Member Profile – Dale Lemke

SCN has an outstanding Board of Directors and we would like to introduce one of them to you.

President of Display Systems International Inc. (DSI) and Co-founder of ClientLinkt Solutions Ltd., Dale is North Dakota born, but Saskatchewan proud and has been a significant contributor to the entrepreneurial community.  In recognition of this commitment, Dale received the Science, Technology, Innovation and Collaboration (STIC) Ambassador Award from SREDA.  Dale is also an SCN founding member and has been a key player in many other boards and organizations supporting entrepreneurship.  With DSI beginning its 34th year of business, Dale shares his thoughts on being an Angel investor and his strong belief in giving direct investment into tech sector businesses.

Why are you an Angel investor?
I believe in giving back and helping others.  I also have a lot to offer, besides my investment dollars.  I’ve gone through many business ideas, some good, some worked, some didn’t. I have a lot I can share with new companies. I have learned how to write a business plan, how to raise money, where to go for specific help.  The needs don’t change, just the nature of the company I’m helping.

How do you find new investment opportunities?
Investment opportunities come from SCN and from NACO (I was on the board of National Angel Capital Organization) as well as other provincial angel groups.  Local service providers are also a source. And sometimes, because I invest and mentor companies, word gets out and they find me.

How has SCN been of value to you as an Angel investor?
The great thing about SCN is their in-take process.  Long before I see a company pitch, they have been given guidance and support through the application process, the IRAP CPIR program and the SCN rehearsal committee.  Because they better understand what investors are looking for, they are better prepared to pitch to investors, which means we are presented with more realistic opportunities.

What do you look for in a deal? Do you have a sector you prefer to invest in?
I invest in the tech sector and I look for three things:

  1. People, people, people – without the right people you won’t get the business right
  2. The idea – if the people are right, then I dig into the business idea
  3. Is the business scale-able? – I look for a 10 – 20 X return

You are a strong entrepreneurial community supporter, and understand the ecosystem better than many of us…give us your impression of the best and not so best part of SK Angel investing?
The Best – I get to invest locally and be close to my investments.  And in doing that, support local job creation.
The Not so Best – It is hard to raise money here and so a company may not get fully funded which means they either fail or leave the province to find the money.
Something else I am noticing is that investment is tightening in Saskatchewan.  Investors are saying no to new deals until they exit some of their current investments.  And they need to see some returns.

What investment magazines, books, and blogs do you like to follow?  What are you reading right now?
There are lots of books that I have read – Good to Great is one of the best.  And there are a couple I’m hoping to read, but I’m all about networking and that is where I learn things.  But if you are looking for a couple of books to add to the list, Early Exits by Basil Peters; and Whale Hunting – How to land big sales and transform your company by Barbara Weaver Smith and Tom Searcy.

Have you any News Years Investing resolutions?
I too am becoming a more cautious investor and I will be looking for ways to get my money out of companies that are lifestyle business, while maintaining my equity position, either through a dividend or royalty or shareholders loan agreement.