Author: Metiquity Ventures

What Makes Metiquity Ventures Different?

Co-founders Bryan Slauko and Jacques LaPointe have discussed what makes Metiquity Ventures different from other venture firms focused on working with founders in Alberta and across the Canadian Prairies.

Metiquity Ventures is a Calgary-based pre-seed venture firm born to modernize the early-stage start-up funding ecosystem.

The firm invests in emerging pre-revenue and early-revenue technology companies which, according to Bryan, are “on the cusp of something great and on the cusp of a lot of growth”.

“They have a lot of potential, but they need some capital to put them over the edge and allow them to really get moving,” he said.

However, Bryan notes that the challenge in Alberta’s technology ecosystem is that there are many companies which grab headline news and attention – “which is great for momentum”, he adds – but not a lot of investment companies or venture firms are focusing on early-revenue companies which need capital to unlock their potential for growth and disruption.

“It’s the hardest time for [startups] to find investment in their in their business, and so that’s really where we focus and we can make a big impact,” Bryan continued.

“We’ve got lots of experience and expertise that helps those founders out and we’re filling a really, really significant investment gap in the ecosystem that will help those vendors get off the ground and get them moving to the next stage of development.”

‘Risk Versus Reward’

On the other hand, Jacques LaPointe maintains that what sets Metiquity Ventures aside is the company’s “risk versus reward” approach to working with startups.

While he notes that many investors are looking into respective markets and trying to decide what’s higher risk –  whether that be in public markets, real estate or elsewhere – Metiquity Ventures puts effort into ensuring that investors “feel comfortable” in their actions.

Jacque also remarked that Alberta is “unlike other more mature regions” in that places such as Alberta and across the Canadian Prairies are not known for investing in early stage, although it has been a focal point for other similar regions across the country.

“We’re charting a new path for our region, but it’s not new in the world,” Jacques continued, “and so we have to help [investors] understand what’s happening in this province, in this region.

“That makes it a viable, less risky investment and [allows investors to] realise there are opportunities here.”

However, this ‘new opportunity’ has to be paired with Bryan and Jacques unique experiences within the Alberta tech ecosystem in order to remove much of the risk involved in investing in early stage technology companies.

On the topic, Jacques continued: “A lot of times investors want to know our focus, they want to know our experience, and a lot of it is trust. Anyone that’s investing in venture or startups generally knows that it could be complete risk capital that disappears because sometimes things don’t work out.

A lot of it is about relationships, experience, and trust that we’re doing things in a legal and ethical way, which obviously we do, and that’s one of the key things that has brought our investors to the table,” Jacques concluded.

Investing in early stage also brings a substantially lower entry point, which – when paired with a regional focus on Alberta – Jacque maintains can help successful entrepreneurs-turned-investors who would like to give back to their local community.

The Importance of Giving Back 

Metiquity Ventures co-founding partners Bryan Slauko and Jacques LaPointe have shared the importance of giving back to Canada’s startup ecosystem.

With more than two decades experience as an investment professional, advisor, entrepreneur and director, Bryan remarked that “seeing lots of different businesses from an investment and finance perspective” has influenced the way he approaches working with startups.

However, Bryan also claims that “it is genuinely fun to just give that back to other people and give them the opportunity to succeed”, making the efforts of Metiqiuty Ventures to support early-stage companies and founders in Alberta into a mutually beneficial relationship.

He explained: “Founders want what comes after the investment, probably more than they want the money – they want the help, they want the expertise, they want the insights, and that’s really what gets us excited.

“Working with founders gets us out of bed every day because we do have the potential to fill in a lot of those blind spots people have and help them realise a potential they maybe didn’t know they had,” he continued.

Bryan noted that in situations where founders have had a rough few days (or weeks), the opportunity to speak to experts at Metiquity Ventures can give them some much-needed context into how this fits into their company’s startup journey and reassure them that everything will most likely be okay.

On the topic, Bryan added: “If you just stay dedicated, focus and keep moving forward, it’s fun to see people grow along the way and take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of them to help have a little piece in their success.”

Likewise, boasting more than 25 years of experience, Jacques LaPointe remarked: “I like to succeed, I like to win and I like to help companies do the same.”

As the former President and co-founder of Calgary-based Attabotics, Jacqued led Attabotics through its very first equity and grant funding and the significant investment and growth that followed during his three-year tenure.

While Jacque understands that many entrepreneurs may be able to forge a path for their company in a “longer time than they wish”, he maintains that the efforts of Metiquity ventures “can help them do it faster, and that’s what’s key”.

Jacques continued: “There’s hundreds of ways to chart a path forward and thousands of ways to mess it up, so if we can help [founders] see a different path that is more effective, quicker, faster, more efficient, and gets more attention in the right way, we’ve done our job.”

Jacques LaPointe on Gaining Attention from the Right Investors

Metiquity Ventures co-founding partner Jacques LaPointe has lifted the lid on how best for entrepreneurs to get attention from the right investors when trying to build their company.

With more than 25 years of experience, Jacques LaPointe claims that the biggest thing which helped Metiquity Ventures accelerate was “looking through the eyes of an investor”, as opposed to maintaining a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality.

For this reason, Jacques focuses more on the significance of validating the company’s efforts in order to show an investor their potential for success if they choose to invest.

This includes showcasing the company’s value proposition and highlighting that the company is solving a problem within its respective market.

Jacques encourages startup founders to come into market with a video of their concept in order to show prospective investors what they could be investing in.

As the former president and co-founder of Calgary-based Attabotics, Jacqued led Attabotics through its very first equity and grant funding and the significant investment and growth that followed during his three-year tenure.

However, as a director of work and project management solution company Leankor, strategic advisor for Motorweb.org, charter member of The A100 and member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, Jacques admits that there are “a myriad of problems to be solved” when trying to gain the attention of the right investors.

“Companies in our portfolio are all solving a major issue in their industry,” Jacques continued. “These are companies that are changing the way an industry is working, if we can take these companies that are just on the edge of some serious growth or some serious momentum. If we can just take them that a little bit further to their next financing round, that investor can quickly see two-to-three times their money,” he concluded.

The Power of Listening

Metiquity Ventures’ Bryan Slauko and Jacques LaPointe have lifted the lid on what makes their dynamic as co-founders so successful when it comes to guiding the next generation of local, early-stage companies and founders in Alberta and across the Canadian Prairies.

According to Bryan, a lot of the pair’s success can be attributed to their ability to listen, both to each other and to startups to approach Metiquity Ventures for advice and support.

“There’s a lot to be learned from listening,” Bryan began, pointing to the significance of creating a dynamic in which entrepreneurs are not speaking to the pair as though they are “trying to prove something”.

“We’re just gonna listen and learn along the way,” he continued, crediting Jacque for his ability to ask challenging questions without “being in your face about it”.

On the topic, he continued: “That’s where our founders love working with Jacques – he’s got so much experience and expertise through all the things he’s done in the past. 

“He just has so much to offer to founders, and good stories they can relate to because they’re all aspiring to do something similar.”

Likewise, Jacque credits the power of listening to agood ebb and flow” in the pair’s respective approaches to founders, remarking that letting people speak is the best way to get “to the meat of an issue”.

“We usually don’t bug each other too much,” he added, claiming the pair’s respective approaches can be helpful in “resolving debates which might be going on in a founders’ minds”.

In a previous article, Jacques also credited Bryan for the “meticulous effort” he puts into into legal documents, due diligence and the overall structure of Metiquity Ventures – an aspect which Jacques believes Bryan is all too often not given credit for.

Connecting with Metiquity Ventures

Co-founders Bryan Slauko has shared how best to get in touch with Metiquity Ventures as an early-stage startup founder based in Alberta or the Canadian Prairies.

According to Bryan – who has consistently emphasised the importance of building relationships within a company’s respective industry – getting in contact through a mutual connection of Metiquity Ventures such as a founder of a company they have invested in or an advisor can go a long way.

“We’re investing in people, so if someone comes to us through someone we know and trust really well and can speak highly for that person, it’s gonna go a long way,” Bryan said on the topic.

Likewise, Bryan reiterated that a persistent approach can show Metiquity Ventures how strongly a startup founder is interested in gaining their attention and working with them.

This approach, Bryan maintains, is the best route for someone hoping to secure a meeting with Metiquity Ventures as “[founders] that are casual about it and don’t assert themselves very strongly just kind of fade away… those ones don’t work out”.

On the topic, he continued: “Maybe you’re feeling nervous, and you’re not sure if you should keep being persistent, but in the absence of doing that, you’re sending us a message that you’re not really determined to make that business work. 

“If you’re not trying that hard to find your way through us then leave us to make conclusions about how you run your business,” he added.

However, entrepreneurs should be aware of the difference between persistence and aggression in this approach as straying too far in the wrong direction can also have a negative impact on how a company is perceived.

“I can think of a couple of people I’ve met in the last month that have just got it nailed – you can tell they’re persistent, they’re making things happen, they’re meeting the right people in the right places and they’re gonna be successful,” Bryan added.

Bryan Slauko on Growth From Difficult Situations

Metiquity Ventures’ Bryan Slauko has expressed the importance of learning from difficult situations when trying to guide the next generation of local, early-stage companies and founders in Alberta and across the Canadian Prairies.

With more than 20 years of experience – and directorial roles across several portfolio companies – Bryan boasts that he has “dealt with lots of different types of people and experiences” in his career to date, some of which he described as “very challenging”.

One of the challenges Bryan has experienced stems from a miscalculation of someone’s entrepreneurial character – a factor which he claims is “critical” due to the significance of listening and building a relationship with entrepreneurs when “investing in people”.

According to Bryan, a small team can “be thrown upside down” if a member of the team “ends up being the complete opposite and doing things that you would never, never condone”, leading to a “whole lot of trouble all of a sudden” for a company.

However, it’s situations such as these which can indicate the effectiveness of a team in their effort to give back to an industry, in spite of any drawbacks which they may encounter.

On the topic, Bryan elaborated: “A lot of learning comes from what we’ve learned from some of those challenging situations, how to deal with them and watching for warning signs.”

Some of Metiquity Ventures’ recent successes include WaitWell and Arolytics Ltd, which you can read more about via our blog.

Good governance starts with how we govern ourselves

Venture capitalists and investors get a bad rap sometimes… as sharks, dragons, and Gordon Gekko (yeeps!) archetypes throughout popular culture. 

But the truth is, it’s a lot less like a shark tank and much more about crunching numbers, serving on boards and helping founders and companies to grow and flourish; as well as reporting to limited partners and keeping track of due diligence.

Different backgrounds and skill sets are important aspects to bring to the (cap)table. 

Learn more about how Metiquity Ventures’ co-founding directors amalgamate their talent and experience

Jacques LaPointe 

Jacques has more than 25 years of experience under his belt, including expertise as the president and co-founder of Calgary-based Attabotics, during which Jacques led Attabotics through its very first equity and grant funding and the significant investment and growth that followed during his three-year tenure.

Specifically within the Alberta technology ecosystem, Jacques boasts 13 years in operational roles in the industry and 12 years as an investment portfolio manager, angel investor, director and advisor. 

“He’s had some great success that the founders like to hear about, but he’s humble,” Bryan says. ”There shouldn’t be any investor or venture capital fund sitting on a pedestal somewhere…” 

According to Bryan, the pair make a conscious effort to let people see the authentic Bryan Slauko and Jacques LaPointe, and for this reason, they encourage other founders to do the same when meeting with and pitching Metiquity Ventures about their businesses as “no one’s hiding behind walls.”

On this topic, Jacques tends to think of himself and Bryan as an ‘iceberg’ – meaning “there’s this little piece on the top that people see,” he says, but simply interacting with investors or entrepreneurs via email will not allow any party to share “what’s below the waterline.”

Bryan Slauko

Jacques notes that Bryan Slauko, a  CFA Charterholder, boasts more than two decades of experience as an investment professional, advisor, entrepreneur and Board member, including current board roles with Metiquity Ventures portfolio companies including Arolytics, cash flow app Helm and TakeMeTuit Inc – puts “meticulous effort” into legal documents, due diligence and the overall structure of Metiquity Ventures; an aspect which Jacques believes Bryan is all too often not given credit for.

“Many investors go for the story, the sizzle, but they don’t do their homework on what’s underneath and that’s unfortunate because that’s what really gets results in the end,” Jacques adds.

Do investors pay more attention to the paper trail or the people?

Metiquity Ventures’ Bryan Slauko says investors aren’t only reviewing the books when considering which companies to invest in, they’re also keen to understand a founder’s motivations.  

A few tips for new founders and entrepreneurs from Metiquity Ventures co-founding Partner Bryan Slauko 

Authenticity is key 

Bryan encourages prospective founders to have a clear purpose behind what they are doing because their motivations (or lack thereof) will be under scrutiny from potential investors who are looking for founders who show clear authentic intention to solve problems through digital innovation. 

“Some of the best ideas come from founders who were deeply embedded in an industry and can see exactly where the holes are in that industry. They have great insight into those market gaps. If they can communicate that gap, and the solution process to potential investors; that allows us to understand what’s driving [your business],” Bryan says. 

“If it was only about money and revenue numbers, then when the going gets tough a founder is going to leave and find something else to do that will make them more money. But founders who see a problem and market gap that they are passionate about solving and filling… they aren’t going to leave or abandon ship before they reach their goal. Those are the kind of companies and founders investors love working with.” 

