In a further sign that the ecosystem for startups in the region is continuing to evolve, Espresso Capital of Vancouver has hired Ben Forcier, Innovacorp’s former Vice-President of Investments, with primary responsibility for Atlantic Canada.
Differing from standard VC funds, Espresso issues short-term loans to tech and cleantech startups, especially those receiving support from the federal government’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development Program, commonly known as SR&ED. Espresso takes no equity and the loans of $100,000 to $1.5 million are customarily repaid in less than two years. The fund’s website says it approves loans on average in 14 days.
Forcier has been with the firm for a few months and has already closed two deals – one in P.E.I. and one in Nova Scotia. He declined to name the borrowers.
“Espresso Capital Partners provides flexibility when a company needs a quick cash infusion,” Forcier recently wrote in a blog on the company’s website. “This proves invaluable when management needs extra time to improve revenue, ink another deal or land a marquee customer.”
What it means for the ecosystem in the region is that there are a growing number of options for entrepreneurs in need of capital. As well as the old standard of equity-based seed funding outfits, startups are more frequently finding capital from investors outside the region, and will soon from the new regional VC fund. Now there is a private short-term financing option tailored to tech startups, which often can’t borrow from traditional lenders.
Forcier began his career at BCE, including a stint at the VC division, BCE Capital. At Innovacorp, he secured co-investors participating in rounds of financing that totaled over $35 million.
Espresso launched its first fund in November 2009 and has participated in more than 70 transactions totalling $20 million. In November, Espresso announced the first close of its second fund, with a target of raising a total of $30 million.