Farm payroll startup Labora wins SFU entrepreneurship competition

Labora's founders

Surrey, British Columbia-based FinTech startup Labora has taken home the top prize at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) 10th annual Venture Prize competition, coming away with a $35,000 prize package.

The awards were announced on April 21 during an online ceremony. For the second year in a row, the competition, which was sponsored by BC credit union Coast Capital Savings, was held virtually. According to SFU, this year, the competition saw a 35 percent increase in applications compared to 2020.

According to SFU, this year, the competition saw a 35 percent increase in applications compared to 2020.

Labora offers a digital payroll service for seasonal agricultural workers and farmers. The startup provides simple, automated payroll transfers, allowing workers to send remittances back home more easily by giving them a “safe, convenient alternative to travelling to a physical bank.”

Founded by a group of former SFU MBA students, Rene Blanco, Jaspal Brar, and Ryan Klatt, Labora initially secured the Venture Prize competition’s Top Idea Prize in 2019, before joining Venture Connection, SFU’s incubator program.

This year, after competing in two rounds of pitches, the startup brought home the Top Venture Prize. Blanco said Labora plans to invest the $10,000 cash portion of its prize in software development.

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According to Labora, the startup’s solution gives workers access to their T4s, CPP contributions, Record of Employment, and tax returns, and enables them to “streamline” tax return submissions. The company also aims to help farm owners save time and money by reducing their administrative burden.

This year, Livshows, a software startup founded by SFU alumni Bassam Mirghani, took home the Top Idea Prize, netting $5,000. Livshows’ no-code platform helps users create and publish immersive augmented reality experiences. Mirghani said the company plans to use its prize money to support product development and help give users of its platform “more creative control.”

The full list of 2021 Venture Prize award winners can be found here.

Photo of Labora founders via Simon Fraser University

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.