StandUp Ventures’ debut fund raises fresh capital, ups target to $25 mln

StandUp Ventures, part of a small but fast-growing group of Canadian women-focused venture firms, held the second close of its inaugural fund, raising $18 million.

StandUp Ventures Fund I secured additional commitments from CIBC, Export Development Canada, Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund II, RBC and Vancity, a news release said.

The new limited partners joined BDC Capital, which helped anchor the fund’s launch in 2017.

With the second close, Fund I surpassed its original goal of $15 million. The Toronto firm is now targeting a final close of $25 million.

StandUp Ventures invests in pre-seed and seed financings of women-run cleantech, IT and life-sciences companies located across Canada.

To qualify, startups must have at least one female founder in the C-suite. The role must include a significant ownership stake commensurate with the company’s development stage.

“Research has shown that investor bias accounts for a third of the gender disparity in high-growth startups, and venture capitalists invest in what they know,” Managing Director Michelle McBane said.

By focusing on female entrepreneurs, StandUp Ventures is “helping to change the narrative and grow the talent pipeline of women in the technology sector,” she said.

Fund I has so far made seven investments. They include Bridgit, a Kitchener construction-software provider founded by Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake, which closed a $6.2 million round in March.

In the same month, Emovi, a Montréal developer of joint-assessment solutions led by Michelle Laflamme, landed a $15 million Series C round also backed by the fund.

Fund I also joined February’s $3 million financing of Sampler, a Toronto digital product sampling platform founded by Marie Chevrier.

The fresh commitments will be deployed to about 12 to 20 investments over the next three to five years.

StandUp Ventures is overseen by MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, an affiliate of Toronto innovation hub MaRS Discovery District.

Along with McBane, the firm’s team includes Managing Director Barry Gekiere and Investment Manager Snita Balsara.