July 11, 2018, Montreal—Canada is home to one of the world’s largest venture capital funds solely dedicated to investing in women-led technology companies. BDC Capital’s $200 million Women in Technology Venture Fund (WIT) has just completed four new deals. The companies span various industries but all have one thing in common – women are leading the growth of business.
“The goal of BDC Capital’s WIT venture fund is simple: Invest in great entrepreneurs and teams where women lead, that build globally competitive businesses that deliver returns. By investing in strong teams and companies where women lead we are leading the way in VC by opening up the path for women leaders to gain confidence in securing venture capital to accelerate the growth of their business, drive competitiveness, and ultimately create large companies that spur a new culture of diversity and inclusion that sits at the foundation for any good business culture. Diversity in leadership is proven to create more value for investors, more value for consumers and support economic growth,” said Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Investments and Women in Technology Venture Fund, BDC Capital.
“Supporting women entrepreneurs along their growth cycle is a priority for our Government. The Women in Technology Venture Fund not only supports women in scaling their businesses but empowers the next generation of women role-models and mentors,” said the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism. “With Canada’s First Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, our goal is to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.
“With an injection of the venture capital they need, women entrepreneurs can scale up and compete on the world stage, boosting our economic growth and creating more well-paying jobs,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “Creating an investment environment that supports women entrepreneurs benefits all of Canada because when women win, we all win.
WIT looks to partner for the long-term, investing both capital and resources to help companies scale. The companies WIT invests in are led or co-led by women who bring together the right technology, team and resources to create new companies that transform or disrupt today’s markets. The four companies that received investments are:
- AvenueHQ (Vancouver, BC) and co-founder and COO: Rebecca Troelstra. Avenue empowers real estate professionals across North America to establish and grow meaningful relationships, by combining technology and an advanced marketing team.
- Lufa Farms (Montreal, QC) and co-founder Lauren Rathmell. Lufa is an urban farm-to-table e-commerce platform that grows produce in rooftop greenhouses, sells same-day harvests, and delivers sustainably grown produce and other locally-sourced premium goods direct to consumers.
- tealbook, (Toronto, ON) and CEO Stephany Lapierre. tealbook is an AI-powered supplier knowledge management and discovery platform that allows organizations to turn their static supplier databases into dynamic and intelligent communities. This helps organizations make faster and better supplier decisions that lead to real business benefits.
- Unsplash, (Montreal, QC) and co-founder Stephanie Liverani. Unsplash is the first platform to offer exclusively curated, world-class photography free for any use. Over 50 million creators download over 239 million photos a year, making it the most used image asset platform in the world.
“There are a lot of barriers to building and growing a tech company. As a female tech founder, raising capital is one more challenge that we need to quickly overcome. Having a venture fund like WIT behind us helps accelerate access to the capital and support we need to achieve success,” says Stephany Lapierre, Founder and CEO of tealbook
WIT is a venture fund investing directly into technology companies in Canada from seed to scale. The fund additionally invests into emerging venture funds with female partners and in new models to encourage women to become investors, ultimately expanding the network of investors for female founders and women leaders to seek out as they build new ventures. WIT has made 14 investments to-date.
In addition to its significant investment mandate, WIT is dedicated to developing and promoting a self-sustaining and thriving ecosystem for women that provides mentorship, advice, networking and other tools needed for success. One of those tools includes the Women in Technology Boot Camp that connects pre-seed and seed stage technology companies with peers, investors and other experts in a half-day workshop to learn the necessities of building and scaling a tech start-up. The first Boot Camp happens today in Montreal in association with Startupfest.
About BDC Capital
BDC Capital is the investment arm of BDC—Canada’s only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. With $3 billion under management, BDC Capital serves as a strategic partner to the country’s most innovative firms. It offers a full spectrum of risk capital, from seed investments to transition capital, supporting Canadian entrepreneurs who wish to scale their businesses into global champions. Visit bdc.ca/capital.