This startup 4X'd its VC funding in 4 months | The Sunday Briefing
"FOMO is probably at play but the market is changing as we are not the only Vancouver startup closing two consecutive rounds in such a short period,” said its CEO.
Hello and happy weekend. There will be no long introduction from me this morning because we have a ton of stories to get through and I don’t want this email to get clipped in your inbox. So let’s just get into it!
Welcome to the new subscribers reading this Sunday. I invite you to stay connected with us all week, on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and in the 1,400-member Vancouver Tech club on the Clubhouse app.
In this week’s Briefing, I’m excited to highlight a Vancouver startup that quadrupled its VC funding in just four months, an in-depth feature on BC’s new generation of hydrogen technology companies and the AR firm partnering with one of Brazil’s biggest futebol clubs, among 28 (!) other stories.
Today’s Briefing is 2,160 words, a 6 + 1/2-minute read. Enjoy!
💰 From $2M to $8M in funding in four months for Visualping
Visualping is a Vancouver startup that’s developed a tool that people use to track changes to websites. The six-year-old service was founded by Serge Salager, a serial entrepreneur and former investor. The service garnered significant attention earlier this year as people used it to track COVID vaccine appointment openings online. At the time, more than 60,000 people from across the US were using it for that express purpose.
In March, the startup raised $2 million in a seed round led by Mistral Ventures and N49P. Last week, just four months later, it disclosed that it raised a $6 million extension, led by Seattle’s FUSE Ventures.
“It took me six months to do the first round,” said Salager. “And this second one, investors came knocking on the door, so it was an interesting flip of the situation. FOMO is probably at play but the market is changing as we are not the only Vancouver startup closing two consecutive rounds in such a short period.”
⚡ Post Ballard: Inside BC’s new generation of hydrogen technology companies
Two weeks ago, BC became the first province to release a comprehensive hydrogen strategy, and on the heels of that announcement, Vancouver Tech Journal explored how BC tech companies are harnessing hydrogen in the race towards net zero emissions.
We spoke with some of the space's leading innovators, including Ballard Power Systems, the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA), Hydra Energy, Ionomr Innovations Inc, Ekona Power, and Loop Energy Inc., as well as BC's Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, Bruce Ralston.
“Hundreds of countries, thousands of companies have made commitments to net zero, and that changes everything... But you can’t get to 100 percent net zero without having hydrogen as part of that mix,” says CHFCA CEO Mark Kirby.
To read about the BC technology companies working to deliver key pieces of the hydrogen puzzle, read our in-depth report:
Vancouver’s Imagine AR Inc., a local leader in the VR/AR space, has joined forces with one of Brazil’s most noteworthy soccer teams, Clube Atlético Mineiro.
Through the partnership, Imagine AR has developed AR representations of Clube Atlético Mineiro players via the team’s app. After a July 9 launch, the team saw over 12,000 views and interactions within 24 hours and a 3000% increase in registration over the weekend. The campaign was nicknamed Galo which is Portuguese for rooster, the team’s mascot.
⏩ Quick takes.
Tech leaders—including the heads of AbCellera, Copperleaf and Beanworks—featured prominently among EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year awards pacific program awardees list.
In the most recent CBRE Scoring Tech Talent report, Vancouver ranked #11, the 3rd highest-ranked Canadian city, among the 50 top tech markets analyzed.
Vancouver wearable safety tech company Tracesafe Inc. has been providing wearable health and safety technology for the Calgary Stampede.
The Vancouver-based League of Innovators is partnering with the Black Entrepreneurs and Businesses of Canada Society on a 12-week virtual course for young Black prospective business owners.
BC’s new Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy will launch this fall with $105 million from the Government of BC, Government of Canada and Shell Canada—each committing up to $35 million.
💵 Funding and deals.
Vancouver space tech startup Alpha, which develops synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, announced that it’s been awarded a contract by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) valued at over $1.7 million.
This contract follows Alpha’s seed investment in early 2021, led by Prime Movers Lab, and a recent customer contract for over $4 million USD. ➝ Get the full story.
Vancouver-based BBTV Holdings Inc. announced its NFT Division has made a $250,000 USD minority investment into Nifty's, Inc, a social NFT platform dedicated to bringing digital collectibles to mainstream audiences.
The move follows the launch of BBTV's NFT division in May of this year and coincides with the launch of Nifty’s platform, backed by investments from other notable investors including Vancouver’s Dapper Labs, as well as Ethereal Ventures, Draper Dragon Fund, Polychain Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Samsung Next, Tally Capital, Liberty City Ventures and Future Positive. ➝ Get the full story.
Vancouver catering platform Foodee announced that it’s been acquired by Sodexo, a global food services and management company.
The acquisition comes almost a year after Foodee made an acquisition of its own of Chewse, a leading office catering company servicing the San Francisco Bay Area, Austin and Chicago. At the time, the company also announced a raise of $13 million in equity and debt led by BDC Capital and a major Canadian bank. ➝ Get the full story.
7 Generation Capital, a Vancouver startup working to enable the adoption of electric vehicles through turnkey fleet electrification projects, recently received a $20 million endorsement for its vision from Spring Lake Capital.
Spring Lane Capital is a private equity firm focused on providing project capital for sustainability solutions in the energy, food, water and waste industries. The equity investment in 7Gen is meant to drive the development of commercial EV charging infrastructure throughout Vancouver and Canada. ➝ Get the full story.
