Since COVID-19 restrictions shut down offices and other workplaces in 2020, businesses became more reliant on technology to adapt to these changes. Between hybrid and fully-remote work, companies depend on technology to connect their dispersed workforce.
Newly-launched Toronto-based venture capital firm Storytime Capital wants to fund the founders behind these technologies. It has raised around $15 million for the initial close of its inaugural fund.
“My long term vision was to always return the advice and support I got from VCs over the years to the next crop of entrepreneurs.”
– Neil Grunberg, AlayaCare co-founder
Created by AlayaCare co-founder Neil Grunberg and angel investor Ryan Kimel, Storytime wants to invest in early-stage companies that aim to improve the way people work through technology.
According to Kimel, Storytime has already kicked off its fund with two investments: a company that is currently in stealth mode, and Greenspace Health, a tech-enabled mental health services provider.
The majority of the limited partners of the fund were not disclosed, however Storytime said it was a mix of individuals, comprising “tech founders, team members and executives of North American WorkTech companies,” as well as institutional and other “seasoned” investors. This includes Westdale Properties, where Kimel is the vice president of operations.
According to Grunberg, Storytime’s goal was to raise $15 million to $20 million CAD in one year. However the VC firm ended up achieving that goal within three months of its launch, and is now fundraising through May, with the hope of reaching a total fund size “in the high teens.”
Storytime invests in companies that provide solutions for the “Future of Work,” which includes the gig economy, how people find and are found for work, collaboration, performance, and how people are paid or rewarded for their labour.
“Decade after decade work has evolved following innovative technology,” Storytime writes on its website. “For the first time ever the workforce has advanced ahead of technology due to COVID-19, leaving a tremendous opportunity for founders.”
Grunberg, who is managing partner of the VC firm, co-founded AlayaCare in 2014 to help healthcare providers modernize their workflows.
AlayaCare saw an eventful period last year in which it was active in its acquisition strategy and raised $225 million CAD in Series D funding. As it faces tough market conditions, AlayaCare has slowed down its M&A plans, and laid off 80 employees in August.
Prior to AlayaCare, Grunberg held leadership positions at several software companies, including RedPrairie (acquired by supply chain SaaS company JDA Software Group in 2012) and Strategic Mapping.
Grunberg also has a background in workforce management software. He was one of the early employees of Vortex Connect, which provided solutions for mobile-based business to employee communications; as well as Workbrain, which was listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange until Infor bought the company in 2007 for $227 million.
Grunberg told BetaKit that he left AlayaCare in June, and said his departure was due in part to his longing for the “early-stage and hyper-creation mode.”
“My long term vision was to always return the advice and support I got from VCs over the years to the next crop of entrepreneurs,” he said. “As an angel investor I was seeing those opportunities, and as a VC I have already seen these opportunities jump up exponentially.”
Kimel, who acts as general partner for Storytime, also has established ties in the tech ecosystem. For his part, Kimel’s been an active angel investor to tech companies for over a decade and sits on several boards.
“Having found success while living through the experiences multiple times, we are well suited to listen, learn from, coach and lend a hand when needed,” said Grunberg.
With Storytime, Grunberg said that he looks forward to “helping founders write the next chapters in their story, be it strategic, operational, short term, or long term.”
Featured image courtesy Storytime Capital.