Fintech Investor Interview: Christian Lassonde, Founder & Managing Partner, Impression Ventures

Impression Ventures | Christian Lassonde | July 16, 2019

Impression Ventures - Fintech Investor Interview:  Christian Lassonde, Founder & Managing Partner, Impression VenturesIntro:  NCFA Fintech Confidential spoke with some of Canada’s experienced fintech investors, on their background, how Canada has evolved, what we should be doing, advice to fintech founders and what keeps them awake at night.  This is part 3 of a 4 part series.

 

What is your background, and how did you come to found Impression Ventures?

I'm graduated from Western in the mid-90s with two degrees. Comp-Eng and Comp-Sci. I immediately started my own business, excited by the endless possibilities the internet could bring to gaming. I had no idea what I was doing - needless to say, that company didn't work out. But the lessons I learned being a first-time entrepreneur have stayed with me to this day. From there I moved to the Valley, worked for some all-star companies; Electronic Arts, LucasArts, Linden Lab, got an MBA and founded two more businesses, Millions of Us & Virtual Greats. After a decade in the San Francisco area, I moved back to Toronto. After a fourth startup (didn't work out) - I got very interested in the intersection of finance and technology, two businesses sectors Canadian's excel at, but there was essentially no capital going into early stage fintech. Thus, Impression Ventures was born, my fifth startup.

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How have you seen the Canadian fintech ecosystem change in the past 5 years? How has the Canadian fintech ecosystem evolved?

The fintech sector largely started with a bang in 2014 and has been on a tear ever since. While the numbers of startups we are seeing on a yearly basis has been mostly steady, we are seeing both the quality go up dramatically as well as the breadth of locations. A few years ago, it was the GTA only - now we are seeing fintech companies all over Canada disrupting all sectors of fintech.

 

How can we strengthen and grow the Canadian fintech ecosystem?

Number 1, without a doubt, prioritize and fast track open banking through government and the regulatory machine. The UK is enjoying a multi-year head start on a live open banking implementation but it's not too late to catch up. We absolutely need to get this launched before the US does. Second, we need to think of fintech beyond just commercial banking. There are so many other opportunities in interbank technology, capital markets and insurance to name a few. Again - if we lead by example in these areas, we could easily become a massive technology exporter globally.

What advise would you give to Canadian fintechs competing globally?

Go for it! Actually, I really don't see this as a problem. In 2014 the majority of fintech we saw were Canada only focused. That narrative has completely flipped - very few startups today are focused on the Canadian market solely.

 

What keeps you awake at night?

Exits. The one downside of fintech investing is that the natural acquirers for fintechs are banks and insurance companies - but they are for the most part risk-averse corporations. I suspect the acquisitions will be when the companies are late stage. They will pay a premium vs buying the startups early, but it may mean long holdings period. What allows me to get to sleep is we don't worry too much about this; we focus on building great businesses that can weather the test of time.

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Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Impression is focused on early-stage fintechs investing solely.  We lead deals writing cheques of 1 to 2 million into 2-6 million dollar rounds. We get involved given our entrepreneurial backgrounds, so expect us to be very hands on.  If that sounds like something that excites you reach out to us!

 

Christian Lassonde shot - Fintech Investor Interview:  Christian Lassonde, Founder & Managing Partner, Impression VenturesChristian Lassonde, Founder & Managing Partner, Impression Ventures

Lassonde is a tech founder and CEO, having built and sold Virtual Greats, a luxury online IP rights broker, and Millions of Us, a digital agency. He has also taught high-growth technology entrepreneurship at The Next 36 to over 30 companies. Those companies have gone on to build successful products and raise millions of dollars in follow-on financing.

 

More Canadian Fintech Investor Interviews in this 4 part series:


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Investor Interview:  Christian Lassonde, Founder & Managing Partner, Impression Ventures The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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