News release Real Ventures

Real Ventures raises $180 million with strong support from national and international investors

Private Equity Montreal & Toronto,
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Canada’s leading early-stage investor will redouble its impact on Canadian startups and entrepreneurial ecosystems

Global leadership in artificial intelligence, recognition of an expanding pool of top talent and bold ideas, combined with a strong geopolitical outlook, indicate that the moment is ripe for Canada to take its place as a tech leader on the international stage. Building on this momentum and coinciding with the tenth anniversary of Real Ventures’ first $3 million seed fund in 2007, the country’s leading early-stage venture capital firm has raised two new pools of capital totalling $180 million to broaden and deepen support for the most promising Canadian tech startups and entrepreneurial ecosystems. This brings Real’s total funds under management to over $330 million.

Previous investors, Teralys, BDC and Investissement Quebec invested once again, and significant new commitments were received from la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), HarbourVest, and Asia-headquartered investors, Tencent and Temasek. 

This doubling of capital under management gives Real the opportunity to execute on three distinct investment strategies: newly launched companies can take advantage of the firm’s owned or affiliated accelerator programs, FounderFuel and Techstars Toronto; pre-seed companies can access funding and support from the firm’s newly formed Orbit fund, which combines small investments, a tight geographic focus, and stage-specific support; and early-stage companies can leverage Real’s significantly increased pool of capital along with the connections and experience that its team has developed over the past ten years.

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“Companies need different levels of support at different phases of their development,” said Toronto-based Partner, Janet Bannister. “The amount of investment and guidance must match the stage in the life cycle of the company and our new capital and strategies will enable us to help guide stellar Canadian companies through the next stages of their evolution.”

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Real has supported numerous high profile Canadian startups over the past 10 years, including Breather, League, Planora, SweetIQ, Universe, Vrvana, Password Box and Frank And Oak, and will continue to propel the next game-changing startups while helping to grow vibrant tech ecosystems from coast to coast. An early believer in the enormous potential of artificial intelligence research and development in Canada, Real was also a key player in the genesis of Element AI, a world-class artificial intelligence solutions provider that is turning leading AI research into innovative business solutions while working to maintain a broadly accessible supply of world-class AI talent. 

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“We’re big believers that brains don’t stop at the US border, but historically early-stage capital has,” said Montreal-based Partner, John Stokes. “These new pools of capital mean that we’ll not only be able to invest in more Canadian companies, but be their trusted investment partner for an extended period of their life-cycle.” 

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Real Ventures’ philosophy of backing visionary founders early, while nurturing the tech ecosystems in which they thrive, has led to the creation of a number of foundational initiatives in Canadian tech. FounderFuel is the leading venture accelerator in Canada, and has helped propel some of the country’s fastest-growing startups, including Sonder, Transit, Opencare, Bus.com, One Class, Oohlala and Unsplash. The firm also co-founded the OSMO Foundation, a not-for profit initiative which owns Notman House, a 30,000 square foot campus for startups and community builders, and the hub for tech entrepreneurship in Montreal. More recently, Real worked with Techstars to co-launch Techstars Toronto, an internationally-renowned accelerated program.

Of the new capital, $30 million will be dedicated to OrbitMTL, the firm’s accelerator and pre-seed investment strategy in Quebec, and $150 million will build upon Real’s established, pan-Canadian, early-stage strategy. 

OrbitMTL, the first manifestation of the Orbit investment strategy, will officially launch today in Québec and is backed by long-term ecosystem partners: la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), le fonds de solidarité FTQ (FSTQ), Desjardins capital de risque and the Québec government via Investissement Québec. The firm anticipates rolling the Orbit strategy to other Canadian cities in the future. 

As part of it’s ongoing ecosystem building mandate, the Real team will be donating 20 percent of their carried interest from OrbitMTL to the OSMO Foundation.

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“For Real, it starts with the desire to contribute to an ecosystem in a manner that benefits others as much or even more than we benefit ourselves,” said Montreal-based Partner, Alan MacIntosh. “It’s this collaborative mindset that inspires us to launch initiatives that lay, or build upon, the foundations of rapidly growing tech hubs across Canada, and wherever else we may go.”

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About Real Ventures:

Real backs world-class entrepreneurs building game-changing companies, connecting them to local and national ecosystems and helping guide them through their next stages of evolution. The firm invests throughout the life-cycle of early-stage companies, and provides stage-appropriate capital and support for the founders it backs. Real believes that VCs should play a role in accelerating the creation of world-class tech ecosystems by providing support beyond the companies for whom it writes cheques. 

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