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Bridgit rolls out ‘Bench,’ a new software product for construction firms

Bridgit was founded on the principle of making construction less complicated using modern solutions.
We first tackled this challenge with Bridgit Field, a digital inspections and punch list app that simplifies communications across all people, increases accountability and visibility, and improves quality.
As the industry evolved, we listened and learned what else the construction world needed. This brought about our next product, Bridgit Bench, a powerful resource planning platform. It’s designed to eliminate the headaches (and spreadsheets!) of managing a construction workforce and planning projects — and optimized that workforce! You can learn more at bridgitsolutions.com/bench
Our product suite now provides micro solutions for both field solutions, and office-based operations.

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ApplyBoard closes CDN$55 million Series B

It’s been a heady six weeks for ApplyBoard. A new Kitchener office. A recent visit from the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen. Plenty of hiring and growth. And now a CDN$55 million Series B raise.
ApplyBoard, the one-stop startup for international students seeking admission to schools across North America, announced the new funding, led by California-based Anthos Capital, less than a year since closing a US$13 Series A round late last June.
The company, which now has more than 170 employees, said the new capital would allow it to accelerate its expansion into new markets and hire an additional 100 employees for its Kitchener and international offices.
“At ApplyBoard, we believe education is a right, not a privilege,” said Martin Basiri, ApplyBoard’s co-founder and CEO. “Everything we do revolves around putting students first.
“Our dedication to making a difference in students’ lives is evident by the tremendous growth we’ve experienced in the past four years. I am incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished and look forward
to continuing our momentum with this new investment.”
Basiri, who is from Iran, founded ApplyBoard after encountering challenges when he applied for post-secondary education.
The company says its structured vetting system gives students a 95

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ApplyBoard raises $55 million CAD Series B for international student recruitment platform

ApplyBoard, a Kitchener-Waterloo-based AI-enabled recruitment platform helping international students apply to post-secondary education in North America, recently closed a $55 million CAD Series B.
“[We were] able, not only to solve this problem that was untackled for a long time, but also solve it so good that [we] receive huge growth.”
The sizable raise comes just shy of a year after the company closed its $17 million Series A in June 2018. This current round brings ApplyBoard’s overall funding to $72 million CAD, to date. The round was led by Anthos Capital, a California-based investment firm that looks to invest in growth-stage companies, and saw participation from existing investor Artiman Ventures, the early stage venture fund based in Silicon Valley that led ApplyBoard’s Series A.
Martin Basiri the co-founder and CEO of ApplyBoard told BetaKit that the company’s rapid growth precipitated the second raise so shortly after it’s Series A. He noted, after that first round ApplyBoard had a lot of interest and opportunity to raise more capital, but chose to focus on company growth before deciding to bring on more investors. And over a ten month period, ApplyBoard saw 13 times growth in revenue, equating to 1200 percent growth overall.
ApplyBoard, calling itself a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for international students, has shown consistent growth over the past couple years, with the company noting 10 percent growth from 2017 to 2018, reaching a total of 543,977 students.
“We nailed it – of course, then it was we had a lot of opportunity [to raise again],” Martin explained. He also noted the Series B was so oversubscribed “that we could basically do any sized deal we wanted to.”
First-hand experience
Launched in 2015, ApplyBoard is run by Martin and his two twin brothers Meti Basiri (CMO), and Massi Basiri (COO). All have first-hand experience of the university and college application process for international students. Originally from Iran, the three brothers moved to Canada for post-secondary education. Martin, being the oldest came over first in 2010 to study engineering at the University of Waterloo.
“The process took me a year and a half [and] you just figured out how to do it,” Martin said. Then I helped my brothers to come…so they came and they went through the same process, but it was easier because I had done it once.”
From there the three brothers started offering guidance to others going through the same process, and after trying their hand at three different entrepreneurial projects, decided they wanted to “tackle this big problem.”
“Makes a very hard and confusing application process, a very seamless application process.”
They created the company with the goal of making education accessible for all students “regardless of their nationality, location, or educational background.” Martin explains ApplyBoard like a combination of Expedia and TurboTax. Expedia-esque – a marketplace for schools; TurboTax-esque – making “a very hard and confusing application process very seamless.”
ApplyBoard essentially offers a way for students around the world to find and apply to universities, colleges, and high schools in Canada and the United States. AI algorithms then match students to the programs they are most qualified for based on their academic background, desired course of study, and financial means.
The platform also makes it easier to submit additional documents as well as obtain required visas. ApplyBoard reviews and processes each application, sending only complete and qualified ones to its partner schools. The company stated that with its vetting system, students have a 95 percent chance of receiving an offer letter to their program of choice.
The 180 person team represents almost 20 different countries and spoken languages and has a 50/50 gender split. Source: ApplyBoard.
Since launching, the company’s quick growth has caught the attention of investors and members of the tech community. It has seen support from Communitech, Velocity, which gave it its first office space, and the Accelerator Centre, which helped the founders with their Startup Visa Program visas as well as funding; ApplyBoard has also seen investments from 500 Startups and Silicon Valley accelerator Plug and Play.
“I think one of the things that fascinated investors about us was, ‘how come these people, who no one knows, are able not only to solve this problem that was untackled for a long time, but also solve it so good that they receive huge growth, very rapidly growing’,” Martin explained. “The majority of our people are international students ourselves, so we dealt with it, we understood, and our product really works.”
“The majority of our people are international students ourselves, so we dealt with it, we understood, and our product really works.”
What was a team of 13 employees in 2016, and around 70 people in early 2018, has grown to more than 180 people today, spanning Kitchener, Beijing, Nepal, Vietnam, Philippines, and India. The speed of its growing team prompted ApplyBoard to move offices twice within the past couple years, with the company officially opening its 30,000 square foot headquarters in Kitchener, in April.
 
