Chris Robertson, partner and investment director, Telus Ventures, is one of our 50 rising stars in corporate venturing in 2023.
Chris Robertson, partner and investment director at Telus Ventures, started his career in investment banking and was initially apprehensive when the then managing director of the unit recruited him to the Canadian telecom company’s investment arm.
“I had some scepticism around corporate venture and coming to work for a telco selling internet plans and mobile phones. But when they laid out the vision I could see it was a lot more than that. Telus is a remarkably innovative company with a unique vision,” says Robertson. “That’s what sold me four and a half years ago and I have been inspired by it ever since.”
In fact, Telus Ventures has a remit that spans from digital health to agriculture, IoT and enterprise and connected consumer. Robertson, who leads Telus Ventures’ connected consumer investments, has spent much of the past year, for example, working on a thesis around energy management in the home.
This resulted in two startup investments: Sense, a home energy monitor company, and OhmConnect, an energy-sharing platform that incentivises users to reduce their consumption. The team has recently grown to 15 people, including an investment team led by four investment directors who lead on certain subject areas, as well as a team dedicated towards strategic portfolio development and value creation.
There are 56 startups in the portfolio, many of them Horizon 2 investments in markets adjacent to Telus’ current lines of business. But there is also scope for moonshots, especially as, having been around since 2001, Telus Ventures has established a solid track record.
One of the challenges of corporate venture, Robertson says, is learning how to navigate a big, complex organisation like Telus.
“It probably took me a year to get comfortable around who is who and what they do,” he says.
The best part of the job, he says is the sheer variety. “The breadth of what we do and the opportunity to interact with innovative companies and entrepreneurs across industries is what keeps it interesting ,” he says. “Every day brings its own unique challenges and opportunities, and always with a chance to learn something new.”
See the rest of our Top 50 Rising Stars for 2023 here.