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The Case for Rolling Funds in Canada

There has been a lot of buzz around rollings funds over the past 2 months, with VC’s on Twitter seemingly hitting their targets after a few days. As of today, there don’t seem to be any rolling funds in Canada, they just are not getting the press, or regulatory hurdles still exist. Here we take a look at the what, why, and how.

What

Rolling funds are a concept launched earlier in 2020 by AngelList. Their site describes them the best – https://angel.co/blog/rolling-venture-fund-launch

The issue with large fundraising is that there is normally a very difficult one-time raise, and the round is then closed. Subsequent rounds may be opened later, but investors may need to wait. Only very wealthy individuals can participate if the minimums are high.

Rolling funds hop on the trend of subscription based charges, having subscribers commit to quarterly amounts. This solves a number of problems:

  • Lower amounts can be committed, allowing more people in
  • The stress of a fund closing deadline is gone
  • You can start investing as soon as money is committed 
  • The fund is always open

Summary of advantages from AngelList themselves:

Source: AngelList

Why

A lot of IP is developed in Canada, but it ends up being in the hands of foreign investors. There is a massive opportunity for Canadians to keep their startups here. The government seems to be moving money in the right direction (Ottawa offers Ford $500M for EV development), but there are many much smaller opportunities. There have been several new funds launched in the last year addressing the need for early-stage startup, but they are quite exclusive because of the minimums required. 

Canada struggles with the risk of early-stage venture capital. There is just not the amount of money ready here that there is in the US, and culturally we are more financially conservative. This pays off when their is a market contraction (ex not getting hit so bad in 2008), but we miss a lot of the times markets explode. Still, I believe there is a large group of people that are interested in investing in Canadian startups, but don’t know how and wouldn’t commit to large funds. A few groups of people that would consider such an investment are lawyers, doctors, dentists, and of course CEO’s, executives, part-time angel investors, and dedicated investors.

If the minimum of a fund is set at $2500/quarter, there is a large number of people that may take a chance. With 50 people committing an average of $5000/quarter, you have a million dollar fund in 1 year.

How

This is where things get difficult.

A few things seem necessary:

  1. A platform to take money in quarterly, manage the funds, and communicate with investors. Currently I only know of AngelList
  2. A brand, personal or corporate, to give confidence to subscribers
  3. A way to market it

The quickest raises of rolling funds so far have been by VC’s in silicon valley. A more recent example is by Sahil Lavingia, who uses AngelList, is well known in the silicon valley, and promoted it to a huge base of followers on Twitter and through writing. He covers the whole process in an excellent guideline: How to Raise a Rolling Fund

For these to become a reality in Canada, the 3 above things need to be solved, as well as finding legal assistance as to the rules for investment for accredited vs non-accredited investors. I’m not a legal expert, so they may be limited to accredited investors only. If that’s the case, it’s another issue entirely, which should also be addressed.

There is surely the will for this type of innovative funding here in Canada, and we hope to be a part of it.

Featured image by Michelle Spollen on Unsplash

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