TechCrunch: Voiceflow Raises $3.5M

Voiceflow TC.png

Reposting TechCrunch’s Article, Written by Sarah Perez @sarahintampa

The market for voice apps has opened up — Amazon Alexa’s platform alone has more than 80,000 skillsas of earlier this year — and there’s little sign of that growth slowing now that smart speakers have hit critical mass in the U.S. To capitalize on this trend, Voiceflow, a startup making it easier for product teams to build voice applications for Alexa and Google Assistant, has raised $3 million in seed funding.

The round was led by True Ventures,  and includes participation from Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover, Eventbrite founder Kevin Hartz and InVision founder Clark Valberg. The company has previously raised $500,000 in pre-seed funding.

Explains Voiceflow CEO and co-founder Braden Ream, the idea for a collaborative platform for building voice apps came from direct experience as a voice app developer.

The team — which also includes Tyler Han, Michael Hood and Andrew Lawrence — had decided to build a voice application offering interactive children’s stories for Alexa, called Storyflow.

But as the team began to build out its library of these choose-your-own-adventure stories, they realized the process wasn’t scaling fast enough to serve their user base — they simply couldn’t build the storyboards with all their branches fast enough.

“At some point, we had the idea to just do a drag-and-drop,” says Ream. “I wished I could build the flow chart, the scripting and the actual coding — I wished this was all one step. That led us to build a really early iteration of what is now Voiceflow. It was sort of an internal tool,” he continues. “And being the nerds that we are, we kept making the platform better by adding logic, variables and modularity.”

The original plan was to make Storyflow’s platform a “YouTube of voice” so anyone could build their stories easily.

But when the Storyflow community got ahold of what the team had built, they very quickly wanted to use it to build their own voice apps — not just interactive stories.

“That’s when the light bulb went off for us,” notes Ream. “This could easily be the central platform for building voice apps, and not necessarily interactive children’s stories. The pivot was very easy,” he says. “All we had to do was change our name from Storyflow to Voiceflow.”

The platform officially launched in November, and today has more than 7,500 customers who have published some 250 voice apps using its tools.

Voiceflow is designed to be non-technical for those who don’t know how to code. For example, its two basic block types are “speak” and “choice.” Its blocks are organized on the screen through drag-and-drop, as users design the flow of their app. For more technical users, an advanced section allows you to add logic and variables — but it’s still entirely visual.

For enterprise customers, there’s also an API block in Voiceflow that allows the customer to integrate the business’s own API into their voice app.

What’s also interesting about the product is its collaborative features. While Voiceflow is free for individuals, its business model is focused on allowing teams to work together to build voice apps. Priced at $29 per month in its paid workspaces, voice agencies that have a larger staff — including linguists, voice user interface designers and developers, for example — can all work together on one board, share projects and hand off assets more easily.

With the seed funding, Voiceflow plans to grow the team by hiring more engineers and continue to develop the platform.

Longer-term, the company wants to help people design better, more human-sounding voice apps through its platform.

“The problem right now is you have documentation and best practices by Google. Then you have the exact same on the Alexa side, but there’s no coherent industry standard. And there’s certainly no tangible base of examples, or easy way to put these into practice,” Ream explains. “If we can help spawn another 10,000 voice user interface designers — we can help train them and give them a platform that’s accessible, where they can collaborate with each other — I think you’re going to see a tremendous uplift in the quality of conversations.”

On this front, Voiceflow has started a program called Voiceflow University, which today includes video tutorials but will later become a more standardized training course.

In addition to the videos, Voiceflow networks with its community directly on Facebook, where more than 2,500 developers, linguists, educators, designers and entrepreneurs actively discuss the voice app design and development process.

This interaction between Voiceflow and its user base was one of the key selling points for True Ventures’ Tony Conrad.

“After I left the [pitch] meeting and I started digging around a little bit, the thing that blew me away was the engagement of the community of developers. That’s unlike anybody else. The single biggest differentiator of this platform is actually Braden and the team’s engagement with the community,” Conrad says. “It reminds me of early WordPress.”

Voiceflow also recently worked with another visual design tool, Invocablewhich has shut down, to allow its users to transition to Voiceflow’s platform.

There is, perhaps, a cautionary tale in there — Invocable, in its farewell blog post, points out that people continue to use smart speakers mainly for things like music, news, reminders and simple commands. It also says that Natural Language Processing and Natural Language Understanding haven’t developed to the point where they can support higher-quality voice apps. That day will likely come to pass, but there’s a bit of a timing issue when it comes to betting on the right platform to support the voice app development market in the meantime, ahead of widespread consumer adoption.

Toronto-based Voiceflow is a team of 12 today and looking to grow.

Synapse Closes $2.5M US Seed Round


Synapse, a provider of technology for the Learning and Development market announced today that it closed a US$2.5 million seed financing to fuel growth of its Learning Design System. The first-of-its-kind platform automates the instructional design process, allowing organizations to quickly transform institutional knowledge into on-demand training.

Instructional design is a function that is performed by a few highly-trained individuals, impeding organizations from creating and deploying training at scale. Benchmarks indicate that it can take over 70 hours and up to $10,000 to create a single hour of training.

Generation Ventures led the financing with participation from Ripple Ventures, Differential Ventures, CEAS Investments, Cathexis Ventures, Ideal Ventures and Venture Capitalist Neal Dempsey. As part of the financing, Laura Lenz of Generation Ventures will join the board.

“We are excited about what the future holds for Synapse,” said Lenz. “Synapse’s solution fills an important gap in the market and the team is putting incredible focus in all the right places; people, product, customer value and metrics that support the success of the business”.

The use of artificial intelligence within Synapse’s Learning Design System includes using a recommendation engine that enables subject matter experts and training departments to streamline collaboration and reduce delivery time. The Synapse platform has demonstrated the ability to reduce the cost of developing training by as much as 65%.

“The use of AI in corporate learning is in its infancy, we’re excited to be the first to apply it to the instructional design process,” said CEO Ryan Austin (pictured here). “This funding will help us accelerate growth as we strive to become a core part of every organization’s learning strategy.” 

The funding will be used fuel growth in sales, marketing and product expansion and to hire key personnel.

Written by Kristy Sadler


Lay the Foundation for Success Now, Not Later

Elisha Gray (EIR at Ripple Ventures) discusses how strategic job design in the early days attracts and retains the right people from the get-go.


Source: Shuttershock


We all know that hiring is top of mind for founders at start-ups. Everyone wants to make sure they have the best team to execute on a vision to achieve success. Last year, First Round Capital conducted a survey with 529 founders with one of the questions being “What are the top three issues that keep you up at night?”. Just over 66% of respondents had hiring good people as their main concern, more so than acquiring customers (62%) and revenue growth (55%). Often we focus so much on growth and product and we forget that it’s the people that are growing the business and building the product.

With this in mind, we wanted to dig deeper into this within our own portfolio companies regarding hiring, people, and culture. The questions and answers ultimately revolved around building a better foundation for your company to scale. We sat down with Elisha Gray to discuss creating role guides to help hire, manage, and build start-up teams (here’s an example that she put together for visualization that we will elude to later on).

Elisha is a Success Coach and HR Consultant with an operations background more than 10 years’ experience in the startup space. Known for her people-positive workplace architecture, Elisha works one-on-one with management teams to build strong leadership practices and create modern programs for scaling startups. She’s the former the Director of People Operations at Myplanetand Chief of Staff at Street Contxt. Elisha now coaches top executives to develop a more successful leadership style and build deeper bonds with their team. She also partners with Ripple Ventures and Startwell as an in-house coach, and works as a senior HR consultant with Bright + Early.

Here is Our Interview:

Q: What are some common problems that you see companies struggling with?

When I’m working with startups, problems tend to come up because scalable processes (understandably) haven’t been built yet. Hiring, managing performance, and career pathing are the most common challenges.

A couple of incidents that require low upfront effort today that tend to bite companies later on regarding its employees include:

  • Bully hiring (aka rushing to hand out job offers without taking responsibility for defining success) can lead to employee churn quite quickly. CEOs usually know there’s a skill gap that needs to be filled, but they don’t have much time to spend proactively designing the role itself. The last-minute mindset of “I’m pretty sure we need this role, so let’s try to piece together some job descriptions from other companies that are similar. Then we’ll interview the best people that come through the pipeline and hopefully they will be a great fit for the team.” can really hurt the chances of matching someone with the right skill set to the job, which means risking forward momentum.

  • Some CEOs hire “smart people who will figure things out on their own”. I’ve seen this go wrong more times in the last year than I can count on one hand. Typically, this starts when there are a few “special projects” for someone to take on, but once those projects complete, it becomes increasingly harder to find new and sustainable work. Next thing you know, the employee is struggling to find their place and produce results while the CEO starts doubting ability and performance. Neither party can picture a future, so they agree to part ways or the employee is fired. It’s a shame and a surefire method for driving away talented contributors.

Q: If preparation is the key to success, what can I do to set a foundation for scaling my team properly?

Most of the common issues around hiring, performance, and advancing employees within an organization comes down to job planning. Managers sometimes feel that intentionally designing roles isn’t a good use of their time, but I would argue that it’s the golden ticket to attracting, landing, and retaining top talent. It’s important for organizations to be clear with employees about what success looks like in a role and you can’t do that if you haven’t thought about it. (After all, you can’t say that hiring top talent is what keeps you up at night when you haven’t put any real effort into hiring top talent.) With constant change and little time, it benefits both parties to get clear about what the expectation is and how it will be met.

“Managers sometimes feel that intentionally designing roles isn’t a good use of their time, but I would argue that it’s the golden ticket to attracting, landing, and retaining top talent.”

Mapping out a few key pieces of information before starting the hiring process will bring clarity, efficiency, and confidence to the entire hiring process — for everyone involved — starting from job posting through to contract signed and beyond.

“After all, you can’t say that hiring top talent is what keeps you up at night when you haven’t put any real effort into hiring top talent.”

Q: So how can I start mapping this out?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What kind of company do I want to build?

