Todd Bissett Interview

December 11, 2018 / Source: GTAN

We recently sat down with Todd Bissett, Chair of the GTAN Board. Todd is a corporate and commercial lawyer and partner in the Waterloo office of Miller Thomson. He practices primarily in the areas of private equity and venture capital, equity and debt financing, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate and business law.

As the chair of the GTAN board, what are some of the things you would like to see happen in the next year or two?

Todd: The Alliance between Angel One Investor Network, Southwestern Ontario Angels and Golden Triangle Angel Network is a key focus. I want to see The Alliance progress itself, and also explore other relationships and communities. For myself, the biggest priority is that transition from being a single organization that focuses on the local community to having both a local and broader focus within the Alliance. As a Board, we really need to focus on how we can utilize the Alliance to meet the true goal of GTAN: enhance Angel Investment in the community and maximize the market for startups. We’re at an inflection point for GTAN, but also for the market in general. There is more money coming in and there are more companies seeking funds, which creates advantages and disadvantages for everyone in different scenarios. We need to find our place in the market and how we can add the most value. That will be interesting.

What does the new Angel look like?

Todd: The new Angels tend to be in their 30s and into their 40s, and they’ve already invested in or exited a couple of companies. It’s usually not someone who founded just a single company and then exits, though we do see that as well sometimes. The typical Angel has 10-15 years of experience. One thing that I think is unique about this market is that our Angels are very dedicated. They care about making money and they want to help companies, but in this community, you tend to draw people who want to help this community specifically. You see this in some of the successful startups in town. Many of our higher profile startups have founders who have resisted opportunities to go to other markets because they really believe in this one. We see that in the Angel ranks as well.

Anything else you want to add? What does an ideal Angel look like?

Todd: The best Angels are the ones that aren’t just looking for the best financial deal, they are Angels that focus on companies where they are not only investing financially, but are personally adding value to the company’s success. As an Angel, I tend to gravitate towards companies that have an international or Asian market focus because that’s my background, and I know I can add value. In short, the ideal Angel is someone who’s motivated to get involved with the companies they invest in and help them succeed in a tangible way as opposed to just putting dollars into them.

What are some of the trends you’ve noticed in the industry?

Todd: A lot of the industry trends I’m seeing are with a broader, more international focus. We are seeing more companies that are focused on China, India or on a worldwide play, in addition to being focused on Canada and the United States as their primary markets. So I do think there is more of a cosmopolitan and an international view of the community.

What does success look like at the end of this season, June 2019?

Todd: Of course we always want to see more companies getting invested in, but a particular focus is to have more Angels joining the group and getting involved in companies rather than the same Angels investing all the time. That’s business success. I think GTAN also needs to focus on having a broader scope, whether that’s a combination of working with the Alliance or broadening our own horizons and looking at companies in other markets and really expanding the geographical industry scopes of the companies being invested in. I am always in favour of more variety in a portfolio or organization and I believe that’s what GTAN needs too.

For more information on joining an Angel Group and becoming a GTAN member, click here.