Successful startups solve problems. When Raymond Luk launched his company Hockeystick in early 2015, it was to solve a problem he knew intimately — the challenges involved in reporting and accessing accurate financial data in the Canadian startup space.
“I’ve raised and run a fund. I’ve also been an entrepreneur for 20 years, raising money, exiting, failing,” Raymond says. “When I was running my fund and doing angel investing, I had to chase portfolio companies for updates. I’ve also been a portfolio company and when you have a lot of investors, everyone will chase you for a different thing at different times of the year.”
Having experienced the challenge of data reporting and gathering from all angles, Hockeystick first built tools that made it easier for companies to share pertinent information with investors (such as financial statements, corporate and legal structure, employee numbers, and so on) and for investors to access that information.
“When you’re small and starting something new, you feel like your potential is limitless.”
In the last 12 months, Hockeystick has taken its mission one step further: instead of creating a data platform solely for investors, why not create one for the entire Canadian startup ecosystem?
“If we get everyone on the same platform, data becomes the main thing that’s useful to people, not just the tools,” Raymond says. “We started building this mission of not only having great tools, but also having this central data repository.”
Today, Hockeystick is getting ready to launch that repository. Once it’s live, it will be Canada’s first accurate and consolidated open database of funding and startup financial information, as well as non-financial data such as jobs created, HR metrics and accelerator and incubator statistics.
Startups, investors, incubators and accelerators will all be able to make use of the platform. It’s a massive undertaking, and one with the potential to transform the Canadian startup scene. “If we get better data about private companies, the good and the bad ones, I think it’s going to draw more investors into the market,” Raymond says.
The database has been powered in part through a partnership with the Lazaridis Institute, a testament to Hockeystick’s belief in building relationships with the right investors and mentors. Hockeystick’s relationship with Highline began as a personal one — Raymond went to McGill University with Marcus Daniels and built Year One Labs with Ben Yoskovitz — but blossomed into a business relationship, with Hockeystick joining HIGHLINE.vc.
“Highline has always been valuable in making connections to sales, prospecting, investment, other funding programs. One of its strengths was bringing companies out of the networks that they’re in and into other networks,” Raymond says.
Raymond strongly believes in the power of advisors for startup companies at any stage. “They’ve been instrumental to the growth of Hockeystick,” he says. “Sometimes the best relationships for startups are these advisors where you may not talk to them for six months, but when you need that one thing, they’re a powerful ally. We still enjoy that. We reach out to people all the time.”
Now in its fourth year of operations, Hockeystick has 20 employees and office space both in Toronto and in New York, and Raymond is as passionate as ever.
“I love this market because I don’t feel there’s ever any constraints. When you’re small and starting something new, you feel like your potential is limitless. That’s why we named the company Hockeystick,” Raymond says.
“Everyone who starts a company aspires to be this hockeystick growth achieving company. That’s certainly how I felt starting Hockeystick. I still feel that way.”