Ottawa’s local network of angel investors cracked a significant milestone in 2019 as it heads towards a decade of supporting the capital’s up-and-coming startups.
Capital Angel Network executive director Nolan Beanlands and chair Jennifer Francis joined the first Techopia Live of 2020 to break down the organization’s past year of activity.
CAN’s angel investors collectively cut more than $5 million worth of cheques in 2019, the largest annual total in the company’s history, Beanlands told Techopia Live. That’s up from $4.1 million a year ago and $3.3 million in 2017.
By hiring Colleen Nolan, Ottawa Tourism is reaffirming its commitment to supporting Indigenous tourism, history and culture in the capital.
That money was spread across 19 companies in 2019, with all but three of those firms based out of Ottawa. The split was roughly 50-50 between initial and follow-on investments.
The past year’s crop had its fair share of headline grabbers. Among the crowd was construction tech company GoFor Delivers, which secured its CAN investment by winning the AccelerateOTT pitchfest in May. Health-tech platform Welbi, which was named alongside GoFor as one of Techopia’s tech firms to watch in 2019, also found pitchfest success at the SoGal regional competition in November. Capital Angel Network also joined OSEG partner Jeff Hunt to invest in a seed round for Neurovine, which develops AI-power technology for concussion recovery.
Francis noted that some 30 per cent of the companies CAN invested in last year are female-led and a third of the 15 new angels that joined the organization last year were women. Boosting gender representation, both in CAN’s portfolio and in its crop of investors, is among the network’s biggest priorities, she said.
Beanlands highlighted an emerging trend in the sector breakdown of CAN’s portfolio. A new interest from local angels on markets such as clean tech and health or bioscience-focused startups suggests members are looking to invest with their hearts as much as their heads.
“People are really trying to look, not only for a good business opportunity and an investment opportunity, but where they can make a difference in the world beyond just making some money,” Beanlands said.
The new year promises to be a memorable one for Capital Angel Network as the organization enters its 10th year in operation. With a total of 92 portfolio companies across its first nine years, CAN is on pace to hit No. 100 later in 2020.
Over that time, CAN angels have invested a cumulative $30 million in those companies, 80 per cent of which have been Ottawa-based. Companies in CAN’s portfolio have collectively received $250 million in total investment, and nine of them have secured exits.
Beanlands believes CAN’s efforts searching for Ottawa’s diamonds in the rough have paid off for the wider tech sector.
“That’s really been a direct contributor to the growth of our innovation ecosystem over the past decade,” he said.
To hear more about the Capital Angel Network’s perspective on the Ottawa tech sector, watch the episode above.
CAN’s 2019 investments
(All companies Ottawa-based unless otherwise stated)
- Wavve (Kingston)
- Genecis (Toronto)
- Planetary Hydrogen
- Click Armour
- Transparent Kitchen
- Plum (Toronto)