Finalists pitched their companies in front of live audiences of angel investors during three simultaneous events, with five Saskatchewan startups receiving $400,000 in investments.
On November 18, one massive live event was hosted in Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Calgary, while simultaneously being streamed to Zoom as Startup TNT held the TNT Investment Summit IV.
In their local regions and online, this emerging community of entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and startup supporters gathered for an exciting night of blind pitches, a digital tour of past TNT finalist Future Fields’ laboratory, panel discussions, and to watch the fifteen finalists’ pitches.
Afterward, intense deliberation with the investors took place as they voted on winners for the pre-committed investments in each of the three regions while making additional side-investments into the other finalists.
The “TNT” in Startup TNT stands for “Thursday Night Tradition”, which are weekly happy hour gatherings of like-minded entrepreneurs started by Zachary Storms in Edmonton that have since spread to Calgary and Saskatoon.
Investment Summit IV was the first time Startup TNT incorporated Saskatchewan into its semi-annual event. Jesse Wiebe, Startup TNT’s lead ambassador for Saskatoon became involved with the organization as an investor participating in Summit III held last spring, following which, he helped launch Saskatoon’s first TNT Happy Hour on June 24.
“The Happy Hour is so much fun and every week I’m a little anxious because I’m like who’s going to show up, but each community comes out and it is a great time,” Wiebe says. “It’s just really informal and it’s this opportunity to live up to Startup TNT’s motto which is ‘have fun, make friends, build companies.’”
“[We] build those relationships and connections that will lead to all kinds of potential opportunities, whether it’s as an investor getting involved with a company directly with dollars or even coming in as an advisor. That’s what is really exciting to me, building those relationships and having fun with other individuals and great conversations.”
In addition to supporting entrepreneurs and startups, Wiebe believes that Startup TNT is filling an important gap in the venture capital sector by bringing together a diverse group of local accredited investors and helping to “activate” first-time angels.
“You need a lot more individual investors writing checks into a company in an early stage to be able to get that startup to the next level where they can raise money from more institutional investors,” Wiebe says. “And that’s what TNT is all about. We make angel investing a team sport and it’s a lot of fun.”
Startup TNT’s Investment Summits offer “experiential training” to both the investors who commit $5,000 and the companies who participate. Following the application deadline, experienced and new investors meet on a regular basis for eight weeks to conduct and learn from the shared due diligence process while selecting the finalists.
Wiebe says this deal screening process not only provides all the applicants with “feedback and encouragement,” but also ensures that “real deals” happen during the Investment Summit.
“At that point, we’re really digging into the deal, trying to finalize the deal terms, and trying to make sure that all those legal documents are in order before the finale, so when we announce that a company is getting investment, it happens within a few short weeks,” Wiebe says.
The winner of the Saskatchewan finalists was StoreToDoor, a Regina-based technology company providing retailers with a cost-effective same-day delivery service, that secured $125,000 in investment funding. But that did not mean the other four finalists left empty-handed, as Immigrate, Nanogram Pharmaceuticals, Omnee, and Tunedly all received investment offers at the event.
Scott Love, CEO of StoreToDoor, founded the business with Kirk Morrison and Glenn Rebet in 2020 as an affordable flat-rate and scalable service to help local businesses in their communities continue selling their products during the pandemic that now operates in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Edmonton.
He says that being chosen as the winner overwhelmed him with joy, but more importantly the recognition validated the hard work StoreToDoor was doing and they are “very fortunate to have groups like Startup TNT doing investment summits in this ecosystem.”
“It’s always nice to have that validation and the investors seeing this opportunity and putting their trust in us to take their hard-earned money and to hopefully turn it into something great,” Love says. “We’re very honoured to take that on and it’s been great.”
Love’s first contact with Startup TNT was as a participant in Investment Summit III, where StoreToDoor made it to the top ten and discovered how the investment industry works and what his business can do to succeed.
With more than twenty-five years of business experience, he says that he never expected to learn so much and through Startup TNT his business has evolved in less than a year and he has gained the confidence needed as StoreToDoor continues pursuing seed funding.
“Without Startup TNT it would be hard for both sides; to get out there and find deals from an investor standpoint, but also to get your face in front of these investors from a startup’s standpoint, so it’s one way to really bridge the gap,” Love says.
“Saskatchewan needs that and it’s super important for the young entrepreneurs coming up to be connected with these investors, otherwise, they might give up on their dreams and that would be very sad.”