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Foundry Ventures is no longer in business. It was formerly a Calgary, Canada-based early stage venture capital firm investing in a broad array of sectors including telecom, wireless, software development, healthcare and advanced manufacturing.

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The top 25 VC firms you need to know if you're launching an e-commerce startup, ranked by deal count — and what investors say they're looking for

Dec 21, 2020

Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 66 When it came to e-commerce this year, Forerunner Ventures focused its investment efforts on companies that are "reimagining the future of retail" and demonstrate a "disregard for the status quo," Johnson said. The firm led a Series A funding round for Dumpling , a platform that enables individuals to launch their own personal grocery shopping businesses. It also upped its investment in Sunday , a startup that delivers customized lawn and garden products, as well as in Faire, the online wholesale marketplace. Looking forward to 2021, Johnson said Forerunner is looking to fund companies that fit consumers' evolving needs. "We're holding people in the driver's seat of our investment strategy: where are their needs evolving to with respect to things like food, globalization, sustainability, family, health; and what are the tech-driven platforms to deliver on these needs while facilitating the most loyal relationships?" she said. 500 Startups partner Clayton Bryan says his firm is looking for "big markets" and "big growth rates." Clayton Bryan. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 55 In 2020, 500 Startups made more than a dozen investments in e-commerce companies like Invidica , a platform that helps businesses find trustworthy suppliers and get products to market, and EcoCar t, an extension that enables online shoppers to offset the carbon footprint of their purchases, Bryan said. It also invested in an influencer-driven skincare marketplace called Apothecary. "We spend a lot of time thinking about the large markets of tomorrow, spaces where companies can grow at record speed and how today's trends and preferences will evolve to transform mainstream standards," he said. Bryan added the firm is on the lookout for companies that can provide "innovative solutions" as the e-commerce sector continues to grow at a rapid speed. "The acceleration in demand across e-commerce has helped to force the need for greater efficiencies through innovation," he said. "We have a deeply rooted global network of founders and investors, which has allowed us to closely observe market movements, and helps us source the best teams from around the world." Founding Partner Fabrice Grinda says FJ Labs is bullish on the future of food and e-commerce. Fabrice Grinda. Location: New York Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 53 Grinda says he doesn't expect consumer habits to ever return to the way they were before the pandemic hit. When it comes to food, he sees a bright future in delivery powered by dark kitchens, robotization, and autonomy. FJ Labs' portfolio includes pizza ordering app Slice and alcohol delivery startup Drizly . "We are only at the very beginning of the food revolution," he said. Grinda is especially passionate about investing in marketplaces because "they create a lot of value by taking opaque, fragmented markets and making that transparent." He expects the opportunity for marketplaces will grow further as the millennial generation pushes for more of their lives to be brought online, both professionally and personally. He is especially interested in companies that are "highly differentiated, have a very strong value proposition" and "ideally have no inventory and are therefore capital efficient." Lerer Hippeau is looking for "mission-driven founders building authentic brands," principal Caitlin Strandberg says. Caitlin Strandberg. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 52 Strandberg said Lerer Hippeau is particularly interested in companies in "the caring economy," or that give back in some way. The firm is also looking to invest in startups that can bolster e-commerce, like those involved in headless commerce, reverse supply chain, and logistics. Lerer Hippeau made 13 deals in e-commerce in 2020. Strandberg said that the firm has invested in companies bringing traditionally offline categories online, like Corro , which sells horse and stable supplies, and Autofi , an online auto financing company. They are excited to invest in Gen Z's interests and in companies that can make out-of-home experiences more feasible for consumers at home. She said the firm is also considering "the big Amazon question. "  "What types of businesses can effectively compete with such a large player and where might there be white space opportunity? For us, we're seeing it in deeper vertical marketplaces," she said. New Enterprise Associates General Partner Liza Landsman says the firm is "excited to invest in companies that create critical change." Liza Landsman. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 44 Landsman said that NEA is "looking for solutions that don't just automate the old ways of doing things, but rather reimagine them for the emerging e-commerce landscape and ever-increasing consumer expectations." This "could mean anything from tech-enabled logistics to payments to marketing software," she said. As an example, Landsman said that while many digitally native companies easily adjusted to the shift to e-commerce that happened due to the pandemic, there were many small businesses that needed help building digital infrastructure, and new companies arose to meet that need. NEA also invests in e-commerce brands and marketplaces, including fine jewelry company Mejuri and luxury furniture startup Burrow . "In online brands, we look for differentiated products that consumers love and a distinct voice with a point of view," she said. "It's also very important to us that the company has sustainable unit economics and a strong team that can scale." It made five investments in e-commerce-centric startups in 2020. Catherine Lu, managing partner at Alumni Ventures Group's Basecamp fund, says the firm has invested both in DTC brands and the tech and infrastructure helping them grow. Catherine Lu. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 43 Alumni Ventures Group manages investments in families of funds, which are geared towards certain interests or alumni of specific universities. AVG as a whole invested in 20 e-commerce companies in 2020. Lu and Michael Madden, who is managing partner of the firm's Harvard-centric Yard Ventures fund, said that Alumni Ventures is excited about the opportunity for growth in three areas: DTC consumer products, online marketplaces, and the tech and infrastructure that power them. "That third bucket of infrastructure and supporting technology has had to really catch up quickly to support all of the increased activity," Madden said. He has invested in JUMP, Simplisafe, and Getaround . Lu, who is the managing partner of AVG's seed and pre-seed venture fund, Basecamp, pointed to a few qualities she looks for in a DTC investment. She has invested in Anycart , Mighty Buildings, and Lily AI . "The team is very important, and if they have some sort of marketing or a customer acquisition background, that's a huge plus," she said. "If they have some kind of star power or influence, that's also a plus." Greycroft principal Elaine Russell says the firm is "excited about companies that are empowering individuals and families to improve their physical, mental, emotional, and financial well-being." Elaine Russell. Greycroft made six new investments and 11 follow-on investments in e-commerce in 2020. Its portfolio includes organic wine distributor Avaline , grocery marketplace Mercato , and healthy grocery shopping site Thrive Market . Russell said the firm expects the "good for you" theme to dominate even when the pandemic has ended, particularly when it comes to beauty, fitness, and diet, as consumers have adopted healthier lifestyles at home. Grocery shopping moving online is another important theme. Russell says the impact of e-commerce in grocery will be felt not just by consumers, but by the entire grocery supply chain. When it comes to evaluating potential investments, Russell says Greycroft looks for "membership models with strong repeat cohorts and marketplaces that are bundling products and services together." Accel partner Ethan Choi says that the firm is excited to back platforms that enable e-commerce's rapid acceleration. Ethan Choi. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 40 "The brands that will not only survive but thrive in this new era of e-commerce need to build strong, direct relationships with their customers, and as such, we look for products that enable merchants to own and drive more value from these relationships," Choi said. Accel made two e-commerce investments in 2020: Shogun , a platform that enables businesses to build faster websites and storefronts with little-to-no code, and Klaviyo , a marketing automation company. "We believe the same things that make a brick-and-mortar retail operation successful have analogies in e-commerce," he said, pointing to beautiful storefronts and merchandise, personalized experiences, and good customer service as examples. Accel is also focused on investing companies that are geared towards merchants on Shopify and BigCommerce, which he says have benefited from the recent explosion in e-commerce entrepreneurship. General Catalyst takes a "a long view to investing." General Catalyst has invested in Instacart. Denver Post Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 40 General Catalyst has invested in a number of successful DTC brands, including Outdoor Voices, Warby Parker, and Great Jones . It's also invested in grocery delivery service Instacart and Rebag , a resale service for preowned handbags. In 2020, the firm has focused more on marketing and sales tools that support e-commerce businesses. But, its investors predict that more innovation is on the way. "The well-worn phrase 'this is a marathon, not a sprint' could not fit a sector better than it does ecommerce. While it may feel that we've seen a large-scale consumer shift to online shopping, this decades-long transition is far from complete," General Catalyst Managing Director Larry Bohn wrote in a recent blog post about portfolio company BigCommerce's IPO. Bohn continued: "From the first secure ecommerce sale on the internet in 1994 — a compact disc of the pop artist Sting — until now, more than 25 years on, just 10% of global retail spending has migrated online. More is coming." Brand Foundry Ventures invests in "early stage companies that emerge into the brands you can't live without." Brand Foundry Ventures invested in Allbirds' seed round. Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 38 Brand Foundry Ventures invested early in DTC brands like the shoe company Allbirds, low-alcohol brand Haus , and online plant seller The Sill . Founder Andrew Mitchell was also an early investor in Peloton. Brand Foundry describes itself as a "consumer-only venture fund" but primarily views e-commerce as a distribution channel for goods and not a sector of its own. It has also prioritized relationships with micro-influencers as a way for its portfolio companies to engage with their audience. Y Combinator Group Partner Aaron Epstein says the accelerator firm is looking to bet on "incredible founders who are building startups in any field." Aaron Epstein. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 36 For Y Combinator, a strong founding team is paramount. Epstein says that the firm likes to see teams that have at least one technical founder, that have already built or launched a product, that are "growth-oriented without burning a lot of money," and that are persistent. He said Y Combinator funded about 20 e-commerce-oriented startups in 2020, including Carupi , Bikayi , and DahMakan . "We've seen an explosion in the number of new creators and people starting side hustles during the pandemic, so we've funded many companies building e-commerce tools to help them run their businesses," he said. Epstein said the firm has also targeted companies that are helping businesses that are traditionally offline and have been hit hard by the pandemic to enter the digital age. Y Combinator has funded startups that are helping Shopify merchants grow their businesses and others "working on products to help any online merchant compete with Amazon by offering faster delivery, better recommendations, improved conversions through A/B testing, and more.' Kevin Dick, managing director at Right Side Capital Management, says the firm is looking for revenue traction at a very early stage. Kevin Dick. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 38 Right Side Capital Management makes investments in pre-seed startups across all sectors that incorporate tech. It typically makes investments in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. Dick says that the firm is "unique" in that it focuses on companies' revenue traction. "Naturally, some of those turn out to be e-commerce companies — and our portfolio then reflects that," he said. Right Side has more than 1,100 companies in its portfolio. Its active investments include Gorgias , which provides customer service for e-commerce stores, and Silverback , a predictive sales platform for sellers on online marketplaces. GGV Capital Managing Partner Hans Tung says the firm believes "the best time to start a company is during times of uncertainty because both the cracks and innovation become more evident in a given sector." Hans Tung. GGV Capital made 12 e-commerce investments this year, six of which were new. Tung said there were two major themes to these deals: the continued rise of marketplaces and the verticalization of e-commerce. "As e-commerce matures and consumers look beyond the transaction for a more differentiated experience, vertical markets such as real estate, insurance such as with Turtlemint or sneakers such as with StockX" will have an even bigger opportunity, he said. Tung has also invested in Wish, Airbnb, Poshmark, and Peloton. When deciding whether to invest, the firm looks at a founder's ability to grow and scale a team and their understanding of consumers' needs, as well as the size and scale of of their chosen market. And while 2020 has been a big year for e-commerce, Tung said the changes in the market have not affected GGV's investment strategy. "If e-commerce is growing, then it's only logical that new demand for infrastructure and analytics will be there," he said. M13 partner Gautam Gupta says the firm is "looking for a unique product that inspires consumer love with an unfair distribution advantage." Gautam Gupta. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 35 M13 made seven e-commerce investments in 2020, including four in marketplaces like Shef and PopShop Live , two in e-commerce infrastructure companies like Passport , and one in supplement brand Rae Wellness . "M13 is very bullish on the e-commerce market long term," Gupta said. At the same time, he said, the firm is more excited about investing in infrastructure than in DTC brands themselves. "We're spending more time on technologies and companies that enable sellers with the view that the growth in e-commerce will produce many pick and shovel winners," Gupta said. Looking ahead to 2021, he said the firm is excited about investing in companies that blend media and commerce, in companies that create marketplaces for services that haven't existed before, and in companies that can help drive customer acquisition outside of Facebook and Google. Khosla Ventures invests "more in people than in a specific plan, because plans often change." Vinod Khosla is the founder of Khosla Ventures. Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch Location: Menlo Park, California Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 34 Khosla Ventures separates its investments into two funds: one seed fund oriented towards experimental tech, and one main fund focused on more traditional ventures. The firm describes its philosophy on its website , saying that it seeks "unfair advantages: proprietary and protected technological advances, business model innovations, unique partnerships and top-notch teams." The e-commerce companies in the firm's portfolio include Everlane, Instacart, and Teespring, as well as Casca , a shoe company, and Because , a personal care company for older adults. When it's deciding on an investment, the firm says it's looking for "'A' teams and founders — entrepreneurs who know what they know (and are the best in the world at it) but also know what they don't know and are open to building strong teams to fill in those knowledge gaps." Social Starts looks to fund companies that offer "unique solutions based on science or technology so that our investments have a competitive advantage," partner Charles Smith says. Charles Smith. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 34 Social Starts was more cautious than usual when selecting investments in 2020, due to the unusual environment created by the pandemic. Smith expects the firm to continue being selective into 2021. Social Starts' approach is driven by analytics; it aims to find all of the companies investing in its areas of focus, then selects the strongest leadership team of those companies. The firm made eight e-commerce investments this year. Its portfolio includes Mantl , a personal care brand geared towards bald men, and Hamama , which creates kits for microgreens to be grown at home. "We see the Health and Happiness sector as the most robust and fast-growing early-stage investment opportunity in decades, touching every part of our bodies and minds, and every person on earth," Smith said. "We're excited to find ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs attacking huge emerging markets in that space using excellent science and technology."   Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 34 When selecting investments, the firm likes to see "technology that can scale with a business over time and deliver as much value to small operations as it can to enterprises," Davis said. Most importantly, though, BoxGroup looks to fund companies led by founders who are "passionate, curious, and ambitious. "  The firm made four e-commerce investments in 2020, primarily focused on tools and services that can make it easier to start and grow online businesses. Their interests span from software and financing solutions to third-party logistics, warehousing, and checkout innovations. Davis mentioned BoxGroup's investment in Alloy as an example of its thinking around e-commerce, as it allows businesses to "easily automate and customize previously cumbersome workflows across fulfillment, marketing, customer service, and more." "An offering like Alloy's enables e-commerce teams to operate with precision, speed, and a higher degree of customer centricity," she said. AF Ventures is looking to fund "emerging brands with omnichannel distribution strategies at the forefront of CPG innovation," Managing Partner and President Jordan Gaspar said. Jordan Gaspar. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 33 For AF Ventures, it's important for potential investments to align with the firm on core values like health and wellness, sustainability, and authenticity. Investors look to see that a company's product is actually resonating with customers, "often measured through repeat purchase rates and retention," Gaspar said. "In addition, understanding the sustainability of the underlying business model is of critical importance, so we typically perform a deep dive into a brand's unit economics, both at a product and customer acquisition level," she added. AF Ventures invested in "a handful" of new direct-to-consumer brands in 2020, all of which are either growing their omnichannel retail presence or considering how to do so. Those investments have included snack company Skinny Dipped Almonds and feminine care startup Lola , which launched a retail partnership with Walmart this year. In 2021, the firm will be looking to fund startups that drive personalization, sustainability, and omnichannel strategies. Gaspar said it's a plus if those companies' products are "better for both people and the planet," too. BAM Ventures' cofounder and managing director Brian Lee says his mantra is that "we have to love the founder and not hate the idea." Brian Lee. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 33 Lee said that all of BAM Ventures' investments have an e-commerce component. In 2020, that meant investments in dog-food company Sundays for Dogs , holistic beauty startup WTHN , and cookware brand Great Jones . "There's a unifying theme across consumers wanting more transparency around the products they're purchasing, and caring more and more about what they're putting inside their bodies and homes and giving to their loved ones, including pets," Lee said. BAM Ventures is particularly interested in companies that show the ability to build emotional resonance with their product. "What separates the great from the good for us are those that can really help you communicate the person you want to be to the world," Lee said. For 2021, the firm sees opportunity in e-commerce tools that can improve efficiency for sellers and accessibility for consumers. Founders Fund invests in "smart people solving difficult problems." Keith Rabois is a general partner at Founders Fund. Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for AOL Location: San Francisco Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 32 Founders Fund says in its online manifesto that its investors see the most promise in companies that have a few qualities in common: they're unpopular, they are "difficult to access," they carry "technology risk, but not insurmountable technology risk," and their technology would be extremely valuable if successful. "The entrepreneurs who make it have a near-messianic attitude and believe their company is essential to making the world a better place," the firm's manifesto continues. Founders Fund's portfolio includes e-commerce-centric companies like online wholesale marketplace Faire , wholesale cannabis marketplace LeafLink , and e-commerce site Wish , which went public this month. Lightspeed Venture Partners says its mission is to "serve the world's most extraordinary people who are building tomorrow's companies today." Alex Taussig is a partner at Lightspeed. Lightspeed Venture Partners Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 32 Lightspeed's portfolio comprises more than 400 companies in the consumer and enterprise sectors. Its focus is on disruptive innovations and trends. Its e-commerce investments include the DTC cereal brand Magic Spoon , the shoe brand Rothy's , healthy frozen food startup Daily Harvest , and the wholesale marketplace Faire . Lightspeed was also an early investor in Stitch Fix. Its investors have recently pointed to discovery in livestreaming and multi-functional "super apps" as business trends they are excited about. "Beyond discovery, we're eager to support the emergence of the overall live streaming ecosystem and would be excited to invest in platforms and creator tools, in addition to discovery tools," partner Ashley Braiser wrote in a recent blog post . Revolution Ventures Managing Partner Tige Savage invests in companies "disrupting the business models of traditional industries and appealing to new generations of consumers through the use of technology." Tige Savage. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 32 Revolution completed a dozen investments in e-commerce in 2020, most recently leading a $6 million Series A round in Good Buy Gear , a secondhand marketplace for baby and kid gear. A common theme across Revolution's deals is the use of technology to power "new business models, consumer value propositions, or specialized approaches to customer acquisition, complemented by a strong, adaptable supply chain," Savage said. "While the world was already experiencing a massive shift in consumption prior to the pandemic, COVID has led to the 'great catching-up,' a forced acceleration for companies to become more dynamic and agile in how they meet consumer expectations," he said. Savage added that the pandemic has changed the VC landscape in that investors working remotely seem to be betting on companies they already know well. He said Revolution sees opportunity in investing in what he calls the "have nots" in this equation. The firm is also excited about opportunities in food and hospitality in 2021. While Mark Cuban says he is "not a big-ecommerce investor," he's excited about the impact that AI could have on the sector. Mark Cuban. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 30 Cuban told Business Insider his "favorite" e-commerce investment is Pricestack , a startup that uses machine learning to optimize prices for DTC brands. The idea is to help brands manage inventory, prevent shopping-cart abandonment, and create a positive experience for customers. Cuban said he thinks AI will be a gamechanger for the e-commerce sector. "When AI is done right, and it's not easy to do right, it can have a huge impact on e-commerce," he said. "It can consider all variables and optimize for results." He has also invested in Cultivate , an extension that highlights American-made goods, and CarSnoop , an online auto marketplace. Upfront Ventures partner Greg Bettinelli says the pandemic caused e-commerce investing "to skip second base and head straight to third." Greg Bettinelli. Total e-commerce deals in last five years: 29 Bettinelli said that while the pandemic didn't change the firm's strategy dramatically, it did bring certain themes to the fore. For example, there was "possibly a little more interest in opportunities related to the friction caused by the unexpected acceleration of commerce in areas like shipping and delivery, returns, customer service," he said. "It's probably more accurate to say that these themes existed before but became more urgent during the pandemic due to transforming shifts in buyer behaviors and brand development," he added. Upfront led investments in four new e-commerce companies in 2020. Its portfolio includes Parachute Home , Adore Me , and inVia Robotics . In 2021, the firm is looking to invest in "great teams innovating in consumer and B2B marketplaces, intent-driving video shopping and community activation commerce, where brand development is driven by vertical interests or other existing affinity groups," Bettinelli said. Maveron looks to fund companies that have a "differentiated product," an "authentic founder story" and an ability to become a leader in a category, partner Jason Stoffer said. Jason Stoffer.

