By Andrew Seale
Toronto’s reputation as a bastion of financial resources and institutions often precedes it but it’s our acumen when it comes to financial technology that Raymond Luk sees as the city’s next great asset.
“I think you can build any kind of startup here but I think fintech is finally bringing the massive financial resources and financial institutions that already exist in Toronto that have been sitting on the sidelines wondering ‘hey, how can I participate in this startup world?’ together,” says the serial entrepreneur and angel investor who recently closed his seed round for Hockeystick.co. “We were able to find a great set of investors, many of whom have backgrounds in software in fintech, and we were able to do that here.”
The Hockeystick.co platform marries finance and data science, letting investment funds collect data on private companies from sources like Quickbooks and turn it into user-friendly reports, visualizations and flexible data exports.
“So we help those funds go out and get this information and then what they do with that information is really the critical day-to-day investment decisions – like should I invest in this sector or not,” says Raymond.
Raymond says he feels the timing is right for a solution like Hockeystick given the proliferation of online investing and lending platforms.
“Regulators are now allowing smaller investors who maybe got some experience on Kickstarter and those kind of platforms to dip their toe into the market of actually investing small amounts in companies,” he says.
“For us it means that there are literally millions of new investors out there who may invest five or ten thousand dollars – so we're trying to get ahead of that curve by making it easy for those (investors) to access financial data.”
But Hockeystick isn’t Luk’s first venture. For the past 20 years he’s been building companies in the software space.
“I grew up in the Guelph and Toronto area, but I moved to Montreal and went to McGill University,” he says.
Raymond stayed in Montreal after graduation, building several software startups there before deciding to pay it forward by launching Year One Labs, an accelerator focused on lean startups. Shortly after, he founded Flow Ventures, a boutique consulting and venture services firm, in Montreal before moving to Toronto and opening an office here five years ago.
“I found that it was a really interesting contrast between the two cities,” he says. “They're both great cities, both very different, but I really was struck by how vibrant the Toronto startup scene was – I also hadn't been in Toronto for 20 years so I really didn't know what to expect.”
That outsider’s lens has proved helpful, giving Raymond an interesting perspective on the city’s bubbling fintech scene.
“You'll never hit the bottom of the well because by the time you think you're finished there's fifty more companies that started,” he says. “I never pay attention to people talking about the recession or that catchphrase ‘these difficult economic times' – it's always difficult for startups but on the other hand we don't really care, we're just going to do it anyways… with startups there’s no recession.”