What does this $100 million government fund mean to BC #FinTech?

BC Premier Christy Clark

To all the scrappy BC entrepreneurs, building innovative technology on a cash-strapped budget: help is coming.

To all of the armchair entrepreneurs, sitting on a great idea at the back of their classroom, or waiting to make the leap from a stable career into the wild world of startups: this is your signal.

If there was any doubt on whether British Columbia is one of the best places in the world to start a tech company, the BC government just took a big step to quell those concerns. Last week, Premier Christy Clark announced a $100 million venture capital fund to give early-stage tech entrepreneurs access to money that will help grow their businesses. Our province is already punching above its weight when it comes to producing innovative technology companies. It’s pretty amazing that our little corner of the world is home to tech leaders like Markus Frind (PlentyOfFish), Stewart Butterfield (Slack), Ryan Holmes (Hootsuite), Roger Hardy (SHOES.com, Coastal Contact), Rick Perrault (Unbounce), Andrew Reid (Vision Critical), Alexander Fernandes (Avigilon), Boris Wertz (Version One), Lance Tracey (PEER 1), Jeff Booth (Build Direct), and Vern Brownell (D-Wave). This new VC fund, created to help early stage BC tech startups grow, is a statement to the world: British Columbia is going to be a global leader in technology.

FinTech companies in British Columbia are far more “tech” than we are “fin.” It’s easier for us to take a fresh, forward approach to solving problems in the financial space.

Pool of mentors… Check! Desirable place to live? Government support? Accessible startup capital? Check, check, check!

This announcement is exciting for the team here at Grow, as we continue to build out innovative technology to improve Canadians’ personal financial health. As a member of Vancouver’s rapidly growing Financial Technology, or FinTech, community, we know the power this fund is going to have in attracting international investors towards our tech community, and specifically, growing technology innovation in the finance space.

British Columbia’s FinTech companies are in a unique position because of our location. We are not a quick cab (Uber) ride away from the financial towers of Bay Street, or Wall Street like many of our FinTech peers in Toronto and New York. Instead, we’re a bike ride away from a fireside chat at Hootsuite with Ryan Holmes, or a short jaunt over to Launch Academy to hang out and bounce ideas off some of Vancouver’s fastest growing startups. FinTech companies in British Columbia are far more “tech” than we are “fin.” Although this means we build up the frequent flyer miles faster than we would care to with our trips back to Toronto, it’s easier for us to take a fresh, forward approach to solving problems in the financial space.

This fresh approach has resulted in rapid growth for many of our FinTech peers. Some of the notable financings in 2015 for the FinTech space include Trulioo ($15 million), Payfirma ($13 million), Koho ($1 million), and Grow (formerly Grouplend, $10.2 million). The booming FinTech space has not gone unnoticed, with BCTIA & PayPal recently launching the Vancouver FinTech Cluster to help fuel our local FinTech startups. For our space to continue this exponential growth into 2016, we are going to need to attract sophisticated capital, and funding sources from investors that understand the unique competitive landscape of financial tech. This is where the new BC fund, alongside the recent launch of the FinTech Cluster, is going to help us disruptors flourish.

With such a significant commitment of capital, BC is going to receive interest from some of the world’s most successful venture capitalists to manage the funds, and co-invest with the government.

If you’re interested in hearing a little more about the current state of FinTech, or how BC is quickly becoming one of the premiere places in the world to start a technology company, make sure you get your tickets to the #BCTECH Summit in early January, and come check out the FinTech Panel!

Related: Ryan Holmes’ open letter to BC Premier Christy Clark
Related: #YVR FinTech: the business of your money is changing
Related: #YVR FinTech: a cultural shift towards money

Kevin Sandhu

Kevin Sandhu

Founder and CEO of @PoweredByGrow, a Canadian FinTech company that is improving people’s financial wellbeing using technology and data. Also an occasional road cyclist, amateur cook and general misfit.