Venture capital drought over, would-be entrepreneurs told

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After a decade-long drought, venture capital has become plentiful again in Canada, attendees at the National Business and Technology Conference in Toronto were told on Saturday.

“We’ve gone from a decade of inactivity … to there being a surplus almost,” said Ray Sharma, founder and president of Toronto game developer XMG Studio Inc.  and co-founder ofExtreme Venture Partners, an early-stage investor based in Toronto. “This is the best time to start up a company.”

Sharma said venture capital started flowing last year after “10 years in Canada where there was a death valley in venture capital.” Speaking as part of a panel on venture capital at the two-day conference, he told an audience made up largely of university students that it is easier now to find funding than it has been for a decade.

That doesn’t mean everyone with an idea will get funding, though, and fellow panelist Andy Yang offered some advice on what venture capitalists want to see.

Yang, managing director and chief innovation hunter for Extreme Startups and a former venture capitalist at BlackBerry Partners Fund, said he looks closely at the team pitching an idea – not just their skills but the rapport among the team members. He also prefers to see disruptive technology and strong intellectual property, rather than a team that is “just going to create an app and hope for the best.”

Toronto-based Extreme Startups puts startups through a 12-week accelerator program that includes $50,000 up front and up to $150,000 in additional investment.

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