Thursday, October 28

Guy Laliberté invests in a cultural venture capital fund

The incubator for young companies specializing in the entertainment sector Zú Montreal is expected to launch the Zú Capital fund this fall. Among the investors in this venture capital fund for cultural and entertainment technologies is Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil.

Zú Montreal was created almost three years ago, thanks in part to a $ 5 million grant from the Lune Rouge Group, an organization owned by the Montreal billionaire. Its role within Zú Capital will however be limited to that of investor, since it will not affect its management or administration.

The new venture capital fund has already raised half of the $ 40 million it wants to raise to start its activities. If the project is successful, Zú Capital intends to invest in companies from its own incubator located in Maison Alcan, in downtown Montreal. It reserves the right to participate in the financing of other young companies. Its primary goal is to complete Zú Montreal’s service offering by providing the incubator’s entrepreneurs with financial support when the time comes to stand on their own feet.

Guillaume Thérien, the current Managing Director of Zú Montreal, will be one of the main managers of Zú Capital. The fund’s model will essentially be modeled on that of well-known foreign venture capital firms specializing in other niche technology sectors, such as Y Combinator, in Boston, and TechStars, in Colorado.

Venture capital for art technologies

Zú Montreal was founded with the intention of stimulating innovation in artistic creation and entertainment. Without wishing to specialize too much, the incubator has nonetheless targeted certain technologies that it considers more promising for these industries. This includes the development of new type of transactional spaces, the integration of 5G networks, the use of virtual, augmented or mixed reality, and so-called “engagement” tools that facilitate consumer interaction with creators.

The nonprofit offers hosting, access to technology from renowned partners, such as Unreal Engine (from American video game giant Epic Games), Lenovo and Telus, as well as a mentoring program to help creative people to become entrepreneurs. Various management and administration resources are also offered. In short, all that was needed was a financial boost to complete everything, explains Guillaume Thérien in an interview with the To have to.

“This is one of the gaps in the entertainment industry. The funding model has not changed much for several years. We do not find this model of collaborative and participatory venture capital there, ”he says. On the investor side, industries linked to the arts and culture are too often shunned, even if they are among the greatest creators of “content”, the basic ingredient necessary for the emergence of many new technologies.

Just think of Netflix, illustrates Guillaume Thérien. “Netflix, at first, was only interested in distribution channels: DVDs delivered by mail, then videos distributed over the Internet. Netflix has now grown into one of the largest producers of video entertainment on the planet. Netflix’s very business model – an all-you-can-eat offer for a monthly subscription – now exceeds the film and TV industry.

The next Netflix

Globally, the next few years will be rich in technological innovation.

The arrival of the first fifth generation (5G) wireless networks promises to facilitate the deployment of some of these innovations: virtual and augmented reality, especially if it is done live, will require fast and efficient wireless networks. The emergence in recent months of non-fungible tokens, or NFT in English, has made many artists and collectors salivate, since it is an automated authentication protocol that certifies the ownership of assets that have no not necessarily in physical form.

The funding model has not changed much for several years

In short, major opportunities to transform the entertainment industry will not be missing in the short term. And, already, several Montreal companies are involved in this transformation.

The Felix & Paul studios are known internationally for their virtual reality documentaries shot on board the International Space Station. Ova is making a name for itself in the world of augmented reality thanks to its StellarX platform, which makes the creation of virtual environments accessible to as many people as possible. Gallea, who has just been placed in the top 20 start-up to be monitored by the organization Montréal inc., has developed the main online art market in Canada.

In short, Zú Capital believes that the time was right to launch its own specialized fund. “Often, the first followers of new technologies are creators or people from the entertainment world,” says Guillaume Thérien. We hope to be able to create intellectual property and attract foreign investment here. “

The next Netflix may be Montreal …

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