Foundry Ventures Investments

5 Investments

Foundry Ventures has made 5 investments. Their latest investment was in SmartSynch as part of their Unattributed VC - III on February 2, 2011.

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Foundry Ventures Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

2/11/2011

Unattributed VC - III

SmartSynch

$25.7M

Yes

1

2/15/2002

Unattributed VC - II

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$99M

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10

4/19/2001

Series A

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$99M

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10

5/19/2000

Series A

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$99M

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10

4/13/2000

Unattributed VC

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$99M

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10

Date

2/11/2011

2/15/2002

4/19/2001

5/19/2000

4/13/2000

Round

Unattributed VC - III

Unattributed VC - II

Series A

Series A

Unattributed VC

Company

SmartSynch

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Amount

$25.7M

$99M

$99M

$99M

$99M

New?

Yes

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Co-Investors

Sources

1

10

10

10

10

Foundry Ventures Portfolio Exits

1 Portfolio Exit

Foundry Ventures has 1 portfolio exit. Their latest portfolio exit was SmartSynch on February 16, 2012.

Date

Exit

Companies

Valuation
Valuations are submitted by companies, mined from state filings or news, provided by VentureSource, or based on a comparables valuation model.

Acquirer

Sources

2/16/2012

Acquired

$991

3

Date

2/16/2012

Exit

Acquired

Companies

Valuation

$991

Acquirer

Sources

3

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