We invest, develop
Today’s great idea can be tomorrow’s transformative financial technology.
With the right support.
That’s why Portag3 Ventures is passionate about finding the big thinkers — the ambitious, creative entrepreneurs who will reshape the financial services industry to benefit all consumers.
We make early-stage investments in promising financial tech companies that have potential for global impact. Our long-term engagement offers a unique environment to grow, with robust support, and insight from our partners.
We know innovation can improve wellbeing. So we're on a mission to ensure it happens.
News & Press 04
Diagram is a launchpad for the most exciting ventures in insurance, financial services, and healthcare. By making much deeper commitments of resources and energy, focused on a smaller number of companies, Diagram gives brilliant Canadian ideas a platform to become global players.
Toronto-based Wealthsimple is Canada’s largest and fastest growing online investment manager providing diversified portfolios of low-fee funds in minutes. The Company attracted 10,000+ customers and $400mm+ in assets within 14 months of launching.
Alan is reshaping health insurance in France towards better user experience and simplicity. Alan is the first new French insurer for 30 years.
Borrowell is a Canadian fintech lender that offers fast, fair, and friendly personal loans, and gives Equifax credit scores for free. Its affordable, fixed-interest loans give Canadians a smarter way to access credit. A wholly online application instantly provides personalized loan quotes to Canadians with good credit who want better alternatives to expensive credit card debt.
Borrowell has partnered with Equifax to be the first in Canada to offer credit scores for free - without applying for credit. Tens of thousands of Canadians have learned their credit score through Borrowell.
Clearbanc launched in 2015 to provide alternative financial products to the 50 million self-employed Americans earning all or part of their income from freelancing and independent contract work. With the rise of on-demand services, this number is expected to increase to 50% of the working population by 2020. Banks have historically underserved this population and are not structurally set up to adapt to this significant shift.
Collage is beautiful, automated HR and benefits management for Canadian businesses. Launched in 2016, Collage helps hundreds of businesses take care of thousands of employees across the country.
Dialogue is a cutting-edge health and wellness platform that offers on-demand access to healthcare professionals for employers to keep their employees happy, healthy, and performing at their highest potential.
Drop is a financial technology company focused on bringing value to millennials. Drop is designed to fit into any lifestyle — anyone can earn rewards, even if they don’t use a credit card. Together, we are helping our members get rewarded everyday. Without adding debt, or charges.
Vancouver-based Koho is an alternative to a bank that offers millennials a no-fee, modern, mobile way to manage their financial lives.
Toronto-based LEAGUE delivers a digital alternative to traditional health benefit models. LEAGUE enables employers to provide their employees with health spending accounts, wellness accounts and group insurance plans, all delivered through a digital-first platform.
Loot is a smartphone based banking service that makes it quicker, simpler and easier than ever before to save and make the most of your money. Your spending data is also used to design and offer you unique and highly relevant special deals and discounts for you to consider. So it helps the millennials to manage all their finances in a comfortable way.
Street Contxt is a global knowledge exchange for institutional finance, established based on the shared experience of the founders in respect to the current inefficiencies in the flow of knowledge in the capital market system.
Zensurance is transforming the way startups and small businesses manage all their commercial insurance needs. The company offers curated insurance packages specifically built for each industry and provides a digital experience to purchase and manage policies rapidly. The company is also building an insurance-as-a-service platform to deliver proactive risk advice to customers.
Information Venture Partners×
Toronto-based Information Venture Partners, formerly known as RBC Venture Partners, is an entrepreneur friendly, early stage, venture fund focused on building disruptive enterprise software and financial technology and information ventures.
New York-based Nyca Partners is a venture capital and advisory firm exclusively focused on earlier stage companies in the financial technology space covering payments, alternative credit and risk & infrastructure.
Paul Desmarais III×
Mr. Desmarais was appointed Senior Vice-President of Power Financial and Power Corporation in January 2017. Before joining Power as Vice-President in May 2014, he was Assistant Vice-President in the Risk Management Group of Great-West Lifeco beginning in 2012. Previously, he worked in project management and corporate strategy at Imerys in France. He began his career in 2004, working for five years with Goldman Sachs in the United States, in the Investment Banking and Investment Strategy Groups, as well as in the Special Situations Group.