  2. What is the company’s current identity? Is there a disconnect?

  3. What needs to happen in order to become the company I envision?

  4. What pain points am I experiencing and do they tell me I need to hire someone?

  5. What does success look like for a person who is responsible for this work? What can be qualified and/or quantified?

  6. What are the best skills someone could bring to the table to fill this gap?

  7. What types of work related experience is needed for this job?

  8. What characteristics might someone who would be successful in this role have?

  9. What is our company culture and how would these skills/experiences/characteristics fit?

  10. What support, resources, or commitments am I willing to make to a qualified candidate to help them be successful in this role?

After considering these questions, you’ll notice how this becomes the foundation for a job design framework that can be applied to vet the idea that the team needs to grow. I like to call it a role guide. The main components of a role guide are:

  1. A one-liner stating the purpose of the job + summary of the job that includes the primary focus of the job, what the day-to-day work looks like, and what the key characteristics or skills are most needed to perform the work (this comes in handy when having to justify roles to your board)

  2. The thematic responsibilities of the role (aim for 3–5)

  3. The key accountabilities (aim for 3–5) and associated behaviours (1–3 per accountability)

  4. The core competencies; primary (up to 5) and secondary (up to 5)

  5. The qualifications (your non-negotiable must-haves)

While this may look like a lot of work on paper, role guides shouldn’t take longer than an hour to build out a first iteration. You might choose to come back to it another day or float it to other trusted members of your team for their input. We’re not looking for a novel (ideally it’s a one-pager) and what’s super important to remember is that it will change and grow just as the company will. It’s about building a shareable, evolving document that transparently outlines what success looks like for the person doing the work.

Here’s a template with some sample text to get you started.

“It’s about building a shareable, evolving document that transparently outlines what success looks like for the person doing the work.”

It’s easy to see the impact that thoughtful job design and the use of a role guide can have on an employee’s, and therefore, the company’s success. This process offers a relatively simple and extremely effective way to map out a role in your company so you can make smart hiring decision from the get-go.

Q: After all of this work, when would CEOs start seeing results?

The act of putting together a job and role guide design immediately gives CEOs the ability to:

  • Better understand their company’s identity and articulate culture to others

  • Speak confidently and clearly about the role and what it entails

  • Assess candidates on their experience, associated skills, and qualifications relating to the role

  • See how this role fits bigger picture and what their major job functions will be

  • Frame a direct and detailed conversation on a new hire’s very first day about expectations

  • Design 30/60/90 day plans that are clear and objective

  • Evaluate performance and deliver job-based, constructive feedback without surprises

  • Hire quickly into open roles that already have role guides

  • Lay a foundation for career pathing (usually starts at the one year mark) and maintain retention

  • Plan for long term success on the people side of the business

What’s even more powerful is that role guides help evenly distribute the responsibility and accountability of job success between the employer and the employee by ensuring everyone is on the exact same page (because mind reading isn’t a thing). And if you’re really into it, there are some additional components that can be used to enhance the role guide, such as compensation structure, confidence builders/detractors, OKRs or team goals, and company values alignment.

“…role guides help evenly distribute the responsibility and accountability of job success between the employer and the employee by ensuring everyone is on the exact same page (because mind reading isn’t a thing).”

Q: Any final words on foundational HR for our readers?

As a founder, you’re likely pulled in many directions. Putting in time and energy toward job design can net a powerful return on that investment, impacting not just hiring, but overall company success. By building a workplace where scalable frameworks like role guides are in place, you’ll be laying down the path for a high performing culture. For extra help, and to save time, companies can partner with a modern HR consultancy like Bright + Early, who specialize in building scalable, custom designed employee experiences. For those who would like to build a framework themselves but just require a nudge and some guidance, executive coaching can be just the right option. As a coach, my role is to help you be the best leader possible, whatever that looks like for you.

Invest now for a strong relationship with your team and successful company long term. It may not be what other startups are doing, but you’re not like other startups. Happy building!

Thanks for reading and feel free to give us a clap! Follow us on Medium for anything tech and VC related, updates on our fund, and more.

Written by Dominic Lau, Associate at Ripple Ventures

A Guide to Venture Deals


Ripple Ventures is an early stage venture fund based out of Toronto, with a focus on enterprise software startups in Toronto-Waterloo, Montreal, and Boston. Our goal as a pre-seed to seed stage fund is to help startups grow sustainably and achieve tangible traction for their Series A round.

We are operators first, investors second. What this means is that we work with our entrepreneurs every day, not once a quarter. The Tank is our incubator space where our portfolio companies work with us and see benefits such as monthly Tank Talks, on-the-go strategy sessions, and an environment to thrive with other companies looking to succeed.

As an early stage venture fund, we have seen and invested in companies using various types of deal structures including equity rounds, SAFE’s, and convertible notes. Each of these instruments is fairly different, and it’s important to understand why they are used or preferred by both investors and entrepreneurs.

Equity Rounds

This is the most commonly known method of investing — you give cash and receive shares of a company. For this deal structure, the company is valued (negotiated by the founders and the investors) and corporate structure documents are set-up. From what we’ve seen, around 10–25% of the company is attributable to the new investors after the deal has closed and shares are issued. Equity rounds are a lengthy legal process which can take months to complete, and thousands of dollars in fees. These can get complex with investors rights, voting structures, and liquidation scenarios, which is why it’s important to have a great legal counsel to support you through the process.

Advantages of Equity Financing

  • The company has a corporate structure and other documents set up; founders are familiar and comfortable with the legal process

  • Reputable investors on the cap table give the company credibility and can open doors to other investors/customers

  • No covenants or financial constraints on the company post-raise like debt

Disadvantages of Equity Financing

  • Immediate dilution of ownership for top management and employees

  • Company and investors may have opposing views on the business

  • High expectations for strong growth post-investment; may put too much pressure on the management team and employees

  • Risk of pricing the company wrong (over-pricing) and can negatively affect the company in the future (i.e. down-round)

SAFE’s (Simple Agreement for Future Equity)

The SAFE was originally founded by Y Combinator to simplify the investment process between founders and VC’s/angels. The investors put cash into the company, but instead of receiving shares right away, the shares are issued at a later date, in connection with a specific event. A SAFE is not a debt instrument, it is an alternative to convertible notes.

Advantages of SAFE’s

  • They are very simple (typically 5 pages long) and standardized by Y Combinator to reduce time and transaction costs for deals to close

  • The company is not forced to set a valuation too early, only the valuation cap and discount are negotiated for this deal structure

  • No covenants or financial constraints on the company post-raise like debt

  • Receive the cash quickly and worry about how you’re going to get to the next round of financing

Disadvantages of SAFE’s

  • No maturity date — the investors may never see equity or cash back from their initial investment

  • Not a loan — once you invest in the company, they have no obligation to pay you back at a certain date as a convertible note would; it all depends on the next round of financing

  • The company could just bootstrap (finance themselves off operating cash flows) and never raise money again, so investors may need to wait until the IPO or acquisition to see shares/liquidation

Convertible Notes

Convertible notes are a short-term debt instrument that converts into equity, typically in connection with a future financing round. Instead of receiving your typical principal + interest at the maturity date, investors hope to receive equity in the company at a much higher value.

A couple of terms to get familiar with:

  • Valuation Cap: this effectively caps the share price at which the note principal + interest converts into equity if the share price is favorable to investors after considering the discount rate.

  • Discount Rate: this applies to the share price when the valuation of the round is either below the cap or up to the cap * (1 — discount). It rewards investors for taking on additional risk early on in the business.

  • Interest Rate: instead of cash, interest accumulated will add onto the principal amount, increasing shares issued upon conversion.

  • Maturity Date: if the company has not yet seen an event that triggers the conversion of the note into shares, then the company will be liable to repay note investors if they choose to call it. Sometimes, notes will just get extended to a later maturity date if investors believe in the company (must be mutually agreed upon by the company and investors).

Advantages of Convertible Notes:

  • Investors get downside protection as it is a debt instrument

  • Not forced to set a valuation too early on in the company

  • Simpler than equity arrangements to execute, therefore lower transaction costs and timing needed

Disadvantages of Convertible Notes:

  • May never convert into equity if a subsequent round isn’t raised or if the company fails

  • Valuation cap and discount can complicate future equity raises by anchoring price expectations (i.e. if the cap is $5M, then the valuation for this round must be higher…?)

  • Limited governance rights compared to an equity investment

Valuing Startups

Company Has Revenues

  • Leverage Revenue Multiples: EV/ARR, EV/Sales, EV/EBITDA

  • This is not the best option as revenues are fairly early and immaterial at this stage of the company (typically below $1–2M in ARR)

  • It’s hard to find good comparable companies or precedent transactions (fundraising deals with disclosed valuations/metrics) to benchmark off of, and there may not be many other companies doing similar things

Company Has No Revenues

  • Value based on the size of the round and new ownership: as said before, typically seed stage investors (new money in) will receive around 10–25% of the company post-deal. Therefore, the valuation can be derived from dividing the new money in by the expected ownership. For example, if a company raises $1M from VC’s and the expected ownership post-deal for the new money is 20%, then the post-money valuation of the company is $5M.

  • This too is not the best option as there is no benchmark or real rationale used to determine the value of a company’s assets.

There is no perfect way to value a pre-seed to seed stage start-up. Precedent fundraises and negotiations dictate and drive the valuation of a company.

Term Sheets

Term sheets are simply a contract that outlines the key terms of a deal between the startup and an investor and does not represent a legal promise to invest in the company.

These documents are fairly lengthy and full of… well, terms. Here are some of the key concepts that are often negotiated between investors and founders that drive the preceding legal documents post-term sheet.

  • Board Seats: Formal addition of investor(s) and independent board members in addition to the founder(s) on the board

  • ESOP: Usually 10–15% of an option pool created in aggregate to issue to new employees, advisors, etc.

