Rob Douglas
IMPACT INVESTING

Rob Douglas

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President Golden Triangle Angelnet

Rob Douglas – Reporting: Absence doesn’t make the heart grow stronger.

“Run your business with a good eye on the numbers and the cash flow because everything is about cash in the door and being able to meet your expenses.”

ABOUT

Rob Douglas is passionate about building Canada’s economy. A founder of the Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN), one of Canada’s largest and most active angel investor networks, Rob enables new Canadian companies to succeed. Rob has served as President and Executive Director of GTAN since its inception in 2009 and has recently stepped down from that role to return to Roseview Capital Consultants, a company which he co-founded in 1998, and where he looks forward to new opportunities in the early-stage ecosystem.

A chartered accountant by profession, Rob is a past Board Member and Treasurer of the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), Canada’s voice of angel investors. A leader in the investment community, Douglas bridges the gap between local initiatives and national policies.

He commits his energy towards building the entrepreneurial spirit in Waterloo Region and currently holds equity positions in several early-stage growth companies. Rob is a man of vision distinguished by his strong entrepreneurial spirit and a wealth of experience in owning and managing private businesses where he has developed strong skills in strategic planning, business plan execution, process analysis and human resource development.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Rob Douglas

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome everybody! We’re at — it is I think Wednesday four o’clock — and we’re interviewing and talking with Rob Douglas and I’m very excited to sit down with Rob. I’ve been working with Rob for a couple years, I’ve learned a lot from rob just in all of the meetings that we’ve been part of through GTAN and their analysis of startups so it’s been a really great experience but Rob, maybe i can turn it over to you. Love to get an introduction on yourself, a little bit about your background kind of where you’ve come from to where you are today. And some of the things that you are working on now. And then one thing about you that nobody would know. Because I always like to kind of get that one little nugget that no one will know about you and then i can use that next time I’m trying to hit you up for money. And I’ll be like —

Rob:
Yeah for sure.

Jeffery:
Both of us can hold our breath for four minutes underwater that’s amazing so that’s kind of the direction I like to go. So yeah fire take it away.

Rob:
Well thank you very much. It’s an honor to be here today, Jeffrey. And yes we’ve had a relationship over the last couple of years, even longer than that I think at GTAN. In terms of who i am, I’m probably described best as a recovering accountant. I’m a chartered accountant by trade but have never practiced as such if you want a tax return done i don’t think you want to ask me to do it. It will not be done well probably. My interest in in accounting though really came from my desire to be in business. And in business for myself. And I wanted a business education. And i i couldn’t see a better way to get one than to actually work at an accounting firm as an auditor, I worked for what was Pricewaterhouse, now PricewaterhouseCoopers. So that’s where i got my ticket and honed my interest in working with small businesses or businesses in general. After that, I had an opportunity to move into a totally different career which was becoming a stock broker and I did that for the firm that is now The Royal Securities or Royal Bank. And that was an interesting exercise, I thought I was going to be able to provide people with expert advice on how they should be investing in and filling their portfolios. What I discovered was that when you work for a firm that has an inventory of stocks and bonds that you’re there to sell their stuff not to provide advice necessarily on what’s a good portfolio. And and I don’t mean to demean what is done by representatives these days. But anyway i moved on after that to work as a comptroller in a public company and out of that I had an opportunity to actually buy a small division of that company that was for sale. That got me started and that was in the distribution business actually. It was in the fabric distribution business. Small business that employed only 15 people. But it was a business that sold products across Canada and that really got my feet wet in dealing with all aspects of running a small business. Whether it’s HR matters, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s production, all of those things became part of my my mantra and I’ve carried on since that time buying and selling small businesses and providing that kind of holistic input to running them and managing them. The last company which I owned and managed on my own I sold in 1996. That was a company that was involved in human resource outsourcing and it was fortunate that enough capital came out of that exit that I was able to become an angel investor. That led me into working with a partner by the name of Carl Furtado. He and i started a business together doing capital formation for early-stage companies, and that was in 1998. We did that for about a decade and we were approached in 2008 by the national angel capital organization, I think it was called national angel organization actually at that time, but we were approached by them because of our experience in capital formation with early stage companies to put together a not-for-profit angel network in the Waterloo region. So Rob puts up his hand and says sure okay, I will be seconded from our company which is called and still is Rose View Capital to run GTAN, Golden Triangle Angel Network. So i have spent now 11 years at GTAN building it from no investments, no members, no office, no telephone, no anything to a fairly successful venture that has through its members over 90 invested companies, our members have spent about 40 million dollars of their own capital to invest in those early stage companies, and we’ve been able to attract because of that additional capital to our leveraged extra capital so the impact has been 85 million dollars or so into early stage companies many of them located in the Waterloo region. So Jeffrey as you know i have recently stepped back from my leadership role at GTAN and going back to my roots at Rose View Capital. Where we’re forging some new paths not only will we do or would we be able to do capital formation but we’re focusing more now on working with foreign nationals, business people from foreign jurisdictions who want to come to Canada and have no idea how to do it and I’m surprised how many people coming from India or the orient or Iran, Brazil you name it, say i’m an experienced business person but I have no idea how to do business in Canada. so we’re building a business or at least a part of Roseview capital that will appeal to companies and people that want to come here and build, acquire, scale or expand companies in Canada. So that’s kind of a snapshot of who I am and where we go from here.

Jeffery:
Amazing. Well congratulations to all of that because there was a lot of firsts in there and i think that’s super commendable. So quite amazing and just hearing that back in 98 you were one of the earlier investors in companies, i think that’s very exciting. It’s not in a bunch of the interviews we’ve done in the past we’ve had different people from Silicon Valley that were the first people in silicon valley to make investments and that blows my mind away. But that’s silicon valley so it’s obviously the portal to the investment community but being able to be one of the starters in the Canadian side of things that’s huge because so —

Rob:
Thank you for that