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Quick Takes: Canada may not always provide venture scale but can still be profitable

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Newsletter published on:
January 14, 2022
Quick Takes

What is the news?

Xero acquired Calgary based tax preparation software company, TaxCycle for $75m CAD.

Why did they acquire TaxCycle?

Xero did this for more reach and distribution in Canada. TaxCycle served 4,000 tax firms and 16,000 individual accountants, bookkeepers, and tax preparers in Canada.

Why are we talking about this?

In previous episodes, we have discussed that traditionally Canada only plays were not venture scale opportunities and were hard to raise capital for. We also discussed why this may be changing (e.g. WealthSimple, Clutch, etc.). This deal provides the former, a Canada only play with a good outcome but not a venture scale outcome.

$75m dollars is great, but it is not the outcome I would want when I make a venture outcome. TaxCycle does not look like it raised venture financing, so this is a great outcome for the founders, who could easily need a $150m+ outcome to get the same result.

What are the takeaway for founders and the tech community?

When you start a company focused on the Canadian market, you have to understand the potential outcome and finance it right. Like we have said many times, raising and angels is not the appropriate approach for many start-ups.

If you build a large Canadian customer base it will be valuable to someone who wants to expand to Canada. To get top dollar, you will need to be relatively large, have a strong relationship with the customers and have a space with large well financed competitors (e.g. Intuit and Xero).

Venn diagram - Quick Takes

Catch the full episode here

You can also check out past episodes on our Spotify and YouTube

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Tyltgo: Why This Waterloo-Based Startup Landed on Jeeves

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Newsletter published on:
January 14, 2022
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Credit applications, poor customer service, poor spend management, access to little credit, personal guarantees, and terrible UI were just a handful of issues Tyltgo’s founder and CEO, Aaron Paul, was experiencing with his big bank provider.

After securing funding from investors and expanding within Canada, Aaron knew it was time to switch to a corporate card that was tailored to high-growth companies with access to an expense management platform.

That’s when he landed on Jeeves.

There were 5 key things that led Aaron to make the switch:

  1. Fast Onboarding - Aaron was able to apply and get approved for the Jeeves card and platform quickly through the online application.
  2. Higher Credit Limits - Jeeves offered Aaron much more credit than his big bank provider would have ever given.
  3. No Personal Guarantee - No personal guarantee at all made it a no-brainer for Aaron to get instant access to credit.
  4. Exceptional Customer Service - Instant customer service had set Jeeves apart from Day 1. No more staying on hold for hours - only to be transferred to another person.
  5. Great Spend Management - Using one card for every purchase created a nightmare of bottlenecks and security concerns. Now, Aaron is able to supply employees with their own physical and virtual cards - instantly - with the ability to set spending limits and activate or deactivate cards with a click of a button.

Join Jeeves - Earn 10% Cashback for Your First Month*

If you find yourself in the same position that Aaron was, switch things up and sign up for Jeeves.

Jeeves is offering all TechTO members 10% cashback on all card spend for your first month on the platform.* Yes – you read that correctly.

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, sign up for Jeeves using the promo code TECHTO2022.

*This 10% cashback offer will be capped at $1,000 CAD.

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Alex's Must Reads: January 14, 2022

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Newsletter published on:
January 14, 2022
Must Reads
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VC Spotlight: Maple VC

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Newsletter published on:
January 14, 2022
Company Spotlight
maple

Today we are spotlighting Maple, a VC that is backing companies with Canadian roots. Andree Charoo, founding GP at Maple VC shared why they have chosen to back companies with ties to Canada.

What is the story behind Maple?

Shopify. Uber. Slack. Instacart. Cloudflare. What do all of these companies have in common? Aside from being some of the most iconic, category-defining companies in tech, they all have at least one founder with Canadian roots. After years of producing entrepreneurs on the cutting edge of innovation, Canada is finally getting its due: in the first half of 2021, investment in Canadian startups is already twice what it was for all of 2020. I think there is more that can be done to foster and support Canadian entrepreneurs — both at home and abroad — and to highlight Canada’s largest and most influential export: talent.

Canadians have created a disproportionate number of multi-billion dollar companies in the last decade, and I truly believe this is just the beginning. I’ve never been more bullish about or inspired by the caliber of talent coming out of my home country and am so proud to help build and support the global network of Canadian entrepreneurs.

