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ePACT becomes first Canadian woman-led deal of Elaine Kunda’s Disruption Ventures

Emergency preparedness and communications solution ePACT Network has closed a Series A financing, raising $4.5 million, PE Hub Canada has learned.

The round, which brings total funding to $12 million-plus, was co-led by Disruption Ventures, a women-focused venture firm, and Yaletown Partners, an investor in emerging-growth tech companies.

Disruption Managing Partner Elaine Kunda and Yaletown Partner Hans Knapp will join the board.

Yaletown is an existing ePACT backer. It previously invested in a 2013 seed round alongside angels and BDC Capital. The company’s other investors include Kymbask Investments, Pique Ventures and Relentless Pursuit Partners.

Vancouver’s ePACT was founded in 2012 by CEO Christine Sommers, formerly the owner of a web consulting business, and President and COO Kirsten Koppang Telford, a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Cogeny Communications.

Koppang Telford and Sommers were inspired to create ePACT by a friend who was separated from her two daughters during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The experience convinced the pair of the importance of finding new ways to give families access to critical data in the event of a crisis.

EPACT provides a cloud-hosted system that converts traditional paper-based forms of emergency, health and contact information to a free e-network. At present, the e-network is used by two million families across 140 countries and more than 400 organizations in North America, ePACT reports.

The startup’s customers and partners include U.S. health and wellness software company Daxko, Girl Guides of Canada, the National Recreation and Parks Association and the YMCA.

Disruption’s Kunda, who met Koppang Telford and Sommers in March, said she had an immediate interest in ePACT’s “meaningful concept” and underlying business model.

Elaine Kunda, founder and managing partner of Disruption Ventures.

“My gut told me there was a huge opportunity here,” Kunda said. “The most valuable thing in our lives is our children. Our top priority is to protect them in case of emergency and ePACT’s on-demand, up-to-date data solution provides families and communities with a vital resource.”

After seven years of growth, ePACT is “at an inflection point,” Kunda said. It will use the proceeds of the Series A to “scale faster than it could organically,” she added, with a focus on continued U.S. expansion and entering new markets abroad. It will also give priority to product enhancements and fresh hires.

EPACT is the first Canadian deal of Disruption, launched in 2018 by Kunda to invest in North American early-stage companies founded and managed by women. It follows the firm’s debut investment, Hostfully, a San Francisco-based vacation rental tech provider, made earlier this year.

Toronto-based Disruption is currently raising its inaugural fund. Disruption Ventures I has so far secured about half of its $30 million target, Kunda told PE Hub Canada in May, thanks to some high-profile investors, including strategic partner Scotiabank.

While female entrepreneurs are attracting more notice in the VC market, the statistics show the dollar flows remain heavily skewed to men. Several recent studies, including one published in June by the CVCA and BDC Capital, suggest the gender gap is due partly to insufficient diversity in investor teams.

Other Canadian women-founded startups that recently closed financings include construction software provider Bridgit, fine jewelry brand Mejuri, frontline employee engagement app Nudge Rewards, and direct-to-consumer product sampling platform Sampler.

Vancouver-based Yaletown invested in ePACT’s Series A through its Innovation Growth Fund. Also in fundraising mode, IGF is targeting $200 million for investments in mid-stage companies in intelligent industrial and intelligent enterprise tech sectors. It raised more than half of that amount in a first close last year.