Angelo Del Duca
IMPACT INVESTING

Angelo Del Duca

#6

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What Do you Look For When Investing? Angelo Del Duca, York Angels

“Entrepreneurs that are really fixed in their view and don’t respond to changes that exist in the marketplace are destined to a plateau and not necessarily continue that growth trajectory, right. So keeping an intimate gauge of how the market is changing, adapting in the area that they’re in is a key factor.”

ABOUT

Angelo Del Duca has extensive experience in the electronics industry and holds an engineering degree from the University of Toronto in Electrical Engineering. Angelo is an active Angel Investor and is a member of the York Angel Investors, Maple Leaf Angels and the Spark Angels assessing potential investments opportunities and mentoring companies seeking investment and business growth. Angelo is also a Limited Partner and Advisor to the OPN (Open People Network) Supporters Fund which invests in growth oriented companies. He was named Angel of Year (2016-2017) by the York Angel Investors and was recently elected in 2020 as Chair of the Board of Directors for the York Angel Investors. Previously he was an Ontario Director at the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and co-founder of a microelectronics company providing expertise to North American customers. Angelo also held positions in engineering and management at Avnet Electronics, the Ontario Research Foundation, the University of Toronto – Microelectronics Development Centre, and Tektronix.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Angelo Del Duca

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Good morning! Welcome Angelo del Duca, angel investor, and I would say a big moving part in this entire ecosystem of what’s going on in the Ontario. Thank you for joining us today.

Angelo:
Well thank you for having me Jeffrey and thank you for the kind words. It’s always a pleasure engaging with you, OPN, and the entire ecosystem. So thanks once again.

Jeffery:
You bet. So we’ve now been working our way through this, I believe this is now our fourth interview and they’ve been going quite well. We’ve been keeping them nicely streamlined and getting lots of great insights from investors in the market so maybe just give us a little a little bit about yourself before we do jump into the questions

Angelo:
Alright so I have lots of gray hair. So I’ve been in industry for around 30 years so I’m maybe I’m exposing too much about how old I am. Did my own startup early in my career and prior to the startup worked at UT in the microelectronic space, did much start up again in the microelectronic space, exited and then decided to give back to the community and join the National Research Council IRA program. Became a director there, led a team of approximately 18 advisors and decided to do an early retirement, it’s now coming up to the fourth year. Four years ago because I wanted to get back to my roots which is engaging with the startup community and actually becoming an active investor. So since then I’ve been a part of the York Angel Investors, was Angel of the Year in 2017, 18 I believe it was and I’m also a member of Maple Leaf Angels, Spark Angels, join in with Karatsu. So I get around within the whole angel community and have not regretted a single day since I did my early retirement and I have to say I’m probably ten times busier now than I was when I was at at IRAP and enjoy it. One of the items in that whole and investment community ,is I had the pleasure of joining and being a part of the OPN Supporters Fund and work very closely on trying to identify great opportunities that have the potential for success.

Jeffery:
Awesome. Well said. And now you have an awesome background and lots therefore for us to dig into. So why don’t we start off with the first question, why do you invest in start-up companies?

Angelo:
The main reason that I invest in companies, and I have a fairly large portfolio, and like a lot of us investors we always try and identify all of the successes. We sort of a downplay some of the not so successful but really my main motivator beyond the opportunity of yielding a return on my investment is really about an opportunity where I can create a change and have an impact on the growth of the company. So I like to invest in companies where I see the potential of growth both in revenues and in people. I feel that if I establish a good rapport and relationship with the entrepreneurs, I can probably and hopefully bring some value to the table to help them overcome some issues or challenges that are preventing them from growing. So I look at those opportunities and if I see a good strong business case and some areas where entrepreneurs need some help if I can do it, great. If not. I can reach out into my ecosystem and also bring in specific resources to help them. So it’s really being active as opposed to a passive investor. And if I can accomplish that, it actually gets back to my driver, my passion, which is helping that a tech based a startup community grow because I see that piece of the marketplace, the the tech startups, being critical for the the strength of the economy and also job creation.

Jeffery:
Well that’s awesome and we align some on so many different areas there as well. And you’re right, helping those companies overcome obstacles or stuck in a growth pattern they’re not able to move ahead so being able to explore those different ideas and concepts with them, strategize and move it forward, I think is a great way to kind of help these startups and it’s a great mindset on why to invest. You talked a little bit about what you were doing at IRAP, what was the driving force they got you set up and starting to invest in startups?

Angelo:
So it actually was very similar in nature. So I can’t speak enough about how amazing the program is. It’s one of the oldest programs that are out there and like all of us in the investment community, the program itself changes just as the mindset of the investors has changed over the years. And that’s natural. Because a program and investor are very similar in nature. They’re looking at creating the greatest impact. So when I was at IRap I always motivated my approval of projects with specific companies around the methodology of does this have the potential to create wealth for the country and also create employment for the the country. And so the return on investment may be viewed as slightly different but when you dig deep down it’s actually the same thing, right. Because if companies can demonstrate that they’re increasing their sales and increase employment then they have a greater chance of contributing to the country visa vie paying taxes and from an investor point of view providing a return on the investment. So both are amazingly in alignment and at IRAP I was able to go into companies and actually get them to open up their kimono to identify where we can help right and it’s a it’s amazing how the strength of the program enabled me to accomplish that. Similarly, companies are always on on a mission to be able to gain enough capital, to be able to execute on their vision and you’re a part of it too Jeffrey and you see it when we sit down with an entrepreneur. We want them to really put everything on the table the good, the bad, the ugly and then identify how we can change those bad and ugly all into good right. And if we can accomplish that I think we’ve done our job for the day and putting aside the the global altruistic aspects of doing that there’s also if we can accomplish that we also can accomplish increase the potential of yielding a return on investment so that everyone wins right. And so that I used the same drivers as to why would I support certain companies at iRAP as I do in the investment community. I also saw from IRAP having gone through a significant number of projects and proposals I probably have a really good handle on not necessarily the key factors for success but probably a good insight on what are the factors for failure. And if we can overcome those factors then the likelihood of success is dramatically increased.

Jeffery:
Know for sure it’s a two-sided coin right there’s always one way or the other of the direction to go but if you spend enough time in this space you start to be able to see different things on both sides. You figure out how to line those to go forward. So having that experience from IRAP and carrying that into the angel network is fantastic. So inside about what becomes your favorite part of investing?

Angelo:
Actually, doing a deep dive into the come into the company. I relish the opportunity of being an active participant and in a lot of situations taking the lead on doing the due diligence that’s required to really make that determination. I’ve been fortunate that colleagues actually respect some of my perspectives on a company after having done a deep dive with them and actually used me to a certain degree of mitigating their risk as to whether I’m in alignment with their thinking. Ultimately all the investors have their own methodology and triggers for doing an investment, but to me being very active in determining what stage the company is at, what are the risks associated with it, and how those risks can be mitigated and avoided. And I look at that aspect as being the mos