  • Vesting: Withholds shares owned by founders and key team members and released back to owners over a period of time to keep personnel committed to the company

  • Liquidation Preferences: Upon liquidation (i.e. bankruptcy or acquisition), returns money to preferred shareholders before common shareholders at a 1X rate typically

  • Participation: Upon liquidation, investors get their liquidation preference returned first, and the remaining distributions are allocated based on percentage ownership

  • Anti-Dilution: Protects investors when a company issues equity at a lower valuation than in previous rounds (full rachet/weighted average)

  • Right Of First Refusal: The right to enter into a transaction with a person or company before anyone else can (i.e. sale of shares, assets, or the entire company).

  • Drag-Along Rights: Enables a majority shareholder to force a minority shareholder to join in on a deal (i.e. get acquired by a larger company)

  • No-Shop: Cannot bring deal terms to other investors to drive up valuation or get more favorable terms

Finally, there are five general documents that follow a term sheet:

  • Certificate of Incorporation

  • Stock Purchase Agreement

  • Investor’s Rights Agreement

  • Right of First Refusal & Co-Sale Agreement

  • Voting Agreement

Overall, the term sheet is a mechanism that helps investors and founders guide the deal conversation, be a point of reference to create corporate legal documents during the process, and help make decisions after the deal.

Thanks for reading and feel free to give us a clap! Follow us on Medium for anything tech and VC related, updates on our fund, and more.

Written by Dominic Lau, Associate at Ripple Ventures

Guide to fast money: How to prepare for your first VC fundraising

Source: JPS Selection

Source: JPS Selection

You had an idea. You built your team. You created an MVP and you’ve even found a few potential customers.

Now it’s time to grow…and fast!

As operators, the team at Ripple Ventures knows that scaling can be a hard and slow process if you’re doing all the work yourself, but hiring experts requires capital. This is the point where most founders realize they need external funding, and if their friends and family have already been tapped, Venture Capital can be the next best source for strategic capital. And believe it or not, it can happen pretty fast if you’re prepared.

Properly preparing for your first VC meeting will greatly affect your chances of success. There’s more to it than just expressing your vision for the company and promising a revenue chart that goes up and to the right. Investors need to not only understand your business, but also have faith in the company’s early leadership team. One of the best ways to impress institutional investors is to show that you can handle any questions and concerns they throw at you, so preparation is key.

Here are 5 keys to getting VCs to say yes, and fast:

1. Do your research

This one may sound obvious, but you would be surprised by how many founders go into VC meetings not knowing the basics about a firm. Before sitting down with any investors, make sure you have looked into the following:

  • Their LinkedIn — you may have items in common!

  • Their website — make sure you meet their investment criteria

  • Their portfolio — do you fit in with their previous investments?

Doing your research ahead of time ensures that you have a minimum level of understanding about the firm, the people, and the overall investment thesis. This will allow you to ask educated questions that will impress your potential investors. A good first impression can go a long way when it comes to capturing investor attention, and making them want to move forward with you quickly.

2. Know your Numbers

Similar to doing your research, knowing your numbers (or not knowing your numbers) can greatly affect how investors view you as a founder. You need to know your numbers. Each investment firm will have different statistics they care about the most, but without exception, any educated investor will want to know the basics. While it may be tough to remember every number, here are some stats we wouldn’t enter a VC meeting without:



  • One-time revenue (Pilots/POCs)

  • Debt (Short and Long-term)

  • Monthly Burn/Runway

Customer/User Statistics

  • Average contract value

  • Average contract length

  • Customer acquisition costs

  • Usage statistics (where applicable)

Previous Investments

  • Past investors

  • Previous investment terms

  • How the money was spent


  • Total addressable market

  • Market growth rates

  • Competitor market share and differentiation

Remember, investors expect you to live and breath your company, and knowing your numbers lets them see you that you’re doing just that. Although your numbers may be changing constantly as you close more sales and optimize processes, having a good sense of where your company is at is an important skill for any founder.

3. Build your deck

In today’s day and age, a pitch deck is an expected aid in any VC conversation. This means that VCs end up seeing hundreds to thousands of decks every year, and as such, it is very easy for an investor to get bored of a deck and move on without even fully understanding what a company does. To avoid VCs losing interest, it is important to make sure the essential points are easy to find, and that there are not too many slides and distractions. A good rule of thumb is to keep your deck to fewer than 15 slides, with any non-critical slides included in an appendix at the end. Here is a good general outline for a VC pitch deck:

  1. Problem statement (1 slide)

  2. Company overview (1–5 slides)

  3. Market overview (1–3 slides)

  4. Team (1–2 slides)

  5. Previous investments and today’s ask (1–2 slides)

  6. Appendix (0–10 slides)

Having a good flow to the deck is another critical component to keep in mind, but if you cover all the topics above you should be ready for your initial VC meetings. Even though you know the contents of your slides really well, practice really does make perfect for VC pitch presentations, so make sure you put in the effort ahead of time to make sure the pitch goes flawlessly!

4. Know your story

Many great startup ideas are developed as a result of a personal problem or experience, and these stories can be a great asset for getting VCs onboard. Realizing this is the first step, but developing and refining the narrative to the point where it’s essentially a sales pitch is the hard part. Just like when building a slide deck, it’s important to be succinct when telling your story, while still being compelling. Your audience needs to believe there was actually a problem, and more importantly that the problem drove you to a novel solution that’s leagues ahead of the next-best alternative. This story can often be told as a prelude to your pitch as it is a good segway into Section 1 or 2 of the VC pitch deck template above. Once again practice makes perfect, so practice delivering your story over and over again until you can recite it in your sleep!

5. Put it all in one place

So, you did your research, you knew your numbers, you told your story, presented your deck, and the VC is interested! They want to move forward to the next step towards committing capital, which is often getting access to your data room. A data room is a single place with all your company’s documentation, research, financials, etc. for VCs to review. It takes a lot of work for a founder to prepare a data room, and as such, this is quite often one of the slowest parts of the capital raising process. If you go into your fundraising process with a data room already put together it can streamline the review process by the investment firm and help you raise money weeks faster. Here is a good template for what investors expect to find in your data room:

Folder 1: Company

  • Overview Materials (pitch deck, product overviews, and executive summary)

  • Legal

    • Formation Docs (certificates of incorporation, bylaws, stock purchase agreement, voting agreement, etc.)

    • Board Docs

    • Presentations

    • Minutes

    • Resolutions

  • Finance

    • Audits (if applicable)

    • Financial Model

    • Historical Financials

    • Operations (lease agreements)

    • Go-To-Market (marketing strategy, customer discovery and acquisition)

  • Sales

    • Customer Contracts

    • LOIs

    • Pipeline

    • Pricing Model

    • Partnerships/Integrations (descriptions and contracts where possible — lots of detail)

  • Employees (employment agreements, stock option grants)

  • Intellectual Property

  • Patents

  • Trademarks

Folder 2: Industry

  • Market Research

  • Competition

  • Top 3–5 competitors, outlining what they do well, what they do poorly, and what advantage you have over their solution

Folder 3: Fundraising Materials

  • Cap Table

  • Previous funding documents (SAFE’s, convertible notes, priced rounds.)

  • Any current funding documents, including documentation of existing commitments (if any)

This template is not exhaustive, and the more you can add to your data room the better. VCs like to know that all the cards are on the table, and by going into your conversations with a data room ready to go it creates a sense of transparency and professionalism that investors will appreciate. It is also a good idea to keep your data room up to date as your company grows, as building a new one from scratch for your next raise is a lot of work.

Next Steps:

Although the 5 keys above will go a long way in helping to secure funding for your startup, they are only part of the puzzle. Once you have completed your VC meeting it is a good idea to follow up the next day asking if any new questions have come to mind since you last spoke. Getting VCs to commit to next steps can sometimes be difficult, but always make sure to ask what their next steps would be if they are interested and identify ways to help the investors navigate the due diligence process. Raising money is a sport, and if you come prepared by using the suggestions above, you stand the best chance in receiving your financing…FAST!

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Thanks for reading and feel free to give us a clap! Follow us on Medium for anything tech and VC related, updates on our fund, and more.

Written by Josh GarbeAssociate at Ripple Ventures.

Welcoming Omelas to the Ripple Portfolio!


We are pleased to announce our newest investment in Omelas, a national security, private asset security, and Know-Your-Customer/Anti-Money Laundering compliance solution for financial institutions. The company is headquartered out of Washington, D.C. Ripple Ventures first met Omelas through an MIT Alumni Angels event in 2017 and has seen them grow substantially over the past year. With the team’s proven track record of execution, we were more than happy to support them as they continue to grow their platform.

Omelas’ platform known as ‘Symphony’ helps prevent violence by exposing threats around the world. Symphony maps and monitors ongoing situations, verified on the ground, online, and from above, to give clients the intelligence they need to keep staff and sites secure. Their extensive data on the networks of terrorist groups are invaluable to private and public institutions seeking to stay compliant. They’ve even foiled a terrorist attack against a European capital and the team has presented before the intelligence chiefs of four nations.

The team is led by Evanna Hu (CEO) and Ben Dubow (CTO). Evanna has worked at the intersection of governance, security, and technology in 25+ countries and prior to Omelas, she successfully founded two technology ventures. To date, she has briefed 4 national heads of intelligence and has advised 8 Cabinet/Ministerial members on tech and security. Ben previously worked at Google, where he led international expansion for select clients and drove the largest ever reduction in support issues for Google’s fastest growing product, DoubleClick Bid Manager. His work on jihadist and white supremacist propaganda while working in intelligence was published in AP, AFP, and Reuters.

Omelas’s technology automates and integrates the most complex and burdensome tasks in intelligence gathering, presenting the results in a robust and intuitive cloud-based dashboard. Underpinning their user-friendly front end, is a flexible, elastic architecture, among the first serverless infrastructures built on Amazon GovCloud. With unparalleled security, their system has withstood multiple simulated attacks from former NSA analysts and has yet to suffer an outage.

The Ripple team is extremely excited to welcome Omelas to the portfolio and to see them grow with us!

Ripple Ventures was launched this year with the belief that early-stage investments should be inclusive of ancillary services, beyond a typical capital injection, which is why we are taking an ‘operator first, investor second’ approach to our fund and opening an incubator for our portfolio companies to work from.

