In this instalment of Meet a MaRSian, Angelo Casanas speaks with Jared Gordon, an investment manager by day and longboard shop co-owner by night.
What is the Investment Accelerator Fund?
The Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) is an early-stage investment fund. On behalf of the Ontario government, we invest in early-stage startups in hopes of helping them grow and succeed. We receive about 500 applications each year and we invest in 12 to 15 companies in any given year.
What does your role as an investment manager for the IAF entail?
As the investment manager, I help find investment opportunities in the community and investigate whether there are ventures that would be a good fit with our fund. I also work with companies in our portfolio to ensure that everything is OK.
What success has the IAF had since its inception?
Created in 2007, the IAF currently has 70 companies in its portfolio and has had a number of exits where companies were sold, resulting in return of capital to the fund. The amount of capital we have invested has resulted in $200 million in follow-on capital, and over 1,200 jobs have been created. You can check out more information on our website.
You’re also venturing into the art scene by opening up a shared artist working space. Tell us about that.
The Shop is a collaborative space targeting craftspeople and artists. We have a particular focus on ceramics, woodworking and metalwork. We’re looking to be a hub for everyone who looks to make things. The Shop is for anyone who has the urge to make something, but who just doesn’t have space in their condo or home and may not have the tools or the know-how required to do it. They can show up with a project in mind and just get started. Also, I think we can bridge that divide between the artisan and the maker through the space, where artists themselves can offer classes to their followers.
How does passion play a role in art or in entrepreneurship?
Running a business is so unpleasant until you get to a point where you’ve figured it out. Sometimes you don’t and sometimes you run out of money before you do. That process is brutal and if you don’t love what you do beyond the pain you take, you’re not going to stick with it. Take the people from this co-working space for example. You know they’re in this because they can’t do anything else; nothing else will make them happy.
As an investment manager, would you consider this collaborative artists venture a risky one?
Everything has an associated risk, but I strongly believe in the team that we have and I believe a slow and steady approach should always be taken. Educational institutions have expressed interest in partnerships, while companies have shown interest in having corporate memberships. In the worst case The Shop would become a form of recreation for people, but in the best case the space would be a hub in the community.
Is managing investments more of science or an art?
It’s definitely not an art, nor is it a science. It involves a lot of patience and perseverance.
Angelo is the associate for corporate services at MaRS. As a recent convert to innovation, he assists the many moving parts of the MaRS ecosystem to meet the demands of both internal and external stakeholders. See more…