Women-focused StandUp Ventures Fund I launches, backs Tealbook

BDC Capital and MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (MaRS IAF) announced the initial close of StandUp Ventures Fund I, a pre-seed and seed fund that will focus on investing in Canadian women-led technology companies. BDC, which said last November it would help create a fund, committed $5 million to the close. Additional investors will also be sought. The fund will be managed by MaRS IAF and make up to 20 investments sized $250,000 to $1 million over the next three to five years. It has already closed its debut deal, backing Tealbook, a Toronto supplier intelligence platform founded in 2014 by CEO Stephany Lapierre.

Photo: Stephany Lapierre, founder and CEO of Tealbook.


BDC and MaRS IAF announce initial closing of new women-focused fund – First investment made in tealbook, a peer-driven supplier intelligence and discovery platform for enterprise

TORONTO, May 8, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ – The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), a leading seed-stage investor funded by the Province of Ontario and managed by MaRS, are pleased to announce the first closing of StandUp Ventures Fund I. BDC Capital, the investment arm of BDC, has contributed $5 million to the new fund; other investors are being sought.

“I am delighted to see this new fund take flight and I am optimistic that other corporate investors will follow BDC’s lead in this regard,” says Jérôme Nycz, Executive Vice President of BDC Capital. BDC announced that it would create the fund in November 2016. “Women-entrepreneurs can count on BDC to be a trusted partner and financier as they seek the advice and capital required to grow their ventures.”

“Congratulations to the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund and the BDC for making this ground-breaking investment. We know that Canadian women want to own their own businesses, and yet less than 16 percent of Canadian SMEs are majority owned by women. Initiatives such as these will help raise that number and give more women entrepreneurs the support they need to succeed, while also making important investments in innovative businesses that will help create the good, middle-class jobs of tomorrow,” says Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

StandUp Ventures Fund I will be managed by the MaRS IAF and will invest in Canadian pre-seed and seed-stage high growth, capital efficient ventures in Health, IT and Cleantech. Qualifying investments will have at least one female founder in a “C” level role with a significant ownership position commensurate with the seed stage of the company. Approximately 12 to 20 investments will be made over the next three to five years, ranging from $250,000 to $1 million in size.

“Data proves it – more diverse organizations largely outperform homogeneous ones. Our decision to create StandUp Ventures Fund was quickly greeted with strong interest and potential investment deal flow,” states Michelle McBane, Investment Director, MaRS IAF. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with BDC to take advantage of this gap in the marketplace while increasing access to capital for women-led businesses which remain proportionately underfunded.”

The new fund has led its first investment in tealbook, a platform that helps to make enterprise sourcing of suppliers faster and more efficient through peer-driven supplier knowledge and aggregated supplier intelligence that is easy for users. “The reality is that women entrepreneurs still face additional hurdles when seeking venture capital. This investment will allow tealbook to continue developing its AI/machine learning capacity and go-to-market strategy, giving us a crucial competitive advantage as we grow our market share. We’re thrilled to be StandUp Venture Fund’s first investee,” says Stephany Lapierre, Founder and CEO of tealbook.

BDC has taken a comprehensive approach to supporting the needs of women-led firms and now offers a full spectrum of venture and growth capital solutions. It announced in November 2016 its intention to create a new $50 million program offering both venture and growth capital to women-led firms. This program will be led by Michelle Scarborough, who recently joined BDC Capital as Managing Director, Strategic Investments and Women In Tech. This program complements a 2015 BDC commitment to increase its term lending to majority women-owned businesses to at least $700 million over three years.

About BDC
BDC is the only bank dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs. It promotes Canadian entrepreneurship with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses. With its 110+ business centres from coast to coast, BDC provides businesses in all industries with financing and advisory services. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers equity, venture capital and flexible growth and transition capital solutions. To find out more, visit bdc.ca.

About MaRS IAF
The MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) helps build and strengthen Ontario-based businesses in the cleantech, ICT, and life sciences & healthcare sectors. Funded by the Province of Ontario, the IAF program is managed by MaRS and delivered through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs. For more information and to apply, please visit marsiaf.com.

For further information: Shawn Salewski, BDC, mediainfo@bdc.ca, 1-844-625-8321; Danielle Klassen, MaRS, dklassen@marsdd.com, 416-673-8152

Photo courtesy of tealbook