Alex and Antoine learned early, when they are passing cookies around, take the cookie
This cookie analogy may be our favourite from all the acquisition announcements we’ve made recently. And we’ve made a few! Poka’s acquisition by IFS is sweeeet for co-founders Alex Leclerc and Antoine Bisson; it confirms their recipe for creating digital tools to optimize industrial operations was a winning one. And when this cookie presented itself—the opportunity to sell—they knew the time was right to take it.
IFS is a global supplier of cloud enterprise software. It is recognized by industry analysts as a leader in helping companies orchestrate their people, customers, and assets across Enterprise Asset Management, Field Service Management, ERP, and Enterprise Service Management in its core industries.
It may be the end of McRock’s part in this journey, but this amazing milestone represents the continuation and acceleration of Poka’s mission. With the backing of IFS, Poka now has an even stronger foundation for growth.
Alex grew up in his family’s cookie factories—for real. The Leclerc cookie company has been around for more than 100 years; he saw first-hand how inconsistent performance across the company’s operations could lead to waste and quality issues. He leapt at the chance to create a custom digital solution and invited his childhood friend Antoine, who happened to be good with computers, to help. They built a modern software solution to help factory workers collectively learn from their mistakes on the shop floor and build knowledge that would lead to continuous improvements. It worked in the cookie factory, so surely other industrial businesses could benefit from this, too.
Next thing they knew, they were entrepreneurs.
The name Poka comes from Poka Yoke, the Japanese term for mistake proofing
The secret ingredient in Alex and Antoine’s success with Poka was recognizing opportunity when it appeared and seizing it—whether it was the initial opportunity to commercialize their internal tool or to accept financial help and guidance from investors like McRock to build the business into what it is today.
We also pride ourselves in having learned to take the cookie when they are being passed around. For us, one of the best cookies was embracing the importance of capturing the human workforce as part of the Digital Industrial Revolution and the opportunity it creates for the investment community. When we closed our most recent venture fund—McRock Fund II—in the summer of 2019, we went deep to identify the best emerging companies in the connected worker space. We found Poka and invested in 2021. Two years on, connected factory worker solutions are in strong demand and the number of privately held tech companies in the space are becoming scarce.
We are also proud to have contributed more than capital to the Poka venture. These relationships are what drive us to show up every day; watching leaders like Alex and Antoine thrive is why we chose to build McRock differently from other VC firms.
“Words cannot express how grateful we are to have had you as investors on our wild journey,” says Alex. “Your unwavering support, guidance, and belief in our vision have been game-changers for us. You’ve gone beyond just throwing in cash; you’ve shared your wisdom, experience, and expertise every step of the way. Your passion and genuine care for our entrepreneurs and your own team makes McRock really special.”
Alex and the team built Poka with a goal to help their manufacturing clients turn every production problem on the factory floor into an opportunity to build collective knowledge, learn, and improve. That’s a philosophy the McRock team could easily get behind, and we’re thrilled to have assisted another Digital Industrial company taste sweet success.