Investor and Canadian Startup Award Nominee Randy Thompson Explains Envy Between Angels and VCs

Randy Thompson has been nominated for a 2013 Canadian Startup Award in the Angel Investor of the Year category. Why does he deserve your vote? Read on.

i began my interview with Randy by bemoaning the very political responses i’d received from the big VC firms and startups who were nominated for the awards this year. Many answers consisted of carefully manicured PR speak that made me feel at times that i was interviewing an About Us page. Randy knows the score. Citing his background in politics, he affirmed that many companies, and VCs especially, are very careful about controlling their message. He laughingly said that when people comment about how often he’s in the press, he answers “that’s because I’m the only guy who’ll speak to them!”

To be fair to the other nominees, many of our interviews were conducted by email. Randy doesn’t strike me as an email guy. He’s a phone man all the way, with the kind of voice you’d like to sit down and have a beer with.

It’s that penchant for a personal connection that denotes the difference between VC firms and angel investors. Randy rhymed off a list of ways in which typically large, typically late-stage venture capital investors differed from typically small, typically pre-revenue angels. Angels, he said, are closer to the money.

“It’s your money, not other people’s money,” he explained. In that regard, angels enjoy a more personal connection to their investments—both to the money, and the people.

“There are some real upsides to being a lone wolf,” Randy added, but “every angel wants to be a VC, and every VC wants to be an angel.”

While VCs covet the autonomy and freedom that angels have to choose their investments and act independently, angels hate working without a VC’s corporate infrastructure, including staffers to share the portfolio load. An angel and a VC may both be carrying the same workload shepherding over a dozen companies, but the burden is placed solely on the angel, while the task list is distributed among many employees in a larger firm.

When asked to highlight a favourite deal, Randy chose iTraumaCare, creators of a sort of high-tech hair clip that can clamp off a hemorrhage to keep wounded people from bleeding out. iTraumaCare was funded by a collective of 17 angels who pumped $1.3 million into the company, growing it from three to 27 employees.

When asked why TechVibes readers should vote for him, rather than his two esteemed co-nominees, Randy pits himself as the underdog. “One of the Internet guys will take it,” he said. His own claim to the crown is the fact that in addition to forming an angel collective that has funded nearly 35 startups, and has injected a much-needed $30 million into Canada’s wilting economy, his specialty is in helping non-Internet companies. “You try raising money when you’re a non-Internet company,” he cautions.

While the other guys are fostering the growth of e-this and i-that, Randy spreads the love around to a variety of startups that exist both on and offline, applying his personal touch to sectors where other angels fear to tread.

Vote for Randy Thompson (or one of those Internet guys) and all the rest in the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards.