Thalmic Labs nets one of Canada’s largest ever VC investments
Kitchener, Waterloo-based Thalmic Labs Inc. has secured the second-largest Series B venture capital investment in Canada’s recent history. Thalmic, inventor of wearable technology that seamlessly blends the real and the digital worlds, received a US$120 million financing led by Intel Capital, the Amazon Alexa Fund and Fidelity Investments Canada.
The Globe and Mail reported the Thalmic Labs investment earlier this week, with comments from Mike Galbraith, the company’s chief financial officer who says the funding will enable the company to aggressively invest in products currently under development.
Thalmic Labs’ announcement comes as promising news—a punctuation mark emphasizing that innovation in Canada is alive and well. It also is part of the steadily-rising quarterly VC investment since 2015, where according to the CVCA VC & PE Canadian Market Overview, $843 million was invested in 119 deals in the first quarter of 2016 (twice the amount in 14 fever deals than the same period in 2015). The second quarter investment this year dropped only slightly with $683 million invested in 136 deals.
To put the Thalmic Labs deal in context, only the $165 million Series B financing of HootSuite Media in 2013 was larger, making this investment the second-largest deal in CVCA’s Infobase. iNovia Capital—an early Thalmic Labs investor—and Fidelity Investments Canada were two Canadian investors to participate in the deal.
Chris Arsenault, Managing Director at iNovia, an early-stage VC fund with offices across North America—including Waterloo—says the firm is pleased to be building “epic companies right in our own backyard”.
Co-founded in 2012 by University of Waterloo mechatronic engineers Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey and Aaron Grant, Thalmic gained momentum by participating in Silicon Valley’s well-known incubator Y Combinator in 2013. The startup received its inaugural VC investment in 2014—a US$14.5 million Series A round led by Intel Capital and Spark Capital.
The company introduced its first wearable technology, the Myo armband, to the market less than three years ago. The band translates muscle movement in the arm into input for computing devices in order to act as a hands-free controller for everything—from prosthetic devise to PowerPoint slide shows. Since its launch in 2013, the Myo has been adopted as a research device and has helped researchers and developers in augmented reality, wearable technology and even sign language translation.
Galbraith hasn’t droped any hints regarding what’s on the horizon for the fast-growing startup, though did tell the Globe and Mail to expect something new from Thalmic in the upcoming year, including a focus on next gen wearable computing along with new team hires to grow the company internally.