Halifax-based LeadSift, whose software finds sales leads for corporate customers, has attracted $500,000 in investment from OMERS Ventures and an additional $135,000 from a group of individuals, closing its first round of funding at $1.135 million.
In receiving investment from OMERS Ventures, LeadSift will receive the backing of the most active venture capital fund in Canada in the past year. And the group of angels includes Jevon MacDonald and Gavin Uhma, the brains behind Halifax co-browsing company GoInstant, which exited for more than $70 million this summer.
Damien Steel, the Senior Associate at OMERS Ventures who sourced the deal, said he was drawn to LeadSift because it comprises a team of impressive entrepreneurs working in a field bursting with opportunity. The group led by CEO Tapajyoti Das has developed software that can scan a vast number of social media posts and identify people who want to buy a certain product, allowing businesses to contact those people and generate sales.
“The founding team struck me as intelligent, competent and driven individuals who have a deep understanding of text analytics and sentiment detection,” said Steel.
He added: “Generating sales leads is a challenge faced by millions of companies spanning many verticals and lines of business. LeadSift has shown an ability to weed through the mess and pull out quality sales leads.”
Last month, LeadSift said it had secured $500,000 in convertible debentures from Innovacorp and a group of individual investors. These investors were aware that the LeadSift founders were in discussions with at least one more potential investor, and arranged that their holdings would convert to common stock if the new investors came in by the end of the year.
Steel met the LeadSift founders in September at MentorCamp Halifax, a one-day bootcamp for entrepreneurs, and invited them to Toronto to meet the OMERS investment team. He said in an interview that Das and his partners presented and flew immediately back to Halifax. OMERS was so impressed that by the time the founders’ plane landed the fund’s term sheet (essentially the contract in a VC deal) was waiting for them in their inbox, said Steel.
What all this means is that the company has capped off a phenomenal 14-month run that began with a ragtag presentation at DemoCamp in September 2011, before entering the Launch36 accelerator program, which helps to prepare startups for investment and their market. LeadSift was the co-winner of MentorCamp Halifax, signed a deal to market its product through Salesforce.com and won a competition before General Electric execs at the Ad:Tech conference in New York.
Now it is a company with over $1.1 million in investment from some of the leading investors in the country. As well as OMERS, MacDonald and Uhma, LeadSift’s investors include Innovacorp, East Valley Venture’s Gerry Pond and MentorCamp CEO Permjot Valia.
Das said he and his team were delighted to be receiving the backing from such a high quality of investor, and to have investors like MacDonald and Uhma just around the corner. “It means we have folks nearby who have done all this before and understand what we’re facing,” he said.
With the LeadSift investment, OMERS Ventures now has a portfolio of tech startups stretching from Vancouver to Halifax, and including such high-flyers as Toronto-based Wattpad, Vancouver-based HootSuite and Waterloo-based Desire2Learn. The $200 million fund has made 11 investments in the past year, comprising more than $100 million in capital.