Real Ventures expands team, brings on COO and Director of Communications


Real Ventures announced in a blog post that they are expanding their team and bringing on two completely new roles: a COO and a Director of Communications.

Roula Zaarour is the company’s inaugural COO and Lauren Jane Heller is its first ever director of communications.

“When we first launched, the startup scene in Canada’s major cities was dispersed and fledgling, and funding for early-stage companies was predominantly found south of the border,” writes Real Ventures. “Now, almost ten years into our evolution, we have reached a scale where we can both continue to impact visionary founders, their companies, and the startup ecosystems across Canada, and also improve our operational efficiency and communications, to the benefit of our stakeholders, and (we hope!) the entire Canadian startup community.”

Roula possesses a background in organizational effectiveness and restructuring. She previously worked at the CBC/Radio-Canada as VP People and Culture and led the implementation of the transformation plan at Aerolineas Argentinas.

“[This track record] showed us that she is a strong and effective leader, with an understanding of how to align and motivate people to the benefit of the entire organization. She is a joy to work with, and also believes strongly in our commitment to growing and nurturing tech entrepreneurs and the Canadian tech ecosystem.”

Heller worked as a tech journalist previously, a writer for local startup Transit, and as the community organizer for HackerNest before taking on the new position.

“Most importantly, Lauren already understood how to effectively communicate with our primary audience, and we hope that this role will give her a bigger platform with which to make an impact.”

“It’s motivating to be surrounded by people whose goals are to solve big problems and make a positive impact on the world,” Heller told MTLinTECH. “For me, effective communication is about shifting people’s views about what’s possible. When this opportunity came up, I knew that I could get behind Real’s belief in backing visionary founders and supporting and building strong and vibrant tech ecosystems. I’m really excited to be a part of the firm’s growth and look forward to amplifying the voices of the team and spreading the word about the community-building initiatives and awesome startups that Real supports in the future.”

In addition to the new hires, Real also promoted two current team members to partner: Sam Haffar (from Principal) and Isaac Souweine (from Entrepreneur in Residence).

“Both have proved themselves as passionate and effective mentors and investment professionals, and with the growth of our firm, we felt the timing was right for their titles to reflect their level of commitment and expertise,” continued the blog post.

“The Real Ventures team were some of the very first people I met when I moved to Montreal,” Souweine told MTLinTECH. “They opened their network to me then and I went on to work in two of their portfolio companies, mentor in their accelerator and volunteer for their ecosystem projects. So this relationship has been building for a long time, and as you would expect it’s based on a large amount of mutual respect and a common way of working and seeing the world. I believe in the people at Real and what they stand for and I cannot think of a better place for me to take on this new career challenge.”

Sam arrived in Montreal with Silicon Valley high growth startup experience under his belt. He started out mentoring startups and FounderFuel companies for free, inserting himself into the Montreal ecosystem as a volunteer. Since joining the Real Ventures team as a principal, he has led numerous deals, been active on multiple boards. In his new position, he will be looking at deals across Canada.

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