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The elephant in Rick Segal and Albert Lai’s room

There's a message being lost in the very public fracas between Albert Lai and Rick Segal, which is that startups in Canada are undersupported.  Canadian VCs have a reputation among entrepreneurs for being excessively cautious, which is perhaps undeserved.  After all, the size of the funds they've raised are dramatically different from Silicon Valley funds, so the impact of poor investments on IRR is much larger.  Moreover, it's not a problem confined to Canada.  I've met with many other entrepreneur friends at VON this week in San Jose, and it's clear that the exodus to the valley is continuing. Whether you're from Canada, Boston, Europe or Australia, the network, the people and the money here is significantly richer than other places.  That's why CEOs continue to move their companies here.  

As an entrepreneur I have sympathy for Albert's viewpoint.  He and I shared a hotel room on one of many fund raising trips to the Valley and swapped war stories about some of the people we'd pitched. Raising money can be a frustrating experience.  I have sympathy for Rick's view also, and his defence of the venture community which he's de facto representing.  There are lots of smart people starting smart companies in Canada. Rick wants to see more people starting more great companies — it's the life blood of his business. 

Let's not lose sight of the fact that we could have a more vibrant community of startups if more support (speaking broadly, and not just about funding) were available.  I think at the end of the day that's what matters the most. 

 

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