Dynamic, thriving start-up ecosystems, like those in Toronto, Waterloo and Ottawa, are 'aboot' to get even better

500 Startups has crossed the border into Canada. Headed up by local partner, Sanjay Singhal, their presence is aimed at strengthening ties between Canada's start-up scene and Silicon Valley. 500 Startups Canada is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario and will work with venture capital firms, incubators and accelerators across Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa and other major cities in Canada.

Seed fund will help Canadian start-ups scale up

"500 Startups is the most active seed stage investor in the world, making two investments per day," Singhal recently told Bloomberg Canada host, Amanda Lang. In Canada, the accelerator will make 50 investments over the next few years, amounting to an estimated $30 million. "At the stage that we invest, it's actually quite a large pool of money," says Singhal. No stranger to the Ontario start-up scene, he has created five businesses and, as a founding board member of Angel One, has invested in another 30. "We already have a dynamic, thriving ecosystem for technology start-ups here; it's just going to get better funded." Singhal believes the infusion of seed funding from Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups will help Canadian early-stage companies gain the momentum they need to quickly scale-up and become well positioned for the series A stage, as U.S. capital tends to attract more Canadian capital.

Disclaimer: this video links to a third party source. This video is not hosted by the Government of Ontario and there may not be a French version or transcripts available.

500 Startups a potential 'game-changer' for Canada's start-up scene?

Singhal recently explained to Tech Crunch's Lucas Matney why Canadian start-up scene insiders believe 500 Startups' presence in Canada has the potential to "change everything." Whereas typical Canadian early-stage venture firms take around three months to write a cheque, Silicon Valley-based funds spend about four weeks scouting out an investment.

"The way they approach early-stage investments [in Canada] is to do a lot of due diligence and spend time thinking about the model, the team and what the product looks like," Singhal told Matney. "All good things, but they take a long time to make those decisions." Startup 500 could impact how Canadian venture firms practice and thus how the start-up scene operates.

Singhal: "I think we are going to see the beginning of a gold rush here"

In a 500 Startups blog post, Singhal is quick to point out the advantages Canadian start-ups enjoy over their U.S. counterparts, while taking a playful jab at the nation's struggling NHL hockey teams:

"The Canadian government provides great support to the entrepreneurial community through an extensive network of grants and tax credits. Coupled with a thriving angel investor ecosystem, Canada's national sport is rapidly becoming entrepreneurship, as early-stage ventures are scoring more often than the country's collection of non-playoff-bound hockey teams." While Singhal has no answers for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators hockey clubs, 500 Startups Canada is offering local early-stage businesses mentoring and money starting June 2016.


April 15, 2016

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