Former Cultivator manager Jordan McFarlen joins Conexus Venture Capital as director

Cultivator's Jordan McFarlen
McFarlen says Saskatchewan tech ecosystem is “hungry for capital.”

Jordan McFarlen is joining Conexus Venture Capital as a director after six years with the credit union’s business incubator Cultivator. “I’ll be jumping right in to support the current portfolio companies, and then we’re focused on the future,” McFarlen told BetaKit.

During his tenure at the Regina, Sask.-based Cultivator, McFarlen helped support startups on their path to raise a combined $115 million CAD in investment capital. In his new role, McFarlen will be fully dedicated to Conexus Venture Capital Fund 1, and any future funds in that series, Conexus said in a statement.

“I think we see great opportunity with the Saskatchewan tech ecosystem. It’s hungry for capital, ready for capital, with some amazing companies.”

McFarlen said the opportunity came up to join the Conexus team and move into the VC space to further support founders. “I’ll be taking a leadership role but working closely with the current team. It will be a team focus,” McFarlen said.

“I think we see great opportunity with the Saskatchewan tech ecosystem,” McFarlen added. “It’s hungry for capital, ready for capital, with some amazing companies. I think that will be a hyper-focus of the role.”

“The addition of Jordan McFarlen to the team will add a valuable skill set to an already dynamic team; a true boots on the ground approach to providing dedicated and focused support to our founders,” said Celina Philpot, Conexus CEO, in a statment. “Their continued growth and success drives positive economic opportunity throughout the prairies.”

Cultivator was launched in 2019 by Conexus Credit Union to address the gaps and barriers in Saskatchewan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The incubator runs four startup growth programs for local tech companies, and has worked for the last four years to build the region’s presence nationally.

At the time of Cultivator’s founding, Saskatchewan startups received less than 0.5 percent of all venture capital invested across the country. Cultivator was one of two initiatives launched by Conexus Credit Union to help address this funding gap and bolster Saskatchewan’s presence as a tech hub.

Related: Cultivator’s incubated startups surpass $100 million in private funding

Conexus launched a $32-million venture fund in 2019, and two years later, its second fund, Emmertech, a now $60-million VC fund targeting Canadian AgTech startups. According to Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) data, Conexus Venture Capital is now among the country’s most active early-stage VC funds.

In late August, Cultivator and Conexus announced jointly they were joining the C100. C100 was founded in 2010 to create a network between 100 Canadian Silicon Valley “insiders” who would help unlock capital, talent, and information for founders in Canada. Today, C100 curates an expansive global community of Canadian tech leaders shaping what it calls some of the most innovative companies in the world.

“The partnership between Cultivator, Conexus VC, and C100 is highly beneficial for the province of Saskatchewan,” according to a statement from Cultivator and Conexus. “Through this partnership, companies and founders affiliated with Cultivator and Conexus VC will have the opportunity to tap into an extensive global network of Canadian investors, mentors, and industry experts.”

Early in September, Sean O’Connor announced he is stepping down as managing director of Conexus Venture Capital and Emmertech.

O’Connor announced the move on Sept. 5 via LinkedIn. Kyle Scott, who has served as co-managing director alongside O’Connor since 2021, will continue to head the two funds. In the post, O’Connor described Scott as “the ideal person to lead our ongoing efforts.”

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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