Kicking off the list is the Prairie-based startup that, in 2019, landed the largest VC financing in history for any Prairie-based ICT company. Vendasta offers a white-label platform for companies that provide digital solutions to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
With an employee base of almost 300 people, we’re stretching the term ‘startup’ for Vendasta, but given how significant of a role it plays in shaping the Saskatoon startup ecosystem, it’s important to have it on the list.
The Canadian startup world will be watching Vendasta closely over 2020 as this anchor tech company looks to put its new $40 million investment to work by building out the Vendasta platform and marketplace solutions and aiming to double its staff in Saskatoon.
Coming out of the Techstars Energy Accelerator towards the end of 2018, Interface Fluidics was able to land a $6 million Series A round in 2019. This Calgary based company is capitalizing on the push from the oil and gas ecosystem to find ways to improve efficiency while improving its impact on the surrounding environment. Interface Fluidics does this by leveraging technology from the biomedical industry and adapting it to the oil and gas sector.
The startup calls its nanotechnology platform a disruptive technology that helps operators increase oil recovery while reducing environmental impact. Its oil testing technology allows operators to analyze a variety of downhole chemicals, which helps to evaluate the viability of increasing oil recovery. With its recently acquired investment and the ongoing market demand, anticipate seeing large growth from Interface Fluidics in 2020 as it works to expand its capacity and delivery of services.
Taiv, a Conexus Venture Capital Fund portfolio company and one of the earliest stage companies on this list, launched a B2B software/hardware solution in 2019, which quickly picked up customers across the Prairie provinces. Through its platform, businesses within the service industry can automatically replace live TV commercials with in-house content to improve their atmosphere and promote their products.
Taiv’s founding team recently relocated to San Francisco to attend a prominent accelerator in the Valley, while the company continues to try and keep up with significant inbound orders, primarily from bars, restaurants, and car dealerships across North America. Being new to the market, and seeing the initial interest from the service industry for this technology, it’s expected we’ll hear and see a lot more of Taiv as it works to grow as a company.
In 2019, Plankk launched a new direct to consumer subscription service where fans can take fitness lessons from their favourite Instagram stars. This new app was launched after years of creating white-labelled fitness applications for the health and wellness spokesmodels that made Instagram famous. As more fitness trainers look to capitalize on their significant social media following, we can expect a big year in 2020 as Plankk creates interactive, digitally delivered classes.
The second company in the Conexus Venture Capital Fund portfolio on this list, SalonScale raised $1 million in 2019 to seed its smart technology-powered app helping salon owners and stylists. One of Saskatchewan’s fastest-growing startups led by an exceptional founder, Alicia Soulier, SalonScale provides a digital solution to track the cost of free pouring hair colour to hair salons.
Since financing, SalonScale has continued to grow its customer base around the world as it improves the financial well-being of hair salons. With wasted hair colouring products being one of the biggest costs among hair salons and challenges for hair salon owners and their stylists to account for, there is a significant greenspace opportunity for SalonScale to provide stability to a once volatile marketplace.
ZayZoon has taken a novel approach to financial wellness by focusing on working with corporate partners to help their employees manage cash flows. In 2019, ZayZoon raised $15 million to fuel its mission to improve employee health through the use of responsible financial products.
Initially, its product had been focused around providing a real-time salary for individuals based on the amount of time they had worked with their employer. While its current product of payroll advances, without the predatory costs that come with payday loans, fills a need in the marketplace, I’m excited to track ZayZoon’s progress over 2020 to harness its investment capital in exploring new ways to improve financial well-being through the guidance of the employer’s voice.
Launched in 2019 by Dan Belostotsky (OTTO Capital, Panache Ventures), HonestDoor is one of the newest entrants to helping create more transparency within the home buying process. As the first tech company in Canada to release real estate sold prices with machine learning,
HonestDoor is quickly picking up traction across the Prairies, having grown from Edmonton at the time of launch, to Calgary and Winnipeg. HonestDoor offers a free platform for homebuyers and sellers to see what the property is worth (the HonestDoor price) along with the underlying data points to back it up. A repeat founder taking on a massive industry generally points to a startup we should all be watching closely in 2020.
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