Nothing Omers Ventured, Nothing Omers Gained

OMERS Ventures has been nominated for a 2013 Canadian Startup Award in the Venture Capital Firm of the Year category. How does OMERS stack up against the competition? 

By their own admission, OMERS is a relative newcomer to the VC space.  In three years, like a business-themed remake of Brewster’s Millions, the firm has invested $200 million in 19 different technology companies.  When asked to pick a favourite, OMERS (like their co-nominees BDC and iNovia) can’t choose just one. Instead, OMERS Principal David Crow rattles off a list of OMERS portfolio companies who have also been nominated for a 2013 Canadian Startup Award.

That list includes Hootsuite and Shopify, who are duking it out for the Employer of the Year trophy. OMERS invested in InteraXon and Vidyard, who both show up in the Startup of the Year category.  Shopify’s CEO, Tobias Lütke, is up for an Entrepreneur of the Year award. Crow presents the list as evidence of the OMERS Touch in supporting strong startups.

When asked to name the firm’s greatest success stories, Crow goes on to mention most of the remaining 19 companies in the portfolio. Serves me right for asking a parent to pick a favourite.

Although OMERS is technically competing against iNovia and BDC for the glittering, diamond-encrusted  Canadian Startup Awards hardware, Crow rightly points out that getting successful companies off the ground is a team effort.  Crow borrows the term “co-opetition” from entrepreneurial phenom Marc Andreessen, who himself borrowed it from Portmanteau Hell, where it wreaks linguistic havoc alongside its nightmarishly Satanic pals “webinar” and “brogrammer.”

“We partner with other Canadian VCs like iNovia and BDC VC. They are great partners,” says Crow. “We also compete. We want the best companies in our portfolio.” This, believe it or not, is the strongest smack talk i can squeeze out of the three VC nominees. Crow’s bland admission that OMERS strives to have a stronger portfolio than Canada’s other firms is the polite, businesslike VC equivalent of a throw down. Shit just got real.

If you just read Crow’s call-out to the VC world’s sucka MCs and thought to yourself “OH SNAP,” scope the voting page and give OMERS your respeck. And be sure to vote for all of your favourites in the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards while you’re there! 

Peace out.