This week, Elevate Toronto connected the local tech community to explore how Canada can take advantage of its moment on the global tech stage.
Part of that — as Toronto Mayor John Tory said on the Main Stage Tuesday — is telling the story of Canadian success to the world. While Elevate celebrates Canada’s winners through the Spotlight Awards — which honour companies with a $100 million CAD exit, or a $1 billion CAD valuation/exit — BetaKit is doing its part to highlight companies we feel are on the path to being eventual Spotlight Awards winners.
In choosing the BetaKit Spotlight selectees, we kept in mind one of Elevate Toronto’s core values: “diversity is our strength.” As the Spotlight Awards only feature companies that reach significant financial milestones (one of the reasons why we like it), they under-index the current diversity of the Canadian tech community (a gap we and the organizers both recognize). This year’s BetaKit Spotlight selections are focused on reflecting more than company stage of development at the Spotlight Awards.
Here are the selectees – both early and later stage — that we foresee taking a Spotlight Award one day. Each selectee receives access to tonight’s awards gala, giving the founders an opportunity to build their networks and continue a trajectory towards becoming a future centurion or unicorn company.
Who: Kerry Liu, founder and CEO
What: Rubikloud allows retailers to migrate legacy data to a cloud infrastructure for insights.
Why: The company is working to modernize a highly disrupted industry, and has lofty goals to get to $100 million in revenue in the next five years.
“We’re thrilled to be among this group of notable startups. Toronto has an opportunity to win the global AI race. To do so, it’s important to start asking ourselves what the use cases will be, and driving as fast as possible towards commercializing these use cases.”
– Kerry Liu, founder & CEO of Rubikloud
Who: Carol Leaman, founder, president, and CEO
What: Axonify‘s employee training platform uses a “microlearning” approach to deliver content to employees.
Why: Said one investor: “If Carol invented a new paperclip, I would invest in it.” Having recently raised $36 million, Axonify was also listed 25th on the PROFIT 500 list of fastest-growing companies.
“Axonify is thrilled to be recognized as part of the BetaKit Spotlight. It’s fantastic to see the Canadian tech community celebrating its successes, and we’re humbled to make the list alongside so many great companies.”
– Carol Leaman, founder and CEO of Axonify
Who: Eva Wong, co-founder and COO; Salim Naran, co-founder and CTO; Andrew Graham, co-founder and CEO
What: Borrowell is a lending platform that also offers personalized financial insights for users.
Why: Recently raised $57 million from Portag3, and partnered with CIBC to offer free credit scores. Some FinTech’s are talking about corporate partnerships, Borrowell is doing it.
“We’re proud to be included in the official selection of the BetaKit Spotlight alongside a group of great companies. The tech community in Toronto is going from strength to strength—we all have a lot to celebrate.”
– Andrew Graham, co-founder and CEO
Who: Roy Pereira, founder and CEO
What: Zoom.ai develops a virtual assistant for enterprises, which automates administrative tasks.
Why: AI is hot right now and so is Zoom. Recently closed $2.1 million in funding, and received $100,000 from OpenText at its Enterprise World Pitch Contest.
“The Zoom.ai team is thrilled to be selected as one of the BetaKit Spotlight companies. This recognition is a validation of our vision to enhance every employee’s experience in the modern enterprise. It is an honour to be among some of the exciting new startups coming out of our great country, and we’re looking forward to what the future holds for Zoom.ai and the future of AI in Canada.
– Roy Pereira, CEO and founder
Who: Tariq Fancy, CEO
What: Rumie provides free digital education to underserved communities through low-cost tablets.
Why: While technically a non-profit, Rumie has taken up causes like educating Syrian students in refugee camps, and received $750,000 from Google’s Impact Challenge. Rumie also took the $20,000 top prize at Elevate Toronto’s Elevate-R pitch competition.
“We’re honoured to be recognized in such great company. While we’re still early in our mission to bring the free digital learning revolution online to the parts of the world that are still offline and under-served, we think this global books-to-bytes revolution will eventually be transformational. And we hope to inspire more social innovators to apply creative new approaches to addressing humanity’s biggest challenges.”
– Tariq Fancy, founder of Rumie
Who: Nicole Verkindt, founder and president
What: OMX is a procurement and compliance platform for enterprises working with government contracts.
Why: Founder Nicole Verkindt is disrupting an “unsexy,” male-dominated industry. OMX recently received a $3.8 million vote of confidence from Lockheed Martin as it eyes international expansion.
“Thank you to the team at BetaKit for recognizing OMX for the Spotlight Awards. The Toronto tech community wouldn’t be the same without BetaKit, they have a tremendous way of bringing people together. I am looking forward to celebrating this week!”
– Nicole Verkindt, founder and CEO of OMX
Who: Chakameh Shafii, co-founder and CEO
What: TranQool‘s platform allows users to connect with registered therapists online, and at a lower cost.
Why: TranQool is focusing on a space that is especially pertinent in the tech industry, where mental health issues often go unaddressed. The company is also committed to ensuring that all people have access to the resources they need to get help.
“We are so honoured and thankful for being considered to be part of this group of incredible companies. Thank you to BetaKit and Spotlight Awards for recognizing TranQool and our team.”
– Chakameh Shafii, founder of TranQool
Who: Lindsey Goodchild, founder and CEO; Dessy Daskalov, co-founder and CTO; Jordan Ekers, co-founder and CCO
What: Nudge Rewards is an employee app designed to help brands engage and reward frontline managers and employees to improve team performance.
Why: The company has raised $2.1 million to date, and boasts clients like Rogers Communications, Golf Town, and Compass Group. Nudge is a C100 48Hrs in the Valley alumni, and took home a People’s Choice Award at CXI.
“It’s a tremendous feeling to be recognized as one of Canada’s top emerging tech companies. Not that long ago, we were a team of three with an idea on how to revolutionize communication in the non-desk workforce. Today, Nudge is working with some of the world’s largest, and most recognized brands. There is much to celebrate at the awards on Thursday!”
– Lindsey Goodchild, CEO of Nudge Rewards
Who: Huda Idrees, CEO
What: Dot Health is building a platform that allows patients to access their health data in one place, while also keeping an eye on trends in their health.
Why: A former product designer at Wave and CPO of Wealthsimple, Idrees decided to bring her passion for healthcare to her venture. Idrees is also outspoken on the issue of diversity in the tech industry.
“Dot Health has taken on the monstrous task of making personal healthcare data securely accessible. The support from the community, including this recognition from BetaKit, has been incredible. Thank you!”
– Huda Idrees, founder and CEO of Dot Health