2015: Year of the Community Director for VCs in Canada, Starting with OMERS Ventures

Over the last two years, we’ve seen roles like community director or platform manager surge in the venture capital world via our neighbours to the south. Large firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures and Spark Capital were early adopters on the quest to provide more value to their respective portfolio companies.

With the clear win of these positions in the US, it was only a matter of time before Canadian firms followed suit.

Newly minted in her role as community director at OMERS Ventures, we caught up with Nicole Kelly to discuss her thoughts on the industry’s adaptation.

There is certainly a lot of buzz in the industry regarding community. What is your take on it?

Community positions fuse aspects of communications, client services, events and marketing into a pivotal, value-add opportunity for both VCs and those within their portfolio. With years of branding and development experience in environments ranging from startups to investment to event management, I’m ready to engage our ecosystem and foster connections amongst our portfolio members.

At OMERS Ventures, we truly believe in our community and want to provide ongoing, meaningful resources to support business objectives. Sure, companies are looking for smart capital deals, but we want to take our offering to a deeper, more engaging level. We want companies to know that when they become part of the OMERS Ventures family, they can expect a wealth of resources to aid in their growth and development— guidance, networking, peer-to-peer knowledge transfer and continuous learning, to name a few.

Our annual CEO summit, which hosts all of the CEOs from our portfolio companies, clearly demonstrates the value of the CEOs interacting with one another, and we wanted to ensure these forums happen more often and at different levels in the organizations — similar to the activity we’ve seen from VCs in the US. As the community director, I’m excited to execute this vision and blossom our multipronged ideas to fruition.

Why now?

Simply put, competition is stiff. Canada’s tech startup scene is thriving and the battle to recruit top talent is fierce. There is no shortage of funding for great companies, and in such a crowded space, we need to bring more to the table in order to appeal to the best ones.

OMERS Ventures is already known for providing tremendous value to its portfolio companies and industry, but we’re ready to amplify our offering and take our community development and investment to the next level. As the saying goes: “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

What’s next?

For VCs, I expect that you’ll continue to see a growth in these positions until community roles are the new normal. As for myself, I’m committed to our extremely talented community and look forward to supporting their growth and success.

In fact, I’m so committed that I’m going to use our portfolio company BusBud for an upcoming trip to the CVCA conference in Vancouver. How else can you make it across the country for less than $200? It’s pretty incredible.

So wait, you’re taking a bus across Canada?

#CVCA2015 road trip! My mission is to support our community in every way possible, starting now. Accepting applications for amazing bus mates here.