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Moyer Wants To Extend Pelorus Model

Moyer is the Director of Pelorus Venture Capital, the young firm that manages Venture Newfoundland and Labrador. Moyer and his partners worked together for years at GrowthWorks Atlantic.

The fund, which invests in ICT, ocean tech and medtech, comprises $10 million from Newfoundland and Labrador, $2 million from BDC Capital, as well as funds from angel investors. What’s unique about the model is it draws money from government and private investors and assigns a professional manager to the fund.

“We’re using a model that can be highly effective for Atlantic Canada, which has a very early-stage startup ecosystem with a lot of seed-level companies,” said Moyer, a Saint John native.

“The gaps that exist in Newfoundland and Labrador exist elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. There’s the problem of how to get angels invested.”

Moyer said the companies that receive funding know Venture Newfoundland and Labrador will invest more if they hit their milestones.

“A percentage of our fund is dedicated to follow-on investment,” he said. “Private funds allow everyone to work together to push the companies forward…. In all our investments, angels that invested in our fund invested their own money in the companies as well.”

He said the size of the rounds raised by the four companies – Sequence Bio, HeyOrca!, Clockwork Fox and Sentinel Alert – were impressive.

Private investment fund Killick Capital also invested in all of these companies.

Pelorus, Killick Invest in 3 Startups

“With our first four companies, private investment alone ranged from $525,000 to over a million. . . .It puts Newfoundland and Labradorian companies on a level playing field with companies elsewhere. I’d love that opportunity to be available for all Atlantic Canadian companies.”

Moyer said that many pieces of a nurturing ecosystem are already in place in the region, including effective programming offered by regional accelerator Propel ICT, incubators, contests, and knowledgeable mentorship.

“When we started talking about this fund about three years ago, people wondered if there would be enough good companies to invest in. We said, ‘They’ll be there,’ and they are. Now, we’re looking at more investments.”

Moyer relishes helping early-stage companies, believing it’s at the early stage that he can add the most value. For years, he’s been known as the guy who gets his hands dirty at the GrowthWorks Atlantic fund in Halifax.

He’s known for being skeptical about most ideas, but once he’s on board he’s a champion for his companies.

He’s a Launch36 mentor and he serves on the board of eight portfolio companies, five in Newfoundland.

“Early stage companies need help at the strategic level,” he said. “Interesting decisions are made at this stage, such as who will the company’s clients be? How should the product be priced?

“Small seed companies have one or two founders and maybe one or two employees who may not be able to help with these decisions. It’s important CEOs can talk to someone who’s seen and experienced a lot more than the team.”

Moyer joined Growthworks Atlantic 11 years ago as a controller. He had gained a CMA designation and was finishing an MBA at Saint Mary’s University. He did his Bachelor of Commerce at Dalhousie.

He instantly felt at home in the startup world, where he was able to use his talent for out-of-the-box thinking.

Now, he said he and the team at the new fund are committed to “growing companies to the point where we have a vibrant economy.”

It’s a theme that’s also big at his home: Moyer recently became engaged to Gillian McCrae, currently vice-president of Propel ICT.

“We met at a Propel selection camp. We got in a fight during our first meeting,” he said with a grin. “It’s all startups all the time in our house.”