Angel Investing Comes To Thunder Bay With The Goal to Provide Companies with Enough Money to Take Them to the Next Level
By Scott A. Sumner
Thunder Bay Business
The Northern Ontario Enterprise Gateway held a press conference recently to announce a strategic collaboration with the National Angel Organization and the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre. The trio have partnered together to bring Thunder Bay an end to end, intensive and hands on investor - readiness program designed to help entrepreneurs take their business to the next level.
Dan Mothersill is the president National Angel Organization based in Toronto and was in Thunder Bay to lead the program.“ My career began as a journalist in broadcasting at CFRB radio in Toronto. Then I started my own public relations firm and quickly realized I knew nothing about business so I hired on with Imperial Oil in Calgary for a few years. Then I was offered a job with a company called Nortel and after 10 years left in 1991 when there were much happier times for the company. I spent some time in UK but eventually got back to what I really wanted to do and that was to start my own business in investor relations, “ noted Mothersill. “ I thought by then I’m pretty smart so I started investing in small enterprises and saw a couple of deals in emerging technology. After my first few deals I realized I wasn’t as smart as I though I was so I began an pilgrimage in understanding what angel investing is about. How do you do valuations, What’s the due diligence process, How can I maximize or
leverage my money with other angel investors to provide companies with enough money to take them to the next level.”
“ I have made a number of what I consider to be good investments and some I am still waiting for my exit strategy to come. There have been some winners in the offing and I have lost some money as well. It is a passion for me though particularly from an angel investment point of view. Angel investing is much more than just cash. It is 1. their Rolladex for business contacts 2. mentoring ability to fill holes in their management team and 3. is cash. Perhaps cash is the least important paradoxically,” said Mothersill, a serial investor and serial
entrepreneur. “ We are an umbrella organization in which most angel groups in Canada are members. The Premier of Ontario gave $2.5 million to seed and grow angel groups in Canada.”
According to Mothersill right now angels invest about $2.5 billion per year in seed and start up capital in Canada. This is compared to venture capalists who annually invest about $1.5 billion. There is a funding gap of about $ 5 billion per year in Canada. One of Mothersill’s mandates is to grow angel groups. His group wants to provide companies with enough financing to truly take companies to the next level.
“ There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and support in the Thunder Bay region from people to invest. How do you get good deal flow. How do you nurture companies to the next level so are they are ready for angel investment. Innovation is no longer bordered geographically. You can be anywhere and find good ideas. You don’t have to be in Toronto or Vancouver. Thunder Bay can compete anyday with anywhere in Canada and we want to show the rules of the road in obtaining angel money,” smiles Mothersill. “ I am extremely optimistic
that some good results will happen because of the people attending this event.”
Jim Noble is the Regional Coordinator for Northern Ontario Enterprise Gateway. His background is mostly in the banking business with 25 years experience in Canada and in the US with the TD Bank and a Swiss bank. Noble has never worked in Thunder Bay and lives on
Manitoulin Island. He covers the North and Northwest as the NOEG is from North Bay to the Manitoba border.
“ NOEG is an incorporated Non Profit organization. Our purpose is to link Northern and Northwestern Ontario Investors with Northern and Northwestern Entrepreneurs. We do this because we think the flow of investment or equity capital is good. We are delighted to bring a
first time event to Thunder Bay where we take a select group of entrepreneurs through a beginning to end process that provides them with the tools and information to take their business to the next level culminating with a real life group of Thunder Bay and beyond
investors having the opportunity to invest. We want to help company’s that can’t get access to the equity they need to grow and show them how to prepare to get that. Bringing this program is a first step with the NAO.” states Jim Noble.
Gord Wickham is the Chair of the Board of the NOEG which has 9 board members. “ We are larger centre focussed. I am an engineering consultant by profession that specializes in cost estimating and project costing. I also do some business management stuff,” says Wickham who lives in Thunder Bay and is originally from Kenora. “ It is a passion. I had worked for UMA Engineering and it was bought by a larger firm. I could have moved to Alberta but I like the future of Thunder Bay. I don’t think people realize all the exciting things going on here. We are in a transitional period and I think it is exciting with so many good news stories. The entrepreneurs are making it happen. The Bob Thayer type of Genesis Geonomics is a prime example.”
Mayor Lyn Peterson was on hand to open the event. “ This is important for our community. We know it is our small and medium sized business whom create many jobs. This type of event will help make Thunder Bay stronger.”