What is the goal?

My goal with Maple is to invest in and be a strategic partner to promising Canadian entrepreneurs in the areas of international expansion, talent acquisition and attracting follow-on funding. As of today, I’ve written 27 checks totaling $12M to companies working in everything from restaurant tech (All Day Kitchens) to fintech (Sivo) to consumer goods (Faculty) to cloud storage (Playbook) to construction (RenoRun) to digital health (Vision) and climate (Patch).


If you are a founder with Canadian roots looking for seed stage funding or a LP interested in participating in my next fund, you can get in touch with me at andre@maplevc.com. You can also learn more about Maple here.

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Notable Canadian News: January 14, 2022

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Newsletter published on:
January 14, 2022
Notable Canadian News
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Hiring Company of the Week: GoodGood

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Newsletter published on:
January 12, 2022
Company Spotlight
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Each week, we feature an innovative company that's hiring. This week, we take a closer look at GoodGood, a company that's connecting local makers with the community, making everyone's lives a little easier and a lot more delightful.

How is GoodGood different?

GoodGood's mission is to create a new future for local commerce. Less selling at people, and more connecting with people. Their ultimate goal is to connect local makers with their community through authentic online and retail experiences, making their lives a little easier, a little more convenient, and a little more delightful.

How does it work?

They use digital storefronts via their app and website to showcase their full inventory, letting guests order ahead for pick-up, or have their order delivered in under an hour. Plus, guests can earn rewards via their digital loyalty program.

Why you should join?

GoodGood is all about being good to people. They believe in equality, respect, inclusion, and being both a speaker and a listener when the time calls for it. They're committed to creating a safe work environment for their team members and customers, and they want to celebrate what makes you, you.

GoodGood has also raised a seed funding round to help them build multiple locations across Canada. The team consists of seasoned founders with previous experience at Ritual, Google, Sprig, and other local marketplaces.

Want to work at GoodGood? Check out their opportunities on their careers page here.

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Company to Watch: Mino Games

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Newsletter published on:
January 10, 2022
Company Spotlight
mino logo

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

Today we are profiling Mino Games, a company that's working to create games and experiences for millions of people across the globe.

Who they are

Mino Games is a mobile games developer based in Montréal, QC. They are made up of a group of passionate engineers, artists and analysts with a mission to create games that millions of people all around the world love to play for years. They are also backed by by angel investors, institutional investors, and gaming companies from across the world.

By the numbers:
Mino Games is a free-to-play mobile gaming studio that produced the top 50 grossing mobile game Mino Monsters, with over 13 million downloads. They create deeply engaging, widely appealing games for millions of fans.

Their release of Cat Game was one of their most popular, hitting the App Store’s Top 100 Grossing Chart in Canada.

Why you should care

Mino Games is a company that is innovating in their industry by creating gaming experiences that are used by a global audience. Backed by key investors, Mino Games has also created games that are downloaded and used by millions including users from the US.

Mino Games was also previously selected to join the corporate accelerator Y Combinator, that helped propel high-profile companies like Airbnb, Reddit and Dropbox.

To learn more about Mino Games, visit their website here.

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TechTO x Jeeves

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Newsletter published on:
January 7, 2022
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What is Jeeves?

Jeeves is revolutionizing business finance with borderless business banking. Its all-in-one expense management platform provides Canadian startups and high-growth businesses the tools they need to operate and grow effortlessly.

The Corporate Card Tailored for Global Startups

The Jeeves corporate card provides businesses access to 30 days of credit with no fees, no interest, and frictionless cross-border payments. Customers can pay back in multiple currencies (e.g. CAD/USD), eliminating foreign transaction volatility and fees altogether. The card also has a compelling cashback program with up to 3% cashback for Canadian clients.

Earn 10% Cashback for Your First Month*

For your first month on the platform, Jeeves is offering all TechTO members 10% cashback on all card spend.*

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, sign up for Jeeves using the promo code TECHTO2022.

*This 10% cashback offer will be capped at $1,000 CAD.

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Trend Watch 2022: Distributed Teams

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Newsletter published on:
January 7, 2022
Thought Pieces
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TechTO Co-Founder Alex Norman breaks down his top trends to watch for in 2022.

Distributed Teams

How companies can succeed in building a proper work strategy for their teams in 2022

I've asked the question - "how many start-ups have a truly distributed team?"