Welcoming Voiceflow to the Ripple Portfolio!

We are extremely excited to announce our newest investment in Ripple Ventures Fund I, VoiceFlow. The team first got introduced to the founders of VoiceFlow through one of our existing private portfolio founders from RoseRocket. Ripple Ventures led the $500,000 round.

Voiceflow is a platform that allows content owners/creators to easily create and monetize voice content without any coding knowledge. While their competition is mainly focused on creating voice apps, Voiceflow focuses on helping users create and distribute voice content through their existing platform for smart speakers content (Alexa, and Google Assistant, etc.). Their go-to-market strategy is the distribution of interactive children’s stories (allowing children to interact and make decisions about the direction of the story), however their technology can be used by any enterprise content requiring voice interactions as well.

“There is a growing number of smart speakers in homes across North America, with the rate of adoption trending higher than that of the mobile phone, targeting 75 percent household penetration within the next two years,” said Braden Ream, co-founder and CEO of Voiceflow. “Smart speaker voice entertainment is growing and Voiceflow makes it easy for people to find voice entertainment they love, and for creators to quickly build and monetize this content on smart speakers. Think of us like the YouTube for voice entertainment, where the best content is recommended for you, and anyone can create and share this content, without coding.”

We are very happy to have Braden Ream, Andrew Lawrence, and Michael Hood join the Ripple network!

Ripple Ventures was launched this year with the belief that early-stage investments should be inclusive of ancillary services, beyond a typical capital injection, which is why we are taking an ‘operator first, investor second’ approach to our fund and opening an incubator for our portfolio companies to work from.

Ripple Ventures Closes $10 Million for Early-Stage Fund I

Ripple Ventures_Logo FINAL (2).png

Ripple Ventures, a new early-stage fund based in Toronto, has launched with $10 million closed.

Managed by Matt Cohen and Michael Garbe, Fund I has LPs based in the US and Canada, including Lorne Gertner, Devon Wright, and Michael Diamond. In the past, Cohen has invested in companies like Turnstyle, which was acquired by Yelp for $20 million USD last year, and Tokyo Smoke, which was acquired by Canopy for $250 million over the summer.

“Matt Cohen was the first person to support me and the team at Turnstyle back in 2012 when we started up the company,” said Turnstyle co-founder Wright, who is currently a GM at Yelp. “He can pick out the character of a winning team and push them to achieve more than they thought possible. Matt is exactly what early-stage companies need to get to the next stage. I am excited to be apart of the inaugural Ripple Ventures fund, and look forward to helping other entrepreneurs achieve success and fulfilment in building their business.”

Fund I’s first investments include virtual healthcare platform OnCall Health, and Techstars alumni Tread Technologies.

Preferring to lead deals, average cheque sizes from Ripple Ventures sit at $250,000 and $500,000, with a portion allocated to invest in follow-on rounds. Fund I’s first investments include virtual healthcare platform OnCall Health, and Techstars alumni Tread Technologies.

In addition to the fund, Ripple Ventures will launch a Toronto-based incubator space on October 1 called the Tank. The goal is to allow founders to work with other like-minded entrepreneurs in the same stage.

“Ripple Ventures was launched this year with the belief that early-stage investments should be inclusive of ancillary services, beyond a typical capital injection, which is why we are taking an ‘operator first, investor second’ approach to our fund and opening an incubator for our portfolio companies to work from,” said Cohen, founder and managing partner at Ripple Ventures.

Entrepreneurs-in-residence supporting the Tank include TWG director of product Oz Nazilli; former Achievers director of finance and FirstCFO principal Mark Halpren; and former Street Contxt chief of staff Elisha Gray. OMX founder Nicole Verkindt and Roche Molecular Systems research director Nancy Shoenbrunner are among its advisors.

Moving forward, the fund will focus on early-stage companies in Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, and Boston. Preferred verticals include software companies in healthcare and enterprise, as well as companies in blockchain, industrial services, media, and real estate.

How Startups Can Improve Their Odds of Becoming a Unicorn

Original Article:


In 2017, we showed that 57 startups were able to achieve unicorn status – a rare designation that is reserved only for privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more.

While this number may seem high, unicorns are still quite the rarity.

In the U.S. alone, there are currently 19,550 venture-backed startups vying for those same massive valuations. At the same time, it’s been estimated that each new startup only has a 0.00006% chance of becoming a billion dollar company.


No one ever said that joining the ranks of unicorns would be easy, but there is some good news for aspiring founders.

Today’s infographic, which comes to us from FounderKit, looks at traits of existing unicorns – and analyzing this wealth of data might help entrepreneurs in shaping their own companies for future success.



Put together with information from Fortune and Crunchbase, this infographic gives us some clues as to how game-changing unicorns have been built in the past.

While it’s certainly not a prescription for future success, it does provide a blueprint for what’s needed to improve your chances of beating the odds.


If you’re an entrepreneur with billion dollar dreams, take a close look at the categories that best resemble your startup.

For example, if your model depends on leasing hardware to the energy sector as a major revenue source, you should note that the odds are mostly against you. For starters, only 7% of unicorns are hardware companies, and energy doesn’t register high as a major business sector that has seen many unicorns. Further, companies that rent or lease their physical or intellectual assets make up just 1% of recent unicorn companies, which makes this particular model look pretty disadvantageous.

It doesn’t mean that this idea is not feasible – maybe it’s an underappreciated sector, or the idea is completely groundbreaking. However, given the information above, it’s most likely that this will be a tough go, so it’s worth making adjustments accordingly.


Based on the above information, what combination of startup traits could provide the most common recipe for unicorn status?

Let’s create a hypothetical new startup:

  • It should be consumer focused, since the majority of companies are B2C (62%)
  • It should provide software, since 87% of all unicorns focus there

  • This startup should be retail/e-commerce marketplace focused, a category home to a whopping 25% of recent unicorns

  • It should have a model based on commission or brokerage fees (33% of recent unicorns)

It’s not hard to see similarities with the above traits and recent unicorns like Shopify or Airbnb, which both serve as solid precedents for success.

Of course, it’s far from a guarantee of future unicorn status, but it does mean that you likely have better than a 0.00006% chance.

Canopy Growth to Acquire Hiku Brands (Formally Tokyo Smoke) to Strengthen Retail and Brand Portfolio


Original Article:


Canopy Growth Corporation ("Canopy Growth") (TSX:WEED) (NYSE: CGC) and Hiku Brands Company Ltd. ("Hiku") (CSE:HIKU) (together, the "Companies") are pleased to announce that they have entered into a definitive arrangement agreement (the "Agreement") pursuant to which Canopy Growth will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Hiku (the "Transaction").

Under the terms of the Agreement, Hiku shareholders will receive 0.046 of a Canopy Growth common share (each whole share, a "Canopy Share") in exchange for each common share of Hiku (each, a "Hiku Share"), representing the equivalent of C$1.91 per Hiku Share and a premium of 33% based on the 20-day volume weighted average prices of the Canopy Shares and the Hiku Shares as of July 9, 2018, and a premium of approximately 21% based on the closing prices of the Canopy Shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange ("TSX") and the Hiku Shares on the Canadian Stock Exchange ("CSE") on July 9, 2018.

"Hiku equals brands. Canopy is built on brands. So we combined them," said Bruce Linton, Chairman & CEO, Canopy Growth, in haiku.

Alan Gertner, Chief Executive Officer of Hiku said: "This Transaction represents an incredible step in the Hiku journey that both realizes immediate benefits for our shareholders and at the same time provides an unparalleled opportunity to join forces with a preeminent global cannabis player. Ultimately, together we will continue to build one of the world's most engaging and successful cannabis retail and brand business. Canopy is a truly special cannabis company that is well positioned to lead both in Canada and around the world."

Transaction Highlights:

  • Secures an Immediate Attractive Premium for Hiku Shareholders: The Transaction provides Hiku shareholders with a premium of 33% based on the 20-day volume weighted average prices of the Canopy Shares and the Hiku Shares as of July 9, 2018, and a premium of 21% based on the closing prices of the Canopy Shares on the TSX and the Hiku Shares on the CSE on July 9, 2018.

  • Strengthening a Leading Vertically Integrated Global Cannabis Company: Canopy Growth is a leading diversified global cannabis company and market leader with distinct brands and an award-winning product portfolio that spans federally legal markets around the globe in both medical and recreational segments. This transaction strengthens the diversity and range of brands in the portfolio and improves access to multiple demographic segments.

  • Integration of Retail Operations: The Transaction provides Canopy Growth and Hiku with an integration and expansion opportunity with respect to retail stores in provinces where direct consumer sales will be permitted pursuant to the Cannabis Act, including a pipeline of growth opportunities.

  • Complimentary Portfolio of Brands: The Transaction provides Canopy Growth and Hiku with the opportunity to leverage a combined portfolio of established brands through their respective retail stores across the country and thereby generate incremental opportunities with distributors.

  • Alignment with Strong Management Team: Hiku's strong management team brings best-in-class retail, design and marketing experience, which are well aligned with and further supplements Canopy's existing strategy and operations.

  • Strong Access to and Immediate Availability of Capital: Canopy Growth recently closed the issuance of convertible notes amounting to $600 million in gross proceeds. This capital and liquidity will support both Companies continued expansion efforts

  • Continued Participation in Expanded Platform for Future Growth: Hiku shareholders, through their ownership of Canopy Shares, will have the opportunity to participate in the growth of Canopy Growth and will benefit from the enhanced growth prospects of the combined company. The Transaction will provide substantial infrastructure and operational support to accelerate Hiku's growth strategy, future product development and innovation, together with Canopy Growth and its global partners.

  • Enhanced Liquidity and Capital Markets Profile: Canopy Growth is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE") and the TSX. Canopy Shares are highly liquid with an average daily trading volume of approximately 5.4 million shares, representing approximately C$197 million on a daily basis over the last three months.


