There’s something stirring in the Prairies.
While Venture Capital (V.C.) deals slowed down in Canada during the tail end of 2020, cities like Calgary broke records for private investment despite pandemic-related challenges. In 2020, more than $200 million of venture capital flowed into the Prairie city, up from $136 million the previous year. Over the past year, startups in the Prairies have raised $1 billion. This success suggests that the region is gaining momentum, a key ingredient for developing a thriving tech ecosystem.
Injecting the capital necessary for growth
Today, venture capital’s presence signals potential for the Prairies. It’s also the thing hindering its growth. While the region has attracted record amounts of private capital over the past year, it will need more funding for early-stage companies – the riskiest type of funding – if it’s to sprout meaningful innovation. Last year, U.S. companies had access to V.C. inflows of roughly $156.2 billion. Over $10 billion of that went to seed stage companies while early-stage startups received $41.8 billion. U.S.-based innovators have the opportunity to nurse their ideas past their most vulnerable state. By comparison, Canadian seedlings don’t have that luxury. In Q3 2020, only 8 per cent of V.C. funding went to seed stage companies. A Canadian founder must have institutional support, a previous successful exit, or access to global capital.
Canada has an enormous amount of innovative energy waiting to be exploited. Fortunately, a combination of previously successful founders and forward-thinking regional governments is creating the ideal environment for raising Canada’s next unicorns.
Harvest helps enrich the startup environment for future entrepreneurs. With this in mind, we’ve spent the past few months reflecting on the trends in the Canadian startup ecosystem, with a focus on the Prairies. We’ve used this analysis to help entrepreneurs understand how to proceed in 2021. We offer the following recommendations:
Develop a thorough understanding of the value chain and market size in your target vertical
Define and validate the core assumptions of your business plan
Develop a business model that outlines the unit economics of your product, key milestones, and the resources required to achieve them
Continuously test and iterate
Within this almanac, we’ve focused on areas of technology innovation that we consider most promising for Canadian tech investors. In the past, Prairie farmers relied on almanacs to make their plans for the year’s crops. Today, The Harvest Builders Almanac will help Prairie entrepreneurs and innovators across industries take a look into the trends that will shape the region’s technological and commercial activities in 2021.
Adam Froese | Venture Builder at Harvest