In May 2014, Mr. Desmarais was named a director of Great-West Life, Investors Group, Mackenzie, Pargesa and Groupe Bruxelles Lambert. He is also Chairman of Sagard Capital and Wealthsimple, and Vice-Chairman of Imerys. In December 2016, Mr. Desmarais was named a director of Personal Capital.
In 2000, he was awarded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (Gold Level). Mr. Desmarais is the Founder and Honorary Chairman of Young Canadians in Finance, which provides young professionals working in the private and public financial sectors an exclusive network that enables them to assume leading roles in this field. He served as Co-Chair of the True Patriot Love 2014 Arctic Expedition to the Magnetic North Pole. He also sits on the Board of Directors of The Next 36, an organization that fast tracks the development of Canada’s most talented young innovators, turning them into the country’s outstanding future business leaders and innovators. Mr. Desmarais is also a Chair of the Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop campaign.
Mr. Desmarais is the recipient of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Harvard College (graduating cum laude) and he holds a Masters in Business Administration from INSEAD in France.
Adam joined Portag3 Ventures as President and Managing Partner. He is the Founder and former CEO of Horizons Exchange Traded Funds, a director and founding investor of BetaShares Exchange Traded Funds in Australia and also led the launch of an ETF platform in Colombia.
Previously, Adam worked in JPMorgan Derivative's group in New York, where he co-led the coverage for many top tier corporate clients amongst the oil & gas and power & utility sectors. Adam began his career in investment banking at JPMorgan Canada and CIBC World Markets respectively.
Adam was a two term member of the Ontario Securities Commission - Investment Funds Product Advisory Committee. He also supports numerous charities and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Immigration Access Fund.
Adam is the recipient of a B.Eng. in Civil Engineering and a B.A. in Political Science from McMaster University.
Samuel is a Managing Partner and the COO of Portag3 Ventures and also serves as President of Sagard Capital and Vice-President of Power Corporation. Samuel joined Sagard and Power in 2016 after an 18 year career at Goldman Sachs, during which he lived and worked in the United States, Asia, Australia and Europe.
He served in a variety of positions at Goldman Sachs, including CAO and Head of strategy for the global Investment Banking Division, COO of the firm’s emerging markets businesses, Asia Regional Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff to the firm’s President. Earlier, he trained as a financial institutions investment banker, worked in venture capital and was involved for many years in corporate strategy and investor relations at Goldman Sachs.
Samuel was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. He also holds a M.A. in English and a M. Phil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. He serves on the Development Board of Christ Church and on the U.S. Board of the Cambodian Childrens’ Fund.
Stephanie is a Partner and Managing Director at Portag3 Ventures. Prior to joining Portag3, she helped the world’s leading banks and insurance companies build and launch innovative fintech products from the ground-up, as a Fintech Lead at BCG Digital Ventures. Stephanie was also a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, focused on technology and digital strategies in the retail banking, wealth management and asset management spaces. Prior to that, she led operations for an early stage payments startup.
Stephanie is a graduate of Queen’s University (B.Comm) and the University of Toronto Schools.
Ron Close is a Managing Partner and Leadership & Strategy Coach at Portag3 Ventures. Concurrently he is also a director or trustee of Maple Leaf Food Inc., Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company and MaRS Discovery District. He has previously served as CEO of Pelmorex Media Inc. (The Weather Network) and as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at The Ivey School of Business.
Ron’s other previous executive positions span from start-ups (CEO/co-founder of NetCom Canada, Inc.) to large corporations (President of BCE’s Bell New Ventures unit). His previous directorships include Pelmorex, The Globe and Mail, Canada Media Fund, CTVglobemedia and MaRS Innovation.
Ron’s non-profit activities include past chairmanship of the Toronto chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and current membership in the World Presidents Organization (WPO).
Francois Lafortune is a Managing Partner at Portag3 Ventures and the Founder and CEO of Diagram Foundry. Prior to his current role, François spent eight years at McKinsey & Company, where he co-led the Canadian Business Technology practice. François also worked at Tandem Expansion, a growth equity fund focused on Canadian technology companies.
