Founder Spotlights

Calico: Inventing a Category While Making Supply Chains Transparent and Resilient

Jonah Midanik
Mar 8, 2022
min read

There’s no better way to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day than to share the news that one of our top female portfolio founders, Kathleen Chan, just announced her company Calico’s $2M seed round. Calico is the first AI-powered smart supply chain management platform, enabling brands to stand up new product lines instantly with a single source of truth for their product development, merchandising and purchasing functions. This round is led by Serena Ventures with participation from Maple VC, Inovia Capital, Hyphen Capital and a group of early Shopify employees.

I first worked with Kathleen when she joined our Toronto accelerator cohort in July 2020 with her previous startup. Kathleen had to deal with some company adversity during the early days of our program. The way she handled it instantly showed me the type of person and founder she is — full of integrity, grit, and grace. In a situation that would have caused many founders to give up, Kathleen rebuilt an entire new company from scratch — with a unique insight, a big vision, and an even bigger market — in 4 months. I immediately asked her to (re)join our next cohort so that we could build together.

Kathleen Chan, Founder & CEO of Calico
Kathleen Chan, Founder & CEO of Calico

From the beginning of working with Kathleen on Calico, I was impressed with her. She was driven, motivated, personable, and deeply understood a pain point in the brand commerce category. Having built and scaled multiple companies in the D2C fashion space already, Kathleen knew the critical challenges and gaps that existed for brands trying to figure out supply chain for the first (or hundredth) time, and how fragmented, manual, and therefore time consuming that part of the business is. So, she set out to build Calico, a command center for eCommerce brands and their sourcing teams and product developers to work better, more collaboratively with suppliers, stand up supply chains in a matter of moments, and scale to billions of dollars very quickly.

Calico’s dashboard, the supply chain command center for eCommerce brands

Over the course of three months working together, Kathleen created a category: Pre-commerce — a category that’s worth $1.4T today. With so many people focused on the customer experience of eCommerce, Calico was the only one looking at everything a brand needs to build products before it hits Shopify, Stripe — and their customers.

Calico’s success speaks for itself. The company has seen 300% growth since January 2022 alone. Their customers span emerging DTC brands to multi-million dollar retail companies, for which they have accelerated time to market by 25 percent, and they’re partnering with some of the world’s most coveted manufacturers. Their recent fundraise was led by Serena Ventures — both an industry-aligned and values-aligned investor, which was always very important to Kathleen.

Today, we’re celebrating an incredible founder who is building a great team and doing it in an ethical way, seeing increasing momentum in her business, and remaining humble throughout. Kathleen epitomizes the type of founder we love to work with — one who is incredibly smart, open to partnership and coaching, willing to share her ups and downs and be vulnerable, and who is driving a massive market shift. Cheers to this amazing woman on International Women’s Day!

An engineer by trade, Jonah Midanik has spent the last twenty years at the intersection of marketing and technology as a serial entrepreneur in Canada. Jonah has had several different lenses on the founder journey from bootstrapping, to launching new corporate divisions, and raising 8 figures of venture capital. Jonah currently spends his time helping Canadian companies grow with Forum Ventures.

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