‘The boundaries now really don’t exist’: How Deloitte’s $150M venture fund will impact startups in B.C.
Managing partner Talia Abramowitz talks about the fund’s investment focus, funding criteria and how remote work impacts deal-flow.
Last week, Deloitte Canada announced the launch of its new venture capital initiative, Deloitte Ventures, a $150 million fund that will make minority investments into emerging technologies.
While it may be the largest capital commitment to date amongst Canadian professional services firms, the company joins a growing list of domestic corporations creating funds of this kind, including Telus Ventures and Thomson Reuters Ventures.
Deloitte Ventures is helmed by managing partner Talia Abramowitz, a Toronto-based 15-year company veteran who has seen a notable spike in inbound messages since the news went live (“1,500 people have already reached out”). Vancouver Tech Journal caught up with her to learn more about the fund, its investing focus and how her team will keep track of companies in B.C.
But first, we had to ask if recent public market turmoil would impact the fund’s launch.
“No. In fact, I think it puts us in a better position,” Abramowitz shared.
“Valuations coming down? Yeah, I don't see quite the same happening in the venture space, as you probably know. But should it happen, it puts us in a better position to take advantage of a down. We haven't deployed any capital yet, right? So, we can sit pretty, take stock of what's happening, and then deploy capital as we see fit. We'll evaluate every deal on its own merits.”
How big will Deloitte Ventures’ investments be?
They’ll range, Abramowitz explained, with the only restriction being that they won’t take more than 10 percent of the cap table. When it comes to the company stage, the firm will focus on Series A and beyond. “So it could range from a million [dollar investment] to probably 10,” she says.
What kind of growth are they looking for in the startups they target?
“We're looking at companies that are revenue positive—$2 million in annual recurring revenue and have validated product-market fit,” she says. “On an enterprise level, we're looking at B2B SaaS, primarily. And companies that are looking to scale in the Canadian marketplace, because that's where we play.”
According to Deloitte’s news release, all of the fund’s decision-makers are in Eastern Canada. Does that matter for startups based in Vancouver and B.C.?
Abramowitz believes that’s unimportant given today’s norm of distributed and remote work. To illustrate this, she points to a colleague of hers on the Zoom call that she didn’t know was in Vancouver. “The boundaries now really don’t exist,” she says.
While there is an investment committee that adjudicates the fund’s decisions, she says, “Ultimately, it's all of Deloitte that is sourcing deals. That's sort of the power of this program.”
Are there any tech verticals you’re particularly interested in?
“We expect Ventures will catalyze the growth of key Canadian verticals that are really critical to the future of Canada's economy and our global competitiveness,” Abramowitz explains, “and then those that are sort of aligned with what we do as a firm and what we advise our clients on.”
The sub-vertical list is quite broad and includes fintech, cyber, governance, risk and compliance, climate tech (“the hot one”) consumer tech, work tech and edtech. “I could go on,” she says, cutting herself off.
The umbrella area, however, is B2B SaaS, and to narrow down options, the Deloitte team has a few questions to ask: “If you think of what we do as a firm, does it make sense? Will we have the expertise to assess it? And will we have the platform to accelerate it? That's what makes it, you know, a great fit for us.”
“We're here to make a material impact on the Canadian innovation ecosystem,” she closes. “I think that that's really important and exciting about what it is we're trying to do. It's not necessarily designed to be an impact fund, but we do see opportunities to move the needle on key issues like diversity, sustainability and reconciliation, and it's just another way that we're making an impact that matters. That's our purpose as an organization, and Ventures helps us live that.”