Extreme Startups and GrowLab Ventures become HIGHLINE

August 19
13:34 2014

GrowLab Ventures and Extreme Startups have merged to launch of HIGHLINE, the first pan-Canadian accelerator platform. The merger of equal creates new powerhouse above the 49th “HIGHLINE”, said the companies.

The merger 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,” said Marcus Daniels, Excutive Director of Extreme Startups and HIGHLINE’s new CEO. “But less than 60% of them have helped entrepreneurs get funded and 90% have had no exits at all.”

“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,” added GrowLab’s Executive Director Jonathan Bixby who will remain involved as part of the board of advisors.

“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 and its startups will continue to be eligible to receive its$150,000 convertibles notes.

In addition to BDC Capital and Relay Ventures, several individual investors have invested in 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 firectors, together with Daniels, Mahon and Alex Baker of Relay Ventures.

Bixby will be joined by Paul Singh, founder of Disruption Corporation and formerly of 500 Startups on the board of advisors.

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.

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