Foster your relationship with your lead investors

Bryan adds that once that understanding is established then fostering a strong founder-investor relationship becomes key to helping companies succeed.

“I always say to people: we’re investing in relationships, not in transactions,” Bryan explains. “We’re not transactional in nature. We want to get to know people and what makes them tick. They [have to be] the kind of person that’s going to stick with it when the going gets tough because they’re going to have a roller coaster ride. It’s going to go up and down.”

Be ready to weather adversity

It’s often the way founders respond to challenges and successes within their respective industries which showcases their long-game ability to scale and grow. Investors want to be assured they aren’t working with someone who will “just throw in the towel and go find a job” at the first sign of difficulty and has potential for growth.

“We want to invest in the people that have to make it work. Not just because they’ve put their own resources into their startup and want to see it scale, but because they simply can’t imagine not making it work. They are determined to succeed,” Bryan adds. 

Likewise, Bryan encourages entrepreneurs (and especially first-time founders) to be coachable and open to feedback.

“First-time founders who haven’t done this before – they have a lot of blind spots, and we want to fill in those blind spots for them. And help them connect the dots. Part of being an entrepreneur is having the strength to challenge your own ego,” Bryan says. 

Active investing, does it mean sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind?

Metiquity Ventures co-founders Bryan Slauko and Jacques LaPointe have shared the significance of ‘being the bad guy’ when it comes to guiding the next generation of local, early-stage companies and founders in Alberta and across the Canadian Prairies.

While the pair celebrate recent success in portfolio companies moving to further seed round, including WaitWell and Arolytics Ltd as well as new investments including $400,000 Investment in Saskatoon-Based Runnr Delivery, and $300,000 Investment in Calgary-Based Mastrius.

Bryan notes that an active investing model means working with companies and guiding them through challenges and that means, “there’s been times where we’ve had to get a little bit tough and have some challenging conversations.

“We are nice guys, but there are times where we have to be the bad guys.That’s all part of managing risk for our investors and invest to make sure that companies we invest in can succeed,” he adds.

In a similar jest, Jacques LaPointe maintains that it is the responsibility of Metiquity Ventures to help founders understand “blind spots” in their strategic vision and subsequent execution – an entrepreneurial void which can only be filled with the right level of experience.

“Often founders feel like they’re doing the right thing based on the information they have,” Jacques says., “But they don’t have the broad experience of seeing (how similar challenges and problems may have played out multiple times before within other ventures and other companies.

“It’s our job as active investors and mentors, to bring those experiences to forefront and share that information so that our founders can have those light bulb moments where they go ‘Oh, okay, I get it!”

So cruel, no but constructive criticism, is key to helping our companies scale.
Read more about the success stories of WaitWell and Arolytics Ltd via our blog.

The Battle of B2B and B2C Startups

Figuring out what potential investors are looking for from startups in emerging markets such as Alberta can be worlds apart from what they’re expecting in more established hotspots such as Silicon Valley, Stockholm or even Toronto.

For example, In July Silicon Valley-based software company Teknol announced plans to move its engineering headquarters to YYC, a $12.5-million investment which is predicted to create 125 jobs over the next three years, with the company’s CEO hailing Cowtown for the “positive buzz” of its tech sector.

This year’s annual Tech Talent report also found Calgary to be Canada’s second largest tech hub (trailing behind Vancouver) with job growth in the sector increasing by a massive 61 per-cent.

Most companies, however, can be separated into two different groups with unique factors driving their investability from a VC perspective: 

Business to Business (B2B)

B2B simply means the business will focus on selling its product, service, or technology to other businesses. A company dedicating itself to this strategy needs to make sure potential investors understand why they have chosen to target other businesses (as compared to individual consumers) and the benefits of doing so.

A B2B sales strategy allows for larger purchase orders or broad installations of technology, as other businesses usually have significant buying power (much more than the average consumer), as well as a willingness to sign long-term contracts.

When preparing to pitch a B2B business to potential investors, founders should make sure to highlight the advantages of targeting other businesses and clearly explain why this is the strategy that provides the largest avenue for further growth for their company.

Business to Consumer (B2C)

Where B2B’s target other businesses, B2C’s target the retail consumer. By going direct to consumer, companies are targeting an audience with much lower buying power when compared to other businesses. However, the size of the potential market is usually much larger.

Typically, B2C businesses benefit from higher gross margins, as well as a much wider reach in terms of who they can market their product/technology to.

As an entrepreneur begins to think about presenting their B2C business to venture capitalists they should remember to articulate the breadth of the market, high margins and (again) why specifically this is the best decision for their company.

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