Announcing StandUp Ventures Fund II
StandUp Ventures, a seed-stage investment firm that champions breakthrough companies led by women, is absolutely thrilled to announce the initial close of its second fund, StandUp Ventures Fund II.
After receiving an exceptional level of interest, the StandUp team exceeded the initial $30 million target and our new goal is $35 million.
The importance of relationships in the venture business cannot be overstated — and StandUp is fortunate to have built many strong partnerships and connections that have laid the groundwork for its achievements so far, as well as for an exciting future.
On that note, the list of people who have contributed to StandUp’s success is lengthy, and includes our returning Limited Partners. The support of BDC Capital (BDC), CIBC, Export Development Canada (EDC), Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund II (NVCF II), Teralys Capital, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and Vancity has allowed StandUp to set the foundation for a new fund franchise. The renewed partnership in Fund II continues the commitment to the championing of curious, confident, and courageous women entrepreneurs building ground-breaking technology companies.
We would also like to recognize the countless advisors, mentors, and supporters who have also been on this journey with us, as well as our incredible portfolio of founders. To all — thank you for believing in our investment thesis, sharing our values and vision, and investing your time and energy in our community. StandUp has been, and continues to be, a story of collective effort that is creating collective success.
With the new, larger Fund II, we renew our commitment to our founding investment thesis: investing in dynamic, driven women at the seed stage produces outsized returns. And further, that it produces an incalculable positive impact on the innovation economy by encouraging more high-potential founders of all stripes to create great companies.
Standup Ventures Fund I has proven the thesis: focusing on women-led ventures is a competitive advantage. The calibre of companies founded by Canadian women has never been stronger and consistently represents incredible investment opportunities (that are often overlooked by others).
We are seeing our thesis play out through some of our earlier investments — with Tealbook raising an $18.2M Series A, Bridgit receiving a $9.4M strategic investment led by Autodesk, Emovi raising a $15M Series C, and Nudge raising a $12M Series B. There are also several large growth rounds currently in the pipeline, to be announced shortly.
We have also made a number of exciting recent investments, including community course-building platform Disco and financial-sector focused legal-tech powerhouse Arteria AI, as well as other dynamic investments in the areas of automotive tech, drug delivery, customer success, video storytelling, and AI.
Seed stage investing has a well documented failure rate — despite this, our portfolio is performing well, with no write-offs or write-downs to date.
With Fund II, we will pursue our winning thesis with enhanced commitment:
- Investing in companies with at least one woman founder who has an equitable amount of ownership.
- Investing with a focus on B2B SaaS, B2B marketplaces, and health technology companies.
- Investing across Canada — from sea to sea to sea.
- Investigating under-explored markets and taking cold calls from founders without pre-existing networks with the goal of discovering and investing in high-potential founders with great companies.
- Supporting our founders throughout the journey from Seed to Series A and beyond, helping them achieve key milestones and secure future financings.
- Fostering a strong community among our founders to provide the foundation for a differentiated platform providing unparalleled value.
- Actively working against bias in the industry.
We plan to invest in 15–20 more companies over the next 3–5 years within Fund II, leading to a total portfolio of 30–40 investments.
Among venture capital funds, “community” is an overused word. Not in our case. Right from the beginning, we witnessed how the founders at StandUp naturally came together to help each other, bonding over their common experiences, sharing key learnings, and creating genuine friendships. This unique community is one of the strongest value propositions of being a StandUp portfolio company, and one of our key differentiators. We also know that by cultivating this community, we support not only our own portfolio’s success, but the success of countless future women entrepreneurs who will go on to found high-growth companies and contribute to our innovation economy.
Impact on Gender Diversity
The massive gender gap in venture capital dollars invested in women-led companies is getting worse — funding dedicated to women-founded startups decreased from 2.8% in 2019 to just 2.3% in 2020. From low, to lower.
