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Built by Angels is a new podcast series that will guide you on the road to venture capital scale and growth. Interested in funding the next big thing? Are you an entrepreneur searching for capital, to fund and scale your company? Are you on the sidelines, wondering how to jump in, while everyone else is building, backing, and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurial companies?Stay tuned, subscribe and join us on this exciting journey, as we transform ordinary listeners into extraordinary investors. 
Why do Angels Invest?

Why do Angels Invest?


This podcast is for informational purposes only and is based on the book "A Practical Guide to Angel Investing, 2nd Edition" authored by Steven Gedeon PhD and published by the National Angel Capital Organization. Content discussed is for general guidance on matters of interest and should not be taken as professional, legal, business or investment advice.Most angels have enjoyed a successful business career and want to share their expertise and experience with younger entrepreneurs. Of course. They want and expect to gain above market rates of return on their investments. That's what makes this form of investing sustainable, but often they also want to pay it forward to help others and give back to their communities.Angels are often retired executives or other professionals, or in many cases, they are former entrepreneurs who ran and sold their own companies. Business angels invest because of their love for entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial journey. Angels invest for many reasons, including the excitement of being involved in an interesting company or industry. The desire to mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs, the desire to pay it forward by sharing their expertise with those who need it, contributing to the economic growth of their region, community, or country.This podcast will help distill the wisdom of hundreds of angel investors who came before you.
Value of Angel Groups

Value of Angel Groups


What will you do with the next 20+ years of your life? For most angels, the answer is: "I want to contribute to the good of my community""I want to continue to do what I love.""I want to be involved in strategy, important deals and major decisions.""I want to lend my expertise."The value of angel groups is that they essentially help mitigate your risk. Angel groups help you attract the highest quality deals and help you go through a due diligence process that vets out the deals that have a disproportionately high chance of failure, or a very low probability of success.Angel groups provide discipline, additional due diligence, and deal flow resources that will mitigate your risk and increase the probability of return. More on this topic in future episodes.
We are here with Senator Doug Black, Chair of the Senate Banking, Finance, and Trade Committee. The innovation ecosystem in Alberta has a tremendous potential. We see an opportunity to transition the risk capital, that has historically been in more traditional industries, to the high growth industries that can contribute so much to the economy. From your perspective, what can we do as a national organization and what can angel investors do to contribute to Alberta's renaissance? We need to find bridges. Build those bridges and make sure folks cross them. Specifically, in respect of Alberta. I spent a fair bit of time as an elected Alberta Senator moving through the province, understanding what I would call "Alberta 2.0" needs to look like. We have historically relied upon the oil and gas industry, and this is a very powerful, important industry. But, we recognize that we need to focus on a transition.Alberta 2.0 will take time. A large part of that is going to be technology. Whether it's specifically in the oil and gas industry, the renewables industry, the banking industry, or the agriculture industry. There are huge opportunities throughout the Alberta economy.
Angel investors bring more than capital. The knowledge that you have, your experience, what you've done in your professional life is exceptionally important for helping the next generation of entrepreneurs achieve success. High potential entrepreneurs in Canada do not need to exit. They do not need to sell their companies in order for the investors to achieve liquidity, Where only a small percentage of angel investors do exceptionally well, a very wide range that don't do well at all. The distribution of returns shows that over half of all investments never return their original capital or fail completely. In contrast, 10% of exits produce 90% of total returns.Since only 1 in 10 investments will tend to account for almost all returns, successful angels must use a portfolio diversification approach. Investing in only a couple of deals over several years is a weak investment strategy. This need for a portfolio to reduce risk is the same as the reasoning behind mutual funds or index funds. This speaks to the importance of diversifying your angel asset portfolio through investments in angel funds and participating in angel groups so that you can engage in a thorough due diligence process. Having the appropriate depth of education and training will help to be able to decipher between the riskier bets with a low probability of success from those rare investments that have a higher probability of success. High potential entrepreneurs in Canada do not need to exit. They do not need to sell their companies in order for the investors to achieve liquidity. Liquidity mechanisms are in development that provide angel investors with a return on their capital. This includes secondary market funds, venture capital and growth funds that provide liquidity to angel investors, and other mechanisms in development. NACO is engaged in initiatives to increase the level of integration across the funding spectrum, so that the funding continuum is smoother between angel to venture capital. Creating greater connection between angel investors and venture capital investors, allows for venture-grade companies to graduate out of the angel investment portfolio into the venture capital portfolio, and continue on to growth.More on this topic in future episodes. 
