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Alexandra Clark

Founding Partner

Alexandra Clark joined Shopify to start the government relations function at a time when the company was growing it’s public presence. She quickly partnered with government organizations, run strategic communications, and helped ship key initiatives that landed Shopify as a leader on the global stage. As a result of her impact, Alex was tapped to be the Chief of Staff to Shopify’s CEO, building the office from the ground up. Alex is a strategic problem solver, brings people along, and gets shit done.

She grew up in a household where her mom was always excited to shop from local businesses. “Shop Aurora”, “Shop St John’s”, “Shop Ottawa” were phrases Alexandra heard on a weekly basis. The idea of going down your main street and supporting someone in the community is something Alexandra has valued and enjoyed doing from very early on. Coupled with her time at Shopify, where she was able to peek behind the curtain and see what it truly meant to be a small business, solidified her desire to help remove any barriers to success. It’s also part of what made her want to get into angel investing.

Alexandra looks for businesses that bring something unique to the market and have a sound business proposal. “It’s not about feeling good by spreading money around. It’s about meeting incredible founders, hearing their story, seeing the opportunity in their business and giving them the financial support they need to take it to the next level,” she says.

Alex is the VP Strategic Initiatives at Shopify and is currently on mat leave and working for potentially her toughest boss yet: her eight-month-old son. She loves to spend time outdoors skiing, hiking, and pretty much doing any and everything where her black lab Boomer can tag along. She is known for her ability to make up a game on the spot and is tapped at most parties to spice up the night.

How I can help you:

Strategic comms, talent, product, executive mentorship

Companies I’ve backed:

Bird&Be, Haloo, 1Password

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Anna Lambert

Founding Partner

Anna Lambert is the Director of Product Acceleration at Shopify, where she works on M&A, investments, integration and portfolio management. She spent the previous 8 years as the Director of Talent Acquisition, growing the company from 100 to 6,500+. Basically, she’s had every wild interview imaginable. But, she prides herself on helping bring in, and then foster, the best + most diverse talent to help them thrive.

“One thing that I do well is create an environment where people can actually be themselves and find connection points with people’s interests, abilities and problems that need to be solved.”

Anna was the mastermind behind “Beyond the Code,” a tech conference that launched in 2015 created in response to the countless others she’d attended with very few women and even fewer people of colour panelists/speakers on stage.

This philosophy similarly guides her investing style. Coming from a recruiting background, Anna is founder-focused, interested in what exactly a founder is trying to achieve, and how their background may have influenced that. Anna looks to partner with founders exploring projects — and even planets (see: Astreia) — unfamiliar to her.

In her spare time, Anna likes to spend time at her cottage in Quebec with her partner. She’s an ammateur dirt biker, and is learning the drums, both hobbies she initially picked up during the pandemic but that have lasted much longer than everyone else’s sourdough making initiatives.

How I can help you:

Talent, partnerships, growth, with your next raise

Companies I’ve backed:

Alder, Astreia, Bird&Be, Wethos, Euphoria, Haloo, Love Local, Side Door Access, Snack, Space Ryde, Tall Poppy, The Folklore, 1Password

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Arati Sharma

Founding Partner

If you’re looking for someone to help you think bigger, Arati is your go-to. Having spent considerable time as an operator and now a recent founder herself, Arati is an example of why operators make the best angels—because we just get it.

As the co-founder of DTC skincare brand, Ghlee, with her brother & sister (with all the Sharmas working on the business), Arati is founder-focused when it comes to investing. She’s not one to expect a monthly investor update, but she does want to know how you’re doing. How’s your mental health? How’s your team? Though having spent 8 years at Shopify as the Director of Experiential, and then building global product marketing from the ground up, as the Director of Product Marketing— she will spend a considerable time mulling over your brand and positioning. It’s why she has an affinity for consumer products and good storytelling.

In 2021, after having backed over 30 companies and multiple funds in a single year, with a thoughtful focus on diverse founders (focusing in on women and BIPOC founders), she was named Canada’s Angel Investor of the Year by NACO.

