How to Land a Meeting with Amy Rae from Vanedge Capital

Founded in 2010, Vanedge Capital is a $137M Series A Venture Capital Fund based in Vancouver, BC Canada. Vanedge is focused on investments in interactive entertainment, digital media, and digital services tailored to specific industry verticals for mobile and cloud, as well as digital infrastructure. While they have done seed investments in the past, they prefer Series A deals of $2-5M in companies with a solid product, customers and revenue.

Amy Rae/Vanedge


Recently, I had the pleasure of having coffee and catching up with Amy Rae, a Principal at Vanedge. Amy is focused on digital media investments at Vanedge. Her operational experience in online local search, advertising, small medium business market, and mobile and social commerce make her a great partner for technology entrepreneurs building digital media companies.

Maura: What kinds of companies/teams does Vanedge invest in? (what kind of qualities do you look for in a founder/ mixed teams etc?

Amy: Teams- Serial entrepreneurs who have done it before are always a plus, past experiences, passion, quality of the management team, fulsomeness of the management team (ie. are their holes in the mgmt team that need to be filled), how long they have worked together and who’s on their Advisory board.

After seeing the team and the pitch we will evaluate the team on the style of their pitch, how they answer their questions, how simply they can explain their business, how well they know their route to market, the ability to repeat their selling motion, industry knowledge, quality of customers. (Seems like a lot but we’re series A investors so companies should be looking to use the funds to scale.)

Why are you looking to invest in immigrant entrepreneurs? Have you invested in the past?

I think we’re looking to invest in any quality business regardless where the entrepreneurs come from. So many Canadians were immigrants at one point. A good business is a good business – we aren’t biased towards Canadians. We actually have a North American mandate. We want to see all business opportunities. Canada isn’t just a great place to live, but we are seeing some great companies that could use our help in looking beyond Canada and taking what they have and building it into a global leader. Canada has some great technology, great leadership and some great companies and we think being on the ground here gives us an advantage on this against our counterparts in the US. Canada also seems more open to great talent from around the world coming to join our companies, something that has been a real sore point and impediment to technology companies in the US.

What is the best way for immigrant entrepreneurs to contact you about investment and what should they send you? 

Our website, will give all entrepreneurs an idea of our mandate and what we’re looking for. A one pager is always a great way to start, you can email us at We look at interactive entertainment, digital media, digital services tailored to specific industry verticals for mobile and cloud, as well as digital infrastructure and gaming.

What is your selection process like? 

We try our best to email everyone back (even if the one pager doesn’t fit our criteria) to explain what our mandate is. We invest $2-$5M (Series A) and look for companies with a product, customers and revenue. Although we do some seed deals and have invested in pre-revenue companies we do like to see the product close to completion and in beta testing to get some sense of market potential.

If you like what you see via email, what’s next?

If the introduction looks like it fits, our mandate is coffee or a meeting to learn more. A one pager only captures so much.

More on Vanedge & Amy

If you are a startup visa candidate and only looking for seed money, Vanedge may not be the best partner for you at this stage.  But if you have some traction, check out Vanedge’s website to learn more about their mandate and portfolio before reaching out.  You can also follow Amy on Twitter and check out her Linkedin profile to learn more about her thoughts and background.



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Startup Visa Canada Billboard on US101 Silicon Valley

Canada targeting San Francisco Bay's Intelligent Immigrants?

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Startup Visa Canada – Online Information Session on May 24th

As you know, Canada is officially open for business to the world’s startup entrepreneurs. The Startup Visa Program aims to connect immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced investors who have expertise working with and funding startups. Successful applicants will receive Permanent Residency.

We have been getting lots of questions and inquiries since the new Startup Visa Program was announced, so we decided to host a live Info session on:

Friday, May 24, 2013
9:00-11:00 am PDT

RSVP here

Startup Visa Canada’s, Maura Rodgers (@maurar) and Mike Edwards (@marallo), will answer any questions you may have about the program, access to capital and building your company in Canada. Maura is co-Founder of Strutta (@strutta) and has been building and advising startups for over 15 years. Mike is a technology entrepreneur and investor, who is presently CEO of LX Ventures and Executive Director of Vancouver’s seed accelerator GrowLab.  As an experienced investor, Mike can answer your fundraising questions and share some of the things he looks for before stroking a cheque.

This information session will be broadcast live. You can either engage with us either through the online platform or by posting your question on Twitter (@startupvisaca).

RSVP now!

Many thanks to Anastasia Hambali of GrowLab for organizing this event. 

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How to Land a Meeting with Rho Canada Ventures

Rho Canada Ventures (RCV) in Montreal is a division of New York-based Rho Capital Partners and a designated VC for the Startup Visa Canada Program. RCV has a unique positioning within the North American venture market: the experience and network of a leading US-based fund coupled with the local and hands-on nature of a dedicated Canadian presence. RCV recently launched its second $100 million Canadian fund and currently has $200 million under management.  To find out more about their process and what they look for before they invest, I reached out to General Partner, Roger Chabra. Roger has twenty years of tech industry experience – ten years as an entrepreneur/operator and ten years as a venture capitalist.

RC_casual_panorama_viewMaura: What kinds of companies/teams does RHO invest in? 

Roger: We maintain a diversified, early stage investment strategy. About a quarter to a third of the deals we do are seed stage, with the remainder being Series A deals. Currently, we are investing in digital media, IT, wireless apps & infrastructure, e-commerce, Internet services, enterprise software and disruptive technologies. From a geographic standpoint, we are committed to being a National fund and we have invested in companies across Canada. The most important part of our thesis is to partner with entrepreneurs that we can add significant value to, post-investment. We invest in companies that are in sectors we know well and that we have a deep network of connections in. If we can’t convince you that we can add real value, you shouldn’t consider us to be good candidates to invest in your company.

We like to invest in teams as opposed to single founders, but we have had success with both scenarios. At a fundamental level, we prefer founding teams who have a technical founder and a sales-oriented founder. Based on our past experience, this is a powerful combination that increases the probability of success for a company, particularly in the earliest stages of a business.

Why are you looking to invest in immigrant entrepreneurs? 

Many of the CEOs in our portfolio are either first generation or second generation Canadians. Canada has a unique history of innovation being driven by entrepreneurs and we are committed to investing in immigrant founding teams.

What is the best way for immigrant entrepreneurs to contact you about investment and what should they send you? 

The best way to get our attention is to get an introduction to us through someone who works with our firm currently, or has worked with us in the past. Either someone we have invested in or someone who works in the startup ecosystem and has worked with us in some capacity. We also accept submissions at Interested entrepreneurs should send an executive summary and a link to their company’s website or demo.

What is your selection process like? 

We usually review each submission within 24 hours. If the opportunity fits our investment thesis, we will respond quite quickly and setup a follow up meeting.

If you like what you see via email, what’s next?

We will contact the entrepreneur(s) by email and setup a follow up meeting.

More on Roger & Rho

Roger is currently an active investor in notable deals such as Chango, Frank & Oak and ShopLocket. Previously, Roger backed Xkoto (acquired by Teradata), Whitehill (acquired by Oracle), Paymentus (acquired by Accel-KKR) and NetShelter (ranked by ComScore as the #1 tech media company in terms of online traffic).  Follow Roger on Twitter and check out his Angellist profile to find out more about his interests and investments.

For more information on Rho visit and Notable portfolio companies of RCV include Accedian Networks, Beyond The Rack, Chango, Fixmo, Frank & Oak and InPowered.

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How to Land A Meeting with BDC Venture Capital

Owned by the Government of Canada, BDC is a Canadian Bank that provides financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. They are particularly focused on small to medium sized enterprises and have offices across Canada.  Image

I caught up with Shawn Salewski, BDC Manager of Public Relations to find out more about the kinds of companies they invest in and their selection process:

Maura: What kinds of companies/teams does BDC invest in? 

Shawn: BDC VC looks for innovative IT, health, and energy/clean technology companies, as well as venture funds, with high growth potential. BDC Venture Capital, much like other venture capitalists, looks for a seasoned management team, a solid business plan, a market opportunity to support fast and sustained growth, a distinct competitive advantage, and technology with broader applications than a single product or industry.

Why are you looking to invest in immigrant entrepreneurs?

We are looking for great ideas that we can help transform into great companies. Since venture capital investment is a highly specialized form of financing, the fact is, it is not right for all businesses. This means that BDC Venture Capital has to be extremely selective in matching the right financing to the right business opportunity. On average, we will review more than 1,000 business plans per year for prospective ventures, apply our rigorous selection criteria, and then partner with only a handful of the most promising companies.

