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The Maple Leaf meets the Shamrock! 🍀

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Newsletter published on:
March 16, 2022
Company Spotlight

Happy St Patricks Day! Now that the month of March is officially Irish Heritage month in Canada (as approved by the Canadian parliament last summer), there is no better time to celebrate all things Irish.

Like Canada, Ireland has two official languages & Ontario is one of the few places outside Ireland that has its own “Gaeltacht,” an Irish-speaking region recognized by the Government of Ireland. Canadians beloved hockey is actually a modern day evolution of an Irish field sport, hurling.

Even Justin Trudeau tweeted earlier this month that “The Irish community has helped define Canada, and Irish-Canadians have contributed so much to our country’s success”.

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Whilst Ireland might be best known for good Guinness, lively dancing and green fields, did you know that Ireland has a special place in the heart of Canadian tech too?

In the last 4 years, the number of Canadian companies with operations in Ireland has almost doubled. IDA Ireland, the organisation responsible for helping international companies set up in Ireland, sees the importance of the Canadian market, and the growing links between the two countries. It has an office in Toronto that works closely with the 60 Canadian companies that have operations in Ireland, employing over 8000 people & they continue to grow – up 12% in the last year alone.

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Tech - Canada and Ireland’s Lucky Charm

Tech leads the way as the top sector represented by Canadian companies in Ireland with financial services & fintech a close second.  In fact, 8 of the top 10 largest Canadian companies on the Fortune 500 list have a presence there.

Canadian tech leaders like Shopify, OpenText and TELUS International have all chosen Ireland as their European base. Ireland is also a global centre for cybersecurity and home to the likes of eSentire and Blackberry. Recently, it has become the location of choice for the growing list of Canadian unicorns including Trulioo, eSentire & Clio (who’s offices are in a restored whiskey distillery, no less). All of these companies have set up sales, support and technology teams there.

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Why might you ask?

Jack Newton, CEO of Clio, credits Ireland’s talent and business environment as reasons why they made Ireland their hub. “We are genuinely excited to launch in Ireland,” Newton said. “They offer us a highly-skilled talent pool and a great business environment with a lot of sector-specific cloud technology expertise.”

Stephen Ufford, founder and CEO of Trulioo, had a similar sentiment about Ireland’s tech scene. “Our physical presence in Dublin will allow us to work more personally with our partners and customers in Europe,” he said. “Eighty percent of global technology firms have a presence in Dublin, so it’s no surprise the city is emerging as a Tech centre.”

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Top Talent, Diversity & EU Market Access

Ireland is one of the most educated workforces in Europe with levels of participation in 3rd level much higher than the EU average. Today 1 in 6 people living in Ireland were not born there, one of the highest international workforces in the EU.  Companies can hire any EU citizen and they can live and work in Ireland without any paperwork. It also has a very progressive immigration policy with zero caps on numbers.

Shopify is a great example of scaling a diverse workforce in Ireland. Shopify started in Ireland with just 30 support roles back in 2015. Today they have over 750 people in Ireland, covering 15 different languages and 30 different functions.

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And finally Ireland is a committed member of the EU. Thanks to Brexit, Ireland is now the only English speaking member of the EU and this access to the European market and workforce is a key advantage for companies setting up there.

With over 5 million Canadians of Irish heritage, Ireland really is a home away from home for many Canadian businesses -  Reach out to us at IDA to hear more about how Ireland can help your business scale internationally.

And Happy St Patricks Day or Lá Feile Phádraig Shona Daoibh Go Leir!” (prize for anyone who gets that right 😉 )

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Deirdre Moran

SVP Technology, IDA Ireland – Toronto Office

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Hiring Company of the Week: TELUS

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Newsletter published on:
March 2, 2022
Company Spotlight
Screen Shot 2022-02-24 at 12.52.15 PM

Each week, we feature an innovative company that's hiring. This week, we take a closer look at Telus and their Future Friendly Technology Services team.

TELUS Future Friendly Technology Services
Our customers’ homes will look very different in the near future due to the confluence of leading-edge video streaming, smart home, and cloud computing technologies, underpinned by high-speed fibre and 5G networks. Every day, the TELUS Future Friendly Technology Services team envisions what the future holds and builds technologies to simplify our customers’ lives.

We Need Your Help
We’re looking for engineering professionals to help us realize a large-scale video streaming platform that will integrate TELUS’ consumer capabilities such as smart home solutions.

This is a chance to get in on the ground floor and help us create the future of the connected home.

Roles we’re currently hiring for include:
● Architects
● Back-end Java and node.JS developers
● Mobile developers
● DevOps engineers
● Design specialists

Check out all of our open roles here

Follow us on Linkedin

In return – we offer exposure to leading technologies and development frameworks, a collaborative team dynamic and a chance to join Canada’s #1 global workplace with a world-leading culture, extensive community-giving initiatives, flexible work program and competitive benefits.

Company Culture
Our team has a strong engineering culture that recognizes the importance of customer experience. We seek to create meaningful change and give back to our communities. We’re committed to diversity and equitable access to employment opportunities based on ability. Your unique contributions and talents will be valued and respected here.

Come Meet Us
We will be in attendance at TechTO’s International Women's Day event on March 8th! Join us at our career booth!


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Must Reads: March 2, 2022

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Newsletter published on:
March 2, 2022
Must Reads

Here are a few great reads that will surely help you land the job, make a great first impression, stay focused and build your skills.

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Quick Takes: A big week in Web3

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Newsletter published on:
February 25, 2022
Quick Takes

What is the news?

There are 3 pieces of news so let’s break it down separately.

Waterloo based Axelar raised $35m USD from Polychain Capital,Dragonfly Capital, North Islan Ventures, Rockaway Blockchain Fund, and many others at a $1b USD valuation. Another Canadian unicorn.

What do they do?

Axelar is building a network and tools intended to connect users, assets and decentralized applications (dapps) across multiple blockchains to unlock cross-chain composability and liquidity.

Their main network went live last month with integrations into Polygon, Polkadot, Cosmos and pangolin Exchange.

Why is this important?

Many different blockchains have come into existence and cross chain integration should provide additional utility and liquidity for the blockchain market.

What is the second piece of news?

Vancouver based MixMob raised $7m from Defiance Capital, Ascensive Assets Not3lau Capital and others

What does MixMob do?

MixMob offers a Solana powered Metaverse game that uses play to earn incentives and user-generated content.  The plot of the game is to join  a creative resistance movement to defeat a universe in which artificial intelligence destroyed human culture.

Why is this important?

Other than combining three buzz words? Play to earn is the future of the gaming and someone other than Axie has to succeed.

What's the last piece of news?

1Password partnered with Phantom and Solana to secure cryptocurrencies, digital assets and other items built on the Solana blockchain.  

Why is this important?

It shows that crypto security concerns are going mainstream and 1Password will do what it takes to be at the forefront of this new opportunity

What is the takeaway of all this news?

Web3 will be the key theme across the Canadian tech ecosystem in 2022. There are now many subsegments that it will be difficult for any one to know everything in every sector.

Here's what I would do if I was a founder or potential employee:

  • Understand how web3 may impact your business
  • Get up to speed on activities in the market
  • Update your career or company plans to leverage web3
  • Also understand how web3 stakeholders are different than web2
  • The investors in this section are all crypto focus none invested in web2
  • Masks could be the new browser (Metamask is Chrome, phantom is Safari, rainbow is Mozilla)

ICYMI - catch up on the full episode to hear more of the stories and takes from the past week in Canadian tech

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Alex's Must Reads: February 25, 2022

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Newsletter published on:
February 25, 2022
Must Reads
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Company to Watch: FlashBox

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Newsletter published on:
February 22, 2022
Company Spotlight
FlashBox logo

Every Monday, we profile a company to watch that's innovating in their industry.

Today we are profiling FlashBox, a company that has created an affordable delivery solution for all businesses.

What is FlashBox?

FlashBox is an innovative last-mile delivery solution for businesses across the GTA. We guarantee fast and reliable delivery from your business to your customers. At only $6 per parcel, with a three parcel minimum, FlashBox is the affordable delivery solution for all businesses. With FlashBox, businesses can manage all their deliveries from one user-friendly dashboard. The platform allows users to track their parcels in real-time, customize the experience for their customers, and see proof of delivery for every drop.

Why was it founded?

We launched FlashBox to challenge the traditional logistics industry, which was not meeting the needs of businesses. The current industry does not make efficiency a priority. This leaves businesses suffering from the outdated processes of their logistics partners. At FlashBox, we plan to change this industry one step at a time, beginning with reimagining the last-mile delivery process. The potential of eCommerce in Canada drew us to start challenging the logistics industry in Toronto. Canadians spent about $84.4 billion shopping online in 2020. With this number, paired with the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire for near-instantaneous delivery that most online shoppers have, comes the need for reliable and affordable delivery solutions.

Who are your customers?
Put simply: our customers consist of online merchants, distribution and fulfilment centres, and various other businesses within the GTA looking for an affordable delivery solution. We know that most consumers consider the cost of delivery when purchasing products online. For this reason, we wanted to create an affordable service that allows every business the opportunity to offer reasonably priced delivery to their customers while never sacrificing quality.

What is the long-term vision?

Our long-term vision is to change the incumbent logistics industry and build the world’s most efficient, affordable, and environmentally-friendly logistics company. Since launching in August 2021 with Same-Day Delivery, we have started working with merchants such as Walmart Canada Marketplace, Vitamart, and Goodfood. As a result of this success, FlashBox is preparing to launch Next-Day Delivery, weekend deliveries, and expand to other cities shortly.

To learn more about FlashBox, visit their website here

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How to Build a Fundraising Deck

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Newsletter published on:
February 17, 2022
Thought Pieces
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Article By: Alex Norman, Partner at N49P Ventures, TechTO Co-Founder, and AngelList Canadian Partner

This is the first post in a series in which we will review typical slides that founders include in a pre-seed or seed deck. The goal of these posts is to challenge conventional wisdom on how to construct these sides and help founders use these slides to demonstrate knowledge of their business. One caveat - there is not one way to raise a round and these recommendations may or may not help you.

For the first post in this series, we are going to focus on the slide that everyone hates but feels compelled to include - The Competitors Slide.  

The traditional approach to the competitor slide

Most founders feel compelled to show this page for two reasons:

1. Every founder has heard that if there is no competition there is most likely no market.

2. By not including known competitors in their deck, founders worry they will come across as naive or not knowledgeable about their market

This results in one of two versions of a competitor slide which address the two points above but don’t add any credibility into why this is a team or startup to back.

I am sure that everyone reading this post has seen these slides:

  • The 2x2 matrix competitor slide: This slide lays out the industry along two axes and the start-up is always located in the upper right hand corner to demonstrate why they are the company ready to conquer the industry.  

    The best in-class version of this page will include some non technology competitors (e.g excel; pen and paper).  

*photo is an example*

competitor slide 1
  • The features competitor slide: This slide has several competitors on the first row of the slide with a list of features in the first column. It shows that only the start-up checks all the required features.

Why the traditional approach isn’t great

The problem with both of these approaches is:

  • Are the axes or features you have chosen relevant? My guess is if you asked the incumbents you are comparing yourself to they would pick different axes or features. This is ok, but you should be using this slide to explain why the axes or features you have chosen are relevant to your ideal customer and why it is hard for the incumbents to copy you.

  • Customers don’t buy features, they buy solutions. Why does your unique combination of features satisfy an un-met need for your ideal customers?

  • Has someone tried your approach before? If so, why didn’t they succeed? Why is this the right time to take this approach?

Using the competitor slide to explain your positioning

How do you have a better impact with the Competitor Slide?

Think of the competitor slide as a way to explain your unique positioning in the market. Ideally you can use the slide to explain why your positioning is important for a subset of customers, why the incumbents can’t or don’t want to take a similar positioning and, if possible, why this positioning is important now.

There is not one way to do this but you can use the title of the slide, the clustering of the competitors and a few bullet points to demonstrate the depth of understanding without doing a talk over.

*photo is an example*

competitor slide photo 2

The way to adjust the feature version of the competitor slide is by explaining how your group of features creates a unique solution for your ideal customer slide.

How this will impact your deck

Using the competitor slide to better explain your positioning is not easy and you will most likely need to iterate on the slide several times prior to making it work.

The benefit is that a potential investor will better understand your positioning and why it makes sense. More importantly, it will demonstrate the depth of your knowledge and thinking about your startup, and reinforce the fact that you are the right team to build this business.

Alex is an entrepreneur and tech community builder, helping to build Canadian tech communities across the country through events, connections, advice, and investment.

Connect with him on social to chat about all things Canadian Tech!

*Connect with Alex on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter*

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Quick Takes: Paper raises $270m to become latest Canadian Unicorn

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Newsletter published on:
February 17, 2022
Quick Takes

What is the news?

Montreal based Paper Education raised $270m USD in a round co-led by SoftBank and Sapphire Ventures with backing from past investors that include IVP, Salesforce Ventures, Framework Venture Partners, Bullpen Capital, Reach Capital, BDC Capital and Red House Education. The round values the company at $1.5b USD.   According to Betakit this round includes primary and secondary sales. This raise also puts Paper on the list of the latest Canadian Unicorns (companies valued at $1b)

What does Paper do?

Paper provides unlimited 24/7 tutoring support using a SAAS marketplace.  Students can get help for homework, feedback on their work or just general support. Teachers can also get feedback on the tutoring and administrators of the program get a full dashboard. School districts pay for the service and provide it free to students.

This sounds familiar...

This might sound familiar, because the company previously raised $110m USD 8 months ago or at least that is when the round was announced. This is actually the fourth round of funding in about two years. The company was founded in 2014 and raised less than several million dollars prior to 2020.

How were they able to raise so fast?

Two words: Rapid Growth

  • Revenue is up 25% since the start of 2020 to $50m.
  • Paper signed deals with school districts in almost 30 US states.
  • There are currently 2m students on its platform
  • Tutors have tripled to 2,200
  • FTE increased from 130 to 400 last year
  • Of note, 99% of the business is in the US

Why did this work now?

Paper’s growth has coincided with two trends that emerged from the pandemic:

  1. Digitization of schools (the need for online learning)
  2. Concerns about inequitable access to learning tools

What are the takeaways for founders?

Timing is everything

Building a successful startup needs unique insights and the timing has to be right.  In this case, when Paper launched, they had the right insight. They knew there was a better way to provide support to students using technology. They had the timing wrong for the first few years, and for many companies, that would be the death of them. Luckily for Paper, they proved to be a resilient start-up that found better ways to stay alive until their insights were paired with the right trends.

First takeaway: Founders need to be cockroaches and get to default alive.

This is true, but you can’t count on the timing or trends to catch up with you. Many founders realize the timing or insight is wrong and then pivot. Both work, so the key takeaway here is when it is not working figure out why and then plan accordingly.

The second takeaway: Finding product market fit is not the end of the journey but the beginning.

Post product market fit is capital intensive as you want to scale as quickly as possible. This scaling introduces an entire host of new execution issues that can trip a company up just as much as the search for capital.

Finally, most VC edtech investments over the last several years have been away from institutions as they are horrible customers with bureaucracy and are slow to move. Many industries are viewed this way (anything government, legal) but they are at the end of the day, huge markets, and when they change, they are great places to be building a startup.

Watch the full episode to catch more of the stories and takes from the past week in tech

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Alex's Must Reads: February 17, 2022

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Newsletter published on:
February 17, 2022
Must Reads
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VC Spotlight: Badhouse Ventures

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Newsletter published on:
February 17, 2022
Company Spotlight

Today we are spotlighting Badhouse Ventures, a BC based VC thats supporting founders so they can make magic happen.

What is Badhouse?
Badhouse is a Canadian nano-VC focused on software startups with beta-version products that are deemed too early for seed VCs. We write first cheques and offer hands-on support. 

What is your focus?
Our VC firm, focused on investing and providing hands-on startup operator support to very early-stage ventures, will have two main "customers": Startup founders and next-round investors. This manifesto outlines our intentions to provide value to both of these groups.

How many startups are in your portfolio?
We're keeping our portfolio small (30 or less) so we can best support each group of founders. We started with our first investments in Q2 2021 and have a rolling intake.

How do you support startups on their journey?

It used to be that after love money, or a first angel investor, ambitious and talented founders could find seed investment. It's rarely the case now, with seed investors now looking for significant revenue or evidence of market traction. We're here to fill that gap!

Up to $100k investment

Many founders don't have enough savings to quit their job or side hustle to work full-time on their innovative ventures. With our funding, up to 4 co-founders would have enough to cover their living expenses for a year and focus 100% of their efforts on building up their startup. There should be enough left over to hire freelancers, get a summer intern, pay for marketing experiments, etc.

$20k of in-kind services

Deals on flexible meeting and desk space, access to part-time mentors (in addition to our team), active promotion, and all we can do to support you!

Up to $100k of cloud infrastructure credits

In addition to other partner perks and

What are you looking for?
We're looking to invest in founding teams that are ambitious, but also humble; hard-working is a given! The startup project should be beyond the idea stage, with at least a rudimentary prototype (ideally a beta-version product) and 2 to 4 co-founders with diverse and complimentary backgrounds.

If you'd like to be considered for investment, fill out this form to share more about you, your founding team, and your early-stage startup venture.

Fill out this form to be considered for their next Pitch and Learn event - where you'll have the opportunity to share your pitch deck!

*All info courtesy of

Learn more about Badhouse Ventures by visiting their website

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Hiring Company of the Week: OpsLevel

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Newsletter published on:
February 16, 2022
Company Spotlight
OpsLevel Logo
Each week, we feature an innovative company that's hiring. This week, we take a closer look at OpsLevel, a company that's helping engineering teams ship more secure and resilient systems without compromising velocity.

How are you innovating?

Our founders have helped facilitate the rise of DevOps culture as very early employees at PagerDuty. We've witnessed how DevOps helped one of the first (and largest) microservices architectures grow and sprawl at Amazon, and have experienced Shopify's transition to cloud native.

We've been software architects, operational incident commanders, and have run the gamut in between. We've seen - and experienced - the difficulties that microservices architectures with distributed ownership & operations can bring to an engineering team. We founded OpsLevel to solve these problems, and make it easy for development teams to own their software in production.

How can OpsLevel support customers?

Got paged about a microservice you know nothing about? OpsLevel helps you fix incidents faster by quickly finding the right tools and the right people.

Build reliable microservices year-round, not just during peak season. OpsLevel continuously monitors your services to streamline production readiness and promote continuous improvement.

Track ownership, ops toolchain, deployment & commit frequency, and more. OpsLevel shows the most important and actionable data needed for managing your microservices and repos.

Why join OpsLevel?

OpsLevel has validated a huge market and brought You build it, You own it to the world with our service ownership platform. Many orgs now depend on OpsLevel to help discover, operate, and maintain hundreds of microservices…but that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

We're looking for teammates who pursue excellence in their craft, love the fast-paced and evolving environment of startups, and believe the best outcomes come from collaboration. We trust and empower our people with the autonomy to make impactful decisions. Ownership is our Top Secret recipe for quickly scaling up.

And we’re looking ahead to our next mission, creating the developer portal. If you’re invested in being part of a dynamic team out to make life easier for developers, you’ve come to the right place.

You can learn more about OpsLevel and their opportunities here

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Company to Watch: PayTrie

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Newsletter published on:
February 14, 2022
Company Spotlight
PayTrie logo

Every Monday, we profile a company to watch that's innovating in their industry.

Today we are profiling PayTrie, a company that makes it simple to top up your crypto wallet for trading, staking, lending, NFTs, and more.

What is PayTrie?

PayTrie is the easiest place in Canada to buy stablecoins. Register and fund your transaction in under 5 minutes.

PayTrie is a payments company first and a cryptocurrency company second. They leverage cryptocurrencies to enable payments for their users. In the future, they'll be adding more products that intersect between traditional payments infrastructure and stablecoins. Their goal is to help Canadians move money faster, easier, and cheaper than ever before.

Why was it founded?

It was very hard for Canadians to get in/out of crypto. PayTrie leverages the stability and familiarity of stablecoins to provide a seamless experience. Once you hold a stablecoin, it is much easier to purchase any other cryptocurrency using centralized or decentralized exchanges.

How did they get started?

The beginning part was difficult as the underlying premise they were building from was essentially an exchange. They had to get everything set up from regulatory licences, KYC implementation, payment channels, and more just to be able to service one customer. It took them about a year to get everything ready before they could launch.

How did they land their first customer?
They first reached out to all of their friends in the crypto community in Canada to try out the product and give feedback. They then got a few introductions from those friends and word of mouth has been their biggest form of user acquisition. They also have a Twitter and Discord community where they try to help new users get started with crypto.

What is their long-term vision?

Over the next year, PayTrie will be working on building the best payments infrastructure for cryptocurrencies. They'll be working with various partners to grow the ecosystem and provide the best service for all Canadians.

To learn more about PayTrie, visit their website here

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