Five Things Toronto Learned from Paul Singh of 500 Startups

by Rob Lewis | Startups

Extreme Startups' Demo Day took place yesterday at Berkley Church in Toronto where five graduating startups pitched to a packed house. Before they took the stage a couple special guests shared their Silicon Valley knowledge with the eager crowd.

Paul Singh of 500 Startups was up first with his presentation Moneyball + Startups. Here are my five key takeaways from Singh’s presentation:

1. Money follows founders now.  The web is driving change in the way startups raise money and Angel List demonstrates that this world is getting flatter. Founders no longer have to chase money the way they did ten years ago. Among 500 Startups growing portfolio are 10 Canadian startups because Singh and Dave Maclure are on planes constantly tracking down the best startups all over the world.

2. It’s everyone’s job is to be an API to Venture Capital. Regardless of whether you’re a founder, an investor, or someone in government that is focused on policy around economic development and job creation, everyone’s job is to be an API (or bridge) to Venture Capital. “Your job is to make it easy for big funds to invest where you are."

3. Traction is the new Intellectual Property. Online distribution platforms (search, social, and mobile) are driving change. It’s no longer good enough to just depend on your tech differentiation if you’re a startup because your team isn’t the only one that can build it. “Startups’ table stakes are that you have to build it. What will separate you is whether you have any traction."

4. Angel investors need to make 20 investments to make money. Singh believes angels can expect “favorable returns” if they invest in 10 companies. But if they want to be safe and make money, they should invest in 20 startups. “If you invest in just one or two startups, you’re gambling. Your goal should be to not be a roulette player at a Casino, but rather a card counter."

5. Toronto has got a great startup ecosystem. Singh has had the privilege of visiting cities around the world and impressed with the turnout at Berkley Church for Demo Day.  “This sort of density is very, very rare and it speaks volumes about the powder keg of potential startups in the Greater Toronto area and Canada as a whole."

Extreme Startups
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Extreme Startups is a venture backed startup accelerator that supercharges founder development, optimizes product-market fit and graduates fundable companies. Our evolved programs provide an unrivaled combination of seed capital (up to $250K), digital product leadership education and access to a global pool of mentors. Investors and financial partners include Business Development Bank of Canada... more

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Rob Lewis

Rob Lewis

Rob is the President of Techvibes Media and Editor-in-Chief of  His diverse background includes stints in International Trade Finance, Web Development, and Enterprise Software and he is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Simon Fraser University. When not running Canada's leading technology media property, Rob can be... more

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