Espresso Named Most Active Investor in H1 2017 by CVCA

The following is an excerpt from an article published by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.


When Espresso Capital Ltd. opened its doors in 2009, on the heels of the global financial crisis, its main business was providing tax credit financing at a time when traditional lending options had dried up.
The Toronto-based company has since evolved to become a full-service venture debt firm with a focus on what it sees as the underserved market of startup loans below $5M.

Espresso has invested nearly $200M in loans to date to more than 200 companies and has about 50 companies in its current portfolio, many of which are repeat customers. Its customer list includes a number of successful companies such as Hootsuite in its early days, as well as HomeStars, Recon Instruments and Wolf Medical Systems.

Jivraj says the company’s goal is to grow its loan portfolio to $300M and 150 companies by 2020. It’s well on its way: Espresso Capital was ranked the most active investor in the first half of 2017, based on deal flow. It did 49 deals and invested $31M invested in the first two quarters of the year.

One of those ICT companies is Toronto-based Strongpoint, an automated documentation and change management company, which received additional financing from Espresso Capital in the spring. Strongpoint was founded in 2013 and was bootstrapped until September 2016, when it secured a $1.1M credit facility from Espresso Capital. That was topped up to $3M in May by Espresso Capital, which is the company’s main lender. Strongpoint president Mark Walker says the financing has helped it grow the business from nine employees to more than 30 today as a well as to beef up its platforms and partnerships with companies such as cloud computing giant Salesforce. The financing model also allows the founders to retain ownership of their company.

SendtoNews Video, which distributes and monetizes exclusive sports video content, also turned to Espresso in the first half of the year to help finance its future. “We’re in a massive growth phase,” says Matthew Watson, Chair and CEO of the company, which has offices in New York and Victoria, B.C. (SendtoNews is the second-largest provider of digital sports highlights in the U.S. and the largest in Canada, according to ComScore). “Espresso came in with funding to fuel our growth and assist us through the lumpy periods,” he says. The loan will also allow the company to more aggressively pursue revenue and content partners. Until this financing, the SendtoNews Video was largely bootstrapped. The company hasn’t received funding elsewhere. “They gave us everything we needed,” he says of the Espresso loan.

Jivraj says Espresso’s financing solutions bridge the gap between equity and traditional sources of debt financing. Espresso’s loans finance recurring revenues, accounts receivable and other working capital items, including research and development investments, which turn into SR&ED refunds. Revenue financing accounts for about 60% of its loan portfolio.

The company’s average loan size today is about $1M and Jivraj says its goal is to double than in the next few years.
“Our view of success isn’t how many home runs we back, it’s how much wealth we help to create,” he says. “We want to help entrepreneurs create personal wealth.”
To read more about venture capital activity in the first half of 2017, read the full CVCA H1 2017 VC & PE Canadian Market Overview here.

Espresso Capital Joins Elevate Toronto Tech Festival

Espresso Capital Joins Elevate Toronto Tech Festival

Earlier this week, Elevate Toronto announced their plan to host a 3-day tech festival which will showcase the Toronto tech community and focus on three values: Diversity is our Strength, Disrupt Together, It’s Our Time. In front of a crowd of over 250 people at the Horizons Restaurant atop the CN Tower, Mayor John Tory shared his support of this new initiative. “Toronto is becoming a global centre for innovation and technology,” said Tory, who believes the city should be the home of disrupters.

Espresso Capital is excited to be the producing sponsor for the King West Social. Elevate attendees will experience the King West district and connect over cocktails and conversation during the Wednesday night event.

“Creating a social space along King Street West is the perfect platform where we will continue conversations from the day, connect with the community, and celebrate innovation here in Toronto,” said Katie Paterson, Director of Marketing at Espresso Capital. 

Celebrating Toronto’s commitment to tech with the announcement of #ElevateToronto, the newest tech conference coming to our city.

— John Tory (@JohnTory)

“Toronto is an amazing city and is incredibly well positioned to capitalize on the current wave of emerging technology,” said Razor Suleman, CEO of Elevate Toronto.

Get an Early Access Pass – for FREE!

Elevate Toronto is offering complimentary passes for those who demonstrate the Elevate Toronto values. Learn more here.

Get Involved!

If you want to get involved in Elevate Toronto – please reach out to Katie Paterson at – all ideas are welcome! Let’s work together to make Elevate Toronto the biggest Tech Festival in North America.

