Former Google and Blackberry execs join iNovia team as GPs as the VC expands to London


iNovia Capital announced by way of a blog post this morning that Patrick Pichette (formerly the CFO of Google), and Dennis Kavelman (former CFO & COO of RIM-Blackberry), have joined the iNovia team as General Partners.

The blog further revealed that the VC is opening an office in London, and will be expanding its teams in Montreal, Toronto, and San Francisco.

READ ALSO: iNovia’s Empower Initiative hopes to help founders of all backgrounds

“With a stronger global footprint, deeply experienced team — and most importantly, the leadership capacity for mentoring companies facing high-velocity growth, iNovia can proudly stand as a firm capable of supporting entrepreneurs at every step of their journey, from inception to IPO and beyond,” Chris Arsenault, the co-founder, president, and CEO of iNovia wrote in the post.

Pichette made waves when he resigned as CFO of Google to travel the world with his wife at 56, prompting further discussions about what a healthy work-life balance should look like. Now, three years later, he’s finished his vacation and is venturing into the world of venture capital.

“Despite being right next door, it’s far from Silicon Valley,” Pichette told Recode in an interview. “I’m telling you very publicly that I’m quietly working in a place where there’s less pressure and there’s actually more fun opportunities.”

Pichette, who was born in Montreal, said he was determined to take part in the Canadian venture capital scene. In his new role as general partner he will split his time between Canada and the new office in London.

Arsenault takes the opportunity of the announcement to reiterate iNovia’s history, and the changes we can expect moving forward.

“Any founder that’s lived through a hype cycle or three will tell you though, that the reality is much more Tolstoy than a tweet, and comes as the product of both intrinsic and extrinsic — of both forces manifested and opportunities realized.”

He goes on to explain that today’s announcement is the culmination of two years of discussion and conversation.

READ ALSO: WMNinTECH Magaly Charbonneau joins iNovia Capital as principal

“I met Patrick through the C100 while he was at Google, and in our early conversations, we exchanged observations on movements in the Canadian tech landscape. I shared the real stories of our founders — incredible people like Dan Saks, who co-founded AppDirect had moved from Canada to San Francisco in search of growth capital and talent, Dax Dasilva founder of Lightspeed POS who had the ambition to scale globally, but was a first time entrepreneur, Mike Silagadze cofounder of Tophat who was disrupting the Educational space and dealing with go-to-market challenges. Over a short few years, we dug in on opportunities in the AI research hubs of Waterloo and Montreal and I had the pleasure of joining Patrick on the Quebec AI Committee, supporting the likes of MILA and IVADO, and then more so as a Fellow at CDL Montreal. Over time, Patrick began connecting with more of our community, and offering perspectives on the growth stage investments we made alongside our largest LPs.”

Around the same time Arsenault was introduced to Dennis, who was also deeply embedded in the Toronto and Waterloo tech communities.

“Dennis was already serving on the boards of two of iNovia portfolio companies — Vidyard and Thalmic Labs, was a co-investor with us in a handful of companies and became an LP in iNovia Fund 2015. Through each of these connection points, I had a chance to see how his mentorship had created tangible value for the community and two of our fast-growing portfolio companies. I had realized a long time ago that no one can truly “buy” experience at the vision level, you can only live it, or learn it from amazing mentors who’ve been there, done that and are willing to guide you. Dennis proved that theory right.”

“Through our interactions with Patrick, Dennis and the rest of the iNovia team, we built a multiyear relationship around our shared principle of “investing in people first”. Our belief — as realized through a decade of experience — has shown that while some elements of venture-backed company building can be streamlined with tools, software, and processes, the mission-critical ones are always unique to the founders that choose to partner with us. We believe passionately that there is no substitute for rolling up our sleeves, taking 1AM calls, or jumping on a redeye to solve a pressing issue. This service-oriented approach simply doesn’t scale. But with careful, tailored mentorship, we know we can best serve founders to build companies of enduring value.”

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