Most founders said that it's something they are "trying" to do, but it hasn't really taken off. The biggest issues seem to be that the war for talent is making it harder to recruit talent far away from HQ, and there are challenges in creating a distributed culture and work processes.  

The companies that are succeeding with a distributed workforce are the one's that were either born distributed (e.g. Zapier), have a globally recognized brand (e.g. AngelList) or are forced to recruit from a specific geographic area that have the talent and experience that they require (e.g. Toronto and Machine Learning).

What I've been hearing from Founders and Leaders is that they are open to being distributed, but the struggle is that prior to Covid, most of their team and network is local. It's a challenge for local Canadian companies to have globally distributed talent look at their jobs as the talent does not know who they are. For most companies, inbound inquiries come from their home country and they have to make an outbound effort to go distributed. Building an international talent pipeline is proving to be tough.

What does the future look like?

Companies will choose between distributed, in-person centralized or hub and spoke models. Each of these models have different advantages and challenges and need specific employer branding and work styles to succeed.

Being a hybrid of one of these models will not work and startups that don't choose a strategy will struggle. You're going to see more companies take a stake in what their culture is, and what's going to be true is that you're going to see companies building a culture with a certain job model in mind.

The one commonality among all of these models will be more flexibility in work style than prior to the pandemic. In-person centralized startups will allow employees to come in fewer days per week. Distributed companies will allow team members to choose the hours they work. My recommendation is to understand your workforce, and build a strategy accordingly.

How you can execute this in 2022:

  • Create and execute a strategy
  • Build a model around that strategy
  • Ensure flexibility is part of that model
  • Employer branding is more important than ever

Listen to more of Alex's trends and predictions for this year here.

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Hiring Company of the Week: Bonsai

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Newsletter published on:
January 5, 2022
Company Spotlight
Bonsai logo
Each week, we feature an innovative company that's hiring. This week, we are featuring Bonsai, a company that's created the only end-to-end commerce platform for publishers.

How are you innovating?

We began in 2016 as a streetwear style and news app. Now we’re leading the market shift to content-driven commerce. We are helping publishers launch e-commerce as a new line of business. Our technology allows users to transact natively while browsing content. We make the journey from seeing a product to buying it possible in two taps.

Why should someone join your team?

We’re growing quickly and have doubled in size in 2021 (we’re over 75 people now!). We believe a culture of trust, respect, belonging, and equality allows people to bring their whole selves to work and brings diverse thinking to our product. We believe the best ideas can come from anyone, and that together we can make a bigger impact.

By the numbers

  • Powering native commerce for 670 million monthly unique visitors
  • Have integrated more than 1,200 brands
  • Have partnered with 30 of the world’s largest publishers (like BuzzFeed and Complex)
  • Global team spans 3 continents and 4 countries
  • Doubled in size in 2021

Bonsai is also hiring! To learn more about their opportunities visit their careers page or check them out on LinkedIn.

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Alex's Must Reads: December 17, 2021

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December 17, 2021
Must Reads
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Quick Takes: Predictions and the best of TechTO

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Newsletter published on:
December 17, 2021
Quick Takes
Have our 2021 predictions stood the test of time?

Back in July, we took a look at the CBRE report on tech talent in North America. Most Canadian cities were among the fastest growing for number of employees percentage wise over the last three years. Some highlights were:

  • The average growth in the talent in Canada has been 22.5% over the last five years with six cities growing by over 30%.
  • 4 of the 5 fastest growing markets on a percentage basis are in Southern Ontario: Guelph, Waterloo REgion, Oshawa and Toronto. The one market outside the area: Vancouver
  • Comparison to the US - San Francisco has 373.4k people and grew only by 16.4%; New York has 348.3k and grew by 6.7%. Toronto has 270.4k and grew by 42.8%  Only fast growing large US city Seattle at 184.7k people and growing by 35.4%

What was the takeaway?

Growth should continue - if we plan for it. Tech related jobs pay significantly more than the average job in all markets. They are relatively future proof high growth jobs that improve the quality of living. We need more of this. On the flip side a growing tech sector raises the cost of living and can make cities harder for people outside of tech. We need to work to make sure that this does not happen.

Want to know if our prediction was right? Listen to the full episode of Quick Takes here to learn more.

We also weighed in one some of our top content from the year that our community loved. See the full rundown of our top picks here.

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