News Feed Item

Extreme Startups and GrowLab Ventures Merge

Launch HIGHLINE to better support tech founders who are about to scale globally

TORONTO AND VANCOUVER, Aug. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - Vancouver-based startup accelerator GrowLab Ventures and Toronto's Extreme Startups have announced their merger and the launch of HIGHLINE, the first pan-Canadian accelerator platform, at the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) this morning.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140819/137196)


Extreme Startups' and GrowLab's respective Executive Directors, Marcus Daniels and Jonathan Bixby, had a vision to create one program that would unite the best entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem partners living above the 49th parallel - the "highline" that separates Canada and the US - by merging their two top tier accelerator programs. This vision became a reality with today's announcement. The "merger of equals" creates a new powerhouse accelerator platform called HIGHLINE and is made possible by the financial backing of major Canadian VCs, including BDC Capital and Relay Ventures. BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), was also a shareholder and strategic partner of both accelerators and has been HIGHLINE's principal strategic backer since the merger was first conceived.


"The accelerator sector is already very mature with over 1,700 programs worldwide," says Marcus Daniels, HIGHLINE's cofounder and new CEO. "But less than 60% of them have helped entrepreneurs get funded and 90% have had no exits at all". Relentlessly focused on evolving the accelerator model, Daniels is a serial entrepreneur and seed investor with 24 years of digital innovation experience.

While Extreme Startups and GrowLab have been among the more successful accelerators (over 90% of their graduates raised follow-on institutional capital totaling more than $27 million, and both programs combined had 3 highly profitable exits over their 30-month existence), Bixby and Daniels saw the merger of their two accelerators as the inevitable next step in order to rise above the noise, evolve the model and attract the very best in Canada. Says Bixby: "I'm really excited that this new entity will not only attract the very best Canadian founders, but that it will also be the best option for many entrepreneurs globally."

"HIGHLINE's ambition is to supercharge 1000 founders who will create over $10 billion in equity value outside of Silicon Valley over the next decade," says Daniels. He expects over 90% of those startups to establish their headquarters in Canada as there are "few better places on the planet to build digital products than the Vancouver-Waterloo-Toronto-Montreal ecosystems".

"We see this merger as crucial to building off the past strong performance of the two programs," says Michael Mahon, Director, Venture Capital - Strategic Investments & Partnerships at BDC Capital. "The creation of a premiere pan-Canadian option in a global environment that is increasingly competitive with regards to entrepreneurial talent and capital will be a key differentiator for HIGHLINE." BDC Capital had already invested a total of $5.7 million in 38 graduates of HIGHLINE's predecessors through its convertible notes funding program. The merged entity will remain a core accelerator partner for BDC Capital, says Mahon, and its startups will continue to be eligible to receive its $150,000 convertibles notes.


In addition to BDC Capital and Relay Ventures, several world-class entrepreneurs and individual investors have stepped up to inject fresh capital and provide strategic guidance to the new entity, including Amar Varma (Pivotal Labs), Leonard Brody (Clarity Digital Group) and Boris Wertz (Version One Ventures). Varma and Brody join HIGHLINE's Board of Directors, together with Daniels, BDC Capital's Michael Mahon and Alex Baker of Relay Ventures. Jonathan Bixby will remain involved as part of the Board of Advisors, alongside such well-known players as Paul Singh, founder of Disruption Corporation and formerly of 500 Startups. HIGHLINE is in discussions with other notable potential partners and intends to reveal new "co-conspirators and collaborators" over the coming weeks.


HIGHLINE will begin hosting startups this fall at its Vancouver and Toronto anchor campuses. It will primarily target "digital startup founders close to product-market fit with global ambition to scale", instead of ventures that are still at the ideation stage. Applications open today at HIGHLINE.vc.

While it will build on the collective experience of GrowLab Ventures and Extreme Startups, HIGHLINE will innovate in a number of ways. For one, it will propose a number of specialized, tailored acceleration "products" rather than a single, one-size-fits-all program as in traditional accelerators. It will also better support founders' global ambitions by offering greater and earlier connection to global markets like New York and San Francisco; and it will provide startups with as much as $200,000 in financing, not necessarily at the beginning and end of the program but at timely stages that best fuel their growth. Other platform details will be made available in the coming weeks.

Bixby and Daniels made the announcement of this merger this morning, shortly before they were invited to open the day's trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange (photo available), together with the management team and founders from HIGHLINE's portfolio. They then immediately boarded a plane to attend a launch event in Vancouver with their West Coast startups.

For more information, visit HIGHLINE.vc.


HIGHLINE is a VC-backed founder driven co-venture platform that helps early stage digital startups supercharge growth and raise institutional capital. It is relentlessly focused on giving founders "Speed to Seed" through specialized accelerator programs, timely staged investing (up to $200K) and rapid connectivity in key global markets starting with Vancouver, Toronto, New York City and San Francisco. It creates acceleration products and programs for founders close to product-market fit with global ambition to scale. It is powered by the financial backing of major Canadian VCs, including BDC Capital and Relay Ventures, whose funds under management collectively exceed $2 billion.

HIGHLINE currently has an active portfolio of 40 companies, 90% of which have received institutional follow-on capital, raising over $27 million. It has so far had 3 highly profitable exits over a 30-month period.


A subsidiary of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), BDC Capital offers a full spectrum of specialized financing and investment solutions to help Canadian entrepreneurs achieve their full growth potential. With more than $1 billion under management, BDC Capital takes a strategic, patient approach to nurture companies' development over the long term.

From venture capital to equity to growth and transition capital, our team of over 100 experienced, local professionals partner with entrepreneurs to identify and meet their needs on flexible terms. Some of the sectors in which we specialize include IT, industrial/clean/energy technology, and healthcare. For more information, please visit www.bdccapital.ca or follow us on Twitter at @BDC_Capital.


Relay Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm that invests in passionate entrepreneurs disrupting incumbent industries and creating new markets with the power of mobile computing. Unlike other funds, Relay exclusively focuses on software for mobile (from the sensor to the cloud), creating an unparalleled set of networks and resources that tangibly help founders build world-class companies. With offices in Menlo Park and Toronto, the firm is active throughout North America. For additional information, visit www.relayventures.com.


More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
"Avere Systems is a hybrid cloud solution provider. We have customers that want to use cloud storage and we have customers that want to take advantage of cloud compute," explained Rebecca Thompson, VP of Marketing at Avere Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

Apache Hadoop is a key technology for gaining business insights from your Big Data, but the penetration into enterprises is shockingly low. In fact, Apache Hadoop and Big Data proponents recognize that this technology has not yet achieved its game-changing business potential. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, John Mertic, director of program management for ODPi at The Linux Foundation, will explain why this is, how we can work together as an open data community to increase adoption, and the i...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of So...
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, the leading provider of modern development tools and best practices for Continuous Integration on OpenVMS, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware products and development tools that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.