Jordan Banks: looking for early-stage consumer focused tech companies

Remember this name: Jordan Banks.  Why?  At Techvibes, we feel Jordan is going to play an important and influential role in shaping how new companies approach the world of online business.  With social media, digital media and social gaming gaining prominence in the online space, many people and companies are seeking out mentorship and experience.  Jordan Banks is one person who will be on many people’s electronic Rolodexes.

Jordan’s background has led him from the front offices of the National Hockey League’s Player’s Association (NHLPA) to the helm of eBay Canada and then the CEO of Jump TV; all before he started Thunder Road Capital.  For the past 12 years Jordan has been approached by many large companies, start-ups and individuals seeking out his advice; and he has followed up that advice several times as an investor.  This led him in late 2008 to incorporate Thunder Road Capital as his vehicle to invest in and give advice to “early stage consumer-focused tech companies.” 

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jordan.  I asked him what kind of companies he invests in and why.  “I’m looking to invest primarily in early stage consumer tech companies.”  Furthermore, Jordan outlines three simple criteria he looks for in potential invetsee companies:

I must believe and have great confidence in the founder of the business and their proven history of showing a bias for action. Second, they need to have a simple business model and third, they can’t require more than one more round of financing.

We recently featured an article on Jordan Banks after he became involved with the Canadian online pop-culture magazine, andPOP.  I asked Jordan if his focus is to primarily invest in Canadian companies as well.  His answer was no but, “I have a preference to invest in Canada because there is virtually no support at an early stage for our great entrepeneurs and therein lies compelling opportunities”

Today, Jordan has developed a name for himself as a successful investor and entrepreneur.  To date Thunder Road Capital has taken financial positions in, andPOP, StickerYou, GlassBox Television,, Domainer, AdCopy, Peerset, Boost Motors Group and The Mark News.

Besides investing in companies, Jordan also spends his time and resources trying to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. is an Alzheimer’s disease memorial and fundraising website that Jordan put together. Between 1mtweets and another event Jordan founded called Sportsfest, Jordan has raised over $1.2 mllion for Alzheimer’s research and care.

Recently, Jordan talked about his experience with this fundraising initiatives during Social Media Week in Toronto.

Getting back to his work with Thunder Road Capital, what advice would Jordan give to start-ups looking to approach investors like himself?  Jordan told me companies need to have an acute focus on providing an outstanding customer experience, have a talented core team of employees and have a good handle on their cost of acquisition vs. lifetime value of a customer.

Looking forward what does Jordan see in the coming months and years?
  • Social change.  People want to be involved much more than just being a customer; they want to be involved in an experience that is both personally and socially rewarding.
  • Simplicity. “In an era where success is going to be inextricably linked to customer experience it is crucially important the online customer experience is both simple and intuitive.”
  • Mobile.  Handheld devices will continually morph from primarily a communication device to a device integrated to be able to do almost anything within the consumer-experience realm. Multi-platform offerings will be expected across all consumer interactions.
  • Great talent.  Companies will be looking for people who are data driven; have a deep understanding of the importance of a great customer experience and will have to be web-savvy and intrigued by the efficiencies inherent in technology.
We wrapped up our conversation with Jordan sharing some final insights:
Canada is a great place to invest.  There is tremendous talent here behind numerous exciting companies.  However, there needs to be more formal and informal support for our best budding entrepreneurs.  In fact, across the board, Canada’s economy needs small businesses to thrive in order for it to succeed.
I asked Jordan to provide details. He listed off the following criteria:
  1. access to affordable financing at an early stage.
  2. access to  sound advice regarding organizational prioritization, structure and process.
  3. access to support and introductions from experienced business mentors.

This is a challenge for Canadian business people and financial institutions.  If what Jordan says is true, then the success of our budding entrepreneurial ecosystem will depend on the co-operation of those that have succeeded before them.