What is the best way for immigrant entrepreneurs to contact you about investment and what should they send you? 

Companies can email their documents to us for further analysis by one of our investment professionals.

What is your selection process like?  

BDC Venture Capital will contact entrepreneurs only if we are interested in receiving further information about their business proposal.

Typically we will invest as part of a syndicate either as lead, co-lead or follower. Often, we will seek representation on the Board of Directors of our investee companies, and we encourage sound governance practices through the creation of a strong and well-balanced Board of Directors. We never own more than 49% of a company’s shares.

We use the following selection criteria when assessing a company’s potential for venture capital funding:

Your company must have a distinct, sustainable and competitive advantage

Your company has intellectual property, substantial proprietary knowledge and technology ownership that provide significant barriers to entry as well as freedom to operate within the targeted vertical sector.

A technological platform

You have developed, or are currently developing, technologies with broader applications than a single product or market.

A highly skilled and committed management team with entrepreneurial flair

You may not have a full team in place at the time of our investment, but you are market-oriented and have the sound business instincts and experience that fit with your new role in the proposed venture. A commitment to partnership is key.

A clearly defined and realistic business plan

You have a clear strategy for success. You can quickly position your company in the competitive arena, and your highly focused management team is able to adapt to change.

A market opportunity to support fast and long-term growth

Your market is large enough to sustain many players with substantial revenues and high growth rates. The market must be international in scope, with a clear path to commercialization.

Dominant leadership in the marketplace

Your business could lead to a merger, strategic acquisition, or listing on a public exchange.

A readily perceivable, constructive exit strategy

We seek return on investment commensurate with risk. Our exit is normally through an Initial Public Offering (IPO), a strategic sale or, in the case of companies with a strong recurring cash flow not wanting to sell or list their company, a leveraged management buy-out. We prefer investment opportunities that offer a three-to-five-year exit window.

A syndicate of venture capital investors

Building your company into an industry leader will require large amounts of capital and a shared goal of creating value. That is why we prefer to partner with other institutional funds that share our selection criteria and investment focus.

Inevitably, some prospective opportunities do not meet our selection criteria or present the type of growth that is suitable for venture capital funding. But as part of our commitment to helping Canadian ventures achieve commercial success, we immediately refer companies that don’t meet our criteria to the proper financing alternative within the bank.

If you like what you see via email, what’s next?

If we are interested in finding out more, one of our investment professionals will in touch with the company. Of note, as a participating organization under the Start-Up Visa Program, BDC Venture Capital will only issue a letter of support if we decide to fund their business idea (not just if we are interested). BDC Venture Capital plays no role in the immigration decision-making process and is expressly forbidden to provide any visa-related advice to applicants. In addition to the letter of support, entrepreneurs need to fulfil other immigration requirements to apply for a Start-up visa.

More About BDC

You can find out more about BDC by visiting their website, checking out their portfolio companies and following them on Twitter @BDC_VC. The BDC website includes a complete list of team members as well as their bios and photos.

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How to Land a Meeting with Chris Arsenault of iNovia

Chris Arsenault from iNovia Capital has been an early stage technology investor and entrepreneur for more than 20 years. He was founder & CEO of SIT, which was acquired by Ubizen, and helped launch a series of tech companies; Copernic, Wanted, up2 and i5. In addition, he is a board member of the CVCA and Réseau Capital, Co-Chair of the CIX and is an active Charter Member of Silicon Valley based C100.

Chris A

As a key member of the Startup Visa Initiative, Chris is very interested in finding and connecting with talented entrepreneurs around the world.  I reached out to him to learn more about the kinds of companies and entrepreneurs iNovia invests in and their Startup Visa Review Process:

Maura: Why iNovia?

Chris: iNovia is a venture capital firm that partners with exceptional entrepreneurs. We are a team of founders, operators and engineers that are passionate about building leading technology companies. As entrepreneurs ourselves, all of us have experience in early stage technology companies within the industries we seek to invest in. In addition to capital, we bring these experiences as well as our respective domain expertise and personal networks with us to help the entrepreneurs we back succeed.

What kinds of companies and teams does iNovia invest in?  