In her limited spare time, Arati enjoys being a mom, supporting the arts, rearranging the furniture in her house, starting new businesses with friends, and cooking meals she discovers on her travels.

How I can help you:

Marketing, growth, brand, comms, product, scale

Companies I’ve backed:

Alder, Ami Cole, Arrae, Astreia, Bird&Be, Blume, Brown Girl Magazine, Caribou, Ceremonia, Common Heir, Daily Blends, Disco, Euphoria, Ethos, Fable, MyFO, Haloo, House of Wise, Koble, Paume, Sheertex, Sidia, Snack, Soft Services, SpaceRyde, Sphere, The Juggernaut, 1Password

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Atlee Clark

Founding Partner

You probably know Atlee Clark, or at least her work, already. It’s probably already on your phone, as Director of Operations for Shopify's latest product shopping app, Shop, Atlee has had a hand in connecting the world's shoppers to their favourite merchants across the globe.

In addition to her seven years with the tech giant — a majority of which has been spent building and scaling partnerships and products — Atlee served as the Executive Director of the C100, a Silicon Valley based organization serving Canadians in the Bay Area, connecting them with Canada's greatest technology startups. She’s also a co-founder of Pika Layers, a DTC brand for baby clothes she launched alongside some of her best friends.

A career in tech, alongside a start in government relations in Washington, DC means she’s a pro at identifying gaps and the needs of a business ahead of the jump, in order to help them bridge and prepare for the next step. While some angels are looking to the stars when it comes to investing (something Atlee admires), she’s looking to tackle problems she feels personally every day. I invest in things that could help me as a business owner, as a parent, or as an executive inside a company.”

In her spare time, Atlee loves spending time outside backcountry hiking and skiing, and spending time with her husband and two children.

How I can help you:

Partnerships, operations, raising capital, strategy

Companies I’ve backed

Bird&Be, Calico, Haloo, Zum, 1Password

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Brittany Forsyth

Founding Partner

For Brittany Forsyth, there’s one quote she’s returned to often throughout her career: “You don’t build great products by building great products, you build great products by building an environment in which great products are built. It’s an ethos that’s guided her during her 11 years at Shopify as Chief Talent Officer.

Before leaving in 2021, Brittany built the tech company’s Talent Function from scratch, taking the team from around 20 people (she was employee #22), to over 10,000 and fostering a culture and environment where employees were able to soar. During this time, she was a key leader in taking the company public and helped integrate eight companies into Shopify’s fold, while expanding the talent footprint globally in over 15 new locations.

With a career-long emphasis on people as the power behind product, it’s no surprise that her investing ethos is similar in seeing potential behind founders, ones that are insatiably curious, knowledgeable about their areas of exploration, relentless in their pursuit of success, and willing to change and evolve as they learn. She’s also of course backed talent-related companies (think mentorship, culture, diversity).

In her spare time, Brittany doubles down on the idea that life is about creating opportunities, whether it’s by serving on the Board of Directors for the Ottawa’s Boys and Girls Club, or being an Advisor for Bessemer Ventures.

To refuel herself, she spends time with her nieces and nephews, and tunes in to any and all sports games (sometimes for the Green Bay Packers, but mostly to people-watch the fans…again, human-focused).

How I can help you:

Talent, HR, growth, scale

Companies I’ve backed

Euphoria, Fable, Haloo, Mentorly, Snack, Space Ride, Storybolt, Wavy, 1Password

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Erin Zipes

Founding Partner

When you first think of corporate law, you probably think of rigid rules, grey suits, and harsh office lighting. Erin Zipes thinks of art. But not necessarily in the way of Picasso and Kahlo. Initially drawn to law for its straightforward boxes, rules, and ways of doing things, Erin spent 6 years learning her craft at two national firms before moving in-house and spending her next 10 years as Assistant General Counsel for public, cross-listed companies, Nordion and Shopify, honing her craft and expanding her experience and knowledge base.