Additional Transaction Details

The Transaction will be carried out by way of a court-approved plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) and will require the approval of at least 66 2/3% of the votes cast by the shareholders of Hiku at a special meeting expected to take place in August 2018 (the "Meeting"). In addition to Hiku shareholder approval, the Transaction is subject to applicable regulatory, court and stock exchange approvals and certain other closing conditions customary in transactions of this nature. No approval of Canopy Growth shareholders is required in connection with the Transaction.

The board of directors of Hiku (the "Hiku Board") has unanimously approved the Agreement and recommends that shareholders of Hiku vote IN FAVOUR of the Transaction. A management information circular will be mailed to shareholders in connection with the Meeting. BMO Capital Markets and INFOR Financial Inc. have each provided an opinion to the Hiku Board to the effect that, based upon and subject to the assumptions, limitations, and qualifications in such opinions, the consideration to be received pursuant to the Agreement is fair, from a financial point of view, to Hiku shareholders.

Each of the directors and senior officers of Hiku, who hold in aggregate 28.5% of the issued and outstanding Hiku Shares, have entered into voting support agreements with respect to the Transaction pursuant to which, among other things, they have agreed to vote in favour of the Transaction at the Meeting.

The board of directors of Canopy Growth (the "Canopy Board") has unanimously approved the Agreement. Greenhill & Co. Canada Ltd. ("Greenhill") has provided an opinion to the Canopy Board that, subject to the assumptions, limitations and qualifications set out in such opinion, the exchange ratio provided for in the Agreement is fair, from a financial point of view, to Canopy Growth.

The Agreement includes certain non-solicitation covenants subject to the right of Hiku to accept a superior proposal in certain circumstances, with Canopy Growth having a five-business day right to match any such superior proposal received by Hiku. The Agreement also provides for the payment of a C$15 million termination fee, if the Transaction is terminated in certain specified circumstances.

On July 10, 2018, the Hiku Board unanimously determined, after receiving the advice of its financial and legal advisors, that the Transaction constitutes a "Superior Proposal" pursuant to the arrangement agreement between Hiku and WeedMD Inc. ("WeedMD") originally announced on April 19, 2018 (the "WeedMD Agreement"). The Hiku Board provided notice of that determination to WeedMD.  WeedMD has waived its "right to match" the proposal by Canopy Growth.  Accordingly, the WeedMD Agreement has been terminated and Hiku has paid a termination fee of C$10 million to WeedMD pursuant the terms of the WeedMD Agreement. Canopy has advanced Hiku the funds to pay the termination fee pursuant to a promissory note.


About Canopy Growth Corporation

Canopy Growth is a world-leading diversified cannabis and hemp company, offering distinct brands and curated cannabis varieties in dried, oil and Softgel capsule forms. From product and process innovation to market execution, Canopy Growth is driven by a passion for leadership and a commitment to building a world-class cannabis company one product, site and country at a time.

Canopy Growth has established partnerships with leading sector names including cannabis icon Snoop Dogg, breeding legends DNA Genetics and Green House seeds, and Fortune 500 alcohol leader Constellation Brands, to name but a few. Canopy Growth operates ten cannabis production sites with over 2.4 million square feet of production capacity, including over 500,000 square feet of GMP-certified production space. Canopy Growth has operations in eight countries across five continents. The Company is proudly dedicated to educating healthcare practitioners, conducting robust clinical research, and furthering the public's understanding of cannabis, and through its partly owned subsidiary, Canopy Health Innovations, has devoted millions of dollars toward cutting edge, commercializable research and IP development. Through partly owned subsidiary Canopy Rivers Corporation, Canopy Growth is providing resources and investment to new market entrants and building a portfolio of stable investments in the sector. From our historic public listing to our continued international expansion, pride in advancing shareholder value through leadership is engrained in all we do at Canopy Growth. For more information visit


About Hiku Brands

Hiku is focused on building a portfolio of engaging cannabis brands, unsurpassed retail experiences and handcrafted cannabis production. With a national retail footprint led by Tokyo Smoke, craft cannabis production through DOJA's ACMPR licensed grow, Van der Pop's female-focused educational platforms, and Maïtri, our Quebec based cannabis brand featuring high quality handmade accessories, Hiku houses an industry-leading portfolio that aims to set the bar for cannabis brands in Canada.


Hiku's wholly-owned subsidiary, DOJA Cannabis Ltd., is federally licensed to cultivate and sell cannabis pursuant to the ACMPR, owning two production facilities in the heart of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Hiku's subsidiary, TS Brandco Holdings Inc. ("Tokyo Smoke"), has been conditionally awarded one of four master retail licenses in Manitoba. Hiku also operates a network of retail stores selling coffee, clothing and curated accessories, across British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.


SOURCE Hiku Brands Company Ltd.

Is Canada tech's next frontier? VC's think so.

Original Article:


Though tensions are rising between President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, relations between Canadian startups and US-based venture capital firms are thriving.

Historically, the lion's share of venture capital has been funneled into companies in close proximity to Sand Hill Road, the famed street that's home to some of the most renowned venture capital firms. And though Silicon Valley still receives the largest portion of VC, more and more funding is being poured into Utah, Colorado, Texas and other geographies that were once infrequently visited by VCs.

Investors from US-based VC firms are also traveling north to Canada more than ever, with Canadian startups attracting a record amount of US investment in recent years, according to PitchBook's 1H 2018 Canadian PE & VC FactBook.


Canada has seen a healthy uptick in overall VC funding YoY. In 2016, deal value hit a decade high with $2.39 billion injected in some 500 deals, per the PitchBook Platform. So far in 2018, startups have secured $1.3 billion across 178 VC deals. Companies based in Toronto and Montreal, Canada's largest tech hubs, have pulled in roughly one-third of that total.

"The biggest growth market will be in Canada, and it'll be Toronto and Montreal," Lerer Hippeau partner Graham Brown told PitchBook. "I imagine we are only going to see [them] grow over the coming years."

Lerer Hippeau, an early-stage VC firm that typically backs New York-based founders, has completed four investments in Canadian tech in the last year, including in Toronto-based cannabis media site Herb, Montreal-based employee engagement app WorkJam and two others that have yet to be announced. Brown said that number is substantial for the firm, which typically allocates one-third of each fund to companies outside New York, but has seldom backed Canadian startups.

Lerer Hippeau isn't the only US firm to notice Canada's rising tech community. SOSV has completed more than 50 investments since the start of 2010, while Keiretsu Forum, Right Side Capital Management and FundersClub have each closed at least 20 deals. And since 2012, more US investors have invested in Canadian companies than Canadian VCs themselves—about 43.1% of Canadian VC deals this year have US-based investor participation, per PitchBook's 1H 2018 Canadian PE & VC FactBook.

 Why the sudden interest in Canada? Brown says Shopify's unicorn IPO had a lot to do with his surge in interest.

Shopify priced its IPO at $17 per share in 2015, garnering a reported $1.3 billion valuation at its stock market debut. The ecommerce company had raised more than $120 million in VC backing—a notable feat. Of the Canadian companies that are currently VC-backed, just 24 have raised $100 million or more in equity funding, though with increased investment, that number is poised to climb.

Brown added that AI talent in Canada, as well as the government's efforts to prevent brain drain, have contributed to the spike in VC funding. Venture investment in Canadian AI startups hit a major high in 2017 with about $400 million invested, per PitchBook data, including a $37 million round for AI-enabled retail intelligence company Rubikloud. Canadian AI companies have pulled in $160 million so far this year.

In an effort to both incubate AI talent and diminish brain drain, the Government of Canada has injected C$125 million in the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, a partnership with three recently established AI institutes in Canada. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of Canadian AI researchers and skilled graduates. The Canadian government has also established a C$950 million "Innovation Supercluster Initiative" to support and drive job growth in Canadian "innovation superclusters"—or dense areas of business activity such as Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto—that contain both large and small companies.
Canada, led by Trudeau's efforts, also recently won a bid to host one of the largest tech conferences in North America, Collision. It's a big win for Canada—the conference, which has been based in New Orleans for the last several years, will be located in Toronto next year, putting an international spotlight on the city's burgeoning tech ecosystem.

In a statement to Inc., Paddy Cosgrave, founder and CEO of Collision, said the decision was a reflection of Canada's tolerance. "At the very moment when some countries around the world seem to be shutting their borders, when intolerance is on the rise, Toronto stands for diversity and inclusion," he explained.

"At the very moment when some countries around the world seem to be shutting their borders, when intolerance is on the rise, Toronto stands for diversity and inclusion."
          —Collision CEO Paddy Cosgrave

Trudeau has also traveled to Silicon Valley to encourage tech heavyweights to invest in Canada. During his most recent visit in February, he met with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in what was likely an effort to sway the tech billionaire into selecting Toronto for its second headquarters location.

The same week, he paid a visit to Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, just as the company announced it would invest $2 billion in its Canadian business in the next five years. In May, Salesforce Ventures launched a $100 million vehicle to invest in Canadian startups. The corporate venture capital arm of Salesforce has already invested in several companies in the country, including video platform Vidyard and sales software provider LeadSift.

The hope is that US investment, both from VCs and corporations, coupled with increased government efforts, will diminish brain drain in Canada, something Trudeau has expressed concern over in the past. "Quite frankly, we're tired of Google poaching our best graduates from the University of Waterloo and sucking them down to California," he remarked at a previous Google event in Toronto.

After all, University of Waterloo is a leader when it comes to training unicorn founders. The school, which is about two hours from Toronto, ties for fourth place with the University of California, Berkeley when it comes to producing the most founders with billion dollar companies, per PitchBook's 2017 Universities Report. The eight entrepreneurs to come from the University of Waterloo include the founders of Wish, Pivotal Softwareand Instacart.

The Canadian government is making a conscious effort to turn Toronto into a global tech hub, and Brown agrees: "There's a lot of evidence that that ecosystem will continue to grow," he said.

Tread Ready to Disrupt the Construction Industry

Original Article: 


Recognizing opportunities to disrupt the multi-trillion dollar construction industry, a slew of startups are focused strictly on developing technologies to make construction projects go more smoothly while increasing productivity and efficiencies. Investors are joining the game, with a number of venture capital firms formed with the purpose of investing in construction technology.

