While he was still pursuing his MBA at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Jay Rhind and some fellow graduate students started a company and pitched it to two of the founders of Recon Instruments, who had sold the company to Intel Corp. for $175 million and were now angel investors.
They told him in no uncertain terms they hated his startup idea, but asked him to join them in their new venture capital business, Rhino Ventures, which provides seed capital to startups in Western Canada.
Within a couple of years, Rhind worked his way up from his associate role to become a partner and saw at least one successful exit of a startup Rhino had backed, all while teaching at UBC’s Sauder School of Business as an adjunct professor.
“I joined as an associate and we did 10 deals inside of two and a half years,” Rhind said.
In addition to teaching at Sauder School of Business, Rhind is an associate of the Creative Destruction Lab, providing mentoring and investing to early-stage “frontier” technology businesses.
Born in Toronto, Rhind earned a bachelor of science degree from Queen’s University, then later moved to B.C. for graduate school.
In between degrees, however, he spent a year in Australia teaching scuba diving, then came back to Canada and worked at a clean-technology startup. He then did a stint with a small investment bank before deciding to come to B.C.
He was still at UBC when he was recruited by Dan Eisenhardt and Fraser Hall, who were starting a new venture capital firm, following their successful exit from Recon Instruments.
Rhino Ventures raised $15 million for its first fund in 2015 and another $35 million last year.
Rhino Ventures’ operating principle is to provide support to the startups it funds without micromanaging them.
“We operate with a service-oriented mentality,” Rhind said. “Every investment we make, we try to help our companies as much as possible but not be a burden to them, and not be the overbearing sources of capital that it can be in the venture ecosystem.”
Where you live now: Vancouver
Highest level of education: MBA, UBC
Currently reading: Vanishing Fish: Shifting Baselines and the Future of Global Fisheries by Daniel Pauly
Currently listening to: “Right Above It” by Lil Wayne
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Professional angler and marine biologist
Profession you would most like to try: Behavioural economist
Toughest business or professional decision: Not investing in many companies that have turned out to be winners. Eating humble pie comes with the turf
Advice you would give the younger you: Enjoy the ride
What’s left to do: Avoid conformity, change the guard of B.C. business, scale Rhino Ventures, support and challenge our founders to realize their full potential, improve the quality and quantity of entrepreneurs coming from post-secondary institutions
Join us to celebrate the 2019 Forty under 40 Awards on January 30, 2020, at the Westin Bayshore. For tickets and event information visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40