Nicolas Vanasse – mdf commerce

Commerce tech accelerates during the pandemic

E-commerce and e-procurement technology used to be a convenience, but they quickly became a necessity when the COVID-19 pandemic restricted in-person contact. Consumers avoided walking into stores, even for necessities like groceries. Others had difficulty selecting a supplier for their business or starting an infrastructure project for a city.

“We provided the digital bridge between past methods and future operating procedures,” says Nicolas Vanasse, vice president and chief legal officer at mdf commerce, which provides e-commerce, e-marketplace and e-procurement solutions to businesses across North America.

These solutions range from establishing online shopping for customers or deliveries for grocery chains to creating digital procurement processes for public agencies. Fortunately, before the pandemic made these digital solutions necessary, mdf commerce was already in the midst of a major five-year transformation plan centered on e-commerce and e-procurement technologies. In September 2020, Mediagrif—founded in 1996—was rebranded as mdf commerce.

Nicolas Vanasse | Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary | mdf commerce

Nicolas Vanasse | Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary | mdf commerce

Vanasse came on board in February 2021. Having worked with several public and growth companies in the past, he saw joining mdf commerce as an opportunity to return to basics—namely mergers and acquisitions.

“Using my past experience, I could play a central role in development and implementing the company’s strategic growth plan—in its second year as of 2022—as I built on the existing legal and corporate governance practices,” he says. “There are several companies that offer various digital services. We wanted to grow organically but also by consolidating some of those pieces.”

The ones and zeros

To that end, Vanasse turned his attention to helping mdf commerce acquire Periscope, a leading public sector e-procurement company.

“As one of the major e-procurement players in North America, Periscope fit perfectly into our acquisition profile and aggressive growth strategy,” he says.

Based in Austin, Texas, Periscope had technology that could fully digitalize procurement processes for public sector agencies—think states, municipalities, schools and even health care. This meant that these agencies, with the click of a button, could procure everything for their everyday needs from uniforms, food and janitorial services to more complex infrastructure projects.

Acquiring Periscope meant that mdf commerce could expand its range of services, providing digital platforms to help create better, smoother and more efficient relationships between buyers and sellers—such as a public school and a locker manufacturer or a courthouse and the seller of antibacterial dispensers.

“Once the seller—Periscope in this instance—agreed to selling, that’s when the work picked up,” Vanasse says.

Collaboratively peering at Periscope

Since acquisitions aren’t subject to lemon laws, Vanasse says mdf needed to ensure the company was what it appeared to be. The corporate development, legal and management teams as well as operation, finance, accounting, human resources and marketing all came together to conduct due diligence. This was also a cross-border endeavor; external partners, such as outside counsels, financial advisors, bankers and auditors in Canada and the U.S. all thoroughly scrutinized Periscope.

Nicolas Vanasse | Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary | mdf commerce

This collaborative process covered matters ranging from raising the full capital amount required for the transaction to negotiating and drafting the purchase and financing documentation for the acquisition. Vanasse adds that it also included researching and inspecting Periscope’s revenues and profitability, company culture and—perhaps most importantly—its technology, which was the reason mdf wanted to acquire it in the first place.

“As you can imagine, this was no small or uncomplicated task,” Vanasse says. “Our various partners and the effective collaboration between all internal and external players allowed us to execute on this transaction in record time.”

The whole process only took four months, but for Vanasse—who’d only been with the company a few months when the deal was first broached—it was nothing short of a whirlwind.

“For this Periscope project, the corporate development manager in my team and myself were like the quarterbacks,” Vanasse says. “Collaborating with our CEO, CFO and the rest of the management team and the board, we made sure everyone was in their assigned spots on the field, so to speak, and we kept pushing towards the end-zone.”

Au revoir courtrooms

When Vanasse was younger, he wanted to be not on the field but in the courtroom. He harbored early aspirations to become a criminal lawyer moving through the justice system. In fact, that’s precisely why he started studying law, which culminated in him graduating as a lawyer from the University of Ottawa.

He adds that he only took an internship with the Canadian corporate law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP to gain experience as a law student—until he ended up in their Australian office in 1999. There, he worked with one of the senior lawyers who, he says, made him fall in love with legal corporate work.

Nicolas Vanasse | Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary | mdf commerce

“It was a bit of a revelation,” Vanasse recalls. “During the almost 10 years that I was at Stikeman, I enjoyed everything from handling mergers and acquisitions to counseling companies on governance or working with companies or investors on sophisticated public financings,” Vanasse says.

And when he’s not counseling companies, he’s enjoying the outdoors with his family, which includes his two children—10 and 12. In the summers, they spend time with friends and family at their cottage by the lake in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. In the winter, Vanasse and his wife make sure everyone still gets fresh air as they hit the slopes.

“Skiing is the perfect activity because it allows you to be outdoors and active during the winter,” he adds. “We’re a very social family and love meeting new people and having a good time.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring II 2022 Edition here.

Published on: February 28, 2022



Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.


Summer I 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.