BDC Venture Capital, the leading major investment firm for accelerators in Canada, announced today that it would add its financial and expert support to ongoing Canadian Technology Accelerator programs being run in the U.S. by the Canadian government. The programs, spread across various major tech hubs, including Boston, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco, give Canadian startups the U.S. face time they need to make connections and product sales.
BDC says that the goal is to get the Canadian startups with the most potential into a high-growth market as effectively as possible and says this is a natural extension of its work with Canadian-based accelerators and incubators, including GrowLab, Extreme Startups, Hyperdrive and Founder Fuel. BDC’s Montreal VP Senia Rapisarda explained that, while while some of the most “venture-ready” startups participating in the CTA program will be eligible for its convertible note options for financial support”, this is more about providing an experience for startups that they might not otherwise have.
“We understand that we can bring companies up to a certain level [with our Canada-based accelerators],” she said. “But then, the U.S. clearly being the first port of entry in terms of customers, it really made a lot of sense to pair up with the CTAs in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia who were so close to customers that at that point a company could be seriously accelerated.”
Rapisarda uses an example an enterprise software startup that gained access to Fortune 500 companies located in New York and the Bay area through the program, where they were better able to learn exactly what those companies needed and then tailor their offerings for them. Overall, the whole program is about treating companies not as specifically “American” or “Canadian,” but about going after opportunity where it’s biggest, in order to give them the best start possible.
BDC is sending the “best of the crop” to these CTAs, she said, which is “producing results quite quickly.” The approach they’re taking is akin to how you run a startup, Rapisarda says. BDC is treating each case individually and tailoring its approaches to the vertical or industry of each startup they send in terms of how long they’ll stay in the U.S. and what kind of mentors they need and connections they’ll make. She says it’s about being flexible, and “evaluating” and “pivoting” the same way early stage startups do to properly meet the market’s needs. In other words, BDC Venture is very keen on eating its own dogfood when it comes to running these international accelerator efforts.
One key area to watch in the future is how Canada’s Startup Visa program affects the international dynamics of early stage companies, and of accelerators. “What I think is interesting is to see the impact of the Startup Visa on Canadian companies, which are able now to attract even more talent from different countries,” she said. “And how that will impact the relationship with the United States in terms of markets, because clearly the most promising markets are then South America, India and China.”
For now though, the U.S. remains the major gateway for Canadian businesses, and initiatives like this one hope to help them make sure that companies with the strength to succeed in that market get the chance to prove it.