iNovia’s own portfolio CEOs came back to invest in new fund


Montreal-based venture capital fund iNovia Capital has raised a new fund worth $175 million. Along the way, it received some help from familiar faces.

According to Karamdeep Najjar, a partner at the firm, investors in the fund include Quebec pension giant Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Investissement Québec, Teralys Capital and Boston-based HarbourVest Partners LLC.

In fact, 85 per cent of past investors returned to contribute. But something more interesting was at play within the new fund.

“We are also especially pleased to now include fifteen founders and entrepreneurs that we have previously backed at iNovia as fellow limited partners,” wrote Najjar. “They have been joined by over a dozen other successful entrepreneurs from around the world, ten well respected family offices and nine of the most esteemed institutional investors in North America.”

Founded in 2007, iNovia capital now has offices in Montreal, Toronto-Waterloo, Western Canada, San Francisco and New York. It’s network includes over 65 portfolio company CEOs, over 250 co-investors, and more than 2,500 employees.

The firm boasts impressive portfolio investments such as Lightspeed, AppDirect, Beyond the Rack, Busbud and Luxury Retreats, all of which are Montreal-based.

According to the Wall Street JournalLightspeed is considering an initial public offering in the next few years as part of its plan to become a one-stop provider of software that small businesses use to manage in-store and online sales from one platform. “We’re definitely on a path to build a multi-billion dollar company,” CEO Dax Dasilva told the newspaper.

iNovia’s  primary focus won’t change despite raising $65 million more than each of their first two funds. The firm will continue to invest in 25-30 early stage startups across  North America that can potentially emerge as “category-defining digital platforms and services.”

Najjar said that a future area of interest for the firm will be Industry SaaS, Future of Work and Software Differentiated Hardware

David Nault, one of the firm’s Montreal-based partners, told MTLinTech that the new fund will help the local startup community. He referenced the US influence among the new fund’s LPs, and challenged local entrepreneurs to step their game up.

“Montreal is an amazing place to build a company, but much like iNovia did, entrepreneurs must think beyond those borders to truly win.”

Chris Arsenault, iNovia’s managing partner, told WSJ that his firm has closed four new investments in start ups so far this year, spending about 25 per cen more than it would have last year for the same deals, because of the weakening Canadian dollar.

Still, “iNovia’s latest fundraising success suggests the weaker Canadian dollar may not derail the record fundraising pace set last year by the domestic venture-capital sector. The sector raised a total of C$1.3 billion in the first nine months of 2015, surpassing the amount raised for all of 2014, according to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association,” wrote WSJ. “That growth is important to Canadian policy makers, who are counting on the development of new technologies to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on resource extraction.”

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