The Second Act - Magazine - Page 45
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED
WITH NEXT CANADA, AND HOW HAS THE
ORGANIZATION IMPACTED YOUR CAREER?
Just over ten years ago, I was given the opportunity to work with that
year’s cohort of Next36 companies. In fact, one of the first companies
in the tech ecosystem I advised (Kira Talent) actually came out of
Osler’s relationship with Next. As I reflect on that part of my career,
it is clear that Next enabled me to play an active role in Canada’s
tech ecosystem beyond simply acting as a lawyer. So many of the
professional friendships I’ve made stem from my involvement with
Next, including with its staff, mentor/investor/academic network and
founders. Next has played a pivotal role in making me a more wellrounded legal and business advisor.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FOUNDERS
NAVIGATING THE CHOPPY WATERS AHEAD?
Given the current levels of economic uncertainty, most companies
are “heads-down” and carefully managing their spending. Many
companies are taking money on available terms to weather the
storm (i.e. looking for “fair” terms and being mindful not to be too
“greedy”), thereby prioritizing runway and ensuring a comfortable
buffer. Make sure to consider all available non-dilutive sources of
funding. In this environment, finding creative bridge alternatives
suiting the needs of both the companies and the investors helps
ensure funds are secured. I would encourage all founders to familiarize
themselves with available investment instruments and develop a
solid understanding of potential dilution and “predatory” terms,
particularly in this shifting market. Trusting advisors and mentors are
increasingly important during these times. I also suggest learning as
much as possible about your prospective investor partners, as you
will likely be working alongside one another through thick and thin
for years to come (including by speaking to their other portfolio
Can you share some guidance on how to prepare for dealing
Gaining an appreciation for how the investment process unfolds
(and how long it takes to materialize) will help prepare you. It always
takes longer than you think to close a funding round. Regarding
priced rounds, ensure you give yourself enough lead time and
budget at least six months from when you start sharing your deck
with investors. When approaching investors, it is most effective via
“warm” intros, so do your best to tap your network (your advisors
can benefit from that). When connecting with investors, ensure you
are well-researched to make the most of your meeting (understand
the types/stages of companies they invest in, the cheque sizes they
write and whether they are actively deploying money, etc.).
What does your ideal rest day look like?
Hanging out with my family (my wife, Emilie, and my 18-month-old,
Sebastian) by heading to the local pool or park is always a good
place to start. Heading up north, spending time on the water, and
making dinner with friends (preparing sushi or smoking meats on
the BGE are among my favourite) are often included as part of the
perfect rest day!
WHAT ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS YOU HAVE FOR
FOUNDERS SETTING UP THEIR BUSINESSES?
As you build your tech business, ensuring IP chain-of-title with your
company will be paramount to potential investors and acquirers.
Make sure that each person working with or engaged by the company
signs a robust IP assignment and confidentiality agreement. For
those companies that have multiple founders, on the theory that
founder equity is “sweat equity”, institute vesting arrangements
(typically 4 years with a one year cliff) to ensure alignment and longterm incentive as between the company’s founders, and to avoid a
situation where a former founder retains a significant equity stake
in the business without having “sweated” for it. Finally, a strong
management/founder team with internal technical ability goes a
long way. When seeking investment from third-party investors, a
founder team that is 100% dedicated to the company (as opposed to
part-time founders) is key.
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