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Maple VC locks in $ 16.5 million for second seed fund by waving Canadian flag – TechCrunch


Maple VC is based in San Francisco, but make no mistake about it, says founder Andre Charoo. The young fund, which launched in 2016 with $ 1.2 million in capital commitments, just closed with $ 16.5 million in capital commitments for a second fund that promises to support founders almost exclusively. savvy Canadians, no matter where they live today or what they build. , as long as technology is at the heart of their startup.

Says Charoo – a Toronto native who worked briefly on the first photo-sharing app Color, spent a year helping Uber grow in Canada in 2011, then logged in for more than seven years as a vice -President with the hiring platform Hired while leaving Maple VC. the field – “I am a generalist who specializes in supporting founders of Canadian origin.

It’s a marketing approach that manages to be both specific and broad, and it has piqued the interest of an enviable group of investment firms that are sponsors of the new fund, including Tiger Global, Foundry Group, Recast Capital, Insight Partners and Plexo Capital. The promising early investments from Maple’s first fund also helped significantly, Charoo says. We spoke with him earlier today about some of these deals, how the fundraising from his backers has gone, and how he’s leveraging Maple’s new fund.

TC: You describe Maple as the first and only fund whose sole purpose is to finance the Canadian diaspora at the seed stage. Why do these founders need your capital?

AC: I was born and raised in a suburb of Toronto and attended the University of Toronto, and tried unsuccessfully to get a job in finance in Canada, whereas when I got there in the United States, I received several offers on Wall Street [and worked at Wachovia Securities]. It left me a little frustrated and asking this question of why I was good enough to get a job on Wall Street but not the equivalent in Canada.

What’s interesting about this is that many of the founders I meet who are leaving Canada have very similar histories. They’re rejected in Canada, they go to Silicon Valley, and they’re backed by some of the best VCs in the world. For example, Marcelo Cortes, the co-founder and CTO of Faire and a fellow Canadian, tried to raise a fundraiser in Canada in 2017. No one would buy. So he went to Silicon Valley, got the backing of a leading fund and last week he announced that Faire had just closed a $ 400 million financing for a valuation of $ 12.4 billion. of dollars.

TC: Isn’t there a big difference between 2021 and 2017, thanks to former Shopify employees and other companies who have seen releases? Where do you see angel investors coming from and do you work closely with the networks there to find deals?

AC: Ironically, I’m outside of Canada, again because I believe some of the best founders have left Canada. . and presumably are not related to these angel networks in Canada and will not call the Canadian VCs.

TC: You wrote nine checks on your first fund. What are some of the companies that have stood out for future LPs?

ACL Yes. All Day Kitchens, focused on restaurant technology, was included in this fonds. There is a biotech company called Vision that automatically tracks nutrition in this fund. RenoRun [a platform for general contractors to source materials] is another. Aalto, a domestic market that Sequoia has followed, is part of this fund, as is [digital home management platform] Setter, which was acquired by Thumbtack, making Maple a proud shareholder of Thumbtack for the time being.

In total, I issued 27 checks totaling $ 12 million to companies in both funds, including SPVs.

TC: What were some of those fundraising conversations like for that second, much bigger fund? Were they quick, given that everyone has so much money to deploy and you develop a track record that exemplifies a strong network, or was it a long drawn out process?

AC: Some of them were long, Connie [laughs]. Some of them were long, others short. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of some of the diversity initiatives for some of my LPs including Insight Partners and Alpaca VC. It’s great to see companies engaged in this way.

Look, I think being a person of color made me a better VC. Not only am I often the only black professional in the room, which has given me this unique perspective and ability to go against the grain and look for outliers, but it has helped me build a very strong portfolio. diversified. I am proud to say that 70% of the founders I have supported are people of color and at least 30% are women.

But yes, it is a wide range. Some have [committed] participate in the first call; some took a full year to cross the line.

TC: I interviewed one of your founders in May named Kate Hiscox, whose company, Sivo, a debt-as-a-service provider, was a really big bet for you.

AC: It’s true. Sivo represents 20% of my funds, while average checks range from $ 500,000 to $ 1 million. Personally, I think Kate is a killer founder – from Canada – and there was just a lot of evidence from the team she put together before she got there. [raised] one cent [that this was a huge] opportunity she was looking for.

TC: Do you have enough flexibility in your investment mandate to support a team without Canadian founders?

AC: I have LPSs saying to me, ‘Hey, Andre, you are part of some amazing networks in Silicon Valley. Are you going to say no to a founder who is sitting across from you who is not from Canada? The answer is that I am open to support [other founders]. My goal is to create a leading seed fund. I happen to believe this cohort of Canadian-born founders is the way I’m going to get there.

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