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Recognizing student talent with Front Row Ventures

September 29, 2017

Given Montreal’s status as the best city in the world for students, it should come as no surprise that high impact, student-led startups are proliferating in the city. Montreal’s major universities are all committed to innovation and commercialization of student projects, and more and more students are looking to jump into the world of entrepreneurship before they even graduate.

In order to propel these startups, Real Ventures is pleased to announce our partnership with Front Row Ventures, Canada’s first student-run venture capital fund. Over the next four years, Real will allocate $600,000 CAD to Front Row. The funds will be invested in $25,000 increments into Montreal-based, student-led startups. With our guidance, the Front Row team will source companies, make investment decisions and support their portfolio companies. They will also work to spur startup activity on university campuses through events, training, and advocacy.

University communities produce vast amounts of intellectual capital — ideas and technologies that are crucial fuel for the creation of new businesses. They also contain enormous reserves of human capital, from fresh-faced undergrads to PhDs. As investors, we have long benefitted from the economic energy created by universities; with Front Row Ventures, we now have a strong platform to engage with and contribute to these communities while building bridges across campuses.

Working with Front Row Ventures aligns with Real’s mission to back founders while building startup ecosystems. Through this partnership we expect to find high potential companies to invest in while simultaneously stimulating startup activity inside university communities. We are excited for this opportunity to expand our network and harness the powerful energy of Montreal’s students.

Front Row Ventures is inspired by similar projects in the US, especially Dorm Room Fund, which after five years of operation is proving its worth as both an agent of ecosystem growth and a viable investment strategy. In her comments at our Front Row Ventures launch event, Dorm Room Fund Director Rei Wang spoke about their success on both fronts, highlighting impressive results such as the fact that the current Y-Combinator cohort features seven Dorm Room Fund companies.

Finally, we are particularly excited to work with Front Row Ventures’ three dynamic founders — Nicolas, Raphael and Éléonore. Over the past year we have been continually impressed by their ability to craft a compelling vision, rally others to their cause, and gather support from the ecosystem. We look forward to working with them and the team they have assembled to help support the next crop of student founders. 

Front Row Ventures founders, Éléonore Jarry-Ferron, Raphael Christian-Roy and Nicolas Synnott with Isaac Souweine and Rei Wang.

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