Gaiia closes $18-million CAD Series A as it looks to build the Shopify for ISPs

Gaiia CEO
Startup targets challenger internet providers with all-in-one operating software.

When Québec City-based Gaiia spun out of internet service provider (ISP) Oxio in June 2023, the team set a goal of acquiring five customers by the end of its first year.

“We have everything we need to create a $100-billion company, and we want to get there as soon as possible with the means that we have and with the least amount of dilution possible.”

That first year has just wrapped up, and the startup has surpassed its initial goal fourfold. Now, Gaiia, which offers an all-in-one operating system to ISPs, is looking to use some fresh financing to continue its momentum.

Gaiia has closed $18 million CAD ($13.2 million USD) in a Series A financing round led by new investor Inovia Capital. Other participants included existing investor Y Combinator, and new investors GTMfund, General Advance, as well as Simon De Baene and Manon Brouillette.

To date, Gaiia has raised roughly $35 million CAD. The recent funding round, completed in May, followed closely on the heels of a $13-million USD seed round in October 2023.

CEO and co-founder Marc-André Campagna attributed this rapid succession of funding to the company’s similarly brisk pace of growth.

The similarity in amounts raised in those two rounds was purely coincidental, according to Campagna. He mentioned that the startup’s current valuation is at a “very significant” multiple compared to its valuation last fall, although he declined to disclose the exact figure.

“We have everything we need to create a $100-billion company, and we want to get there as soon as possible with the means that we have and with the least amount of dilution possible,” Campagna added.

Gaiia is a spinout of Oxio, a Montréal-based ISP that sold its telecommunications operations to Cogeco Connexion in February 2023 to the tune of $100 million. Following the transaction, Oxio became Gaiia’s first customer. Campagna noted that Oxio is not a shareholder of Gaiia.

RELATED: Cogeco acquires independent internet provider Oxio’s telecom business

The startup is looking to help “challenger” ISPs—meaning internet providers that aren’t affiliated with existing telecommunications giants—to create better customer experiences while increasing their operational efficiency. 

Campagna envisions Gaiia as the “Shopify” for these providers, with its operating system including a wide range of services, such as workflow automation, customer relationship management, a field service app, and a transactional online platform, among others. 

“We [want to] create this one single pane of glass for our customers, so they can operate their business and take care of their customers,” Campagna noted.

The startup is looking to expand its service to customers in new markets, including Latin America, where it secured its first ISP customer in January, and Europe, where it secured its first customer in April. 

Gaiia is looking to eventually put boots on the ground in those markets. However, Campagna feels the startup’s biggest opportunity lies in the United States (US), where he said 90 percent of Gaiia’s customers are currently based. He noted a few key leading indicators in that market make it ripe for disruption.

“We believe Gaiia is offering a tangible solution to established and emerging ISPs looking to redefine what operational excellence looks like.”

These include the US government’s $80-billion USD commitment to expand high-speed internet access across the country, which it is primarily doing through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program, or BEAD

“We also see that a bunch of those [American ISP] challengers today are building fibre and more robust and more reliable infrastructure than what was available in those markets,” Campagna added.

“They’re gaining market share from the big incumbents, and we want to support those types of customers that are growing fast.”

Finally, the CEO noted that private equity players have also been very active in the ISP space in recent months, investing primarily in those building the infrastructure to connect consumers to high-speed internet.

And while ISPs are “amazing at building infrastructure,” Campagna said, it can be more challenging for these companies to deploy services.

This is where he feels Gaiia can add the most value: making it seamless for ISPs to bring customers online. The reason that Gaiia’s team is best equipped to solve this problem is because they have lived it, he said.

“Our competitive edge when we were Oxio was not building the infrastructure. It was building the customer relationship and [creating] those great experiences,” he said. “We were in the world of telecom in Canada, where it’s impossible to compete on price with the incumbents, so we were competing on customer experience.”

The lead investor in Gaiia’s Series A round seems to agree. In a statement, Inovia partner Magaly Charbonneau said the team’s firsthand experience with the pain points of operating an ISP, paired with the company’s momentum to date, made it a strong opportunity for the firm.

“We believe Gaiia is offering a tangible solution to established and emerging ISPs looking to redefine what operational excellence looks like,” Charbonneau added.

Oxio’s influence on Gaiia is clearly reflected in its current team composition. Campagna noted that of Gaiia’s roughly 50 employees, 35 are former Oxio staff members. Campagna is committed to maintaining a streamlined team, a decision influenced by the hiring booms and subsequent layoffs he observed in the tech sector in 2021 and 2022.

“We want to scale as slow as possible when it comes to people and as fast as possible when it comes to revenue,” he added.

In addition to securing 20 ISPs in its first year, Campagna claimed that Gaiia’s annual recurring revenue is “already in the millions.” Currently, the startup’s primary focus lies in research and development, particularly in automating standard ISP processes. This includes tasks such as handling billing, managing inventory, and overseeing technician operations.

Campagna claimed Gaiia is the only startup building an operating system for this specific segment of the ISP industry. While companies like Israeli multinational Amdocs sell operating software to large telecoms companies, Gaiia is focused on the ISP challengers—those that are smaller but quickly gaining market share.

He noted there are a handful of companies building software solutions for these providers, but said Gaiia is the only one tackling these solutions in aggregate. “We can replace five [pieces of] software with one,” he added.

Feature image courtesy of Gaiia.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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