Montréal-based early-stage venture capital firm Real Ventures has named Janet Bannister as managing partner. While Real will continue to be headquartered in Montréal, Bannister will lead the firm from its Toronto office.
“I have a deep love for the firm, its mission and the founders we serve.”
– Janet Bannister
Bannister has served on the Real Ventures team since 2014, where she led investments in companies, including BenchSci and League. She is the founder of online marketplace Kijiji, and has served in roles at eBay, Procter & Gamble (P&G), and McKinsey & Co. Her work has focused on marketplaces, FinTech, artificial intelligence in enterprise settings, and the future of work.
“I am honoured by the opportunity to be asked to be managing partner at Real Ventures,” Bannister said. “I have a deep love for the firm, its mission and the founders we serve. I look forward to dedicating myself to further advancing the impact we have on our companies and Canada’s tech communities.”
Bannister is also an alumna of BDC Capital’s GP Academy and currently participating in the Kauffman Fellow Program. John Stokes, co-founding partner at Real Ventures, said Bannister’s strategy, brand-building, and leadership experience in her past roles makes the firm fortunate to have her in the role of managing partner.
“Just as importantly, Janet lives and breathes the values that define Real Ventures: a commitment to founders, to community, and to personal growth,” Stokes said. “It is this combination of capabilities, caring nature and charisma that defines and differentiates her.”
Founded in 2007, Real Ventures has invested in over 280 companies across five funds and currently has $330 million under management. Real’s portfolio companies include Canvass Analytics, Plum, and Tread, which Bannister serves on the boards of.
Along with startups, the firm has supported a number of initiatives and programs in Canada’s tech ecosystem, including bringing Techstars’ accelerator program to Toronto and Montréal. Real Ventures’ accelerator program, FounderFuel, provides mentoring and coaching by proven entrepreneurs over a three-month residency in Montréal’s Notman House.
“Janet’s ability to see the white space strategically is unparalleled,” said Jodi Kovitz, founder of #Movethedial. “The gift of how she has supported me in shaping #Movethedial’s strategy is one that she gives to her founders in a unique way. She really shows up and not only gives her companies money, but her time and best energy and experience as a real mentor and sponsor.”
As Real Ventures’ newly appointed managing partner, Bannister is one of few women to lead a large Canadian VC firm. Gender diversity in VC has remained an issue in Canada, with a July report from Female Funders and Highline Beta finding that 85 percent of all LP dollars are invested in funds with no women managing partners. The report also found that women account for 15 percent of partners at Canadian VC firms, an increase from 14 percent the year before.
Image courtesy Real Ventures. Photo by Annabelle Agnew