The Kanata Networker recently sat down with Anne No Delaide, managing director of RBCx Banking. No Delaide is active in Kanata’s tech community and calls herself a trailblazer, innovator, and leader of the financial institution’s relationship management team.
We wanted to learn more about RBCx’s role at Hub350 and the tech park at large to better understand how they are helping local companies find and build success.
Q: What is the overarching goal for RBCx?
A: Really our business is to be a good backer of Canadian innovation. That’s the way we see ourselves. The mission is really to help innovative companies scale faster and reach their goals. Our role is to make sure that we can help them navigate through this overwhelming environment of funding.
We support companies across various stages with specialized products and services. Last September we merged with RBC Ventures, and reorganised with RBCx. Now we have four teams. I’m part of the banking team.
We support tech companies, we provide them all the financial solutions, and we make sure that we support them on their financial needs. So you can imagine things like traditional cash management solutions are important. We launched a venture debt project in September 2021 and that was a great success. Since that time, we have been able to better help companies that are VC backed beacuse we have these capital solutions. But also part of our mandate on the banking team is to open doors for these entrepreneurs.
Q: What gap is RBCx filling for entrepreneurs?
A: Coming from Europe, I’m always impressed by the strong entrepreneurial culture in Canada. So we have a prosperous market of innovative ideas to bring to market. And many of these tech entrepreneurs have such bold ideas. But they are first time business owners and there is a lack of experience on their hands to scale.
The other thing is that tech entrepreneurs can run into issues gaining the support and understanding of major banking institutions given the perceived high risk profile of their innovative ventures against a bank’s more traditional lending policies.
There was a gap between the tech entrepreneurs and banks in general. For tech entrepreneurs you have several sources of fundings. If you start your company, you have launch money, you’re a bootstrap company, you have grants and subsidies, you have accelerators, investors, venture capital, as well as the classic business loan. It’s a lot to understand for someone new to business.
And for tech companies it’s not easy to navigate with lending solutions because again, banks are more traditional lenders and they can be a little bit overwhelmed, to be honest, with all these sorts of funding.
Q: Where do you see the biggest opportunities to support growth in Kanata North and in Canada?
A: This is a fantastic area for us. You have something special with this community. And for us, it’s common ground in terms of how we collaborate with investors, clients, even the academia sector.
[Kanata North Tech founder] Bill Teron did something magnetic, he thought about everything. He has built a community not only for tech entrepreneurs, but also big corporations and the academia side.
For us, we have been engaged to moderate panel discussions within this area. We help to create this environment to share knowledge. And we want to create a relationship with businesses.
Q: What’s the biggest piece of advice you could give the tech entrepreneurs as they’re coming to RBCx looking for connections, networking and funding?
A: The first thing I think they need to do is develop their relationship with their financial advisors, financial experts.
We didn’t want to be seen as simply bankers anymore. We are partnered with them. So if they have anything that keeps them up at night, we want to know that. We want to help them and say, ‘Look, okay, this is your challenge and that’s why.’
Q: What are some of the challenges tech entrepreneurs you’re working with are facing?
A: In Canada, you have less capital in general, especially compared to the U.S. – our closest market. And why? It’s less specialized in terms of capital.
What I mean with that is we have capital market teams, but they’re not as deep in Canada compared to the U.S. And we see that at the bank too. I mean, we have our capital market team within the bank. We are very close to them. They are specialized in tech.
In the U.S., the same group has a deeper specialization. Let’s say within tech, they have fintech, they have healthcare tech, manufacturing tech. Also investors tend to be more risk averse. That’s another reality.
That’s why it’s great having RBCx as part of RBC, the bigger institution. We follow regulators. We adapt what we know to the tech environment and ecosystem. It’s the best of the two worlds.
Q: A bit of a personal question, but you hosted a panel at the International Women’s Day Breakfast at Hub 350. You’re active in the community personally. Why is it important for you to be a part of the Kanata North community?
A: I’m a real believer that we need to invest before getting the return of investment. I think you need to give before receiving. That’s always the way I built my relationship with clients or communities.
For me, part of RBCx and RBC really resonates because it’s really aligned with these values. Always giving, and giving not only in terms of business, but also volunteering.
What I’m expecting from my team, to truly be part of the tech hub, is that we do RBCx office hours in this area… So for us it’s larger than helping the tech entrepreneur, it also created lots of team spirit. We volunteer to give our time for different events. We have a social corporate goal, also a corporate mission, and that’s aligned with not only the business but the community.
We are here to help for the long term. This is a long term commitment from us. I would love to see this community continue to grow and attract more talent and growth.
Q: I’m going to ask you to look into a crystal ball. Where do you see the tech community in the next 5 or 10 years?
A: I think we will continue to see great ideas. We just need to make sure that together, the corporation, government, Canada, what you are doing in this area, we continue to support this foundation of having these great ideas coming to life. That’s our job.
And the ecosystem in Canada is strong. So I’m very positive.