Seed and 'Series Eh' | The Sunday Briefing
"Administrative work is the fine print of a job description that no one wants to be doing." - Kris Hartvigsen, CEO of Dooly.ai
Good afternoon and welcome to the hundreds of new Vancouver Tech Journal subscribers reading this week. Today’s Sunday Briefing is 2,022 words, a 6 + ¾-minute read. Enjoy!
📰 The Front Page
Dooly, a Vancouver startup that uses AI to help sales professionals reduce the time they spend on administrative work, announced it raised $26 million to scale its platform.
The problem: Salespeople spend only 34 per cent of their day selling, resulting in lost revenue for the business they work for and loss of income for salespeople themselves.
Companies’ customer relationship management (CRM) tools don’t often align with the way salespeople operate—rapid note-taking, the need to quickly access critical information during a high-pressure calls, etc. Because of this, sales professionals, unfortunately, find themselves bogged down in busy work.
Dooly’s solution: They’re solving this problem through a connected workspace that aligns to salespeople’s workflows by taking the notes they input into their system and syncing them to key internal tools like Salesforce (CRM) and Slack (internal messaging). Just imagine a savvy artificial intelligence (AI) system that takes all the info you feed it and organizes it exactly where it belongs—and then surfaces it when you need it most. “We created a single pane of glass that’s incredibly user-friendly that allows salespeople to just interact with it,” Kris Hartvigsen, Dooly’s CEO, once explained. The company says they’ll use the new funding for talent and product development.
Bananatag, the Kelowna- and Vancouver-based provider of internal communications software, announced its merger with Germany’s Staffbase.
The new joint company will have 450 employees at 11 global locations and will serve 1,000 customers. Why the merger? Let’s look at the two companies:
Bananatag’s software enables companies to collaborate to design, distribute, and measure email communication, as well as send and schedule messages on Microsoft Teams and Slack.
Staffbase has built a mobile-first platform to help organizations reach their employees, no matter where they are, through an employee app and intranet.
1 plus 1 = 3: The new company aims to more fully connect workplaces through faster and easier-to-use integrated communication products and provide an end-to-end platform for employee communications. “Together with Staffbase, we’re realizing the vision of creating a one-stop-shop platform for internal communication,” says Bananatag co-founder and CTO Isaac Oslund.
Goodbye B.C. tech: As part of the merger, the new company will operate under the Staffbase brand. RIP ‘Bananatag’ :(
⏩ Quick Takes
In advance of International Women’s Day, check out this massive list of Canadian tech events, programs, and organizations supporting women’s initiatives.
Vancouver’s Buddybuild, which builds developer tools and was acquired by Apple in 2018, is only just now officially being shut down.
Holly Peck, the founder of Women Who Code Vancouver, believes there’s an emergence of people interested in building products and tools without a traditional computer science background, which may positively impact the progress on racial and gender diversity in tech.
Local media tech giant BroadbandTV announced annual revenue growth of 40% during their last quarter and record gross profits of $11.3 million.
📈 Pulse check: The health and biotech news keeping hearts racing.
The stock of Well Health Technologies, which offers virtual and in-person health services and electronic medical records storage, has increased sevenfold from $1.22 a share a year ago to more than $9 recently. Writer Michael McCullough asks Will Well Health Technologies’ big acquisition break the fever for its stock?
TraceSafe says its wearable 'tracing technology' is a cost-effective, comfortable solution for travellers who don't want to spend big bucks quarantining in a government-approved hotel. They’ve developed a wristband that enables doctors and hospital staff to track where infants are in a maternity ward, which could also be used for tracking people who have to quarantine because of COVID-19.
B.C.’s Eupraxia Pharmaceuticals Inc. will become the first Canadian biotech startup to go public solely on the Toronto Stock Exchange in nearly two decades. The company will raise between $41-million and $47-million, depending on whether or not the company’s underwriters exercise their option to buy shares at the offering price.
Precision NanoSystems (PNI) is working on a 40,000-square-foot facility, expected to be completed in March 2023, capable of producing up to 240 million vaccine doses. Since all Canadians will already have the COVID-19 vaccine by 2023, the facility will be used for “the production of both therapeutics and vaccines applied to cancer, infectious disease, rare diseases.…” says PNI CEO James Taylor.
🏦 Banknotes: Financial news to know.
PocketPills, a fast-growing online pharmacy, announced the close of $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by TELUS Ventures with follow-on participation from WaterBridge Ventures.
BC and Western Canada companies attracted a disproportionally large share of venture funding from USA/foreign investors with 75% and 63% respectively, according to a report from CPE Analytics. The top 11 cities with $100 million or more in VC funding were Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Kitchener, Quebec, Calgary, Edmonton, Mississauga, Burlington, Burnaby, and Ottawa, which collectively received $4.63 billion or 87% of the total disbursements in Canada.
Vancouver’s GenXys, a health tech company focused on pharmacogenetic enhanced prescribing automation software, announced the closing of an oversubscribed seed round at $3 million.
Raven Indigenous Capital Partners has closed a new $25 million CAD fund that aims to invest in innovative early and seed-stage Indigenous startups. The firm raised the Raven Indigenous Impact Capital Fund I from 38 investors across Canada and the U.S., including the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good.
B.C.’s government has bowed to pressure from business groups to extend the deadline for the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant past March to Aug 31. The government also changed eligibility, reducing the threshold of a 70 per cent revenue loss to just 30 percent—likely in response to the fact that only $55 million in grants had gone out to businesses out of the $345-million program.
📝 Views from the 604: The week’s sharpest ideas and opinions.
In Forbes, Ray Walia, CEO of Launch Ventures, asks, Are Your Business KPIs In Line With The Expectations Of Gen Z? “The way I see it, Gen Z’s embrace of societal change is forcing corporations to display their own social responsibility,” he writes.
Marius Adomnica, an esports and gaming lawyer at SEGEV LLP, explains what streamers and influencers are, how they make money, and why the CRA is asking questions. “The CRA is concerned that some streamers and influencers are not fully reporting their taxable income and therefore underpaying on their income taxes,” he writes.
Annika Lewis, an investor with Vanedge Capital, launched a newsletter/blog called The Sequel, and in her first post, “Data Maturity, Part 1", she explains why becoming a data-driven organization takes time and effort. “There’s no magic wand. 🧙♀️” she writes.
Cybele Negris, CEO of Webnames.ca, shares productivity tips for busy professionals in pandemic times. Among many ideas, she says, “Productivity is not the end goal but rather a means to achieving professional success and purposeful impact in all that we wish to accomplish.”
👩🏻💼 Personnel issues: People going places.
The BC Chamber of Commerce announced the appointment of Fiona Famulak as its new president and chief executive officer. Famulak, who will take over from interim president Dan Baxter, is a former president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association and CEO of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.
Edoardo De Martin, former General Manager of Microsoft’s Vancouver HQ, is joining CubicFarms, a B.C. ag-tech company, as Chief Technology Officer. De Martin joins during a period of momentum, as the Langley-based company's stock is up more than 300% over the past year.
Trulioo, the global identity verification company, announced the appointment of Hal Lonas as its Chief Technology Officer. Previously, Lonas was SVP and CTO at OpenText.
💼 Pole positions: Tech jobs that matter.
Want to see your posting here? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
😎 Pretty cool: What else is new and novel.
Postmates X, the robotics division of the on-demand delivery startup that Uber acquired last year, has officially spun out as an independent company called Serve Robotics with offices in Vancouver, San Francisco and LA. Serve Robotics will be run by Ali Kashani, a Vancouverite who graduated from UBC in 2021 with a PhD in Robotics and Computer Vision.
Lisa Shields and her company FISPAN landed the largest bank in the world, JPMorgan Chase, & Co., as a first customer. Shields used the lessons learned from building and selling another company, HyperWallet, to PayPal for $400 million, to create FISPAN, which helps banks turn their services into branded banking experiences embedded within ERP and accounting software used by commercial clients.
addy, a Vancouver startup that’s developed a tech platform that allows anyone to invest in real estate for as little as $1, was spotlighted in Western Investor as a way for Vancouverites—who are mostly frozen out of the market—to invest in real estate. addy works with partners to secure a property and then breaks its share into $1 allotments, which it sells to retail investors. “You can become a landlord without the land-lording,” says co-founder Stephen Jagger.
Intuitive AI was founded by SFU graduates Hassan Murad and Vivek Vyas to help solve the waste crisis, building an application called Oscar that uses AI to tell people which section of a receptacle to put their garbage and recycling in. COVID-19 forced them to pivot to create Oscar Hygiene, a workplace sanitization and wellness station that does touchless temperature readings and check-ins.
📅 Mark your calendar to match ours.
This Tuesday (March 9), on Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee, our weekly Clubhouse show, we welcome special guest Edoardo De Martin, newly-named CTO at CubicFarms and former GM of Microsoft Vancouver.
You’re also invited to join or follow the Vancouver Tech club on Clubhouse. Just download the app and search ‘Vancouver Tech’ under clubs.
March 10, 11:00pm to 12:00pm: BC Tech Association’s #WhatWorks—Team Resilience: Culture is the Glue featuring Miranda Alldritt (Copperleaf), Jennifer Carreiro (SAP), and Josh Nilson (East Side Games) in a conversation moderated by me (William Johnson).
‼️ Double take: In case you missed these stories.
⌛ That’s it. Until next week…
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