The 5th annual First Look Angel Investor Meeting , hosted jointly by the RIC Centre, Angel One Network and the City of Brampton, took place September 12th. Created to challenge traditional, arduous dealflow, First Look gives the investment community access to leading edge technology startups in the Western GTA, putting innovation on display and sparking connections.
Investment Fuels our Changemakers
This year saw 21 ventures from Haltech, Innovation Factory, Innovation Guelph, Innovate Niagara and the RIC Centre take the stage and pitch to over 100 accredited investors. Karen Grant, Executive Director at Angel One Investor Network notes that these high-potential technology startups, “have earned their place and are ready to impress with their opportunities. [They] will be looking for funds, introductions or perhaps some simple guidance from an experienced business person.”
As many startups understand the promise of funding, although critical, is not the only value to be had in participating. “Ideas are easy, but execution is hard. Startup companies need champions to guide them through the tough work of execution so that their ideas get commercialized,” said Shirley Speakman, Chair at RIC Centre and Senior Partner at Cycle Capital. Receiving connections to industry partners, potential customers and genuine investor critique and feedback can greatly shape future outcomes for an entrepreneur – this is what makes First Look Angel Investor Meeting so necessary.
Partners Old and New
The event had many sponsors including BDO, Geotab, Bereskin & Parr, and Southern Ontario Fund for Investment and Innovation (SOFII) with the addition of one exciting new partner – the City of Brampton. On track with exciting additions to the city’s downtown innovation hub, First Look Angel Investor Meeting, was hosted in Brampton for the first time, laying roots in the expanding entrepreneurship ecosystem. Mayor Patrick Brown speaks of Brampton’s significant transformation, noting its “strong entrepreneurial community with a young, skilled and diverse workforce. We are excited to work with our entrepreneurs and our partners, like the RIC Centre and Angel ONE, to advance Brampton as a prime location for start-ups, investment and entrepreneurship.” The night opened with welcoming remarks delivered by City of Brampton Regional Councillor Paul Vicente on behalf of Mayor Patrick Brown.
Sponsors and ONE Network community partners were in full attendance, showing their continued support of growing technology-based businesses. “I really liked the vibe of First Look”, says Jamie Barron, Partner at sponsor BDO. “The partnership with Brampton as a host created a very inclusive approach. Growing prosperous tech companies is a team sport… they need support from many organizations and First Look puts companies in the spotlight.”
Shan McGrail, Executive Director at Haltech says, “First Look is a great event to profile companies seeking investment. By working together, the western GTA regional innovation centres can help companies gain exposure to a broader pool of investors.”
The morning of this year’s First Look Angel Investor Meeting featured a new session — an Innovators Roundtable. Proudly sponsored by Geotab, the session aimed to connect entrepreneurs, corporations and the public sector to break down barriers for corporations looking to defend strong footholds and adopt new technologies. Following welcoming remarks delivered by Brampton City Councillor, Jeff Bowman, the Roundtable featured a panel focused on current challenges in the advanced manufacturing management space. Corporates and startups alike participated in an engaging discussion led by panelists Colin Singh Dhillon, CTO at Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association, AJ Khan, Founder of Cloud GRC, Michelle Chretien, Director at the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies at Sheridan College and Michael Pirruccio, Production Manager at Geotab. “We were inundated with questions after the roundtable, and we were happy to provide support and guidance”, remarked Dhillon.
vGIS’s First Look Success
vGIS Inc. and their leading augmented reality platform for BIM and GIS, participated at 2018’s First Look Angel Investor Meeting and describe the unique opportunity as, “a great event that brings promising startups and investors together and allows to potentially make a match right on the spot.”
As a long-time client of the RIC Centre when hand-picked to participate in the session, they jumped at the opportunity – although they were not necessarily actively raising at the time. Alec Pestov, Founder and CEO, says, “We decided to take part because it’s a great opportunity to meet different investors – see what they think, what they’re paying attention to — so that we could prepare ourselves for the next step.” And they did.
Their 2018 participation was a success, resulting in 3 follow-up meetings with different investment groups. VGIS recently completed a seed financing round with Aurum Holdings.
With their strong product offering, they continue to gain traction having acquired approximately 60 clients globally to date.