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Real Ventures was founded 13 years ago on the belief that a strong startup ecosystem and robust early-stage funding in Canada would lead to the creation of great Canadian tech companies. So the co-founders got moving to build that strong ecosystem and invest in the most promising Canadian entrepreneurs.
Since 2007, Real Ventures has raised five funds for a total of $330 million, worked tirelessly to build and grow the Canadian startup ecosystem, invested in 100+ companies which are now valued at over $10 billion, and became the most recognized and respected name in early-stage Canadian venture investing.
Our commitment to Canadian early-stage investing has never been stronger. We remain dedicated as always to our founders and the communities we serve. In 2019, we decided to explore a new organizational and governance structure to enable us to fulfill our long-term mission of being an uplifting and strong multi-generational presence in the community. This included the decision by Real’s Board to name me, Janet Bannister, as Managing Partner, to hire Hamzah Nassif as a new Investment Partner in Toronto, and bring Katy Yam on board as General Manager of FounderFuel.
In addition to bringing in new senior talent with complimentary experiences, diverse backgrounds, and who strongly believe in Real Venture’s core values and mission, we also worked hard to ensure continuity and knowledge sharing from our co-founders and long-serving partners.
This includes Sylvain Carle’s transition to Venture Partner in 2020 and, effective January 1st of 2021, the transitions of Alan MacIntosh and JS Cournoyer to Board Partners. As Board Partners, Alan and JS will continue to support existing portfolio companies and provide guidance to Real at a strategic level, while also giving them time to explore their other passions.
I invite you to read, in their own words, Alan’s and JS’ perspectives on why they are excited about their new roles and the future of Real Ventures. We are proud and thrilled to continue working together to support the growth and success of the Canadian tech community.
Janet Bannister, Managing Partner at Real Ventures
Looking Back to Look Forward
Alan MacIntosh, Board Partner at Real Ventures
It feels like only yesterday that John, JS and I helped launch the pilot VC fund, Montreal Startup, embarking on the remarkable journey which grew into the Real Ventures that we now know and love. The environment for startups was very different at that time, our collective goal was to back mission-driven founders and nurture the communities in which they could thrive. Thirteen years on, our team has accomplished so much more than I could have imagined, the evolution of the entrepreneurial environment has been astonishing. Described as “Canada’s most prolific venture capital firm” Real has been a vital catalyst for seed-stage tech entrepreneurs, raising five funds, investing in over 250 portfolio companies and playing a pivotal role in advancing the Canadian startup ecosystem.
I am as passionate as ever about early stage ventures. In addition to empowering founders, it is without a doubt an essential economic driver for our country in terms of job creation and global competitiveness. As I am now in my late fifties and interested in pursuing some new projects, I realized that I should not be committing to our next 10-year fund. I shared this realization with my Real partners some time ago, to allow the firm time to craft a smooth transition path, ensuring continuity and knowledge transfer.
Following that creative process, I am delighted to announce that as of this month, I have transitioned to a new Board Partner role. This role will allow me to focus on what I love most: actively supporting founders in their personal and professional growth to create enduring success, further honing my “Modern Elder” mentorship skills.
While I won’t lead investments in Real’s next fund, I will continue on the board of the Real management company serving our phenomenal Managing Partner, Janet Bannister, my exceptional colleagues, our devoted LPs, and the flourishing startup community.
Additionally, in 2021 I plan to pursue two other passions: venture as a force for good to build an enlightened inclusive capitalism; and computational neuroscience with its mesmerizing potential to square the curve in healthcare.
I look forward to sharing more on these endeavours and to the eventual collaborations that I’m sure will ensue.
A Paradigm Shift in Perspective
JS Cournoyer, Board Partner at Real Ventures
In 2018, I had an experience that shook the foundation of my belief system. It provided a new perspective from which to experience life and observe a deeper meaning in it. It made me realize how every moment of my life, however difficult, was meant to be and was for my benefit. This experience awakened an expanded consciousness, one that extends beyond an individual sense of self that is separate from the world. It allowed for the emergence of presence, awareness, unconditional love, truth, inner peace, wisdom and freedom in the present moment.
As a result, I have re-evaluated my vision for the world by seeing how everything operates harmoniously. I am now deeply curious about how the pillars of our society such as family and community, capitalism and technology, leadership and entrepreneurship, and nature and the planet, operate together coherently. How we can leverage these pillars in the context of an expanded consciousness to provide every human being with universal basic needs such as housing, water and food, but also the mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing we all need to thrive. And how we do this in harmony with each other, our communities, society, environments, nature and the planet.
Given my desire to make space for this exploration while continuing to serve mission-driven entrepreneurs and leaders who share this same vision, the partners at Real Ventures and I had many open-hearted conversations which led to the creation of a new Board Partner role for me. In this role, I will continue supporting the Firm and our existing portfolio entrepreneurs who have put their trust in us. I will not, however, lead new investments.
I love Real Ventures and our shared mission to serve entrepreneurs and nurture the communities in which they thrive. I am grateful for caring colleagues who support my personal evolution with openness and compassion. I am grateful for the trailblazing and passionate founders we serve, for the investors who have trusted us since our humble start in 2007, for the communities that support entrepreneurs and their creations, and ultimately, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue serving Real and its communities in this new role.