Actenum wins 2022 Greg Smith Award, honouring investor who ‘helped keep the lights on’ during company’s dark days
The award is presented by Angel Forum to recognize grit and resilience in the tech community.
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Paul Maurer made the difficult decision to go hunting for a second job. The CEO of Actenum, a software company for clients in the oil and gas industry, had just facilitated a raise for the company in 2006 which started to generate revenue that same year. But, times started getting tough over the next couple of years. It was so tough that Angel Forum president Pieter Dorsman remembers being told by Maurer that the pair would have to split the cheque when it came time to settle up after a lunchtime brainstorming session.
Fast forward to today and Actenum is profitable, has 30 employees in Canada and the US, and Maurer is solely the company’s CEO — no need for that second job (as far as I could deduce on his LinkedIn, anyway). The cherry on top for the company that he helms? Actenum are newly-minted winners of the Greg Smith Award. The award is doled out by Angel Forum to pay homage to a fixture of the tech community. Smith, an entrepreneur in his own right, started supporting early-stage ventures after the successful exit of his first company, AIS Technologies. He then joined BDC and went on to co-found Espresso Capital then TIMIA Capital. Smith passed away from ALS in October 2021.
“He never just wrote a cheque,” Irene Dorsman, Angel Forum’s CEO, told Vancouver Tech Journal in an email. “He was a partner in their path and has a history of sticking with them through thick and thin.”
Actenum is the second recipient of the award, joining 2020 winners Redlen Technologies. Redlen, a company that crafts innovative materials for devices like X-ray machines and CT scanners, had many peaks and valleys before a CAD $424M deal with imaging giant Canon in September 2021. Dorsman saw the exit as further justification for the award a year prior. And it was with that energy — the spotlight placed on a company that was at the brink but now thriving — that Angel Forum bestowed the 2022 honour on Actenum.
In speaking of that dark period after 2008, Maurer detailed that the company was seeking to build off its 2006 raise but found funding had dried up. Nevertheless, Actenum became one of the first customers of Espresso, and Smith signed a six month loan for the company — funding that, as Maurer put it, “allowed us to keep the lights on.”
“I spent a lot of time drinking beer or coffee with Greg Smith,” Maurer said after being handed the award. “And I can tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that this was a human being that understood tenacity and understood positivity. He watched us go through many cycles and was always there, suggesting new ideas, new people to talk to, new ways to get funding. It seems like there was no end to the creativity that he would project. I miss him a lot and this award means a lot.”
According to Dorsman, relationships like these are synonymous with the ethos of her organization.
“At Angel Forum, we are strong believers in the notion that most successes in our space are driven by the collaboration between founding teams and the investors who back them,” she told Vancouver Tech Journal. “These are very often not easy relationships; they go from the incredibly high to the desperately low and very often things snap, which results in boardroom brawls and companies failing. Good investors are there for the long run. They invest, assist, advise, make introductions, and work closely with the entrepreneurs to ensure success.”
The award was presented at the Summit on the Mountain, which was held at the Sea to Sky Gondola — a locale that has proven tricky for Angel Forum. In a tongue-in-cheek tweet, it joked of two previous cancellations of this event. But, this iteration went off without a hitch: great weather, pitches from startups and, countless hugs and handshakes. It seemed a fitting tribute. The award is in place to celebrate grit and sticktoitiveness, after all.
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