About Elevate Toronto

Elevate Toronto is a non-profit organization led by TechToronto, MaRS, #movethedial, OneEleven, Cossette Communications and the Spotlight Awards, in partnership with the City of Toronto. It is a collaboration between 17 technology organizations which came together to create a three-day festival. It aims to be a world-class innovation festival where people from around the globe can discover, connect, and be inspired by the individuals shaping what’s next in Toronto. The conference is set to take place from September 12th to 14th in Toronto.


May 5, 2017

We recently asked our Director of Western Canada, Caterina Papadakos, to talk about her career highlights and what prompted her to join the Espresso team. Here’s what she had to say.

Tell us about your experience prior to Espresso Capital.

I grew up in Toronto but I actually started my career overseas at the European Parliament in Brussels. Living in Europe and exploring the region in my mid-20’s was incredible. I was then drawn to Vancouver in 2007 for the west coast lifestyle – a great city and all the world class outdoor activities I could handle. It was a perfect fit for me as I had been a professional white water river guide during the summers during my undergrad, and I love snowboarding and hiking in the mountains!

One of the more unique jobs I’ve had was with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games (VANOC). I managed the Cypress Mountain Media Centre which had non-stop action because the venue had to ship in snow by helicopter due to a random February heatwave, and we hosted lots of Canada’s gold medal performances!

Then, while completing a MBA at UBC I worked at Trade and Invest BC helping local companies, many in the tech sector, with their export development and investment attraction strategies. Most recently I held the role of Director, Technology and Innovation at BMO where I had the opportunity to lead the bank’s technology sector coverage in Vancouver. I worked with a portfolio of tech companies, creating new financing and banking solutions for them.

Why did you decide to join Espresso Capital?

I love working with entrepreneurs in the tech and innovation community. I really enjoy hearing their story and seeing how we can help them reach their goals with founder friendly growth capital.

I also moved to Espresso because I believe in our team, which has an impressive combination of senior level experience in finance including investment banking and venture capital, as well as experience with growing successful tech companies. Many of our clients have said that working with our team provides great value beyond the capital due to the advice and network we provide.

What are your short-term goals/priorities?

Since joining Espresso, I’ve made an effort to travel to different cities in Western Canada to get to know the key players in each market and to let them know about our offering. It’s a balance between supporting our existing portfolio of clients and bringing on new companies that could benefit from flexible growth capital. I’m very committed to being an active member of the tech community, and I enjoy participating in local tech panels and events whenever possible.

How do you see technology changing/shaping in the west coast of Canada?

In Western Canada, in addition to our thriving tech hubs, we also see a lot of great tech companies innovating some of the more traditional sectors like mining, oil and gas, and agriculture. Technology will continue to permeate every industry whether a company develops a technology solution for their clients, or a company becomes more tech enabled to run their business more efficiently. It is exciting to see traditional industries transform and Canadian companies being recognized as industry leaders.

What do you think is the most exciting trend in happening in Canada?

I think it is exciting to see young founders successfully building and scaling businesses in a very short period of time and creating corporate cultures that their staff are genuinely passionate about. It’s also exciting to see new tech hubs popping up, proving that you can build and scale great tech companies without having to move to a major urban centre. We have a great support system in Canada through the accelerators, industry associations, investors, mentors and government programs to help make these success stories possible.

What is your caffeinated beverage of choice?

Americano – black.


April 28, 2017

The Inaugural Spotlight Speaker Series

Espresso Capital was excited to host the first Spotlight Speaker Series with Razor Suleman featuring Michael Hyatt, co-founder of BlueCat. The event brought together some of Toronto’s most prominent technology founders and entrepreneurs at the BrightLane office earlier this week. With Hyatt in the hot seat, the event took a deep dive into the mind of the entrepreneur to uncover real truths and lessons.

“We need to have founders talk and be united, and be honest about how difficult the startup journey is.” – Razor Suleman, founder of Achievers and Espresso Capital board member.

The Hot Seat


Michael Hyatt is a Toronto tech entrepreneur and CBC business commentator on the Dragon’s Den spin-off, Next Gen Den. Along with his brother, Richard Hyatt, Michael has completed two successful exits as majority owner. Most recently, Michael and his brother sold BlueCat Networks to an American private equity firm for $400 million. Michael discussed his opinion on venture capital financing and his choice to fire himself from his own company.

