Four years ago, Fraser Hall and Dan Eisenhardt started Vancouver Founder Fund with one goal: to be the funders they wished they had had as founders. They also set out to address the underserved market of quality, early-stage capital available to entrepreneurs in Western Canada. While they have never wavered from their thesis, the name never felt right. Which is why we are very excited to announce our new brand: Rhino Ventures.
A lot has changed since the beginning. Our team has grown to 5 people, we’ve moved offices (now located inside a Zeppelin!), we’re investing out of our second fund (bringing us to ~$50AUM), and we’ve been fortunate enough to partner with 13 amazing companies who are reshaping their industries.
We are the most active institutional Seed investor in Western Canada which has aided us in creating a thriving community amongst our companies. We feel privileged to support them every day through a variety of initiatives including executive meetups, a resource center, and access to exclusive partnerships. We believe having a local investor on your side is a very real, yet intangible advantage, as it allows our companies to learn a lot from us, us from them, and most importantly, each other. Witnessing the trust and support of our companies while working together has been inspiring and motivates us every day to support them every way possible.
The Vancouver Founder Fund name came from Dan and Fraser wanting to pay homage to the city in which they built their previous company, Recon Instruments. It was also important for them to include a reference to being a (now cliche) “founder friendly” fund. However, the name caused some confusion with it being similar to the (relatively well known 😉) Founders Fund. Later when we did our best “KFC” version of rebranding to “VFF”, it caused further confusion as people commonly asked what it stood for and/or continued to refer to us as Vancouver Founder Fund. With some pushing from our existing founders (see video!), we realized it was time for a change.
We wanted our new identity to represent who we are, and more importantly, our companies. After long discussions and many debates, we kept coming back to one existing element of our current brand that always resonated founders — the Rhino.
Our team has had a long history with Rhinos. It was the project code name Intel used when acquiring Recon Instruments and, since the inception of the fund, has been part of our pitch to entrepreneurs as we believe a Rhino is a better representation of the entrepreneurial journey than a Unicorn. We also give a Rhino deal trophy to every company we invest in.
As part of our rebrand, we’ve designed a new logo and refreshed our website to better showcase our founders and their companies, as well as better communicate who we are, how we invest, and how we support our companies.
What hasn’t changed is that we are here to serve the very best entrepreneurs in Western Canada. We invest in early-stage, technology-driven companies with a focus on Seed and Series A financings. Although we are a relatively industry agnostic fund , we know our strengths and therefore, typically avoid categories like pure biotech, pharma, or energy, unless we strongly believe we can add tangible value.
We are actively investing out of our second fund so if you are the founder of an early-stage company in Western Canada, we want to hear from you! Hit us up on our contact page.