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PRESS RELEASE: Real Ventures Appoints Janet Bannister as Managing Partner

TORONTO and MONTREAL, January 27, 2020.  Real Ventures announced today the appointment of Janet Bannister as the firm’s Managing Partner. 

The appointment of Ms. Bannister as Managing Partner is a reflection of her proven ability to build world-class organizations and of Real Venture’s ambition to scale its impact and investing activities. 

Since launching in 2007, Real Ventures has grown its team from 3 to 23 and its assets under management from $5M to $330M. Real Ventures has invested in over 280 companies including Sonder, one of Canada’s newest companies to attain unicorn status (>$1BN valuation), Clearbanc, BenchSci, League, Mindbridge, Integrate AI, Mejuri and Xanadu. Real’s active portfolio companies have a total current value of over $5 billion. 

Since joining the firm in 2014, Bannister has been the pillar of Real’s presence in Toronto and has made a major contribution to the Canadian tech ecosystem and the entrepreneurs with whom she works. 

“With her strategy experience at McKinsey, brand building experience at P&G and leadership experience growing eBay and building Kijiji, which to this day remains one of the most visited sites in Canada, we know that Real Ventures is unbelievably fortunate to have someone of Janet’s calibre to accept this pivotal role,” said co-founding partner, John Stokes. “But just as importantly,” he added, “Janet lives and breathes the values that define Real Ventures; a commitment to founders, to community and to personal growth. It is this combination of capabilities, caring nature and charisma that defines and differentiates her.”

Over its 13 years in operation, Real Ventures has established itself as a leader in Canada’s tech startup ecosystem, with a focus on both early-stage investment and ecosystem support.

While Real will continue to be headquartered in Montreal, Bannister will lead the firm from its growing Toronto office. The firm will continue to seek out and support the best companies in Canada and will also continue to deliver on its commitment to filling the gaps it sees in the tech ecosystem so that more companies and people can benefit from the collective strength and increased knowledge and experience in the Canadian tech community. 

In recent years, Real brought Techstars to Toronto and Montreal (Techstars AI), which complement the offerings of its own accelerator program, FounderFuel, which is currently recruiting for its 2020 cohort. Other initiatives and programs Real Ventures has supported or helped launch include C100, Startupfest, Communitech, Vector Institute, MaRS, Creative Destruction Lab, and many others. 

“I am honoured by the opportunity to be asked to be Managing Partner at Real Ventures,” said Bannister. “I have a deep love for the firm, its mission and the founders we serve.  I look forward to dedicating myself to further advancing the impact we have on our companies and Canada’s tech communities.”

Canadian technological creativity and opportunity continue to grow apace. In 2017, Toronto added more tech jobs than the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle or New York. The year 2018 brought significant investment in from Canada’s federal and provincial governments, business community and universities, as well as global tech giants, particularly in artificial intelligence startups and institutes. The first half of 2019 was the strongest first half on record for venture capital deals, with CAD $2.15B invested. 

Since its founding in 2007, Real has believed in the entrepreneurial creativity and potential of Canadian founders. While remaining industry-agnostic, Real has built its reputation on its early identification of, and belief in, companies building cutting-edge technologies and disruptive business models and believes that the next wave of disruption and growth will come from nimble, innovative companies that are driven by the desire to have a large-scale meaningful impact on society and humanity.

“Janet’s ability to see the white space strategically is unparalleled,” said #Movethedial founder, Jodi Kovitz. “The gift of how she has supported me in shaping #Movethedial’s strategy is one that she gives to her founders in a unique way. She really shows up and not only gives her companies money, but her time and best energy and experience as a real mentor and sponsor. I am excited for her to be able to share this gift with Real as a firm — to grow its impact on our community and ecosystem, producing more Canadian unicorns in the years to come.”

About Real Ventures:

Real Ventures serves mission-driven entrepreneurs and nurtures the communities in which they thrive. Established in 2007, the firm backs visionary founders building innovative tech companies that will have large-scale positive impacts on society. The firm also helps entrepreneurs to realize the full potential of their companies by providing them with the guidance, stage-specific help and communities required to develop the self-awareness and operational capabilities for global success. Real has invested in over 280 companies across five funds, with $330 million under management. Real’s active portfolio companies have a total current value of over $5 billion.

About Janet Bannister:

Since her first entrepreneurial venture as a teenager, Janet has used her boundless energy and focus to build and shape companies. Part of the Real Ventures team since 2014, she has led investments in over a dozen companies and works actively to help them accelerate growth and create meaningful impact. Janet’s experience as a founder and her work with industry leaders like Procter & Gamble, McKinsey & Co. and eBay have given her great insight and practical knowledge, which she passes on to the teams she mentors. Given her background transforming eBay from a Collectibles to a Mainstream marketplace and launching and growing Kijiji into one of the most visited websites in Canada, Janet primarily works with entrepreneurs in marketplaces, fintech, future of work, and AI in enterprise settings. She is an alumna of BDC Capital’s GP Academy and currently participating in the Kauffman Fellow Program. A dynamic, high energy person, Janet has also competed internationally in triathlons and loves spending time in nature and with her family.


Photo credit: Annabelle Agnew

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