ApplyBoard has no plans of slowing down, Martin told BetaKit, calling the company the number one player in the world in terms of the Canadian market. With its Series B funding, the company plans to hire more than 100 employees over the next year for its Kitchener and international offices, as it pursues accelerated expansion into new markets. It also plans to use the funding to further develop the AI behind its matching platform.
“[The funding] also gives us more room to do more bold moves and also a long-term view, because when you have more money you can do initiatives that you may not necessarily see the result in one year, but you can see the result in three years,” Martin stated.
To date, ApplyBoard’s platform has partnered with more than 1000 schools in Canada and the US, and has had more than 45,000 international students apply through its platform.
“We get a lot of energy from our customers, so we always like to make sure that people know that this is not just [that] we thought ‘let’s do some startup and do some software’,” Martin said. “We wanted to solve a real big problem, which is international education.”

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Op-Ed: The 5 C’s For Brand Success In C-Commerce’s Bright Future

SHOWFIELDS’ CEO explains why ecommerce and traditional retail are giving way to ‘consumer commerce,’ defining what this means for brands and the five key components he has identified from his next-generation brick-and-mortar store for retailers to employ

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Vector Institute knew about provincial AI funding cuts in the fall

Following revelations this week that the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) saw more than $24 million collectively in provincial funding cuts, BetaKit has learned that cuts to Vector’s funding were actually made in the fall of 2018, prior to the provincial budget announcements that led to cuts across the local tech scene.
Vector Institute was well aware of the $20 million loss, dating back to the fall of 2018.
As was first reported by The Toronto Star, Vector Institute lost $20 million in provincial government funding, with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade also cutting its $4 million contribution to CIFAR. Vector Institute has told BetaKit, however, that it was well aware of the $20 million loss, dating back to the fall of 2018.
Vector Institute’s cutback relates to a $30 million program that was first announced in 2017 by the then Liberal provincial government. The program was part of the government’s bid to be named the home of the then-unannounced Amazon headquarters. The $30 million was set to be distributed over a three year period to help accelerate growth in professional applied masters’ graduates in AI, with the goal of graduating 1,000 applied masters students in AI-related fields per year, within five years.
The $20 million cut, that was reported by The Star, and has been confirmed by BetaKit, was the provincial government amending the original $30 million program to help “sharpen” its focus.
“The government amended the $30 million program initially announced in fall 2017, such that it became a $10 million program, and asked the Vector Institute to sharpen the focus of that initiative which is aimed at developing the AI workforce in Ontario,” said Garth Gibson, president and CEO of Vector Institute. “As such, changes to the program were made in fall 2018 well before it launched and well before the first scholarship winners were selected and announced in December 2018 so there is no impact to students.”
The fall cutbacks do not affect any other programming run by Vector Institute and is not related to the $50 million that the provincial government originally pledged to Vector in March of 2017, when it first launched with $130 million in private and public investment.
The University of Toronto-affiliated program also confirmed that no jobs will be affected within Vector due to the funding, and noted that aside from the specific scholarship program “all other activities and business will continue as usual.”
It also stated that in light of the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade’s own 19 percent budget reduction that has led to tech cuts across numerous organizations, Vector does not expect to see any further losses in its own provincial funding.
