“The gap between growth stage funding and smart Canadian digital entrepreneurs has never been as large in my business lifetime as it is today,” says Bruce Croxon, co-founder of Round13 Capital, judge on CBC’s Dragon’s Den television show and co-founder of Lavalife.
He and his Round13 co-founders, John Eckert, a veteran technology financier and co-founder of McLean Watson and Scott Pelton, who until recently headed the Commercialization Fund for GrowthWorks, hosted a launch event in Toronto to announce Canada’s first founders-driven fund that will provide fast-growing startups looking to scale and compete globally with growth capital financed by successful entrepreneurs who have started, operated and sold companies.
Croxon believes that Canadian digital entrepreneurs “can hold our own anywhere in the world.” But the data that he and his colleagues have seen so far shows that we’re lagging in providing growth stage capital to startups.
“Typically, Canadian entrepreneurs must go to the U.S. for Series A and Series B Funding, or they end up stopping short because they can’t access growth capital,” he says.
The Round13 fund, named after the famous heavyweight boxing match “Thrilla in Manilla,” which Croxon says was “one of the toughest rounds in history,” will aim to raise a minimum of $100 million to help plug a very big hole in Canadian financing. The focus will be on growth companies with proven technology and the potential to become global leaders in the content, mobile, social media and networking enterprise sectors.
“We want to be the pre-eminent place for growth stage companies in Canada. We don’t want to be the 4th call that Canadian entrepreneurs make after Silicon Valley. Our goal is to be the first call,” says Croxon. He told launch event attendees that “what will make us different is that we will provide capital plus value.” In other words, Round13 will help companies by offering operational expertise to ensure that they realize their potential. They will also provide financing in subsequent rounds, right through until a company has achieved global success.
“There is huge market opportunity in Canada,” says Croxon. “We want to become the leading technology financier in Canada and be the investor of choice for entrepreneurs.”
Check out the list of all of Round13's board members here.