Skip to main content
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
Get full digital access to globeandmail.com
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
// //

Katherine Regnier, founder and CEO of Coconut Software, at the company's Toronto office, on Sept. 30.

Tijana Martin/The Globe and Mail

Katherine Regnier never liked waiting in lines – and so nearly a decade and a half ago, with a $5,000 loan, she set out to help businesses make scheduling easier for customer appointments. It turned out Ms. Regnier was on to something: On Tuesday, her company Coconut Software Corp. will announce a new $28-million financing round to expand its reach among banks and credit unions across North America.

The raise is led by the Toronto growth-equity firm Klass Capital, with many of the company’s past investors returning, including Information Venture Partners, ScaleUp Ventures, Conexus Venture Capital Fund and Bay Partners.

It’s the latest in a string of significant financings for Saskatoon-based companies, and for female-founded companies in Canada. As the pandemic reshapes how financial institutions meet their customers, Coconut and its investors believe they have significant growth ahead.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s not all digital and it’s not all in person,” Ms. Regnier said in an interview. “Enterprises need to think about the entire experience.”

Daniel Klass, managing partner of Klass Capital, added: “People expect more convenience over time – and I think this trend is continuing, with or without the pandemic.”

Coconut helps customers schedule appointments with financial institutions with as few steps as possible, while giving those institutions and their staff dashboards to manage their relationships with customers, reminding them of key moments such as mortgage-renewal deadlines to help retain those customers.

The company says its software also helps people manage unexpected trips to the bank, allowing them to register online and get a message telling them when to arrive. In the era of physical distancing, this translates not just into less time in line, but also less time spent in the cold or rain outdoors before entering a lobby with limited capacity. Less time waiting can mean greater customer satisfaction, while the registration process also helps banks learn more about customer traffic patterns.

The company counts Capital One Financial Corp. and Vancouver City Savings Credit Union as clients, and has some legacy, non-banking clients including Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. – though Ms. Regnier said that it now primarily seeks financial-institution clients.

That change came in 2018, when she said Coconut was faced with a choice about its growth, after years of serving a variety of enterprise companies as well as small and medium-sized businesses: Did it want to offer something for everyone or everything for a specific market?

“We couldn’t serve all of these markets and be exceptional,” Ms. Regnier said. “I cannot serve a salon as well as a bank. … So we picked financial institutions. People care about their money. People should feel valued when they go to their bank.”

Story continues below advertisement

She said that the company has seen 100-per-cent year-over-year revenue growth since its first seed investment in 2016. While Coconut first served mostly Canadian customers, the United States now accounts for about 80 per cent of its business.

Saskatoon-based companies have seen significant interest from private investors in recent years. Vendasta Technologies Inc., which sells digital tools to companies that serve small businesses, came close to listing publicly this year, but pulled plans and raised nearly $120-million in private capital instead. In May, 7shifts Employee Scheduling Software Inc. raised US$21.5-million.

Sean O’Connor, managing director of the Conexus Venture Capital, a Saskatchewan-dedicated venture fund, said that the fund has been “outperforming even our wildest expectations” since launching in 2019, showing the value of focusing on an otherwise underserved market.

The Conexus fund is one of Coconut’s investors. Mr. O’Connor, a Coconut director, said that many financial-technology companies focus on automating processes, whereas Coconut instead personalizes customer experiences. “Fintech companies are not exclusively built in the Torontos of Canada,” Mr. O’Connor said. “They can be built in secondary ecosystems as well.”

Another early Coconut investor was StandUp Ventures, one of the first Canadian venture funds that pledged to invest in female-led companies, and which recently passed its goal to raise $30-million for a second fund. StandUp managing director Michelle McBane regularly points out that its investments in female CEOs and founders are not for the sake of social impact, but to generate strong returns from an underserved market. Coconut’s growth, Ms. McBane said, fits that thesis.

Thanks to Ms. Regnier’s intense focus on the financial-institution market and a knack for hiring the right talent, she and Coconut are “the whole package, and I couldn’t be happier,” Ms. McBane said.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
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

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: 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