Note: This blog was originally posted on April 19 on the author’s personal website, It is reposted here with her permission.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Entrepreneurship 101 – Raising Money From VCs event at MaRS Discovery District. I thought the panel was wonderful and lent many insightful tips to the eager entrepreneurs who filled the auditorium.

Derek Smyth of OMERS Ventures was my favourite member of the panel in the fact that he was brutally honest about a few things:

  • He is an investor, not an entrepreneur, therefore he doesn’t spend his time trying to come up with new ideas, but rather looks for individuals or companies with good products and ideas that he can invest in. My level of respect shoots through the roof for someone who says, “This is what I am good at, and these are the things I’m not so good at.”
  • VCs will only invest in what fits their portfolio criteria. If you approach a health sciences VC with a retail startup product, it just means that you were too lazy to do your research to find out if that VC is a good fit for your startup. If you don’t do your research on a VC before approaching them, you will look like an idiot.
  • When something isn’t going right with your startup, don’t just continue down the same path without changing something. Whether you have to kill or modify a product, hire or fire someone, change your strategy or business models, cut your losses and walk away, do SOMETHING. Don’t be the Naive Ned and believe everything will be “okay” or “work itself out,” because that’s pretty much a death sentence for your startup.

I also personally spend a lot of time researching VC firms and individual VCs, corresponding with them if I can, and trying to learn how they think. Here are a few observations I’ve made as a result:

  • If you build an app, do not approach a VC telling them that it’s the next greatest thing and expect them to invest. An app is just an app, and if that is the only product in your product line, you will be laughed at.
  • You have roughly 15 seconds to get their attention and get your idea across.
  • A management team that doesn’t share the same vision for the company or product is like a blind general leading his army into battle.
  • Angel investors are very nice people who invest because they like you; VCs are business people who invest because they see an opportunity to make more money.

If you missed this event, hopefully we will see you at the next one happening on April 25, 2012 at the MaRS Discovery District Auditorium from 6-7 pm. The next event’s topic is the Life Sciences & Healthcare Lived It Lecture. See you there!

Check out Lidia’s startups: and

Check out the ‘Quick Hits’ video for an overview of the presentation:

For the entire lecture video, click here.

Check out our funding sources directory.

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Lidia Sienkowska

Lidia Sienkowska is the co-founder of two medical startups, Medicreds and mTriage. She specializes in the medical and healthcare space and wants to spend the rest of her life building and selling startups. See more…