As Collision kicks off, four Canadian tech startups unveil new funding

The Heylist team. From left to right: Chief Experience Officer and Co-founder Nicolas LeBlanc, CEO and Co-founder Vicky Boudreau, and CTO and co-founder Alexandre Borgia.
Heylist, Vosyn, Pok Pok, and Ability Biologics have all raised fresh capital.

The presumed final Collision conference in Toronto officially kicked off today, prompting multiple Canadian tech startups from seed to Series A to announce new funding. 

Today’s collection of announcements came from Montréal-based startups Heylist and Ability Biologics. Toronto-based startups Vosyn and Pok Pok also announced new rounds.

Founded in 2022 by CEO Vicky Boudreau, chief experience officer Nicolas LeBlanc, and CTO Alexandre Borgia, Heylist operates a marketplace that helps connect “nano-influencers,” social media users with very high engagement rates but less than 10,000 followers, to brands and agencies. 

The startup used Collision as an opportunity to announce it had secured $1.6 million in its first-ever funding round, which was led by Accelia Capital with participation from The51, Anges Québec, and the Québec government through the Impulsion PME program. 

Boudreau said the company is proud to have the support of Accelia and The51, which support women in tech, as Heylist’s team is made up of 70 percent women. 

Heylist said the funding will go towards developing its product and supporting sales growth in Canada and the United States (US), where it will benefit from the networks of its strategic angel investors in its target markets across Canada and the US.

Vosyn, founded by CEO Brian Armstrong and president Andil Houlder in 2023,  leveraged its Collision presence to announce it has secured $2.2 million of a targeted $8-million seed round. The startup aims to use its artificial intelligence (AI) models to provide real-time language translation across video, audio, text, and applications. 

Vosyn said it had previously secured a $2-million pre-seed round, and that it’s looking to perform an initial public offering in 2025. 

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Meanwhile, outside of the conference itself, drug-discovery startup Ability Biologics announced it closed a seed funding extension, bringing its seed raise up to a total of $18 million USD ($24.7 million CAD). Ability came out of stealth in December with $12 million USD in backing for its AbiLeap discovery engine, which uses generative AI to discover and develop antibody therapeutics for cancer and immune-system disorders. 

Ability is backed by founding investor Amplitude Ventures, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Investissement Québec, Charles River Laboratories, Theodorus, and Alexandria Venture Investments. 

“Ability’s proprietary platform stands out as an intelligent way of rapidly developing selective and potent, ultra-targeted biotherapeutics to enhance potency and patient outcomes,” Amplitude partner and co-founder Dion Madsen said in a statement. 

Finally, EdTech startup Pok Pok secured $6 million in Series A funding led by Adjacent with participation from Konvoy Ventures, MetaLab Ventures, and Banana Capital. Notable angel investors also participated in the round, including Michelle Kennedy, the founder of women-centric social app Peanut, and Instacart co-founder Brandon Leonardo. 

RELATED: Snowman gaming studio spinout Pok Pok closes $3.9 million CAD to help kids learn through play

Co-founder Melissa Cash told BetaKit that Pok Pok set aside part of the round for a second close led by women, which inspired ex-BDC partner Julie McGill to launch her own “Julie Change” fund to invest in women-led startups at Series A and beyond.

“Pok Pok is the catalyst for starting a fund I have been thinking about for years—this fund is my commitment to breaking barriers women face in accessing, driving and accumulating capital,” McGill said in a statement. “We are thrilled to partner with Pok Pok, a company that excels at driving capital efficient growth, led by two amazing women.”

Pok Pok said the funding will be used to release its app for Android devices, which has a waitlist of “thousands of families,” according to Cash. Pok Pok will also use the capital to introduce a STEM-based product expansion that will help children build on fundamental early classroom skills for math, chemistry, physics, biology and more.

Led by a pair of mothers, Pok Pok was spun out of Toronto gaming studio Snowman as a play-based learning mobile game for kids aged two to six. The startup previously secured $3.9 million CAD ($3 million USD) in seed funding from gaming-focused VCs in June 2022 in order to ramp up its sales and marketing efforts. It is backed by the likes of Tiny Capital and Lightspeed founder Dax Dasilva. 

Feature image courtesy Heylist.

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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