Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm 500 Startups announced they have hit the midway point in raising its inaugural Canadian fund, and are optimistic it will surpass its $30 million target.
Dave McClure started 500 Startups in Mountain View, California seven years ago with the goal of funding early-stage tech companies and assisting them through a San Francisco-based accelerator. The firm is currently raising its fourth main iteration, and has also spawned a series of micro-funds in 10 other regions, including Japan, Turkey, and Latin America. Before setting up a dedicated Canadian fund, the firm invested in dozens of Canadian startups, including Montreal-based Breather.
The seed-capital financier set up shop in Canada last April to finance early-stage ventures in this country’s teeming tech sector and has now hit its first closing at the $15 million fundraising mark. The Canada fund has a $70 million hard-cap, and Sanjay Singhal, the firm’s Toronto-based Canadian venture partner, stated “We’re pretty confident we’ll get a good part of the way there.”
This funding news comes on the heels of one of Canada’s strongest venture-raising years, with the 10 biggest deals bringing in a record $1.1 billion.
“We’re excited that this superstar team has come together and that we’re now able to announce which startups are the Chosen Few… the first few picks for our portfolio,” tech entrepreneur and member of the Canadian fund team David Dufresne told MTLinTECH. “We’ve been actively working with the different startup ecosystems across the country, we’ve met with over 200 entrepreneurs and we’re placing bets on the ones that show the most potential. We’re looking forward to supporting them in their growth, and helping them leverage the network and resources of 500 Startups”
Canadian investors so far include past Wind Mobile chief executive officer Anthony Lacavera, Justin LaFrance – co-founder of Web discovery engine StumbleUpon – and Montreal serial tech entrepreneur Martin-Luc Archambault, a past “dragon” on the French-language version of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, Dans l’oeil du dragon.
The Canadian fund has invested more than $1 million combined in 10 different companies so far, including two from Montreal: indoor-agriculture technology startup Motorleaf, and Element AI, an artificial-intelligence firm incubator.
Along with Mr. Singhal and Mr. Dufresne, the Canadian team includes iStockphoto co-founder Patrick Lor, leading Canadian angel investor Mike Cegelski, and Neha Khera, a former senior investment manager with MaRS’ seed-venture fund. Under the arrangement, 500 Startups earns an undisclosed share of both the Canadian fund’s management fee and its 20% share of investment profits.