SWO Angel Group

Education Session and Social Recap

April 13, 2018

Author: Dennis Ensing

Last night, together with our angel alliance collaboration partners, Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN) and Angel One Network, we held an inaugural joint social and education event in Kitchener at Bingemans.

About 50 members representing all three groups took time to meet each other over an extended networking session. Then, over a light meal, learned more about artificial intelligence (AI) through a presentation from Dr. Fakhri Karray, Co-Director of the recently opened University of Waterloo AI Institute, and a panel discussion from a group of AI experts.

We learned that the acceleration of progress in the development of AI capabilities in recent years has been fuelled by faster processing, access to more data and the Cloud. While humans still currently have the edge on understanding, computers have significant advantages in processing vast amounts of information. But they are catching up to us! These capabilities are expected to bring significant advantages in many areas, especially personalization and optimization.

Against a lot of public debate in the media these days, the panel also observed that better accountability and explainability is also to come with adoption of AI. This is because AI will not just be able to digest and provide information, but also an explanation of recommended decisions with detail.

Following the educational component, our three groups’ collective expertise was highlighted when each group took turns to introduce themselves. Engineers of all stripes were very well represented, but the range of diversity was fascinating to follow as members highlighted their experience and interests. These included veterinarians, race car drivers, storytellers, social activists and accountants. The common thread was a clear strong interest in furthering entrepreneurism.

The evening concluded with more networking and conversation about deals in process and mutual interests.

As I have detailed in other posts, this year we joined efforts with GTAN and Angel One to select companies to present to our angel groups and streamline the due diligence process. The feedback to date has been extremely positive in the quality of the companies and combined engagement.

There are multiple benefits expected from this collaborative effort. In particular, we expect that the closure rate for investment deals will increase. In the past, due diligence (DD) efforts faltered if there were only one or two members interested. Through a single DD team with members from three groups, more deals should close. Also, all members should gain from our collective angel groups’ expertise, which was one of the highlights during the informal introductions this evening. Finally, syndication between our three angel groups is established up front, allowing us to accommodate larger raises.