Moving in-house in 2011, and into tech with Shopify in 2014 entering a field that was pushing boundaries with no preconceived, prescriptive solutions, Erin took what she knew in order to push herself to evolve into a different kind of lawyer - one who was able to think creatively outside the lines, finding innovative and creative ways to work within the existing boxes and rules, and apply it to unprecedented problems in the midst of hypergrowth.

During her time at Shopify, Erin originated, built and scaled the corporate legal team from pre-IPO to a mega-cap company. In an industry that’s always forecasting for sunny skies (think big ideas with little thoughts of failure), “it’s my job to think of all the ways things can go wrong and figure out all the ways to try to avoid that.”

It’s a skill that helps her now as an angel investor and advisor, offering balance to pie-in-the-sky thinking. Erin is currently a board member of Mindbridge, provider of the world’s leading risk discovery platform for financial integrity, and of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation. She also acts as Advisor, Partnerships and Overall Strategy at Haloo, a start-up focused on Instant professional trademark searches, fail-safe trademark applications and automated brand enforcement, in one place.

How I can help you:

Legal, strategy, scaling, board governance

Companies I’ve backed:

Floka, Growcer, Haloo, 1Password

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Konval Matin

Founding Partner

Konval Matin is a problem solver. In fact, she got her career start at Shopify, as an intern, by overcoming one pretty big problem: they hadn’t posted the role yet. At an event to learn more about tech, she gave the recruiter a business card from her recently-launched design firm.

As the Director of Culture and Talent Development for six years, she crafted the human experience for employees, designing physical and digital spaces that enabled them to do their best work; making Shopify’s intangible values tangible — and even more than that, something employees wanted to be a part of. Konval scaled the company from 100 to 4000+ employees and then moved on to support the product discipline as the Chief of Staff to the CPO. In her last role at the tech giant, Konval served as the Director of Merchant Storytelling, where she helped Shopify discover and share stories that spoke to the humans behind their 1.6M+ merchants.

As an angel investor, Konval is interested in founders looking for real-world problems and how they plan to approach it. “I’m biased towards founders that solve problems at the root cause, whilst pairing a systems approach to building as much as possible” she says.

Konval serves on the Board of Feed Ontario, an organization committed to securing fresh and healthy food sources, driving change through research, and advocating for solutions to end hunger and poverty. After leaving Shopify in Summer 2021, Konval took up printmaking, illustration, and photography as mediums to tap back into her creative talent. She has exhibited and sold pieces at the Ottawa School of Art, and is currently working on commissioned art and freelancing as an illustrator.

When not at her desk or in the studio, you’ll find Konval soaking in some Vitamin D, ideally on a mountain, or capturing nature with her obnoxiously large camera lens.

How I can help you:

Talent, culture, art direction, product

Companies I’ve backed:

Astreia, Bird&Be, Daily Blends, Haloo, SheFly, Snack, SpaceRyde, Wethos, 1Password

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Lynsey Thornton

Founding Partner

Lynsey Thornton would probably be classified as a risk taker, although she’s never thought of herself that way. But leaving Ireland and a great job in 2012, during the middle of a recession, for a city she’d never visited (Vancouver, Canada) with precisely zero job opportunities lined up, isn’t for the faint of heart. With a background in design, tech, and business, Lynsey’s focus is on customer-centric design. She learned the hard way how important it is to be customer focussed in her early career working for a gaming company, after numerous failed launches. We realized it was because RnD weren't talking to any customers at all”. Taking the charge in asking customers what they cared about directly was “completely career changing for me,” Lynsey says.

