11 Canadian tech companies to watch in 2018

Kevin Sandhu GROW

For the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to share my thoughts about some amazing Canadian technology companies that were, in my opinion, ready to make headlines over the coming year. The great part about most predictions is that people tend to forget about them by the time your prognostication should have matured. My friends at BetaKit, however, never let me off that easy. You can read my assessment of prior year’s predictions here to see how my crystal ball stacked up.

For 2018, as always, I struggled to whittle my list down to just eleven names to focus on. By no means are these the only eleven companies to watch out for this year, but here are some names I’m looking forward to watching and cheering on this year.
 


 

Article

Website www.article.com
Headquarters Vancouver
Year founded 2011
Capital raised N/A
Key People
  • Aamir Baig, CEO and co-founder
  • Fraser Hall, co-founder
  • Andy Prochazka, co-founder
  • Sam Prochazka, co-founder
Notable
  • Expecting to exceed $200 million in revenue for 2018
  • Profitable, with very little equity financing raised to date
  • No IPO plans yet, but things could change quickly at this pace

Article is proving that software engineers can sell furniture too — a lot of it, in fact! The company was generating over $120 million in annual revenue in 2017, and expects to crack $50 million in quarterly revenue in 2018. Amazingly, the company has managed to reach these astounding heights while raising relatively little capital and generating a profit from early days. While the company does not appear to be aiming to IPO anytime soon, Article’s revenue would likely rank amongst the top ten Canadian tech companies if they were public.
 


 

Buddybuild

Website www.buddybuild.com
Headquarters Vancouver
Year founded 2015
Capital raised $11 million
Key people
  • Dennis Pilarinos, CEO & co-founder
  • Christopher Stott, co-founder
  • Johnny Shi, co-founder
Notable
  • Sold to Apple but staying in Vancouver (“a hotbed of developer and engineering talent” in the company’s words)
  • Will serve as an anchor for Apple’s presence in Canada

In spite of the milestone sale, Buddybuild insists on remaining firmly rooted in Canada and serving as a anchor for Apple’s presence north of the border.
 

This prediction is a bit late since Buddybuild recently dropped a bombshell announcement that they’ve caught tech behemoth Apple’s attention, who has acquired the startup and will be rolling the team into Apple’s Xcode group. A mobile developer’s best friend, Buddybuild ties together continuous integration, continuous delivery and an iterative feedback solution into a single, seamless platform for mobile developers. In spite of the milestone sale, Buddybuild insists on remaining firmly rooted in Canada and serving as an anchor for Apple’s presence north of the border.
 


 

CareGuide

Website www.careguide.com
Headquarters Toronto
Year founded 2012
Capital raised $5 million
Key people
  • John Philip Green, founder and CEO
Notable
  • As a sign of their ambition to consolidate this growing industry, CareGuide acquired competitor CanadianNanny
  • Continue to expand into supporting services such as payroll and tax services, with an eye for further acquisitions in the future

Founder John Philip Green describes his role at CareGuide as “Chief Executive Dad,” which probably gives you a good sense about what this company is about: helping families care for loved ones in order to cherish what’s important. The company operates with a simple and noble mission — to pair families and individuals with great care providers. In spite of a long string of success with that mission, the company continues to expand into supporting services such as payroll and tax services, with an eye for further acquisitions in the future.
 


 
deep genomics

Deep Genomics

Website www.deepgenomics.com
Headquarters Toronto
Year founded 2014
Capital raised $21 million
Key people
  • Brendan Frey, CEO & co-founder
  • Andrew Delong, co-founder
  • Hui Yuan Xiong, co-founder
  • Hannes Bretschneider, co-founder
Notable
  • Huge financing in September 2017, led by Khosla Ventures
  • Plan to double team size in 2018

Deep Genomics is using artificial intelligence to build a new universe of life-saving genetic therapies — doesn’t get much more impressive than that! The company believes that the future of medicine will rely on AI, because “biology is too complex for humans to understand” (I think I tried that line on my high school science teacher once or twice too).
 


 

Element AI

Website www.elementai.com
Headquarters Montreal
Year founded 2016
Capital raised $137.5 million
Key people
  • Yoshua Bengio, co-founder
  • Jean-Francois Gagné, co-founder and CEO
Notable
  • Launched a $45M USD Global AI fund with three of the biggest organizations in South Korea (SK Telecom, Hyundai Motor Company, and Hanwha)
  • Linda Bernardi, former chief innovation officer at IBM, recently joined as Chief Product and Strategy Officer

Element AI describes itself as an “AI-as-a-Service” provider, giving organizations unparalleled access to cutting-edge technology related to artificial intelligence. In other words, bringing world-class AI capabilities to businesses and other organizations hoping to harness one of the most significant technology trends taking place right now. Fresh off a gargantuan financing, backed by some very notable investors, Element AI is certainly doing its fair share to keep Canada at the frontier of AI research and development.
 


 
finn.ai

Finn.ai

Website www.finn.ai
Headquarters Vancouver
Year founded 2014
Capital raised $3+ million
Key People
  • Jake Tyler, CEO & co-founder
  • Natalie Cartwright, COO & co-founder
  • Guru Atlu, CTO & co-founder
Notable

Think Siri for your bank. We’ll all be able to benefit from a personal banker in each of our pockets if Finn.ai has their way with banking. Applying the power of artificial intelligence to your day-to-day banking, and fresh off the heels of a $3 million financing, Finn.ai is already working with banks and financial institutions across the world and looking to change the way you interact with your bank sooner than later.
 