CIFAR was not as lucky, however, losing all of its Ontario government funding in the cutback. In 2018, the provincial government agreed to provide $4 million to CIFAR over a five period. A source familiar with the organization confirmed to BetaKit that it received the first installment of the funding last year but it is the remaining approximately $3.2 million that is being halted by the government.
“In order to protect what matters most and get Ontario back on track, we need to get our fiscal house in order. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”
 
 
The Canadian-wide global charitable organization focused on innovation is also funded by the federal government, Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, private sector, foundations, universities, and philanthropy, as well as three other provinces including British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. According to its 2017/2018 annual report, the majority of its funding comes from the public sector, with federal funding making up just over half, (a change from last year when provincial funding made up the majority, 29 percent). Its provincial funding spanning all four participating provinces accounted for $7.044 million last year.
CIFAR is not overly concerned, the source stated, noting that as a registered charitable organization CIFAR is able to attract investment from a number of sources, including philanthropy. Comparatively, CIFAR’s private funding accounted for $6.1 million, with its overall public investments adding up to $19.7 million overall.
In regards to the cuts, Christine Wood, press secretary for the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade stated that the government still has a great working relationship with both Vector Institute and CIFAR and stated that it looks forward to continuing to work with them.
She noted, however, “Our government inherited a 15 billion dollar mess from the previous Liberal government. They were spending 40 million dollars more a day than they were bringing in. In order to protect what matters most and get Ontario back on track, we need to get our fiscal house in order. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”
CIFAR, which was founded in 1982, is also part of the federal government’s Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, responsible for implementing the $125 million program. Over the past few years the federal government has put increasing emphasis on making Canada a leader in AI. Not only launching the AI Strategy, but creating an advisory council on AI, and working with countries around the world.
RELATED: Trudeau, Tory pitch Global Talent Stream, diversity to #Collisionconf attendees
The cuts to both CIFAR and Vector Institute came to light after a slew of cutbacks that have affected university, public, and private institutions alike, spanning Communitech, MaRS Discovery District, the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), among others. It also comes at a time when Canada is becoming more globally recognized for not only being the home of the ‘godfathers of AI’ but also becoming increasingly home to the world’s leaders in the field.
“There’s a global demand to find a balance for machine learning talent and Canada is one of the few countries where there is an ample supply of talent,” Tomi Poutanen, chief AI officer for TD Bank and co-founder of Vector told BetaKit.
Allen Lau, CEO and co-founder of AI-powered Wattpad noted, “if there’s one category we can lead in it’s AI.” He called the cuts “a real missed opportunity” and “disappointing” but noted that the ecosystem overall should not necessarily be reliant on government money, a sentiment that has been expressed by others in the industry as well.
Poutanen pointed to the strong commitment at the federal level on things like immigration policy that have attracted top AI and tech talent to Canada. And while lamenting the provincial cuts, he argued that globally people still see Canada as a leader in the field of AI.
He noted, however, “We have an amazing momentum on AI, and as a politician, I would make sure that we continue to support the momentum that we have.”
Image courtesy University of Toronto

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Shopify acquires Handshake, marking its third acquisition in six months

Shopify has acquired New York-based B2B ecommerce wholesale platform Handshake, to be integrated into the Canadian ecommerce giant’s growing Shopify Plus offering.
Shopify had not originally planned to announce the deal but news broke of the acquisition on Thursday after it was revealed by TechCrunch. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but a source told TechCrunch that it was less than $100 million USD.
“We expect to see continued and increasing consolidation in the ecommerce sector going forward.”
-Mark MacLeod, founder of SurePath Capital
SurePath Capital Partners, led by Mark MacLeod, was the exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Handshake on the sale, and released a statement on Friday announcing the deal after the news broke. He noted that Shopify’s acquisition of Handshake brings “significant product capability and domain expertise” to Shopify Plus and its growing market of larger merchants.
As part of the acquisition Handshake’s team will now be operating as part of Shopify Plus, with its founder and CEO Glen Coates joining as director of product for Shopify Plus.
“Handshake is now a part of Shopify,” a company spokesperson confirmed to BetaKit, stating, “We consider acquisitions in the normal course of business as we focus on making commerce better for everyone.”
Founded in 2010, Handshake’s B2B ecommerce platform was designed to help suppliers connect with customers, by making it easier for direct supplier-to-customer orders. According to Yahoo Finance, it had previously raised $23.5 million USD in VC funding from investors including Uncork Capital, Sozo Ventures, Primary Venture Partners, and Boldstart Ventures.
RELATED: Shopify expands retail presence as company fights for “heart and soul” of commerce
This is the second acquisition in five months for the Ottawa-based ecommerce company, after it quietly acquired Toronto-based video messaging for businesses service Helpful.com in January. As part of that deal, Helpful’s co-founders Daniel Debow, David Pardy, and Farhan Thawar took on senior roles at Shopify with the overall team also becoming part of the company. Debow joined as VP of corporate development, alongside Pardy who became Shopify’s corporate development manager, with Thawar taking on the role VP of engineering role.
Debow announced the move in a January blog post, stating that over the course of a couple weeks it was shutting down one its main products and helping customers transition to new software.
Both the Helpful and Handshake deals follow Shopify’s acquisition of Swedish startup Tictail in November. Tictail’s marketplace, allowing users to shop for clothing, home decor, and art from emerging small businesses around the world, helped Shopify buildout its consumer marketplace.
MacLeod, noting that SurePath was also the financial advisor for Shopify’s acquisition of Tictail, stated that he expects to see a continued and increasing consolidation in the ecommerce sector.

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Startup jobs of the week: HR Manager, Senior Web Developer, Product Marketing Lead

Every day, Canada’s tech startups post their latest and greatest job opportunities on Jobs.BetaKit, powered by Jobbio. From early-stage to Series B and beyond, Jobs.BetaKit helps startups from all over the country hire Canada’s top tech talent.
Each week, BetaKit will highlight a selection of the job roles posted to Jobs.BetaKit. If you’re a candidate looking for a position at a tech Canadian startup, survey the selection below or view all the posted positions here. For companies in need of top candidates, scroll to the bottom of this post to learn how to get your roles posted to Jobs.BetaKit!

Jobs of the Week (May 24, 2019):
Toronto
HiMama – Marketing Designer
As a Marketing Designer with HiMama, your key objectives will be to develop and execute HiMama’s visual brand including their website, marketing creative, and sales collateral. A successful candidate will have experience in website design, a passion for UI/UX, an understanding of how to design for conversion optimization and experience in marketing asset design.
Proximiteam – Business Development Manager – Canada
The Business Development Manager for Canada is responsible for generating new business and program expansion for existing customers. These responsibilities include lead generation, prospect development, consultation with prospects to understand program. Responsibilities also include contract initiation and management through the close of the sales process. The Canada Business Development Manager will be responsible for established sales goals each year and report on the pipeline progress.
Statflo – Demand Generation Manager
Statflo provides a leading sales acceleration platform for wireless retailers that are currently deployed in over 125 wireless retailers across North America. As a Demand Generation Manager, you’ll plan strategies and execute growth tactics to improve conversion rates, lead and optimize a full range of customer acquisition channels, and discover and develop new, high-volume growth channels for Statflo.
SHIFT – Full Stack Engineer
SHIFT is looking for a full stack engineer who can architect, design and build end-to-end features. You’ll develop new front-end product features, with a focus on creating a seamless user experience with their tools, develop full stack features that could include psychometric tests, surveys, dashboards, reports, and data visualizations, and solve technical problems in collaboration with other engineers on the team.
SHIFT – Product Marketing Lead
As SHIFT’s very first product marketer, you will build their Product Marketing function from the ground up and do whatever it takes to ensure our products keep resonating with clients. You will be a connecting voice between their Growth, Customer Success and Product teams. Your work will impact just about every team at SHIFT, from their engineering efforts to their broader growth strategy.
HiMama – HR Manager
As one of HiMama’s first HR hires, you will be working in a tightly-knit team that supports rapid headcount growth across the entire organization (100-strong by 2020). To be successful, you will need to be both strategically-minded enough to prioritize and shape the overall HR plan, and action-oriented enough to quickly execute your plan. Must have at least 2 years of experience in HR functions, with strong performance reviews and a history of role progression.
CBC/Radio Canada – Senior Web Developer
As a Senior Web Developer looking to apply and build upon your skills creating user-facing components with particular emphasis on accessibility, you understand the importance of Web Accessibility and know what it takes to meet the needs of all users, including those with disabilities. You are looking for an opportunity to join a company with a mission, value set and tech-forward approach that align with your own.

Centre-ville
Nuagem inc – Architecte ERP secteur Manufacturier
Nous sommes à la recherche d’un Architecte ERP qui va définir l’architecture cible des différents systèmes servant aux operations manufacturières des usines (ERP, MES, QMS, WMS, etc). Qui s’assurera de mettre en perspective l’architecture cible avec l’architecture d’intégration des sytèmes corporatifs (Finance, T&A, HR, Paie, etc). Qui supportera les différents efforts des équipes projet afin d’aider à aligner les solutions en fonction du contexte opérationnel unique à chaque usine. Qui travaillera en étroite collaboration avec le personnel des usines afin d’aider à améliorer l’efficacité de leur systèmes et processus et qui intéragira aussi avec les différentes fonctions corporatives (HR, Finances, TI) afin d’arrimer leur processus et systèmes avec ceux des usines.

Hire Canada’s top tech talent
BetaKit and Jobbio have joined forces to create a digital careers marketplace targeting BetaKit’s 1.8 million annual visitors.
For tech companies, that means access to an incredible audience of engaged passive and active candidates. Powered by Jobbio’s innovative technology, your jobs are delivered directly to a targeted audience of Canadian tech professionals.
Follow this link to check out our Spring Sale, where you can get 20% off your job postings (valid until May 31st 2019.) Post your job on Jobs.BetaKit today.

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Vancouver cleantech Mangrove Water receives $2.1 million from federal government

Vancouver-based water management cleantech Mangrove Water Technologies, has received a $2.1 million investment from the federal government as part of its Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) initiative.
“Mangrove’s modular solution will have a meaningful impact in making Canada’s oil and gas sector more sustainable.”
Mangrove is developing a technology that simultaneously converts saline waste-water and waste-gases into desalinated water and value-added chemicals for on-site utilization. The funding for the company will support its zero-discharge desalination technology, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas sector operations.
 
“Mangrove has developed a distributed manufacturing platform that converts waste streams to chemicals on-site and on-demand and water for reuse,” said Saad Dara, co-founder and CEO of Mangrove Water. “This not only simplifies logistics and reduces cost but also has significant environmental benefits around GHG reduction and water conservation.”
The technology was developed in the Wilkinson research group at the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of British Columbia (UBC), with funding through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), Western Economic Diversification, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The tech company was spun out of UBC in 2017, received $3 million from the second round of ERA’s Grand Challenge that same year, and graduated from Creative Destruction Lab Calgary in 2018.
Dara stated that the SDTC investment will help Mangrove accelerate commercialization alongside its customer and project partner Canadian Natural Resources, one of the largest independent crude oil and natural gas producers in the world. Mangrove plans to work with Canadian Natural to do in-field demonstrations of its water system at the producer’s mining site in Alberta.
“This system will also serve as the commercial building block to access other industrial applications beyond oil and gas. We are very excited by this announcement and the support from the federal government,” Dara said.
RELATED: BC-based Carbon Engineering secures $90 million CAD to address climate change
The SDTC looks to help Canadian entrepreneurs accelerate the development and deployment of globally competitive clean technology solutions. In January, 12 Canadian companies placed on the 2019 Global Cleantech 100 list, and according to the federal government, 10 of those have received support from Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
“By converting waste gas and saline water to high-value chemicals, Mangrove’s modular solution will have a meaningful impact in making Canada’s oil and gas sector more sustainable for the future,” said Zoe Kolbuc, vice president of partnerships at SDTC. “SDTC’s support for companies creating sustainable solutions is making a real difference in driving Canada’s environmental and economic prosperity.”
The government said this technology has the potential to help oil and gas producers reduce costs as well as water usage, resulting in cleaner air and water longer-term.
“Innovative projects like the one developed by Mangrove Water Technologies demonstrate how a strong economy and a clean environment go hand-in-hand,” said Carla Qualtrough, minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility. “The investment announced today will not only help the oil and gas industry treat wastewater and lower greenhouse gas emissions, it will also help to maintain jobs and create new ones by reducing costs and logistical headaches for the producers.”
Image courtesy Mangrove Water

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H|T: The Healthtech Times – One-stop shop for wellness

The Healthtech Times is a weekly newsletter covering healthtech news from Canada and around the globe.
Subscribe to H|T using the form at the bottom of this page to ensure you don’t miss out on the most important healthtech news every week!

Ontario Telemedicine Network lays off 15 percent of staff following provincial cuts
The 15 percent staff reduction comes amid revelations that the province is cutting more than $70 million for eHealth Ontario, a provider of digital health records, as well as nearly $52 million less for health policy and research.

Dell Technologies World, Day 3 – Technology’s role in making people happy, an interview with Joshua Jackson, and more
We got a chance to speak with Dell EMC’s new Canadian channel chief and the co-founders of Liquid Media Group, an integrated global studio based in Vancouver, on Day 3 of Dell Technologies World.

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Vidyard, Faire, Sheertex share scaling war stories at #CollisionConf

No matter what stage a company is at, some things are universal and at #CollisionConf founder of Vidyard Michael Litt, founder of Faire Marcelo Cortes, as well as growth advisor for Sheertex Jacquelyn Cyr shared their experiences on scaling a company.
At a panel moderated by BetaKit editor-in-chief Douglas Soltys, the three companies, spanning B2B SaaS, B2B marketplace, and B2C, all in different stages of growth, each shared their key learnings, success, and pitfalls thus far that have helped them get to where they are today.
The go fast button
“The go fast button happens at multiple times on a company’s journey and growth often doesn’t actually look like this linear curve for companies, it comes in a step function form,” stated Litt, referring to the moment when a company sees and seizes an opportunity to move the company forward.
“The go fast button happens at multiple times on a company’s journey and growth often doesn’t actually look like this linear curve.”
He noted that Vidyard, which he founded in 2011, right after coming out of university, has gone through and continues to go through experiences that change the trajectory of the business. One ‘go fast moment’ for Vidyard, Litt stated, was when the company was participating in Y Combinator and pivoted its product from a services business to a platform-based business.
“That mindset change [of switching product focus] was the go fast moment for us,” he said, noting that while changing focus was uncomfortable at first, with the support of an angel investor, Vidyard was able to make that change, and it became a ‘go fast moment’ that projected the company through to its Series C in 2016.
Faire, founded in 2016, had its moment of opportunity when it was going through a stage of quick growth at the end of 2017. The company is a retail marketplace that allows independent retailers to find new products from niche creators. In the beginning though, even with accelerated growth and interest in its platform, Cortes (also CTO of Faire) told the #CollisionConf audience that the company actually realized it was losing money. For every dollar sold, Faire (then Indigo Fair), was losing 20 cents.
Cortes and his fellow co-founders Max Rhodes (CEO) and Daniele Perito (chief data officer) decided to fix their unit economics, from there Faire raised a $12 million USD Series A and not long after raised a much larger $133 million CAD in December.
Cyr noted that Sheertex is almost going through its ‘go fast moment’ right now. A growth advisor for companies and chief builder for her own company JC+CO, which helps companies with scaling strategies, Cyr joined Sheertex a couple of months ago to help the creator of un-rippable pantyhose and clothing technology move to the next level.
Talent gap
All three leaders also noted the difficulties that come along in the hiring process as companies grow. Cortes noted that when a company is still young it can hire generalists but as businesses begin to scale processes change and there is a need to bring on more specialized people with experience in specific focus areas.
“We know how to do this and I’m not moving to California, we’re staying in Canada.”
-Marcelo Cortes
Cyr noted that as a B2C, product-oriented businesses, the Canadian talent pool makes it hard to find senior level ecommerce people with the right experience to help with that scaling.
Litt agreed with Cyr, stating that hiring senior level talent is one of the biggest hindrances for many Canadian companies, and something he has seen at Vidyard, as well as with his Garage Capital portfolio companies.
“Right now there aren’t dense population clusters [in Canada] that really attract senior go-to-market talent. At some point, that talent will get recruited into the mothership…that is the United States,” he said.
He noted that while things are changing with government immigration policies, 90 percent of his graduating class at the University of Waterloo left to work in the US. In contrast, all three companies on the panel, all having participated in Y Combinator, have resisted pressure from the US-based accelerator and other investors to leave Canada and set up camp in the US.
RELATED: Trudeau, Tory pitch Global Talent Stream, diversity to #Collisionconf attendees
Cortes stated that even with one office in San Francisco he has argued against moving Faire’s engineering team out of Kitchener.
“The core engineering team hear build the initial product…we’ve built a very successful product and we know how to do this and I’m not moving to California, we’re staying in Canada and we’re going to do it this way,” he told his investors, noting that today his investors are sold on the idea, after seeing it working successfully.
The panelists also talked about their experiences of hiring different types of people and talent for different stages, with Litt stating there are three kinds of people: mercenaries (who disrupt), chameleons (generalists and believers in the mission), and those who scale.
“Just be aware that there are different types of people and its stage dependent,” Litt advised. “[But] there is always a role for mercenaries and they are the ones that are going to keep you on your toes and keep things exciting.”
The trio also touched upon how they navigated pivoting their companies, whether that included Vidyard’s product change, or Faire’s name change. They also emphasized the importance of making sure to adapt to changes by implementing more rigid processes, with Litt and Cortes talking about creating annual mission documents that helps the whole company know what are the focus areas for the year.
Image courtesy Collision Conference via Flickr

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