As evidence of the growing interest in the field, funding in North American construction technology startups surged by 318 percent to $581.6 million in 2017 compared with $182.7 million in 2013, according to Crunchbase data. Investors pumped dollars into 87 known North American deals last year compared to 44 in 2013.

Those figures are expected to go way up in 2018. In January, one startup alone—Menlo Park based Katerra—brought in $865 million from Softbank, RiverPark Ventures, and Four Score Capital in a Series D round. That’s more than the whole sector raised in 2013 and 2017 combined. According to its Crunchbase profile, the startup optimizes “every aspect of building development, design, and construction.” It has raised $1.1 billion since its inception in 2015.

A number of other companies in the space are growing. San Francisco-based Rhumbix has raised more than $20 million to develop its mobile platform designed for the construction craft workforce. Most recently, it brought in $7.4 million in a Series A round last September. Carpinteria, Calif.-based Procore Technologies, which has developed a cloud-based construction management software application and is backed by investors such as Bessemer Venture Partners and ICONIQ Capital, has raised $229 million over time. San Francisco-based PlanGrid also markets a cloud-based productivity software that aims to help owners, general contractors, and subcontractors collaborate on blueprints and building documents from any device. It raised a $6.9 million Series B round last September and has brought in $66 million in total since it was founded in 2011.

On the investor side, newly-formed Boston-based Four Score Capital is an example of a VC firm focused strictly on real estate technology. The West Coast is also home to firms targeting the construction space. Brick & Mortar Ventures, based out of San Francisco, backs startups developing software and hardware solutions for the real estate, hospitality, and construction industries. Los Angeles-based Navitas Capital is focused on real estate and construction technology.

Greylock Partners, which invested in Rhumbix, is not focused exclusively on construction tech. However, it’s eyeing more deals in the space, according to Partner Jerry Chen.

“Construction is a multi-trillion dollar industry that is beginning to adopt technology aggressively to reduce costs and increase productivity,” he told Crunchbase News.

David Glynn, president and managing director of Glynn Capital Management (another Rhumbix investor), notes that, over the past 30 years, the construction industry has struggled with productivity challenges.

“Within any project, labor is by far the biggest cost driver, representing over 50 percent of the total cost,” he said. “With profit margins of 1-3 percent, any improvement in productivity or efficiency makes a big difference to overall profits.” Glynn acknowledges that the construction vertical has historically been “a tough industry for IT providers to crack.” Construction companies are not known for spending very much on IT or R&D, “and the people and process make selling into the industry a challenge,” according to Glynn.

To his point, a June 2016 McKinsey & Co. study found that the construction industry is among the least digitized. Implementing solutions across construction sites for multiple sectors that are geographically dispersed is more than a little challenging.

“The construction industry has been historically very slow to adopt technology and has been very resistant to change,” Glynn said. “To the extent that Rhumbix and some of the other emerging companies in the space can provide real value and ROI, we think you will start to see an acceleration of adoption of technology in the industry.”

Ripple Ventures @ TechStars Demo Day


Ripple Ventures Managing Partner, Matt Cohen, had the honour to introduce one of our amazing portfolio companies today at the inaugural TechStars Demo Day in Toronto. Noah Dolgoy (CEO & Founder of & Merrick Read (CTO & Co-Founder of did an incredible job presenting! Watch the video below to see all the great companies that presented today.

Watch Here: 

(1:37:50 mark)

OnCall Health completes seed funding led by Ripple Ventures to expand Encrypted Virtual Care Platform across North America


TORONTO, CANADA (March 29th , 2018) - OnCall Health is proud to announce Ripple Ventures as their new lead investor. The partnership between Ripple Ventures and OnCall Health will expand the reach of the Toronto technology startup’s main product (a virtual care platform) as well as accelerate their vision to improve accessible mental health options for patients from Canada and the United States. With a focus on privacy, security, and accessibility, OnCall Health has created an effective tool for healthcare providers to enhance their patient experience.

"I’m thrilled to announce that we’re bringing on Ripple Ventures as our lead investor,” said Nicholas Chepesiuk, CEO, OnCall Health, “Ripple has a strong track record of funding companies that bring a new approach to large, complex, or high growth industries. It’s an honour to be in Ripple’s portfolio. We see virtual care or telehealth being a component of every healthcare provider’s toolkit in the near future. To make that vision a reality, we are investing heavily in our technology and human resources.”

Clinical research shows that most healthcare appointments do not need to be conducted in person, and patients express high satisfaction rates with virtual healthcare appointments. However, the vast majority of clinicians have yet to adopt virtual care technology to use with their patients.

Today, thousands of healthcare providers across Canada and the United States use OnCall Health to support existing features of their practice, and to expand their practice with new tools that are HIPAA and PHIPA compliant.

“OnCall Health is a B2B market leader in end-to-end encryption (E2E encryption) telemedicine services. They are changing the way patients can access their healthcare providers, while still protecting patient privacy and continuity. Skype, Google Hangouts and Facetime tools are not healthcare compliant nor are they designed for handling sensitive data. Ripple Ventures is proud to lead this seed round in OnCall Health, as we are strong believers in how they will continue to attract healthcare practitioners and service professionals who want to increase satisfaction with clients while maintaining privacy and efficiency." Matt Cohen, Managing Partner, Ripple Ventures


About Ripple Ventures

Ripple Ventures is an early-stage venture fund focused on investing in seed stage companies building frontier technologies in North America. With teams in Toronto, Boston & San Francisco, Ripple looks to support entrepreneurs who seek to revolutionize the most competitive global industries by solving difficult problems with unique solutions. The fund has a strong focus on three main areas: Enterprise Software, Enterprise Blockchain & Healthcare/Life Sciences. For more info visit:


About OnCall Health

OnCall Health enables thousands of healthcare providers to improve access to their services. Providing an easy and secure way for healthcare providers to schedule and host secure video, text, and phone consultations with their patients, OnCall Health can also automate many administrative tasks such as scheduling, form completion, and payment processing. OnCall Health ensures patient privacy by encrypting all interactions which occur in the system, and complies with all relevant healthcare privacy legislation. OnCall Health works with providers in both Canada and the United States, and provides a white label solution for larger healthcare enterprises. OnCall Health is based in Toronto and was founded in 2016.


Check out this recent blog post on the funding by OnCall Health CEO & Founder, Nicholas Chepesiuk:

Announcing OnCall’s Seed Funding

Ripple Ventures Co-Leads Investment in Nicoya Lifesciences

Nicoya Lifesciences raises $2 million to change how the next generation of drugs will be discovered


Kitchener, ON: Nicoya Lifesciences, a leader in biotechnology, has raised $2 million in its latest financing round. Nicoya’s financing round was filled entirely by investors in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor. The financing round was led by Ripple Ventures and GTAN, with participation from MaRS IAF, BDC, Garage Capital, Angel One, Maple Leaf Angels, Innovation Grade Ventures, the Laurier Startup Fund, the University of Waterloo Student Venture Fund and the Waterloo Alumni Angels.

Nicoya Lifesciences uses nanotechnology to make complex and expensive scientific
instruments accessible to everyone. By using highly sensitive biosensors, these instruments allow scientists to better understand diseases and develop new drugs to treat them. Giving more people access to these powerful tools will help accelerate new discoveries and help extend human life throughout the world.

Nicoya Lifesciences was launched in 2012 as a spin-out of the University of Waterloo. Today, their scientific instruments have been used by hundreds of innovative researchers in over 25 countries.

"The entire Nicoya team has built a product that lets academic & private institutions run tests at a fraction of the cost,” said Matt Cohen, Managing Partner of Ripple Ventures “We are confident that their data-driven sales strategy will accelerate their time to market and quickly disrupt the fragmented SPR industry. Ripple Ventures is thrilled to co-lead this investment in Nicoya Lifesciences.”

“Investing in Nicoya was a no-brainer for us. This financing really highlights the growth and success of angel investing in Ontario. A record eleven angel investors from GTAN, as well as ten other angels from Maple Leaf One and Angel One, participated in this oversubscribed raise,” said Brian Hunter, President of NorthSpring Capital Partners and co-lead for GTAN.

The funding will support new product development and expand sales and marketing. “We are developing some of the most advanced biosensor technologies in the world and we are excited about the impact they will have on human health in the future," said Ryan Denomme, Nicoya Lifesciences co-founder and CEO. Nicoya Lifesciences is currently hiring!

Be a part of their mission to extend human life, apply now:


About Nicoya Lifesciences Inc.

Launched in 2012, Nicoya Lifesciences is a Canadian biotechnology company whose mission is to extend human life by enabling deeper knowledge of the biological world. Nicoya Lifesciences instruments are used by hundreds of world-renowned researchers in over 25 different countries. Information about Nicoya Lifesciences can be found at

Tokyo Smoke announces merger ​​to create ​​Canada's ​​first ​​retail ​​& ​​brand-focused ​​cannabis ​​producer

DOJA Cannabis and Tokyo Smoke announce merger and strategic investment from Aphria Inc.



  • Two Canadian cannabis lifestyle brands join forces in a transformational transaction, bringing together industry leading management teams, British Columbia curated handcrafted cannabis production, a portfolio of visionary brands and a growing nationwide retail footprint.

  • Provides the first public markets investment opportunity focused on cannabis retail and brand; high-margin verticals with significant growth potential.

  • A strategic financing of $12.5 million led by Aphria Inc. will bolster the combined company's cash position to approximately $31 million, which the company plans to invest in scaling up production capacity, expanding its retail footprint and further building-out its portfolio of cannabis brands.

Cannabis  Company  Limited  ("DOJA")   (CSE: DOJA)  and  TS  Brandco  Holdings  Inc.  ("Tokyo  Smoke ") are pleased to announce that they have entered into a binding Letter of Intent ("LOI ") dated December 20, 2017, setting out the terms pursuant to which DOJA  proposes to acquire (the " Merger ") all of the issued and outstanding shares in the capital of Tokyo  Smoke  (the " Tokyo  Smoke  Shares "). The Merger will create a uniquely positioned cannabis company combining a best-in-class craft cannabis producer with an award-winning lifestyle brand and retail-focused cannabis company. It is anticipated that the combined company resulting from the Merger will use the name "Hiku Brands Company Ltd." (" Hiku " or the " Company ") to refer to the brand house containing premium cannabis brands DOJA, Tokyo Smoke, and Van der Pop.

