It’s with much excitement that we announce FrontFundr’s latest Pitch Place listing—an impact investment fund, Pique Fund (Pique Venture Investments (VCC) Inc.), led by Bonnie Foley-Wong. This business is unlike any company we’ve seen on FrontFundr before. While Bonnie is actively raising capital for her fund, she herself is a professional investor and so has a unique perspective when it comes to raising funds.
With 18 years of experience in finance, Bonnie started Pique Ventures, an investment consulting and management company, and started building Pique Fund when she noticed a gap in her field. While there were resources to support women building businesses, there were few women investors, whom she believed would best understand what women founders were trying to achieve. And so she founded Pique Fund—a fund that invests in mostly women led companies (at least three out of every four in the portfolio), with investors who are also primarily female (currently 10 of Pique Fund’s 12 investors are women), managed through Pique Ventures. The current portfolio consists of four companies—ePACT Network, Snug Vest, myBestHelper, and Beanworks —all of which are women-led.
We recently sat down with Bonnie to learn more about her fund and why opening the doors to a diverse investment community is important to the success of her fund.
What inspired you to begin a fund that was focused on female founders?
It began as an idea to move money in a more purposeful way. Pique Fund focuses on women entrepreneurs because I am seeing success in women-led businesses. It’s also about enabling more women investors to participate. It’s a great opportunity for financial success and for women entrepreneurs and investors to lead together. In a lot of conventional venture funds, women are underrepresented as partners or in the senior leadership and decision-making roles. Usually in venture capital, the percentage is easily less than 10 per cent female. I’m flipping that on its head. The 10 female investors represent 85 per cent of the capital in the fund at the moment.
Understanding that strong female representation is important in your fund, what else can you tell us about your typical investor?
Most of our investors understand both the challenges and the potential around early stage companies. Most of our investors are either entrepreneurs themselves, or they are leaders in their respective fields and are looking for new ways to express their leadership.
One of the big overarching themes of the fund is leadership diversity. Our investors are a mix of high net worth individuals, as well as non-accredited investors. One of our key goals is to be more inclusive than a traditional fund. I’m not aware of any other early stage equity fund that allows just about anybody to invest.
What excites you about equity crowdfunding and working with FrontFundr?
I believe investing in private companies should be accessible to all sorts of people. The rules that dictate minimum wealth levels exclude smart experienced people. If new investors are given the right information to make smart investment decisions, then we’re going to get people who have expertise to impart on growing companies. We need those voices in the investment community. By having a different investor perspective, I think we’ll actually be able to solve some of the overlooked problems and challenges seen in many businesses today. And by doing so, we’ll also do well economically.
What are the benefits of investing in a fund of early stage companies?
One of the biggest benefits is access to a portfolio of companies. Evidence shows that investing in a group of companies is a good way to manage risk. Investors in Pique Fund benefit from the robust evaluation process I developed as a result of my years of experience evaluating companies, making investment decisions, and working with other investors and entrepreneurs.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs when it comes to raising capital?
Think of raising capital as building relationships. When I get a referral from someone I trust—usually investors or experienced entrepreneurs—I hold it in higher regard than a cold call. If you don’t have someone who can refer you, then approach the investor from a place of understanding their needs and getting to know each other. Don’t launch into selling and pitching right away. That may be contrary to some advice out there about the elevator pitch, but early stage investing has to be about relationship building.
For more information about Pique Fund and the capital they intend to raise via FrontFundr, visit their listing on Pitch Place. Or if you’re looking to raise capital for your own early stage venture, visit our Entrepreneur Suite.