Jess Joss tapped as CEO for alliance of Ontario angel investor groups

Jess Joss

Jess Joss has been named as the first CEO of a three-way angel group alliance between the Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN), based in Kitchener-Waterloo, the Burlington, Ont.- based Angel One Investor Network, and Southwestern Ontario Angels, located in London, Ont.

“The existing strength of these three leading networks will lead to countless opportunities to expand relationships with new communities and entrepreneurs.”

The partnership, initially called The Alliance, now formally known as Equation Angels, was formed in June 2018, was formed in June 2018, between the three Ontario-based angel networks to form the umbrella angel investor group. The collaboration was formed to assist, promote, and foster the expansion of the groups and increase the number of investments by their respective networks, and create a more streamlined process for entrepreneurs seeking equity investment. The Alliance will represent over 185 angels, and have collectively completed 241 rounds totalling $84.6 million over the last decade.

“When this opportunity came up, I was really excited because I saw it as a win-win situation both for the angels and the entrepreneurs,” Joss told BetaKit. “There’s a lot of value to the entrepreneur in terms of making [investment] more streamlined efficient and accessible. On the angel side… it makes them a destination for some of the best deal flows, because they’re going to be able to fill their rounds quickly and efficiently. I think it’s a really interesting new model for the Ontario space.”

Joss has a cumulative 20 years of business experience, and has been an angel investor for a decade. She has served as an executive member, board member, and angel investor at York Angel Investors, and a World Angel Investment Summit chair and Marketing Chair for the National Angel Capital Organization. She will begin working for The Alliance full-time in the fall.

Joss said the goal for the next six months is to lay the groundwork for the new venture, which she called the “housekeeping” phase. This will involve selecting a name for The Alliance, determining areas of efficiency for the organizations, team-building, running joint educational sessions, and creating opportunities for internal collaboration.

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“Each individual organization has its great foundations already set up, but we now have to figure out how what things we can do to move forward solidly,” Joss said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunities for what we can do over the next couple of years.”

Joss added that another benefit of The Alliance is that with a wide breadth of portfolio companies. There’s an opportunity for “cross-pollination”, which would allow the groups to introduce portfolio companies to one another and forge new partnerships.

The Alliance’s goal is to reduce the funding timeline for investment ventures, and have a positive impact on the investment process and negotiating power, allowing entrepreneurs to gain access to a widened scope of industry experts and capital.

Although The Alliance is the first collaboration of its kind in Ontario, there are similar allied networks in different regions across Canada. Anges Quebec helps its angel investors make profitable investments in innovative companies in a wide range of industries and in all regions of Quebec. Valhalla Angels, which operates in Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, and Vancouver, serves the Western Canada region’s angel investors.

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Unlike the Ontario partnership, Vallhala is a for-profit organization, and Anges Quebec has an $86 million investment fund, sponsored by Investissement Québec, through its own funds and as an agent of the Government of Quebec.

The Ontario venture will receive money from the federal government through FedDev Ontario, and the Ontario provincial government through Angel Investors Ontario. Joss said all three individual organizations submitted their applications for funding from Angel Investors Ontario in April. The organization, which administer the government’s Angel Network Program, will convene to discuss funding allocations by the end of this month or early July.

“I am delighted to take on this new challenge,” Joss said. “With over 185 investors represented, the existing strength of these three leading networks will be further leveraged and lead to countless opportunities to expand relationships with new communities and entrepreneurs. I’m thrilled to join the team and help drive this new partnership forward.”

UPDATE (10/11/2019): This article has been updated to reflect the alliance’s name change and its member count.

Image courtesy Joanna Katchutas

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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