Manny Padda is a self-made entrepreneur, angel investor, and philanthropist. At age 26, Manny built his first multi-million-dollar company. Today, he is the founder and Managing Partner of New Avenue Capital, an early-stage investment firm focused on four fundamental pillars: investment, lending, recruitment and philanthropy. Recipient of Startup Canada’s 2017 National Entrepreneur Promotion Award, Manny was also named BC Tech Person of the Year 2017 Finalist and NACO’S Canadian Angel Investor of the Year 2016. He holds an MBA from Queen’s University, and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Private Equity & Venture Capital program.
A self-made entrepreneur who built his first multi-million-dollar company at age 26, Manny Padda is now founder and managing director of New Avenue Capital. He sits on a number of advisory boards in the education and not-for-profit sectors, and is an active advisor and angel investor in Vancouver's tech community, as well as globally. Manny is dedicated to providing education and mentorship to today’s youth, and has set a personal mission to educate 1 million people worldwide.
Q: What is your technology investment thesis and how does PV fit in?
A: Plaza Ventures is one of the first cheques I’ve written as an LP. I like the business model, and the idea of investing in strategic growth-stage companies. I’m also impressed by the team. As an angel investor, PV offers a differentiated product as my work tends to focus on earlier stage and public companies.
For me, investing with PV has been about the people and the product. That’s why I came in.
Q: You are a self-made entrepreneur. How did you get your start?
A: I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Even when I was younger, I was involved with start-up companies.
My career began in executive search. After several years at Korn Ferry International, I decided to branch off to build my own search firm, PM Search Partners. After several years of disciplined growth and hustle, I exited my first company and leveraged the network I had built to begin angel investing.
Today, as Managing Partner of New Avenue Capital, I am concentrated on angel investing and helping to recruit for the companies that I invest in.
Q: You have personally completed several graduate degrees and have made your commitment to education known through your mission to education “one million kids before you turn 40”. Often, entrepreneurs forgo education in favour of building their company or resume. What has your education afforded you, and what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who feel torn between these two paths?
A: I believe that just like health care, everyone has the right to a basic education. I think that education is an extremely important tool that has the ability to pull people out of poverty.
The value of education was instilled in me very early on. Education played an instrumental role in my parent’s life, and by virtue of their experience its importance was constantly reinforced. My education has helped me to build credibility within my practice and recruitment raising. Credibility was a huge hurdle for me to overcome because of how young I was when I started in executive search. The people that I worked with were often twice my age, and I was 27 years old asking for $200,000 for a search.
For entrepreneurs trying to navigate the ‘right path’, I think it is important to assess what you’re trying to build out and how you plan to build it. It’s very individualistic. I know entrepreneurs who have gone to school while building their business on the side and that worked well for them, and others who chose not to go to university and started executing on their vision sooner. I think it all depends on the individuals tolerance for risk and ambiguity. Some entrepreneurs are more risky by nature, while others prefer to follow the less risky route of attending schooling and building a business, while gaining credentials on their resume.
“My advice to entrepreneurs looking for mentorship is to use people’s time efficiently and have a secure understanding of what you want from the person.”
– Manny Padda
Q: You are the co-founder of GradusOne. Can you share a little bit about the company and the motivation behind founding it? What role has mentorship played in your career, both as a mentee and a mentor?
A: GradusOne was a brainchild of myself that I built to enrich my commitment to educating as many kids as possible. I wanted to help with that awkward step between high school and university where students are trying to figure out what they want to do in their career. So, I recruited my former mentor from SSU and my co-founder to help build out our organization. The organization helps students trying to figure out what they want to do in their careers through workshops, events, online tools and resources. We recently merged with the League of Innovators (LOI), a new philanthropic venture launched by Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes to support the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs. I have known Ryan for years and his goal and mission is similar to mine, so we decided to combine forces to amplify our impact.
Over the years, I’ve mentored a number of people formally and informally. Today, I act as a mentor to many of the early stage entrepreneurs that I invest in.
I’ve never had a formal mentor per se, but I’ve had so many people who have helped to guide and shape my life. First and foremost, my parents, business colleagues, associates, and people that I look up to in the industry. These people provide a sort of ‘cheat code’, imparting wisdom on important lessons that you might otherwise have to learn the hard way.
Learn more about GradusOne
Q: With respect to process and selection, what advice can you offer to entrepreneurs currently seeking mentorship? On the flip side, what attributes do you feel are most important to mentors looking to offer up their time, connections and resources?
A: You captured it in your question. What mentors need to offer is their time and experience. I think mentors often take for granted the knowledge that they have to share. They may feel that they are not senior enough or accomplished enough, but sometimes it’s just an individual who has been through life that can provide the most help to a mentee. So, the giving of one’s time and experience is extremely valuable.
My advice to entrepreneurs looking for mentorship is to use people’s time efficiently and have a secure understanding of what you want from the person. You need to have a solid understanding of how the person can help you. Having said that, don’t treat mentorship relationships as transactional. The mentor will likely get something out of the relationship as well. It can be very mutually beneficial.
Q: What has been your most challenging professional experience to date?
A: The age bias that I experienced early on in my career was huge. I worked extremely hard to build up my credibility in order to combat the fact that I was much younger than many of my peers.
Q: What has been the best piece of career advice that you have received and how have you implemented that advice into practice?
A: I have so many pieces of advice but one that has really resonated is to follow your passion. People always ask me when I plan to retire or stop working, and my response is always the same. I really love what I do, so why would I stop doing it? It takes time to build your career, but I am now at a place where my job doesn’t feel like work.
The beautiful thing about the millennial generation is that many entrepreneurs are looking to build out social impact businesses for the good. I think now is a better time than ever to grow a business around your passion.