Even stranger times

I attended the BCTIA meeting last night for more networking contacts and potential investors. The first man I introduced myself to works for the National Research Council as an advisor on their IRAP funding program. I told him a sentence or two about me and he promptly said, “Oh, you’re the guy from Atlanta!”.

After I picked myself up off the floor I tried to determine how he knew that. Turns out that he spoke with a fellow I had coffee with yesterday who is a potential board member for us and a prolific investor in Vancouver. I gather I made a good impression because he had already spread my name around within 24 hours of our meeting. Note to self – do more of this.

Unfortunately the rest of the night wasn’t as positive. The meeting was a panel of VCs who are fund managers for the BC Renaissance Fund, the government sponsored VC fund that invests in IT, CleanTech, Pharma and Medical Device companies in BC. The essence of their message was that they are hoarding their cash for use by their existing portfolio companies. This will increase the pressure on other types of investment capital i.e. angels and private investors as they attempt to pick up the slack. This could get in our way as our margins and multiples are not YET(!) at the level that they would compete with these companies moving “downstream”. Again, if we are a quality opportunity we’ll get funded but it will take more work.

On a more positive but less relevant note, one of the speakers was the VP for CleanTech for the VantagePoint VC firm. His message about the viability of the North American economy over the long term in comparison to the rise of China and India was immensely reassuring. The short story is that eventually labor costs and standards will approach parity and therefore the economies that best manage their energy resources will have the highest standard of living. NA is rich in “clean” energy resources compared with China and India and we have the venture capital and entrepreneurial structures in place to do the hard work to develop these resources. Bottomline: our kids may yet have a chance for the comfortable lifestye we have grown up with.

Even though I worried about fundraising all night I slept a tiny bit better after hearing his talk.


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