“You want to do the right things for your staff. Maybe the right thing to do is fire yourself. I want to find people who are better than me to replace me.” – Michael Hyatt

Michael’s advice for entrepreneurs? Diet, sleep, and exercise. The path of an entrepreneur is not easy, so it is important to look after both physical and mental health.

Tweetable Takeaways


Thank you to our community partners BetaKit, BrightLane, Spotlight Awards, and The Upside Foundation. Check out our blog on how Espresso Capital’s Alkarim Jivraj is giving back through The Upside Foundation.

See you next time!

Please join us for the next Spotlight Speaker Series on May 24th at the OneEleven building. Keep an eye out, as we will be releasing the speaker information and link to register soon.


Author: Jessica Ng, Analyst


The Upside Foundation of Canada is excited to announce a partnership with Espresso Capital. Espresso Capital provides founder friendly capital to technology companies across Canada. Since its inception in 2009, Espresso has funded over $170 million in startup lines of credit and growth capital to over 225 companies.

Espresso is committed to giving back to the community. Alkarim Jivraj, President and CEO of Espresso Capital, has donated 1% of his Espresso holdings to the Upside Foundation.

“Canada is a great place for startups. We benefit from world-class education and health care, not to mention generous taxpayer funded assistance to support technology development and commercialization. I think we have an obligation to give back. Upside offers a unique model to give back using shares. Think of it as entrepreneurial social responsibility” said Alkarim.

As part of the partnership, Espresso will work with the Upside Foundation to increase awareness and support of the Upside Foundation 150X150: Turn Equity Into Charity campaign. Upside is aiming to increase their membership to 150 companies by the end of the year, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Espresso joins HubbaWealthsimpleWattpad, and over 86 other companies in this challenge.

“We are very excited to add Espresso Capital to the network of companies supporting the Upside Foundation,”, says Rob Antoniades, Co-Founder and General Partner at Information Venture Partners and Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Upside Foundation. “And are pleased to welcome Alkarim Jivraj, Espresso’s visionary CEO, to the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and thank him for his personal commitment to share the upside from his ownership of Espresso shares.”

About The Upside Foundation

The Upside Foundation is a registered charity that provides an innovative philanthropy platform to enable Canadian startups and high-growth companies to give back by donating equity – “Sharing the Upside”. Companies pledge warrants or stock options, which are then converted into cash and donated to the selected registered Canadian charity after a liquidity event (I.e. IPO, acquisition).

For more information, please email or check out the website at


April 10, 2017

The Espresso Capital team had a great time at Troughs and Triumphs last week, hosted by Influitive. Mark Organ, Influitive founder and CEO, began the evening event attributing part of his success to meeting and listening to “experienced practitioners and leaders.” The panel consisted of some of Toronto’s top SaaS executives, including Steve Woods, Ashira Gobrin, and Razor Suleman. Together they discussed the “troughs and triumphs” of their journeys and how they would do things differently if they were to do it again.

Lessons learned from the panelist:

Steve Woods is the founder and CTO at Nudge Software, based in Toronto. An engineer by training, Steve became the Group Vice President of Software Development at Oracle before joining Nudge. Steve advised the crowd that there is a “certain point where there is no return, and that is where you want to reach.”

“Embrace darkness and fear; refuse to stop moving forward.” – Steve Woods

Ashira Gobrin is SVP of people and Culture at Wave HQ, a software for small businesses to track and handle money. Ashira discussed the importance of human capital, and incorporating trust and transparency in the workplace in order to foster good morale. She also shared some ways to balance work and home life, hers being sacrifice and compromise.

“Customers can often articulate what the problem is; the smartest are those that listen.” – Ashira Gobrin

Razor Suleman founded Achievers, a cloud-based platform which helps align company and employee values through employee recognition. Razor shared his incredible journey, explaining how “startup life is all about perspective”. A piece of advice he shared with the founders in the room was to engage in debt-financing, and strike the healthy balance between equity and debt.

“Know your three priorities for the day. Find a way to cut the noise and focus on the signals.” – Razor Suleman

Tweetable takeaways:

We would like to thank Influitive for hosting a great event which brought the Toronto tech community together for an evening of insightful conversations.


The technology industry is growing fast, and the demand for this knowledge continues to rise. Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, stressed that “computer science and computing skills are a critical path to success in today’s economic landscape.” However, female representation in the technology sector is at staggering low numbers.









