The C100 is Changing the Pace of Development for VC-backed Canadian Tech Entrepreneurs

17Aug10

by Chris Arsenault, Managing Partner at iNovia Capital

This article was first posted on August 10, 2010 for nextMontreal.comThe source for news & opinion on technology and startups in Montreal

I first heard about C100 in September 2009. Chris Albinson was just paving the way for the organization, and it’s very quickly become one of the most influential Canadian Tech Entrepreneur Associations around. Comprised of a passionate group of primarily Silicon Valley-based Canadians, the C100 aims to foster relationships that will lay the groundwork for future Canadian success stories at the highest echelons of the technology industry.

In early March, at an event in Menlo Park, the association was ready to give the world a first glance at who was behind the C100 Organizing Committee, who were some of the initial Charter Members, and to highlight the C100 global ambitions. There was active participation from Montreal’s venture capital community, including iNovia Capital, Montreal Startup, Teralys Capital and BDC Ventures; as well as some of our top tech company entrepreneurs: Woozworld, Reflex, Coradiant, Beyond the Rack, and a few others as well.

So why so much hype around the C100?

For starters, this young organization has demonstrated quantifiable results and has awakened hundreds of Canadian technology entrepreneurs to a new dimension – one where Canadians are helping fellow Canadians succeed. In order to achieve such success, a C100er doesn’t just lend his or her name to setup a meeting in the Valley or provide funding to a talented entrepreneur; rather, he or she provides a “Path to Success”. The package provided by C100ers to young, dynamic and talented Canadian entrepreneurs includes access to role models, coaching & mentoring sessions, networking events, financial capital and a healthy dose of inspiration. “There is a bigger story here than just providing introductions or capital”, said Anthony Lee, a General Partner at Altos Ventures who co-founded the C100 alongside Chris Albinson (Managing Partner at Panorama Capital). “This is a non-for profit, we have no permanent staff, no one is being paid to do this, everybody is a volunteer and cares about giving back to Canada”.

With over 300,000 Canadians now working in Northern California (almost 1% of the Canadian population!), the C100 aims to attract those Canadians at a stage of their lives where they want to give back to their homeland in a truly unique way. “C100 Charter Members include top executives from technology giants such as Apple, Cisco, Electronic Arts, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Oracle, plus a terrific group of start-up CEOs, and some of the most active venture capital investors in both Canada and the US”, said Anthony. The C100 already has over 500 General Members, with 70 Charter Members, including a few Montrealers, such as executives from Google, Microsoft, Ubisoft and from a select few venture firms like iNovia Capital and Founders Fuel. But we need more reach into C100 from our local Montreal and Quebec expatriates.As Chris Albinson puts it so well: “We should not worry about Brain Drain but Brain Flow. It’s about time Canadians come out of stealth mode and start showing what we do.”

With a few exceptions, this is the profile of a C100 Charter Member today:

  • Canadian and Silicon Valley based;
  • Senior Executive (VP or C-Level) within a successful tech company, Founder or CEO role at a start-up or as a Partner with a VC Fund;
  • Has the ability and resources to provide coaching, mentoring and introductions to aspiring Canadian entrepreneurs;
  • Fully committed to participating in the process and supporting developments in the lifecycle of a start-up;
  • Passionate about Canada and driven by the opportunity to do more for their country and compatriots;
  • Wants to give back!

Since its inception, the C100 Organizing Committee has already helped kickstart a new era in Canadian entrepreneurship. Beyond delivering on membership goals, the organization has hosted over a dozen networking events in major cities across North America (including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Menlo Park, Vancouver and Ottawa). The inaugural 48Hrs in the Valley mentoring event was also a tremendous success, hosting 20 top Canadian tech startup entrepreneurs for a two day session in the midst of the world’s technology headquarters. To build on the momentum of these events, the group has also continued to hold quarterly mentoring sessions via Cisco Telepresence to provide additional support to eager entrepreneurs.

Check out the upcoming 48Hrs in the Valley scheduled to be held on October 27-28th in Menlo Park. Let me know by email if, as a Canadian Entrepreneur, you want to apply and participate.

Commitment, Mentorship and Coaching:

§  Held its first “48Hrs hours in the Valley by hosting 20 top Canadian entrepreneurs;

§  The next 48Hrs in the Valley will be held on October 27-28th;

§  Held 5 Mentoring sessions via Cisco-Telepresence;

§  Ongoing Quarterly Mentoring Cisco-Telepresence Sessions;

Canadian tech leadership awareness in the Valley:

§  DFAIT series of Entrepreneur Bootcamps;

§  Major Networking events in the Valley and major Canadian cities;

Cross border deal making (VC funded Canadian tech Companies):

§  Calgary based Tynt, Toronto based Kontagent, Montreal based Beyond the Rack,

§  Edmonton based Immunet, Toronto based Dayforce, Montreal based Vantrix, to name but a few Tech startups that raise over $40M this year;

§  And, Toronto based Bumptop acquisition by Google was also co-funded by two C100ers.

Like it or not, the growth of Canadian tech startups is still heavily dependent on their ability to effectively access the US market (notably Silicon Valley). Already we at iNovia have worked on 5 different Canadian tech startup opportuities with C100 members, one which turned into an investment in Tynt and another one in Fixmo. Not a bad start! The key value-add a C100 investor brings any Canadian startup is access and personal relationships with some of the leading tech companies based in the Valley.

I think that the passion and drive behind the C100 marks an important change for Canada and the Canadian Tech Community. Not only is it time that we realize we are already leaders within the global economy, but by regrouping and providing a forum to learn from each other, we are poised to play our most important role yet in the ever changing landscape of Communications, Digital Media, Enterprise Software and the real-time Internet.

Given the tremendous traction that the group has already gained, it’s hard to believe that the C100 is only a few months old! If you haven’t yet had a one-on-one conversation with a C100 Member, don’t miss the opportunity to meet up at the Vancouver GROW conference on August 19-20th, at the Quebec city conference on October 25-26th or through one of the many mentoring, coaching and networking events. You’ll find all the details athttp://www.theC100.org. And follow The C100 on Twitter.

If your ambitions meet those of the C100, then I welcome you to join now and come make a difference. It’s awesome to see Montrealers participate as Charter Members, the General Membership, as well as some of the key C100 Sponsor Members. Yet, we can pull our weight even more and play a critical role in building out our own ecosystem by reaching into the Valley and connecting our Entrepreneurs with enhanced access to capital, mentoring, knowledge, customer relationships and most importantly inspiration.

Your comments and involvement is more than welcomed!

This post was first written up for the nextMontreal.com – The source for news and opinions on technology and startups in Montreal




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