My journey to Faktory Ventures

It is incredible to see how this community has grown, developed and evolved over the past decade. Today, Toronto is cultivating globally ambitious entrepreneurs. Just even ten years ago, this was not quite the case. Companies like Shopify, Wattpad and Kindred, focused on building globally disruptive technology and platforms, were far from the norm.

Today, there is a deep understanding that exponential technologies will change the world and industry far faster than previously imagined and the companies and cities that embrace these exponential technologies will be the ones who win.

After leaving Wattpad, I took some time out to get curious. I did innovation advisory work, created an education program, GetCuriousNow, and started studying different exponential technologies and their impact on humanity and business. I considered leaving Toronto and moving to SF and NY where the tech ecosystems are far more developed however, I am very passionate about this city. I moved here from a very violent, complicated city (JHB, South Africa) in 1992 and cherish this place. I decided I would rather live here and continue to help build this ecosystem.

At Wattpad, I saw how a global platform could change the world and it ended up changing me too. I saw what is possible on a global scale and I knew my mission and ambition was forever changed. We are products of the environments we are exposed to and so I am very grateful to Matt Golden, Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen for giving me the transformational experience.

I started Faktory Ventures because I wanted to spend some time being exposed to the best in exponential tech in this city. I wanted to invest in and study the future vs. dive into operating. This does not mean that at some point I won’t create things on my own or join a team who is doing amazingly ambitious work; quite the contrary. I love working with smart people to create the future.

I am proud and grateful to have raised the capital to create Faktory Ventures, a microfund focused on seed stage investing in globally ambitious entrepreneurs. A huge thank you and acknowledgement to Murray Goldman, a visionary investor, for really believing in me and my vision for Faktory Ventures.

A big part of my motivation to angel invest is to contribute to this ecosystem in the ways I know best: by helping companies commercialize technology, scaling businesses and connecting people to the networks of capital, customers and talent I have built in Toronto, NY, SF and LA.

I am really enjoying this work and am very open to learning. I feel very grateful to have been exposed to many disruptive tech investors at my time at Wattpad. I want to thank Albert Wenger and David Hornik in particular, who have both been very supportive to me and inspirational in my journey. The angel and early stage investment community in Toronto is really strong and I am very appreciative to be learning from so many smart investors. I have greatly valued being an associate of the Creative Destruction Lab founded by Ajay Agrawal, an incubator for deep tech, and an outstanding community of entrepreneurs and investors.

My philosophy on investing is in iteration. The future of work and learning are areas of interest. Coming from Wattpad, I understand and value network effect businesses. There is tremendous opportunity in AI and the blockchain, two areas that Toronto is becoming world renowned for.

I am mindful in my advice as I really know what it is like to work at a globally disruptive VC backed startup. During my time as GM & Head of Business at Wattpad, the team grew from 14 people to 120, users grew from 4mm to 45mm, we experimented with three business models and raised significant global VC from some of the world’s best investors. I also know that it is not a straight road to success; there are lots of ups and downs.

And, yes, as a woman in tech, I am very aware of the lack of diversity on all sides of the tech table, especially the investing side, another motivation for starting Faktory Ventures. A big shoutout to Move the Dial founder Jodi Kovitz for pushing me to share my story, and two other amazing Wattpad women who are using their Wattpad experience to contribute to this community too. Eva Lau, partner at Two Small Fish Ventures, who is investing in network effect startups and Melissa Nightingale, partner at Raw Signal, who is helping startups lead better.

To date, Faktory Ventures has made four investments in incredible teams who are changing the world.

  • Fluent.ai— Niraj Bhargava and Vikrant Tomar are revolutionizing the way we talk to things using powerful voice ai.
  • Flipd— Alana Harvey and Cristian Villamarin are gamifying our attention so we are not looking at our phones all the time in school, work and life.
  • Helpwear — Andre Bertam and Frank Nguyen are transforming the way we deal with acute heart conditions using AI, complex ecg datasets and wearables.
  • Plantiga — Quin Sandler has created a human movement intelligence platform that using AI is revolutionizing how we predict injuries and performance for sports teams, military and the elderly.

I am excited to continue to invest in and support globally ambitious entrepreneurs, collaborate with this community and make Toronto the best place in the world to be in tech.