Permjot Valia
IMPACT INVESTING

Permjot Valia

#13

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Board Member at Wooshii

Avoid “Superstar” Boards – Permjot Valia

“I’d rather have someone fully committed, who is less talented than someone, who is very talented but not committed. A commitment to the cause can compensate for a lack of talent, if you’re not committed, no amount of talent can compensate for that”

ABOUT

Permjot S. Valia is an Economist by background, and the Founder & CEO of Mentorcamp, co-founder of Flight and Partners Ltd. (a U.K.-based FCA authorized fund), the Executive Director of Innovacorp’s MentorConnect, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Innovcorp’s Momentum project, and the go-to pitch trainer and advisor to numerous business and economic development collaborations throughout the world. He is also an Angel investor, having invested in over 30 startups in four countries (Canada, U.K., South Africa, and U.S.). In 2016, three of the companies that Permjot invested in were bought for a significant premium. The three companies were based on three continents, reflecting the global nature of his work.

Permjot serves on the Board of several companies, including Wooshii.com, and as a Director at Bluelight Analytics and Flight and Partners. Permjot has been nominated by TechCrunch as “one of the best mentors to startups in Europe” and as “one of the very best pitch trainers in the world”. He regularly leverages and mobilizes his business connections from around the world to bring them to a region or entrepreneurial companies requiring start-up expertise. He lectures globally about Strategy, Business Modelling, Investing, and Sales.

Permjot lives in Halifax, and he enjoys classical music and travel. He is passionate about contributing to the region’s economic development and success. He is actively involved in the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Permjot Valia

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Well, welcome everybody! We just go right into it, so we’re already live, we’re already recording so and I’m gonna – I guess to start it off Permjot Valia, I’d like you to kind of give and hope, films saying your name right and I’m not missing it, but I’d love for you to kind of give us a background about yourself. So a little bit about your – maybe what you’ve been doing for the last 20, 30 years some good things like that and then we’ll jump into the questions.

Permjot:
Sure! So, the last 20 years or so I’m from London originally and been doing various things but then – the – I really got involved in angel investing as a consultant. I was working at a large – one of the large four accountancy firms as a sales guy. And then got involved got the entrepreneurial bug. They’re invested in a company, the company did very well and then I just started doing more angel investing and 2007, in the midst of the financial crisis, we launched a fund – a recovery fund called “Flying partners,” that is still going and it’s been running now. We’ve got about 20 million Canadian under management, very very small fund, but is very active. We actually buy the whole company we don’t find equity we buy the whole company turn that around and for the last 20 years, I’ve been really working my passion which is economic development. Working within rural areas across the world and really just identifying and helping lots and lots of startups. So that’s brings me to where we are today.

Jeffery:
No, that’s awesome! And we’ve had some good discussion around your background, and all these great things you do, and I can say that of all the people, I’ve interviewed I really loved a lot of your background and the stuff that you’re doing. So we’ve aligned quite well there, so David’s good for putting us in contact.

Permjot:
Thank you! Thank you!

Jeffery:
So you kind of touched a little bit on that, when you put an investment into a start-up. Maybe you can give us a little bit of an idea on what got you started like – what was that driving force that really puts you into the driver’s seat on investing and got you more excited to keep it going?

Permjot:
So what got me started with investing was initially I was working as a consultant to this business which manufactured lasers for skin treatments. And having first-hand knowledge of how well they were doing what the order book looked like, the value proposition, the customer
feedback, I thought the company’s going to do very well and then I found out that the company was raising money and I didn’t know anything about angel investing. I didn’t know what it was called or anything I just said “Oh is there a chance for me to put money in this?” and then I did and I enjoyed it. And then there were other opportunities that came about. I mean most angel investors, it’s a close-knit community, people tend to know each other. They kind of tell people about deals at Center etc., so I just could evolve that way and then I got involved in more angel groups. I didn’t really enjoy being involved in angel groups but I got involved in a few but then I really – for the last I’d say 10, 15 years, we do my own investments. I have invested in angel funds. So I’m an investor at a large fund here in Atlantic Canada, a fund in Arkansas, and a fund actually in Eastern Europe but angel fund. So I’ve enjoyed that but yeah, that’s what got me started in angel investing.

Jeffery:
No, that’s pretty good and you kind of jumped into a lot of things like you didn’t just go into investment. You’ve tried kind of a mix of the whole thing so it’s giving you a good flavor of angel investment funds going direct. So you’ve got a really good learning there which is super helpful for any startup to have you participate and help them because you can carry a lot of knowledge on where to go to get other investors to join in, but at the same time you get a good view of the landscape of what’s going on pre and post Covid and obviously all of the other things that occurred. So that’s really great, so when you made that first investment what was the excitement about it? You said that you were really excited, you really liked it, what was that piece that you really enjoyed about it?

Permjot:
Actually, it was just being a part owner of a business, so one of the last investments have made the investment that brought us – connecting us was in a company called “Crib Cap” which is run by a CEO called David How based in Atlantic Canada and what was really nice about this was if A: it came through a recommendation of somebody a very successful business guy, Kyle Rocky, who runs a phenomenal business called “Proposal Fly.” It was in the media, actually yesterday because they raised a truckload of money and very successful business. So he recommended David How from Crib Cap which is a great thing. And then what really impressed me was, David was a seasoned entrepreneur. He really knew what was doing and often I think what the ability to pitch is overrated and I say that as a somebody who makes a living, training people how to pitch but I think the ability to pitch is overrated man David was not only a really good picture but what I saw in him and what I look for in other people i investing is that command over the operational detail but can you actually operate the business because most people can with a lot of training and maybe I’m in a unfair position to know about this because I’ve trained people and I’ve trained some people to do great pictures but they’re still not good businesses. Whereas what you really want to do is look for people who can really understand the landscape of an of runnin