How do you value a company? How many companies do you need in your portfolio? The general suggestion among Canadian angels is 20 companies. Dr. Wade Brooks estimates that you need 40 companies to have a 95% chance of getting the average internal rate of return of 27%. A portfolio of 20 companies would give you a 60 to 70% chance of hitting the average. This is based on NACO data from the National Angel Summit in 2015. However, these numbers can be misleading. Angel investment practices across Canada vary tremendously and we will explore this diversity in more detail as we go through the six chapters of the book. A practical guide to angel investing. Of course, success takes more than just luck and a large portfolio.Angel experience, length of due diligence and post-investment participation in accompany coaching and governance also all play a significant role in increasing the rate of return and increasing the chances of success. This speaks to the critical importance of being associated with and participating in an angel group in your local community. NACO has 40+ angel groups throughout the country in virtually every region.These angel groups provide a network of experience, and it is through the angel groups. In addition to NACO's innovation and entrepreneurial hubs around the country that we deliver NACO Academy sessions ensure that you have the training necessary to increase your probability of success. You can purchase the book, A Practical Guide to Angel Investing, 2nd Edition, on by clicking here. 
Lessons learned from Patrick Lor, Co-Founder of iStockphoto and Managing Partner at Panache Ventures based in Calgary, Alberta. "I don't know if there's anything secret about this. But, we grew iStockphoto off the side of our desks and eventually iStock became such a success that we sold it for $50 million U.S. A few years later, they were doing about $300 million worth of revenues. The company would have been worth a few billion dollars. We didn't have that billionaire mindset."Part 2 of this interview coming soon. Stay tuned. Recorded on location at the Western Angel Investment Summit 2020 in Victoria, B.C. 
What is the role of angel investing in the economy? If there is no capital, there is no company. It's as simple as that. Without investment capital, there would be no new companies and no new jobs. Our economy would be in zero growth mode. This is based on a quote from Carl Furtado from the Golden Triangle Angel Network. Small to medium size enterprises, referred to as SMEs, are defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees and they represent over 98% of companies in North America and Europe, employing over two-thirds of all workers.A small fraction, around 4% of these SMEs, are high growth companies – called Gazelles, that create virtually all new jobs. What is the connection between job creation and the entrepreneurial economy?Virtually 100% of all new jobs in the last 30 years have come from new company creation. This is true of all developed countries. U.S. job data shows this particularly well. Angels play a critical role in the economy, investing in 27x more startups than venture capital investors.The Golden Triangle Nework (GTAN) has an infographic that shows their group's investments alone have created over one thousand jobs since its inception in 2009.Two major forces are affecting the angel asset class.First, entrepreneurs need less capital than ever to prove their business models. Using agile lean techniques, they can achieve significant growth. Next, the ability for angels to co-invest in syndicated deals has increased. Successful angels often syndicate deals and co-invest with everyone across the investment ecosystem, including internationally with venture capitalists, angel funds, founders and government partners.Some of the most attractive angel investment opportunities use technology-based barriers of entry to achieve competitive differentiation and high valuations. While Canada invests heavily in scientific research and development, it is difficult to commercialize these techniques and bring them to market with solid business models.Angels provide a vital bridge across the commercialization funding gap, filling the gap in the funding continuum between initial seed capital from friends and family– and the larger scale investments made by venture capital.If funding is not available through this often lengthy interim development phase, many startups would fall into the Valley of Death, reducing the pipeline of businesses for later stage growth and development. As summarized by Bryan Watson, former Executive Director of NACO, it was not that long ago that the majority of policy and support programs were designed primarily for supporting venture capital-backed companies. Angels, a collective of individuals, are a difficult entity to develop policy for. The economic crisis of 2008, and crowding out of angel investors in the Canadian market coupled with increased sophistication of angel groups, allowed angels to communicate with all levels of government. This led to programs that angel-backed companies could leverage to cross the funding-gap, while also helping to offset the risk faced by angels. This is based on research from Cumming and Macintosh (2006). The innovation funding gap continuum shows that angels fund companies to scale-up. The Valley of Death is in that chasm between seed and maturity. This is where individual angels, angel groups, angel syndicates, and funds, help smoothen the journey across the funding continuum for Canadian entrepreneurs.Some provinces also give angel investors direct tax credits to incentivize investment into entrepreneurial companies, and help reduce the risk of the asset class to a level that incentivizes investment.
Replay of the NACO Roundtable on Canadian Angel ActivityGood morning everyone. Welcome to today's Roundtable on Canadian Angel Activity. I'm Claudio Rojas, CEO of NACO and I will be your host for today's discussion. Thank you all for making the time to join us. Entrepreneurs are under severe pressure. COVID-19 has unleashed a combined health pandemic and economic crisis. The necessary shutdown to stop the spread of the virus has impacted company operations, dried up revenue, and the need for access to capital has never been greater. Today is the first in a series of conversations, Roundtables on stimulating angel activity, supporting the innovation ecosystem, and ensuring that entrepreneurs have sufficient access to capital to survive the economic effects of the crisis.Entrepreneurs, many of whom have put everything on the line, are struggling to stay solvent, cutting expenses, and laying off workers. The future has never. Then more uncertain. Government officials are working tirelessly to keep the economy functioning while instituting necessary measures to protect Canadians.Today's Roundtable includes global, national, and regional leaders from across the early stage capital ecosystem. We have over 350 listeners. We're going to move rapidly, taking stock of the current state of angel activity and gathering insights on policy responses to sustain the future of Canada's innovation economy.Bringing a policy perspective to this discussion are Senator Colin Deacon and Professor Thomas Hellmann. Colin Deacon, Senator in the Parliament of Canada from Halifax, Nova Scotia is an innovative thinker who spent his career turning ideas into products and services prior to joining the Canadian Senate. Dr. Thomas Hellmann is the DP World Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. He has been an advisor consultant to the World Economic Forum, Barclays Bank, the Government of British Columbia, and numerous startup companies. His case studies on entrepreneurial companies and venture financing bring a unique perspective on policy issues and potential response. Originally Recorded on April 2, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Replay of the NACO Roundtable on Canadian Angel ActivityWe have Ginette Mailhot, Chair at Anges Québec, a prominent angel group and member of NACO that does extraordinary work in unlocking capital in the Province of Québec.Also, joining is Derrick Hunter, President and CEO at Bluesky Equities based in Calgary, Alberta. Derrick was recognized this past year as the BDC Angel Investor of the Year at the NACO World Angel Investment Summit and is a member of Valhalla Angels. We also have Lynn Davis, Chair at SWO Angels based in Southwestern Ontario and part of the angel cluster called Equation Angels.Derrick, as an active angel investor, what are you seeing on the ground in Alberta? And let me set the stage here. The innovation ecosystem in Alberta was emerging in a significant way after years of work, including NACO being quite active in the region. But, there were also challenges in the broader environment.Are we at risk of the startup and scaleup ecosystem losing the momentum that we built up over these past years? It would be great if you could also situate us around the policy environment and what you're seeing within your portfolio. [Derrick Hunter] I will talk about the policy environment and then about some data from within our portfolio.Last October in the provincial budget, Alberta slashed the provincial component of Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) and also its Investor Tax Credit (ITC), which made Alberta the only province without SR&ED. And to my knowledge, the only jurisdiction in the developed world that doesn’t support entrepreneurs through the tax system specifically. As a result, they took a lot of heat from a lot of people.  In December, they created what they called the Innovation Capital Working Group...Originally Recorded on April 2, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Replay of the NACO Roundtable on Canadian Angel ActivityWe have the privilege of bringing international insights from Jacopo Losso, Director Secretariat at the European Business Angels Network (EBAN), and Pat Gouhin, CEO at the U.S. Angel Capital Association.Both Jacopo and Pat lead the equivalent organizations of NACO in their respective jurisdictions (Europe and the U.S.). We also have Colin Mason, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Glasgow. Colin is the author of NACO's Annual Angel Activity Report and brings unique perspectives on how angel activity varies over time, along with insights on what we can expect in the current environment. And perspectives on how we can help mobilize more angel capital, which is badly needed by the entrepreneurs that are struggling to keep their companies afloat... France, announced a ‎€ 4 billion plan, Germany is getting ready to announce € 2 billion to help startups. And there's a mix of solutions here…. covering salaries.. loans at very low rates or even zero