March 30, 2021

Episode #39: Unicorns in Alberta: Building Billion Dollar Tech Companies in Alberta

It hardly takes much effort to see the impressive emergence and growth of Alberta’s tech and innovation ecosystem over the past few years. In fact, the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association reported in its 2020 Annual Report that Alberta closed 51 venture capital investment deals, worth $455 million, in 2020. This is double the number of deals done in 2019. Across Canada, 2020 was the second highest year on record for venture capital deals, valued at $4.4 billion.

Hardly a quarter goes by without reading of another company closing a round of funding or the homegrown talents—or the birth of two unicorns (a tech company valued at over $1 billion) in Alberta. In 2019, Shareworks (formerly Solium Capital) was purchased by Morgan Stanley for $1.1 billion, and in 2020, private equity firm Hg Capital LLP acquired a majority stake in Benevity, worth $1.1 billion.

So, what did it take to build these two companies to a $1 billion valuation? And how do we nurture our tech and innovation ecosystem to produce more unicorns in Alberta?

Marcos Lopez, Managing Director of Shareworks and Bryan de Lottinville, Co-Founder and Executive Chair of Benevity join the show to discuss their “decade long overnight” success stories and what they see as the necessary ingredients to building a strong and nurturing tech and innovation ecosystem in Alberta—from talent to finance to Alberta’s brand.

Please note that this episode is an edited recording of a recent webinar BCA hosted with our members.

In This Episode:

  • Origins of Benevity and Shareworks
  • Opportunities and challenges of building in Alberta
  • The challenges and solutions to attracting the right talent to Alberta
  • From taxes to brand and culture, the ingredients needed to create an attractive business environment
  • Features of Alberta’s economy to attract venture capital and private equity
  • Importance of the local customer base to help nurture the sector
  • Complexity of transferring skills to and training talent for the tech sector
  • Importance of collaboration to grow the sector overall

Resources Mentioned:

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