Throwing Out The VC Rule Book | The Sunday Briefing

"I don't necessarily like the idea that because everything's done one way in the past, we should do that in the future." - Fraser Hall, Managing Partner at Rhino Ventures

Good afternoon and welcome to the hundreds of new Vancouver Tech Journal subscribers reading this Sunday. To stay engaged all week, make sure you connect with us on TwitterLinkedIn and the new Vancouver Tech club on the Clubhouse app.

Today’s Sunday Briefing is 1,685 words, a 5 1/2-minute read. Enjoy!

-William (@notionport)


Cover Story: Why local VC firm Rhino Ventures put their fund metrics online for all to see

Over a period of six years, Rhino Ventures has invested in 20 companies, of which 4 have exited. Last week, the firm published an anonymized breakdown of its returns with the goal of increasing transparency and trust in their industry. “We came into [venture capital] mostly trying to play by the rules, but we keep finding things that seem strange about venture, and one of them is that no one tells anybody about their results,” says managing partner Fraser Hall.

Hall believes portfolio company growth is a key metric that entrepreneurs should have access to as they decide who to partner with for their business. Vancouver Tech Journal sat down with Hall to explore how past experiences as an entrepreneur shape the unconvential approach that he and his partners take to run their firm.


Visualping, which develops a tech tool that tracks website changes (like open vaccination spots), raised $2 million

The round was led by Mistral Ventures (a Canadian fund that just raised $50m) and N49P. Visualping’s product — which includes a browser extension and a forthcoming mobile app — alerts users when a web page of their choice changes.

  • Businesses use Visualping to monitor competitors, changes in law, trading applications, and news. Other uses include monitoring when concert tickets go on sale; in addition, a job hunter could track changes to a company’s careers page and get notified when a new job is posted.

  • “The most interesting use case, however, is people using it to track COVID vaccine appointments,” explains CEO Serge Salager. In fact, at least 60,000 people from across the US are leveraging the service for that purpose, he says.


⏩ Quick Takes

  • Former SFU president and NDP cabinet minister Andrew Petter has been named the new chair of Innovate BC’s board of directors, replacing Dr. Alan Shaver.

  • Unbounce’s Karmina Cordero is putting together a social media campaign with resources and information about community groups to help people understand the difficulties Asian-Canadians have been dealing with.

  • Jean-Francois Eap, CEO of Vancouver-based Sky Global, is accused in the United States of aiding the illicit global drug trade through the sale of encrypted communications devices.

  • New Ventures BC has opened applications for its 21st annual tech startup competition where companies compete to win $250,000 in cash and prizes.

  • Vancouver victims have lost almost $2 million in cryptocurrency scams in one week according to Vancouver police.

  • Suncor Energy Inc. is investing in B.C. carbon capture technology company Svante Inc., as it looks for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its significant oil and gas operations.


🏦 Banknotes: Financial news to know.

  • Launchtrip, a Vancouver-based group travel app, announced the close of a seed investment round totalling approximately $4.7M CAD, including funding raised by Axis Capital. Through its platform, a group of travellers can find hotels, book restaurants and split costs all within one simple to use app.

  • ParcelPal, a future leader in the growing technology and logistics industry, closed $1 million USD in financing to supports its growth. “This new growth financing comes at an exciting time for the Company as we continue to see record growth and are onboarding numerous new clients,” says CEO Rich Wheeless.

  • Vancouver’s MintGreen raised a seed ride from CoinShares and other investors to use bitcoin mining to monetize heat generation. The firm aims to “green” bitcoin mining through innovative heat exchange technology.

  • The B.C. government is investing an additional $30 million in the Launch Online Grant program. The program provides up to $7,500 to businesses to help build or expand an e-commerce site.


📝 Views from the 604: The week’s sharpest ideas and opinions.

  • Thinkific CEO Greg Smith asks, Are You Raising an Entrepreneur? at Worth.com. “I’m not one to push my kids toward any career path, but I do secretly hope they’ll pick up a few entrepreneurial tendencies. Whether they choose entrepreneur, doctor, pilot, artist or chef is up to them—but being entrepreneurial is a great life skill for any path,” he writes.


👩🏻‍💼 Personnel issues: People going places.

  • B.C. women, including Webnames CEO Cybele Negris and Vancouver Airport Authority CEO and Canada Infrastructure Bank chair Tamara Vrooman, recounted challenging paths to success in leadership. “In the early days when we started Webnames, there were very, very few women in the technology industry,” said Negris. “There was [an] event and after the formal part of it, everybody wanted to go into a strip bar.”

  • The federal government announced members of new Task Force on Women in the Economy. The list includes former NDP finance minister Carole James and Vancouver’s Kirsten Sutton, Chief Technology and Information Officer at Vancity.

  • Gregor Robertson, executive vice president at green construction tech company Nexii and former Vancouver mayor got married in Stanley Park and for some reason Vogue wrote about it. Far more interesting is the company’s recent $33M raise and board member bench that includes F. William McNabb, former CEO of Vanguard, and Dr. Ronald Sugar, Chairperson of Uber.


💼 Pole positions: Tech jobs that matter at Visualping.

Want to see your postings here? Get in touch: info@vantechjournal.com.


Radar: Companies to watch out for.

  • Vancouver’s Wishpond is profitable, has a strong balance sheet with $11-million and no debt. So why has no one heard of it? The firm has developed a digital marketing platform that serves over 2,000 customers.

  • Hootsuite’s Enterprise service has received an authorized security designation from a United States government security and compliance program for cloud products. “This designation gives cloud services companies, such as Hootsuite, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure, a level of security authorization, if such companies want to provide their services to the government,” reports Betakit.

  • Shape Immersive brings the 3D shopping experience home, allowing people to pick up and examine items as they were in the store. “Right now with COVID, people aren’t able to go into physical locations to view products, so we’re essentially giving the potential customer the ability to shop in 3D at home,” says Shape Immersive managing partner Dan Burgar.

  • Offsite, an idea stage startup, has plans to be a full-service working space designed to foster employee collaboration and human interactions. The company is looking to speak with potential customers. To learn more about them, email hello@offsitespace.co.


😎 Pretty cool: What else is new and novel.

  • More on Abcellera’s “unanimously approved” large-scale biotech campus to be developed in Mount Plant. “In approving the request, city council noted that AbCellera currently employs 210 people and is expected to double that number by the end of the year, with a long-term goal of 1,000 “knowledge economy employees” over the next seven years.”

  • Loop Insights entered into a five-store pilot with Sobeys, Canada’s second-largest grocer, to deliver receipts through Loop’s Wallet Pass technology. Loop Insights is a local IoT technology company that delivers AI, automated marketing, contact tracing, and contactless solutions to the brick and mortar space.

  • FansUnite Entertainment entered into a strategic partnership with esports solutions provider TGS Esports to launch live esports tournament prediction games. “FansUnite said it will incorporate its wagering solutions into TGS events to establish a new platform where a live audience can win prizes based on predictions that can be placed on multiple match outcomes within every white-label esports event run by TGS,” reports Proactive.


📅 Mark your calendar to match ours.

  • Join us on the Clubhouse app this Tuesday, March 23 at 9am to hear an exclusive conversation with Bill Tam, Co-Founder and COO of the Digital Technology Supercluster. If you need a Clubhouse invite, please email us.


‼️ Double take: In case you missed these stories.


⌛ That’s it. Until next week…

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