We are pleased to have Vancouver Super Angel and Executive Director of GrowLab, Mike Edwards join the Startup Visa Canada team. In the past two years, Mike has done 45 investments in early stage startups in Vancouver, Montreal, New York, Silicon Valley, Europe and China. In his new role as ED of GrowLab, Mike will continue to search the world over to find and invest in the most talented entrepreneurs and encourage them to choose Canada as the best place to start and build their companies.
We caught up with Mike while he was on a recent workation in Hawaii to find out more about his investment thesis and why he cares about the Startup Visa Canada initiative.
Startup Visa Canada: You’ve written a lot of cheques over the past two years, can you share a little bit about what you look for before inking the deal?
Mike Edwards: I invest really early in the cycle of a startup. Therefore, I can really only invest in one thing – the team. Before I cut a cheque, I try to figure out if the team I am about to invest in can execute, overcome adversity, stick together and continue to test the market with their product.
Most angel investors and micro VCs invest close to home, why are your investments spread out all over the place?
I believe Innovation and Entrepreneuralism are universal. No country, town or region has a lock on these traits. I try to go to as many different geographic locations as possible, so that I am exposed to ample opportunities and the most talented entrepreneurs in the world.
On top of that – the more I travel, the more I learn. Ultimately, I can share new trends and apply what I learn to my existing portfolio and the teams that I work with at GrowLab.
You have lived in the US, Canada and Europe, do you see differences in entrepreneurial drive in various regions?
On a personal level, I look at my son – who has clocked 100 ski days this year, enjoys holidays in Hawaii, and spends more time out of school, than in. Why would he want to change the world? His world is already pretty good.
Counter that with an aspiring entrepreneur, who I met in Istanbul or a team that I talked to in Bucharest with limited resources, they HAVE to and Want to change the world. They are hungry, talented and ready but they just need a bit of help and the right opportunity. Canada is a great soft landing for these talented, immigrant entrepreneurs. And accelerators like GrowLab can provide them with access to the capital, mentorship, and space they need to get setup and established in Canada.
Speaking of GrowLab, congrats on your new role as Executive Director! As the ED, are you actively looking to attract International teams?
Yes, we are actively seeking out international teams. We believe that having a diverse group of entrepreneurs in the cohort will benefit GrowLab, the Canadian startup community and create an interesting and dynamic alumni.
What made you want to get more actively involved with Startup Visa Canada?
I think that Canada is a great place for international talent to land and build successful companies. We have access to capital, a diverse talent pool of employees and are just a short flight to Silicon Valley. If we are successful in reforming our immigration policies, we will create more jobs; specifically more creative jobs. And creative types tend to be active, interested in the arts, live close to work, eat out often and shop local, which contributes to a vibrant and dynamic community.