Woah, I’m still reeling from Web Summit 2020, I will deep dive into that next month, but Forbes summed it up like this:
Netflix and Amazon should take note – Web Summit was by far the best streaming entertainment of the week.
We’ve already confirmed a November 2021 date for the first hybrid Web Summit expecting around 70,000 in-person attendees and another 70,000 virtual attendees – this is the way forward and I am super excited about how that will play out across all events later in the new year.
But, to close out 2020, I wanted to bring you some of the wisdom that was shared at a recent panel I moderated for Founder Institute Western Canada on startup fundraising in a pandemic and what to prepare for in the first half of 2021.
The video of the entire panel is here but I’ve summarized 5 key points that startups should keep in mind:
1. Collecting signals and data is important to investors in this Zoom world as they are unable to read body language and ask the network. Seeing how effective entrepreneurs are in networking in this new age has given off significant signals to VCs. And VCs are writing checks – compared to March and April, investors are writing checks for as much as $20 million without meeting the founders face-to-face.
2. Lor says a lot of new money is flowing into tech investments. In Alberta the government is becoming a fund of funds and its working well enough that Manitoba and Saskatchewan are following suit. Panache itself wants to have 100 deals done in 2020 and they have done 80 by the first week of December and 90% of them are in Canada. Writing checks from $500k to $1 million for valuations with 5% ownership.
3. Song has found the most investors in Toronto and Vancouver and this has seen her changing her fundraising outreach (Techcouver reports on BC’s robust investment scene here) and using sites with their matching programs: NfX, Hockeystick, AngelList, OnePager, and DocSend.
4. Hot verticals from across the panel included digital transformation, B2B SaaS, Digital health, Fintech, e-Commerce, and Digital Infrastructure.
5. What is the best ways to get your startup into the crosshairs of an investor? Valerie shared some methods that helped her including warm intros via LinkedIn, Accelerators networks, and working with an advisor.
Advisors are a good way to get warm intros, look deep into your network and then look at leaders in your industry and try and meet them online or at an online event – get aligned to what they are doing and don’t offer the “coffee talk” – I feel like advisors will also become investors if they like it and devote even an hour a week to helping you.
If you don’t have a network, then a good place to start is at an accelerator and Valerie started out at one (here is the current list of Vancouver accelerators listed on F6S.)
And it’s interesting that Valerie’s first check came from UBC in non-dilutive funding, and she leveraged that to get more non-dilutive funding as well. Check out Valerie’s Startup Survival guide to COVID19 – a great resource.
Patrick also alerted us that bigger funds were investing downstream – in that larger $100mm funds were writing checks for earlier stage startups than they normally do. The main message from Panache Ventures was that investors are and have been investing and big funds are going shopping!
In closing the session, it seems both investor and startup were wildly optimistic about 2021 with a lot of the FUD gone from earlier this year. The main mission is to make sure you, the founder, are ready to pitch and make an impression on that Zoom call. Cameras on. Backdrop clear. Dressed like you were going to ring the bell at your IPO.
This was a great panel, so head on over here to watch it in its entirety and I will be hosting more of these online panels with action and education for startups in January so definitely follow me on Twitter for updates.
Founder Institute Western Canada is accepting applications for its Spring 2021 batch now. Here is a great list from Founder Institute of accelerators in Vancouver as well.
Have a very good rest of December and try to Zoom with old friends or people you haven’t spoken to this year it goes a long way for everyone’s mindset and see you in 2021.
PS: Besides this monthly column, you can catch me on my podcasts: