A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Carollynn. Carollynn Schafer is the owner of Quintessence Investments, the Fund Manager for the 2022 OKGN Angel Summit and a General Partner for Women’s Equity Lab Okanagan WMAN. When she’s not guiding invested entrepreneurs through their legal and funding needs, you’ll find Carollynn hiking and biking with her sons or delving into science fiction writing.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I leverage my skills as an angel investor and a lawyer to spend most of my time working in the tech world. I place investments through Quintessence Investments, which I own, and advise companies on matters related to law and funding. I often fill the gap between a company’s lawyer and business needs. I find that being able to advise on business-related legal questions is a big value-add for the companies I invest in. I also serve as a General Partner at Women’s Equity Lab Okanagan WMAN and the Fund Manager of the OKGN Angel Summit.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I like connecting with entrepreneurs and being able to support them with my expertise and background. While I was in law school, I wanted to be a tech and privacy lawyer. I did get to practice in those areas, but being able to transition into more of an investor role and not need to practice law in that manner has been great.
How did you get into angel investing?
I was practicing law in-house for a tech startup that had exited. When that happened, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. My husband and I had done some family and friends investments so, when the OKGN Angel Summit came up, I saw an opportunity to become a more structured angel investor and branch out on my own. There are a lot of professionals in angel investing, so having legal expertise and a tech background has been an asset for certain companies.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
If it’s something that you’re passionate about, then investing is great. There are lots of different facets and it’s always changing—technology is one of those things where it’s a very fast-moving field. But you need to be passionate about the companies you’re investing in. Entrepreneurs are under a lot of stress and their passion is what pushes them to continue. You need to be able to match that.
What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?
I really like that it’s a cohesive community. All the organizations work together and everyone seems to know each other. There is a tangible network here. Entrepreneurs feel supported, the community feels supported, and they both know where to go to make new connections. It feels like a very consciously founded community. It’s as if the original members of the community looked at other tech communities and tried to build the best version of them. You can tell that there was a vision for what the community should be.
What are you looking forward to in the 2022 OKGN Angel Summit?
I’m hoping there will be more participation from women. I would love to hear their voices, we only had 2/30 last year. I’m looking forward to the diversity of companies that apply now that we’ve opened it up to western Canada. I love supporting the Okanagan, but I love supporting the other regions that are as underrepresented in funding as we are. I’m hoping we get companies in those regions so that we can see all the great ideas and things that they’ve accomplished. I’m excited to see that change in how we can support outside the Okanagan.
What advice would you share with women looking to invest in the Summit?
You need to understand where you can help and where your expertise is. You don’t need to be a professional or experienced investor, you don’t need to be an entrepreneur, but you need to be someone who is passionate about supporting local businesses.
Who inspires you?
Entrepreneurs are what inspire me. My father was an entrepreneur of a small business, my husband is an entrepreneur, and so are many of the people I work closest with. Entrepreneurs show up every day in so many different circumstances—that’s not an easy thing to do. There are moments where they’re up against difficult odds and they need to face them head-on. Entrepreneurs weather challenges because it’s what they love, and that’s what I find inspiring.
Entrepreneurs weather challenges because it’s what they love, and that’s what I find inspiring.