Concurrently, DOJA is pleased to announce it has entered into a binding agreement with Aphria Inc. (" Aphria ") (TSX: APH) (OTCQB: APHQF) pursuant to which Aphria has committed to make a $10 million strategic equity investment into Hiku. Additionally, the parties have agreed on the terms of a supply agreement, to be entered into in connection with the Merger (the " Supply  Agreement "), to secure cannabis concentrate supply for Hiku's premium brand portfolio.Upon completion of the Merger, the Company will have a robust cash position of approximately $31 million, which it plans to invest in expanding its cannabis production capacity, growing its retail footprint, and adding select brands to its portfolio through highly strategic and complementary acquisitions. DOJA's Board of Directors and Tokyo Smoke's Board of Directors have approved the Merger.

Highlights  of  the  Transformational  Transaction

  • Creation  of  the  first  retail-focused,  craft  cannabis  producer  with  a  portfolio  of  leading lifestyle  cannabis  brands:  Hiku will be differentiated as the only Canadian craft cannabis producer with significant national retail presence and a growing portfolio of premium cannabis lifestyle brands including DOJA, Tokyo Smoke, and Van der Pop, appealing to a wide variety of consumers across Canada and globally.

  • Well  positioned  to  capitalize  on  Canada's  recreational  cannabis  market  through  retail:
    Hiku has multiple highly recognizable brands and strategies in place to operate retail cannabis stores across various provinces .  Vertically integrated operations position Hiku to offer exclusive products in Hiku-owned stores and achieve superior margins versus peers.

  • Licensed  producer  under  the  Access  to  Cannabis  for  Medical  Purposes  Regulations
    (ACMPR):  7,100 square foot production facility licensed by Health Canada. DOJA's second facility, a 22,580 sq ft warehouse, will house the FUTURE LAB. The FUTURE LAB is targeting its Phase 1 completion by Q2 2018 and once the facility is fully built-out utilizing an industry leading multi-tier system powered by LED lighting provided by Fluence BioEngineering, DOJA's annual production capacity is expected to be in excess of 5,000 kgs.

  • Retail  locations  from  Eastern  to  Western  Canada,  with  plans  to  expand:  Hiku will have seven operational, legal cannabis accessory stores with locations across Canada (Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia), representing an unprecedented platform to build brand awareness and reach consumers. Hiku will prioritize retail expansion in provinces allowing private cannabis retail and Tokyo Smoke and DOJA will respond to the Government of Manitoba's Request for Proposals to establish retail cannabis stores throughout the province.

  • Strategic  Partnership  with  Aphria:    Aphria's strategic investment into Hiku marks Aphria's first venture into British Columbia's premium cannabis market. Combined with the Supply Agreement, the partnership with Aphria brings unparalleled experience in cannabis production and ensures secured supply for what is expected to be a supply-constrained market at the onset of legalization.

  • Led  by  industry  leading  management  and  team : Hiku management has breadth and depth of expertise, with a proven track record of building and scaling businesses, including SAXX Underwear and a $100 million+ business at Google. The supporting team brings expertise from the retail, cannabis, finance, design, marketing and creative fields.

  • Well  capitalized  for  local  and  global  growth: Post-Merger, Hiku is expected to have a cash balance of approximately $31 million and to be well positioned to expand within the Canadian market and enter into the emerging global cannabis markets.

  • Enhanced  capital  markets  profile:  The combined entity post-financing is anticipated to have a basic market capitalization of approximately $175 million at the transaction price, as well as increased trading liquidity for existing and prospective shareholders.

DOJA operates a cannabis production facility in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, and is in the process of building FUTURE LAB, DOJA's new production facility to be located in Kelowna, British Columbia to support production capacity in excess of 5,000 kg per year. DOJA also operates the Culture Café, a café located on Kelowna's busiest street serving as a cannabis information centre that generates brand awareness. With the addition of Tokyo Smoke, an award-winning lifestyle brand with six coffee and cannabis accessory shops, Hiku will have a retail presence across Canada with a portfolio of multiple recognized cannabis brands including DOJA, Tokyo Smoke and Van der Pop. The Company's aggressive growth strategy will be supported by a strong balance sheet, positioning Hiku to be the preeminent craft cannabis brand house in the Canadian adult-use cannabis market.

Trent Kitsch, CEO of DOJA, said, "We have created the leading brand house in Cannabis. Where high quality and design will shape the Cannabis Future. I am confident Hiku will be trusted by consumers to design better customer experiences and products, resulting in greater market share. Tokyo Smoke's experienced management team has proven its ability to build and acquire respected cannabis brands and create brand awareness in a difficult-to-navigate regulatory environment. We see leveraging those skills and their strong retail operating abilities as highly complementary to our current operations and beneficial to the long-term trajectory of our company. The combination of cannabis production, retail footprint, and a portfolio of cannabis brands gives us the opportunity to realize the significant value of complete vertical integration."

Alan Gertner, CEO of Tokyo Smoke, added, "DOJA is an incredible organization, team and brand. DOJA's deeply authentic BC story combined with being one of the only licensed producers that have access to unique genetics through an import license creates a platform to provide customers an unrivaled premium experience. Not to mention, DOJA's cultivation team has already demonstrated their ability to deliver on all levels of production, including quality, yield and ensuring the plant's fullest potential is expressed through aroma, flavor and effects. Craft British Columbia approach, top notch branding, and retail will allow Hiku to have a distinctive business; high quality control, high demand and high margin."

"This strategic investment in and supply agreement with Hiku further bolsters our relationship with Tokyo Smoke and now DOJA, and reaffirms our commitment to expanding our product offering ahead of the recreational market," said Vic Neufeld, Chief Executive Officer of Aphria. "This transaction has the twofold benefit of providing us access to strong brands, through Tokyo Smoke and DOJA, and craft-cultivated British Columbia bud, through DOJA. Quality product and recognizable consumer brands will be key differentiators for patients and consumers, and we're looking forward to continuing our work with Hiku to create premium cannabis brands in Canada."

Benefits  to  DOJA  Shareholders

  • Tokyo Smoke owns two premium cannabis brands in the cannabis industry, Van der Pop and Tokyo Smoke, the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Cannabis Brand of the Year Award

  • Internationally acclaimed and award-winning cannabis accessory stores with locations cross country

  • The addition of a management team with deep relevant experience from Google, Samsung, Bain & Company, Barneys New York, David's Tea, Lululemon, Kit & Ace, PharmaCan Capital (now Cronos Group), Privateer and Marley's Natural

  • Completed licensing and supply deals in Canada

  • Strategic investment of $12.5 million led by Aphria and including Uji Capital

Merger  Structure  and  Terms

Under the terms of the Merger, DOJA will acquire all of the outstanding Tokyo Smoke Shares in exchange for shares of DOJA (" DOJA  Shares "). The LOI currently contemplates the parties entering into a definitive agreement (the " Definitive Agreement ") prior to January 15, 2018, and completing the Merger by no later than March 31, 2018, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. The Merger is subject to requisite regulatory approvals, including the approval of the Canadian Securities Exchange, requisite Tokyo Smoke shareholder approval and standard closing conditions, including the approval of the Definitive Agreement by the boards of the respective companies and completion of due diligence investigations to the satisfaction of each of the parties. The legal structure for the Merger will be confirmed after the parties have considered all applicable tax, securities law, and accounting efficiencies. Based upon the number of Tokyo Smoke Shares outstanding as at December 21, 2017, if the Merger is completed, DOJA will issue approximately 55.6 million DOJA Shares to the shareholders of Tokyo Smoke in exchange for their Tokyo Smoke Shares.

Strategic  Financing

Aphria, along with Uji Capital (collectively the " Strategic  Investors ") have entered into binding agreements with DOJA pursuant to which the Strategic Investors will acquire from DOJA, on a non-brokered private placement basis, 8,992,805 subscription receipts (the " Subscription  Receipts ") of DOJA at a purchase price of $1.39 per Subscription Receipt, equivalent to DOJA's five day volume weighted share price, for aggregate gross proceeds of $12.5 million (the " Strategic  Financing ").

The Subscription Receipts will be automatically convertible in to units of Hiku (the " Units ") upon the satisfaction of certain escrow release conditions, with each Unit comprised of one common share of Hiku (a " Common  Share ") and one Common Share Purchase Warrant of Hiku (a " Warrant "). Each Warrant will be exercisable to acquire one common share (a " Warrant  Share ") for a period of two years from the closing date of the Merger at an exercise price of $2.10 per Warrant Share. If, following the closing of the Merger, the volume weighted average price of the Common Shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange is equal to or greater than $3.05 for any twenty (20) consecutive trading days, Hiku may, upon providing written notice to the holders of the Warrants, accelerate the expiry date of the Warrants to the date that is 30 days following the date of such written notice.

Closing of the Strategic Financing is subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions including, but not limited to, closing of the Merger, the receipt of all necessary approvals, including the approval of the Canadian Securities Exchange.

AdHawk Microsystems Raises Series A Led by Intel Capital

AdHawk Microsystems has raised US$4.6 million as it brings the world’s first camera-free eye tracking system to market – a major advance that paves the way for a new generation of virtual reality/augmented reality devices capable of more immersive experiences in gaming, healthcare, training and beyond.

Intel Capital led the Series A investment round, with participation from Brightspark Ventures, Ripple Ventures and the founders of AdHawk, which develops advanced microsystems for human-computer interaction.

Current VR/AR headsets equipped with eye tracking systems rely on cameras to keep track of where the user is looking, and it takes immense computing power to process the hundreds of images per second the cameras capture. As a result, these headsets need to be tethered to a power supply and a high-end computer.

