International Confidence In Canadian Startup Ecosystem
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Vidyard Co-founder & CEO Michael Litt – April 25, 2017
“Having access to the venture program helps you meet sales and product leaders and marketers.”
A new $100M fund launched by Salesforce Ventures is considered a vote of confidence in Canada’s technology ecosystem and is expected to spur cloud innovation and customer success from coast-to-coast.
The Canada Trailblazer Fund will support entrepreneurs building companies on the Salesforce Platform and help to create technologies that deliver unique capabilities to its customers.
“Salesforce is committed to Canada, and we see incredible innovation and entrepreneurship developing,” Matt Garratt, Managing Partner, Salesforce Ventures said in an email interview. “We’re excited for the current companies we’ve invested in, and the many more to come! Our aim is to encourage and empower the next generation of enterprise cloud startups in the region.”
While Silicon Valley and cities such as Boston and Austin have an established reputation, “Canada is quickly becoming an innovation powerhouse,” Garratt added, noting that the Toronto-Waterloo corridor is one of the top 20 startup ecosystems in the world.
“In fact, Toronto’s tech scene is thriving so much, the city created more jobs than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, D.C., combined last year, and it just keeps growing ” Garratt said, citing the recent success of tech companies such as Shopify, Lightspeed POS, and Element AI as having “further bolstered Canada’s position as a hub for startup activity.”
Garratt says the goal of the fund is to invest in Canadian startups and fuel cloud innovation and customer success in the region, while also extending the power of the Salesforce platform.
“Salesforce Ventures is the only strategic fund focused 100 percent on creating the world’s largest ecosystem of enterprise cloud companies and extending that technology to our customers,” he said. “We’re looking specifically at Canadian startups to help us accomplish this and provide the best solutions for our customers.”
The fund will provide funding and support to the companies driving this growth and empower entrepreneurs to deliver unique capabilities to Salesforce customers. “We’ll tap into our community and network to find the best companies that are the right fit for our customers and ecosystem,” Garratt said.
“Through these experiences, we have been witness to the momentum in the Canadian enterprise-startup ecosystem for some time and know this market and Canadian entrepreneurship will continue to grow,” said Garratt.
It’s because of this “incredible innovation and potential” that Salesforce Ventures launched the Canada Trailblazer Fund, he added.
Alongside the fund, Salesforce Ventures announced four new investments companies that are leveraging the Salesforce platform and technologies, including Tier1CRM, Traction Guest, Tulip and OSF Commerce.
“These four great companies represent the kinds of innovation we at Salesforce Ventures want to find and cultivate through the Canada Trailblazer Fund,” said Garratt. “Canadian innovation will only grow as its ecosystem develops, and we look forward to helping startups grow their businesses in the Salesforce ecosystem. This is just the beginning of our commitment to Canada, and we’ll continue to use this fund to invest in more Canadian startups.”
Vidyard co-founder and CEO Michael Litt says having Salesforce as a financial backer not only helped it grow but also gave the company a strong industry partner for its video platform for business. Salesforce participated in multiple rounds of financing for Vidyard since it was launched in 2011.
“They came at a critical inflection point for our company,” said Litt, who founded the company in Kitchener, Ont. with CTO Devon Galloway. “Salesforce has been an incredible partner.”
Vidyard has since grown to about 250 employees across Kitchener, Boston, and Vancouver and was recently recognized with a Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program award for its rapid revenue growth, bold innovation and its entrepreneurial spirit. Vidyard ranked 16th with a growth rate of 2140% in the annual ranking. It also ranked No. #21 on The Narwhal List as one of Canada’s 50 most financially attractive private tech companies. The list celebrates private Canadian venture capital-backed companies with the highest financial velocity.
Litt said the Canada Trailblazer Fund will provide startups with exposure to Salesforce’s huge platform and network, but also its strong values.
“Having access to the venture program helps you meet sales and product leaders and marketers. It’s about exposure to one of the most dominant organizations in the space,” Litt said. “And, despite Salesforce’s mega size and market cap, a lot of the cultural values started by Marc Benioff still exist today. They are an amazing investor, they are very founder friendly and they are aligned with the success of the entire ecosystem. That’s why they are funding these companies — they believe they have a responsibility to help innovate.”
If you are an enterprise technology startup in Canada, Salesforce wants to hear from you. Visit their website at www.salesforce.com/ventures to share your details. You can follow Salesforce on Twitter at @salesforceVC or LinkedIn for the latest.