StandUp Ventures 2021 Year in Review
5 new portcos, 5 follow-ons, a new fund, and a growing team!
Phew — what a year.
From all-time highs in venture capital fundraising, startup investments, and women-led technology company IPOs, to soaring funding round sizes and valuations — it has been a truly record-breaking year for the innovation economy.
And for the team at StandUp Ventures as well!
- First, we welcomed 5 new companies to the StandUp portfolio: Arteria AI, Disco, SupportBench, Storytap, and Mintlist (including our first, second, and third investment in Vancouver! we just couldn’t get enough)
(see “Where We Are Bullish”)
- Next, 4 of our portfolio companies announced a total of $125M in follow-on investments: MiMS, Bridgit, Coconut Software, and Tealbook.
(see “Where We Remain Bullish”)
- And finally, in September we announced the first close of our Fund II, exceeding our initial $30M target, and doubled the size and responsibility of our team.
(see “Pulling Back the Curtain”)
So without further ado, our year in review:
Where We Are Bullish
The Creator Economy
In January, we invested in Disco’s oversubscribed $6M Seed round that included Quiet Capital, Golden Ventures, Inovia, and GSV.
- Elevator Pitch: Live, cohort-based course creation platform for creators.
- Who do we have conviction in: Creator economy trailblazers & community gurus Candice Faktor and Chris Sukornyk.
- What problem are they solving: Creators are building live, cohort-based courses, but cannot do this easily using existing tools.
- What we believe: The creator economy is growing, and creators are looking for new ways to activate and engage with their followings. Disco makes it simple to build and monetize live, cohort-based courses that best reflect the authentic communities surrounding creators. DISCO will become a hammer in the toolbox of the creators of the future.
AI-Driven Productivity for Financial Institutions
- Elevator Pitch: AI-driven contract software for sell-side of financial institutions.
- Who do we have conviction in: A trifecta of deep legal, operational, and technical leadership — Shelby Austin, Abrar Huuq & Jonathan Wong.
- Why are they building it: The client onboarding process on the sell-side of financial institutions is timely and unpredictable, which is largely driven by legal contracts. Longer cycle times means delayed, often leading to reduced monetization of clients.
- What we believe: Arteria’s end-to-end AI-driven solution will increase efficiency and transparency, bring revenue forward for financial institutions, and enable optimized negotiations through the more effective use of data.
Authentic Brand-Building at Scale
- Elevator Pitch: Platform that enables video storytelling for enterprises at scale.
- Who do we have conviction in: World class storytellers and product geniuses Bernadette Butler and Sean Braacx.
- Why are they building this: Brands are increasingly feeling the pressure to connect authentically with their customers, and are turning to customer videos to accomplish this, but high-production video remains expensive and difficult to organize, produce and manage.
- What we believe: The world of digital commerce is experiencing unprecedented growth, and brands must connect authentically with their customers in order to remain competitive. Easily produced and managed customer-generated video content is the future of how brands will differentiate themselves and build community into the future.
Productivity Tools Specialized for the B2B
In March we participated in a 1.5M round in Vancouver-based SupportBench, joined by N49P and Liquid Ventures.
- Elevator Pitch: Customer support software for the B2B.
- Who did we invest in: Customer-support-obsessed Nooshin Alibhai and Eric Klimuk.
- Why are they building this: The nature of B2B customer support is fundamentally different than for B2C; customer relationships are high-touch, complex, and high-value. Existing tools for B2C just don’t do the job.
- What we believe: As metrics such as NRR (net revenue retention) increase in importance for B2B SaaS, so will effective customer support. One-size-fits all softwares for customer support intended for B2C don’t do the trick. SupportBench will become the go-to software for customer support management that best reflects the needs of the B2B market.
In August we led a $3.2M round in Vancouver-based Mintlist.
- Elevator Pitch: C2B2C marketplace that enables consumers to sell used vehicles directly to dealers via a live auction. Consumers are also able to purchase directly from dealerships, or take advantage of trade-in tax benefits.
- Who do we have conviction in: The deeply experienced and operationally excellent Mike Wood & Mehrsa Raeiszadeh.
- Why are they building this: Dealerships are getting squeezed out of market share by digital dealerships, and require new channels to acquire inventory and customers.
- What we believe: Inventory shortages and the growth of digital incumbents will drive dealerships to adopt technology that enables them to stay relevant and competitive in the used car sales market. Just like how Shopify enabled SMBs to compete with digital giants like Amazon, Mintlist will be the go-to platform enabling dealerships to compete digitally into the future and recapture market share.
Where We Remain Bullish
Although the addition of 5 new companies to our portfolio has been incredibly exciting, we would be remiss to not highlight the growth of our existing portfolio. Especially since this year 4 of our portfolio companies raised an outstanding $125M in total follow-on investments!
In early 2021 Tealbook announced a $18M Series A led by RTP Global, with participation from BDC Capital, Grand Ventures, Reciprocal Ventures, Refinery Ventures, S&P Global, and Workday Ventures. In December 2021, Tealbook closed a $50M Series B led by Ten Coves Capital.
As procurement software companies experience rapid growth, the quality and continuity of supply-chain data has become mission-critical. Raising her Series A and Series B less than 12 months apart, CEO and founder Stephany Lapierre is nothing short of killing it.
