The 2020 Western Angel Investment Summit brought local entrepreneurs together with angels from all over Canada at Victoria’s iconic Oak Bay Beach Hotel to share insights about trends in tech industry investments. Victoria’s own Capital Investment Network (CIN) and Vancouver’s Angel Forum (AF) hosted the event aimed at connecting angels, funds, and accelerators.
The night before the sold out conference for 120 guests, visitors met at Canoe Club over choice appies and drinks to introduce themselves. The summit then opened with Pieter Dorsman, Director of Angel Forum, summarizing the successes of the companies who pitched at the 2019 Western Angel Investment Summit. Mayor Lisa Helps then took the stage to discuss Victoria’s significant growth in tech and how it continues to be the biggest business sector stimulating the local economy. The mayor brought attention to the launch of the Victoria 3.0 plan which aims to support sustainable innovation and diversify our economy.
Claudio Rojas, the CEO at National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) based out of Toronto, shared his understanding about how the tech industry throughout Canada can mobilize angel capital and unlock $6.9 billion in new investments. Next, the keynote speaker Hans Knapp, Angel Investor and Partner Yaletown Ventures, shared his insightful BC success story about how he grew and exited household name brand Daiya Foods for $400M. Hans is a seasoned investor with multiple $200M+ exits under his belt. After the engaging story of Daiya Foods, there was fun group networking exercise - Angel Investor Bingo. James DeGreef, Chairman of Capital Investment Network, lightened the mood with a few of his signature “dad jokes” as guests answered skill testing questions about angel investing on their bingo cards.
Pieter Dorsman moderated eight pitches from the following high caliber and well vetted companies: VINN, Zennea, Dignii, DivDot, Vitamin Lab, WalletCard, Visualping, and Spliqs. The presentations were outstanding and the audience engaged in thoughtful Q&A sessions between pitches. Over lunch and while angels, academics, startup CEOs and guest speakers mingled, NACO recorded interviews from summit attendees for its new podcast called “Built by Angels”.
Prior to the afternoon pitches, the “Working Together to Win Together” - Panel - Seed Funds, Accelerators, and Incubators started with the moderator Richard Egli, Managing Director of Alacrity Canada, inviting compelling answers from the panel about how to work together to help early stage companies grow. Patrick Lor - Managing Partner Panache Ventures, Mohan Markandaier - Managing Partner Good News Ventures, Jeanette Jackson - CEO Foresight, Kari Lamotte - Managing Director Entrepreneurship@UBC, and Rob Bennett - COO and Program Director VIATEC all vocalized the importance of training leaders while providing help to entrepreneurs.
Wrapping up the summit presentations, James DeGreef interviewed seasoned and award winning angel investors Hannes Blum, Stephanie Andrew (WEL), Elizabeth Dutton (WEL), Jennifer Thompson, Pieter Dorsman and John Robertshaw about the takeaways from their many experiences, their personal ups and downs with investing over the years, and future predictions regarding investments. Guests of the summit were then bussed to the Bard and Banker for a cocktail social and dinner where the companies that were voted as the audience favourites were announced. These companies will be presenting at an Angel Forum event on April 2nd.
Thank you to the summit’s supporters - City of Victoria, NACO and VIATEC and to the organizers Irene Dorsman, Pieter Dorsman, Stephanie Andrew, James DeGreef, Anna Quinn and Jordan Schley. An extra special thank you to our event sponsors Harper Grey, PWC, Apply, TMX Group, OKR Financial, Virtual CFO, E-Fund, Raintree and RBC.
Photography by Charles He