Highly Specialized Investment School Program To Prime Next-Gen of VC & PE Pros

Photo: Mark Healy, Executive Director, The Ivey Academy at the Ivey Business School (Left) and Gregory Phipps, Faculty Director, Canadian Private Capital Investment School (Right).

It’s getting cold now in Canada. ‘Tis the season to unconsciously think in winter-related metaphors. For me, that’s a wood fire: a source of security, warmth and utility.

If you subscribe to the premise that capital is the fuel that ignites and sustains the entrepreneurial flame, you’d no doubt agree that Canadian investment funds have assembled and lit an impressive stack of firewood this year. The heat is comforting.

According to CVCA’s H1 2018 VC & PE Canadian Market Overview, YTD private equity investments rang in at $14.5B (over 288 deals), while venture capital investment in Canada continued its five year upward trajectory. “Almost $1B was invested over 166 VC deals in Q2 this year, bringing the year-to-date total VC investment to $1.7B,” reports CVCA’s Darrell Pinto, Interim COO. He’s confident enough to doff his wool cap and down coat, even if he’s keeping his socks on.

The infusion of the Canadian Government’s Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI)—the $400M to increase the availability of late-stage venture capital—is surely the truck backing into the driveway with a few cords, to ensure the house stays warm. Sure, everyone would agree that moving even more capital into the Canadian ecosystem would help further energize the innovation-based economy, that attracts VC’s on both sides of our border, and drives activity in late-stage, private equity target companies.

But who will continue to stack the firewood and tend the fire? Do we have a sufficient number of trained investment professionals to sustain the flame?

If the collective goal is to grow the Canadian VC and PE ecosystem—to create a veritable bonfire—we most definitely need more. Notwithstanding our collective momentum, the well-intentioned and progressive goals of the VCCI, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem’s ongoing evolution, there’s a skills gap in the ecosystem that no one seems to be talking about much.

We’ve perhaps lost sight of a dilemma associated with an aging population and succession within the Canadian investment ecosystem. There’s a lot of professionals who, like me, have seen their 55th birthday come and go and are distracted by near-term fund returns, and retirement goals—more so than raising a fund and pitching its 8-to-10-year return objectives to prospective LPs. And for senior managers in funds, training and development of new professionals is a tremendous time burden and distraction from deal flow development, transactional oversight, fund administration, governance, portfolio and LP relationship management.

To date, nobody in Canada has developed and delivered a formal program to train early-career equity investment professionals. To ensure Canadian venture capitalists and private equity investors are respected and regarded worldwide as competent professionals, we need to ensure a minimal level of education and competency among practitioners.

We can start through the provision of essential, foundational skills for early-career investment professionals—and, as BDC Capital is doing with their GP Academy, deliver enhanced professional development for partner-level fund managers. Whether you’re a newly-minted MBA seeking a role in VC or PE; have landed an analyst or associate role in a fund, are deploying your personal capital to make angel investments, are mid-career and just landed a coveted role as lead in a corporate/strategic investment department, or are a professional whose practice serves the investment industry—you should have a basic level of knowledge to meet the demands of your role, and contribute effectively to fulfilling fund or corporate investment objectives.


“CPCIS will cover a range of important topics and foundational skills for investment professionals, including: the art & science of investing, due diligence management, financial analysis, evaluating and top-grading management teams, ethical considerations in investing, structuring and negotiating term sheets, valuation models & methodologies, board governance, deal flow management, intellectual property considerations, legal issues, taxation, and leadership skills – all within a specific Canadian context.”


This unaddressed skills gap has been acknowledged by CVCA member funds—many of whom responded to a survey the organization conducted in May this year. Unsurprisingly, all stakeholders want the fire to be sustained. It will die if not tended. A partnership has been now formed to address the skills and experience gap through the establishment of the Canadian Private Capital Investment School (CPCIS)—an educational and professional development program, designed and delivered by The Ivey Academy (Ivey Business School @ Western), in collaboration with the CVCA, and with input from experienced VC and PE industry practitioners. We consider the CPCIS to be an essential extension of the Venture Capital Action Plan (VCAP) and Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI): both of which were/are designed to increase venture capacity and activity, and impact entrepreneurship and business growth, across Canada.

The CPCIS is a highly specialized program that will prepare the next generation of institutional, government, family fund managers, corporate, angel and private fund professionals for the growth of the equity investment ecosystem. We believe that if Canada wants to be a recognized world leader in innovation and growth financing, we’ve got to focus our collective energies on learning and development—to ensure a pool of capable, diverse and gender-balanced investment professionals who are ready to lead the sector.

CPCIS will cover a range of important topics and foundational skills for investment professionals, including: the art & science of investing, due diligence management, financial analysis, evaluating and top-grading management teams, ethical considerations in investing, structuring and negotiating term sheets, valuation models & methodologies, board governance, deal flow management, intellectual property considerations, legal issues, taxation, and leadership skills—all within a specific Canadian context.

The school will be led by experienced investment industry professionals from both the venture and private equity verticals.

Our initial program has been designed for new and emerging professionals with 0-3 years of experience within the VC/PE investment industry, or those who want to know more about the subject matter due to their engagement with the industry, which including startup founders/CEOs, banking and corporate finance professionals, lawyers, and accountants.

The CPCIS will delivered as an intensive, instructor-led cohort over five days, with 15 distinct courses/modules and group/team work, supplemented by informative guest speakers. Each module will be taught, where feasible, as an instructor-led combination of lecture, interactive participant engagement and dialogue, with use of the case method.

The program will provide extensive opportunity for peer networking, and casual engagement/networking with faculty. We believe that network development for early-career investment professionals is equally as important as the educational element of the program.

The perk? CVCA members will enjoy a full 25% discount on tuition. The cohort is scheduled for delivery March 25-29, 2019, at the Ivey Tangerine Leadership Centre (130 King West, Toronto, ON).

For more details about the program, and registration info, click here.


Greg Phipps is Faculty Director for the CPCIS at Ivey Academy and is responsible for curriculum design and program development.

Phipps is a former entrepreneur and operational executive with  more than 25 years business management and investment experience. He previously founded  two companies in the media/advertising services sector. The last 20 years of his career have been  focused on managing venture capital investments as Director, Investment with BDC Capital and, as Managing Director, Investment at Innovacorp’s venture fund. Greg has managed more than seventy equity investment transactions, in more than twenty companies, in the cloud/enterprise software (data analytics and fintech included), advanced tech, clean tech, and digital health sectors over his career.

Greg has also taught venture capital, at the Master’s level, at  Saint Mary’s University (Halifax), and fulfilled development of education curriculum and content, for the benefit of entrepreneurs, on behalf of MaRS Discovery District (Toronto).


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