“Doubling Down” is a new series where we hear from top B2B SaaS investors on their most recent activities and takes on the current market. We had a great one last week with Mary D’Onofrio, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. Check that out here.
This week we’re focusing on Rebecca Lynn, Co-Founder & General Partner at Canvas Ventures!
#1. What’s your most recent disclosed investment? Why did you do the deal?
XP Health, an end-to-end vision care solution for employers and insurance carriers. Their product increases enrollment and utilization while reducing employee costs and providing a substantially better experience.
#2. What’s your sweet spot for investing — check size, stage, type of deal? And how big is your current fund?
Canvas Ventures manages $835 million in AUM, currently investing out of our third, $350 million fund. We specialize in late Series A/early Series B investments, writing checks of $5-$15 million. Some of my best outcomes have been at that Series B stage, including: Doximity (DOCS), Casetext (acq Thomson Reuters), Gabi (acq Experian), Figure Eight (acq Appen). By the time companies get to Series B, they’ve figured out their product-market fit but they still haven’t scaled. Series B is where the go-to-market expertise is essential – you have to know how to truly understand who your target customers are and set up an experimental channel strategy. My expertise, shaped by roles at Procter & Gamble, Nextcard, and running a marketing agency, centers on guiding companies through go-to-market strategies, from understanding target customers to implementing experimental channel approaches. B-round fundraising is challenging. In Q3 we saw a 45% QoQ decrease in fundraising deals getting done; that’s the lowest we’ve seen in the past five years.
#3. What’s the #1 bit of advice you’d give to SaaS founders today?
Great companies are created in downturns. Generative AI is spawning new companies and accelerating existing ones. With whatever company you’re building, make sure you’re solving a problem that people care enough to pay for. Just having a cool tech solution isn’t good enough. You have to be targeting an expensive, painful problem.
#4. What’s your pulse check on the venture markets right now, today?
Venture is cyclical. It has just been a long time since we’ve seen a down cycle. Historically, the headlines read “venture capital is dead ” every 7 to 10 years. This time, it took 15. For the first three quarters of 2023, global funding was down 42% year over year. At the same time, it is my experience that the best companies are grown in an environment of scarcity and economic uncertainty. Founders have to make tough, thoughtful decisions about where to deploy capital.
#5. What’s different about your fund / how you invest and support founders?
Our focus at Canvas is on Series A and B companies ready to scale. We are coming out of a cycle where venture firms were in a race to grow AUM and stack fees. At Canvas, we have not played that game, because we don’t think it serves our companies and founders. Instead, we have remained extremely consistent in our strategy over the past 10 years, leading rounds at a steady pace that allows us to be dedicated, thoughtful board members. We are laser-focused on supporting our companies with GTM services and expertise. All of our partners have deep backgrounds in go-to-market, whether in sales, channel strategy, or BD. And we have a world-class Go-to-Market Council made up of operating executives who provide our CEOs with advice on scaling their businesses.
#6. What’s an “exit” you’re particularly proud of?
My most recent exit, Casetext, the AI-powered legal research company that recently sold to Thomson Reuters for $650M in cash. I led Series B in Casetext in 2016. From day one, the co-founder and CEO Jake Heller was laser focused on earning lawyers’ trust. That set him and team up so that when they came out of the sandbox with GPT-4 with their CoCounsel product, they were able to command contracts with an extra zero. Casetext’s exit was the first meaningful one in this wave of AI, and it came after a decade of dedicated work with proprietary data.
Rebecca is a Co-Founder and General Partner at Canvas Ventures where she leads Series A and B investments in Healthtech, AI, and Fintech. Rebecca has been named to the Forbes Midas List five years running, a Woman to Watch: Senior Deal Maker by the Wall Street Journal, and a Top Woman VC by the New York Times. Rebecca’s passion lies in working closely with early-stage founders, helping them refine their product market fit and expand their go-to-market strategy. Notable investments include Doximity (NYSE: DOCS), Luminar (NASDAQ: LAZR), Casetext (acquired by Thomson Reuters), Lending Club (NYSE: LC), Check (acq Intuit), Gabi (acq by Experian), RelateIQ (acq Salesforce), FutureAdvisor (acq Blackrock) and Figure Eight (acq Appen). She serves on the board of Skydeck, the University of California Berkeley incubator, and is a frequent lecturer at Stanford and Berkeley.
Rebecca has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Missouri, and a JD/MBA from the University of California, Berkeley. She serves on the board of Skydeck, the University of California Berkeley incubator and is a frequent lecturer at Stanford and Berkeley.