Our goal is to find organizations that have the potential to emerge as category leaders within the Digital Media, Software, eCommerce, Consumer Internet and Cloud Infrastructure sectors. We invest in outstanding entrepreneurial teams that demonstrate a strong vision for the future and the ability to execute in competitive markets. We prefer to finance disruptive business models driven by a metrics-oriented and capital-efficient strategy. We think of our portfolio companies as being sustainable platforms for continued innovation, and encourage our entrepreneurs pursue a product roadmap that reflects that.

What is the best way for immigrant entrepreneurs to contact you about investment and what should they send you? 

We are all about building strong relationships. The best way to get our attention is to link up with us through an existing portfolio company, co-investor or friend of iNovia. The second best way is likely to send an e-mail to: with a link to your website/product and a short summary of what you’ve been working on. We are a data-oriented firm, so please include any relevant metrics that demonstrate momentum and/or traction to date.

What is your selection process like?  

We will review each submission and contact the Companies we find compelling within a few days. But in the scenario where we receive an investment opportunity that is outside of our investment thesis, we will not respond back.

If they get to the meeting stage, should the founder(s) be prepared to walk you through a presentation?

Our best meetings take the form of a conversation rather than a formal pitch. We invest in people, not presentations. That being said, it is helpful to have some slides that can be distributed beforehand to better guide the conversation. And let’s be clear, a product demo outweighs any presentation, and customer data and metrics out-speaks any market research.

More on iNovia

iNovia Capital is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec with additional offices in New York and Calgary. For more updates, you can follow iNovia on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Before you contact them, check out their website and portfolio to see if your company would be a good fit.

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How to Land a Meeting with Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures

Before you can apply for the Startup Visa Program, you need a commitment from a designated investor.  To help you prepare for and land a meeting with one of these notable investors, we will be featuring interviews on our blog with various designated VCs and angels in the coming weeks.


To kick off the series of interviews, it seemed fitting to highlight Boris Wertz first, as he is one of the Founders and advocates of the Startup Visa Initiative.

Boris is also one of the top tech early-stage investors in North-America and the founding partner of Version One Ventures. His portfolio encompasses over 40 early-stage consumer internet and enterprise companies, including Edmodo, Flurry, Frank & Oak, GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce), Indiegogo, Indochino, Julep, Sparkbuy (acquired by Google), Summify (acquired by Twitter), Top Hat Monocle, Tynt (acquired by 33across) and Wattpad. Boris is also one of the founders of GrowLab, a Vancouver-based start-up accelerator.

As an entrepreneur first, Boris knows first hand what is like to be in your shoes and is excited for the opportunity to discover more great entrepreneurs to invest in from around the globe. I caught up with Boris this week to find out more about his investment portfolio and Startup Visa Selection Process.

Maura: What kinds of companies does Version One invest in?  

BW: Version One Ventures invests in Seed and Series A opportunities in 3 areas: Software-as-a-service (SaaS), e-commerce and marketplaces/platforms. We invest across North-America and have done over 40 investments to date.

You were one of the early investors in the Summify team from Romania. Why did you invest in Founders Cristian and Mircea?

We like to invest in passionate entrepreneurs with deep domain knowledge. Entrepreneurs with great product and design instincts. Entrepreneurs who want to change the world but know that in order to do so, they need help. And Cristian and Mircea were all of that: great entrepreneurs with a strong technical background who came up with a very interesting and innovative idea.

What is the best way for immigrant entrepreneurs to contact you about investment and what should they send you?

The best way is to send me a link to the product (so I can test it out) and an Executive Summary/One Pager, which describes how the entrepreneurs think around the overall opportunity.

What is your Startup Visa selection process like?

I usually look at new opportunities within 24 hours and if I am interested, I will schedule an intro call with an entrepreneur to learn more.

If they get to the meeting stage, should the founder(s) be prepared to walk you through a pitch presentation?

Pitch decks are a good tool to give a complete overview of the opportunity and show how the founders are thinking about it – but I am equally happy to just have a discussion about the product, the market and the team without following a presentation deck.

Recommended: Before you reach out, I encourage you to check out the Version One Blog and the companies in their portfolio to see if your startup would be a good fit. Also, take the time to get to know Boris online by following him on Twitter and check out his AngelList Profile.

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Startup Visa Team

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