This is a super-fun investment to be able to announce, because it ties together so many of the threads of our work here at Founders’ Co-op.
Giftbit is a Victoria, BC company that helps large-scale issuers of digital gift credits (think brands like Starbucks, Amazon and eBay) and volume buyers of those credits (pretty much any digital brand that uses gift credits as a promotional incentive in their online marketing campaigns) work together to effortlessly transact, distribute and manage those campaigns. The team came to Seattle last fall to participate in our Techstars Seattle class of 2015, one of two Canadian companies that joined us for that class. (We have two more Canadian teams in this year’s class of nine companies, one from Ottawa and one from Toronto, and are loving the easy cross-border flow of talent and ideas between Seattle and our neighbor to the north).
We knew we wanted to invest almost from the moment Giftbit arrived in program, but we also knew they’d need a bigger raise than we had the capacity to lead. In addition to promoting our regional and cross-border startup ecosystem, another part of our mission is to develop entrepreneurial opportunities that attract capital from great investors outside the Pacific Northwest. Not only does this help us fund more strong companies here, it also introduces new investors to the Cascadia market and increases the overall availability of risk capital in our ecosystem. So we introduced the Giftbit team so some of our favorite seed-stage funds in Silicon Valley — firms that had shown an appetite to invest in this region even at the earliest stages.
One of these firms — Freestyle — had already raised their hand by leading the Seed round for TrueFacet, a Techstars Seattle 2014 company also backed by Founders’ Co-op and Maveron. Freestyle partner Jenny Lefcourt is a friend (and fellow Stanford GSB ’99 dropout), and she dug deep on the Giftbit team and opportunity before deciding to lead the round and join the company’s board.
We’re thrilled to back another Canadian startup and Techstars Seattle graduate, and doubly thrilled to be doing so alongside a great, founder-led Bay Area seed fund with a demonstrated appetite to invest in the Pacific Northwest. Congrats to Jenny and the Freestyle team on another great raise, and to Leif, Peter and the Giftbit team on lining up such a great investor syndicate — I’m excited to see what we can all accomplish together in 2016 and beyond!