When Stephany Lapierre was raising seed funding for her supply chain software startup TealBook Inc. five years ago, she found investors in a coffee shop lineup, by cold-calling new LinkedIn connections and even pitching a tech entrepreneur who gave her a lift from a conference. Her first angel investor was the mother of a girl on her daughter’s soccer team.
“I saw something in Stephany I just knew I had to get behind: hustle and a will to win,” said Michelle McBane, managing director with Toronto’s StandUp Ventures, which invested in 2017. “She was relentless about doing what she needed to get to the next stage of her vision.”
Now, the money is looking for Ms. Lapierre. On Tuesday, her Toronto company announced it has raised US$40-million in equity led by U.S. venture-capital firm Ten Coves Capital, which pre-empted TealBook’s fall fundraising plans with an unsolicited offer.
Other new investors include Royal Bank of Canada and Good Friends, a venture-capital firm started by the founders of e-commerce brands Warby Parker, Harry’s and Allbirds. Existing investors, including BDC Capital, Reciprocal Ventures, Refinery Ventures, S&P Global, StandUp RTP Global and Workday Ventures, also participated, with CIBC Innovation Banking providing US$10-million in debt.
TealBook is one of a slew of Canadian digital companies founded or led by women that have had a breakout year, despite women-led tech companies being typically scarce and underfunded. Bridgit, Coconut Software, Knix Wear, Waabi Innovation Inc., Brim Financial, Symend and Clear Finance Technology have each raised tens of millions of dollars. Two of the year’s most popular Canadian tech initial public offerings were by companies led or co-founded by women: Copperleaf Technologies and Thinkific Labs.
This is the second financing this year by TealBook, reflecting its momentum. Its annualized revenue is running 350 per cent higher than a year ago, set to surpass US$10-million in early 2022 and triple again by 2023, Ms. Lapierre said. The company had 30 employees and an equal number of clients at the start of the year, and is exiting 2021 with roughly triple the amount of each.
“We’re swinging for the fence, we’re building a really big company now,” with a goal of hitting US$100-million in annualized revenues as fast as possible, Ms. Lapierre said.
TealBook aims to solve a pervasive problem in the supply chain industry by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide better and more expansive data to companies on vendors that sell them goods and services. Its software platform pulls in data from a range of sources to provide current and updated supplier information, including how they measure up in areas such as diversity and the environment.
That has helped TealBook win mandates with giant companies, several of whom have used TealBook to report on commitments to improve their performance against environmental, social and governance goals through procurement.
ESG is “a landing use case for us,” Ms. Lapierre said. “There’s such a need right now for better-quality data and reporting to the board and shareholders. Our clients just don’t have that. They’re looking for easy, fast solutions and accuracy in the data and the impact they can have in their supply chain to do more of it.”
Ned May, managing partner with Ten Coves in New York, said, “We came to this knowing the supplier data problem is real and widespread. TealBook is pretty uniquely positioned to solve that pain point and attack that market. It’s rare that you find a company serving such blue-chip names delivering value so quickly.”
TealBook’s software was also named by management consultancy Kearney last year as a key component of the “data foundation” in the future of procurement.
Jordan Becker, supply chain program manager with Toronto Global, which promotes foreign direct investment in the Greater Toronto Area, said since installing TealBook last summer, it has produced better results than have other intelligence tools his organization has used to dig up data on suppliers. “The more we’ve used it, the more use cases we’ve been able to uncover,” he said.
Ms. Lapierre, originally from Drummondville, Que., comes from a family of female entrepreneurs. Her grandmother took over the Eastern Quebec Pepsi bottling and distribution operation her grandfather had built after he died. TealBook grew out of Ms. Lapierre’s previous company, a consulting firm that helped drug makers solve problems by finding innovative suppliers.
The key insight that inspired the creation of TealBook stemmed from her visit to a colleague with a pharma company who leafed through a binder stuffed with business cards and pamphlets to find the name of a supplier to give Ms. Lapierre. She realized many companies struggled to track and share such key data internally, but she had a digital solution. “There are so many things that fall out of your supplier base but you can’t effectively capitalize on it because you just don’t know it,” she said.
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.