We thought it would be helpful to start the dialogue with this group of friends and supporters of Breakaway Growth. We sincerely appreciate your support and the collaborative process we have gone through to launch our firm. Our best companies, investments, and relationships were forged during difficult times, and we see this as no different. We have focused on being thoughtful partners with our Founders based on our experience helping them to build capital-efficient high growth startups.
All the best for the holidays!
Announcing Breakaway Growth Fund
NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION. TARGET RELEASE: DEC 11th
We are excited to announce our venture firm, Breakaway Growth Fund (“BGF”), based in San Francisco and Toronto. We have a combined 50+ years of experience as Founders, operators, investors, and advisors in companies in North America.
Our approach and focus are different in multiple ways. Rather than focus on a single stage or sector or region, we are focused on backing bold Founders of capital-efficient startups. We will consider deals from seed to late-stage — but we put a strong emphasis on the team, as every business is about the people. Have they worked together before? Is the culture amazing? Do the Founders truly have each other’s back? How confident are we that they’ll hit positive cash flow or raise their next funding round?
Over many years, we’ve focused first and foremost on helping our Founders succeed in building enduring and high integrity companies. We’ve been through our own grinds as operators — some successful, some not — and that experience has led us to conclude that investing is not a participatory sport. All we care about is the success of the Founders we work with — period. It is not the straightest line to success, but it is one we believe in. Having been through all the turns one can have professionally, we have been blessed with personal success, but more importantly, families that ground and nurture us. We seek out other people that are similarly grounded. Life is short and time away from your family, no matter how noble the cause or company, is precious. So we have been fortunate in many ways, but mostly in the guidance from our parents, mentors, and fellow Founders who are our teachers and fellow travelers. We want to enjoy every moment and give back to the community that we have been so fortunate to be a part of.
We believe that extraordinary Founders can build great companies in a collaborative open way. Shopify is an example in Canada that Chris supported early. The culture of the Founders is similar to what we found at Newbridge Networks & Belair Networks in Canada and Juniper Networks, DocuSign & Pinterest in the US. A culture of quiet confidence focused on learning, growing, and competitiveness to win their market in their own way. This is why we are so passionate about supporting this type of founder and encouraging them to control their destiny. We aim to be a sherpa where needed. It brings us joy to see them win and that is what we want to continue to do. Helping is our mantra.
The common thread to all the most successful companies we have backed is the passion of Founders to build something awesome. This is what we have come together to support. We also know that in each of these companies, the Founders found complementary investors and solved to keep them aligned and not to slow the company down. Simple cap tables + common stock options + amazing & decisive Founders = thoughtful speed and alignment. Finding and supporting these Founders is the only thing that gets us excited.
This is Breakaway Growth to us.
Our firm’s mission is to align with Founders to build awesome companies. Our experience in up and down markets is that it can be done no matter the climate. The leadership team behind BGF has gone through wonderful and awful experiences, both as Founders and investors. It’s important to us that everyone we work with is similarly driven, aligned, and ethical. Continuing to prove that “win-win” and not win-lose is the right way to go. This may be naive, but it is the only way we know how to do it or want to do it. In order to ensure wins for everyone in our community, we need to be clear about what winning looks like to each party involved.
For BGF, that means finding and investing in capital-efficient startups, in the seed and growth stages of development — a 1.5x or greater Return on Capital Employed (“ROCE”) is a key metric for determining whether a company is a fit for us. We are also passionate about helping Founders bring their companies to the finish line, so founder-led startups are where we like to invest our time and resources.
BGF’s resources don’t begin or end with money — we believe there is massive value in integrating the global tech ecosystem and providing high-impact connections that spur accelerated growth. Where we help portfolio companies the most is by leveraging our decades of community-building to provide the right gurus for the job. We are bringing together a group of successful Founders and senior executives from many different sectors and backgrounds who will join us as our Gurus. These people will bring a combination of successful experience and skills but are also passionate about helping and networking with fellow travelers. We started this last month with our first Guru dinner in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Going forward, we will be running quarterly dinners with a growing group in a different city every time.
Our story starts back in 1988 when Chris started his first of six startups including two that went on to be public companies (NYSE: NN; NASDAQ: ISLD) We have shared passions including helping to start the C100 together to support Canadian Founders globally in the middle of the last big recession. Most thought us crazy, especially the Canadians in Canada. Chris and Anthony Lee, of Altos Ventures, conceived of the idea based on their experience working with CICC in Israel and TIE in India. The idea to support Canadian Founders globally came out of a passion grounded in the success of doing the right thing for most people — a very Canadian ethos.
Then earlier this year, we took the time to reflect and think deeply about where the innovation “puck” was going. Our key takeaway was the most productive and efficient founders were more geographically dispersed but could grow faster and more capital efficiently if the right community was built for them. . Hence, BGF was founded.
We are focused on capital-efficient startups and bold Founders. On capital efficiency, we like Founders who are thinking really hard about how they can get to first revenues and positive cash flow and not burning cash forever. And when we say bold, our definition is very ambitious and willing to overcome anything and everything to achieve success — but do it in the right way. Burning bridges with people just to get what you want is not interesting to us. People that build relationships and a reputation for the long term is a step in the right direction.
BGF has already closed 12 investments including the following:
Ninth Decimal — The marketing platform powered by location data
Senso.ai — A cloud-based platform that helps financial institutions manage their retail portfolios
Careerlist — A network built by the world’s most driven people who demand higher standards in their job search
GameClub — Offers a large and growing catalog of the best games on mobile. Games can be played offline, with new games being released every week.
SignalWire — A next-generation video collaboration platform. Powered by an elastic cloud communications network featuring APIs for voice, SMS, and video functionality.
Harper Wilde — Bra Shopping without the B.S. | High-Quality Everyday Bras at Harper Wilde | “Best Places to Buy Bras Online” — Buzzfeed
Gentreo — Gentreo helps you create the important documents you need for official estate planning, including your Will, Power of Attorney, and more. Get started today!
Tonal — Tonal is the world’s most intelligent home gym and personal trainer.
Elroy Air — Expanding the reach of expedited logistics via air cargo — safely, efficiently and autonomously.
AppOnBoard — Mobile app demo and analytics platform for developers
Litho — The Input for Everything. Create Jurassic Park-like films anywhere using your phone.
Bansho — Bansho is the leading destination for educational short-form mobile videos for kids aged 5–12. We put parents in control by allowing them to set their child’s learning preferences, giving them access to video lessons from the world’s top educators.