Angels help start-ups get off the ground

The group, founded 12 years ago, has seen its 125 members invest more than $38 million into start-up companies.

Alex Miller

Angie Brown, contributor

VA Angels, one of Canada’s leading angel investment groups, has reached the milestone of funding 100 early-stage companies, several of which hail from Kelowna.

The group, founded 12 years ago, has seen its 125 members invest more than $38 million into start-up companies during that time.

Seven of the group’s 100 companies come from the Okanagan.

Randy Thompson, the founder of VA Angels, said it’s a “fantastic testament” to both members and organizers in Kelowna.

“The (business) ecosystem here is fantastic and it’s a no-brainer for us to be part of it,” he said.

Duane Lockwood is the CEO of Hoopla, a free online gaming company that issues points to people who play its games. The points are then translated into funds which can be donated to a variety of charities.

Hoopla was invited to present to VA, and Lockwood said they were “fortunate enough to resonate” with some of the members who invested in his company.

“It was a great opportunity to really look at our model, and put it into a brief presentation so we could present it in 10 minutes,” he said.

“They (VA) helped us, but more importantly is those seasoned investors were resources for us and acted as a sounding board. So we’ve really, really utilized our members.”

He said it wasn’t just money that VA provided —it was also mentorship and advice to help the company continue forward. “I’ve become a member and I enjoy it. I’m looking forward to bringing Hoopla to the world, and VA was a big part of it.”

Randy Lennon is the president of both the Kelowna and Phoenix chapters of VA. He said no company should ever think it’s not at the stage where it could possibly present to VA.

“Even the famous ones that have started in Kelowna, all the way to the Googles and the Apples, they all started as a start-up company,” he said.

“Someone had some faith in these people, and decided to either step-up and help them with mentorship, or in a lot of instances they wrote a cheque.”

Lennon explained that potential investors often don’t know where to start.

“They can come and join the VA Angels as an accredited investor, and we even recommend that they don’t do any investing for the first six months,” he said.

“They go on their own little training program, and they come and sit and meet all the other investors. Over the years being an angel investor you learn so much.”

 

Just Posted

Bumper ripped off Kelowna taxi in accident

The accident happened along Harvey Avenue

Lake Country bunny sanctuary needs your help to get hay

The non-profit is in the finals for The Great Hay Giveback

Kelowna offering money for good neighbourhood ideas

City says it has grant funding available for its Strong Neighbourhoods program

Okanagan College dives into cannabis courses

The college has adapted its programs in Kelowna

Mountaineer to speak on challenges and perseverance during film festival in Kelowna

Adam Campbell is speaking as part of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

Watch it again: Kelowna mayoral candidates square off

Missing the LIVE Kelowna mayoral debate watch now

Parole denied for convicted killer-rapist Paul Bernardo after 25 years in prison

Paul Bernardo plead for release on Wednesday by arguing he has done what he could to improve himself during his 25 years in prison.

Man holds newborn son for first time after devastating B.C. racetrack crash

Kayden was born the day after Jonathan was crushed by car at speedway

Smooth start to legal cannabis in B.C., Mike Farnworth says

Online and government store makes 4,000 sales by noon

Kootenkoff: Sexual Harassment at Work

—By Susan Kootnekoff It changes lives. Perhaps it has happened to you.… Continue reading

Shuswap pot shops close as cannabis becomes legal

One marijuana dispensary won’t require city approvals as on First Nations land

B.C. Lions look to cement CFL playoff spot with victory over Eskimos

B.C. can cement a post-season berth in the wild West Division on Friday night with a home win over the Edmonton Eskimos

Canada ban on asbestos takes effect but mining residues are exempt

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna plans to announce the new regulations implementing the ban on Thursday in Ottawa

Don’t be dazed and confused about legalization

Sitting down with an Okanagan lawyer to clear the haze of marijuana rules

Most Read