OCAD Contracting Cassels for Venture Capital Advice
The Ontario College of Art and Design, or OCAD, recently announced a partnership with Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. Their partnership will be dedicated to the development of a legal clinic for the school’s entrepreneurial hub, Imagination Catalyst, located in Toronto.

In its active role for a venture capital firm called Relay Ventures, the law firm was able to establish a connection with the Executive Director of Imagination Catalyst, Katherine Roos. The incubator Roos helps to manage accepts startup applications from both alumni and entrepreneurs in the creative sector, and she believes it’s essential for her incubator’s startups to understand the legal aspects of their proposed businesses.

“From the moment an entrepreneur registers a business there are potential legal implications and I think it was important for us to find a partner to work with us to support them,” said Roos. “We’re trying to accelerate and ensure the long-term success of businesses so if we can offer a suite of services to help them overcome barriers earlier, they will build successful companies faster.”

Roos went on to explain that many entrepreneurs attempting to secure seed funding tend to overlook certain details when preparing proper legal documentation. In some cases, this can lead to significant “messes” that investors and managers are forced to clean up on the back end. “This makes everyone’s lives easier if they learn how to do it right from the beginning,” said Roos.

Jamie Firsten is a partner at Cassels Brock & Blackwell. His main focus is on early stage financing for emerging tech companies. “We thought this accelerator needed a corporate business law firm because they are strong on the art product side and we thought because we are mid-market and entrepreneurial it was a good fit,” he said.

In partnering with the OCAD Imagination Catalyst incubator, the law firm’s goal is to increase the number of OCAD-related companies that are likely to be funded. “When someone starts a business they are just full-steam ahead on their idea,” Firsten explained.

“They usually don’t spend the time or money to ensure the IP is protected properly. We’re putting on our legal and business hat for them and saying, ‘What is the least cost you can incur to get the necessary protection to keep you rolling to get you to series A financing?’”

Firsten believes that many entrepreneurs are unfortunately unprepared for the legal aspects of conversations surrounding seed funding when venture capital firms inquire. Because of his firm’s location, Firsten believes they can provide unique value to OCAD-affiliated entrepreneurs looking for legal advice.

“What we’ve noticed is to really provide value you have to get in and meet with these founders on a constant basis,” he said. “We’re going to have legal clinic hours so people can come and speak to me or an associate and have a conversation about something that happened with their business that day.”

Cassels Brock & Blackwell isn’t the first law firm to explore how it may aid the growing startup scene in Toronto. Multiple Bay Street firms have been jostling in this space over the last few years, but Firsten hopes that this partnership gives his firm a unique advantage.

“If you want to play in this space you need to jump in at the beginning of the spectrum and meet these people,” Firsten said. “We have a startup package which is a nominal amount of money to get the core essentials to get a business out of the gate. The hope is a couple of them turn into large Canadian businesses doing deals and raising more money.”

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Posted by: DSR
Monday, January 2, 2017
Tag: Legal
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