One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is money. Accessing growth capital, securing investments, and generating revenue are issues that plague young and growing businesses alike. In a recent startup ecosystem and community assessment completed by Chris Heivly and the Techstars team, Chris was quick to point out the Okanagan’s need to support, bolster, and grow an Okanagan-centric investor base through the development of a new angel onboarding event that could train new angels.
The OKGN Angel Summit is based on the successful Seattle Angel Conference model. The goal of the summit is to raise awareness about angel investing, its benefits and opportunities, and to educate accredited investors in a participatory manner.
The inaugural OKGN Angel Summit launched on January 28th, 2019. A collection of 27 investors, each willing to invest $5,000, created a venture capital fund worth upwards of $125000 and have spent the last 6 weeks assessing 40 of OKGNtech’s best and brightest startups. The investor group then narrowed it down to the final 5 and on April 11th the finalists presented their final pitch to the 27 participating investors.
After almost an hour of deliberation, the winner was announced and Kelowna-based startup Trellis Social Enterprise took home the $130,000.00 prize. Founded in 2018, the Trellis platform makes charity fundraising easy, powering events like the Kelowna Jaycees’ Rene Bourgault Legacy Golf Tournament. The mission of Trellis is to bring philanthropy into the modern age, growing events and community initiatives into a greater force for social good.
“It’s humbling, because we’re trying to do good and make some money at the same time, and the Okanagan community is supporting that,” Goodhew said.
Determining the winner in the final meeting wasn’t easy, according to lead investor Brodie Desimone.“It was a cage match,” Desimone said. “It was an absolute cage match.”
The process isn’t officially over, as the angel investors will now negotiate with Goodhew and his Trellis team about where to go from here.
As Trellis CEO Justin Goodhew puts it, “Working with the angels who are promoting growth has been a humbling and exhilarating experience. As the Okanagan’s leading investors and fund groups support us with their wealth of knowledge, expertise and networks, it’s phenomenal having our community champion us and believe in the work we are doing to promote events for good across Canada and beyond.”
There was also be an opportunity to vote for the people choice award. Daniel Rondeau, founder of 925 took home that prize. “I’m almost speechless right now,” Rondeau said. “To be voted people’s choice alongside such an amazing group of people and by probably one of the best communities in the world is one of the most flattering things you could ask for.”
Summit Director, Thuy Tran is thrilled with the results of this inaugural event and is already planning round two for Spring, 2020. “We knew this Summit would be an amazing opportunity to connect local investors with local startups,” said Tran.
This event would not have been possible without the support of our community sponsors. A huge shoutout to Bank of Montreal, Grant Thornton, Central Okanagan Economic Development Commision, City of Kelowna, Strawhouse, Lawson Lundell and Maven Capital.
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