ventureLAB Fosters Stronger Investor Connections for Underrepresented Founders through National, Virtual Networks

Danielle Graham
March 4, 2022
Community news
York Region Innovation

Leveraging learnings from virtual work environments, ventureLAB’s Capital Investment Program has gone national with creative new accessible formats to help overcome barriers to investment for underrepresented founders and foster stronger investor connections.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven founders and investors alike into increasingly insular ecosystems, where the connections necessary to facilitate investment deals are becoming less accessible. Chance encounters, coffee meetups, or meeting casually in a café between meetings downtown are no longer common. Founders and investors, like many industries, have reverted back into their own silos. Meanwhile, raising capital continues to be one of the most challenging milestones for new entrepreneurs to accomplish. Whether it is crafting the perfect pitch deck, developing a strong capital growth strategy or meeting strategically-aligned angel investors, closing investment deals is universally difficult. This reality is further compounded when founders face unconscious bias and historic underrepresentation. The gap starts at the earliest stage of investing: in 20202, male CEOs received on average 41% more Pre Money Valuation than women. 


To combat these realities and foster stronger connections, ventureLAB is building an access point for underrepresented founders across Canada. ventureLAB’s Capital Investment Program recently introduced Investor Cafés, which bring together founders and strategic angel and VC investors in a relaxed, founder-friendly environment that enables relationship-building. With jazz music and café backgrounds, investors and founders are encouraged to meet, connect, pitch, and ask questions in a virtual simulation of real-world scenarios. The Investor Cafés give founders and investors an opportunity to connect and express themselves as naturally as possible virtually in an open and accessible environment, and founders who have participated have been feeling the positive outcomes.

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"Pitching at the Capital Investment Program Investor Café was a really constructive experience as a founder.  Having gone through other pitching events (both on the investor side in my previous life, and on the founder side now), it felt a lot more personal, but with the same quality of questions and feedback.  We've connected with a number of incredible contacts as a result of our engagement with ventureLAB, and have begun building relationships with investors we met through the Investor Café specifically for our current pre-seed round and beyond."

-- Megan Takeda-Tully, CEO and Co-Founder of Suppli, a tech-enabled platform that allows customers to enjoy food from their favourite restaurants without all the packaging wastes.


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Through virtual-optimized and creative formats, founders have been able to meet, network, and pitch investors in relaxed and open frameworks. 


The Capital Investment Program has been working since 2012 to bridge the gap between founders and investment circles in Canada, and accelerate startup momentum. This program has been an anchor program for ventureLAB to fulfill our mission of growing competitive tech titans that build to scale from Canada for global Markets. Since its inception, the program has helped over 150 founders in raising over $200 million of investment capital. 

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"As Areto Labs is growing, it's so important that we find efficient ways to connect with a broad network. Not only does this help us meet investors faster, but it also leads to wonderful relationships and often great sales opportunities. The Investor Cafés have helped us make this happen faster, and tap into networks we wouldn't otherwise be able to reach." 

-- Lana Cuthbertson, CEO and Co-Founder of Areto Labs, a B2B SaaS social enterprise tech startup making digital communities more positive and inclusive


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At ventureLAB, we believe equitable access to investment for underrepresented founders benefits all founders in our ecosystem. 


This is why ventureLAB is proud to relaunch our Capital Investment Program with an expanded reach with specific opportunities for founders from underrepresented groups and accessibility to earlier stage companies across Canada. With this relaunch, the core of our Capital Investment Program stays unchanged: our team of experts work with founders to provide them with guidance and expertise through the entire fundraising process, from refining investment pitches to connecting founders with strategically-aligned investors to enable their long-term business success and sustainability.


ventureLAB is excited about this new avenue of focus for the Capital Investment Program and to pioneer new formats that break down barriers and ensure founders and investors can craft strong relationships. 


 
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Danielle Graham is an accomplished investor and consultant experienced in leading business transformation by designing and delivering innovative, long-term process improvements.


About Capital Investment Program

ventureLAB's Capital Investment Program works with scale-ready companies to establish a long-term capital strategy and support rapid business growth. Since 2012, our experienced Advisors have worked with hundreds of founders, enabling them to raise over $150 million in private investment.

ventureLAB has relaunched and expanded the reach of our Capital Investment Program with specific opportunities for underrepresented and early stage founders across Canada. Our team is now providing a broad and diverse founder community with guidance and expertise through the entire fundraising process, from refining investment pitches to connecting founders with strategically-aligned investors to further their investment goals.

About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,500 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.


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