Vancouver’s Ollie Order, which helps independent breweries and wineries sell their products, has been acquired by North Carolina-based Next Glass.
“Next Glass offers a software solution to the global alcoholic beverage industry, and plans to merge Oznr, its craft beverage marketplace platform, with Ollie’s software,” reported Josh Scott. The company declined to reveal the acquisition price, but said its investors “all did very well” in the exit.
🗞️ You should also know that…
Ionomr Innovations was announced as a top 10 finalist and participant in Amazon’s inaugural AWS Clean Energy Accelerator program.
Women’s Equity Lab (WEL), Canada’s first all-female angel fund is expanding across North America to Toronto, Winnipeg and Silicon Valley.
GetintheLoop, a Vancouver shopping platform, is expanding to the United States through a partnership with BenefitHub, an employee lifestyle benefits company with 17 million global members.
👩💼 Tech jobs that matter.
Visualping is hiring for 10+ positions, including:
Learn more at visualping.io/careers.
💡 Ideas and insights.
Cubic Farms CEO Dave Dinesen says, ’As a CEO, I’m embracing neurodiversity at work, starting with my son.’
“I’ve seen firsthand from working with my son that hiring people with a wide range of interests and abilities is not just a nice thing to do. It’s a competitive advantage that can lift up the individuals involved and the company as a whole,” he writes.
Kathleen Reid, the founder of Switchboard PR, who battles Stargardt disease, shared ‘How Tech Transformed My Life And My Business.’
“Tech’s role in transforming my own life was at least part of the reason my company, Switchboard Public Relations, shifted its focus to collaborate with innovators and leaders who are working to create positive change in the world by developing groundbreaking solutions to big problems,” she writes.
A Q&A with Foresight Cleantech Accelerator CEO Jeanette Jackson, who also serves as an Executive in Residence at the organization.
“As a serial entrepreneur who had exited my second company, I wanted to get back into climate and sustainability where my passion lies,” she says. “I saw the EIR role with Foresight as an opportunity to work with many dynamic entrepreneurs and innovators supporting cleantech across several industries. I loved helping ventures work through challenges and seize opportunities, leveraging my network and connections to help them launch, commercialize, and scale quickly.”
Traction on Demand CEO Greg Malpass says unused community spaces should be part of the hybrid office.
“Companies should partner with small businesses that are underutilized during the day, like restaurants, micro-breweries, and event halls, and use them as local coworking hubs for employees,” he writes.
‘Here’s What You Need to Know About Growing an Ecosystem’ according to Erik Ashdown, Head of Ecosystem Growth at Vancouver’s Covalent.
“The foundational pieces of an ecosystem starts with getting the right people. For example, the Web 3 space works differently than Web 2. There are terms and job titles in crypto that don’t generally apply to the outside world until you get to a certain scale. For instance, a crypto community manager or an ecosystem lead are titles only heard in the blockchain ecosystem. In the traditional world, it might be strategy or business development. Once you find these people, the objective needs to be – to keep everyone happy.”
Jill Tipping, CEO of BC Tech Association, and Eleena Marley, CEO of Vancouver Economic Commission, believe ‘Canada needs better economic data to inform 21st-century decision-making.’
“…we have no reliable mechanism to capture the value of our service exports, including software, much of which is sold as a service (SaaS) these days. That might not matter if services were a small part of our economy, but they represent 75 percent of B.C.’s gross domestic product and 80 percent of its jobs,” they write.
“Visier’s data indicates at the current rate, it will take more than 25 years for underrepresented groups to reach pay parity with their white counterparts. It will take 78 years for Black employees to do the same. This is not just, or fair. We must do better,” he writes.
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👔 People going places.
Ravi Kahlon, BC Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, announced three new board members for crown agency Innovate BC: Edoardo De Martin, CTO of CubicFarms, Jameel Sayani, Managing Partner at MNP, and Emilie de Rosenroll, CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership.
Neil Berkley has joined biotech giant AbCellera as chief business officer.
Gajesh Naik, the founder of PolyGaj, is joining Vancouver’s Covalent as an Alchemist Ambassador.
🎧 A/V: Watch & Listen
Brittany Hull, vice president of marketing at Earth's Own Food Company, joined the What's Working in Marketing podcast by RightMetric to discuss her views on innovation and how marketers can properly utilize this tactic within their digital strategy.
Kim Kaplan, founder and CEO of Snack, joined Chris Hobbs on the AfternoonT podcast to discuss disrupting the dating industry and being a video-first app that caters to Gen Z.
Clio CEO Jack Newton joined the Digital Digital podcast to discuss Transforming the Legal Industry.
Quietly CEO Sean Tyson joined the Marketing News Canada podcast to discuss advertising strategy and thinking with an editorial mindset.
📅 Upcoming events.
This Tuesday, July 20 morning: Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee IN REAL LIFE. Readers are welcome to join Vancouver Tech Journal editor William Johnson and Rise/Collision co-host Casey Lau, as well as other Morning Coffee regulars at Vancouver’s Birds and The Beets cafe between 8am-9am. Feel free to join us—responsibly distanced—at outside tables to chat all things Vancouver tech.
Wednesday, July 21 afternoon: #CanStartupStories: Celebrating Black Entrepreneurs. Five black innovators will share their personal journey, collective knowledge and entrepreneurial lessons learned. Register now.