AdHawk’s eye tracker replaces the cameras with ultra-compact micro-electromechanical systems – known as MEMS – that are so small they can’t be seen by the naked eye. These MEMS eliminate power-hungry image processing altogether, resulting in order-of-magnitude improvements in the speed, form factor and energy efficiency of the VR/AR units that carry them, while delivering resolution on par with expensive, research-grade systems.

The AdHawk system is so fast that it can accurately predict where the user will look next, up to 50 milliseconds (50 one-thousandths of a second) in advance. This capability will enable designers to enhance the element of surprise for gamers, help optimize the placement of ads in VR/AR media, render portions of scenes in advance and provide negative latency to make human-computer interaction seamless.

AdHawk CEO and co-founder Dr. Neil Sarkar, whose microsystems research at the University of Waterloo won awards and broke new ground, said his company’s tiny eye tracker has the potential to set a new standard for VR/AR user experience.

“Creating a sense of total immersion, through an untethered, responsive and unobtrusive headset, is the ultimate goal of the VR/AR community,” said Dr. Sarkar. “We believe our technology will go a long way to enabling headset makers to deliver that experience to their users.”

Recent mergers and acquisitions in the eye tracking space led by Apple, Google, and Facebook came as no surprise to the VR/AR community, as headset manufacturers have long known that eye tracking is a fundamental enabling technology. Eye tracking promises to reduce processing overhead by rendering only the highest acuity region in the eye’s field of view in full resolution, while reducing resolution (and increasing contrast) in the periphery. This approach, known as foveated rendering, is expected to greatly reduce power consumption and latency to make today’s tethered VR experiences obsolete and to mitigate discomfort. Menu navigation, creating virtual eye contact, and targeting while gaming are just a few other examples of eye tracking applications.

Replacing cameras with AdHawk’s tiny, low-power devices – which can operate for a full day on a coin-cell battery – will enable headset manufacturers to provide eye tracking without the need for tethering.

AdHawk’s device is currently available for purchase as an eye tracking evaluation kit. “The company has already gleaned worthwhile information from user testing,” said Dr. Sarkar. “We have discovered that when we take thousands of eye position measurements per second to capture the dynamics of eye movements within saccades [the eye’s rapid, abrupt movements between fixation points], we get valuable insight into the state of the user – are they tired, interested, confused, anxious? Where exactly will they look next? This information can be fed back into the VR/AR experience to greatly enhance immersion.”

AdHawk is developing additional sensor technologies to create new experiences for its users and is working on capturing and analyzing data from multiple sensors to derive greater insight. Upcoming products include a low-power, ultra-precise gesture sensor and a point cloud scanner module for super-resolution 3D sensing.


About AdHawk Microsystems:

AdHawk Microsystems is a developer of advanced microsystems for human-computer interaction. The company has created breakthrough eye tracking technology that solves the most challenging problem that VR/AR manufacturers are facing, according to scientists and architects of the leading products. AdHawk’s ultra-compact eye tracking modules offer orders of magnitude improvements compared to existing technology across all key metrics including form factor, speed, power consumption and resolution. With this technology, AdHawk can generate unprecedented eye movement data, which can be used to predict eye position and provide deep insight into the state of the user. For more information, please visit

AION - The First Cross Blockchain Token

Ripple Ventures is proud to be an early investor in Aion Network

As blockchains begin to gain in popularity, a need is developing to enable them to communicate with one another. That would require a networking infrastructure to facilitate that communication, and that’s precisely what Nuco, a Toronto-based startup is trying to do with the release of the Aion blockchain network today.

Nuco CEO Matthew Spoke says that while each network is ultimately responsible for building its own level of trust within its blockchain, once you start to move outside the realm of your private blockchain as banks, governments, healthcare providers and anyone else working with this kind of data is inevitably going to do, you need a system to make that happen. Nuco built Aion to provide that mechanism.

He says that at its core, Aion becomes the plumbing to move data around. “[Aion provides the] middleware for blockchains to communicate with each other, and the ability to pass messages between them,” he says.

Spoke, who along with his co-founders, were originally part of the blockchain team at Deloitte, formed the company last year to begin building enterprise blockchain infrastructure, but they began to realize that while many large organizations were building private blockchains, there was a growing need for a public mechanism. As the blockchain concept begins to scale and becomes an integral part of the economic system, it requires a generic way of moving information.

There are a couple of major hurdles to get people to build and use a system like this. First of all, they have to convince organizations to move information between blockchains in a public way. Second, it requires a single way to move that information, a kind of networking protocol. Once they agree to the former, the latter becomes an inevitable requirement.

Companies can find a way to monetize their participation on the network by charging Aion tokens, a type of digital currency, to move certain kinds of data across inter-chain bridges. This ability could lure more companies to move to the network, Spoke explained.

That said, he sees Aion as a market necessity, not something they are looking to commercialize in a direct way. At some point blockchain will hit mainstream adoption and it will require mature infrastructure for his company and others to succeed. Spoke says his company is making this contribution to help the market grow.

While Nuco isn’t the only company working on this problem, Spoke is convinced that a process like this is required, and that like any technology, the market will decide which approach wins and becomes the standard.

The AION token is initially being offered on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token. As soon as the Aion network is operational, these ERC-20 tokens can be seamlessly converted to AION network tokens, and will continue to be able to flow freely back and forth between these two blockchains.

Tokyo Smoke closes on $4 million of Series B funding

Tokyo Smoke, an award-winning lifestyle brand aiming to bring sophistication and design to the cannabis space, is excited to confirm the first closing of its Series B funding at approximately $4 million CAD. The company is pleased that its current funding round is oversubscribed, and is expected to exceed the initial target of $5 million CAD. Final close of its Series B is expected by the end of August 2017. The funds will help accelerate Tokyo Smoke's vision to be Canada's leading cannabis brand.

Tokyo Smoke's Series B funding has been led by Aphria Inc., one of Canada's largest medical cannabis producers, and Green Acre Capital Fund I LP, a fund dedicated to strategic investments in cannabis properties. Says Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld, "We believe Tokyo Smoke is at the forefront of modern cannabis retail and branding. Aphria is excited to be a part of its future as it redefines the retail cannabis experience."

Encouraged by demand from new and existing investors, including W. Brett Wilson (iBanker, CBC Dragon Emeritus) and Charles Broderick (one of the largest early investors in Canada's medical cannabis market, founder of Uji Capital LLC), funding from North American and International investors will be allocated to continued retail expansion across North America, marketing and strategic acquisitions.

"Almost one year ago, we partnered with Aphria on a first-of-its kind cannabis deal in Canada. Today, we are incredibly grateful to welcome Aphria to Tokyo Smoke as shareholders, as we continue to build the largest cannabis related retail infrastructure in Canada. The outsized investor demand suggests that leaders in the cannabis industry like Green Acre Capital agree Tokyo Smoke is positioned to become a category defining brand in cannabis," says Alan Gertner, co-founder and CEO of Tokyo Smoke. "As Canada moves towards legalization, we believe this country will model modern cannabis experiences and Tokyo Smoke will remain at the forefront of that experience."

Turnstyle acquired by YELP! for $20M USD

Yelp this morning announced it has paid $20 million in cash to acquire the Wi-Fi marketing company, Turnstyle Analytics, which offers a service that allows businesses to connect with their customers over a freely provided Wi-fi network. The move, Yelp explains, is aimed at expanding the types of business marketing services Yelp already offers beyond those that are focused on customer acquisition, to also include those that help businesses with customer retention and loyalty.

Toronto-based Turnstyle was founded in 2012 that today supports nearly 3,500 businesses, primarily across the U.S. and Canada. According to the logos on its website, these customers include Back Alley Burger, Burger King, Broncos Slider Bar, Subway, and others.

Turnstyle is a paid service for its business customers, based on scale, that offers insights into customer behavior, visits and more, gained from the free guest Wi-Fi logins. Customers who agree to use the free Wi-Fi provide their email address, which then allows the business to build out a target customer contact lists. The businesses can also take advantage of analytics tools that provide additional insight into visits – tracking things like frequency, to identify their most loyal customers, and duration, among other factors.

Yelp explains that the average consumer today spend more than five hours per day online, but still makes approximately 93 percent of their purchases offline. With Turnstyle, Yelp aims to give its small-to-medium sized business customers a means of connecting with those offline customers.

In addition, it points out that free Wi-Fi has been shown to increase foot traffic and sales figures. 62 percent of customers spend more time in places that provide free Wi-Fi and 50 percent of those customers spend more money on services and products as a result of the extra time spend in the establishment, Yelp noted, pointing to a Small Biz Trends survey. Businesses using Turnstyle are able to send out emails to customers, as well as offer them other incentives and rewards to encourage their repeat visits. It lets businesses automate their marketing, as well, doing things like scheduling message delivery for days, weeks, or months in advance, or sending out digital coupons in email or SMS campaigns.

Those campaigns can be customized, by changing the incentives to meet various metrics. For example, it can trigger offers when customers enter or exit the venue, after they’ve visited a certain number of times, or it can reach those who haven’t visited in a certain period of time, offer incentives to first-time customers, send out birthday rewards, and more. The product is currently used by a number of clients, including restaurants, cafes, retail stores, auto dealers, spas, salons and others – basically, anywhere a consumer may be spending time and lingering around, and expects there to be free Wi-Fi.

Turnstyle’s clients will continue to be supported, and won’t have any change in either their service offering or pricing as the company begins its integration with Yelp. Meanwhile, the 30 employees located at Turnstyle’s headquarters in Toronto will also be joining Yelp. No layoffs are expected, Yelp says. The brand name “Turnstyle” will remain for the time being, though that could change in time.

Yelp says that although Turnstyle is supported outside the U.S. and Canada, its focus with the product will be on the North American market. “We’re excited to expand our product offering for local businesses through this acquisition. Turnstyle helps connect businesses to consumers through free public Wi-Fi, and is an effective retention and loyalty program that helps businesses be more successful,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement about the acquisition.

The company will share more information about the Turnstyle revenue model during its Q2 earnings call, but declined today to speak about its financial information, like revenue and growth rate. However, it says that it’s not adjusting guidance as a result of the acquisition.