 

Kindred

Website www.kindred.ai
Headquarters San Francisco and Toronto
Year founded 2014
Capital raised $44 million
Key people
  • Geordie Rose, co-founder
  • Suzanne Gildert, co-founder
  • Jim Liefer, CEO and President
  • George Babu, co-founder and head of product
Notable
  • Geordie Rose, Kindred’s original co-founder, is also the founder and former CTO of D-Wave Systems, a vanguard of quantum computing
  • Raised over $35 million in 2017 and launched a pilot program with major retail brand names

Taking a different approach to leveraging the power of AI than we’re used to seeing in recent headlines, Kindred launched with the central thesis that intelligence requires a body, whether that intelligence is human or artificial. The company is engineering systems that enable robots to understand and participate in the real world, with the goal of enabling a future where intelligent machines physically work together with people. Cue the Skynet jokes.
 
The company’s first product, Kindred Sort, was developed for use in retail distribution and ecommerce fulfillment centres to sort products into orders, side by side with warehouse staff. Earlier this year, Rose and Gildert announced they are spinning off Kindred’s product and artificial general intelligence (AGI) division. The AGI division was specifically spun off into an entity called Sanctuary, based in Vancouver. Rose is CEO of Sanctuary, while Gildert acts as co-CEO.


 
dax dasilva

Lightspeed

Website www.lightspeedhq.com
Headquarters Montreal
Year founded 2005
Capital raised $366 million
Key people
  • Dax Dasilva, CEO & founder
Notable
  • Raised over $207 million in October 2017 and prepping for an IPO potentially in 2019
  • Could be this be the next biggest Canadian tech IPO since Shopify?

Lightspeed provides POS and ecommerce solutions for retailers and restaurateurs to manage their businesses, serving over 50,000 businesses globally. The company recently closed an enormous $207 million financing as it expands internationally, and is preparing for an IPO as early as 2019.
 


 

Sensibill

Website www.getsensibill.com
Headquarters Toronto
Year founded 2013
Capital raised $20 million
Key people
  • Corey Gross, CEO & co-founder
  • Jamie Alexander, CTO & co-founder
Notable
  • Recently raised over $17 million in Series A financing
  • With Canadian and global customers already in place, the company plans to expand sales in the US, the UK, and Australia

Receipts… no one likes dealing with them and we can’t wait to throw them away. But what about when you need to exercise the warranty on that blender you bought last year? Or return the sweater you bought in the wrong size? What if you just want to know how much you’re spending on avocados every month? Sensibill works with banks across the world to make it easy for people to manage their itemized receipts right through their banking app, where it’s always handy.
 


 

Thinkific

Website www.thinkific.com
Headquarters Vancouver
Year founded 2012
Capital raised N/A
Key people
  • Greg Smith, CEO & co-founder
  • Matt Smith, CTO & co-founder
Notable
  • Online education is a large and rapidly expanding market, with Thinkific taking more than their fair share of that growth — from humble beginnings in 2012, Thinkific now has a team of over 70 strong and continues to grow quickly.

Online education is a booming industry and two brothers, Greg and Matt Smith, set out to build a company that takes away the pains of running an online teaching business, so instructors can focus on what they do best: teaching great courses. Thinkific helps anyone offer online courses directly on their own website, helping democratize the world of education.
 


 

tulip retail

Tulip

Website www.tulip.com
Headquarters Toronto
Year founded 2013
Capital raised $50 million
Key people
  • Ali Asaria, CEO & founder
Notable
  • Recently closed huge $50 million equity financing, led by legendary venture investor Kleiner Perkins
  • Founder Ali Asaria previously founded Well.ca, which recently sold to McKesson Canada

Bucking the trend of focusing exclusively on ecommerce transactions, Tulip is concerned with improving in-store retail experiences through cutting edge technology. The company offers a mobile app platform built exclusively for in-store associates to offer a world-class omnichannel experience. Given serial entrepreneur and founder Ali Asaria’s track record, Tulip appears to be well positioned to make a big impact in the world of retail.

Related: 10 Montreal tech companies to watch in 2018

Kevin Sandhu

Kevin Sandhu

Founder and CEO of @PoweredByGrow, a Canadian FinTech company that is improving people’s financial wellbeing using technology and data. Also an occasional road cyclist, amateur cook and general misfit.