The first cohort to join 500 Startups accelerator has just been announced. Included is a Canadian team led by George Favvas who is working on a project called Rewardli. Not many details on the startup yet, but the focus is “helping small business owners leverage their social graph in interesting ways.”
George had this to say: “We are incredibly excited to be a part of the first batch of startups to go through the program. Dave McClure is obviously a very visible leader but there is an entire team behind him, not to mention a network of over 100 mentors who actively help and hold office hours in the accelerator. Unlike YCombinator, all 500 Startups accelerator companies share physical office space in Mountain View, which I think is a good idea as you can sense the energy just by walking into the room. There are events, talks, and workshops which often focus on the core themes of design, data and distribution. At the end of the program, we expect to have iterated enough to have a minimum viable product that addresses a real pain point, and raise a round of follow on financing.”
Update: Real Ventures is participating in the seed round as well.
Chango has announced today that they have closed a $4.5 million B round that includes their existing investors as well as lead participation from Rho Ventures (Canada) and iNovia. Roger Chabra lead the deal for Rho and this represents his first placement since joining Rho Ventures last year.
Christopher Dingle has also joined Chango from his role as EIR at iNovia (although he seems to have joined in October, so I am just catching up it seems). Notably absent from this round as well as the Series A is MantellaVP, who seem to be participating in the form of sweat equity but not in the form of capital placements as Duncan Hill is actively operating on the management team. Perhaps I am unclear as to Mantella’s model, I thought they were operating as a traditional fund but perhaps their model is changing. That could make sense as both Duncan Hill and Robin Axon have a lot to contribute in terms of operating capability.
Chango is an AdWords style platform for display (banner) advertising which is focused on low-latency ad targeting and serving across networks. As inventory has become realtime they are able to distribute highly targeted ads across that inventory. This sort of targeting was not possible in past models and Chango seems to be utilizing capital to stay ahead of the curve as more players enter the space. Chango also has the unique ability to automatically generate the banner ads being served.
The most important aspect of this deal is that Canadian capital is being put to work to power a high-potential company that otherwise likely would have closed a US focused deal. This type of growth capital was much less active just up until recently and it represents the critical role that iNovia, Rho and others are going to play in the Canadian landscape in the coming 5 years. The health of these funds is critical to our ability to create value based in Canada that can attach US and international markets with a comparable amount of resources. Albert Lai famously made a splash about the lack of growth capital in Canada in 2008 and it is my hope that the situation is now changing.