Starting with Shopify as the company’s first researcher in 2013, this strategic customer-first mentality has been a throughline, as she identified opportunities for the company to play a larger part in their customer’s businesses. In her eight years at Shopify she was the driving force and leader of the UX team, spending her days with everyone from the CEO, to vocal critics of the company. Lynsey championed Shopify’s customer-first mentality, and grew the company’s design teams from 10 to over 450 people - the largest home grown design team in Canada and considered one of the best in the world. Along the way she spent four years as the first General Manager of Shopify’s Core product where she led the direction and teams who built Shopify’s flagship back office product. In her last year she made a huge pivot to a new area, and became the company’s first Managing Director of US West, building commercial, sales, marketing, support, and PR for their largest region.

Her favourite part of Backbone by far is finding, and working with founders. When she’s not traveling (to her home country of Ireland, her husband’s country of the Netherlands, or their next dream destination of Japan), she and her husband are working on their new home, building his business in Africa, or trying to tire out their (not so small) puppy.

How I can help you:

She knows how to scale teams and get the best from them despite constant change. RnD is her sweet spot, but she’s psyched to listen to your challenges in defining and living your company culture, improving your customer sentiment, and managing change and crisis internally and externally.

Companies I've backed:

Bird&Be, Wethos, Shefly, Snack, SpaceRyde, 1Password

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Marcie Murray

Founding Partner

Marcie Murray knows what it takes to be an entrepreneur, because she was raised by them. Growing up in Ottawa, she watched her parents build and rebuild their family-owned manufacturing business over 45 years, before ultimately having to close it during COVID. It was tough, but armed her with an entrepreneurial mindset, motivating her to launch her own business at 25, helping couples bring their dream weddings off Instagram to IRL.

Currently Chief of Staff to the President at Shopify, Marcie is bringing her years of experience growing Shopify to support the senior leadership team. Previously, Marcie was the Director of Operations for Ecosystem at Shopify, where she focused on building a function that helps every developer in the world create value for merchants with products and services. Before that, Marcie led customer support for Shopify, as the Director of Global Support for 8 years. She is credited with scaling the team from 12 to 2,000 people globally and setting up an industry-leading, human-centered approach to customer support.

This experience further equipped her with an understanding of what it means to be a founder, build something from scratch, and try new, and really scary, things — not always with a guarantee of success.“You name it, I've tried it and screwed it up,” she says. And then rightfully picked herself back up to try again.

Marcie’s investing thesis motivated by the future of food. As someone who counts feeding the people around her as a love language, she’s drawn to founders who combine access to food and agriculture with tech.

How I can help you:

Customer support, operations, support

Companies I’ve backed:

Astreia, Avvinue, Bird&Be, Euphoria, Haloo, Mentor Method, Snack, 1Password

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Solmaz Shahalizadeh

Founding Partner

If there’s an area in tech and data, chances are Solmaz Shahalizadeh has had a role in shaping it — or at least contributing to it significantly. Most recently as the Vice President and head of Shopify’s Data team, Solmaz built the company’s entire portfolio of machine learning, overseeing a team of over 500 data scientists, engineers and product managers who help leverage data to ensure Shopify merchants get the most from the company's scale. When COVID hit, Solmaz and her team put together a task force to measure the pandemic’s effect on commerce, resulting in a change in how they supported their entrepreneurs. In 2020, she was named one of Canada’s 50 best executives by The Globe and Mail for her work during COVID.

But, that’s not all. Before her time with Shopify, Solmaz had an extensive career as a data scientist, working as an analyst at Morgan Stanley and McGill University, the latter of which she contributed to cancer research, using AI methods to build predictors of outcome for breast cancer.

As A “Gen Zero immigrant” from Iran, Solmaz is passionate about supporting diverse, female-founded businesses. “I rarely went to a room where there was someone else that looked like me,” she says. “I always opened the door and I did my best to bring people along.

Outside of her work with Backbone, Solmaz looks to log off completely, finding energy and grounding in nature. When she’s not out for trail walks with her husband, you can find her curled up with a good book (re-reading Murakami, a good thriller or what’s currently on her nightstand: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).

How I can help you:

Data, AI strategy, building teams, technology, product

Companies I've backed:

Astreia, Haloo, Notable, WALO