We are excited to announce our venture firm, Breakaway Growth Fund (“BGF”), based in San Francisco and London. Our two general partners are Chris Albinson and Paul Heydon. We have a combined 50+ years of experience as Founders, operators, investors, and advisors in companies in North America and Europe.
Our approach and focus are different in multiple ways. Rather than focus on a single stage or sector or region, we are focused on backing bold Founders of capital efficient startups. We will consider deals from seed to late stage — but we put a strong emphasis on the team, as every business is about the people. Have they worked together before? Is the culture amazing? Do the Founders truly have each other’s back? How confident are we that they’ll hit positive cash flow or raise their next funding round?
Over many years, we’ve focused first and foremost on helping our Founders succeed in building enduring and high integrity companies. We’ve been through our own grinds as operators — some successful, some not — and that experience has led us to conclude that investing is not a participatory sport. All we care about is the success of the Founders we work with — period. It is not the straightest line to success, but it is one we believe in. Having been through all the turns one can have professionally, we have been blessed with personal success, but more importantly, families that ground and nurture us. We seek out other people that are similarly grounded. Life is short and time away from your family, no matter how noble the cause or company, is precious. So we have been fortunate in many ways, but mostly in the guidance from our parents, mentors, and fellow Founders who are our teachers and fellow travellers. We want to enjoy every moment and give back to the community that we have been so fortunate to be a part of.
We believe that extraordinary Founders can build great companies in a collaborative open way. Shopify is an example in Canada that Chris supported early. The culture of the Founders is similar to what Paul found at Supercell in Finland & Unity in Denmark plus what Chris found at Newbridge Networks & Belair Networks in Canada and Juniper Networks, DocuSign & Pinterest in the US. A culture of quiet confidence focused on learning, growing, and a competitiveness to win their market in their own way. This is why we are so passionate about supporting this type of Founders and encouraging them to control their destiny. We aim to be a sherpa where needed. It brings us joy to see them win and that is what we want to continue to do. Helping is our mantra.
The common thread to all the most successful companies we have backed is the passion of Founders to build something awesome. This is what we have come together to support. We also know that in each of these companies, the Founders found complementary investors and solved to keep them aligned and not to slow the company down. Simple cap tables + common stock options + amazing & decisive Founders = thoughtful speed and alignment. Finding and supporting these Founders is the only thing that gets us excited.
This is Breakaway Growth to us.
Our firm’s mission is to align with Founders to build awesome companies. Our experience in up and down markets is that it can be done no matter the climate. The leadership team behind BGF has gone through wonderful and awful experiences, both as Founders and investors. It’s important to us that everyone we work with is similarly driven, aligned and ethical. Continuing to prove that “win-win” and not win-lose is the right way to go. This may be naive, but it is the only way we know how to do it or want to do it. In order to ensure wins for everyone in our community, we need to be clear about what winning looks like to each party involved.
For BGF, that means finding and investing in capital-efficient startups, in the seed and growth stages of development — a 1.5x or greater Return on Capital Employed (“ROCE”) is a key metric for determining whether a company is a fit for us. We are also passionate about helping Founders bring their companies to the finish line, so founder-led startups are where we like to invest our time and resources.
BGF’s resources don’t begin or end with money — we believe there is massive value in integrating the global tech ecosystem and providing high-impact connections that spur accelerated growth. Where we help portfolio companies the most is by leveraging our decades of community-building to provide the right gurus for the job. We are bringing together a group of successful Founders and senior executives from many different sectors and backgrounds who will join us as our Gurus. These people will bring a combination of successful experience and skills but are also passionate about helping and networking with fellow travellers. We started this last month with our first Guru dinner in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Going forward, we will be running quarterly dinners with a growing group in a different city every time.
Our story starts back in 1988 where fellow Canadians, Chris, and Paul, started the HBA program at the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario, Canada and graduated in 1990. Paul & Chris have known each other & worked together for many years and have shared passions including helping to start the C100 together to support Canadian Founders globally in the middle of the last big recession. Most thought us crazy, especially the Canadians in Canada. Chris and Anthony Lee, of Altos Ventures, conceived of the idea based on their experience working with CICC in Israel and TIE in India. The idea to support Canadian Founders globally came out of a passion grounded in the success of doing the right thing for the most people — a very Canadian ethos. Paul soon joined to start the London, UK chapter.
Then earlier this year, Paul and Chris hung out for a few days in Sonoma, California and talked about many things. The key takeaway was that they realized they were alike in the right ways and different in the right ways such that there was a real complementary set of personalities, motivations, skills, and experiences. Finally, they knew that they both wanted to start a new venture firm. Hence, BGF was founded.
We are focused on capital-efficient startups and bold Founders. On capital efficiency, we like Founders who are thinking really hard about how they can get to first revenues and positive cash flow and not burning cash forever. And when we say bold, our definition is very ambitious and willing to overcome anything and everything to achieve success — but do it in the right way. Burning bridges with people just to get what you want is not interesting to us. People that build relationships and a reputation for the long term is a step in the right direction.
BGF has already closed 12 investments including the following:
AppOnBoard — Mobile app demo and analytics platform for developers
Careerlist — A network built by the world’s most driven people who demand higher standards in their job search
RipKord.tv — Interactive entertainment network that combines the best elements of mobile gaming, social interactivity, and traditional television
Litho — The Input for Everything
Ninth Decimal — The marketing platform powered by location data
Senso.ai — A cloud-based platform which helps financial institutions manage their retail portfolios
BGF is a venture fund reimagined from the ground up to deliver only on what matters to Founders of extraordinary potential. We ONLY invest in the 0.3% highest performing companies using proprietary metrics and use a unique capital formation structure to ensure these Founders have the support, both people and capital, to build extraordinary companies growing faster and using less capital to do it — actually Breakaway Growth!