Startup Funding - How to Find an Angel Investor in Vancouver
Several times a week, entrepreneurs ask me how to find angel investors to fund their startup. This is a summary of the best practices for finding angel investors in Vancouver.
Unlike venture capitalists - who are easy to find - very few angels have websites or can be found in directories. Most maintain low profiles online - partly to reduce unsolicited requests for financing.
The most efficient way to fund a startup is to present at a local angel investor meeting.
In Vancouver, there are two excellent angel meetings:
The Vantec Angel group was founded by Mike Volker and a group of other volunteers in 1998. These days, Mike runs the tech meetings and Thealzel Lee coordinates the life sciences meeting. Vantec meets the first Tuesday of each month at 8:00 AM. The focus of the meetings alternate between tech and life sciences.
Companies need to find an angel sponsor in order to apply for a full 12 minute presentation at Vantec (a sponsor is not required for a 5 minute mini-presentation). These guidelines are a new idea and seem to be working well for the companies and the angels.
About 40 to 50 angels attend these meetings.
Vancouver Angel Forum
The Vancouver Angel Forum was started in 1997 and is one of the oldest and largest angel gatherings in Canada. This event is managed by Bob Chaworth Musters. The Vancouver Angel Forum organizes two large events each year. Around 100 angels see presentations from around 30 companies in an all day event at SFU’s downtown campus.
Companies submit a profile online. If they are selected to present, they deliver a 10 minute presentation followed by four minutes of investor questions.
Companies are provided with a table in a large meeting room where they can meet interested investors all day. This works well because interested investors can meet with the company on the same day they present.
Bellingham Angel Group
There is also a new angel group in Bellingham. The Bellingham Angel Group was founded by Bruce MacCormack. About a third of the companies that present to the Bellingham Angels are from Vancouver. Several Vancouver companies have been funded by this group.
The Bellingham group is still growing, already has over 40 members and meets six times per year.
This group has a comprehensive screening process for companies who wish to present.
Seattle Angel Groups
There are several good sized angel meetings in Seattle, but it’s quite unusual to see a Vancouver company receiving funding from the Seattle angels. This is probably just due to the geographic distance.
A group of dedicated entrepreneurs are working on a Web 2.0 solution for companies who want to connect with angel investors. They call FundFindr 'speed dating for entrepreneurs.' They are also running monthly pitch competitions for local startups. Regardless of which route you go for financing, I recommend you post your video pitch on FundFindr. This will remove a lot of the 'friction' in the entrepreneur-angel matching process.
There are a small but growing number of angel funds. These funds do have websites. A few are:
- Fundamental Technologies II managed by Basil Peters
- WUTIF managed by Mike Volker
- W Media Ventures managed by Boris Wertz
The managers of these angel funds usually attend the angel meetings because that’s an efficient way for them to meet new companies. It is also possible to target them directly because they have public email addresses set up so entrepreneurs and companies can submit their business plans. Unfortunately, just emailing a business plan alone is a long shot. Fund managers with a public email address receive many unsolicited business plans every week. Companies and entrepreneurs can significantly improve their chances of getting attention if they find a current investor in their company or project who will help arrange an introduction.
Angel funds are often the best way to find that vitally important lead investor, which is why they are good prospects for entrepreneurs and companies seeking startup funding.
National Angel Directories
The Canadian National Angel Organization has a directory of angels who are members.
The US Angel Capital Association also had a directory of angels from the US and Canada.
While it might not be as efficient as the angel group meetings, prospective investors can also be found networking at the monthly Vancouver Enterprise Forum meetings.
Early Stage Venture Meeting
There is also an excellent event held annually in Vancouver called the Canadian Financing Forum which is managed in the west by Dave Thomas. This meeting is targeted to traditional venture capital investors, but a few startup companies have been accepted to present. The attendees at these events are not usually interested in companies that have an immediate need for less than $2 million of capital.