A trio of experienced tech entrepreneurs has launched the 519 Growth Fund with an aim to help early-stage tech companies scale and succeed
A NEW INVESTMENT fund is launching in London aiming to fill a gap in the city’s tech sector by providing access to local investment capital for startup companies.
Called the 519 Growth Fund, it was founded by Brian Foster, Brian Cram and David Brebner, all three of whom have history and presence in the region: Foster is a technology entrepreneur and co-founder of RH Accelerator; Cram is a seasoned executive and investor with a wide scope of tech, consumer and agri-business experience; and Brebner, a 20 Under 40 alum, is the co-founder and CFO of London-based software company Mobials Inc. and an active tech investor and mentor.
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The fund “was specifically established to address a gap in access to capital for early-stage, scaling companies,” Foster tells London Inc. — investment for companies needing money in the hundreds of thousands, not in the millions.
“I think London has traditionally been very conservative in terms of angels, and the fund has been established to address that gap,” Foster says. “It’s that stage right after the [investment from] family and friends, when you need some accelerants on the growth you’re experiencing.”
London, Foster says, “is pretty good at creating in the ideation stage and the incubator stage,” but stumbles when it comes time to bring in investors, who have tended to stick with what they know, rather than back new tech ideas. “I’m not sure what the specific reason is — I’d say in the past, the ecosystem has been a bit fragmented,” he says.
The fund is currently in the process of raising capital and bringing on partners, and says it plans to grow the fund to between $2.5 million and $3 million, with a target of investing in 20 to 25 companies.
Most of these will be “early stage, growth-focused companies that are technology-enabled with demonstrated recurring revenue, market acceptance and a defensible market position,” the partners say.
According to Brebner, the fund is “over 50 per cent towards our fundraising target and should be investing before the end of the year.”
Foster says the fund doesn’t have any hard targets for how much money will be invested locally, but the intention is for most of it to go either to companies already in the Southwestern Ontario region, or companies willing to set up here.
“The city offers a low cost of living and doing business, a relatively small population size, a highly collaborative business community, a rich entrepreneurial ecosystem and a strategically advantageous location,” reads the fund’s website — attributes that “position it well for success and make it an appealing destination for growth-based companies.”
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The fund will be working with some of the companies enrolled in the RH Accelerator, which is also an investor in the fund and a partner, but it will also be looking to source opportunities through local organizations like TechAlliance, Ivey, the LEDC and The Grove — all key players in the tech sector here.
“It provides a wonderful opportunity for local accredited investors to get involved in our growing tech ecosystem,” Foster says. “The London area has produced some wonderful success stories in tech, and we think we can keep that going.” Kieran Delamont