As of 2015, women make up only 12% of practicing licensed engineers and 8% of software developers. The percentage of women pursuing computer science degrees dropped from 37% in 1984 to 18% today. Although women make up approximately half of the Canadian workforce, the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) found women hold only a quarter of the communication and information technology jobs, and just 5% of leadership positions in technology.

“Women remain dramatically underrepresented in technology fields. They’re missing out on opportunities and the world is missing out on their ideas,” according to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the Governor’s’ Summit in San Francisco earlier this year. It is important to provide women with the opportunities to learn and explore careers in tech, through education, events, and mentorship. WinTech’s Women In Tech week starts on February 27th. Through a series of events and activities, WinTech aims to recognize women tech leaders and empower others in the industry.

Women in Tech with Espresso Capital 


In light of Women In Tech week, Espresso Capital has reflected upon our own clients and would like to recognize and thank our women founders and leaders. Earlier this month, past Espresso client HomeStars, a platform which connects homeowners with service providers, was acquired by HomeAdvisors, an IAC company. HomeStars was founded in 2006 by Nancy Peterson to help homeowners make the best hiring decisions in regards to home improvement. The acquisition of HomeStars strengthens HomeAdvisor’s North American presence in the home service digital marketplace. HomeStars will join one of the largest marketplaces in this industry, and further transform how homeowners connect with home service providers. We are very excited for Nancy and look forward to see what is to come.

Women founded or co-founded companies represent almost 10% of total companies funded by Espresso Capital, a number we would like to see grow materially this year, and in the future.

Find an event near you


Monday: Diversity in Tech and Design

Tuesday: Is Web Dev The Right Career For You?

Women in Tech Toronto: Networking and Panel Discussion

Wednesday: Analytics and Data Visualization

Women in Tech Book Club Meetup

Social Media: The Future of Women in Tech

Thursday: Resume and LinkedIn Building

March 6th: SheEO Summit


Monday: Breakfast Kickoff: Bringing Out The Big Guns

Tuesday: Incubating The Next Techstars

Women, Wine, & Tech @ IQmetrix

Wednesday: Taking Charge of Tech: Tech Summit

Thursday: Women in Tech Awards Soiree

Friday: VANTEC Women’s Pitch Night

Saturday: Catch the Bug

Sunday: IDance: Women in Tech Girl Power Cardio


For more information about each event or events in Regina, Winnipeg, Kelowna, Denver, and Boston, visit


Author: Jessica Ng, Financial Analyst


January 7, 2016

As Canada’s startup ecosystem has gained more momentum, one of the most puzzling issues is why there is so little corporate venture capital.

As much as Canadian startups need more capital, the absence of corporate players is strange, particularly given there’s so much momentum in the U.S.

You would think large companies such as Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, Loblaws, Sobeys and Shoppers Drug Mart would be looking to invest in innovative startups to jump-start growth and establish stronger digital footholds.

Unfortunately, this isn’t happening. Instead, Canadian companies are watching from the sidelines. At best, they are dipping their toes in the water by creating low-risk partnerships and opening offices in startup hubs. But if you’re looking for corporations actively investing in startups, you’re out of luck.

So why the absence of corporate VC activity?

Is it a lack of expertise or sophistication? Are there bigger financial priorities? Are they still licking their wounds from the 1990s when corporate VC portfolios didn’t perform well?

It may be all of the above but my take is that Canadian corporations have to get back into the VC business.

The biggest reason is they need to pro-actively and aggressively address disruption in their business models.

In a growing number of sectors, startups are changing the rules of engagement. The old ways of doing business are being destroyed. New players are outmaneuvering large companies by doing business differently or better. Look at what Wealthsimple, for example, is doing in the financial management industry by lowering fees within a margin-happy landscape.

If Canadian corporations aren’t actively involved in supporting startups, they risk having their business models weakened or, even worse, they will be marginalized competitively. It’s not a matter of whether Canadian corporations should invest in startups, it’s about how much, how many, and how aggressively.

The big issue facing Canadian corporations is how they get into the VC game. Do they allocate capital into an established VC fund? Do they invest directly and, if so, how would this activity be operated and structured?

There are a variety of options, but perhaps the easiest is simply a public declaration by a large, established player that it wants to invest in innovative startups. This would unearth a flurry of interest from startups looking for capital, and, as important strategic partners. For companies, the biggest challenge would be sifting through the different opportunities to identify potential investment candidates.

This approach is a win-win proposition: It will give corporations an excellent way to see what’s happening within the startup ecosystem and, as important, to establish connections within the startup ecosystem. As much as startups can benefit from new sources of capital, there are also benefits for corporations looking to be more agile, innovative and forward-thinking.

If Canada’s startup ecosystem is going to thrive, there have to be multiple players at the table. It requires entrepreneurs, incubators, accelerators, VCs, universities, and government (albeit in a supportive role) and large companies. This is how a healthy and vibrant ecosystem will be created that delivers benefits to everyone.

Given the exciting things happening with startups, it makes no sense for Canadian companies to be sitting on the sidelines. My suggestion is that they jump into the game now. Forget about a slow, no-risk approach that involves partnerships or alliances. Instead, let’s see some capital poured into startups that are aligned with a large company’s strategic vision and the challenges being encountered as new technologies disrupt their businesses and industries.

This new course will take courage, a leap of faith and new ways of doing business, but it has become a competitive necessity.

A final thought: In a world of low interest rates, Nicolas Colin argues that venture capital investments are a low-risk, high reward proposition.

Note: This article was originally published at


December 1, 2016

Espresso Capital was very excited to be a sponsor for this year’s first SAASNorth Conference presented by L-Spark & CUBE Media in our nation’s capital of Ottawa. Over the past two days, there was a long list of “SAAS-y” speakers sharing their knowledge and expertise. To sum up the great insights, we have collected our highlights from the event. Looking forward to seeing you all back for next year!


November 4, 2016
Meet Jyotin Handa

We’re pleased to welcome Jyotin Handa to the Espresso Capital team as our new Director of Finance. Jyotin joins us from Maple Leaf Foods where he was a member of the company’s corporate finance and investor relations group. Prior to Maple Leaf, Jyotin worked with Ernst & Young where he led audit engagements for public and private companies.

We recently sat down over a cup o’ joe to get to know Jyotin better and hear what he hopes to do in his new role.


Tell us about your experience before Espresso Capital.

I began my career in Ernst & Young’s Assurance practice. At E&Y I had the opportunity to build my foundational finance experience advising and working closely with, small and medium-sized companies in a variety of sectors like technology, food and beverage, and real estate.

I transitioned into the consumer products space by moving to Maple Leaf Foods where I held a unique finance/investor relations hybrid role. When I joined, the company was emerging from a long and significant transformation that resulted in a number of structural changes to the business. This gave me a rare opportunity to work at the epicenter of a leaner and refocused growth company. I was part of a broad set of “outside the box” projects that blended finance, investor relations, and strategic communications.

Why did you decide to join Espresso Capital?

It’s an exciting time in Canada’s booming tech sector! I wanted to join Espresso because they are well positioned in the market with a unique value proposition, and a strong track record and reputation of having real and meaningful impacts on their clients.

Espresso is still in its early stages, and there is a lot of upside and growth potential for the company.

What are your goals and short term priorities?

My highest priority is to soak in as much as I can about our current clients successes, needs, and challenges. I am focused on analyzing the operating environments and business models of the tech ecosystem and hope to leverage my “big company” finance background and training to help build on and support Espresso’s growth model.

What was your inspiration to pursue a career in finance?

At a very early age I excelled in math and problem solving, so it was a natural step to pursue a business degree in school. I know it sounds very cliché, but I gravitated towards the chartered accountant designation in school after seeing the evidence of all the doors the designation would open for me.

What do you predict will be the “next big thing” in technology?

It’s hard to ignore how close we are to the commercialization of driverless cars and automated drone deliveries. I can’t go a day without reading about the progress and investments being made by companies like Uber, Apple, Google, GM, etc. in this space.

In the case of driverless cars, there is significant upside in safety (fewer car accidents from careless/distracted driving) and efficiency (i.e. productive commutes, reduced need for parking).

In the case of drones, the experiments are encouraging not only for consumer applications and convenience, but also for emergency or relief applications, such as delivery of supplies to remote/dangerous areas, or surveying/relief in areas hit by natural disasters.

What is your caffeinated beverage of choice?

This is really boring, but my beverage of choice is black coffee. I start each morning with a fresh cup made from my French press (I’m trying my best to stay clear of coffee pods).