal size as well as family offices too, so it’s less consolidated in traditional VC.

I don’t actually know what compensation would be like at smaller firms, but I would imagine it is less than 60K CAD. Don’t take my word for it, but if you’re applying to a small start up fund that has 25M AUM I would be surprised if it was more.

For recruitment, I would network and reach out to people in the space. Public postings are one way, but for a small fund just keep in touch and you’ll be top of mind if they are looking to expand!

 
  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 1, 2020 - 5:13pm

Hey - thank you for this. Can you please share some tips on how should one stay in touch with a small fund in Canada if you’ve had a brief networking call already a few months ago? I am an experienced professional unemployed for a year but due to no fault of my own. i have relevant experience and am looking for advice on how can I keep the leads warm until they are ready to hire again

 
Aug 25, 2020 - 1:25am

Is most of the Canadian VC industry focused around Toronto (similarly to the IB scene) or is it spread a bit more out (e.g. Vancouver / Calgary "relevant" as well)?

Any thoughts on doing VC at a place like Telus Ventures or BDC Venture Capital? Recently came across investment roles on Linked with them and first impression was that it wasn't horrible. No idea about comp / culture though.

 

 
  • VP in VC
Aug 25, 2020 - 9:00am

You'll naturally see more VCs with HQ or major offices in Toronto because that's where the concentration of opportunities (Toronto, Waterloo) and capital are. But you'll also have VCs with offices in Montreal, Vancouver, and maybe some presence in Calgary. 

Can't comment on comp, but I can say that Telus Ventures is legit (experienced team, thoughtful investors, domain expertise), and they invest in U.S. startups in addition to Canadian startups. BDC VC is also very active across Canada.

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