Today in company updates: Finaeo, BuildDirect, Mogo, Wattpad

This week, several Canadian startups have made announcements, launching new features, partnerships, and more. Here’s the latest on Canada’s movers and shakers.

Finaeo beta launches digital assistance platform for insurance advisors

Toronto-based Finaeo has announced the beta launch of its digital assistance platform for insurance advisors.

Finaeo said the platform provides insurance advisors with an AI-enabled digital assistant and sales coach informing advisors of upsell and cross-sell opportunities. The platform tracks data like target loss ratios and the number of meetings it takes to secure a prospective client, while also automating back office administration. The goal is to help advisors save time, improve relationships with clients, and run their businesses more efficiently.

“We believe the future of insurance advisors is the hybrid bionic advisor: blending robo-advice, AI capabilities, and the necessary human touch,” said Aly Dhalla, co-founder and CEO of Finaeo. “Insurance advisors are here to stay, but they will need to evolve to stay relevant. “Aadvisors are in the arms-race to become bionic. Up against them are robo-advisors, democratised product access, and generational mindset shift. Unfortunately, advisors have been ignored by tech companies. This keeps them underperforming, mired in back-office administration, and struggling to build the authentic relationships they need to keep clients happy.”

BuildDirect opens up platform for home delivery of heavyweight goods

Home improvement product marketplace BuildDirect announced its launch of BuildDirect Gateway, which the company calls the home improvement industry’s first open platform for heavyweight goods.

BuildDirect Gateway opens up the company’s platform beyond its own sellers, and allows any third party to access its network of warehousing services and ground and ocean logistics, from the point of manufacturing to end deliveries. The Vancouver-based company said the platform offers options for “delivering heavyweight products from anywhere in the world to homes across North Amereica.”

Gateway’s features include allowing customers to choose how they’d like their products delivered and provide feedback on their experiences, predictive analytics that show suppliers where demand for their products are, and flexibility for global distributors and manufacturers to enter the North American market.

“The system for shipping heavyweight products has always been complex and overly fragmented, which is why it has taken BuildDirect more than 15 years to completely reinvent it,” said Jeff Booth, BuildDirect’s co-founder, president, and CEO. “Our global supply chain platform and its scope of services has been rigorously refined by managing imports and exports across 35 plus countries. We now have a proven supply chain that can scale to successfully fulfill rising delivery demands, and our hope is that everyone in the industry will benefit from the open platform.”

Since recieving a $50 million investment from BDC Capital, OMERS Ventures, and others in 2014, BuildDirect has established itself as a a go-to ecommerce platform for home improvement products.

In 2015, BuildDirect acquired DraftingSPACE, an online platform that creates customized options for home revonation, and last year, it added a clean energy division to its marketplace.

Mogo launches digital Mogo spending account to control Canadian consumer debt

Vancouver-based FinTech company Mogo has announced the launch of the digital Mogo Spending Account, a new product designed to help users monitor and control their spending.

Mogo said the digital spending account comes with a Platinum Prepaid Visa card, and can be opened for free in less than three minutes through Mogo’s iOS mobile app. Users can transfer funds from most Canadian banks into the spending account so they can manage, monitor, and control their spending. The company said the account does not require payment of monthly account fees, overdraft fees, or interest charges.

The digital spending account is the fourth product in Mogo’s lineup of financial solutions, including free monthly credit scoring, MogoMortgage, which gamifies the process of managing mortgages; and personal loans. In June 2015, the company raised $50 million after completing its IPO.

“We’re always looking for ways to offer products that save consumers money so we’re excited to provide this product to customers for free with no monthly fee while Mogo earns the interchange revenue on transactions,” said Greg Feller, president and CFO of Mogo. “Moreover, this product is a low-hurdle way for Canadians to add Mogo to their financial wallet and immediately get value and utility they are not getting from their current financial institution. Over time, as we continue to introduce new products and earn the trust of our members, our expectation is we will gain an increasing share of their financial wallet.”

Wattpad launches Tap, a new form of storytelling

Toronto-based storytelling platform Wattpad has announced the launch of a new feature: Tap by Wattpad.

According to a Facebook post by Wattpad CEO Allen Lau, Tap is an app designed to give Wattpad users access to a new form of entertainment. On Tap, users can read and share interactive chat-style stories, and it appears as though they are reading someone else’s texts. With each tap, readers can view how a conversation between characters progresses.

Wattpad is launching Tap just three months after celebrating its 10th birthday.

Last year, the company began its focus on entering the entertainment industry with the launch of Wattpad studios, which focuses on partnering with the entertainment industry to turn Wattpad stories into films and television shows. Since then, Wattpad has launched partnerships with networks like Turner and NBC Universal.

“Two months into our second decade, I am super excited to announce the first of our many new forms of entertainment: Tap by Wattpad,” Lau says in his post. “Tap is a new app that immerses people in addictive chat-style stories. Tap builds on what we know well at Wattpad…that when it comes to storytelling, everyone wants to participate.”

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.