Do you know how and why early-stage angel investors are so integral to the innovation ecosystem?
Entrepreneurs face numerous hurdles throughout the long road of starting up technology-based ventures. As they advance innovation, they must navigate assessments of technological feasibility while proving the credibility of their business models and the viability of their products or services.
The risks at this early stage of the entrepreneurial journey can severely limit capital sources. However, angel investors help fulfil this need by assuming risk alongside company founders. As such, a robust and engaged community of angel investors is an essential ingredient for accelerating innovation — and it is this thinking on which the Vancouver Economic Commission’s latest program was designed.
The Angels for Climate Solutions program launched by Vancouver Economic Commission and partners has welcomed a cohort of 21 new and seasoned angel investors. The education and training program strives to catalyze early-stage capital to progress promising climate technology startups.
During the first pitch night on February 15th, 2022, the panel of angel investors selected 10 of the top 20 startups to move on to the finale. A few weeks later, the investor cohort will will then select the top 5 climate technology startups will make their final pitch on April 5th, with one winner ultimately earning an investment of $122,000. See registration details at the bottom of the post ↓ ↓
Angels for Climate Solutions aims to accelerate investment into promising climate solutions by lowering barriers to participation from people of diverse cultural, career and lived backgrounds. “In order to meet current challenges and find equitable solutions for a better tomorrow, it is absolutely critical to broaden and leverage expertise from people who have ancestral and lived experience in addition to technical know-how,” said Shivam Kishore, VEC’s Manager of Economic Transformation (with a focus on Technology and Innovation), who oversees the overall program.
“The reality today is that, by and large, the make-up of innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem mirrors the make-up of capital markets, a narrow sliver of society. In order to advance entrepreneurs from marginalized or underrepresented communities, it’s imperative that capital markets also showcase that diversity.”
In this sense, the cohorts themselves are moving the dial: more than half of all program participants – both startups and investors – are from groups underrepresented among entrepreneurs and angel investors in Canada, including women, neurodiverse and BIPOC communities.
Meet the angel investors
With the first pitch night fast approaching, six of the angel investors that will help decide on the startup that will be awarded the $122,000 investment have offered to share a little about themselves and their various journeys to this point.
Project Director at Junxion Strategy
Project leadership, social purpose, strategic planning, brand strategy, community engagement, non-profit, mentorship
Chantal Schauch has been in the social impact space for over 15 years, working with purpose-driven entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders in Canada, the United States and Nepal. She passionately supports the conservation and sustainable development of the Atl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound region northwest of Vancouver, Canada, and the education and mentorship of Indigenous girls and young women from the Himalaya of Nepal. She is also a strong advocate for access to nature and outdoor adventure as a key pillar of mental health and wellness, and has worked extensively to advance this through climbing expeditions, documentaries, and film festival programs.
“For a while now, I’ve been looking to invest part of my portfolio more directly in climate solutions. What has kept me beyond dabbling was the lack of skills and knowledge of seed investing and the courage to go in alone. I was looking for a hands-on program that would allow me to learn and collaborate with values-aligned individuals from diverse backgrounds, and Angels for Climate Solutions came around the corner at the right time.”
President & Investor, Vertical Motion
Entrepreneur, business advisor and mentor, business and startup strategy, investment
Jason Jones launched his first business at the age of 19, and has since founded nine companies spanning multiple industries across Canada. In 2006, he founded Vertical Motion Inc., which has since grown into one of Canada’s top software and application developers. Outside of running and managing his business, Jason predominantly dedicates his time to advising founders and business owners at Vertical Motion, Foresight CAC, and Futurpreneur Canada. He has also operated as an investor supporting local startups in Alberta and British Columbia since 2017.
M.Sc., banking, investments, finance, co-founder of a food-tech startup
A banker by profession and investor by passion, Jinbin Yang is an innovation enthusiast, cleantech advocate, and fan of Elon Musk and Chinese poet Li Bai. He brings a refreshing optimism in the compounding power of combining public attention, talent, capital and resources into climate solutions, and their potential to contribute game-changing, lasting and positive impact to the planet and the next generation. There is also personal motivation to this drive to leave the world a better place: Jinbin is a doting father of two young children.
Fellow, Breakthrough Energy
Energy sector, strategy and business development, not-for-profit governance
Robert Murphy’s career has centred on energy and climate, including firsthand experience of the extreme social, economic, political, and environmental complexities of the energy sector spanning lived experience from Calgary to Yemen. He has worked in roles that span head of strategy and business development for Aclima, Chevron, Enbridge, World Bank and Cleantech Group, among others. Today, Robert is primarily focused on working with early-stage startups funded by Breakthrough Energy, the climate investment fund formed by Bill Gates in 2015. He also serves on the board of Berkeley Earth, a climate data non-profit, and policy and impact committee for Carbon Mapper, which focuses on GHG satellite mapping. Robert began angel investing in climate tech startups in early 2021.
Rohit John Nundy
Principal, Pura Portal Ventures
Economics, resource extraction sector, megaprojects management, food security, knowledge translation, community-based projects
Rohit John Nundy’s background in economics led him to the mining, metals and energy sphere. For some time, he worked in commercial and contracts management teams for mega-projects valued between $500 million and $2 billion. Despite his passion for realizing tangible changes on a grand scale, and gaining insight into the machines of industry and industrial processes, he eventually moved into community-based and eco-centric projects that focus on resiliency and infrastructure development from the people’s perspective. Rohit eventually transitioned into working in the fields of food security, First Nations infrastructure and knowledge translation – all of which culminated in his interest in impact investing.
“My dream has always been to work on progressive, impactful projects that directly help the people who ask for it, while being connected to and learn from groups that challenge the status-quo of our antiquated world. Start-ups, especially the climate solution ones, are fresh ideas and bold action takers that fill the elements of the dream.”
Vice President of Corporate Development, Carbin Minerals
Mechanical engineering, social science, disaster response and humanitarian aid
Educated in Mechanical Engineering and Social Science, Sean Lowrie has led and supported several non-profit start-ups through collaborations focused on changing the international humanitarian aid system. As a disaster response professional, he has spent a long time thinking about human vulnerability, experienced what happens to people when systems collapse, and seen how quickly societies can tip into crisis – all of which inspired a drive to develop his skills in, and contribute to, the field of impact investing.
Read further about the importance of angel investors in building a strong innovation ecosystem and, by extension, a resilient economy in the report “Access to Early Stage and Venture Capital remains a crucial topic for BC”.
Angels for Climate Solutions Pitch Night Finale
Date: April 5, 2022, 4:00PM – 7:00PM PST
Format: Virtual Pitch Night
Register now to see which of the top 5 startups will continue their journey to receive $122,000 in investment. Registration is free, so get your tickets now!