Building robots is hard. Building a robotics company is even tougher. Building a successful robotics business is almost impossible. It’s a good thing that 15 years ago, a group of University of Waterloo students ignored all of that and started Clearpath Robotics. This week marks a crucial milestone as Clearpath Robotics joins Rockwell Automation, Inc., the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation. Congratulations to Matt Rendall, Ryan Gariepy and Bryan Webb on doing the impossible!
We’ve been fortunate to walk beside them for the last nine years as they’ve navigated a path that has included unexpected twists and a few unforeseen turns. Throughout some unbelievable highs and a couple of unfortunate lows, the company’s leadership has been characterized by the same spirit of intelligence and resilience that is representative of the products that they build.
There are many stories about how Clearpath reached this destination, most of them best told by the founders themselves. I’d like to highlight the story of Clearpath’s vibrant community – a testament to the invaluable “Made in Canada” support structure and its role in shaping this outcome.
Clearpath’s early days began in the halls of the University of Waterloo. The founders were surrounded by peers grinding away alongside them at the Accelerator Centre. The Company’s earliest investors were almost all local K-W entrepreneurs.
We met Clearpath co-founder Matt Rendall at a Toronto startup launch event in 2012. Garage Capital had invested in Clearpath’s Seed round in 2013. A year later, it became our first official co-investment with them as we invested in the company’s Series A alongside RRE Ventures. Soon after Clearpath launched OTTO Motors, we went on to lead the Series B round with the help of several of our co-investor LPs, including a mix of Canadian institutions, family offices and entrepreneurs. One of those LPs, Kensington Capital Partners, eventually led the Series C and recruited the top executive talent in Carolyn McGoey Garvey and Don Leslie, who were instrumental in helping the company scale up. Another LP, EDC, played a key role in assisting Clearpath to navigate COVID-19 and provided the resources needed to execute its rapid international growth.
Clearpath was a story our Canadian tech community wanted to be a part of and were willing to put their money behind in a massive way. Now, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the company’s management and employees, we will see the returns on that money recycled in the same ecosystems that helped support their ambitions. We look forward to finding the next team of founders ready to make the impossible a reality.