With 10 portfolio companies backed by its $4.25 million first fund, Island Capital Partners is preparing to raise a larger second fund next year.
The Charlottetown-based group was formed in 2017 by a group of Islanders with deep backgrounds in international business and entrepreneurship to provide early-stage financing and mentorship. It intended at that time to build up a portfolio of 12 to 13 companies based on P.E.I. or having operations on the Island.
Now that they have almost met that goal, the principals are beginning to talk to potential limited partners for the second fund, worth more than $4.25 million, which they hope to close in the second or third quarter of 2021.
“We’re laying the groundwork for Fund 2 and now doing the hard slugging,” said Managing Partner Alex MacBeath in an interview, adding that the timing has been delayed by the pandemic.
He and Director of Operations Stefanie Corbett said that hard slugging includes meeting with potential investors, showing what Fund 1 has achieved, and making the business case for the fund. Their first fund had about 25 limited partners, or LPs. Fund 2 will once again receive investment from the provincial government as well as private investors.
MacBeath and Corbett said Island Capital still plans to invest in two or three more new companies from the first fund, and will still have some money to allow follow-on funding. They declined to discuss specific metrics with the 10 companies they’re now backing, but did say they are pleased with the data they track privately.
The portfolio ranges from IT companies like Forestry.io (the first Canadian company ever to raise capital through an AngelList syndicate) and OnSet Communication, to such life sciences companies as PhotoDynamic and Coloursmith Labs.
The Island Capital team – which also includes principals Ron Keefe, Steve Nicolle, and Paul Lypaczewski – has worked more closely than expected with its portfolio companies to make sure founding teams round out their range of skills. Most of these companies are tapping international markets, and the Island Capital partners are working with them to make sure they have the tools to make international sales.
“We had a lot to learn,” said Corbett, reflecting on the first few years. “Learning how much work goes into these companies when you’re investing at the early stage has been one of the big things. These companies need a lot of work, and a lot of the founders are specialists, not generalists. The gaps in founding teams’ skill levels were larger than anticipated.”
The Island Capital team has also worked to develop the ecosystem on P.E.I. For example, the fund works with companies based elsewhere if they can carry out some operations on the Island or collaborate with such bodies as the University of PEI or the PEI BioAlliance.
Overall, the investment team believes its first fund has been a success and its members are eager to continue the work.
“Three years later, all five of us are still getting along well,” said MacBeath. “We’ve always described ourselves as active investors. The effort that has had to go into them [the companies] has been perhaps more than we anticipated but collectively I think we’ve added value.”