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The real team

Partner

"I want to help founders convince others about the world of the future, and then help them make that world a reality."

John is an investor who daily resists the urge to get back to being an entrepreneur — but rather chooses to live vicariously through the founders in whom he invests. After having played leading roles in two successful startups in Asia Pacific, but being underwhelmed with the venture capital model, John transitioned from entrepreneur to investor, determined to give others a more rewarding experience. After a number of years angel investing, he cofounded Real Ventures in 2007, where he works with passionate entrepreneurs looking to use technology to pre-empt the status quo. He knows that the path to success is uphill and it doesn’t have many signposts, but that an enquiring mind, an ability to inspire, a strong compass and dogged determination can enable entrepreneurs to find success in places others didn’t know existed.

Partner

"I believe that society’s success will come from strong ecosystems and great new technology."

JS is a hands-on investor and entrepreneur whose mission is to help creative and curious people to build great companies that have the potential to change the world. He primarily works with entrepreneurs who are using AI, blockchain technologies, AR/VR and synthetic biology to improve happiness, human creativity, and communication — and transform or disrupt the pillars of our society (health, education, food, energy, government, finance, work). His experience in all aspects of creating, building and growing tech companies has given him the confidence to follow his gut, and help passionate entrepreneurs realize their vision and find success in life and business. When he’s not working on reinventing the world, he’ll likely be found spending time with his five kids.

Partner

Alan MacIntosh

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Alan works with:

Algolux Bus.com OMsignal Swift Medical XpertSea
"You’ve only got so many days on the planet. While you’re here, you owe it to yourself to have the biggest possible impact."

Alan has been building, operating and investing in businesses at the intersection of wireless and the internet since the 1990s. After cofounding a number of notable venture funds including GSM Capital and Acta Wireless, he joined with John and JS to cofound Real Ventures in 2007. A dedicated mentor, Alan sees himself as a demanding yet empathetic coach: helping on important issues, highlighting strategic opportunities, and looking for possibilities for his portfolio companies to exit. He works primarily with startups using emerging software technologies (mobile, digital media, deep learning, preventative healthcare), and is also interested in creating new markets with connected devices. A native of Scotland, Alan is a keen cyclist and lifelong skier, and is also committed to improving the quality of life in the community, through his work as President of the OSMO Foundation and as a board director of the McCord Museum, the Quartier de l’Innovation (QI) and the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada.

Partner

Janet Bannister

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Janet works with:

Canvass GrowSumo Instant Kooltra League
"I really want to help people realise their dreams and aspirations."

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 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 consumer-facing businesses, marketplaces, e-commerce and fintech. A dynamic, high energy person, Janet has also competed internationally in triathlons, and loves spending time in nature and with her family.

Partner

Sylvain Carle

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Sylvain works with:

Delve Labs Keatext Plotly Unito Vention
"A lot of people think it’s about technology – but first and foremost, it’s a people business."

Sylvain Carle has spent the last two decades living and breathing emerging technologies. Though he didn’t study computer science, Sylvain has been tinkering with computers for years, and spent most of his career as a startup entrepreneur at the confluence of media, technology and networks. A self-proclaimed nerd, socialist and pragmatist, Sylvain believes in technology as a means to change the world, and loves investing in ideas and people to transform industries. Before joining Real Ventures in 2014, Sylvain was CTO and co-founder at Messagia, Interstructure, Praized and Needium, and also worked as Senior Developer Advocate at Twitter in San Francisco. As a Real Ventures pre-seed partner, Sylvain plays a key role in nurturing the local tech ecosystem, and also works closely with our portfolio companies.

Partner

Isaac Souweine

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Isaac works with:

AI-Educate Return Magic Sollum Spark Microsystems
"I help launch big ideas into the real world."

Isaac invests in early-stage, Montreal-based companies as part of Real’s Orbit strategy. He is also GM of FounderFuel, Real’s accelerator, and is the partner lead for Front Row Ventures, Real’s student fund. Prior to joining Real, Isaac built a career as a product leader and company builder at high growth startups (Sonder, Frank and Oak) and large tech companies (Yahoo, Scholastic). He also has a long track record as a mentor, organizer, and ecosystem builder. A husband and father of two, Isaac believes Montreal is the perfect city to raise a family while building a world-class startup ecosystem.

Partner

Sam Haffar

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Sam works with:

MindBridge Sonder LoginRadius
"I get as much inspiration from them as I hope they do from me."