Focusing specifically on dynamic female founders building at the seed stage not only creates strong returns, but also works to tear down the obstacles confronted by women founders seeking to raise their first institutional round, achieve Series A milestones, and grow their companies. Further, we are incredibly proud of how our portfolio isn’t just turning the dial on the proportion of women founders growing fantastic companies, but also impacting the greater flywheel of gender diversity in tech.
Our Growing Team
Crucial to scaling and delivering on our promise to founders and LPs, raising this new fund has allowed us to continue to build out our team. Lucas Perlman and Katheleen Eva took a leap of faith on a new fund franchise and joined StandUp in 2020, and have since been instrumental in making a number of new investments and in the overall fund management. With the launch of StandUp II, we are thrilled to announce that Lauren Epstein is joining the team as a Principal. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Lauren on an early co-investment when she was at another firm. We’ve kept in touch over the years and deep down, we knew we’d be working together one day. Lauren shares her journey to StandUp here. Jess Weisz is also spending time with us as a Venture Partner focusing on some really exciting initiatives for the portfolio.
We are so excited to continue executing against our vision to produce venture-grade returns using a gender-based lens, while also contributing to shifting gender diversity in technology more broadly and ultimately encouraging the founding and growth of more exceptional Canadian companies.
Michelle, Lauren, Lucas, Katheleen & Jess
Hear Directly from our Passionate LPs
“Michelle McBane and her team at StandUp Ventures have clearly demonstrated the growing success and business opportunity associated with investing with a gender lens”, said Alison Nankivell, Senior Vice President of Fund Investments at BDC Capital. “StandUp Ventures has built an impressive portfolio of women led tech companies and with a larger Fund II we look forward to seeing the GP franchise scale up its activity as it continues to support Canada’s most promising female founders.”
“Over the past two years, the StandUp team has met their promise of providing smart capital to innovative, women-led companies,” said Mark McQueen, President and Executive Managing Director, CIBC Innovation Banking. “CIBC’s partnership with the StandUp team, and many of their portfolio companies, has already been a success by any definition. This new fund will surely contribute to the important gains we’ve collectively made to date.”
“EDC recognizes the important role StandUp Ventures has demonstrated to date in supporting women-led exporters,” said Mairead Lavery, President and CEO, Export Development Canada. “Our continued commitment to growing StandUp Ventures’ platform and portfolio will further enable female founders and leaders to successfully scale their businesses beyond Canadian borders and promote inclusive trade.”
“Northleaf’s investment in StandUp Ventures reflects our long-term commitment to promoting and advancing gender balance, diversity and inclusion in the Canadian venture capital ecosystem,” said Ian Carew, Managing Director at Northleaf Capital Partners “Our commitments to StandUp Ventures Fund I and II through our Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund II are examples of Northleaf’s strategy of investing in best-in-class Canadian venture capital funds, while upholding our firm’s social values and supporting women entrepreneurs.”
“RBC is proud to continue working closely with StandUp Ventures to support and accelerate the growth of women-led technology businesses in Canada” said Anthony Mouchantaf, Director of Venture Capital with RBCx, Royal Bank of Canada’s technology and innovation practice. “With an abundance of data confirming the outperformance of women-led businesses, StandUp Ventures is playing a central role in financing and mentoring the next generation of tech leaders while simultaneously driving meaningful returns for investors.”
“Teralys’ second commitment to StandUp Ventures is a testament to our efforts to drive the sustainability of the investment ecosystem by making it more inclusive and diverse”, said Cédric Bisson, Partner at Teralys Capital. “StandUp Ventures upholds our investment pillars as it scales up its funds and maintains sound investment practices: as a result, more women entrepreneurs can continue to access capital and value-added resources to start and grow their technology companies.”
“Capital and funding for businesses has typically been gender-regressive. For years, Vancity has seen women-led businesses as a huge opportunity for investment,” said Heather Conradi, Director of Impact Investing at Vancity. “We’re proud to continue to support StandUp Ventures and invest in the power of exceptional female talent,” Heather continued.