Innovation Saskatchewan recently brought together a few tech stakeholders in our community to speak about investment opportunities for new and existing companies during and post-pandemic.
Our expert panel on the webinar included Dustin Coupal, Co-Founder of GasBuddy; Wanda Hunchak, Executive Vice-President of Westcap; and Sean O’Connor, Venture Capital Fund Manager of Conexus Credit Union.
We’ve summarized a few key takeaways from our panellists during the discussion:
Tech is still relevant, perhaps more now than ever: There has always been a consistent adoption of technology in society, but now there’s an acceleration of people using technology in their daily and work lives. Investors have worked through many major events, such as the global financial crisis in 2008, but what’s different about this time is that tech adoption is hitting the general population and changing consumer behaviours. There are opportunities for tech companies in this environment.
Raise money now rather than later, but expect valuations to be lower: Think “speed over greed,” and if you’re able to raise capital right now, get it fast as opposed to trying to get the perfect valuation. Valuations will be lower than before COVID and the investment environment may not be that strong in a few months. Consider how you’ll be getting your company in a financial position to last, and how you can continue to grow effectively.
If you can’t show rising revenues, make sure you are still tracking rising metrics somewhere: Founders should be measuring progress that will identify growth, whether those are through KPIs, user sign-ups, or increasing subscriptions. Focus on your product and talk to your customers while they have the time. Increasing engagement and building a community creates something special, and the biggest successes for your company will come from focusing on customer success, support, and product development.
VC’s are focusing on key verticals right now: Saskatchewan’s venture groups are looking more strongly at e-commerce, fintech, agriculture, video conferencing, work environment software, healthcare solutions, virtual entertainment options, robotics, and cryptocurrency. Remote work and education will have massive opportunities for improvement as this crisis carries on, and at the same time, we need to consider ways to improve connectivity in Saskatchewan. Take a step back and ask, “what will my industry look like after this?” and build your company to fit whatever that future is.
Be cautious and conservative in these times: Founders should be refining and locking down their business models, software, and products. Now is not the time to be pushing hard, but instead, it’s an opportunity to solidify the framework for when it’s time to step on the gas. It’s okay to slow down and prepare for when you can move fast again.
Don’t be afraid to be persistent when reaching out to VCs: If you feel like your voicemails and emails are not being responded to, you may be right. It’s a trying time for everyone, so don’t be hurt if VCs don’t get back to you right away. Being persistent and following up is appreciated right now because VC’s want to hear from you to make sure that you and your business are doing okay.
If you missed the webinar on May 6th, you can watch it here:
Thank you to our panellists for their investment insights, and thank you to everyone who watched the webinar. We’re here to support you during this challenging time, so reach out to us if you have any questions. Good luck, and stay well.