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 startupvisa@rho.com. 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 www.rhocanada.com and www.rho.com. Notable portfolio companies of RCV include Accedian Networks, Beyond The Rack, Chango, Fixmo, Frank & Oak and InPowered.

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9 comments on “How to Land a Meeting with Rho Canada Ventures
  1. Martin says:

    “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. ”

    We are talking about IMMIGRANT entrepreneurs. By definition they have no links/connections within the Canadian/US business community and it’s unlikely they can find someone to recommend them to you.

    It’s a pity that investors do not understand simple things that go beyond their own cozy little ecosystem.

  2. maurarodgers says:

    Hi Martin,

    Yes, that is typically how most VC’s operate and is usually the best way to get their attention – Just about anywhere in the world. That said, a warm intro is not the only way. I think the VC’s in the Startup Visa Program have been included because they have funded and/or are interested in funding the most talented entrepreneurs from around the world. Roger mentions that in the interview. Rho Canada has also set up an email specifically to review and respond to Startup Visa entrepreneurs.

    A talented, determined entrepreneur will find a way to get the attention of the investors he/she is interested in. Please don’t be discouraged. Entrepreneurs should focus on building their business, getting traction and also do their homework to find the right investment partner.

    Thanks for bringing this up. I’ll share your comment with Roger.

  3. maurarodgers says:

    Also, I have met many immigrant entrepreneurs, who have been introduced to me via investors, accelerators etc. in various countries.

  4. Martin says:

    Hi Maura,

    I’m not discouraged. We have a profitable business that we (thanks, God) have built without a single penny from investors. I’m just pointing others who may read these comments at how skewed an investor’s perspective can be. They are financiers in mind, not entrepreneurs. A financier avoids the risk as much as they can. Entrepreneurs, on the contrary, are seeking for the risk. Two opposite mindsets.

    My word to all entrepreneurs would be then – if you really like what you are doing, never let investors in. They will ruin it with their narrow-minded thinking.

  5. maurarodgers says:

    Congrats on your success.

    Not all investors are evil though. They can be great partners. :) It really depends on how you want to grow your business. I have known entrepreneurs like Mike McDerment of Freshbooks who have bootstrapped their way to success and others who need capital to grow. I recommend that entrepreneurs do their own diligence before they take money.

  6. More than happy to review ‘cold call’ submissions at startupvisa@rho.com. Thanks Maura for posting and Martin for the valuable feedback.

  7. Kazi Zahid says:

    Can you please clarify one thing?
    If an entrepreneur running an organization outside Canada and wanting to have funding to start business at Canada then where you will invest?
    In the company or in the person?
    In case of person, he has to start his company again at Canada.
    If in case of company then you have to invest in both countries. Will it support to your policy?

    • maurarodgers says:

      Hi Kazi,

      I’m not sure if it is a requirement for the program. I do think that having a legal entity in Canada is a requirement to doing business here. I asked some investors and it is also preferred by them to invest in a company also incorporated in Canada. While they are focused on looking for the best teams, they invest in a legal entity, not a person.

      This is a question I will have to dig more into from the CIC’s perspective.

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