Arlene Dickinson’s District Ventures has received recent investments from OMERS and BMO, bringing its total fund size to $70 million.
“These sectors have long been ignored in Canada with the majority of VC funding in our country focused on technology.”
OMERS Ventures invested $33 million into the fund, with the size of BMO’s investment not disclosed. Announced in March 2016, the former Dragons’ Den investor launched the fund to focus on consumer packaged goods startups. It closed in 2017 with $26 million, surpassing its $25 million goal. District Ventures stated mission is to invest in startups seeking up to $4 million in growth capital and a few million dollars in sales.
“We are pleased to have these institutional investors backing our Fund,” Dickinson, general partner of District Ventures said of the new investments. “Their commitment underlines our strategy of investing in early-stage food, beverage, and wellness consumer goods companies and the significant and global growth opportunity these categories represent.
“These sectors have long been ignored in Canada with the majority of VC funding in our country focused on technology. Our country has a global and expert reputation in AgriFood and Health, and District Ventures is uniquely qualified to build consumer goods companies in these sectors to scale. All of this, combined with innovative entrepreneurs, translates into products consumers will buy and love anywhere in the world.”
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District Ventures also operates an accelerator, investing $150,000 in startups entering its semi-annual cohort in exchange for a minor equity stake. Startups undergo a five-month business acceleration program focused on increasing sales, distribution, and brand equity. The firm also operates a marketing agency to help its startups.
“At BMO, we’re focused on helping early-stage companies in Canada scale and grow,” said Allison Hakomaki, senior vice president and head for BMO’s Corporate Finance Division in the prairies region. “District Ventures provides a holistic support model for entrepreneurs in the AgriFood and Health sectors and is making an impact. We are proud of the relationship we have already fostered with District Ventures and look forward to seeing the portfolio grow.”