Ruffolo’s Return: Investor Launches Fund After Accident That Nearly Killed Him

Six months after being struck in a cycling accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, tech investor John Ruffolo is launching a $500 million private equity fund to help Canadian companies.

Ruffolo’s firm, Maverix Private Equity, will target companies in the growth stage that are seeking to remain private as they expand globally, he said in an interview with Jon Erlichman of BNN Bloomberg Television.

The fund’s launch was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and then further by his September accident. Ruffolo was struck by a transport truck while riding his bicycle in the Toronto suburb of Markham, Ontario.

“I shattered my spine. I split my pelvis in half. I broke every rib in multiple places. I lost a kidney, a lung, and a lot of blood,” said Ruffolo, who founded the venture capital arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. “I stubbornly didn’t die.”

“When I first arrived at Sunnybrook Hospital, they did not want to operate on me because there was a concern that surgery would kill me due to the massive trauma,” he said.

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By late October, still in a recovery bed at a Toronto rehabilitation hospital, Ruffolo was feeling well enough to begin talking again with Maverix’s potential investors. The fund plans to seek out companies that are disrupting sectors such as retail, health care, transportation and financial services; investors include Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Bank of Montreal, Mattamy Asset Management and pension funds.

“We wanted to build this Team Canada concept, where we gather the greatest individuals in this country who will gather around us and help those next up-and-comers,” Ruffolo said.

In addition to being one of Canada’s most influential venture capitalists, Ruffolo has championed the country’s technology industry as a co-founder of the Council of Canadian Innovators, along with former Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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