rates… and finally, matching equity investments - Jacopo Losso, Director Secretariat at European Business Angels NetworkThere's a lot of talk about predatory behavior by large companies and hedge funds seeking to buy up individual companies under financial pressure –Colin Mason, Professor of Entrepreneurship at University of GlasgowEarly indicators at that angel groups are  pulling back. They're focusing first on the portfolio companies that they have –Pat Ghouin, CEO at U.S. Angel Capital AssociationOriginally Recorded on April 2, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Replay of Part 4 the NACO Roundtable on Canadian Angel ActivityIn relation to how do we keep investment moving and in Atlantic Canada… the most crucial things we need to be looking at are… matching funds from government… and investor tax credit –Stefanie Corbett, Director of Operations at Island Capital PartnersWe have had successful applications from companies who have retooled their manufacturing to produce face masks, hospital gowns, hand sanitizers, etc. Four of these deals closed just last week –Mary Long-Irwin, Executive Director at Northern Ontario AngelsThe angel ecosystem may be the glue that connects the policy and government with those startups on the front line that are the future of Canada. We’ve got to keep them shining bright –Randall Howard, Prominent Angel Investor and Board Member at GTAN.To the entrepreneurs on this call, the angel community is here to support you. We are in constant contact and communication with all those stakeholders that are ready and willing to support your companies. We are moving as quickly as we can to collaborate with policymakers to keep funds flowing into your companies, so that you can keep your employees employed, and so that you can keep building your great companies.When we look at past economic crises, new global companies emerged. And in the aftermath, and we are committed to helping that next wave of global companies emerge from Canada.Originally Recorded on April 2, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Replay of Part 1 of the NACO Roundtable on Incubators, Accelerators, and Entrepreneurial Activity"The Council of Canadian Innovators has determined that the wage subsidy is probably going to help maybe about 25% of their businesses... but the businesses that are being left out right now are all pre-revenue companies" John Ruffolo, Vice Chair at Council of Canadian InnovatorsToday is the second instalment in a series of conversations on stimulating angel activity, supporting the innovation ecosystem and ensuring that entrepreneurs have sufficient access to capital to survive the economic effects brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.Incubators and accelerators play a key role in enabling and supporting entrepreneurial activity. For many small businesses, this early guidance is how entrepreneurs learn the basics of running a company, making vital connections, attracting customers, and scaling up their operations.Originally Recorded on April 9, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Replay of Part 2 of the NACO Roundtable on Incubators, Accelerators, and Entrepreneurial Activity"The biggest issue companies are facing is liquidity and cashflow. And that cashflow can come in the form of a bridge and then deal with our burn to get to that raise."Iain Klugman, President & CEO at Communitech"Everyone is saying we need to find a way to help these companies bridge. And I think the only thing that's getting in our way is that speed wins in times of crisis. We need to make sure we're moving fast to get there." Siri Agrell, Executive Director at OneEleven Originally Recorded on April 9, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Replay of Part 3 of the NACO Roundtable on Incubators, Accelerators, and Entrepreneurial Activity"The bigger concern we're really seeing is founders that are pre-revenue or at that very early stage of development. They're the ones that are, are at this point, falling through the gap" John MacRitchie, Assistant Vice-President, Zone Learning and Strategic Initiatives at Ryerson University"Let's move at the speed of trust. Let's move things and audit later if we have to... when we're talking to our institutional partners in government, that's the sentiment that we should all be echoing" Terry Rock, CEO at Platform Calgary"These are very fragile startups and whatever we do, we need to not make this journey even more fragile for them. Because we definitely will lose some along the way" Sherry Colbourne, CEO at Spark CentreOriginally Recorded on April 9, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Replay of Part 3 of the NACO Roundtable on Incubators, Accelerators, and Entrepreneurial Activity"The good part about the BDC program for matching funds is that it might help to speed up the process knowing that the BDC will be able to match some of those funds. But a challenge in the early stage in Canada is to find leads" Emilie Boutros, General Partner at TandemLaunch"Many of these companies that we're supporting, they're just not going to be eligible for venture capital. And so we really need to start thinking about... how can we start using our existing angel networks to unlock capital" Jordan Dutchak, Executive Director at co.labs"We don't want to lose the momentum that accelerators and the tech ecosystem has built, been built out across the country... we need to ensure that we are not turning our back on startups... And I really feel that if we don't continue to be these advocates, I'm fearful for what this lasting impact will have on our economy." Brea Lake, CEO at Accelerate OkanaganOriginally Recorded on April 9, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
