Motivating Canadian Moonshots:
Why we believe there is huge opportunity in Canada
Written by OMERS Ventures team members Laura Lenz and Lauren Epstein
There can be no denying that Canada has emerged as a leading global tech ecosystem, home to extraordinary companies. At OMERS Ventures, we are fortunate to be so deeply connected in this region. It is with this in mind that it makes sense to share our focus areas and investing criteria (detailed below) with the wider tech community.
The start of a new decade feels like a fitting time to pause and reflect on what we aim to achieve here on our home turf. Our responsibility to Canada is significant. Every day when we come to work, we are acutely aware that our success contributes to the meaningful pensions of more than half a million Canadians — some of the most important contributors to our society (such as firefighters, paramedics, and city workers). It is through this lens that we continue our quest to become one of the most successful tech-focused venture capital investors in the world.
Why Canada and why now?
For us, Canada is much more than an investment theme. It’s our home. For our families and for our pensioners, who have contributed to our education, health, safety, and daily living. Investing here means we are investing in talent and innovation, ultimately providing opportunities for the next generation.
Canada presents an opportunity to invest in world-class innovative companies led by outstanding entrepreneurs. We have all the elements of an exceptionally successful market — globally-recognized centres of technology excellence, incubator and accelerator programs, world-class talent, government support for tech clusters, tax breaks and grants, economic and political freedom, and a favourable immigration policy. Not to mention our proximity to the US market.
We also have a robust investment community. Canada ranks second globally when it comes to the amount of VC capital invested annually. But we still have room for improvement, investing capital efficiently to create billion-dollar businesses.
Herein lies the opportunity. One of the ways to help close the gap between investments made and value created is to develop the ecosystem in a way that encourages bigger bets by investors, nurtures and attracts top global talent, and creates connections that enable true scale and global growth. Such an evolution requires investors who understand cultural nuances, have feet on the ground, bring a deep history of investing in this market, and have the ability to continue investing as a company grows.
OV has invested in and will continue to invest in leading Canadian companies like Wave, Hootsuite, Hopper, Wattpad, TouchBistro and Shopify to name a few. Our challenge now is to find the next wave of exceptional Canadian companies— we know you are here, and we want to meet you!
Should we be talking?
We are actively looking for new investments in Canada. Like most investors, we receive many introductions and referrals from our network of VCs, founding tech teams, trusted Canadian incubators and accelerators, angel investors, and other ecosystem partners. That being said, we are keen to meet with founders from beyond that network. If you feel like we could be an interesting fit — either now or at a later stage of your business — please reach out. We want to hear from you. The bigger our networks grow, the stronger this ecosystem becomes for everyone.
Our investment strategy here is to focus on Series A to C stage companies. Typically, for our first cheque, we like to invest a minimum of C$5M and up to C$25M.
Things we consider when looking at investment opportunities:
- Is the company generating $1M in annual revenue?
- Is the value creation in the software?
- Does the founding team bring exceptional talent in the form of industry expertise and/or previous founding experience?
- Is this a business that can demonstrate long-term competitive differentiation and generate engaged customers?
Although our sweet spot is Series A to C, we know there are some great opportunities outside of this range. We will consider Seed investments with exceptional characteristics and Series D if the economics are right.
What we can do for you
Our Toronto-based team has a Partner and two Associates dedicated to Canada. In addition, we also have our broader North American focused investing Partners with a thematic focus on healthtech, the future of cities (including proptech), fintech, and enterprise SAAS. Our goal is to play an active role in the Canadian ecosystem, contributing wherever we can with capital, knowledge, insights, and connections.
When we invest, we are offering more than just money. Our investment teams play an active role to contribute to and work with OV portfolio companies across functional areas and throughout their lifecycle. We are pragmatic with a bias to action. Also, we think globally about everything we do, and can offer quick access to our colleagues on the ground in the US and Europe to add value as our companies scale.
Furthermore, as part of the broader OMERS portfolio, we can create connections and opportunities that are meaningful to your business. The global networks and expertise in OMERS’ C$100 billion portfolio present significant value to growing companies.
This past year we have also focused on creating a robust system to add value for our portfolio companies beyond the investment team. Our Acceleration Team is made up of leading experts in growth marketing, talent, community-building, and communications. This team is dedicated to unlocking potential in our portfolio companies — through both one-off projects as well as more consistent support.
Canadians are known for our humility. It’s time we step out and start to show the world just how many success stories we can build! OMERS Ventures is ready.