Ottawa-based online rental platform Ruckify is taking another big step toward accelerating its growth trajectory with plans to go public on the TSX Venture Exchange.
Ruckify – which connects owners and renters in much the same way Kijiji connects buyers and sellers – said this week it’s reached an agreement with Toronto-based Apolo III Acquisition Corp. (TSXV: AIII.P) to complete a reverse takeover, subject to regulatory approval.
Ruckify founder and CEO Steve Cody told OBJ Thursday the company is aiming to make its TSX Venture debut in the first quarter of 2021. The well-known serial entrepreneur says it’s all part of a plan to make the platform – which currently has users in more than 200 cities in Canada and the U.S. – a household name throughout North America.
“We’re in for a wild ride,” he said. “I think the work starts now.”
In connection to the public listing, Ruckify will raise a private placement round it expects to generate proceeds of $5 million by the end of November.
Still, Cody explained that enlarging the company’s financial warchest wasn’t really his main motivation for taking the venture public.
Ruckify, which officially launched to much fanfare two years ago, is co-owned by another high-profile local entrepreneur, former Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton. The firm has already raised tens of millions of dollars from a group of well-known investors that includes former Dragons’ Den star Brett Wilson, so cash-flow isn’t an issue.
While going public does give current investors an exit opportunity, Cody said the primary goal of the move is to gain the additional market exposure that being a publicly traded company typically provides.
“We don’t have a problem raising money,” said Cody, who'd previously suggested the company would seek a public listing on a U.S. exchange. “It’s more about getting the microphone and being able to tell the Ruckify story. That’s what we’re most excited about.”
He said Ruckify also had no problem finding potential partners for a reverse takeover. Cody credits the wave of interest to the star power of his friend and business partner Linton, one of Ottawa’s best-known executives and a man whose rolodex of high-net-worth business contacts is second to none in the capital.
'The Bruce effect'
“I just call it the Bruce effect more than anything else,” Cody said with a chuckle. “As soon as people started hearing that we were looking to (go public), we just started getting a lot of inbound in terms of people wanting to work with us on it.
“In terms of raising money and that whole investment community, he’s a total rockstar and people respect him.”
The Ruckify platform is now live in a number of Canadian and U.S. cities, including Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Austin, Nashville and Denver. Cody said the company next plans to make a big push into Edmonton, Winnipeg and Halifax, with the goal of being active in 29 North American cities by the end of 2021.
Now at 80 employees, the company is also preparing to roll out its “Ruckify 2.0” platform within the next 90 days. Cody said Ruckify’s engineers have “literally rebuilt the entire application” over the past six weeks in response to customer feedback, streamlining the process for registering users and posting items as well as adding few features and sprucing up the site’s design.
The serial entrepreneur wasn’t sure how Ruckify would fare at the outset of the pandemic. But the company – which now offers everything from RVs to office space on its peer-to-peer platform – has continued to gain momentum throughout 2020 and added more new users in October than in any previous month in its history.
Cody said the platform has provided a much-needed financial lifeline for people who suddenly saw their income evaporate during the COVID-19 crisis and turned to renting out items on Ruckify as a way to make ends meet.
“When people hear that, it’s very powerful,” he said.