Knowing the importance of bold and collective action when it comes to moving the dial, we chose “Be Bold” as our theme for 2020. Throughout the year, we’ll be hearing from leaders in the tech and innovation community on what being bold means to them in their careers.
Kristine Di Bacco, Partner at Seven Sisters law firm Torys LLP, joins us to talk about being bold in her role and her advice on how founders can be bold when looking for investment.
Tell us more about your role at Torys?
I’m Chair of the firm’s Emerging Technology and Venture Capital Practice—a new group I’ve started and lead. We are a cross-border practice working with startup companies in both Canada and the U.S and both venture capital and strategic investors investing in Canada and the U.S. Over the past year, we have built a team of associates/counsel who are very passionate about this type of work. It’s been really rewarding to see the team come together and develop.
One of my favourite parts of the practice is working with founders. I love being a go-to advisor as they scale their companies and deal with all the ups and downs of building a transformational business. I’m especially passionate about working with female founders and investors. And we’re finally seeing momentum in female-led and co-founded companies, which is so exciting (PitchBook monitors U.S. data on female-founded companies illustrative of the progress that’s being made), although there is still a very long way to go.
As a strategic counsellor, primarily in the digital space, what are some things happening in the tech industry that you’re particularly interested in?
Tech has been, and continues to be, critical in the process of transforming lots of different industries. It’s fascinating to see the influence of tech in areas like commerce, fashion/beauty, travel, food—more traditional industries that are being revolutionized by people who’ve spent time working in incumbent or traditional organizations in these sectors and are now applying that expertise to solving problems in their industries through the use of technology.
You’ve made some bold career and life moves, having moved from Toronto to Silicon Valley, and recently back again! How was your experience returning from Silicon Valley to Toronto?
It’s been a big adjustment but it’s exciting to see all that’s going on in this market, lots of great talent here.
Years ago, people thought that to build a global company it meant moving down to the U.S. I don’t think people think about it that way necessarily anymore: HQing and growing those businesses here in Canada is now commonplace. It’s an especially exciting time to be in tech in Canada. Lots of seeds are being planted in the sector. And there is energy and momentum in this space.
From your point of view working with VC’s, and as an angel investor in early-stage start-ups yourself, what advice do you have to founders to be bold when looking for investment?
Here are a couple of key points to keep in mind when seeking investment:
- Identify which VCs you want as investors and reach out to them early.
- Keep in touch with these VCs (even if they initially say no) and keep them updated on milestones in your business (but don’t overdo it and bombard them with emails/calls etc.).
- Having a co-founder at the seed stage is important but not an automatic deal-breaker. What is important is making sure that the initial team (founders + first hires) have the necessary skill sets to grow the company.
- In pitches, if the VC asks a question in a way that doesn’t allow you to hit your key points, don’t be afraid to reframe the question.
You can also hear more from Kristine Di Bacco in our podcast Dial Moving. Check out Episode 5 here, where Kristine talks about developing a growth mindset and the role resilience has played in her career.