Inovia Capital has made an addition to its growth investment team, promoting Hugues Lalancette to partner.
The move further bolsters Inovia’s growth strategy after the venture firm raised $450 million USD for its second growth stage fund last year, more recently launching a $334 million USD continuity fund to back nine high-performing companies from its portfolio.
“The growth activity that we have has the longest standing impact,” explained Inovia founder Chris Arsenault, noting that Inovia’s goal with the growth strategy is to build Canadian-grown winners by increasing the amount of local capital going into companies compared to foreign investment.
“Hugues just grew extremely rapidly within the team.”
– Chris Arsenault, Inovia
“Had we not invested with the growth fund, most likely, Lightspeed would have been acquired earlier on instead of seeing the story that we saw,” Arsenault claimed.
Lalancette was previously a principal and joins Arsenault, Dennis Kavelman, and Patrick Pichette (who serve as general partners) in making growth-stage investments for Inovia.
Lalancette has been with Inovia for more than six years, and was named partner at the beginning of the year. While he started as an analyst, Lalancette has been an integral part of building Inovia’s growth strategy from the start.
Along with the firm’s three general partners, Lalancette designed Inovia’s growth investment strategy and has played a hands-on role in supporting the firm’s growth-stage companies. He has worked closely with many of Inovia’s most notable portfolio companies, including Sonder, Lightspeed, Rubikloud, and Top Hat. He also helped source or co-source deals like Bench Accounting, Rewind, and WorkJam.
Lalancette also built Inovia’s CFO practice as the firm developed hands-on operational support for its portfolio companies. Having worked as a CFO advisor prior to joining Inovia, Lalancette helped companies with everything from fundraising to IPO strategies. Inovia also attributes Lalancette with having developed its LP co-investment program from the ground up, which the firm says has supported around $800 million in LP co-investment to date.
“Hugues just grew extremely rapidly within the team,” said Arsenault, noting that Lalancette “provided a huge amount of value.”
“With the amount of responsibilities that he has on his plate, and where we see him in the next five to 10 years, it just made natural sense that he becomes a full-fledged partner from all perspectives,” Arsenault added.
“The partnership has been incredibly supportive of me taking more lead roles when we look at building at the thematic investment focus, and sourcing companies and taking on board seats,” said Lalancette. “So, I think that’s a natural evolution with the role that is taking place, and I’m really, really stoked for that.”
With his promotion, Lalancette becomes the seventh investment partner at Inovia Capital.
Pichette and Kavelman joined as general partners alongside Arsenault in 2018 and run the growth funds. In 2019, Magaly Charbonneau was promoted to partner and Montréal lead. She invests on the venture side of Inovia alongside Karamdeep Nijjar and Shawn Abbott. Charbonneau is Inovia’s sole female partner alongside six male partners and general partners. Inovia does have other partners on its team on the operational side, such as Krista Skalde (who serves as CTO), but they do not deploy capital.
Arsenault acknowledged the gender disparity in the interview with BetaKit, noting that diversity is something Inovia has been working towards over the past 10 years. Overall, Inovia’s around 45 person team appears to be a diverse set of individuals when it comes to both gender and ethnicity. This is the direct result of a shift that Arsenault says took place around 2012, about five years after the firm was created.
“Before 2012, our diversity was limited, not because we didn’t care about it, we always felt that we were open-minded with every perspective and no discrimination whatsoever,” said Arsenault. “It’s just that we weren’t talking [to] or attracting the type of people that could really help us up the bar.”
From there, Arsenault says Inovia became more intentional about hiring a diverse set of individuals and focusing on diversity and inclusion (D&I). Now, Arsenault says Inovia is very clear about its partner track and has individuals like Alysaa Co and Arianne Angers (both associates), among others who are set to follow in the footsteps of Lalancette.
Arsenault emphasized that creating a diverse investment team, even at the analyst and associate level, has brought better quality deals to the firm.
“Quality of the deal flow is like your starting point,” he said. “And that quality of deal flow has increased, as our diversity has increased over the last eight years.”
Inovia’s commitment to creating a more diverse team extends to its portfolio companies. The firm has a diversity, inclusion, and great governance clause in its term sheets asking founders to set their own internal goals around D&I. Arsenault claims that focus on D&I has helped the firm win deals.
Putting its money where its mouth is, one of Inovia’s portfolio companies includes theBoardlist, which connects exceptional diverse candidates with global board opportunities.
With Lalancette coming on board as a partner, Arsenault reflected on his excitement about the next ten years of Inovia, as it grows its team and increased its investments in the Canadian tech ecosystem.
For his part, Lalancette is also excited about Inovia and the country’s direction.
“When I started a little bit more than six years ago at Inovia, I think the largest Series B at that time was Hootsuite. And we’re now seeing … Sonder IPO last week, BenchSci announced its big round,” said Lalancette. “It just feels like the velocity of the ecosystem has completely changed … across the country, which is really exciting.”
Image courtesy Inovia Capital.