A Bridge Between Two Startup Ecosystems: Saltagen Ventures Interviews Andre Bertram, CEO of HelpWear

As Saltagen Ventures continues to build momentum in 2018, our team strives to ensure that prospective startups have access to the customised and localised support that helps them grow across the pacific. Helpwear, our first portfolio company, shared their experience working with Saltagen Ventures to navigate the Greater China markets.

Saltagen Ventures’ Post-Investment Approach

Based in both Canada and Hong Kong, we work with portfolio companies to develop and execute their North American or Asia launch strategy according to each one’s need, such as a custom itinerary to meet with parties in public and private sectors in both regions. Saltagen also allocates space in our Hong Kong acceleration lab which is located in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district for the portfolio startups to use.

Concurrent to business and strategy development of investments, Saltagen guides the involvement of the newly landed startup to participate in our trusted local partners’ incubators and fundraising events in which startups can maximize the resources and attract additional Asian investors with target follow-on financing rounds. The process continues throughout the startup’s growth period to ensure that they have effectively landed in Asia, as they gather valuation momentum and exit opportunities.

Interview with Andre Bertram, CEO of HelpWear

In order to highlight our distinct approach in supporting Canadian startups as they enter the Asian market, we interviewed Andre Bertram, CEO of HelpWear — a Saltagen Ventures investee medical technology startup from Toronto, Canada.

When asked about his experience with Saltagen Ventures, Andre first mentioned that our team was extremely helpful in connecting HelpWear with the Hong Kong ecosystem. “Saltagen, being both well connected through the Fairchild group as a whole, as well as the partners’ network, were spectacular in introducing us to esteemed individuals and incubators such as Cyberport and the Hong Kong Science Technology Park.” Bertram went on to explain that he truly appreciated being connected with trade commissioners, as well as other key figures in government, a relationship many Canadian startups often struggle to develop. “During our short visit to Asia, Saltagen was also able to connect us with the head of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority as well as key individuals in insurance and various other aspects of the health ecosystem within Hong Kong,” Bertram added.

“What Saltagen Ventures is essentially endeavoring to do is developing a corridor between the Canadian technology ecosystem and the Hong Kong ecosystem, so Canadian startups can turn to Saltagen Ventures in order to facilitate this process and mitigate and/or eliminate any obstacles along the way, especially when it comes to funding,” Bertram said. When discussing the valuation difference between Canada and Asia, Bertram explained the difficulty facing many Canadian startups when it comes to raising larger rounds. Asia’s VC deals avergaed USD 25MM in 2017, compared to 8MM for Canada[1]. But less than ten VC deals were backed by Asian investors in Canada in 2017. While discussing these statistics, Andre added that Saltagen Ventures is uniquely positioned to assist Canadian companies in raising larger later stage rounds by connecting these two ecosystems. “If you think about something like healthcare, you can work within the public sector in Canada, and then land in Hong Kong and work in a public-private hybrid system, and that’s what Saltagen is building, a bridge between the two entities.”

Sometimes a push-pull approach is needed whereby knowledgeable mentors from the local Asian region must be dedicated to help the initial investigation to make determinations how to land. It is a matter of balancing risks with opportunities to form a clear roadmap of how to deploy on the ground. Preparation is key to a startup navigating new markets. “Other accelerators and investors haven’t really been able to do what Saltagen is able to do, in terms of bridging these two entities,” Bertram concluded. “So we are very lucky to have been connected with them.”

[1] PwC Canada & CB Insights. (2018) MoneyTree™ Canada Report 2017. Retrieved from PwC Canada website: https://www.pwc.com/ca/en/technology/publications/411661-pwc-cb-insights-moneytree-canada-q4-17-english.pdf