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Welcome to the MaRS Commons Magazine – showcasing the latest in startup industry news, events, tweets and feature articles.


ICE practice: A year in review

Posted: December 20, 2013   by: Jennifer Marron

What a year for the ICE practice, with non-stop client activity that shows no signs of slowing down. The tech community in Toronto has never been hotter!

For starters, in May we welcomed …

Industry Trends

An insider’s view into Canadian edtech fundraising

Posted: December 10, 2013   by: Aron Solomon

In light of the news that MaRS client Edsby recently raised $2 million in funding, my motivation for writing this post is very simple. Ever since I began working with startups and fellow entrepreneurs, I …


What We Are Reading

Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups

Aileen Lee

Many entrepreneurs, and the venture investors who back them, seek to build billion-dollar companies.

Why do investors seem to care about “billion dollar exits”? Historically, top venture funds have driven returns from their ownership in just a few companies in a given fund of many companies. Plus, traditional venture funds have grown in size, requiring larger “exits” to deliver acceptable returns. For example – to return just the initial capital of a $400 million venture fund, that might mean needing to own 20 percent of two different $1 billion companies, or 20 percent of a $2 billion company when the company is acquired or goes public.

Well they "should" be our customers

Steve Blank

When scientists and engineers who’ve been working in the lab for years try to commercialize their technology they often get trapped by their own beliefs  - including who the customers are, what features are important, pricing etc.

Why I Don’t Ask “Is This a Billion Dollar Business” Before I Invest

Hunter Walk

Unicorn hunting is hard! As Aileen Lee’s recent blog post suggested, there are only a few dozen billion dollar+ companies created each decade. If you’re a large venture fund, you need to be invested in several of them in order to show returns considered upper-echelon. For early stage funds like ours (Homebrew is a $35 million seed fund), backing a unicorn can result in overall ROI of 10x or higher. Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital invested in both Twitter and Uber early. Steve Anderson’s Baseline was in Instagram. Both of their funds have performed extremely well.