François launched his first business at the age of 13, assembling and selling white boxes personal computers. In 1999, he was the youngest entrepreneur to join Qualité Étudiants, a home services franchise system. In 2002, François co-founded Vitres.net, which has since grown to become the largest student franchise system in Quebec. He is now the Chairman of the Board of Residencia, the parent company, which owns six home services brands and serves more than 20,000 clients annually.
François is the recipient of a B.Eng. degree from McGill University (Honours Program, graduating with Great Distinction), and holds a MBA from Stanford’s GSB.
Prior to joining Portag3 Ventures, Alex worked at J.P. Morgan in New York and Toronto and at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. His responsibilities as an investment banking analyst at J.P. Morgan in New York included providing analytical support on leveraged buyouts, structured equity and debt investment opportunities as well as other financial advisory services across a broad range of industries including: chemicals, energy, healthcare, technology and transportation.
Alex is the recipient of a B.Comm. from McGill University (graduating on the Dean’s Honour List).
He is an enthusiastic volunteer, who’s partnered with organizations, such as United Way of Canada, Habitat for Humanity and Keen Sports and Arts & Crafts with Children with Disabilities.
Mylène joined Portag3 Ventures as Controller with more than 9 years of experience in auditing and fund administration. She most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer of an investment manager focused on bulk electricity (power and commodity) trading. Mylène’s previous work experience also includes working as a Senior Fund Accountant at UBS Fund Services.
Mylène is a chartered professional accountant (CPA, CA) with a specialized graduate diploma and received her B.B.A. from HEC Montreal.
Karel Vuong is the Head of Community at Portag3 Ventures, in addition to serving as the Director, People & Community at Diagram where he leads community relations, public relations, and partnerships for Diagram and its portfolio companies. Karel is a recognized community builder in Canada and a top writer for 'diversity' on Medium. As the Founder of Immigrating North and Spaces, he has created platforms to tell stories and showcase the Canadian advantage of diversity, inclusion, and innovation. Karel sits on the advisory boards for the StartUP HERE Toronto with the City of Toronto, Venture for Canada, and Singularity University's Canada Global Impact Challenge.
Nick is the founder of Nutmeg, Europe's leading online investment management service and led the company from an idea through development and $100M of funding. Nick is a digital ambassador for the UK Department of International Trade, a member of the European Power 50 and recipient of Spears Entrepreneur of the year award.
He previously worked at Barclays in areas of product, trading and wealth management and was a Divisional Director at Brewin Dolphin PLC. Nick is a non-executive Director of Innovate Finance, the association representing the UK’s global FinTech community and an advisor to and investor in a number of technology-led startups.
Nick obtained an Undergraduate degree from Exeter University in the UK and holds an MBA from Stanford University. He is a Fellow of the Securities Institute and a member of the Global Entrepreneur Program. Nick is a volunteer teacher at a number of UK universities in the subjects of behaviour finance and entrepreneurship.
Vlad Novakovski is a Managing Partner and the Head of Engineering Talent at Portag3 Ventures, in addition to serving as the CTO of Euclid Analytics, a leader in global analytics based in San Francisco. Vlad has over 12 years of experience in quantitative research and engineering management. Prior to joining Euclid Analytics, Vlad served as the Vice-President of Engineering at Addepar. Prior to that, he led the machine learning team at Quora, and headed up high frequency trading at Graham Capital.
Vlad is the recipient of a B.A. with Honors from Harvard University where he also began PhD work in economics as a Presidential Scholar before leaving academia. He has been passionate about science and technology from a young age, winning silver medals in both the International Physics Olympiad and the International Olympiad in Informatics.
Zaheer runs an independent consulting practice focused on helping entrepreneurs and investors to build innovative, growth-oriented and transformative businesses, typically in complex environments that are undergoing significant change. His advisory work is focused primarily in financial services, healthcare and education.
Previously, Zaheer spent over seven years in senior leadership roles at Scotiabank, primarily in wealth management, where he led one of the organization's largest strategic technology programs to enhance the advisory business model. Prior to this, Zaheer was an Associate Partner at Monitor Group where he spent eight years leading client advisory engagements for large, global 500 corporations. Zaheer graduated with a B.Sc.Hons, Engineering Chemistry from Queen's University.