After nearly a decade in Silicon Valley, Sam joined the Real Ventures team with a great breadth of experience as a founder, strategizer and marketer. Having leaped into the startup world barely before he graduated from university, he joined the founding team at Chegg, a leading education technology company that went public in 2013. After Chegg, Sam led growth, marketing and sales teams at some of the top early-stage tech companies in the Valley. Combined, his startups have raised well over $200M from the world's best VCs. At Real, Sam works with founders on all aspects of their business from organizational development and product strategy to series A fundraising, growth and scale initiatives. After experiencing firsthand the extreme highs and lows of startup life, Sam has found that working with early-stage founders is his natural passion.

Partner

"I like to get to know people — get a sense of their capabilities and limitations — and then push them beyond that to help them achieve everything they can."

Mark is an engineer and entrepreneur who loves the creative, chaotic excitement of launching a new company. Growing up in the 1970s, he thought everything had already been invented — he even wrote to the patent office to ask what still needed to be created. With the advent of the Apple II, he jumped into his life as a creator, and decided to major in computer science with a focus on AI. After launching his career in the wireless industry, including roles in the founding teams at four startups, Mark co-founded Acta Wireless in 2004 with Alan MacIntosh, and was instrumental in Acta’s founding role in Montreal Startup and Real Ventures. Mark’s main interests today are blockchain technology, AI/ML, quantum computing, and the (imminent) return of analog. When he’s not encouraging founders to push harder, he’s helping them expand their teams so their companies can get to the next level.

Venture Partner

Charles Seely

"I like to tell people that anything is possible and to aim for the sky."

Charles is Real Ventures’ West Coast/Silicon Valley link. Given his entrepreneurial and investing experience, Charles assists our companies with US expansion, helping them navigate the landscape, strategically approach the market and craft their pitches to resonate with West Coast investors. In addition to his role as Venture Partner at Real, Charles is CEO and Founder of Pensar, a company powering the future of learning and has led investments in 45+ early-stage companies.

Chief Operating Officer

Roula Zaarour

"When others see limitations, I like to look for the possibilities and find creative ways to make them happen…"

With a background in organizational effectiveness and restructuring, Roula was brought in to Real Ventures to help grow the firm and lay the groundwork and platforms for further success. A believer in limitless possibilities, Roula embarks on projects that she’s passionate about. Her work experience includes her role at the CBC/Radio-Canada as VP People & Culture under a major restructuring plan, and leading the implementation of the transformation plan at Aerolineas Argentinas, among other leadership positions for major corporations worldwide. Roula is a strong proponent for change driven by technological innovation. She joined Real Ventures because she believes in our commitment to growing and nurturing tech entrepreneurs and the Canadian tech ecosystem.

Venture Partner

Marcel LeBrun

"I like fighting for the underdog and building amazing value out of places people least expect."

Marcel Lebrun joined the Real team as Venture Partner in 2018. Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, he loves working against the idea that you have to be in a certain place to build a globally successful tech company. His entrepreneurial background includes co-founding two startups, leading a NASDAQ/TSX IPO and six acquisitions. Most recently, he was SVP & GM of Marketing Cloud at Salesforce.com, prior to which he was CEO of Radian6, where he led the $326M acquisition by Salesforce.com — the CVCA Deal of the Year in 2011. Marcel is also strongly focused on social entrepreneurship and giving back to the community. His family foundation owns a children's equestrian ranch that offers summer camp programs and a year-round initiative (New Horizons) that supports at-risk-youth in New Brunswick. He is also a part-time executive-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, where he teaches and mentors students in the Masters of Technology Management and Entrepreneurship program.

VP Finance

Stephen Osmond

"Once you’ve jumped, there isn’t much else to do but just enjoy the ride."

As the senior finance person at Real Ventures, Stephen plays a key role in the production of quarterly reports, tax reporting and the audit process. His fund-specific responsibilities include the production of investment valuation, quarterly fund valuation, financial statements production and investor reporting. Stephen believes that the energy you put into something corresponds with what you get out, and loves working in the high-speed atmosphere of Real Ventures, where he sees new challenges every day. Prior to joining Real Ventures in Montreal, Stephen worked for Jabre Capital in Switzerland and BlueCrest Capital in the UK where he was responsible for setting-up and managing the fund accounting and valuation functions for hedge funds and investment management companies. While Stephen’s work life is painstakingly well organized, he likes to select his vacation destinations the day before he leaves.

Director of Communications

Lauren Jane Heller

"You can achieve anything you put your mind to — but that’s not to say it won’t take a whole lot of hard work."

