A Conversation with National Bank’s Tuyen Vo
Q: Why did National Bank sponsor SAAS NORTH NOW?
TV: National Bank has been a proud sponsor of SAAS NORTH NOW for the third year in a row. We aspire to have a positive impact on the lives of Canadians and this year we enhanced our sponsorship, re-affirming our support to the tech community. We feel that in the wake of the pandemic, the need is even greater to offer a venue such as SAAS NORTH NOW where fast growing SAAS companies and their founders can learn, network and grow.
Q: What value did attendees receive from this virtual conference?
TV: In these unprecedented times, we need to think outside of the box and adapt. SAAS NORTH NOW was a remote conference that facilitated meaningful connections and tactical strategies for adaptability, innovation and success.
This year we brought to the conference none other than our CEO Louis Vachon who gave a keynote interview on the Post-Pandemic Geoeconomics. In addition, attendees also had the opportunity to network with National Bank’s tech specialists from:
- NBF Investment Banking, including the experts involved in the Shopify and Lightspeed IPOs
- NAventures, our corporate ventures arm who invests in fintechs such as Nest Wealth, Mindbridge, Breathe Life and Dialogue Technologies
- NBC Technology & Innovation Banking, the team responsible for deploying non-dilutive growth financing to the most promising SAAS companies around such as Elastic Path, Martello Technologies and Flinks
Congrats to the organizers for pulling this one off, SAAS NORTH NOW is one of the highest quality virtual conferences I’ve attended to date. The networking platform was a nice surprise and very cool to use.
Q: What services and supports does National Bank’s technology group offer to entrepreneurs and technology startups?
TV: National Bank‘s Technology & Innovation Banking Group is a national team of experts exclusively dedicated to supporting technology companies with non-dilutive growth financing, at every stage of the business lifecycle – whether in the startup, growth or maturity phase. Our team is proud to support best-in-class idea generation and execution in M&A to help clients with our innovative tech lending platform. We have leading distribution for both equity and debt capital markets in Canada.
Having had the privilege of supporting the growth of local companies for over 20 years now, our team has doubled in size within the past two years and we now cover every tech hub of the Canadian innovation landscape.
We pride ourselves on being involved in many universities and their incubators across Canada, mostly in Quebec and Ontario. We support the Creative Destruction Lab located at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and we recently signed with Invest Ottawa to sponsor the next two editions of AccelerateOTT.
In April we concluded our Innovation Competition* launched in partnership with Flinks, the OSMO Foundation and Fintech Cadence which came with a $100k prize.
In line with our entrepreneurial culture centered on agility, National Bank is an early adopter of many startups’ innovations and we are often their biggest client.
*The Innovation Competition was a large-scale challenge that brought together Canadian fintech startups, students and other teams from across Canada. It was an opportunity for National Bank to strengthen its involvement with the country’s startup ecosystem, foster entrepreneurship and innovation while supporting transformational ideas that impact people’s financial habits across the country. Aquantix AI, from Montreal, won the final round.
Q: Are there any key supports or services you would like to mention in light of COVID-19’s impact on the technology sector?
TV: National Bank deployed over $1B in emergency funds to businesses during the pandemic. We are particularly proud to have been rated the best overall financial institution for businesses during the pandemic by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
The launch of the National Bank SME Growth Fund to help economic recovery efforts is also a notable accomplishment. The fund is aimed at businesses with assets of less than $200 million or a net worth of less than $100 million operating in any industry, at any stage in their business cycle, with ticket size ranging from $500k to $15M.
Q: What is your future outlook for the technology sector?
TV: Technology is revolutionizing how businesses operate and the banking sector is no exception. It’s vital for financial institutions to embrace innovation in order to maximize their potential. National Bank plays a leading role in this context of accelerated digital transformation.
We see fintechs as strategic partners and we have been working closely with them to offer our clients innovative solutions that are convenient, simple and efficient. In the wake of the pandemic, we’ve seen plenty of acceleration in this sector along with all sectors touching ESG principles.
Q: Tell us a bit more about National Bank.
TV: National Bank is one of the big six banks with a dominant presence in Québec. We’ve expanded specifically in technology and innovation banking and relative to our size, our tech team is one of the largest.
We invest in companies through our corporate ventures arm and are early adopters of portfolio company services. We emphasize our capabilities to support the technology and business ecosystem from coast to coast.
One of our greatest strengths going into the COVID-19 pandemic was entering it with a sound balance sheet, good healthy capital and good liquidity. These are attributes important to our clients so we can continue financing above and beyond relief measures.
We’re proud to bring Canadian success stories to the market and share within North America and across the globe.