Saskatoon-based startup Immigrate Software provides immigration automation technology to more than 350 businesses, including Tim Hortons, A&W, KFC, and Pizza Hut.
CEO Dirk Propp launched Immigrate in late 2017 after working for over a decade as an immigration consultant, where he learned firsthand how “time-consuming, confusing, and stressful” the immigration process was for applicants and the companies seeking them alike.
“Demand for our product is skyrocketing and we just need more people.”
-Dirk Propp, Immigrate
“The traditional business of immigration is very labour-intensive with administration,” said Dirk Propp, in an interview with BetaKit. “I saw that there’s a real need for people around the world to get help, as well as for enterprises nationwide to be able to have a one-stop solution for immigration.”
Through Immigrate, Dirk Propp hopes to provide the answer to this problem. Immigrate’s enterprise marketplace connects qualified candidates from around the world to Canadian companies seeking skilled workers. The startup’s software helps both find each other and navigate the immigration application process, with the help of expert immigration consultants, and its network of partner agents and recruiters.
Immigrate says it can cut the immigration paperwork process—which it claims typically takes over 40 hours to complete—down to three hours.
The startup is led by Dirk Propp and his wife, Keli Propp, Immigrate’s chief product officer, who has a background working in product management in the environmental industry. To date, Immigrate has secured a total of nearly $1.5 million CAD, including over $780,000 in equity venture funding and $700,000 in government grants.
This amount also counts $250,000 in bridge financing Immigrate raised earlier this week from Winnipeg’s Red Leaf Capital, to grow its team. “Demand for our product is skyrocketing and we just need more people,” said Dirk Propp. “With this investment, we will help more businesses affected by the global labour shortage and people needing immigration help.”
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Red Leaf Capital president and CEO Shane Li, who is joining Immigrate’s board as part of the round, said the firm was attracted to the Immigrate team’s “deep” industry expertise and the growth and market traction the startup has been able to achieve to date.
Michael McLean, the director of Calgary-based Tribune Capital—which backed Immigrate’s pre-seed round—told BetaKit that the firm was attracted to Immigrate in part due to the space it serves, which he said has “not seen a lot of technology focus and disruption.”
“Immigration is constantly changing, and it’s difficult to navigate,” said Dirk Propp. “It’s very time-consuming, and if you make a mistake, it can be really costly. What we’re trying to accomplish is make immigration a one-click process, make it simple, easy, [and] save companies time.”
According to Keli Propp, Immigrate’s competition includes traditional law firms and immigration consultancies, which she characterized as “slow [and] expensive,” adding that they offer “no technical advantages.”
The space also includes companies like Officio and Visto, which only provide case management software; businesses like Xpert IMM, which only offers matching and referrals to traditional law and immigration firms; and VanHack, which recruits international tech talent.
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“We are focused on providing a complete end-to-end process for employers and applicants,” Keli Propp told Betakit. “We are focused on the entire journey a business or an individual will go through when either looking to hire foreign workers or when a foreigner comes to Canada.”
Pre-pandemic, Immigrate focused more on marketing help around the world. But when Canada closed its borders during COVID-19, the startup’s business took a hit, and it shifted to focusing its efforts on enterprises that were struggling.
“It was really tough, and almost shut us down,” said Dirk Propp. “We had to take a step back, pivot, make some changes, we rebranded to Immigrate, and once we did that, we’ve been going almost straight up since.”
Aided by its shift to meeting the needs of Canadian companies across the country during the pandemic, Immigrate recently reached nearly $1.5 million in annual revenue. Today, Dirk Propp said the demand Immigrate is seeing is “outrageous.”
Li sees even more room for Immigrate to grow. “The market opportunity is huge,” Li told BetaKit, pointing to the complexity of the immigration application system and the amount of Canadian employers looking to fill positions with skilled foreign workers.
Feature image of Keli and Dirk Propp, courtesy Immigrate Software.