Staircase Ventures Announces First Four Investments
February 13, 2024
Staircase Ventures closed Fund 1 in Q1 2023 with a target of one new investment per quarter, over a three-year period. We are off to a fantastic start as we welcomed these four companies into the portfolio in 2023.
While we invest across industries and technologies, the common theme is that our portfolio companies are all led by founders who have growth mindsets, unstoppable grit, and strong leadership; they are disrupting industries ripe for technological innovation and are determined to build massively successful tech companies. We are very proud to welcome the founders of each of these companies to the Staircase Ventures community and are excited to support their entrepreneurial journeys through our Founder Development Platform and ongoing involvement.
We look forward to working with these incredible companies, founders, and teams in the years ahead!
Fillip Fleet is a modern shift in the way businesses deal with fuel and vehicle expenses. It puts control in the hands of the business — making the process simple, reliable, and more economical. Fillip’s digital platform modernizes the expense and payment process for growing businesses. Fillip is universally accepted across Canada making fueling easier, more convenient, and more transparent.
We initially met the CEO of Fillip, Alice Reimer, six years ago through Creative Destruction Lab, when Alice was the Site Lead at CDL- Rockies at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary. Alice has a contagious drive, energy, and passion that inspired us to keep in touch. We followed Fillip for several years before deciding to lead their seed round as our first investment from Staircase Ventures Fund I. We see Fillip capitalizing on several market shifts, including vertical-specific payment solutions, automation and optimization of back-office functionality, and is positioned to be part of the energy transition. In addition, Fillip is led by a repeat founding team, who are complimentary, experienced, and focused on transforming a legacy industry.
Biossil is an applied AI drug discovery platform, focused on developing targeted therapies for biologically defined patient sub-populations. Biossil’s advanced multimodal AI platform combines and synthesizes over a trillion data points to uncover the molecular basis of disease variability and to identify therapies that are precisely targeted to the right patients.
Our history with Anthony and Alex, the founders of Biossil, goes back more than a decade. We first met them when they were building their last startup together – a mobile health and genetic testing business – which was ultimately sold to a public company. When they started thinking about Biossil, and how they could leverage Generative AI and LLMs to disrupt the $100+ billion drug discovery industry, we became excited about the opportunity. After many conversations, Biossil was born with a mission to build an AI-native drug development company focused on cost-effective and accessible precision medicines. Biossil’s founding was predicated on three key insights: i) the time and cost of developing new therapies continues to increase; ii) the efficacy of novel drugs is often masked by biological variability in clinical trials, resulting in trial failures, and preventing otherwise effective therapies from making it to market; and iii) recent advancements in AI make it possible to search, organize, and synthesize the massive universe of disease, drug, and other data to map biological variability at scale, and to unlock a new category of drug development aimed at rescuing safe compounds, and advancing them to market with unprecedented speed and capital efficiency. We were thrilled to lead Biossil’s seed round.
Rhenti is a unified marketing automation and leasing platform that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the “lead-to-lease” process for residential rental property owners, operators, and property managers. Rhenti’s powerful software boosts renter awareness for rental listings, reduces time to lease, and gives renters a best-in-class user experience. Rhenti is Canada’s first unified, purpose-built marketing automation and leasing platform, trusted by the industry’s leaders and innovators across Canada and in the US.
We met the founders of Rhenti through an angel investor with whom we had invested previously. From our first meeting, we were impressed by the clarity of the team’s focus on the problem they were solving, their deep understanding of the industry and their customers, and the strong unit economics and growth they were achieving. We were also drawn to the founders, who have built a strong, loyal team, displayed grit and determination, and are relentless in their pursuit to improve every single day. Finally, the investment in Rhenti is consistent with our thesis that vertical-specific solutions will win as back-office functionality is automated and optimized. Based on this conviction, Staircase Ventures led Rhenti’s seed round.
Sibli uses generative AI in combination with natural language processing and other deep-learning algorithms to transform the investment research process and enable institutional asset managers to make better investment decisions. The Sibli platform processes vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, finds relevant insights, and delivers actionable research to fundamental and quantitative asset managers.
We met a founder of Sibli at an event in Toronto, and after spending time with the team, we were attracted by the vision, the depth of AI talent, and their initial traction, which led Staircase Ventures to lead their seed round. Sibli is an AI-first company, which we define as one whose core value proposition is only possible because of AI. We believe there will be many successful AI-first companies founded and built over the next several years; yet at the same time, there will also be many casualties due to incumbents spending billions on AI and the sheer number of AI-first companies being created. Therefore, we look for several characteristics before making an AI-first company investment, all which Sibli have: i) product in-market with paying customers and early product-market fit; ii) unique approach to solving the problem; iii) targeting a specific vertical or use case where the incumbents cannot effectively innovate; iv) a sustainable competitive moat. Finally, the Sibli team’s story of grit, determination, and tenacity, combined with their growth mindset, and ability to attract and retain top talent, gave us the confidence that they will build a massive company.