Passing on the CFO Torch

In 2007, I took a leap of faith and joined a small venture capital firm that I knew as an investor (then called MSBi Management), just as it was preparing to raise its second fund. My future with the firm hinged on the successful closing of the first Inovia fund; otherwise, the firm could not even afford to pay me!

Well, it turned out alright. I joined Chris Arsenault and the team as Partner and CFO; we closed the fund in December that same year with CAD$112M of commitments, we changed our name to Inovia Capital, and we embarked on an amazing growth journey in lockstep with the Canadian tech ecosystem. Today, I’m both proud and excited for Inovia’s next chapter as I pass the CFO torch to Patrick Ghoche.

Patrick, who joins us from Bombardier, eases into an expanded CFO role to address the growing needs and ambitions of the firm. He’s worked with a broad range of entrepreneurs and operators to fund their growth plans and M&A while also interacting with a global and diverse set of investors. Patrick is joining an extraordinary leadership team bringing 20+ years of strategic thinking, extensive financial depth, and investment experience.

But I am not saying goodbye just yet. I am staying full time until the end of the year. This transitional period provides an opportunity to reflect on the past 15 years and how far Inovia has come.

Becoming company builders

Of course, many of Inovia’s growth milestones have coincided with our investment fund closings. In 2011, Inovia’s second fund reflected our new IT-focused investment strategy; in 2015, as we closed on our third fund, we expanded our California presence and launched our GP-LP co-investment program; in 2018, as we closed our fourth venture fund, we also raised a first growth stage fund and welcomed Patrick Pichette and Dennis Kavelman to the team; in 2020 we accelerated our activities and extended our reach with the launch of our second growth fund, and last year our first continuation fund attracted new investors from the U.S. and Europe.

As we’ve expanded, so has the Canadian tech landscape. When I started this job, Canada was that country north of the U.S., where tax rules deterred many foreign investors, and that only had a few tech champions because our companies sold early on, really early on.

Fifteen years later, the border has all but disappeared, there’s been an entrepreneurial boom with a growth mindset, and Canadian success stories inspire new startups to aim high. We pioneered secondary rounds to help eliminate the “selling ourselves short” pressure on entrepreneurs while enabling monetization events for early investors without having to sell the company out too early in its development. Playing a role in the maturing of this industry has been particularly gratifying. Going forward, our success will give more and more Canadian companies a chance to scale up.

Reaching out to investors

This is where Patrick Ghoche gets to play an invaluable part.

Patrick holds the CPA, CA, and CFA designations and was previously Vice-President, Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations at Bombardier for more than five years. Prior to that, he was Managing Director, Corporate Finance at KPMG, and spent almost a decade in investment banking at CIBC World Markets and RBC Capital Markets.

At Inovia, he will use his expertise to add a fundraising and investor relations role to his purview as CFO. We’ve seen increased interest in our funds in recent years. Now is a good time to engage with new institutional investors, and Patrick is ideally qualified to help us expand our reach.

In addition to helping craft Inovia’s global investment strategy and portfolio construction, Patrick will also be in charge of strengthening our data and analytics capabilities to gain new insights into the venture capital industry and our portfolio companies.

To carve out time for these new missions, he will lean on a robust team that can handle day-to-day legal and financial operations. His arrival is another exciting milestone for Inovia, and we are very confident that Patrick will add tremendous value.

A culture like no other

As for me, I plan to semi-retire as of Jan. 1, 2023, to enjoy grandfatherhood, ski more often and give golf a chance. This isn’t the type of firm you easily walk away from, so I’ll keep working on a part-time basis on internal Inovia structures and processes and taking as much pleasure as ever in going to work.

This organization truly cares about its team members. The culture we created together over the years is one of its greatest assets and gives me full confidence in Inovia’s future. My sincere thanks to all the colleagues who have contributed to making what Inovia has become today, a very special family.

With 15 years of hindsight, that 2007 leap of faith was the right call!