When our team first met Fed, Ellie, and the founding team of Canoa in late 2019, we were all thinking about the future of hybrid work and flexible office space as an inevitable but slow and steady march led by the early adopters and distributed teams. At that same time, discussion of the built environment’s obligation to implement more sustainable practices was largely focused on energy consumption and building materials. Of course, none of us knew we were on the precipice of a pandemic that would last years and fundamentally reshape our collective thinking around work and office spaces. But the Canoa team was already building the foundation for what companies would need to better serve their people and the planet.
When Building Ventures invested in Canoa’s initial capital raise in 2020, the team’s mission to design and deliver flexible and sustainable interiors of all kinds was fledgeling but underway. Prior to founding this new venture, the team already had vast experience — both successes and challenges — as the design team that scaled WeWork from a handful of locations to 600+ in just a few short years. Clearly delivering interiors with speed at scale was a success!
Conversely, a key challenge that stuck with the future Canoa team was waste. At BV, we talk about the 40% problem in our industry, a shorthand reference to the environmental impact of constructing, operating, and maintaining our buildings. The waste is significant: Buildings contribute to more than 40% of landfill waste. A key contributing factor is the perpetual construction and demolition of commercial interiors. Company workforces change over time, but interiors have never been designed, built, or outfitted to change with them.
As terrible as this wastefulness is for our planet, it is made worse by acknowledging that many of these interiors were counterproductive and even detrimental to the people who occupied them. The pandemic shone a spotlight on the already dysfunctional design and usage of the office. Luckily, many Chief People Officers, heads of workplace, sustainability officers, and others across organizations were eager to make a change for the better. Even better, Canoa was ready to enable them.
Canoa combines a collaborative, in-browser design platform with an embedded furniture marketplace of new and second hand goods, allowing teams to design, shop, and manage their FF&E in a single place for the first time. By using Canoa, companies can quickly deploy new spaces, and over time transition from a linear consumption model to a circular one.
By helping companies to design for their people’s productivity with a mind toward reuse, Canoa is fundamentally changing how businesses can and must operate in order to meet their goals for attracting and retaining talent AND sustainability.
Canoa's web-based design platform with an embedded furniture marketplace.
Needless to say, we are thrilled to participate in Canoa’s $8.7M Series Seed 2 led by Eclipse Ventures and joined by TMV and Gemini Ventures. Canoa will use the capital will to scale the team to meet burgeoning demand. The solutions Canoa provides for “the office” could not have come at a more critical time given the unprecedented challenges organizations of all shapes and sizes currently face. Yet, enabling the sustainable design and outfitting of offices is just the beginning. We look forward to continuing to support the big vision of Fed, Ellie, and the entire Canoa team to build less, buy better, and waste nothing on an even broader scale.
Learn more about Canoa and the team’s plans for this funding here.