The first battle for many startups is finding capital to turn those big ideas and bold ambitions into actual products and services that can be sold to customers.
While access to capital has historically been a challenge in the Maritimes, today there are many options to find early stage capital for a new business – assuming your idea looks like a viable business. Some are based in the region while others are making investments here, drawn to the growing startup ecosystem.
So if you’re looking for capital, here are a few places to consider:
Based in Halifax, Build Ventures focuses on early stage technology companies in Atlantic Canada. It currently has $65 million under management and its portfolio includes New Brunswick startups like Resson, Smart Skin, Air VM, Introhive and Fiddlehead Technology.
New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF)
NBIF is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that invests in new “growth oriented” companies and applied research activities. They focus their investments in ICT, energy and environment, biosciences, aerospace and defense, industrial fabrication and value-added food and wood sectors. With over $62 million invested, NBIF has supported 86 companies and funded 400 applied research projects since it started in 2003.
Nova Scotia’s version of NBIF, Innovacorp has been investing early stage capital since 1995. The firm’s target industries include IT, cleantech, life sciences and ocean technology. Its portfolio includes companies like Leadsift, The Rounds and Proposify. The government of Nova Scotia also recently announced it was creating a new $25 million fund to invest that province’s startups.
First Angel Network
Halifax-based First Angel Network Association (FAN) is a not-for-profit that aims to bridge the capital gap for companies. With 85 members, the First Angel Network says it’s the most active angel investment network in Atlantic Canada. Since 2005, its members have invested millions in Atlantic Canadian companies including Eigen Innovations. The network invests in companies in a variety of industries and stages of growth.
East Valley Ventures
East Coast startup guru Gerry Pond leads New Brunswick-based East Valley Ventures, an organization that says it’s passionate about helping Atlantic Canadian founders launch “meaning and enduring” technology companies. But they don’t just offer financing, they also offer mentorship and advice. That’s pretty useful if you’re just starting out. With $9 million under management they’re currently invested in 26 companies including Spinzo, Siteflo, Smart Skin, Fiddlehead, Resson and Qimple.
Based in Toronto, Bright Spark describes itself as a “next-generation venture capital firm” that invests to build a grow early-stage software companies. Its unique model allows accredited investors in single purpose funds. It’s a very different approach to VC, so if you’ve created a software with a “must have” solution that will have real world traction, you definitely want to drop them a line. They’re specifically looking for Atlantic Canadian companies right now.
With more than $1 billion under management and almost 30 years experience the folks at BDC Capital know a thing or two about what it takes to help entrepreneurs succeed. In fact, they are we are the largest and most active early-stage technology venture investor in Canada. Their portfolio ranges across many different sectors and includes the likes Flixel and Beyond the Rack.
RHO Canada Ventures
Rho Canada Ventures is a division of Rho Capital Partners. They focus on early-stage investing in Canadian technology companies. Their current portfolio covers everything from new media, mobile applications, wireless infrastructure, semiconductors & materials, and software. They currently invest in New Brunswick’s Resson, Smart Skin and AirVM as well as Karma Gaming and Analyze Re in Nova Scotia.
Growth Works claims to be Canada’s leading retail venture capital managers. Through regionally based retail venture capital funds (RVCs), the firm identifies, analyzes and structures investments in companies with high growth potential. They’re particularly focused on information technology, life sciences and cleantech sectors. They’ve already invested in several New Brunswick companies such as Spinzo, Introhive and Smart Skin.
If you’re working with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), you may want to get in touch with Toronto-based McRock Capital. They are the first dedicated IIoT venture capital fund. So far they have helped fund three companies, including New Brunswick’s RtTech.
Real Ventures is a leading source of seed stage capital in Canada that prides themselves on “serving entrepreneurs and nurturing the communities in which they thrive.” They’ve invested in over 150 companies since 2007, including Clarity, which was founded by New Brunswick entrepreneur Dan Martell.