Kathryn Wortsman

Kathryn Wortsman


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Impact Investor, Thought Leader, Entrepreneur

Building talent – Kathryn Wortsman

“To founders and startups — think big, think impact.”


Kathryn Wortsman is Managing Partner of Amplify Capital, one Canada’s oldest and leading impact funds. Amplify Capital focuses on investing in businesses using technology to solve for massive social and environmental challenges. Kathryn began her career as an investment banker at RBC Dominion Securities and then went on to spend 20+ years in private equity and venture capital both in Toronto and New York City. Kathryn has held senior investment roles at Constellation Ventures (a Bear Stearns GP Fund), MetLife Ventures, BMO Capital and Lynx Equity. Kathryn started her philanthropy work in New York and then launched the Toronto Chapter of Social Venture Partners in 2008. Kathryn launched the first fund of Amplify, MaRS Catalyst Fund in 2016 with backing from Richard Branson’s family foundation, Virgin Unite, Lino et Mirella Saputo Foundation, McConnell Foundation and a number of family offices in Canada.

Prior to Amplify, Kathryn co-founded Crest Capital in 2012, a special purpose acquisition vehicle which purchased 100% of Kelso Industrial Group in 2013. Kathryn and her business partner managed and grew Kelso through 2015 when Kathryn exited Kelso to move on to MaRS/Amplify.

Kathryn has over 20 years of private equity and venture capital investment experience in Canada and the US. Prior to joining Lynx which she led the growth of the portfolio by over 10x, Kathryn was a Director at BMO Capital Corporation investing mezzanine capital to small mid market companies. Prior to BMOCC, Kathryn held consecutive investment roles at MetLife in New York: Principal in the venture group and Director, Corporate Development. Prior to MetLife, Kathryn was VP and Principal at Constellation Ventures in New York, a Bear Sterns sponsored venture capital firm focused on early and growth stage media enabling technologies. Prior to moving to New York, Kathryn held positions at both RBC Dominion Securities and CIBC Capital Partners in Toronto.

Kathryn holds a BA in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and an MBA from Columbia University. Kathryn was the Founder and first Chair of the Board of Social Venture Partners Toronto, established in 2008. SVP Toronto is part of the international network focused on active and engaged philanthropy.

Specialties: Impact Investing, Impact Measurement, Board Governance and Board management, Fundraising, Investor relations, Deal negotiation, pricing and completion. Financial and Impact reporting and operational capacity building.



Kathryn Wortsman

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Perfect! Welcome to Supporters Fund, Ask An Angel. I’m your host Jeffery Potvin and today, let’s welcome Kathryn Wortsman. How are you today?

Kathryn: I’m great! Thank you so much Jeffery for having me on your show.

Jeffery: I love it! Very excited to have you. There’s lots of great details but, oh my god, you have such an amazing profile. You’ve done so many things. You’re like banker of the year, you’ve done a lot of great things. So your background from M&A, all the way through. You’ve been in the top five banks, I think it’s an incredible background we have and instead of me, obviously, jumping in and telling everybody about your background, I’d love to have you share a little bit about where you’ve come from, all the great things you’ve done, and one thing about you that nobody would know.

Kathryn: Okay, I’m so, you know, I’m a big sharer. So that would, I’ll have to think about it as I’m talking about my background. So I’ll try and just do the highlight reel. I started my career as an investment banker, in the 90s at RBC Dominion Securities. I was part of the team that took the first Canadian Internet Company Public. It was super exciting and literally, I had to kind of negotiate with the Ontario Securities Commission to say, “Yes, the internet is a real thing and it’s a real market,” and it was hilarious, you know, looking back because I was 20 something. I was the analyst and who was I to be talking to the OSC, but literally everybody else around the room that all look the same, with the same, you know, suit and tie weren’t really in-tune with what was happening, and so much to the extent that when we talked about some deals we were doing. So one or two senior bankers, you know, understood the internet and then when I was asked to talk at the partners meeting at RBC about these particular deals and what was happening in my bonus review that year, I was, with the word, you know, I was kind of given a slap on the wrist saying, “You know, don’t, you know we’re really not interested in hearing about ‘woohoo’. You know we’re, you know, oil and gas, communications.” That’s like, obviously, that was Yahoo. So you know what, it was so obvious to me, obviously at the time as a young person and what’s fat, why bring that up and highlight that is that impact investing, which I’ll get to later, to me it’s very obvious, right? All investments are going to have some level of impact, impact peace to them in the future. There is no, you know, the generation that’s coming into wealth today, is going to demand it and so as a company, you really have to think about, “Okay, what good am I going to do? I’ll make the money but what good am I going to do for the people on the planet?” And so that’s kind of what I, it’s obvious to me and I’ll, I want to highlight that. So I started as a banker. The company was venture capital backed in the 90s. I said, “What’s venture capital?”, and so when I learned about what that was, I got very excited about moving over to that side and working with companies as they grow. So I did exactly that. I joined CIBC, also in the 90s, and then started working on early stage and late stage, and then from there, I pursued my MBA at Columbia Business School in New York, and really that opened my eyes to, you know, all the opportunities from early stage to late stage, private equity, etc. Did a couple different things while I was still in the US. Met life strategic venture capital, and bear a bearish turn sponsored fund, doing early, early stage tech investments across the US that was really interesting and really, where I cut my teeth on, you know, how to do early stage. So we’ll talk about that later. I learned from some really bright people and then made my way back to Toronto, and really just continued on doing private equity, slash venture capital with different boutiques here, and (inaudible 3:57) capital as well. But one thing that I picked up in New York, and I brought back to Toronto was social venture partners. So throughout my career, you know, I really enjoyed, kind of volunteering and giving back. It was always a bit of a bug for me. It’s social, I’m a social person but I also like just, you know, helping, doing something good and social venture partners really piqued my interest because it’s a model where it acts like venture capital, but instead of investing, you just give away your money. So you give away money to local charities, but act like a venture capitalist. So you help with governance, and capacity building, and marketing, and sales, (inaudible 4:38) and you hold these nonprofits accountable, and so it was really fun. I built the Chapter in Toronto. We got up to 4