Toronto-based software startup Ten Key Labs has announced $10.5 million in seed funding and launched a new equity management platform called Mantle.
Ten Key Labs was founded in 2022 by CEO Amar Varma, a serial tech entrepreneur and investor, and a group of his former co-workers at Toronto software development company Xtreme Labs and California-based connected vehicle platform Autonomic.
Amar Varma has previously co-founded Extreme Venture Partners, Xtreme Labs, Hatch Labs, and Autonomic.
Through Mantle, Ten Key Labs aims to help startup founders simplify and automate capitalization table management, equity issuing, fundraising options, planning, forecasting, and signing and data rooms for documents.
In a statement, Varma said that during the course of his career as a founder, he “was never satisfied” with the equity management tools available to him.
“We saw a major gap in the marketplace for streamlining startup financial and business flows, and we knew there needed to be a reliable, automated, user-friendly tool that could help founders focus on the things that matter most without requiring them to also take on administrative tasks,” he added.
Armed with financing from a group that includes Eniac, Craft Ventures, Vaynerfund, Sierra Ventures, and Leaders Fund, Varma and Ten Key Labs have set out to build such a solution with Mantle, which has already completed its beta and is now broadly available.
Ten Key Labs’ seed round also saw participation from former Shopify CFO Russ Jones, Shopify head of engineering and former Xtreme Labs VP of engineering Farhan Thawar, Wave co-founder Kirk Simpson, and Varma’s fellow former Extreme Venture Partners (EVP) founding partner Sandeep Madra.
Varma is a startup veteran. His career has included working as a founding partner of early-stage Toronto venture capital firm EVP, co-founder and CEO of Xtreme, co-founder and director of incubator Hatch Labs (now Match Group, the parent of Tinder), and co-founder and COO of Autonomic, which was purchased by Ford in 2018.
Back in 2013, Xtreme was acquired by Pivotal (now owned by VMware). That deal, and the circumstances surrounding it, sparked a long court battle. EVP had an interest in Xtreme, which was involved with Hatch and had an interest in what became Tinder. The sale of that stake instigated a legal fight that saw Varma and Madra square off against three other EVP founders, Ray Sharma, Ken Teslia, and Imran Bashir.
Sharma, Teslia, and Bashir argued that Varma, Madra, and Palihapitiya conspired with Chamath Palihapitiya (CEO of Social Capital) to hide the interest in Tinder and buy it out from under them, seeking $200 million in damages.
In 2019, the Ontario Superior Court ruled against Varma, Madra, and Palihapitiya, finding that they conspired to acquire Xtreme Labs at a discounted price and breached contractual obligations with EVP, and ordering them to pay nearly $16 million to the plaintiffs. Two years ago, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected Varma, Madra, and Palihapitiya’s appeal and ordered them to instead pay almost $30 million. BetaKit has been unable to find any new filed developments in this case since then.
Now, through Ten Key Labs and Mantle, Varma—with support from backers like Madra—has set his sights on addressing a problem he is well-acquainted with by bringing a new solution to the competitive equity management software market, which features incumbents such as Shareworks, Carta, and AngelList.
For his part, Craft Ventures partner and COO and Ten Key Labs investor Brian Murray certainly believes in the opportunity at hand.
“Mantle is addressing a huge gap when it comes to founder and startup success,” Murray said in a statement. “For so long, founders have had to carry the burden of day-to-day administrative financial tasks, often needing to prioritize these in lieu of more high-level, strategic decision-making.”
By automating these processes, Murray argues that Mantle can save founders time and free them up to “focus on the bigger picture.”
Feature image courtesy Ten Key Labs.