Peter-Paul Van Hoeken is the CEO of FrontFundr, a Canadian crowdfunding platform. When he moved from the Netherlands to Vancouver in 2010, he worked closely with startups to help them raise capital–this is where he noticed a gap in the Canadian market. An opportunity to enable everyday Canadians to invest in the private market.
Peter-Paul leveraged technology to bring accessibility to the market, for both everyday Canadians and companies. Since the launch of FrontFundr, the company has seen exceptional growth, building a community of over 32,000 users and has run over 85 successful funding campaigns, helping businesses raise more than $90 million.
In this Q+A we take a look at Peter-Paul’s journey launching FrontFundr.
From the Netherlands to Canada. Share more on this decision!
PV: Before my wife and I met, we had both traveled to Canada and thoroughly enjoyed our time. While I was visiting, I thought, “If I were to move from the Netherlands, it would be to Canada.”
In my eyes, Canada is a country full of freedom and opportunity due to its democratic government. People often come here to pursue new opportunities and Canadians are very receptive to this. I also appreciate the diversity, cultures, and shared norms and values. So, my wife and I saw a lot of potential here for our professional careers and to raise our family.
What influenced you to pick Vancouver as your landing spot in Canada?
PV: We moved to Canada in 2010, roughly three years after I first visited. We chose Vancouver because it’s a great city, from the people and economy to the opportunity for growth. Plus, Vancouver gives you a taste of city life with the ocean and mountains within reach.
What did the Vancouver tech industry look like when you launched FrontFundr?
PV: In 2010, the tech ecosystem was small but there was a lot of room for growth. There were a lot of entrepreneurs and startups budding at the time, however, there was limited access to capital. Since then, the city has seen exceptional growth, with many startups emerging and leading tech companies opening offices there.
What motivated you to launch FrontFundr?
PV: When I moved to Canada, I worked within the startup ecosystem, helping companies prepare to raise capital. Through this work I noticed the gap in the market: not all startups were given the same opportunity to raise capital, and only firms and investors with a large pool of funds were able to invest.
At this point, a lot of countries had already adopted equity crowdfunding but Canada had not. I created FrontFundr to bring accessibility and inclusivity to the industry.
What supported FrontFundr’s growth?
PV: When we launched in 2015, we were entering a new space that didn’t previously exist in Canada.
We’ve found success through transparency with regulators, businesses and investors. In our industry, it’s easy to overpromise and underdeliver. In the early stages of FrontFundr, we established strong relationships with businesses and ensured they had a clear understanding of what they can anticipate using FrontFundr. We also ensure our investors understand the risk they are taking on, similar to any other investment.
Our transparency has helped us earn trust with businesses and investors across Canada, allowing us to grow to over 32,000 users and run over 85 successful funding campaigns, raising more than $90 million.
What prompted you to move from Vancouver to Toronto?
PV: While Vancouver offered a great starting point to help establish FrontFundr, our long-term goal was to create a presence across the country. Considering we operate within the financial services industry, it made sense to make the move to Toronto to be in the midst of Canada’s financial services hub.
Since I immigrated to Canada, it was important for me to build my network across the country to gain more interest from businesses and investors. By having roots in Vancouver and Toronto, we are appealing to a wider Canadian population, attracting new companies and investors. Plus, I still go back to Vancouver often!
What excites you about your company and the work you do?
PV: We’re a purpose-driven company driven by innovating accessibility of financial services and financial inclusion. We’re addressing a challenge in the market and offering a widely accessible solution. We’re helping businesses excel by giving them a platform to raise capital and we’re offering Canadians the ability to diversify their investment portfolios.We are democratizing the market for early stage capital raising and investing and helping stimulate the Canadian economy.