Before showing me your How and What, tell me your Why! That’s one of many insights offered by Tommy Baltzis, a no-nonsense leader and the CEO of a government-designated organization in Canada’s Start-up Visa program, WhiteHaven Ventures.
I have had a chance to sit down with Tommy recently and get a wealth of knowledge of the VC perspective on start-ups. Of the head, I should say that WhiteHaven Ventures is just one part of a complex WhiteHaven structure. For the purpose of this overview, I will refer to it generically as WH.
What is WhiteHaven and How It Is Different
WH is a corporate structure that does many things. It has such focus areas as Exempt Markets, Asset Management, Mutual Funds, Venture Capital, Corporate Finance, Insurance and OpenGate, which focuses on global mobility. But we focused mostly on WH Ventures because of the Start-up Visa program.
If you show why you want to create your start-up and WH likes it, they have all the resources necessary to try to make your start-up a success. That’s why, during my interview, Tommy emphasized the WHY and not the WHAT or the HOW.
In February 2022, the WH has been selected to be one of Canada’s designated organizations in the Start-up Visa program. Under this program, WH is a venture capital fund that can help you bring your start-up and its founders to Canada if WH decides to invest at least $200,000 CAD into your start-up.
The WH difference, as noted by Tommy, is about WH’s mission. WH doesn’t exist to give out investments only. Everybody can do that and technology has already made it easy for anybody to invest in anything. Instead, the WH’s mission is to challenge the status quo in many industries. There are many people and organizations who give out investments for different projects. Not all of them can challenge the status quo.
From that perspective, Tommy’s approach is not to seek grandiose start-ups, but rather find those startups that can make a noticeable difference in how we do things presently. Innovation is not to invent the new wheel, but rather innovation happens when you change meaningfully the way people do business, sell services or goods, deliver value, etc.
My Findings on How This VC Firm Chooses To Invest
- The Why comes at the top of the VC’s analysis. WH looks for passionate entrepreneurs who have a personal stake in what they are doing. “Why are you doing this?” is at the front and centre of their initial analysis. Instead of your long pitch decks, make a short video and send it to WH, says Tommy.
- Then come the numbers and methods. Once, WH has identified that an entrepreneur has a personal connection to the cause of his/her start-up and is not primarily motivated by money, WH looks at numbers to see if the numbers make any sense and whether the start-up can earn money. WH is not a charitable organization, of course, and it operates within the capitalist realm. So, WH tries to bring several catalysts together to realize an impactful project.
- Unicorns are mythical creatures. Well, very few start-ups grow to be “single-horned” companies. So, WH is not actually looking for so-called unicorns. They are looking for startups that meaningfully (and profitably) change the current way of doing things. An example was an application, automation or robotization that can remove humans from the process and deliver profitable sales in a restaurant business.
- WH relies on its network of experts and advisors to source potential investment targets. Sobirovs Law Firm can bring pre-vetted startup and non-startup projects to the attention of WH decision-makers. Also, WH has several projects (not necessarily related to the Start-up Visa).
What Trends Are Interesting to Venture Capitalists in Canada?
If you look globally or locally, developed countries like Canada suffer (and will continue suffering in the next decades) from demographic problems, lack of necessary workforce and increasing wages. VC firms like WH focus analyze these problems and trends constantly. They analyze the geopolitics of the current world, demographics, immigration policies, and capital flight, to be able to understand where the world is going. So, projects that address current and future problems of Canada and the wider world would be interesting.
It seems to me that in countries with strong buying power, automation, optimization of product/service delivery, robotization and decreasing human involvement and similar projects could attract the attention of VC firms.
Also, projects related to agritech and improving the growing, picking and processing of food would be interesting as we are experiencing major trade disruptions around the world.
Why Immigration Is Important For Start-ups and Canada?
My guest, Tommy Baltzis, is also the son of an immigrant and Canada offers great opportunities for creative, innovative and focused entrepreneurs. The Start-up Visa program is one of many ways that Canada is using to bring entrepreneurs from different countries. This program connects 2 main catalysts for success: (1) innovation by international entrepreneurs and (2) capital and expertise of Canadian VC funds, like WH.
The program achieves several positive outcomes for Canada as a country:
- Brings good ideas to Canada and increases the country’s competitiveness globally.
- Brings and, hopefully, retains motivated entrepreneurs who are not afraid of trying to create a successful business multiple times.
- Increases the number of educated and creative people in Canada who interact with other members of the Canadian startup ecosystem.
- Allows Canadian investors to find and engage with great startup projects and tech talent.
- Creates more opportunities to create more and better jobs for Canadians.
Almost 25% of Canada’s population is made of immigrants. Immigrants are our strengths and they create opportunities for Canadians. So, Canada benefits from the SUV program as much as foreign entrepreneurs benefit from it.
How Sobirovs is Helping Start-ups with Canadian Immigration?
At Sobirovs, we understand the specifics of a start-up journey and provide comprehensive assistance from different perspectives. One is that we produce valuable free content for foreign start-ups to review and educate themselves about Canada’s immigration. We’ve created a detailed Start-up Visa Guide 2022 and discussed the SUV program in-depth in our YouTube videos:
- Canada’s Start Up Visa: Advantages, Disadvantages & Dilemma
- Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program: A Deep Dive on The Process, Challenges and Opportunities
- The Value of Working with Canadian Market Specialists | Synergy Lab
- Start-up Visa: a Canadian Business Incubator Perspective
- Meet One of the Leaders Offering Alternative Investments in Canada | WhiteHaven Securities
We have good relationships with the SUV stakeholders in Canada and help you at any stage of your start-up. To make it easy for foreign entrepreneurs to explore Canadian immigration options, we offer a full refund of our fee if you book a 1-hour Strategy Meeting with us and you are not satisfied with the meeting with our immigration lawyers. Talk to us today!