Feb. 26, 2020

Helping startups develop with good governance: Ventures paired with seasoned advisers to speed success

Haskayne Executive Education develops first program of its kind in Canada
Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson is one of the faculty delivering the Enhancing Private Equity Governance program. Adrian Shellard, for the Haskayne School of Business

All startups originate with a good idea, but it is good governance that ensures an idea develops into a thriving venture. A new program, Enhancing Private Equity Governance, developed at the Haskayne School of Business provides a platform for entrepreneurs to connect with seasoned leaders to help speed the development of their idea into a sustainable business.

“Entrepreneurs often know their product or technology well, but not necessarily the business landscape,” says Dr. Michael Robinson, PhD, a professor at the Haskayne School of Business and the educational driver of this program (pictured above). “This can open them up to mistakes with legal or intellectual property issues which can be fatal to their business.

Education and coupling these entrepreneurs with experienced leaders can ensure the venture gets off to a good start.

Western Canada has an active innovation ecosystem with Vancouver as a hotbed for startups, venture development gaining in other cities, and Calgary marked as an exciting source for both leadership experience and capital. The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) just recently announced a western regional headquarters to be located in Calgary to help drive the growth in Western Canada.

What is truly unique about the program, the first of its kind in Canada, is that both ventures and directors apply, and if they are a fit they will embark on the education modules, eventually being paired together to develop a governance road map for the venture. Delivered online with some in-person learning, venture leaders will learn about the governance requirements and responsibilities for angel investors and venture capitalists. Senior business leaders will learn about the best practices that are distinct to early-stage companies.

“For directors, this is an opportunity to play a significant role in developing the next generation of technology firms in Western Canada,” says Robinson. “As a seasoned leader, they can bring their expertise and judgment to the table while connecting with CEOs in exciting new startups.”

The program builds on Robinson’s graduate teaching, extensive experience in the venture capital space, and insights gained from the Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies program at the Haskayne School of Business.

“We believe that we are going to make a significant difference in the entrepreneurial ecosystem with this initiative,” says Robinson.

Applications for startups close Feb. 28 and for advisers March 20.