By Kathryn Boothby
Rebecca Kacaba is a trailblazing CEO, and co-founder of a start-up at the intersection of two traditionally male-dominated industries: technology and the capital markets. In co-founding DealMaker in 2018 along with Mat Goldstein, Kacaba paired her unceasing ambition with ingrained Canadian values to drive change and innovation. DealMaker is disrupting the private equity markets and democratizing access to capital for both founders and investors. In just four years it has become the fastest growing tech company, and the third-fastest-growing company, in Canada.
Kacaba practiced law in Toronto for over a decade, founding emerging-growth groups and being recognized as one of North America’s most innovative lawyers. It is no surprise, then, that with such a pedigree in helping entrepreneurs over the years she would continue to do so through a FinTech company of her own.
With her understanding of how the capital markets were evolving, Kacaba knew offering a technology solution was not enough to become a dominant leader in the industry. DealMaker needed to be a holistic, one-stop-shop approach to raising capital globally. DealMaker is continuously developing new features, such as a patent-pending machine learning algorithm for investor ranking and scoring, and because both founders are securities lawyers, the company has also expanded to offer Transfer Agent services; a FINRA-approval of a broker-dealer licence; and has acquired Austin, Texas-based Ridge Growth Agency, the leading marketing firm for online investor acquisition.
For any co-founder, getting to the first dollar in the company is extremely meaningful. Rebecca recalls, “It confirmed that we had built something that someone wanted to pay for. Translating that to scale, adding business units, and making acquisitions brought a new level of complexity, especially when also trying to raise capital. That level of success comes from surrounding yourself with smart people, then giving them the tools and support they need to get the job done.”
Kacaba has created a culture where employees can move fast without the fear of making a few mistakes along the way. She firmly believes that to learn, things need to break, which inspired one of the company’s mottos: Move fast and break things.
To fuel a rapidly growing start-up, and to turn an antiquated private capital raising system on its head, Kacaba surrounded herself with subject matter experts who are also highly adaptable.
The result is a SaaS white-labeled capital raise platform that has been coined the ‘Shopify for the Capital Markets’ as it enables founders to raise capital as easily as adding eCommerce functionality.
At DealMaker, leadership encourages the team to continuously find new ways to expand and improve the product offering while simultaneously continuing international expansion. DealMaker is one of only a few Canadian start-ups that has been able to scale (and win dominant market share) within the United States.
Since inception, DealMaker has powered over $1.7 billion in capital raised, more than double that of any leading U.S. counterpart, in less than half the operating history. What’s more, active investors have increased by over 480 per cent, the team has grown from 25 to over 100 employees, and for the past two years the company has delivered annual revenue growth exceeding 500 per cent. Leading international brands including the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, Osisko Development Corporation, and Carbon Streaming Corporation have used DealMaker technology to manage large, self-hosted online capital raises. It was also announced recently that DealMaker will take over the book of business from FundAmerica, a former leader in powering equity crowdfunding raises.
Whether an engineer or sales team member, Rebecca knows how to unlock potential by setting targets, encouraging autonomy and empowering people to run with it. She instills a belief that great expectations can be achieved. that puts the wind in our sails and pushes us all forward.MAT GOLDSTEIN, CO-FOUNDER, DEALMAKER
Kacaba sets the pace, the standard, the direction, and is highly skilled at providing career missions for each member of her team in addition to the organization, says co-founder Mat Goldstein. “Whether an engineer or sales team member, Rebecca knows how to unlock potential by setting targets, encouraging autonomy and empowering people to run with it. She instills a belief that great expectations can be achieved. That puts the wind in our sails and pushes us all forward. There is no formula for that, it is very individualized and situation-specific and, in my opinion, one of the most important qualities in a leader.”
That said, Goldstein points out that the highest expectations are those that Kacaba establishes for herself. “I see that up close every day. Proximity to that kind of excellence is very motivating and incredibly powerful,” he says.
True to one of her core values, Kacaba has set the tone for creating a more open and diverse capital markets industry. She leads with authenticity and inclusion top-of-mind, continuously striving for diversity and representation in both the DealMaker customer base and her team.
Equity crowdfunding, through its accessibility to retail investors (i.e.: the general public), levels the playing field by providing an opportunity to invest early to the broader economy. To prove the point, the KingsCrowd 2021 Market Intelligence Reports states that female-founders represented 34.1 per cent of all equity crowdfunding financing rounds (minority founders represented 44.5 per cent). By comparison, in 2020, traditional venture capital statistics showed female founders receiving only two per cent of total investments, with minority founders receiving just 2.6 per cent. As a female founder of Ukrainian descent, she is passionate about expanding funding options to traditionally underrepresented and overlooked entrepreneurs.
Kacaba and her team, which currently comprises 50 per cent female leadership, are playing a critical role in improving access to capital for the underfunded while increasing access to new investment opportunities previously unavailable to the general public. Companies can now have more choice for raising capital and are not limited to traditional financial investing institutions.
For Kacaba, diversity and representation are more than simply checking the boxes. For her, it is about authenticity and ensuring everyone feels motivated and engaged in their environment. She further contributes with ongoing mentorship opportunities and through speaking engagements such as the Women’s Inclusion Network and Lazaridis Scale-Up. Charitable fundraising to help address child abuse is also a passion.
Says Goldstein, “Rebecca is brave, determined, and an unstoppable force. She has risen to the very top of her field in business law, capital markets, and now technology. I consider myself very fortunate to be inspired by, and learn from, Rebecca’s dedication to excellence. She is a role model for our country and an inspiration for those aspiring to be the best they can be.”
Rebecca Kacaba is recipient of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award in the BMO Entrepreneurs category. It is an award that aligns well with the work she is undertaking. “It shows girls and women that being unapologetic about what they want delivers results,” she says.
This section was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s Commercial Content Division, on behalf of Women’s Executive Network (WXN).
Source: Financial Post