Orbit MTL fund reveals $9 million in investments since launch

Real Ventures’ Orbit MTL fund has made 61 investments totalling $9 million in venture funding since coming into existence in July 2017. That includes 21 direct investments, with an average investment size of $220,000 across all bets.

According to a new blog post penned by Isaac Souweine, one of two partners at Orbit, those 61 investments were made throughout Orbit’s direct portfolio, two accelerators and its student VC fund.

Orbit’s largest investor is the Quebec Government, while the fund also received cash from institutional investors like CDPQFSTQ, and Desjardins.

Most rounds that Orbit has participated in have been worth $1 million or less. Moreover, the fund made 23 investments through Real Ventures’ FounderFuel accelerator across three cohorts, including Stay22, MIMs, Nectar and Locketgo. Nine investments were made through Front Row Ventures, Real Ventures’ student fund.

Since its investments are locally-focused, many of Orbit’s bets fall into artificial intelligence (AI). Some of those startups include Omnirobotic, Korbit AI, InVivoAI and Keatext.

Souweine detailed some interesting notes about the investing process that can be helpful for folks learning the business. For example:

Orbit prefers to lead or co-lead rounds; so far we’ve played that role about half the time. Leading rounds takes more work — in due diligence, negotiation, and syndicate building. Yet in our view, the payoff is worth it. As lead investor we find we develop stronger relationships with founders while gaining increased influence on terms and round construction. We also believe that leading pushes our investment team to think more independently.

The partner concluded his post by reflecting on three things that Orbit has learned about Montreal. First, that it’s an advantageous time to be a startup in Montreal, mainly due to the strength of universities churning out tech grads and tech-focused programs, and aggressive provincial government subsidies for companies among other perks.

The second point is that the city needs more early-stage funding. Admittedly, this has been a point of contention for some time in Montreal.

Souweine adds “while the supply of startups has never been higher, and while support from many quarters has never been stronger, local capital has been slow to keep pace,” referencing how Quebec investors consider the technology sector as high risk and historically underperforming. Montreal “remains a buyer’s market, with many fundable companies struggling to raise VC rounds locally.”

Third, he concludes that Montreal founders should broaden their fundraising horizons, arguing that US investors are more willing than ever to make early-stage bets north of the border.

In the post, Souweine also emphasized the importance of Real Ventures continuing a heavy focus on “ecosystem-focused investing” or investments targeting local companies that often can be less mature in their growth, “even as our other funds move upstream in the financing chain”.

Orbit’s operation focus remains closely tied to what Real has typically done in the past, providing an accelerator (FounderFuel), high-volume seed investing, and community collaboration.


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