Ottawa software startup Tehama secures US$10M venture financing round

Paul Vallee
Paul Vallee

When Westboro-based software startup Tehama spun off from IT consulting firm Pythian eight months ago, founder and CEO Paul Vall​ée said he pictured a day when working remotely would be as commonplace as hopping in a car and driving to an office. 

“I really see a future where individuals could live and work where they decide and have equal productivity and career opportunity as people who decide that they would rather live in New York City or Toronto,” Vall​ée told OBJ back in September, when Tehama officially became a separate company.

But even he had no idea how quickly and dramatically our collective work habits would change.

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With employees around the world being told to work from home as part of measures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, Tehama’s technology ​– a cloud-based platform that lets off-site employees securely access company data on their laptops and other devices – is a must-have commodity for a growing number of clients.

This week, the fledgling startup’s bid to scale up and supply its rapidly expanding customer base got a massive boost when Tehama landed a US $10-million series-A financing round led by OMERS Ventures with participation from BDC Capital’s Industrial, Clean and Energy Technology Venture Fund.

“They are probably the No. 1 venture firm for companies in our stage in Canada,” Vall​ée said of OMERS Ventures. The venture capital arm of the Ontario municipal employees’ pension fund has a portfolio of nearly 50 tech companies across North America and Europe, including Ottawa-based Klipfolio, Fusebill and Ranovus.

“From our very first conversation, we felt strongly that Tehama’s highly secure, compliance-driven approach to creating a remote-work enablement product was valuable,” Shawn Chance, a venture partner at OMERS Ventures, said in a statement. 

“We couldn’t have predicted that it would be so dramatically put to the test by a global pandemic-driven work-from-home mandate, but seeing how the team has stepped up over these past few weeks has only strengthened our conviction in both the product and the team behind it.”

As Tehama’s revenues continue to grow and new inquiries keep flooding in, Vall​ée said the fresh funding will help the firm ramp up its sales and marketing team and hire more software engineers to continue honing the product’s capabilities. 

The veteran entrepreneur said Tehama can barely keep up with demand as the COVID-19 crisis forced many employers to dramatically rethink how they do business. A remote workforce presents a host of security and logistical challenges, Vall​ée said, and Tehama’s platform is designed to snuff out cyberthreats and make it safe for employees to work on highly sensitive projects on their home devices.

The market is clearly catching on to the technology’s value. 

Tehama now has more than 150 customers, and its platform is used on 2,300 desktops around the world – a total that’s surged 67 per cent since the end of February. The company recently became part of the U.S. Motion Picture Association’s trusted partner network, paving the way for its solution to be used at major TV, film and animation studios.

Vall​ée said the 60-person startup has hired a dozen people since the start of the year and expects to continue that pace for the rest of 2020. The CEO would not disclose any financial details but said Tehama’s monthly recurring revenues are projected to double by the end of December.   

And even once businesses begin to reopen and physical distancing measures are eased, Vall​é said, the traditional office-based business model will never again be as pervasive as it was before the novel coronavirus hit.

“We believe the future of work is virtual,” he said. “I think the post-COVID normal will include a lot more work from home. This pandemic has dramatically accelerated the world’s appetite and willingness to invest in technology that enables workforces to be virtualized over the internet.”


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