Vancouverite wins national angel-of-year award

Canadian angel organization hosts first-ever national summit in Vancouver

Former Business in Vancouver Top 40 Under 40 winner Manny Padda won the national angel of the year award | BIV archives

Angel investing in B.C. got a shot in the arm this week as the National Angel Capital Organization’s (NACO) for the first time hosted its national summit in B.C.

To cap off that summit, the Canadawide organization recognized a Vancouverite as its angel of the year. NACO awarded former Business in Vancouver 40 Under 40 winner Manny Padda with its highest honour October 5 at a ceremony at the Marriott Pinnacle.

“I think what will end up happening is that Vancouver will be the epicentre of angel investment or technology investment in Canada,” Padda told BIV.

“We’re trying to move that from Toronto to here. Then you’ll see more companies come up from Silicon Valley – something that’s starting to happen now.”

Padda invested more than $1 million in 11 different companies in the past year.

The 33-year-old also in the past year exited from two investments and generated big profits. Belgian giant Barco bought Vancouver’s MTT Innovation Inc. while Vancouver’s Fantasy 6 Sports Inc. (CSE:FSY) went public.

Padda had invested in each of those ventures in previous years.

“One of the themes of this conference is how to get more people engaged in angel investing and one way to do that is through awards and recognition,” said Mike Volker, who heads the VANTEC Angel Network, which hosts monthly sessions where angels hear entrepreneurs’ pitches.

VANTEC’s most recent session, on October 4, had about 15 different entrepreneurs pitch their companies to a room full of angel investors.

The experience is very different from the CBC program Dragon’s Den, Volker said, largely because the angels at his sessions are nicer, albeit a little less entertaining.

“There’s good and bad about the Dragon’s Den,” said Volker, who won NACO’s angel of the year award in 2009.

“It does show that there are a lot of ideas and startups out there.”

VANTEC also aims to link angels who want to diversify their investments – something that he stressed is a good idea given that most startups do not succeed.

Some wealthy Vancouverites who are angels, such as Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes or Plenty of Fish founder Markus Frind, are able to field numerous pitches and finance them alone, Volker said.

The ideal for most angels, however, is to have investments in up to 30 companies.

“Our challenge is to get angels to join groups so you can get five or six of them together. Then you can get $500,000 to support a startup,” Volker said.

In addition to VANTEC sessions, local angel advocate Bob Chaworth-Musters holds semi-annual angel forums in Vancouver.

There is also the Open Angel network, which Padda is involved with.

“Historically, we’ve always had a bigger membership and stronger membership in Ontario and Quebec,” said NACO executive director Yuri Navarro, who is based in Toronto.

“We’ve done a lot of work to help build the ecosystem out here [in Vancouver].”