The Canadian startup ecosystem features an extraordinary dynamism, which is praised by technological communities around the world. Such cities as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Waterloo are witnessing the flowering of talent, entrepreneurship and innovation, which are boosting the country’s economy. Numerous companies have achieved an objective that is pursued by many, but reached by a few: they have disruptively penetrated the technological realm, thus breaking barriers and opening new horizons for mankind’s wellness. Unlike the United States, Canada has been acting as a “silent force” over the past years to build a strong ecosystem and attract international talent. Canada’s successful stories at world level began with Nortel and Bell many years ago. New stories are presently coming up thanks to the new generation of Canadian companies, such as Slack, Shopify, Kik and Wattpad. They have all changed the world. We have chosen another nine startups that have improved the daily life of societies over the past year.
Top Hat’s educational platform on the cloud uses mobile technology to turn classrooms into interactive learning experiences. As one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada, Top Hat climbed to the 18th position of Deloitte’s Fast 50, with an amazing growth of 607 percent in 2016. Top Hat was founded in 2009 by engineering graduates from Waterloo University, Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini. The startup has been recently included in the Top20 of the most innovative technology companies in the country, according to the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX). This cloud-based interactive teaching platform allows professors to get students involved in the process while they are in and out of the classroom. The company hired its first marketing director in the late 2016, thus introducing Nick Stein (former marketing vice president of Vision Critical) into its leadership team.
Eventbase is a world leader in terms of event-related technology and applications. From Sundance to the Olympic Games, Eventbase’s technology and staff are present in many of the biggest events worldwide. In 2016, they announced that they were hiring 100 new employees in Vancouver. Moreover, they raised a B Series of 8 million dollars in the late 2015, led by Seattle-based Madrona Ventures equity fund company.
This year, Eventbase has participated in one of the biggest technological events of the world, CES, which has used its technology to help attendees make the most of their experience in scheduled lectures.
360insights is the creator of the successful channel platform, the first one to truly integrate software as a service that helps brands optimize their marketing operations and expenses in terms of consumer incentives. In the late 2016, they announced a funding round of 30 million dollars by U.S. Sageview equity fund company to accelerate its growth operations. Its objective to create a growth culture in companies, on the fringes of usual Canadian technological centers, and its skill to make good use of analytics in order to improve the industry of incentives and discounts, have turned this startup of Whitby, ON, into a benchmark because of its innovation level. Founded Jason Atkins, the company joined the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 ranking, which engulfs the 500 companies with the fastest growth in terms of technology, means of communication, telecommunications, life sciences and energy in North America. It was also labeled as one of the fastest-growing Canadian technological companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards. The jury praised it capacity to show daring innovation, determined leadership and strong growth.
League is a new digital alternative to the traditional health insurance that connects both employers and workers to a wide network of healthcare services and benefits, thus offering an unprecedented choice and value. 2016 was a year of growth for League, which raised an impressive A Series of 25 million dollars (besides its previous 4 million in terms of seed capital). Moreover, it signed a productive partnership with RBC to expand its insurance offers. Mike Serbinis, CEO of League, announced his master plan in the late 2016 to turn the startup into a billion-dollar company in 2018. Meanwhile, League can boast of being one of the startups with the strangest and most progressive growth within the Canadian ecosystem.
The creators of famous Myo bracelet, Thalmic Labs, had a productive 2016. They raised 158 million dollars for its B series funding. Giant Amazon and Intel are some of the big companies that believed in this Canadian startup. In an old warehouse in Waterloo, where the company moved this year, future “wearables” are becoming a reality. Its Myo bracelet allows users to control a series of devices with a simple wrist move. From PowerPoint slides to DJ lights or even a prosthesis. Since it moved to Waterloo, the company has developed some growth plans that include hiring over a hundred employees to make that idea shown by Tom Cruise in “Minority Report” come true.
There are certain industries where technology is scratching the surface of disruption, and the real estate market is one of them. Since it took on the online real estate area of Rogers Communications (without putting aside the 1.35 million dollars it has raised in different funding rounds), Zoocasa has revolutionized a constantly evolving sector.
Although Zoocasa’s present business model is using technology to improve the experience of buying a house, they are not entirely taking the human intermediary out. This gives them a privileged position to build a new dynamic in an industry that is still trying to find out how to manage its significant database in the future.
Toronto-based Askuity is a retail assessment platform. The suppliers that sell products to retailers around the world not always have access to information related to the companies that buy their products or the demand of their products. Askuity is a web and mobile platform that establishes links between retailers and product suppliers, by providing data and assessment that foster collaboration, planning and retail sales. By having access to the data of all stores that sell products throughout North America, the suppliers can obtain useful information on best-sold products, main customers and areas “where they should focus their time” with retailers. In January 2016, Askuity raised an A Series of 2 million dollars. Back in 2014, the company was labeled as one of the Top 20 Innovative Companies by Canadian Innovation Exchange.
The founder of Drop, Derrick Fung, who is famous for his Tunezy Company, launched a Canadian FinTech company in Toronto with the aim set on boosting the fidelity of customers. Drop is essentially a free reward app for mobile devices. The group of Drop users, mainly made up of millennials, can link their credit or debit cards to the app and win points as a result of their daily purchases in such places as Tim Hortons and Starbucks. Users can accumulate points and directly trade them for prizes on the retailer app, such as Amazon and Lululemon. Drop has raised nearly a million dollars to date and has already established alliances with companies like Wealthsimple, Foodora, Chefs Plate, Urbery, Thirstie, Carnivore Club and FanXchange. Derrick Fung pointed out that his Drop app is disruptive because it directly adds consumers’ data and eliminates the use of physical credit and debit cards when acquiring any product.
Bench Accounting helps small and medium companies go throughout their accounting operations. Bench raised a B Series of 20 million dollars headed by Bain Capital Ventures, it has doubled its initial team and opened a new head office in Vancouver. Bench Accounting, has been recently described as one of the best work places in Canada for university graduates.
Short time ago, Bench joined forces with the giant of e-commerce, Shopify, which offers bank services for U.S. businesspeople through its own app store.