Backstreet’s Back: Extreme Venture Partners Returns with a New Accelerator, But No Amar Varma

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The Extreme Venture Partners (EVP) brand is back from the dead with a vengeance. Along with this resurrection has come a new accelerator program set to hit Toronto in the coming months.

Noticeably absent from the newest chapter of the EVP story is Amar Varma, the original cofounder of both the Xtreme Labs mobile development studio (sold to Pivotal Labs for in October for $65 million) as well as EVP, the Toronto-based venture capital firm that suddenly turned its back on raising a new fund last summer.

What happened last summer?

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It was reported last summer in August that EVP was bowing out of the venture capital business.

Later on it became clear that the new fund never went through because Varma was in the process of the Xtreme Labs sale to Pivotal. Much of EVP’s initial success was said to have been driven by the cofounder, including several Toronto-based companies that had successful exits. BumpTop was a customizable desktop tool acquired by Google in 2010 for $35 million; social performance management platform Rypple was acquired by SalesForce in 2011. Locationary was purchased by Apple in 2013 for its mapping app for a sum reportedly in the tens of millions.

It appeared as though Varma’s inability to be involved in what would be the firm’s second fund (given his involvement with the Xtreme sale) prevented it from being raised. Without the top dog, the deal wasn’t going to go through- at least that’s what the prevailing thought was, but it still remains a mystery.

Back from the dead

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This week a website for the new Extreme Venture Partners as well as a new accelerator, Extreme Innovations, surfaced. The new fund and accelerator will be led by Ray Sharma and Sunil Sharma.

Ray Sharma is the founder of the successful XMG gaming studio in Toronto, and formerly cofounded EVP with Varma in 2007. Meanwhile, Sunil Sharma co-directed Extreme Startups (the accelerator program) where he co-lead investments into more than 18 companies. After that he joined STEM7 Capital in Toronto, which never fully got off the ground, followed by a stint as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Waterloo’s Communitech while he mulled his next position. Now he’s found it with the new EVP.

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Sunil Sharma has the strong resume, but some within the community claim that his time at Extreme Startups could be characterized as more of an evangelist role while co-director Andy Yang spent more time in the trenches with the companies.

“We expect to make 40+ investments from the new fund,” Sharma told us. “We really believe in the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor and feel strongly that the investment opportunities are there and the window of time is now”

Moreover, he emphasized that “there’s no government money in this fund.”

Wait…there’s two accelerators in Canada called “Extreme” now?

Ahh Canada, the place that had two professional football franchises called the “Roughriders/ Rough Riders” until 1996, which will forever go down as one of the comical follies of the Canadian Football League. It appears that the Canadian accelerator landscape has taken a few notes from the CFL, as the arrival of Extreme Innovations has created a rather awkward scenario with the current Extreme Startups, the program that Sunil Sharma left and Marcus Daniels took over.

Sahand Sojoodi, who was the first employee at Xtreme Labs, will run the new accelerator.

“Extreme Venture Partners has committed significant capital resources towards innovating on its own internal opportunities through its investment in Extreme Innovations,” reads its website. “Operating as a technology accelerator, Extreme Innovations will create companies in partnership with talented entrepreneurs and tech experts and will validate business models before seeking additional partners.”

Its unclear what will happen for now- will Extreme Innovations try to partner up with the long-rooted Extreme Startups (backed by OMERS Ventures and led by a new team since Sharma and Yang departed)? Or will Extreme Innovations try and blaze a trail all on its own- likely facing a branding battle along the way?

Whatever does end up happening, 2014’s summertime is set to get a lot more spicy within the Canadian startup community.

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk previously has written for the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post, Techvibes and BC Business Online. Joseph often goes crazy on twitter during NHL and NFL games.

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    @betakitcanada:disqus just to point out that @omersventures is one of the founding investors in Extreme Startups along with @rhocanada @relayventures @bdc and the former @xtremelabs.

    BTW <3 the Rough Riders/Roughriders comparison!