McRock Capital Strengthens Investment Team Amid Flourishing Industrial IoT Sector

January 10, 2019 | By: Jon Jackson
McRock Capital Investment Team: (Left, top to bottom) Whitney Rockley, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Siddharth Srivastava, Vice President, Ha Nguyen, Vice President. (Right, top to bottom): Scott MacDonald, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Udit Bhatnagar, Associate. 

As global spend increases on the Internet of Things (IoT), Toronto-based VC fund, McRock Capital has expanded their investment team reflecting continued growth in the sector.

McRock Capital was founded by Scott MacDonald and Whitney Rockley in 2012 and became the first VC in the world to exclusively invest in the Industrial IoT markets. Since 2012, McRock has raised CAD $70M, surpassing their $50M target and is positioned well as they prepare to launch their second fund at CAD $100M.

McRock announced two new hires in November and promoted Associate Ha Nguyen to Vice President. Siddharth Srivastava and Udit Bhatnagar are fresh faces at the firm and each bring a dynamic background and international experiences.

Srivastava, who is now Vice President, most recently worked as an investment banker in Mumbai and London for independent advisors such as EY and Rothschild.

“My background is primarily in M&A and private capital transaction advisory for technology companies,” said Srivastava. “I spent several years tracking both traditional and emerging areas of the technology spectrum—from IT/ BPO services to areas like digital media, fintech and IoT. I’m keen to bring in skills around structuring and M&A, and more generally, a creative perspective on transactions. At McRock, we engage deeply with our portfolio and are often the management team’s first call on strategic direction and key initiatives.

It’s my belief that a stronger bench on the transaction side can help unlock further value as all of our portfolio companies scale.”

Bhatnagar joins McRock as Associate and has a background in technology, finance and VC. He most recently was coordinating angel syndicates in India to help various tech companies secure funding.

“I started my career in the technology sector and have spent several years building services and products for blue chip companies in multiple geographies,” said Bhatnagar. “More recently, I’ve been evaluating tech startups for PE investments and have been closely working with entrepreneurs as they grow their companies.

I look forward to using these perspectives while I evaluate new opportunities and engage closely with our portfolio companies to export around the world.”

We are proud to be leading by example”

For the latest growth of the firm, MacDonald and Rockley took on recruitment differently. Specifically looking to advance the skills of their investment team.

“We value an international perspective as well as the specialized skills required to scout, invest, build and exit high-growth Industrial IoT companies,” said MacDonald. With that goal in mind, MacDonald says the partners approached it in a new way.

“We have significantly changed the way we recruit. We started the most recent hiring process with a goal to significantly reduce unconscious bias. To achieve this, we used a number of tools starting with an Industrial/Organizational (IO) Psychology selection test developed by Kitchener-based Plum. Top candidates on the test were invited to take a one-way video interview provided by Spark Hire. This process asked all candidates the exact same 10 questions. Once passed the video interview stage, a small group was invited to prepare an anonymous smart city company case-study. Only after these steps were completed, did we actually meet the finalists face-to-face. This disciplined process resulted in candidates that had the skill sets we required and significantly reduced the impact of our personal bias.”

McRock is part of the growing number of tech companies and VC firms that are openly sharing their metrics around diversity on their team and, they have a page on their website completely devoted to it. While they’re happy to share their numbers on diversity, approaching the recruitment process specifically looking to remove unconscious bias did bring surprises.

“The most surprising outcome of our latest recruitment process was that our top five candidates, and our ultimate hires, were recent permanent residents to Canada,” said MacDonald. “Eighty percent of McRock’s investment team now consists of women and ethnic minorities. Facilitating a culture of diversity and inclusion in Canada’s private capital industry is a personal mission of our founders and we are proud to be leading by example.”

Srivastava and Bhatnagar are both equally excited about the future of the firm and see a bright spot for Canadian VC.

“Canada is quickly emerging as an innovation powerhouse,” said Bhatnagar. “The growth of the innovation culture is powered by collective efforts of entrepreneurs, government, VCs and other private players. These are certainly exciting times for all stakeholders in the ecosystem. Canada’s industrial roots present an even bigger opportunity for a firm like ours which plays at the intersection of an eminent shift. As industry 4.0 unfolds, I see McRock playing a pivotal role as a Canadian investor on the global stage”

“The industrial internet space is exciting,” said Srivastava. “As core manufacturing and associated industries converge with broader trends in technology adoption, we can expect some interesting contenders to emerge and challenge the status quo. A few months in, I can already see that McRock is at the forefront of thought leadership in the space and is quickly evolving as an investor – Canadian in spirit, but increasingly global in outlook. Given Canada’s traditionally industrial roots, I think the environment can be one of great impetus for Canadian start-ups and the venture ecosystem alike.”


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