On Wednesday, Dream Maker Ventures held the official launch for its new Dream Network, an initiative meant to connect underrepresented founders with potential investment opportunities.
The network offers a wide funnel for finding diverse teams in communities that is often overlooked.
The Dream Network plans to bring together Canadian organizations, investors, and startups, that operate within a space of diversity and inclusion. The network encompasses a number of different programs and initiatives, all focused around building opportunities for founders that often face barriers to raising capital.
The Dream Network includes a group of seven diversity programs, monthly pitch nights for underrepresented founders, and the newly founded Diversity & Inclusion Small Council (DISC). The network is also bringing together organizations like #MoveTheDial, The Big Push, and CIX, which will be sources of programming, and has a heavy angel investor component that includes Angel Investors Ontario, Maple Leaf Angels, Equation Angels, and NACO.
Dream Maker Ventures
The new initiative is a culmination of the work Dream Maker Ventures has been building through Danielle Graham, the principal of the venture fund, which is currently in the process of raising its Diversity Fund.
Dream Maker Ventures is the investment arm of Dream Maker Corp., a Toronto-based asset management firm that works in a variety of verticals including real estate, development, property management, and insurance.
The Diversity Fund was announced in April, bringing on Graham with the plan of raising $75 million. Diversity Fund I operates with the thesis of making pre-seed and seed investments in tech companies with founding teams that are inclusive of persons of colour, women, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and indigenous entrepreneurs. The fund has been working over the past year to secure investors.
During that time, Graham and the Dream Maker team have also been building out what has become the Dream Network, essentially a way to discover and support underrepresented entrepreneurs, as well as source potential investments for Dream Maker Ventures.
The Diversity Program
In November, Dream Maker Ventures launched its Diversity Program initiative, a group of seven partner organizations that will be offering early-stage entrepreneurial programming for underrepresented communities.
The group of seven includes The Centre for Indigenous Innovation and Technology, Access to Success, Venture Out, Jumpstart, Scale without Borders, Fierce Founders, Black Innovation Fellowship.
With the support of Dream Maker Ventures, each organization will be offering a six week bootcamp program. The overall Diversity Program also offers quarterly advisory meetings, community events, and thought leadership on intersectional diversity, representation, and leadership.
The committee and pitch nights
The newly established Dream Network also includes DISC, a committee of venture capitalists who provide feedback and the pipeline of diverse founders for pitch nights. The committee looks to bring together women investors to learn from investment professionals. It was started to support a partnership with Techstars.
The committee members are a group of twelve investors including Graham, Jennifer Williams from Genesys Capital, Stephanie McGuinty of Real Ventures, Snita Balsara of StandUp Ventures, Tariq Haddadin of Techstars, Althea Wishloff from Panache Ventures, and Siddharth Srivastava of McRock Capital.
DISC will host events including recurring pitch nights, meant to be a safe space for diverse founders to receive feedback and network with other underrepresented founders and investors. The pitch nights will also offer the opportunity for co-investing. DISC pitch nights have been happening for the past seven months, with the first specifically for women angel investors to be held April 16.
The Dream Network essentially brings together venture capitalists, angel investors, founders, organizations, and also offers new and unique programming to build up underrepresented entrepreneurs in the Canadian tech ecosystem.
It will work like a pipeline and lead generator not only for Dream Maker Ventures, but also angel investors and venture capital firms. Dream Maker Ventures sees the network as a wide funnel for finding diverse teams in communities that are often overlooked, leading to untapped investment opportunities.
Images by Javon PAPR MACHÉ.