A look inside Canada’s tech community secret weapon


By Chris Arsenault, Managing Partner, iNovia Capital

Written up for the CVCA Private Capital Magazine and VCrants.com Blog

The C100 is an exciting new initiative that has recently launched to turbo-charge the development of Canadian technology startups.  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. On May 25, 2010 the newly formed, non-for profit association hit the road in Ottawa for a networking reception at the offices of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to announce its Canadian launch. Given the tremendous traction that the group has already gained, none of the 125 privileged guests could believe that the C100 was only a few months old.

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 to 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. Now over 500 members strong, including 70 Charter Members, the organization expects to further broaden its influence by reaching out to the non IT sectors, such as Life sciences and Cleantech. Plans are also in the works for the group to expand its membership footprint in the East Coast, taking advantage of another large community of successful expatriates who share in the C100 vision.

Here is what most C100 Charter Member looks like 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;
–          Passionate about Canada;
–          Wants to give back!

Since its inception, the C100 Organizing Committee has already helped kick-start a new era in Canadian entrepreneurship. Beyond delivering on membership goals, the organization has hosted over 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 start-up 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 also holds quarterly mentoring sessions via Cisco Telepresece to provide additional support to eager entrepreneurs.

Cross border deals by C100ers already account for over $40M in funding: 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. Also worth noting, Toronto based Bumptop acquisition by Google was also co-funded by two C100ers.

The growth of Canadian start-ups in the US is still heavily dependent on their ability to effectively access the Silicon Valley market. The Tynt example provides a perfect case study of what C100 intends to do for Canadian entrepreneurs. “Chris Albinson helped Tynt’s team make contact with executives at Google, Facebook, Twitter and other important partners — all of which were very interested in the new technology. We started seeing short term business development results which would have been much more difficult to accomplish without the C100 ”, said Derek Ball, President & CEO of Tynt.

I feel a strong sense of patriotism towards Canada – growing up there gave me an amazing start in life – and I’m happy to be at a stage in life where I can give back by supporting Canadian technology entrepreneurs. It is not all altruism though. There are some very talented technology entrepreneurs in Canada and I not only want to see them succeed, they are an additional source of potential deal flow for my work as a venture capitalist in the Silicon Valley” said Katherine Barr, Partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures.

The passion and drive behind the C100 marks an important change for Canada and the Canadian Tech Community. Not only is it time 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.

The C100  sponsor members: Alberta Enterprise, BDC Ventures, iNovia Capital, Founders Fuel, Extreme Venture Partners, bootup Labs, Communitech, MaRS, FMC, OCRI, Growthworks and the Canadian Consulate General.

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 Quebec city conference on October 25-26th or through one of the many mentoring, coaching and networking events. You’ll find all the details at http://www.theC100.org

Don’t forget to checkout the Fall edition of the CVCA Private Capital Magazine at the CVCA web site.


One Response to “A look inside Canada’s tech community secret weapon”

  1. That is a very good tip especially to those new
    to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise information…
    Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

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