Profound Impact Exceeds First Tranche of Financing Round Led by Female Investors



The company on target to close the second tranche of the $3 million round in August 

WATERLOO, ON | June 15, 2023 A group of female investors, including many who are first-time investors, is leading the way for Profound Impact™ Corporation’s latest funding round. 

The first round of financing closed on May 5, 2023 and included more than $2.2 million in seed funding for the company. The participation of first-time female investors sends a clear message of confidence in Profound Impact’s vision and the team’s leadership. The company will be closing the remainder of the $3 million when the second tranche closes on Aug. 4, 2023. 

“As the leader of a female-founded company, I am thrilled and grateful to welcome these investors into our network,” says Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, Founder and CEO of Profound Impact. “Women need opportunities to invest and grow their portfolios, and I’m proud that so many made the decision to make their first-time investment in Profound Impact.”

Profound Impact is poised to continue its growth in the Canadian market, and this latest funding will allow the company to expand into the United States and internationally.  

“Congratulations to Sherry and Profound Impact on this closing. As an angel investor in women-led ventures, I’m excited to see more women invest at the seed level. Women founders in North America face many systemic barriers in pre-seed, seed and venture finance. I firmly believe that raising awareness of the opportunities for women to invest in women-led ventures is key to helping us remove those barriers,” says Lara Zink, President & CEO, Women in Capital Markets.

“We are excited to see female investors committed to growing their portfolios and unlocking financial opportunities in the innovation sector,” says Ken Grewal, Founder and CEO, Forthlane Partners. “It is vitally important that financial education and opportunities are available to women and all investors interested in growing their portfolios.”    

“It is gratifying to finally see so many women stepping up to steer their financial futures. Investments by women for women in Canada’s female-founded companies not only bridges identified funding gaps, but also builds a future for female entrepreneurs,” says Anne-Marie Canning, cultural entrepreneur and investor in Profound Impact. 

“Many women want to invest in the tech sector, but face difficulties in taking the first steps into the investment space. Connecting female investors to female entrepreneurs helps empower women across the tech industry to find success,” says Claudette McGowan, Co-founder of The Firehood. “I was pleased to support Profound Impact in this funding round and will follow along closely as their company continues to grow.” 

Profound Impact, which operates out of the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor, offers Research Impact, an AI-powered tool that helps academic and industry researchers find the perfect funding match. More than just a search engine, Research Impact offers automatic, targeted and timely grant matching.

This phase of investment represents an important step along Profound Impact’s growth trajectory. The company has made significant strides over the past few months, including hiring Kasia Malz as Chief Financial Officer and forming an Inaugural Board of Directors

“As a serial entrepreneur, I admire Sherry’s strong vision of ‘connecting great people to great things,’” says Deborah Rosati, Chair of Profound Impact’s Board of Directors. “I invested in the company and believe that my experience in technology start-ups/scale-ups, commitment to good governance, financial expertise, and venture capital experience will bring value to the company as it scales.”

This female-led investment sends a strong message to the investment community that women will step up to support and invest in women-founded and led companies.



Based in the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor, Profound Impact’s AI-powered tool – Research Impact – helps academic and industry researchers find the perfect funding match. With over $300 Billion in research funding opportunities, 100,000s industry partners and 8.8 Million researchers globally, finding the optimal grant for academic and industry innovators is often overwhelming and unnecessarily time-consuming.  More than just a search engine, Research Impact offers automatic, targeted and timely matching.  Profound Impact’s customers include top North American research institutions, universities and industry partners.  CEO and Founder Sherry Shannon-Vanstone is a serial technology entrepreneur with an unparalleled track record.  She has had five successful start-ups and exits in Silicon Valley and Canada, including two IPOs and acquisitions.  


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Claudette McGowan

Claudette McGowan

Founder and CEO, Protexxa and Chair, CILAR

Claudette McGowan’s first mentor was her mother, a nurse who believed strongly in the importance of caring for and helping people. “There was always someone staying with our family, whether from the church or a family member,” she recalls. As a global information technology leader, entrepreneur, and mentor, Claudette puts into practice what was modelled by her mother by providing opportunities for participation, prosperity, and leadership.  

A graduate of Lakehead University and Athabasca University, with certifications from Ontario Tech University, York University, Harvard, and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and an honorary doctorate from Carleton University, Claudette broke barriers as she advanced in her career. In 2020, Toronto Life recognized her as one of the city’s Top 50 Most Influential Torontonians. Digital Finance Institute honoured her as one of the Top 50 Canadian Women in FinTech, and the Women’s Executive Network recognized her as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. In 2022, Claudette received the DMZ Woman of the Year Award and NACO, the National Angel Capital Organization, named her as a Nation Builder of the Year in Canada.  

In 2022, Claudette followed a calling to become an entrepreneur and founded Protexxa, a cybersecurity platform that leverages Artificial Intelligence to rapidly identify, evaluate, predict, and resolve cyber issues.  “Cybercrime has quadrupled since the pandemic” notes Claudette. “Through Protexxa, I can work with people around the world to help them assess cyber threats, train them to reduce cyber vulnerabilities and strengthen cyber capabilities.”

Fundamental to all of Claudette’s work is ensuring that support systems are in place for everyone, regardless of race, gender or age, in order to thrive and progress.  “There are 3.5 million open cybersecurity jobs in the world, 25,000 of them in Canada.  My goal is to create more cyber leaders,” she said.

To this end, Claudette helped found and is currently the chair of the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR), a group of senior Canadian business leaders committed to fighting systemic racism within the innovation economy.  CILAR was founded in 2020 to engage all people to participate in the growing innovation economy, which will soon represent half of the global GDP and workforce.  At CILAR, Claudette is one of the leaders overseeing the effort to focus on increasing access and opportunity for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.  (BIPOC) men and women through five integrated pillars: 

Youth Development

Carve pathways for BIPOC Youth in the innovation economy through mentorships and access to programs that lead to meaningful employment.

Job Opportunities

Provide transformational employment opportunities.

Venture and Capital Support

Offer access to capital and programs to entrepreneurs seeking opportunities to grow their ideas into viable, sustainable and global platforms through BIPOC Venture Capital Funds.

Community and Leadership

Strengthen all communities by connecting Canada’s established innovators with aspiring innovators.

Inclusive Innovation and Technology

Establish technology and data standards to develop innovation enablers for both consumer and business purposes.

To help women succeed in the technology industry, Claudette recently helped launch the women-focused archangel fund, Phoenix Fire.  These angel-stage investment funds apply a systematic, disciplined approach to investing in women entrepreneurs across Canada. Phoenix Fire offers active portfolio management with experienced angel investors as well as access to high-potential, talented, entrepreneurial women.

When asked about the most significant point of her more than 20 years as a global information technology leader, Claudette points to her decision to leave her role as l Global Executive Officer of Cybersecurity at TD Bank to found Protexxa. “I saw a problem and an opportunity to offer solutions. I decided to go for it by building a new cyber platform and a phenomenal team. It’s been the most rewarding experience of my lifetime.”

Claudette McGowan has made outstanding contributions as a technology leader, mentor and entrepreneur.  Her work to increase access to careers in technology across Canada for BIPOC youth and innovators and to women, to train people to create cyber capabilities, and to foster a new generation of cyber leaders truly makes a profound impact for millions of people around the globe.

You can see more of Claudette’s work with CILAR and her recognitions over the years in the visualizations below.

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