Outliers: Celebrating the Renegade Mindset of Inovia Portfolio Founders

Inovia Capital 2019 Annual Summit for CEOs and Investors

In the fall of 1983, a group of nine Americans became the first to summit Everest from Kangshung, along the eastern face. Friend of Inovia Capital, Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, was part of that expedition; he contributed to the successful summit of several of the mountaineers, including two of the first three American women to mark the achievement. This was a group of Outliers: with rudimentary climbing gear and little protection, save their wits, and a collaborative mindset; their success required every last bit of their resilience and strength.

The remarkable part of Dr. Tabin’s life story is that summiting Everest is only a small snapshot of the wider impact he’s had on the world. Through his organization, the Himalayan Cataract Project, Dr. Tabin has personally performed surgeries and cured blindness for hundreds of thousands of individuals in developing countries. His work has helped to significantly shift macro trends on blindness in Asia, while dramatically driving down global costs for lenses.

The Outliers theme, which threaded through both our afternoon summit for CEOs and the AGM for investors, succinctly encapsulated our firm’s newly refined mission statement. Hosting speakers like Dr. Tabin, who embodies the Outliers theme, gave our team a chance to present the Inovia community’s aspirations on stage and explore their outer reaches.

“We invest in the passionate few with the will, the wisdom, and the wit to create a world that will become obvious to all tomorrow”

Dr. Tabin set the bar yet higher for a room already stacked with outliers and great achievers. In many ways, his mindset embodies not only the culture of the Inovia team but the foundational DNA of the companies and people in whom we invest. He reminded us that being “people first” at all costs is a guiding principle worth holding onto, and something that can infuse every twist and turn on the difficult journey of changing entrenched and outdated patterns of business and behavior.

While Dr. Tabin’s perspective set the tone, we were honored to welcome many more standout leaders from our community.

We heard surprising stories from inside the Solium board room ahead of its recent acquisition by Morgan Stanley. Board member Tom Muir level set how their top performing team approaches relationships, with their mantra, “forget handshakes, always hug the board.” The trust inherent in their board is something to which we can all aspire.

We heard from serial entrepreneur and current Co-Founder of Fellow Aydin Mirzaee, who challenged the room to invest in 10x managers just as we would in 10x engineers. Manon Brouillette and Rebecca McKillican gave us an inside look into some of Canada’s largest corporations, and how they brought new energy to large institutions with entrenched systems and beliefs.

Vidyard Co-Founder & CEO Mike Litt emphasized the importance of hiring for values and alignment; he encouraged leaders in the room to prioritize candidates that deeply connect to their company’s mission. We also had the privilege of hearing the thrilling backstory from Lightspeed President JP Chauvet; he recounted the whirlwind road show, and the adrenaline of building and ensuring one of Canada’s largest tech IPOs in history.

At our AGM, we put some of our core theses on display, including Laurence Tosi, former CFO of Airbnb and Blackstone, delivering a keynote fireside chat about the future of travel and hospitality, and how companies like Sonder and SnapTravel play a role in delivering on the future of travel experiences and delivery of service. We delved deep into how AlayaCare and AppDirect plan to continue opportunistically using M&A strategies to accelerate growth, and how BenchSci and Workfusion are using applied AI to disrupt some of the world’s largest legacy industries.

While our speakers set a tone for programming, a key objective for the event was to foster collaboration and community between entrepreneurs, investors, and friends of Inovia.

Every year our summit attendance grows, and the energy builds — a direct mirror to the momentum and energy being created in Canada’s vibrant technology community. We are humbled by our outstanding list of attendees who traveled to Toronto to strengthen connections with peers and open themselves to new ideas and opportunities.

This event was made possible by the generous contributions of long-term partners of Inovia Capital. We are grateful for the direct support of our 2019 Annual Summit and for the ongoing and shared commitment to strengthen the Canadian tech ecosystem.