Was RenoRun abandoned by investors or just another mannequin startup?

RenoRun team
Ripple Ventures' Matt Cohen joins to unpack the complicated spot Canadian startups find themselves in.

At the end of last year, in our year in review, we explored 2022’s boom-to-bust progression and made predictions for the new year.

You might remember that we struggled to find positives on the horizon for Canadian tech—and that was without knowing that Silicon Valley Bank would go belly up.

“Nobody is cheering you on for reaching the top of Everest if you don’t make it back down to base camp.”
– Matt Cohen,
Ripple Ventures

BetaKit has reported this year on LPs unable to honour capital calls, leaving Canadian VCs to pull out or renegotiate deals with Canadian startups—one of those startups being Montréal-based RenoRun, which recently filed for creditor protection after failing to raise four different rounds to keep the company alive (along with a few other Hail Mary attempts). Most recently, the Globe and Mail reported that Toronto-based Clearco is looking to raise $20 million USD at a $200 million USD valuation—one-tenth of what it was at its height (BetaKit can confirm we’ve heard the same numbers).

You know things are bad when pension-backed VCs like OMERS Ventures’ Laura Lenz are trying to encourage downtrodden founders by tweeting that her firm is still investing.

So it’s a timely conversation this week with Matt Cohen, Managing Partner Ripple Ventures and host of the Tank Talks podcast, about mannequin startups, which look healthy on the outside but show no sign of life on the inside.

Podcast host versus podcast host, it’s also a unique conversation. We switch seats a lot: me defending founders from checked-out investors, Matt defending investors from cash-hungry founders, and both of us looking at where the responsibility lies and where it is lacking (hint: check the board of directors).

And look, this isn’t a conversation about RenoRun or Clearco or any other specific tech company that has recently been kicked in the teeth. But for the last 15 years, money has been cheap and the line has gone up. With it rose the myth of the founder king and the founder-friendly VC.

Well, things have changed, and many companies are in freefall as the line has come crashing down.

What comes next? Let’s dig in.

The BetaKit Podcast is sponsored by Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.
Osler, the leading law firm for startups, high-growth companies and investors in Canada, has released its second annual study of 353 anonymized Canadian venture capital and growth equity financings. Read the Deal Points Report: Venture Capital Financings.

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The BetaKit Podcast is hosted by Douglas Soltys & Rob Kenedi. Edited by Kattie Laur. Feature image courtesy RenoRun. Sponsored by Osler.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

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