In October Bridgit announced a $24M Series B co-led by Camber Creek and Storm Ventures in September, just over a year after their $9.4M Series A.
In October Coconut Software announced a $28M Series B, led by Klass Capital.
Founder and CEO Katherine Regnier has found a strong foothold providing financial institutions with appointment booking software that results in fewer no-shows, higher NPS, and better conversion rates. The company has achieved highly efficient 100% YoY growth over the last 4 years.
MIMsOMIC software injects precision medicine very early into the drug discovery process, ultimately lowering drug development failure rates, speeding up market approvals, and cutting costs. Founders Sarah Jenna, Abdoulaye Baniré Diallo, and Mickael Camus are paving the way for the personalized medicine of the future.
Pulling Back the Curtain
With the first close of StandUp Ventures Fund II our team experienced significant growth — with expansion from 3 to 6 team members, the announcement of 2 promotions, and a few personal achievements as well.
- First, we welcomed Lauren Epstein to the team as Principal in September, followed by Venture Partner, Jessica Weisz.
- Lucas Perlman was promoted to Senior Associate as he joined us full-time in July, and in October Katheleen Eva was promoted to Senior Analyst.
- Deveena Bharat joined us over the summer from Laurier as a co-op student and will be rejoining us in January, and Kriti Baweja joined us this fall from the initial cohort of the CVCA D&I co-op initiative that StandUp has been championing.
Michelle is humble — but the culture of our team is really something special. We work hard, we work together, we always share what we think, and we genuinely care about each other and our companies.
But we’re more than just investors. Although our team is composed of highly dedicated professionals, we also want to recognize and highlight our other identities, passions, and personal achievements from this year.
We are, after all, humans first!
- To start, we were ecstatic when on December 13th (at approximately 3:15pm) Lauren officially completed radiation treatment for breast cancer (after also completing 16 weeks of chemo, a double mastectomy, and reconstruction!) She is officially cancer free!!!
- On top of that, Lauren remains deeply involved in work with the Creative Destruction Lab, and has been busy organizing fundraising efforts for Sinai Health through her work on the Board of Leadership Sinai.
- Lucas became a father (for the FIRST TIME) this year in December, and continues to express his genuine passion for supporting entrepreneurs through his work as Managing Director of Anza, an organization supporting entrepreneurs in Tanzania.
- Michelle was appointed to the board of the Canadian Venture Capital Association, and is deeply involved in championing new D&I initiatives for the organization and co-charing the 2022 Annual Conference. She continues to be actively involved in all of our portfolio companies, often taking a board seat.
- Katheleen was appointed to the Venture for Canada Alumni Council as Angel Investment Program Director, to lead the development of a program that will enable alumni to invest in early stage companies. She was also selected to participate in the Canadian Women in Venture Capital Champions program and continues to be involved organizing other events for the community.
- Jess is paving the way for inclusive thought leadership via her successful and highly engaging substack blog Rule Breaker, and is continuing to grow her family after moving to Kelowna this year.
- Deveena was elected Vice-President of Technology for the Lazaridis Student Society, and Kriti will be graduating with a business degree in June.
- Finally, the Inaugural Barry Gekiere Lifetime Lefacy award (honoring StandUp Ventures late Co-Founder Managing Partner) was given to Kerri Golden this year, a long time StandUp advisor and mentor. We couldn’t have imagined the award going to a more worthy recipient.
Closing Thoughts on 2021 From the StandUp Team:
Lauren Epstein: Joining such an incredible team that is excited and aligned in both values and investment thesis has been incredibly energizing! And meeting the amazing founders in the StandUp portfolio has only reaffirmed my passion for supporting this fantastic mission.
Lucas Perlman: 2021 was a year of momentum for both our internal team and our portfolio — from launching Fund II, to onboarding the broader team, to a number of our portfolio companies breaking out with a number of larger growth financings — it’s just the beginning for StandUp.
Jessica Weisz: It’s really awesome to see the mission of StandUp actually prove out. That women-led businesses are investment grade AND build their businesses in a way that is authentic to them. It’s been something the market hasn’t completely agreed is true and StandUp is proving that out!
Kriti Baweja: It’s been a great experience seeing StandUp grow this year. StandUp is building a powerful community of women driving a movement towards real change in the technology ecosystem!
Katheleen Eva: Something I’m learning is that being a good investor often means imagining and believing in a future that doesn’t yet exist. Optimism is fun, but better yet is when your belief and conviction begins to become reality. Our companies are growing, the message that women and heterogenous teams build great companies is resonating, and we are making a tangible and measurable impact on diversity in the broader tech ecosystem. It’s humbling and incredibly rewarding work.
Michelle McBane: 2021 has been the most exciting and rewarding year of any year since I began investing. Seeing the successes of the founders in the StandUp portfolio along with the rapidly changing market conditions energize me in all the right ways. I’m really grateful to work with the incredible talent around the fund including the portfolio leaders, our advisors and the most incredible team of professionals. It’s also time for a little break — see you all in 2022.
“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” Rainer Maria Rilke
Well that’s a wrap. Happy holidays, and we’ll see everyone in 2022.
— The StandUp Team