Rewind pushing forward: software firm hires startup investment guru Nolan Beanlands to lead M&A campaign

Nolan Beanlands
That takes the cake: as per company tradition, new Rewind corporate development manager Nolan Beanlands brings a tasty treat to the office on his first day on the job this week. Photo courtesy Nolan Beanlands

Rewind has tapped one of the capital’s most seasoned early stage tech investors to lead its M&A campaign as it prepares to scale up after raising more than $100 million in venture capital.

The Ottawa-based software company has hired Nolan Beanlands, the former executive director of the Capital Angel Network, to assume the newly created role of corporate development manager starting this week. 

The 31-year-old University of Waterloo engineering grad will be in charge of identifying promising startups that could potentially fit under the Rewind umbrella as the firm looks to expand its customer base and product offerings.

“I’ve been a fan of the company for a long, long time,” said Beanlands, who led the Capital Angel Network for four years before leaving last September – a period that saw the organization invest more than $15 million in local startups, including Rewind as well as other rising firms like RV rental marketplace RVezy and logistics experts GoFor.

“I thought (Rewind) was a really good fit for my own career path,” he added. “So far, all the (staff) that I’ve interacted with have been really positive and I’m excited to spend a lot more time with them.”

Founded in 2015, Rewind specializes in software that backs up and recovers customer data for Shopify merchants and users of other cloud-based software platforms. It now stores data from more than 45,000 customer accounts on encrypted servers, ensuring sensitive information is protected from events such as power outages or cyber-attacks. 

Online shopping frenzy

Many of its more than 30,000 active users are merchants who operate online stores on Shopify’s platform. Early in the pandemic, Rewind’s revenues surged as widespread shutdowns of brick-and-mortar stores fuelled an online shopping frenzy that helped Shopify grow into the one of the world’s most prominent software companies. 

To help finance its rapid ascent, Rewind closed two VC rounds in a span of nine months that raised US$80 million. Along the way, the company’s headcount has doubled from 65 early in 2021 to 130 today.

Recently, however, Rewind has been facing a few headwinds. 

The company’s annual recurring revenues are on pace to rise by about 50 per cent in fiscal 2022 – a number most boards and CEOs would envy, but barely half the rate of previous years as fewer new merchants have signed on to Shopify and other e-commerce platforms Rewind backs up, like BigCommerce. 

Consequently, the Ottawa firm has begun to adapt its system for other customers, including software developers and makers of accounting software such as QuickBooks. 

A faster way to tap into those markets is buying companies that already serve those verticals rather than investing a lot of time and money into developing new products. Last year, for example, Rewind acquired BackHub – a German software-maker that serves as a backup service for GitHub, a subsidiary of Microsoft that stores software source code in the cloud.

Beanlands will now be the frontman for Rewind’s M&A strategy, scouring the market for potential acquisition targets that fit the Ottawa firm’s long-term growth plan, conducting due diligence and – with any luck – closing deals.

“All of that cycle, to me, that’s a very familiar space,” he told Techopia on Wednesday.

Rewind co-founder and chief executive Mike Potter said Beanlands brings a potent mix of experience working with early stage software companies and a vast network of contacts in the financial community that should serve his firm well as it ratchets up its acquisition push.

"We recognize that there’s an opportunity here to expand the number of platforms that we back up and also go deeper in some of the platforms where we’ve seen success."

Potter said Rewind’s goal is to bring two more software companies into the fold before the year is out, and Beanlands will take the lead in securing those acquisitions.

“We recognize that there’s an opportunity here to expand the number of platforms that we back up and also go deeper in some of the platforms where we’ve seen success,” Potter explained.

“It turns out (the e-commerce boom) was more of a blip … as opposed to a permanent change in behaviour. It’s still a great trend to be on, but it hasn’t maintained the pace that it had (been on) during the pandemic. 

“That’s why I think Nolan’s role is so important – that we can find other verticals where we can see really good success and sell our backup solution to companies in a bunch of different places.”

Beanlands said he’s always been impressed with the resilience Potter and his team have shown as they’ve navigated the inevitable ups and downs of building a software company from scratch. 

“I’ve seen a lot of people say no to Rewind along the way,” he noted. “They’ve continued to drive and grow the company and have success. Having observed all of those elements of the journey, it gives me a lot of confidence jumping in here that they’ll continue to grow as a company even as they enter a different stage of growth.”