Lars Leckie, C100’s third co-chair, pushed the organization toward excellence. Over the last two-years Lars set C100 sights on raising the bar to inspire the next generation of billion-dollar Canadian companies. Lars passionately and openly advocated for the C100 mission both in Canada and the Silicon Valley, and he put his money where his mouth is with investments in Canada-based (Influitive) and Canadian-led (Kiip and Piston Cloud) companies.
But it was not all business. Outgoing and ardent, Lars championed the C100 team Canary Challenge ride, After-Grow and the San Francisco Bulls hockey events. Thank you, Lars, for all of your hard work and spirit over the past two years. We’re glad you’re not going far and we’re grateful for your hard work and continued commitment to the C100.
Lars welcomes 48hrs companies to Adobe, December 2013.
Scott: What was your best memory as C100 co-chair in the last two years?
Lars: There are just too many - its been a very rewarding experience and it feels like the team behind the C100 continues to create better and better events. One of my favorite memories as co-chair was interviewing my good friend Mike Serbinis, then-CEO of Kobo at AccelerateTO. Standing on stage in Toronto looking out at 700 people who showed up to hear Canadian success stories really reflected the idea that Canadian companies should really be celebrated.
Kobo is the type of success we love to see in Canada, growing to a billion dollar revenue run rate in about four years. Mike reflects the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit. He is a serial entrepreneur who is already moving on to start his next deal. His first financing will be a feeding frenzy. At the C100, we love seeing the successful entrepreneurs come back into the market with new companies - it’s a true ecosystem that reinvigorates itself.
Lars and Mike at AccelerateTO, September, 2013.
S: What was your biggest accomplishment in the last two years?
L: For the C100 crew that joined us downhill mountain biking for After-Grow, my biggest accomplishment was not ending up in the emergency room. Joel, I hope that collar bone healed up straight. More seriously, it was exciting to watch the seed of celebrating Canadian entrepreneurship really take hold in Canada. People are self-organizing in Canada in a way that has never happened before. I’m very proud of pushing the C100 in new directions as the Canadian ecosystem has taken over (and honestly, surpassed) the events and activities that the C100 used to do a few years ago.
The AfterGrow crew, August 2012
S: One of the big accomplishments of the C100 in the last two years has been the increase of investment in Canadian companies.
L: Yes, it’s hard to believe, the C100 network is about to reach 1 billion in investment in Canadian tech since 2010. My hats off to the founders, those who support them and to our friends in the government who helped drive the necessary legislative changes. In the last two years, over 800 million has been invested. In 2010, the C100 raised approximately 93 million. We are now at 895 million and the year is not over! Our core mission has always been to support billion dollar Canadian tech companies. I predict that there will be 5 to 10 ‘billion dollar’ Canadian companies in the next couple of years. Take that to the bank.
Lars presents Canadian Tech Success infographic at 48hrs, June 2013
S: What do you expect us to be talking about in the next two years with respect to startups, funding and innovation in Canada?
L: I had an impromptu dinner the other night with 22 Canadian founders who happened to be in San Francisco for an event. I think that the Canadian tech ecosystem is so much more plugged in to the economy in Silicon Valley than ever before. I think that, more and more, people will be proud to put the fact that they are Canadian on their business cards before they come down to the Valley to get funding.
Three years ago at a similar dinner in Toronto someone mentioned that Canadian startups don’t put their addresses on their business cards to hide that fact. I pulled out the cards that I had collected before dinner and to my horror, he was right. That doesn’t happen anymore. Being Canadian is now viewed as an asset. What will continue to develop in the next few years is a sense of pride in the talent and quality of companies that are coming out of Canada.
S: Do you have any words of advice for me as the next C100 co-chair?
L: Buckle your seatbelt and hold on. Being a co-chair for the C100 is a very rewarding job. We get to see the best and the brightest entrepreneurs coming out of Canada. And this organization is about celebrating Canadian tech success - so make sure to celebrate! Someone has to pay the bar tab at the end of the night and its your duty to be there.
S: What is your advice for Canadian entrepreneurs?
L: The C100 is comprised of 100 of the most successful Canadians in tech in the Bay Area who are dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs and have raised their hand to help Canadian companies. Make sure that you are taking the opportunity to leverage that network. We say it every year to the companies coming down for the 48 Hours in the Valley event - don’t go home without every charter member’s business card. They want to help. Go Sharks.