Led by former Shopify product lead and entrepreneur-turned-investor Fahd Ananta, Toronto-based Roach Capital has closed about $6.4 million CAD (approximately $5 million USD) to invest in early-stage internet businesses.
After founding and selling his own Canadian tech companies and spending years working as a product lead at major tech firms like Shopify and Snap — the company behind Snapchat — Ananta launched Roach Capital in 2019 as a vehicle to invest his own money.
“In many respects, Fahd’s story shares similar origins to our motivation behind starting Garage Capital.”
Following some early success, Ananta has now brought on a diverse group of outside limited partners (LPs) that includes “anchor” Tiger Global partners, hedge fund managers, Shopify leaders, members of Canadian venture capital funds, family offices, and Twitter personalities. Through Roach Capital Fund I, Ananta aims to ramp up his seed-stage investment efforts.
“I [was] in this interesting position, where I’ve been an operator, been a founder, been a [product manager], and I can now sort of redistribute some capital, and that actually helps LPs and companies,” Ananta told BetaKit in an exclusive interview.
Roach’s Fund I LPs include Evan Feinberg and Scott Shleifer of Tiger Global, Golden Ventures, Garage Capital co-founder Mike McCauley, Lazer Technologies co-founder Zain Manji, Altos Ventures Managing Director Ho Nam, and ShawSpring Partners CEO Dennis Hong.
Ananta has also secured the support of a broad group of current and former Shopify execs, including Satish Kanwar and Brandon Chu (VPs of product acceleration), Farhan Thawar (VP of engineering), Robleh Jama (director of product on the crypto team), Arati Sharma (former director of product marketing), and Helen Tran (former design lead).
Roach represents a continuation of Ananta’s angel investment efforts, which involved providing startups with early capital and helping them with product strategy. Additionally, he says the early-stage fund has an opportunity to put portfolio companies “on the radar” of some of its larger and better capitalized VC investors, potentially benefitting both parties.
Prior to launching Roach Capital, Ananta co-founded a pair of Toronto-based startups: Chime, a notification aggregator and calendar app that was acquired by HubSpot in 2013 and Tab Payments, a restaurant curation, reservation, and payments app that was acquired by United Kingdom-based Velocity in 2015.
After that, he spent over five years working in product lead roles focused on commerce and retail at TouchBistro, Shopify (from 2016 to 2020) and Snap (from 2020 to 2021).
Ananta’s investing journey began in 2016, when he started angel investing because he thought the venture capital ecosystem was “very conservative,” cutting an early cheque into Ada, which went on to achieve unicorn status last year.
Before launching Fund I, Ananta made 24 other small angel investments of between $10,000 and $25,000. Last year, Ananta decided to make the switch to investing full time. “I realized that the amount of money I was investing was not really material for these companies,” said Ananta, adding that he saw an opportunity to raise the stakes by bringing on outside LPs.
After meeting with various VCs, and being approached by New York-based Tiger, which he said expressed interest in working with him, Ananta opted to raise a fund, securing some early support from Tiger and Toronto-based VC firm Golden Ventures.
“We’ve known Fahd for several years and consider him a thought leader in tech and ‘in the flow’ for up and coming entrepreneurs across North America,” Golden Ventures General Partner Ameet Shah told BetaKit. “He’s an independent thinker who acts with speed and conviction.”
Ananta’s relationship with Tiger dates back to co-investments the pair made in companies like Ada and Toronto-based corporate card and spending management startup Float.
To date, Roach has invested over $1.5 million CAD ($1.2 million USD) of its total across 15 companies, including Float and San Francisco software startup Replit. Ananta said he aims to build Roach into a broad-based fund, taking care not to over-index on any specific sector.
That being said, he plans to focus some efforts on Web3 and commerce infrastructure companies, where he has some expertise, and views proptech as an interesting play given the support he has from a real estate-focused family office.
“For Canada’s startup ecosystem to continue getting better, we need more operators and builders who have seen success to be recycling that experience, those learnings, and their networks into helping the next generation of companies and founders,” McCauley told BetaKit. “Fahd is a great example of this.”
McCauley highlighted that, “in many respects, Fahd’s story shares similar origins to our motivation behind starting Garage Capital back in 2012,” adding that they already have “several co-investments together.”
Ananta plans to focus 30 to 40 percent of Roach’s Fund I investments on Canadian companies, allocating the rest for elsewhere. He attributes this focus on Canada to his “unique advantage” given his in-depth knowledge of the country’s market, past work experience, and existing connections.
“I don’t think you can build a really great fund, just investing in Canadian companies, because from my point of view, I think the market is not that big yet,” he said.
That said, Ananta believes “there’s a lot of interesting activity in Canada,” including “more entrepreneurs, more founders, more company building” compared to years prior. “I don’t think they get the attention that they deserve,” he said.
“Fahd is a cockroach,” Manji told BetaKit. “Someone where no matter what challenges he faces, cannot be killed. He perseveres through anything that he encounters, and always comes out better and stronger than before.”
“Fahd is a cockroach. Someone where no matter what challenges he faces, cannot be killed.”
Manji added that Ananta is “always trying new products, figuring out what makes them special or weak, and is not afraid to give you the hard truth when it’s really needed,” citing his reputation as a “founder/operator” that is well-respected in the Canadian tech community.
Roach Capital’s public launch follows news that fellow Shopify alum-founded Ramen Ventures is winding down its operations, citing a shifting investment landscape and plans to return to building companies.
Roach and Ramen also aren’t the only investment groups to come out of Shopify in recent years — a group of women who helped build and lead Shopify launched Backbone Angels in 2021 to back women and non-binary founders.
Amid an increasingly competitive investment landscape, Ananta hopes to set Roach apart by working closely with portfolio companies to provide hands-on help in areas he has expertise and experience in, like product strategy.
For now, Roach just consists of Ananta, but he said he is considering expanding the team later this year. Ultimately, Ananta said he hopes to build Roach into a “Hall of Fame fund.”
Feature image of Fahd Ananta courtesy Roach Capital.