A pair of two small fish are certainly making a big splash as investors in the Canadian startup industry.
Allen and Eva Lau, the married couple, and co-founders of Two Small Fish Ventures are one of the finalists for Angel Investor of the year at the 2015 Canadian Startup Awards.
The award recognizes the Canadian angel investor who made the most significant impact this year.
“It sounds counter intuitive, but our goal is not really making money…we hope we can help create a lot of startup successes and ultimately help the Canadian startup ecosystem flourish,” said Eva Lau.
Allen is also the CEO and co-founder of Wattpad, the world’s largest community for readers and writers. Eva was the former head of community at Wattpad.
The couple only started angel investing 12 months ago, and since have over six startups from the Toronto/Waterloo region in their portfolio.
Using the hard lessons and mistakes learned through building Wattpad, Allen and Eva entered the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor to share their knowledge and experience.
Wattpad has over 40 million monthly viewers, with the company growing from two co-founders to over 120 employees. This is something, Allen says, that not many founders experience especially in Canada.
“Scaling a company is an experience that is very unique, and we want to share that,” said Allen.
But despite being angel investors in their spare time, they say the biggest challenge is not being domain experts in the markets, which gives them a short amount of time to assess the investment opportunities.
“To overcome this, we have to stick to our investment thesis – Toronto/Waterloo based early stage internet companies with strong network effects – so that we can make good and quick decisions even though we are not necessarily domain experts,” said Eva.
This investment thesis is exactly what Two Small Fish Ventures does, but as technologies change, Allen says, over time their thesis will too, while still maintaining the underlying goal of finding an efficient and scalable way to help more Canadian startups.
“Many of our portfolio companies are doing really well. That being said, building a startup is a very long journey that takes many years. As our focus is early stage startups, all of our portfolio companies are still in the first inning. It will take them eight more innings to declare victory,” said Allen.
The Canadian Startup Awards are now in its fifth year. Finalist voting is open until Saturday, January 17.
The 2015 winners will be announced Monday, January 18.