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

Basement fire quickly extinguished

Fire crews quickly extinguished a basement fire at a home in Kelowna

New Central Okanagan school district office behind schedule

New building now expected to be completed by February 2018

West Kelowna neighbourhood fed up with criminal activity

Prowler frustrating West Kelowna residents

Kelowna motel robbed, suspect sought

The suspect threatened to harm the lone front desk clerk and demanded money.

Kelowna airport hosts accessibility event

Canucks Autism Network event brings families together to help deal with air travel

Heavy snowfall expected on Coquihalla

Snow forecast for mountain highways

Serious home invasion reported in Kamloops

Two people are in hospital with serious injuries following a home invasion

Annett finishes season on the podium at Ironman Arizona

Penticton triathlete sets new course record on the bike

Cash donations create purchasing power

Salvation Army and food banks stretch a donated dollar a long way

Hergott: A pedestrian’s legal obligation

Lawyer Paul Hergott questions the moral obligation of pedestrians and motorists

Huskies grab valley title in thriller over Bears

OKM defeats Boucherie in five-setter in Okanagan AAA final, both teams head to provincials

Coyotes grab Okanagan boys title

George Elliott defeats Seaton in AA volleyball final, seeded third heading to provincials

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

Last day for shoeboxes at Kelowna Gospel Fellowship

Kelowna church has been gathering gifts for kids in need in countries around the world

Most Read