Aiming to execute on a concept it calls “marketplace 2.0,” DOZR, the Kitchener-based platform that facilitates heavy-equipment rentals, Wednesday announced it had completed a CDN$14-million Series A raise led by BaseCamp Equity Partners and Florida-based construction mogul Juan Carlos Mas.
Also taking part in the round was FairVentures Inc., the subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.. FairVentures led DOZR’s CDN$2.5-million seed round in 2016.
“It feels great; we’re pretty excited over here,” said DOZR CEO and co-founder Kevin Forestell.
DOZR, founded in 2015 and formerly housed at Communitech, connects people North America-wide who need heavy construction equipment with those who have it available for rent.
Marketplace 2.0, Forestell explained, centres on the notion of evolving the company beyond a peer-to-peer marketplace to one that connects “the entire ecosystem, the entire construction equipment industry.
“We have this approach where we’re not looking to displace any of these traditional players, but connect them in a more efficient manner and ultimately make everyone more profitable.”
The new money, Forestell said, will allow the company to focus on two specific areas:
“We’re going to continue to invest in our machine learning algorithms – provide the best possible searches and transparency for the industry for equipment rentals. And we’re going to dive deep into the user experience and really focus on providing the best possible rental experience the industry has ever seen.”
Forestell said he and co-founders Erin Stephenson and Tim Forestell hope to grow the company from its current 20 employees to double that in the next 18 months.
An intriguing component of the raise is the involvement of Mas, formerly CEO and chairman at Neff Rental (acquired by United Rentals in 2017 for US$1.3 billion), CEO and chairman of Synergy Equipment, and former executive at MasTec, a leading contractor for the construction and engineering of natural gas power plants, wind farms and solar energy facilities.
Through his various affiliated entities Mas is one of the largest purchasers of construction equipment in North America.
“I believe the future of equipment rentals is online and like how DOZR is opening up the industry and making it more efficient,” said Mas in a release. “Unlike other sharing economy platforms DOZR is going beyond P2P to connect the entire industry – contractors, rental houses, and OEMs – ushering in the next generation of marketplace to give contractors the best possible experience.”
Forestell said the company, which operates out of an old Kitchener fire station at 318 Duke St. W., owes a debt of gratitude to the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem for the help it has received over the past few years.
“We’re incredibly thankful for everything that the community has done and continues to do for us,” said Forestell. “From Day 1, starting with Communitech, everyone has been incredibly supportive.
“When we founded DOZR, we joined Communitech, were accepted into the Google for Entrepreneurs program – we met our future CTO in that program.
“We got accepted into the Communitech Rev program, where we met some of our early engineering hires. We’re incredibly, incredibly grateful. I can’t say enough about the community, that’s for sure.”
In May, 2016, DOZR emerged as a winner of the $100,000 Rev pitch competition.