A passionate storyteller, communicator and connector, Lauren Jane thrives on adding value and making change in the world through her words and ideas. With a background that spans documentary film, journalism, copywriting, sponsorship and communications strategy, she brings a breadth of experience to Real Ventures that will help focus outreach initiatives and broaden our reach. She was catapulted into Montreal’s tech community in 2014 as the lead organizer for HackerNest, and has continued to play an important role in the ecosystem’s growth and visibility through her coverage of events and startup news for BetaKit. She is dedicated to building diversity in the tech community, and strongly believes in the democratization of new technologies.

Finance Manager

Samuel Kaufman

"I’m excited about the power of technology to democratize knowledge and solve impactful problems."

Sam joined Real Ventures in early 2017 to support the investment team. His responsibilities include investment portfolio tracking and analysis, fund operations, finance, and regulation. Sam loves working at Real because it enables him to interact with entrepreneurs working on solutions to the world’s greatest problems. With a background in financial services and startup consulting, Sam also understands the struggles of early ventures and is therefore able help our portfolio companies when needed. While at university, Sam developed an event-based fundraising project in unique locations in Montreal called “One Night Stand” in support of local charities and foundations. He is an avid “bikepacker,” reader and traveller, and likes to wake up at 5am to get a headstart on his day.

Finance Manager

Steffie Vincelli

"I love what I do (yes, accounting!) because I’m continuously exposed to new challenges."

Steffie is an outgoing and easily approachable member of the Real Ventures team. She works on portfolio evaluation and day-to-day accounting, and also gives input into investment strategy. Steffie loves accounting because she is continuously exposed to new challenges, and the scope of her profession gives her access to numerous fields of expertise. She likes to keep up with industry news, and uses her interpersonal skills to develop strong relationships with the legion of passionate people in the startup community. To maintain balance with her high-minded and number-crunching work, she maintains a physically-active lifestyle.

Operations Manager

Jordan Zipkin

"We live in a time of accelerating change, and the decisions we make today will shape our future; with RV I get to shape the world of tomorrow."

Jordan is an Operations Manager for JS and works closely with his portfolio companies. Passionate about artificial intelligence, quantum computing, longevity robotics, nanotechnology and the blockchain, he is now putting his operations experience in private equity, publishing and health care supplies to work in the tech sector. Jordan graduated from Washington University with majors in Mathematics, Economics, Operations/Supply Chain Management, International Business, Human Resource Management, and Entrepreneurship, and while at university, passed three actuary exams and founded two startups: one in the delivery business and the other in university management software. After operating a health care supplies firm with over 120 employees, he left on a solo backpacking trip around the world for 15 months where he visited over 40 countries.

Operations Manager

Stephanie McGuinty

"Every day is different at Real, which is what makes it so dynamic and fun!"

Steph joined Real Ventures to manage the talent, strategy, and operations in Toronto, and to work closely with Janet and her portfolio companies. With a background in Digital Media and Human Resources strategy, she brings a combination of organizational effectiveness and communications savvy to the company. Steph loves meeting new entrepreneurs/companies and is also focused on developing new relationships within the Canadian tech ecosystem. While completing her Masters in Digital Media at Ryerson University, she launched an MVP as part of a 100-day startup project, and was also part of the DMZ and Zone learning. Steph is a former Team Canada, Team Ontario, and varsity volleyball player, and in addition to her role at Real, she is completing her Personal Training Certification through which she hopes to share her knowledge and passion for health and wellbeing.

Operations Manager

Nicole Lai

"I love being able to support inspiring futurist entrepreneurs on their journey to success!"

Nicole joined the Real team in December 2017 to work closely with Alan MacIntosh and his portfolio companies as Operations Manager. With experience in neuro-oncology and a passion for the intersection of science and technology, she is excited to discover high-tech solutions that will help advance healthcare. Nicole graduated from McGill University with a Masters of Science in Neuroscience, researching the molecular mechanism of invasion in glioblastoma. During her Masters, she also completed a fellowship in McGill's Office of Innovation to help build an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem under the mandate of the Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives Initiative. An avid volleyball player, reader, and maple syrup enthusiast, Nicole loves to try new sports and is always looking for great book recommendations.

Analyst

Laura Easton

"I love to dig into industry data to help people and businesses grow."

Laura's passion for technology bloomed during her undergraduate degree in Information Systems at McGill University. After graduating, she delved into technology market trends and business transformation at Forrester Research and was also able to apply those methodologies to build out quantitative competitive analyses for clients at a creative agency. Having grown up brainstorming products and services at the dinner table and having kept a close eye on the booming AI and startup ecosystem in Montreal, Laura is thrilled to connect with and learn from Montreal’s passionate entrepreneurs. When she’s not analyzing a market or meeting new people, she loves to be outdoors — hiking, biking, rollerblading — and to fly her Citabria.

