David Dufresne to leave Panache Ventures, the VC fund he helped create

One of Montreal’s own is moving on from the venture capital firm he helped create. David Dufresne will depart Panache Ventures after the investor sent an email to portfolio companies, partners, co-investors and friends confirming the change.

The Montreal-based investment fund Panache Ventures is currently in the final year of its first fund, Dufresne explained in his email.

As the fund’s partners discussed a second fund, Dufresne wrote that he found the group “diverging on the topics of strategy, investment decision process, fund operations, and team management for Fund II.” As a result, the partners will pursue “alternative directions.”

“Those of you aware of Panache’s origin story will understand how hard it is for me to move on from the firm I helped conceive and launch.  I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved so far, from fundraising in record time and oversubscribing a first-time fund, to building a mighty team that includes a few of the star venture capitalists of tomorrow,” continued Dufresne.

Panache Ventures arose out of the wreckage of 500 Startups Canada. In 2018, the Canadian wing of Dave McClure’s VC fund was disbanded in the wake of misconduct accusations that McClure faced.

Several partners in the 500 Canada fund immediately distanced themselves from McClure and the 500 brand. Among those were the four who cofounded Panache, including Mike Cegelski in Toronto and Patrick Lor in Calgary. Meanwhile, Nicolas Bouchard and Dufresne handled Montreal.

What’s next for Dufresne?

David Dufresne Panache Ventures

David Dufresne sporting his new glasses.

“For the last few weeks, I have been transitioning to a part-time venture partner role with Panache. I will keep supporting a sub-group of our portfolio companies and help this fantastic group of founders accelerate their growth and create value for all their stakeholders. I am actually quite enjoying working with a smaller and more concentrated portfolio.”

Dufresne told MTLinTECH that most of those sub-group companies are here in Montreal. As well, he’ll look to join a few other firms on part-time roles, which should be announced soon.

He said he’ll take his time to “reconnect with lots of people in the ecosystem before I decide what I do full-time next.”

“In parallel, I have been advising other VCs and startups, doing a few more angel investments, and I will soon start exploring new options for a full-time role. I intend to remain in the early-stage venture capital and startup ecosystem and I’m looking forward to having many conversations about future opportunities in the coming months. I will approach those conversations with an open mind, an open heart, and enthusiastic curiosity.

Prior to cofounding Panache Ventures, Dufresne served as a partner at 500 Startups Canada and as a mentor for the FounderFuel accelerator program, under Real Ventures’ banner. Before that, he spent a year as Head of Growth at Bandcamp after heading up Bandzoogle as its CEO from 2010 to 2015. Dufresne originally started out as a venture capital analyst for Desjardins Capital before working his way up to Investment Manager, a role he kept for six years until 2008.

My biased take

Dufresne has always struck me as the type of kind, positive individual that many entrepreneurs would benefit from. He’s always friendly to chat with in a genuine way. These qualities seem innate with David, rather than learned or put on for show.

I’ll be excited to hear about his next move as I’m sure many will.

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