Thin Air Labs’ Funding Catalyst Team Secures $2M+ in Non-Dilutive Funding for Alberta Ventures

By our Head of Story, Leah Sarich (August 2021)


Venture growth in Calgary is well on its way thanks to some extraordinary help from our Funding Catalyst team. The FC team works directly with founders to set their venture up for success by accessing non-dilutive capital that will allow them to grow and scale.


Our Funding Catalysts support these entrepreneurs so they can be a part of this new narrative for Alberta that we’re writing with our partners in the innovation community.


In the 4 months since launching this service to Alberta based ventures, we’ve helped secure over 2 million dollars in non-dilutive capital for young companies in our province to de-risk their ventures and accelerate their development and growth trajectory.


This amount of funding is a remarkable achievement for our small, three person team. We just launched this service 4 months ago, and we’ve already had a huge impact on 16 ventures across Alberta.


Non-dilutive capital is a key resource for all early stage startups and creates significant benefits for founders, their ventures, and investors by accelerating growth without diluting the cap table. But, "the process to get this funding is extremely time consuming and burdensome for small teams who simply don’t have the capacity to chase these opportunities, that's why we designed this service, so founders can stay focused on building their business while we access the funding to help them execute, " explains Funding Catalyst, Ben Hilborn.


"Unlocking this funding is extremely time consuming and burdensome for small teams who simply don’t have the capacity to chase these opportunities. That's why we designed this service, so founders can stay focused on building their business, while we access the funding to help them execute." ----Ben Hilborn, Funding Catalyst

And as the ventures have grown with our help, our Funding Catalyst team has matured as well. “We’ve leveraged the individual skill sets on the team to make the process more efficient and impactful for the ventures that we worked with,” says Funding Catalyst Dr. Katie Greene, “and for us too. We quickly put processes in place to make it an efficient process for us. It’s allowed us to submit more applications and support more ventures.”


For example, our Funding Catalyst team has been instrumental in helping Arbor, a platform that makes shopping sustainably as easy as possible, increase their team capacity, extend their runway, and increase their growth trajectory by subsidizing the majority of their staff through various funding programs. We are now looking at project based grant funding to support their product roadmap and go-to-market strategy.


“We asked them to give us a list of every person on their team and we hunted down funding programs for as many as possible,” explains Ben. “We very quickly found 7 or 8 funding programs that were able to fund their employees across interns and new hires. I would say at one point we had 50 percent of Arbor’s team being subsidized with wage subsidies.”


And that’s a huge relief for Arbor. They are far less stressed about their burn, and their ongoing spend on talent. The money saved can then be used to fund their rapidly growing business.


The Funding Catalyst team also worked with True Angle, a health venture that has developed a device to empower patients with swallowing disorders. They helped them secure a much-needed team member.


“We helped True Angle obtain a grant that covers 75% of the first year of a salary for a commercialization associate,” says Katie. “This is huge for True Angle. They’re ready to expand their market and get their device into the hands of more patients. With this grant they have been able to add a talented Head of Sales to their team with a strong track record in medical device sales.”


And, our Funding Catalyst team helped Athennian, a legal entity management platform, secure a significant amount of capital from a federal funding program to help fuel their growth after raising their Series A + round. This funding will be used to execute key business objectives, extend their runway, and increase their valuation before their next fundraise.


“We do not have a one size fits all approach, we adapt to every venture and their unique needs.” --- Dr. Katie Greene, Funding Catalyst

These are just a few examples of the work the FC team has done since March. They also have grants submitted that are chasing research development dollars, funds to scale teams, access new markets, obtain regulatory approvals, patent applications and accelerate the development of Alberta ventures.


But the team always says they do more than just grant writing. They’re more like venture design strategists.


“We dig deep into the venture to discover their biggest needs and work with founders to develop solutions,” explains Katie. “We do not have a one size fits all approach, we adapt to every venture and their unique needs.”


“We’re not afraid to pause, listen and ask questions before doing,” adds Ben. “It lets us gain a deeper and clearer understanding of the venture’s business, much more than what’s in the pitch deck. It allows us to empathize with the founder, understand their struggles and determine what kind of funding a venture is ready for…. And sometimes we identify it’s not the right time to apply for NDF. A venture may need to get some foundational pieces of their narrative sorted first, so we help them do this.”


And it’s this kind of foundational work that will benefit the venture as they look to raise even more capital.


Ben says that’s why we created the Investment Readiness engagement. “It helps founders get their documents in order, clarify their pitch, and clarify where they want to go and the path to get there.” Katie adds, “By going through this process, we’re not only increasing their chances of getting non-dilutive funding, but this work will improve their ability to fundraise in the future.”


And that means these ventures can create even more meaningful impact in the world.

And that’s what we’re here for. To ignite venture growth for greater human impact.

To #BuildWhatsNext for Alberta and beyond.


If you’re a founder, venture builder, or investor looking for support accessing non-dilutive capital, reach out to our team here.