For startsies, BDC VC is a behemoth. The largest VC firm in Canada, BDC VC has funded a number of the finalists on our list, including ePACT, ShopLocket and Picatic. The firm is distributed throughout the country, and is active in all of our nation's hotbeds of technological innovation.
When asked to play favourites by naming which area of Canada is producing the best and most innovative talent, the firm's VP of Strategic Investments and Initiatives Dominique Bélanger was diplomatic.
"Overall, in all markets across the country, there is an increased level of excitement and activity," he said. "There's a buzz around entrepreneurship and VC startups in the country as a whole."
He did, however, single out the East coast. "If you want to talk performance per capita in the Atlantic region, they're punching way above their weight."
It's often bemoaned that the VC infrastructure in Canada pales in comparison to the frenzied activity in Silicon Valley, but Bélanger says that lagging VC uptake is not a problem that's unique to Canada. Worldwide, no one can hold a candle to the Valley—not even America's own Eastern seaboard cities like New York and Boston—but Bélanger points out that the VC industry is much younger North of the 49th.
When asked about the difference between the attitudes of Canadian vs US-based entrepreneurs, Bélanger said "Canadians suffer from a low-key personality. In the US, they sell stuff they don't have. We're a bit more gun-shy. But that's changing with the younger generation." His favourite example is BufferBox, the Waterloo-based startup that secured VC funding despite their doubly difficult approach of building both a software- and hardware-based service.
Quoting Machiavelli (a VC sector hero if ever I heard of one), Bélanger said "Fortune favours the bold." But are Canadian entrepreneurs really all that bold? "The winners are," he quipped.
American-style bravado, financial forecasting and careful fund management only account for about 20% of the process, according to Bélanger. "80% is happenstance and luck," he said. And then with a grin, "Luck. Other people call it 'environmental.'"
BDC VC (perhaps wisely) sidestepped our request to express their superiority in the form of a freestyle rap. When asked why TechVibes readers should vote for BDC VC over the other firms in the category, Bélanger brought the smack-talk like only a button-down businessman could: "We're not comparing the same types of players here."
It seems to be a case of comparing not apples to oranges, but apples to watermelons: part of BDC's $1.4 billion (with a "b") Scrooge McDuck-esque war chest actually helps fund other smaller funders, including VC Firm of the Year co-nominee iNovia!
Bélanger made a strong case for BDC VC when rattling off his own team's mandate, and the work that they do to grow the nascent VC industry here in Canada. "We deploy $36 million a year on my team to build the venture ecosystem—to build the industry."
Is this an easy win for the BDC VC behemoth? Cast your vote for BDC VC and all your favourites in the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards!