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Quick Takes: ResQ raises $39m USD in Series A

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Newsletter published on:
October 15, 2021
Quick Takes

What is the news?

ResQ, announced it has raised $39m USD in Series A funding. This raise is co-led by Tiger Global and Canvas Ventures. To date, the company has raised a total of $48m USD and has become the fastest growing restaurant repair and maintenance platform.

What do they do?

ResQ is an all-in-one technology platform that's helping restaurants streamline repair and maintenance operations. They are enabling restaurants to submit, manage, and pay for repairs and maintenance on a single platform, while ensuring high quality and cost-effective work through a curated marketplace of service providers.

Why should you care?

Since its seed round announcement in June 2021, ResQ's customer base has grown from 7 states to 36 in the US. ResQ plans to grow its team by 400%, to double down on their mission to empower restaurants and service providers to streamline repair and maintenance operations.

Takeaways for Founders

The angel investors include many in the QSR industry (e.g. DoorDash, PostMates). This is a smart move as these strategic investors may be able to introduce the company to new distribution partners or customers.

Momentum is key to raising in this market. ResQ hasn’t shared any high level numbers but they did share their growth numbers. In the current environment, VCs are paying for momentum. Find how to create yours, but be careful, because once you receive investment, you can’t slow down.

Tiger has entered Canada and this changes the game for later staged VCs. They are quick and aggressive on valuation. My sources tell me they have done deals in Montreal and Vancouver and are looking a few more Toronto companies to add to their portfolio.

Catch up on the full episode of #QuickTakes below.

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Catch-up on past episodes on Spotify, YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Alex's Must Reads: October 15, 2021

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Newsletter published on:
October 15, 2021
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Hiring Company of the Week: Best Athletes

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Newsletter published on:
October 13, 2021
Company Spotlight

Each week we interview an innovative Canadian company that is hiring. See why you should join Best Athletes:

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What is Best Athletes and how are they innovating?

Leveraging machine learning, Best Athletes "levels the playing field" by helping youth athletes develop & get recruited, and coaches build better teams. Led by CEO Steven Caldwell, current TSN Soccer Analyst, former captain of Toronto FC and English Premier League player, their experienced team of sports and technology industry professionals is redefining how data science allows youth athletes to take control of their future through leading edge sports analytics for recruitment and performance development. Best Athletes is the common performance connection between Athletes/Parents, coaches, clubs, universities & colleges, Associations and Scouts.

Why was it founded?

Youth sports is broken. Costs are high thus eliminating marginalized youth, there is little transparency and no standardization of performance. And it can be fixed by using data science. By providing professional level data science performance tools at an affordable price, Best Athletes will democratize youth sports and allow youth athletes to take control of their futures. Their talent matching algorithms and performance prediction models allow ALL athletes including those with barriers to access and lower socio-economic standing to participate and utilize the tools they need to succeed.

By the numbers

Launched in summer of 2021, there are now 1,500 youth athletes on the platform with another 5,000 expected before the end of the year. Rapidly expanding from Canada into the US market. Starting with soccer and moving into other sports quickly.

Why join Best Athletes?

You will be part of a dynamic and exciting team that's helping others realize their dreams. Youth Sports can be fixed, and if you believe that too - they'd love to hear from you!

Visit their website and to check out the latest news and updates. For job opportunities, contact info@bestathletes.co

Hiring Company: SAS

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SAS is hiring across all parts of the business. Check out these three openings and then explore their careers page to learn more!

Some of their open roles include:

Manager, Customer Advisory (Calgary)

Solution Specialist, Data Science (Ottawa)

CA Technical Architect, Cloud (Western Canada)

Great Opportunities

Founder Fundamentals AMA - HAPPENING TODAY!

Are you thinking about or in the early days of starting a business? TechTO wants to help! We have compiled experts from a multitude of industries, to shed light on the most relevant topics. Whether you want to know how to incorporate, or just how to keep track of finances, we can help. Register here for this afternoons session from 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST.

Founder Fridays

Introducing...Founder Fridays!

Fridays are dedicated to the Founder an Innovator related content you need to see and hear! You can expect the following series to make up our Founder Fridays line-up. These include:

  • Founders and Funding
  • Perfecting the Pitch

These discussions will help our community understand the pitch, the story and the funding discussion from the perspective or the founder and investor.

Our next Perfecting the Pitch discussion - highlighting the process of closing the deal and pitching to an investor is on October 15 - Register here!

TKS - Director of Operations

The Knowledge Society (TKS) is a global human accelerator focused on developing young people (ages 13-17) to impact billions. In TKS, students learn about solving problems using emerging technologies, develop foundational mindsets, and build real-world skills, while being part of a global community of like-minded people. Join them as their next Director of Operations - apply here!

Sherpa - Senior Backend Developer

Sherpa is a high-growth tech startup, located in Toronto, helping travellers all over the world. Global airlines & travel agencies rely on sherpa° to provide their travellers with accurate information regarding visa and entry requirements. As their next Senior Backend Developer, you will be working on the set of their core APIs that power information and eCommerce functions of the business. Apply here!

BDC - Financing toolkit for tech businesses

BDC understands the challenges of growing an innovative business. That's why they've put together a selection of tools that will help you be fully prepared when you meet with your financial partners, thus improving your chances of getting the funding you need. Access your toolkit here!

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Companies to Watch: CocoNFT

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Newsletter published on:
October 12, 2021
Company Spotlight
Company Logos - CocoNFT

Every Monday, we profile a new company we think you should care about. Today we are profiling cocoNFT - helping their users turn their instagram posts into NFT's - FOR FREE (We've done it and it's easier than you think!)

Why was it founded?

cocoNFT was created as a means to help make users Instagram feeds shoppable, creating a marketplace for fans, and allowing creators to link directly to the post they are selling.

How does someone get started?

It takes 3 minutes or less! They guide you through setting up a digital wallet, where you will store your money and NFTs. Once you have registered and saved your secret codes somewhere safe, all you have to do is connect your digital wallet and Instagram account to cocoNFT. It's that simple! For more on how to get started, you can see their in-depth guide here.

What's next for cocoNFT?

cocoNFT is officially launching today! They've been in a closed beta for the last few months which has allowed them to learn and improve their platform. They have now completely redesigned the entire experience and are incredibly excited for what's to come! Visit their new homepage, profile, and post pages.

To learn more about CocoNFT and how you can take your Instagram to the next level, visit their website.

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Alex's Must Reads: October 8

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Newsletter published on:
October 8, 2021
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Quick Takes: AutoLeap drives $18m USD in funding to invest in enhancements

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Newsletter published on:
October 8, 2021
Quick Takes

What is the news?

Toronto auto repair software company AutoLeap raised $18m USD in funding, led by Bain Capital. This announcement comes just nine months after they announced their $5m USD seed round, led by Threshold Ventures, who is also participating once again.


What do they do?

AutoLeap is trying to modernize the auto repair shop by providing them with a SaaS that acts as the operating system for their business. The system digitizes the workflow, the sales process (customer quotes, estimates and invoices), backend processes (such as accounting, inventory management), sales and marketing (such as CRM, scheduling, communications) in order to streamline all processes.

Why should you care?

AutoLeap plans to use the round to invest in product enhancements, bettering the customer experience, and engaging talent from around the world. This is also a significant accomplishment for the Toronto-based company, as they competed against several other startups who have been around longer, and have raised significant capital in their own right. Companies like shopmonkey, which launched in 2016, and has raised $110m USD in that time, from Bessemer and Index.

Tips for Founders

If your founding team does not have the same experience as AutoLeap, here's what can you learn from this financing:

  • Sustainable customer and revenue growth trumps all. If you can show growth with low churn, every VC will want to meet with your team. Momentum is key in this market.
  • Have a strong hypothesis on how you can address a problem in a large market. This will particularly interest investors - especially if you're not in a hot area.
  • Demonstrate how your experience is relevant to the business you are trying to build. Why do you have the right to win?

How did they raise so much so quickly?

Want to know how AutoLeap raised so quickly? Catch-up on the full conversation here to learn more.

Quick Takes - oct 7


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Founder Fundamentals: Banking

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Newsletter published on:
October 6, 2021
Must Reads
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Welcome to Week 4 of Founder Fundamentals!

Welcome to the fourth week of TechTO’s Founder Fundamentals Course! Thank you again to our partners, Ownr, Apollo Insurance, Xero, Humi and Telus Business.

Sign up for our Livestream on October 13 here. We will have experts available on all different topics, including incorporation, insurance, finance and HR.

The series has been such a success we will continue to create new modules and share them on our YouTube page.

We have all heard the adage, "the number one reason a company fails is because they run out of money." Today we are going to tackle some of the basics of how to keep track of your finances and set your business up for success.

Step One: Setting Up a Business Bank Account

From personal experience, the easiest way to understand how your business is doing is to keep your business finances and personal finances separate.

You have a bunch of options when selecting where to set up a business bank account. You can go with one of the big 5 banks, a small bank, a credit union and even startups. A couple things to note:

  1. You are likely to pay more in fees on a corporate account than a personal one. Take a look and understand what you might need (unlimited chequing, etc) because it can add up fast.
  2. Depending on how your company is organized, you will need certain documents. If you are a corporation, you will need to bring your articles and potentially even a board resolution. Ownr can help you with that.
  3. You will likely need to go into the branch to do this and it can be time consuming. Book an appointment and book off 2 hours to get it done.

Step Two: Pick a Digital Accounting System

We talked in previous issues about the different ways you can track your finances. The most common is using a cloud bookkeeping solution, so we will focus on that.

As a business owner, you will keep all your receipts, track your invoices, payroll records (if you have) and other finance documents.

Your bookkeeping software will help you keep track and categorize your transactions. As well, many have additional features like payroll and invoicing. At TechTO we use Xero and have the assistance of a third party bookkeeper. Xero allows us to send invoices and receive payments, all from within the system. You could do the same from Quickbooks or Wave.

Step Three: Use Your Accounting System

Your business needs will drive how you use the system, but the most common uses include:

Bank Reconciliation - This is the process where you check your bank statements to make sure that there are no discrepancies from your invoices etc. An example would be that if you billed a client for $100, were paid by cheque for $100 that you had a corresponding deposit in your bank account for $100.

Budgeting - Budgeting and setting goals in the early days of a business is nearly impossible. You do not have enough information to make an accurate prediction on how any of your efforts will perform or convert to revenue. What you do have control over is your expenses. Any accounting solution will let you input your budgets and track your performance against them with easy to read dashboards.

Income Statements and Tax Planning - As your business grows, you will have more historical data that you can use to prepare reports for customers and shareholders. Your lenders and investors will be expecting regular updates and having software prepare those reports will save you a considerable amount of time.

As well, with both sales and income tax, you will be filing returns a couple of times a year. You or your bookkeeper will benefit from having all your information easily accessible.

Step Four: Get Help

If you find the financial side of your business overwhelming, there are options.

Bookkeepers - We discussed this in last week’s email.


Virtual Accounting and CPA services - We have a number of great virtual accounting providers as part of our TechTO community. They generally work by being tied into your cloud software solutions (ie you give them a login to your Xero) and they work in the background to help set up your ledger (like your companies filing system) and do reconciliation and reporting. Ali Ladha at Vertical CPA is one.

You can also jump into our members only slack community and get some more recommendations.

CONGRATULATIONS!!

You have completed the first part of our Founder Fundamentals course. As part of your participation, next week we will send out an email that highlights all the offers and discounts available just for you. I have taken advantage of a couple personally, and already saved a ton.

If you have any questions on the topics we have covered over the past four weeks, do not hesitate to hit reply and let us know! We will make sure our experts are prepared and ready for our AMA on the 13th.

Finance can be complicated! If you have any questions, join us on October 13th. Our panel of experts will be available to answer any questions you might have.

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Companies to Watch: ParticipACTION

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Newsletter published on:
October 4, 2021
Company Spotlight
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Every Monday, we profile a new company we think you should care about. Today we are profiling ParticipACTION - a national non-profit organization that inspires and supports Canadians to make physical activity a vital part of their everyday life.
Here's why we think you should care:

What they do

As Canada’s premier physical activity brand, ParticipACTION works with its partners, which include organizations in the sport, physical activity and recreation sectors, alongside government and corporate sponsors, to help Canadians reduce sedentary time and move more through innovative engagement initiatives.

Why was it founded?

ParticipACTION was founded in 1971 in response to research showing that the future of Canadian health was at risk due to poor national physical fitness levels. This year is their 50th anniversary, so they’ve been working hard to inspire and make Canada a place where physical activity is a vital part of everyday life for all Canadians for over a half-century!
Their work is more important than ever because the pandemic has led to significant and sustained declines of physical activity levels and increases in sedentary behaviour. However, it also presents an opportunity to support Canadians with adopting new habits – which is why they have developed tools like the free ParticipACTION app, containing prizes, content, challenges and resources that can help you get active at home, at work, outdoors…wherever!

By the numbers:

  • Over 230k registered users
  • Ranked #1 in Apple App Store health and fitness category and #2 in that of Google Play - the only Canadian brand in both those rankings
  • 4.6 star rating in the Apple App Store and 4.5 in Google Play
  • In Aug 2021 alone, app users logged over 115 million minutes of physical activity in the app
  • Doubled user base YoY
  • Over 30% of app users increased their weekly physical activity by over 10 minutes within their first month of use

Who are your customers and how do you help them?

Their “customers” are anyone living in Canada, because getting active is right for everyone, no matter their age, size, ability, gender - however, they try to especially support those Canadians who are just “getting started” when it comes to health and fitness. They know physical activity is important but need help to start their physical activity journey. ParticipACTION helps by educating people on how to make physical activity a more accessible part of their every day lives, meaning no need to join a gym or buy an exercise bike!

To learn more about ParticipACTION and how you can get involved with their important work, visit their website.

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Alex's Must Reads: October 1

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Newsletter published on:
October 1, 2021
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Quick Takes: Semios raises $100m USD

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Newsletter published on:
October 1, 2021
Quick Takes

What is the news?

Vancouver-based company Semios, a “precision-farming” startup and one of the world’s largest independent AgTech platforms, has now raised $100m in funding led by Morningside Group. This funding is a major step forward for Semios to position themselves as the leading independent AgTech company, globally.


What do they do?

Semios is innovating by providing an IoT network of sensors for farmers who monitor and predict insect, disease, water, and frost risk of crops, in near real-time. Using big data and machine learning, their technology can also automate these types of crop management needs. By implementing technology on farms, it allows for farmers to find opportunities for increased labour efficiency, see major cost savings, and increased sustainability. It ensures farmers are better able to predict when, where, and how resources should be deployed.

Why should you care?

Climate change has become one of the hottest areas of venture capital over the last few quarters. IoT devices also represent the largest revenue opportunity according to research, with an estimate that it could reach $6.9b USD globally by the year 2026.

How have they grown?

Semios claims to monitor some of the largest farms in the world, with more than 120 million acres under their management. That number has increased exponentially from last years 250,000 acres total. Their largest customer base is currently in the United States and Australia, but they also have customers in Canada, New Zealand, Europe, and South Africa. It's also not just their portfolio of customers that has expanded, they have also seen massive growth in their acquisitions as well. In the past year, they have acquired Centricity, Altrac and Agworld.

Takeaways for Founders

The longer your startup can survive, the more likely you are to create luck or get headwinds. Semios’ sector was slower to raise equity in their first decade, raising only $10m in that span. Now, they are well positioned to benefit from the climate change focus and AgTech.

If you can consolidate a fragmented industry, it can be a great way to build a large business. If you want to follow such a strategy, you need to make sure you have financial acumen and operations expertise, as this is more of an execution play than an innovation play.

Catch-up on the full conversation here.

Quick Takes - Sept 30

Catch-up on past episodes on Spotify, YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Company of the Week: Together

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Newsletter published on:
September 29, 2021
Company Spotlight

Each week we interview an innovative Canadian company that is hiring. See why you should join Together below:

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What is Together and how are they innovating?

Together empowers organizations to accelerate their employees’ learning and development through social learning programs like mentorship, peer learning, and learning circles.

Together believes that employee learning and development is in a crisis. Traditional employee learning looks like coursework, quizzes, certifications, and droning videos, which aren’t effective. On top of this, working from home has left employees feeling more isolated than ever. Employees are craving social interaction and the chance to learn from their peers and leaders - not boring seminars and multiple-choice tests.

For that reason, Together built a platform that empowers organizations to put employees in the driver’s seat of their growth. Using Together’s software, companies like Disney, Airbnb, Kelloggs, Discovery Channel, and more are running scalable, results-driven social learning programs.

Why join Together?

You should join Together if you are motivated by this mission, and enjoy working in a fast-paced environment with a high degree of autonomy. Their founders came from Boston Consulting Company and have built a team from companies like Facebook, Google, Unilever, Clearbanc, Bell, and more. They’re fixing learning at work and a new hire would directly contribute to their goal of redefining what it means to be a learning organization. This is a chance to take on a lot of responsibility, drive results, and take ownership.

“Together is an amazing place to work if you are looking to drive impact & work with an amazing team. I spent my last 5 years at Google & Facebook before joining Together, and it’s been one of the best decisions in my career.”

- Matt Sicoly, Director of Customer Success

Perks and Benefits

  • 4 weeks paid vacation
  • Competitive salaries & equity — generous early stage stock packages!
  • Health, dental, and vision package through Honeybee
  • Macbook Pro, display, accessories
  • And more!

Check out Together's latest opportunities on their careers page. You can also check out their content for more on how to transform your workplace culture, and build on your mentorship initiatives.

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Founder Fundamentals: Hiring

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Newsletter published on:
September 28, 2021
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Welcome to thechTO’s Founder Fundamentals We have continued to receive amazing feedback from our last issues and we are excited to keep things going. Thank you again to our partners, Ownr, Apollo Insurance, Xero, Humi and Telus for Business.

If you have not already, you can sign up for our Livestream on October 13 here. We will have experts available on all different topics, including incorporation, insurance, finance and HR.

As your company grows, you will likely need some help. Today we will address some of the most common ways of getting help: bringing on contractors or hiring employees.

Bringing someone else on to the team creates a whole new level of complexity in your operations. You can avoid a lot of headaches and make a great employee experience by getting set up right. Read on today to understand the difference between employees and contractors, what to avoid when working with contractors and how to get set up for success with your first employees.

*We are not employment experts, so contacting an expert before making any decisions about what kind of coverage is required is absolutely necessary.

Employees vs. Contractors

It is tempting to classify your employees as contractors. When paying true independent contractors, you do not have to worry about things like vacation pay, notice and severance, EI and CPP contributions, etc.

There are a number of factors that go into the determination of if someone working for you is a contractor or employee. You can find a comprehensive discussion here. Think of things like, do they use their own tools (including a laptop)? What percentage of their income comes from working for you? Does the person have a manager at your company?

You can not mutually decide that someone is a contractor. So even if both parties would rather that kind of arrangement, it is only available if they are a true contractor.

One of the advantages of having employees is that there are a number of government programs, both geared towards startups and in response to COVID, that are available to subsidize the cost of employees. The ones you might have heard of include SRED, and CEWS.  

Hiring Employees

Hiring and onboarding employees is an exciting time for any business! When hiring your first, there are a couple of considerations. You are going to need to make decisions about how much infrastructure you want to put in place before vs as you scale. Startups always tend to be “building the car while they are driving it,” but there are some considerations when it comes to people.

Payroll - Payroll is the process that you will gather information from your employees, share it with the government (for tax and deductions purposes) and then pay your employees and remit taxes.

Payroll can be complicated and time consuming. The rules are often changing and you need to stay on top of it to remain compliant. There are a number of options to help.

  1. You can do it all yourself through the Revenue Canada website. The government does make it easy with calculators and how to guides. It can take up time. I found it helpful to run a couple of pay rolls myself to understand how everything worked and help calculate the total cost of an employee to the company (vs just their salary).
  2. You can hire a bookkeeper (either part or full time). Bookkeepers are not accountants and they are not licenced. Often, they are individuals who have experience in payroll systems, finance systems and the basics of the finance side of your business. The right bookkeeper can be an incredible resource. You are also trusting them with key aspects of your business (like paying your taxes, etc) so make sure to choose carefully. You can always ask the TechTO member slack for suggestions.
  3. You can use a cloud provider. There are a number available and many of them have additional features like HR admin tools, employee benefits options, and other features. Make sure to pick carefully. Onboarding all of your data into a system can be time consuming and the hassle of switching may lock you into one provider. When picking a cloud provider, you want to make sure they are not only right for your current needs, but also for your future business.

If you want to learn more about payroll, our partner Humi has a great guide you can find here.

Performance Reviews and Management - This is often overlooked in small companies. If there are only a handful of team members, why do you need a formal review and performance structure?

If you are not intentional about these kinds of activities, they will not happen. There are a number of reasons why having regularly scheduled reviews is important. The most compelling one I have found is that things change so quickly in an early stage company, particularly roles and responsibilities. It is important to set a regular time and cadence to make sure your team is doing the right jobs for their interests and skills.

Policies - For most early stage companies, they take two approaches to policies. Either they create them after something has happened for which they wish they had a policy or they just copy and paste templates they find off the internet.

Neither is ideal. When more and more jobs have remote components, making sure you have policies in place is more important. Humi has a great list available.

There are mandatory and optional policies. Mandatory policies include accessibility, health and safety, and workplace violence and harassment. Often times, your insurer will have policies they mandate as conditions of coverage.

Optional policies can cover everything including time off, how to handle confidential information, using your own devices, maternity and paternity leave, and remote working arrangements. This can seem very daunting. You do not want to waste time drafting policies you don’t need or will grow out of before they are finished. Take a moment to think of what is essential to your business and start with those. Once you get a muscle in place for creating and implementing new policies, you can stay ahead of your growth curve.

Hiring can be complicated! If you have any questions, join us on October 13th. Our panel of experts will be available to answer any questions you might have.

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