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Dentons Supports Emerging Tech Companies at The Accelerator

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The Accelerator works with progressive thinking partners who understand startups and who can add incredible value to our founders, which is why we are proud to partner with the Dentons Venture Technology team.

We had the chance to chat with Lucas Tomei and Sebastian Elawny, Partners at Dentons, to see why they are excited about entrepreneurship and technology in Alberta.

Tell us a bit about Dentons and why you are passionate about supporting technology startups.

Dentons is the world’s largest law firm but has domestic roots in Alberta. We are a full service firm, which includes the venture tech and entrepreneurial industries. We have been involved in tech in our other offices across Canada including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Edmonton, as well as globally in Berlin, London, New York and San Francisco. Our focus on tech is very topical here in Calgary because of the changes we have seen in oil and gas. We are excited to be a part of this fast growing industry as it propels itself forward. We want to see it be successful and want to help through our startup programs and our involvement with The Accelerator.

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As the host of our Private Investor Pitch Sessions last March, what are you most excited to see from this next batch of founders?

We are most excited to see the innovation and ideas brought to the table by these entrepreneurs. We have taken a huge interest in tech and look forward to seeing new, revolutionary ideas as Alberta moves forward. At the Private Investor Pitch Sessions in March, it was great to see the investors share their knowledge with the entrepreneurs and see their excitement about the new tech coming out of Calgary.

*The Private Investor Pitch Sessions are hosted at Dentons in the morning prior to Demo Day to expose these entrepreneurs to accredited investors and give them the opportunity to receive feedback prior to pitching at Studio Bell.

What is your favourite part about working with entrepreneurs?

It is great to see a vast scope of ideas and how quickly they progress. The best part of the industry is how quickly it scales. Startups have the advantage of working with smaller, more nimble teams. You see these companies go from just having an idea, to raising money and building a customer base in as little as a couple of months.

Entrepreneurs bring so much energy, excitement and commitment to whatever they are trying to commercialize. You don’t always see that same level from staff at larger companies because they simply don’t have as much control.

How can entrepreneurs make the most of the legal support available to them?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s a common misconception that the clock starts running just because we are within standing distance. We are more than happy to take an initial meeting to see if we can help or try to direct you to others who can. Entrepreneurs would never know that unless they ask and engage.

Startup programs around town, similar to Dentons, are a lot more affordable and customizable than most entrepreneurs think. We can work with flexible or fixed rate billing, and provide certain suites of documents at lower rates than you would expect. We invest time in startups because we want to play a role in the future success of the business.

Dentons associated with AITC Capital, one of the few venture capital funds under the new Alberta Investor Tax Credit (AITC) program, an Alberta Government program that assists startups in raising capital.  AITC Capital was formed to help facilitate the flow of investor funds into the technology sector in Alberta.  By investing in the fund, investors can own a piece of a diversified portfolio of technology companies while also receiving a 30% tax credit on the value of their investment.  We have been vetting portfolio companies for the last 3-4 months and are always looking for potential investments.

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If you could give one piece of advice to the founders in Batch #2, what would it be?

When you pitch, make sure that you answer all the questions investors want to know:
1. What is the problem you are trying to solve? 
2. How big is the opportunity?
3. What are the strengths of your team?
4. What is the level of competition?
5. What is your competitive advantage?
6. What is your plan of attack?
7. What is the current status?
8. What are your financial projections/expected burn rate?
9. How will you use the proceeds?
10. What are the next milestones?

If an investor can’t get the answers to these questions, or if the answers aren’t well thought out and supportable, they likely won’t be interested in what you have to offer.

The Accelerator Demo Day: Batch #2

Join the excitement at The Accelerator Demo Day: Batch #2 and watch 9 local founders pitch on Monday, September 11 from 7:00pm-9:00pm at Studio Bell.