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

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White Road

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Pike Mountain fire continues to grow – quadruples in 24 hours

Fire threatens area consumed in 2017 by a 3,500 hectare blaze

Vernon Knights hire Van Horlick

New head coach of Junior B franchise in Armstrong

St. Albert knocks down Canadians

Finals of Valley of the Champions

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Most Read