Launch HIGHLINE to better support tech founders who are about to scale
TORONTO AND VANCOUVER, Aug. 19, 2014 /CNW/ - Vancouver-based startup
accelerator GrowLab Ventures and Toronto's Extreme Startups have
announced their merger and the launch of HIGHLINE, the first pan-Canadian accelerator platform, at the Toronto Stock
Exchange (TSX) this morning.
MERGER OF EQUALS TO CREATE NEW POWERHOUSE ABOVE THE 49th "HIGHLINE"
Extreme Startups' and GrowLab's respective Executive Directors, Marcus
Daniels and Jonathan Bixby, had a vision to create one program that
would unite the best entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem partners
living above the 49th parallel - the "highline" that separates Canada
and the US - by merging their two top tier accelerator programs. This
vision became a reality with today's announcement. The "merger of
equals" creates a new powerhouse accelerator platform called HIGHLINE
and is made possible by the financial backing of major Canadian VCs,
including BDC Capital and Relay Ventures. BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of
Canada (BDC), was also a shareholder and strategic partner of both
accelerators and has been HIGHLINE's principal strategic backer since
the merger was first conceived.
RISING ABOVE THE ACCELERATOR NOISE
"The accelerator sector is already very mature with over 1,700 programs
worldwide," says Marcus Daniels, HIGHLINE's cofounder and new CEO. "But
less than 60% of them have helped entrepreneurs get funded and 90% have
had no exits at all". Relentlessly focused on evolving the accelerator
model, Daniels is a serial entrepreneur and seed investor with 24 years
of digital innovation experience.
While Extreme Startups and GrowLab have been among the more successful
accelerators (over 90% of their graduates raised follow-on
institutional capital totaling more than $27 million, and both programs
combined had 3 highly profitable exits over their 30-month existence),
Bixby and Daniels saw the merger of their two accelerators as the
inevitable next step in order to rise above the noise, evolve the model
and attract the very best in Canada. Says Bixby: "I'm really excited
that this new entity will not only attract the very best Canadian
founders, but that it will also be the best option for many
"HIGHLINE's ambition is to supercharge 1000 founders who will create
over $10 billion in equity value outside of Silicon Valley over the
next decade," says Daniels. He expects over 90% of those startups to
establish their headquarters in Canada as there are "few better places
on the planet to build digital products than the
"We see this merger as crucial to building off the past strong
performance of the two programs," says Michael Mahon, Director, Venture
Capital - Strategic Investments & Partnerships at BDC Capital. "The
creation of a premiere pan-Canadian option in a global environment that
is increasingly competitive with regards to entrepreneurial talent and
capital will be a key differentiator for HIGHLINE." BDC Capital had
already invested a total of $5.7 million in 38 graduates of HIGHLINE's
predecessors through its convertible notes funding program. The merged
entity will remain a core accelerator partner for BDC Capital, says
Mahon, and its startups will continue to be eligible to receive its
$150,000 convertibles notes.
WORLD-CLASS "CO-CONSPIRATORS" STEP UP
In addition to BDC Capital and Relay Ventures, several world-class
entrepreneurs and individual investors have stepped up to inject fresh
capital and provide strategic guidance to the new entity, including
Amar Varma (Pivotal Labs), Leonard Brody (Clarity Digital Group) and
Boris Wertz (Version One Ventures). Varma and Brody join HIGHLINE's
Board of Directors, together with Daniels, BDC Capital's Michael Mahon
and Alex Baker of Relay Ventures. Jonathan Bixby will remain involved
as part of the Board of Advisors, alongside such well-known players as
Paul Singh, founder of Disruption Corporation and formerly of 500
Startups. HIGHLINE is in discussions with other notable potential
partners and intends to reveal new "co-conspirators and collaborators"
over the coming weeks.
ACCELERATING THIS FALL
HIGHLINE will begin hosting startups this fall at its Vancouver and
Toronto anchor campuses. It will primarily target "digital startup
founders close to product-market fit with global ambition to scale",
instead of ventures that are still at the ideation stage. Applications
open today at HIGHLINE.vc.
While it will build on the collective experience of GrowLab Ventures and
Extreme Startups, HIGHLINE will innovate in a number of ways. For one,
it will propose a number of specialized, tailored acceleration
"products" rather than a single, one-size-fits-all program as in
traditional accelerators. It will also better support founders' global
ambitions by offering greater and earlier connection to global markets
like New York and San Francisco; and it will provide startups with as
much as $200,000 in financing, not necessarily at the beginning and end
of the program but at timely stages that best fuel their growth. Other
platform details will be made available in the coming weeks.
Bixby and Daniels made the announcement of this merger this morning,
shortly before they were invited to open the day's trading at the
Toronto Stock Exchange (photo available), together with the management team and founders from HIGHLINE's
portfolio. They then immediately boarded a plane to attend a launch
event in Vancouver with their West Coast startups.
For more information, visit HIGHLINE.vc.
HIGHLINE is a VC-backed founder driven co-venture platform that helps
early stage digital startups supercharge growth and raise institutional
capital. It is relentlessly focused on giving founders "Speed to Seed"
through specialized accelerator programs, timely staged investing (up
to $200K) and rapid connectivity in key global markets starting with
Vancouver, Toronto, New York City and San Francisco. It creates
acceleration products and programs for founders close to product-market
fit with global ambition to scale. It is powered by the financial
backing of major Canadian VCs, including BDC Capital and Relay
Ventures, whose funds under management collectively exceed $2 billion.
HIGHLINE currently has an active portfolio of 40 companies, 90% of which
have received institutional follow-on capital, raising over $27
million. It has so far had 3 highly profitable exits over a 30-month
ABOUT BDC CAPITAL
A subsidiary of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), BDC
Capital offers a full spectrum of specialized financing and investment
solutions to help Canadian entrepreneurs achieve their full growth
potential. With more than $1 billion under management, BDC Capital
takes a strategic, patient approach to nurture companies' development
over the long term.
From venture capital to equity to growth and transition capital, our team of over 100 experienced, local professionals partner with
entrepreneurs to identify and meet their needs on flexible terms. Some
of the sectors in which we specialize include IT,
industrial/clean/energy technology, and healthcare. For more
information, please visit www.bdccapital.ca or follow us on Twitter at @BDC_Capital.
ABOUT RELAY VENTURES
Relay Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm that invests in
passionate entrepreneurs disrupting incumbent industries and creating
new markets with the power of mobile computing. Unlike other funds,
Relay exclusively focuses on software for mobile (from the sensor to
the cloud), creating an unparalleled set of networks and resources that
tangibly help founders build world-class companies. With offices in
Menlo Park and Toronto, the firm is active throughout North America.
For additional information, visit www.relayventures.com.
For further information:
MEDIA CONTACT: Eloi Courchesne, 514-923-3564, firstname.lastname@example.org