Published On: Tuesday, 16 August 2016
New Atrium Ventures Fund Focused on Startup Growth
KELOWNA - High tech entrepreneurs will be getting a jumpstart with the introduction of Atrium Ventures VCC Inc. (Atrium), a $5,000,000 investment fund dedicated to nurturing early stage companies in BC’s red-hot technology sector.
It’s what fund manager Jeff Keen, Director of Wheelhouse Management Inc., describes as a “pre-seed/seed stage fund” that will target promising technology ventures looking to secure equity-based growth capital.
Anchored by commitments of $1,000,000 from the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT), $750,000 from Interior Savings Credit Union and a growing list of forward-thinking angel investors, Atrium aims to fill a critical gap for early stage tech startups looking to raise equity capital.
The provincial government seems to agree that early stage funding is an important element in the health of this burgeoning industry. As a VCC established through BC’s Investment Capital Branch, Atrium investors will receive a 30% refundable provincial tax credit at tax time.
Atrium is a fund created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Keen, a long-time technology entrepreneur and former CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, fund co-founder Lane Merrifield, former Executive Vice President of the Walt Disney Company and co-founder of FreshGrade, along with other fund investors will bring much more than money to startup companies.
“That’s something that really sets Atrium apart. Not only will startups receive cheques of up to $200,000, they will also have direct access to a team of experienced entrepreneurs and our well-established networks including many Tier 1 VCs and several partner organizations,” said Merrifield.
“We have all been operators and understand the incredible value that smart money brings to the table.”
Why has the fund gained such traction with angel investors? The opportunity to pool investment funds with experienced tech entrepreneurs who will provide screening and due diligence gives the fund solid footing. Combine that with making several small investments in a wide range of companies and the appeal of the tax credit and Atrium significantly de-risks involvement for its investors.
In terms of what types of companies Atrium will target, the baseline is whether or not the company qualifies as an Eligible Business Corporation (EBC) under the Small Business Venture Capital Act. But other factors are the true litmus test for potential recipients.
“We’re looking for three fundamental qualities,” says Keen, “a high-calibre team with a balanced skill set and an opportunity that is ideally at the minimum viable product (MVP) stage working towards product market fit.
“Finally, when we assess the expertise on the Atrium team and our network of contacts and resources, is there a match that will benefit the founders and help accelerate the growth of their business?”
Atrium is actively raising additional capital with a planned second closing on October 17, 2016. Interested institutions and individuals can express their interest by contacting Atrium at email@example.com.
Following the closing, Atrium will be sourcing investment opportunities with a target of making a minimum of 20 investments over the next 24 months.
The doors to the Okanagan Centre for Innovation are set to open in November, and with the visionary engagement of Atrium Ventures and a community of supporting organizations like SIDIT and Interior Savings Credit Union, there’s never been a better time to be a technology entrepreneur in the Okanagan.