Fund Analyst

Shudi Niu

"Taking on new challenges and learning from motivated and talented colleagues are just two of the reason why I joined this team."

Shudi joined Real in 2018 as Fund Analyst. His responsibilities include quantitative fund analysis, model development and data visualization. Excited to have the opportunity and flexibility to combine his passion for tech and finance, Shudi looks forward to making a significant impact on the firm by creating financial models and analyzing investment strategy. Prior to joining Real, Shudi worked for the National Bank of Canada as a global derivative analyst where he was responsible for quantitative model development and trading portfolio analysis. Outside the office, Shudi lives a spontaneous lifestyle and enjoys Italian food, BBQ, soccer and contemporary arts.

Director of Legal Affairs

Ziyi Shi

"Simple is always best, but simple isn’t always easy."

As Real’s first Director of Legal Affairs, Ziyi provides legal advice and support on investment transactions, fund formations, portfolio governance and all things legalese. Inspired by her passion for building communities and her desire to enable change, Ziyi was excited to join Real in the spring of 2018. She had previously interacted with the firm during her time at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, where she accompanied a number of companies through financings, restructurings and exits. A graduate of Université de Montréal law school, she also pursued a Master’s degree at Oxford. When not reviewing contracts, Ziyi enjoys sipping on soy lattes, volunteering with artistic non-profits and brushing up on obscure facts for the next pub quiz.

Operations Manager

Kris Lachance

"At Real, we stand at the intersection of people and ideas and get to witness firsthand the innovations transforming our world in a meaningful way."

Kris is an incurable optimist who strongly believes in the potential for technology to improve our lives. A corporate lawyer by training, Kris practiced in the M&A group at Stikeman Elliott before joining Real in 2018 to work closely with Roula Zaarour (COO) on the firm’s operational activities. Prior to this, Kris studied history and political science at McGill University, where he later attended law school. Kris is also a musician and songwriter who has co-written two albums and played in several bands. When not at the office, he’s likely using food as an excuse to connect with people or reading whatever he can get his hands on.

Office Manager

Eloise Flesh

"I love that I get to learn, collaborate and contribute to building a dynamic tech ecosystem in my chosen city."

Eloise joined the Real Ventures team as Office Manager in 2018 after graduating from Concordia University in Geography, Planning, and Environment. With experience working in HR and event planning, Eloise is putting her organizational skills to work at Real — keeping the life of the office running as smoothly as possible. She is most passionate about how technology can be used to find solutions for global issues. A New York native, Eloise is an avid learner of languages of which she speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and is learning Arabic.

Director of Front Row Ventures

Raphael Christian-Roy

"Young, audacious, creative minds are reshaping the future. I partner with hungry overachievers building things that matter — at the earliest and most crucial stage."

Raphael is one of the three co-founders of Front Row Ventures, Canada’s first student-led venture capital fund. He joined the Real team in 2017 to build and grow the FRV fund across Canada. An entrepreneur since childhood, Raph went from owning a car garage to a window-cleaning business to a tech startup — all before he hit twenty. A software engineer and product geek who is passionate about creating outstanding technologies that enhance people's lives, Raph has also been involved in organizing tech-focused events including Startup Weekends, hackathons and other educational programs. Prior to FRV, Raph spent two years working as a Product Manager and developing Volume7, a digital product agency that partners with forward-thinking startups and companies. When he’s not working on building startups or the tech ecosystem, Raph can be found skiing, snowboarding or coding his newest product idea.

Entrepreneur in Residence

Sid Kosaraju

"As an entrepreneur, one often learns more through the failures than the successes. I’m most excited about sharing my experiences to help Real-backed entrepreneurs go further, faster."

Sid Kosaraju joined the Real team as an Entrepreneur in Residence in 2018. Based in New York City, he gives Real access to the US market and the fast-growing New York entrepreneurial ecosystem. Sid focuses on sourcing/diligencing new investment opportunities, assisting Real’s existing portfolio companies and contributing to the firm’s growth strategy. He has extensive experience in technology-enabled transformation, having most recently spent over six years as Managing Director & Global Lead of Accenture’s Health Management Services business. This followed sixteen years of hands-on entrepreneurial experience. In addition to supporting PlanetRx through rapid growth, marquee venture capital financings and an IPO on the NASDAQ market, Sid was a co-founder of 24/7 Customer, a global BPO firm that attained profitability, 3,000 employees, VC financing from Sequoia Capital, and prominent mention in Thomas Friedman’s bestselling book, The World Is Flat. Sid has also advised and invested in growing healthcare technology firms including MedPlexus, Inc., which was acquired by GE Healthcare. When not at work, you can often find Sid spending time with his wife and three children or on the tennis court.