What VCs look for

The 22nd annual Angel Forum opened bright and early at the SFU Harbour Centre with a presentation by Greg Smith of BDC Venture Capital on what venture capitalists look for when investing in a start-up. He said that most of the companies in their seed portfolio originated in some shape or form out of a university, or as he put it, “with some scientist in a lab.”

BDC tends to focus on companies that show the potential to go after very large markets. Another important factor is the presence of defensible intellectual property. A unique property is one that can be bought out by a much larger, established firm, and some have, he said.

He added that BDC has made the most money when they put out a large amount of money into a venture, so they look for big investments that can then further scale. Transparency in the management team is also important.

Basil Peters, a full-time angel investor, added that investing is fun for the first time since 2000, and pointed out that investments at past Angel Forums are becoming liquid and delivering returns within a two to three year period, indicating an improved business climate.

Other angel investors at the forum had varying degrees of experience (including a few self-described ‘newbies’) with a strong slant towards high-tech, communications, and software opportunities. Green energy firms and biotech also had a presence at the forum.