Welcome everyone to our Roundtable on Sustaining the Innovation Ecosystem. Today’s agenda includes Opening Comments by David Skok, CEO & Editor-in-Chief at The Logic, Special Remarks by Anthony Lacavera, Founder and Chairman of Globalive. And an important conversation with The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages –– with angel investors, innovation leaders and most importantly entrepreneurs.The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) was honoured to host a collaborative roundtable on Thursday April 16 that featured an impressive selection of industry insiders who shared insights about the current state of the innovation ecosystem in light of COVID-19. The discussion also revolved around specific, tangible ways the Canadian government can better assist early-stage entrepreneurs and angel investors weather the current economic storm. This session—the third in a now-popular series delivered by NACO every Thursday—included experts “united in attacking the economic effects that are impacting all sectors and level of society,” said Claudio Rojas, CEO of NACO. “If we focus on helping each other, cognizant of the effects we’re experiencing as individuals and organizations, we can better find new ways to collaborate and help the ecosystem.” The 90-minute roundtable was virtually attended by people in each province and territory across the country and presented a solid focus: building solutions to help entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time. “We hear you. We know your collective strength can help us find new solutions and shape policies that can drive the innovation ecosystem forward,” Rojas said. Attendees were also privileged to listen to remarks by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Canada’s Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, who explained the federal government’s ongoing economic response to the pandemic. The respected roster of speakers—angel investors, entrepreneurs and innovation leaders—shared candid tales of their current state, and offered Minister Joly well-informed suggestions of concrete ways Canada’s government can help the ecosystem’s most vulnerable entrepreneurs and startups.  “If we move too slowly in supporting startups or focus too narrowly on scale-ups, the innovation ecosystem itself and its interconnectedness will unravel and Canada will, once again, lag behind,” Rojas said. “Or we can take bold action, make bold moves and emerge in the aftermath as a country the whole world looks to for leadership.”  1)    State of the union: David Skok“This isn’t really a time for fiscal restraint—this is a time for spending. This is the biggest collapse of the economic order since the Great Depression and if spending doesn’t happen soon, there is a chance we could experience a lost decade” “There has never been a more necessary time for entrepreneurs and angels to work together to build a foundation of a new economy.”  2)    Proposed solutions for government from industry leaders“What the government can do in a straight-forward way is to support the construction of a world-class angel investor ecosystem in Canada that will drive our overall innovation ecosystem.” –Anthony Lacavera“I would like to see income tax deductibility for qualifying angel investments in the pre-seed stage that have been accepted into a recognized incubator or accelerator. Any company that’s in one of recognized incubators or accelerators that’s doing a seed or pre-seed financing and has angel investor participation—those angels should qualify for straight-forward income tax deductibility for those investments.” –Anthony Lacavera Originally Recorded on April 16, 2020. Cli
Earlier this week, an article that appeared in the Toronto Star stated that “The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program should be broadened to include high growth firms, software-as-a-service firms, firms whose revenues are seasonal or project-based and pre-revenue firms that are heavily invested in research and development.”With economic confidence low, investment capital is drying up. Many of Canada’s highest-potential companies will run out of it in coming months. Without quick, strong government action, they will fail,” the article states.We are now going to move into the next portion of our program where we hope to explore these ideas in further conversation. Participants included:Angel InvestorsSerge Beauchemin, CEO at Anges Québec Capital (Montréal)Judy Fairburn, Co-founder of The51 (Calgary)Sam Elfassy, Physician and Founder at HaloHealth (Toronto)EntrepreneursAlexandra T. Greenhill, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Careteam (Vancouver)Naheed Kurji, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Cyclica (Toronto)Julie Angus, Founder and CEO at Open Ocean Robotics (Vancouver)Innovation LeadersYung Wu, CEO at MaRS Discovery District (Toronto)Michelle Simms, President and CEO at Genesis (St. John's, NL)Jeff White, CEO at New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (St. John, NB)QuotesBig-picture government response: The Honourable Mélanie Joly  “The first priority is to keep Canadians healthy, as we are all flattening the curve. We need to make sure people are able to follow the strict rules and strict recommendations of our public health officials. I would say this is our biggest economic measure—the more we’re able to flatten the curve on the health risks, the more we’re able to flatten the curve on the economic risks.” “Our second priority is having a people-first approach. What we did was massively expand the definition of EI and we created a new benefit—the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. We wanted to expand the social safety net in order for people not to fall through the cracks and to make sure we wouldn’t be increasing inequities at the end of this crisis.” Melanie “We also came up with the CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) program, which is for businesses that had wages between $20,000 and $1.5 million. I’ve never seen policies developed as fast as we’re doing right now. We know we have to be fast and nimble.” Proposed solutions for government from industry leaders: Yung Wu“I commend the government for acting quickly to mobilize a massive response to this crisis—leadership has been truly impressive. But I’d like to be really candid here because we don’t have time to be polite right now: Operationally, that response has fallen short and, in particular, it’s fallen short in the tech sector. Most of our most promising companies are not yet backed by banks—they’re not yet backed by later-stage venture capital firms. They’re pre-revenue and backed by angels or are growing their companies by acquiring new customers or markets. I recommend that the government immediately grant blanket acceptance into the wage subsidy program for founders and employees who are part of a recognized accelerator or incubator, or who are backed by angels from a recognized angel organization.” Final remarks: The Honourable Mélanie Joly  “To thrive in the business world, you have to be extremely optimistic. My message to you is to continue to keep that optimistic approach and know that things will get better and we will be helping you cross the bridge to get on the other shore. The future will be brighter.”  Originally Recorded on April 16, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
We all know the idiom credited to philosopher Plato: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” It means, of course, that new ways of doing things are often created or discovered when there’s a real, intense need for them. And as we navigate this COVID-19 pandemic together, it’s fair to say this adage rings true louder today than in recent history — especially when it comes to the rising number of brilliant innovations materializing and flourishing in the health-tech sector.The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), in partnership with HaloHealth (Canada’s first physician-led angel network) was proud to host a collaborative roundtable on Thursday April 23 that featured an esteemed group of industry insiders who shared insights about the state of the med-tech ecosystem in light of COVID-19. This session — the fourth in the popular weekly series delivered by NACO — brought together experts in early-stage startups, angel investors and physicians on the frontlines to discuss the incredible need for innovative solutions to help the country’s 89,000 doctors (and thousands more healthcare providers) better serve Canadians.We know that your collective strength can help us find solutions and shape policies that have impact. We have entrepreneurs, angel investors, angel groups, incubators, accelerators — champions of Canada’s innovation economy from around the country listening in and contributing to these discussions. Originally Recorded on April 23, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
“The main takeaways… are the difficulties people are having in projecting a way out of this and building a plan, and the difficulties in taking care of teams right now, as we are locked in self-isolation in trying circumstances.” — Douglas Soltys, Editor-in-Chief at BetaKit Originally Recorded on April 23, 2020. Click here to join future roundtables.
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