Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

A little-known Toronto digital company that has become a key provider of health and wellness information to some of the country’s largest companies has raised $42-million from a trio of Canadian institutions.

LifeSpeak Inc., which provides large clients with subscription access to its online library of more than 2,000 video training sessions, podcasts and other content for use by their staff, has just 40 employees. But it generates more than $10-million in annual recurring revenue, earns a profit and is growing sales by 40 per cent to 50 per cent a year.

With new financing from Bruce Croxon’s Round 13 Capital Inc., Kensington Capital Partners Ltd. and Roynat Capital Inc. – a mix of direct investment into the company and buying out early shareholders – LifeSpeak is now valued at more than $100-million.

Story continues below advertisement

It will use the funds to expand beyond its largely Canadian base, particularly in the United States and Europe.

“We needed a bit more institutional backing to do the things the company needs to get from a nine-figure [valuation] to the 10-figure level,” said LifeSpeak chairman Nolan Bederman. “There’s a lot more we have to do and want to do to get this business around the world.”

CEO Michael Held, a former Bay Street lawyer and management consultant, co-founded LifeSpeak in 2004 to provide in-person health and wellness seminars to corporate clients to help their employees deal with mental anxiety, depression and a range of other mental health and wellness issues.

“I wanted to set out to prove that investing in people was not only the right thing to do, but is the best business thing you can do,” Mr. Held said. “Human capital is the most important capital.”

By the end of the decade the founders realized they could scale up instead by recording the third-party experts they booked to lead the seminars and transmitting the content digitally to clients through their own platform.

When Mr. Held’s partner decided to sell out, Mr. Bederman, a private equity financier Mr. Held had known since university, bought in, along with a handful of colleagues. LifeSpeak says it now has 500 customers, including a majority of Canada’s banks; telecommunications companies; airlines; and several publicly funded bodies including hospitals and school boards. The company has an annual renewal rate of 97 per cent, Mr. Held said.

Mr. Bederman said since the onset of the pandemic, new customers have added the product at a faster pace than previous sales cycles, with chief-level executives increasingly getting involved in purchase decisions. “COVID-19 has elevated this entire mental health and well-being area to the C-suite,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“LifeSpeak offered a rare opportunity to invest in a fast growing and profitable Canadian-based [online subscription software] company with a product offering that is legitimately supporting employees and their families in these trying times,” said Sanjiv Samant, managing partner of Round 13′s growth fund, who knew the company’s senior team when he was a Bay Street technology investment banker.

It’s also the first investment announced by the $100-million Round 13 fund, which focuses on giving maturing tech companies a late-stage cash infusion before they are sold or go public.

Mr. Bederman said he anticipated the company could either become a buyer of other digital health and wellness providers, or sell out, if the market consolidates. “We could play both ways. It depends on our partners and how quickly we get to the next stage of scale. We have to become bigger to be the hub of that strategy. We think that can be achieved.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies