Paytm, PSP Investments alumni announce $5.25 million to build a super app for Canadian immigrants called Beacon

Beacon aims to become ‘the trusted brand for immigrants to Canada.’

Toronto and Montréal-based FinTech startup Beacon has emerged from stealth, announced $5.25 million CAD in previously undisclosed seed funding, and launched the first iteration of its planned ‘super app’ for Canadian immigrants.

Beacon was founded last year by CEO Stuart Szabo and chief product and technology officer Aditya Mhatre, former leaders at Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) and Indian payments giant Paytm, respectively. 

The startup is developing an app aimed at helping immigrants settle and begin building their lives in Canada more easily. Beacon will provide resources, guides, and various financial products to newcomers, beginning with its newly launched pre-arrival solution.

“We’re just getting started in terms of what we would like Beacon to be.”

BetaKit spoke with Szabo and Mhatre about their experiences working in finance and FinTech and moving to new countries, why they decided to team up and launch Beacon, how they raised the startup’s 2023 seed round, and where they plan to take Beacon on their quest to help the next generation of Canadian immigrants set themselves up for success.

“We want to become the trusted brand for immigrants to Canada by delivering all these different types of services that are required at different points in [their] life in a single place,” Mhatre said.

Beacon’s all-equity seed round, which closed during the fourth quarter of 2023, was financed by a group that included Jawl Residential Group, former PayBright CEO Wayne Pommen, Fitzrovia Real Estate CEO Adrian Rocca, McCain Capital president Jonathan McCain, and New Jersey’s MS Transverse Insurance Group.

This marks the startup’s first external funding to date. Szabo and Mhatre declined to disclose what valuation the financing gave Beacon, which plans to put this capital largely towards product development.

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Before Beacon, Szabo worked in asset management, spending nearly 12 years with Montréal-based PSP Investments, which works on behalf of Canadian public servants and military personnel as one of the country’s largest pension investment managers. Most recently, he served as its managing director and head of North American private equity.

For his part, Mhatre spent six years with the research and development division of Paytm, where he helped build and lead the Japanese mobile payment company PayPay and worked as vice president and head of product for Paytm North America. 

Szabo said that Mhatre knows how to build apps, while he knows how to look after people’s investments: “We like to say that we’re FinTech and I’m the ‘fin’ and Aditya’s the ‘tech.’”

Like many other newcomers, when Mhatre moved from India to Canada with his family, he said he struggled to access the information and financial services he needed.

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While Szabo was born in Canada, he has lived in five different countries and gained a firsthand understanding of the challenges associated with doing so. Now, the pair have joined forces to develop the app Mhatre wished existed back when he first came to Canada.

“We have the lived experiences and [know] what are the smallest little details that stress people out either pre- or post-arrival,” said Mhatre. “That, with our professional backgrounds, led us to be able to raise this money.”

Szabo noted that Beacon was fortunate to find investors who believe in the startup’s mission and agree “that making immigration better is critical for Canada’s success.”

“They see us as providing some of those critical tools and infrastructure we need to set up Canada to deliver on our ambitious growth objectives,” said Szabo.

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To start, Beacon has decided to focus on helping immigrants before they get here. “For us, the immigrant journey actually begins up to three months before someone arrives in Canada,” said Mhatre. “There are thousands of micro-decisions that have to be made.”

Beacon’s initial app, which the startup quietly made available last week, is designed to support an immigrant’s first 100 days in Canada. It provides users with free educational content, customized information, and checklists to complete before departing their home country.

“The process of immigrating to Canada is notoriously complicated, especially when it comes to accessing financial services,” Pommen, who sits on Beacon’s board of directors, said in a statement. “I continue to be impressed by Beacon’s passion for solving these problems and the progress they’ve already made in a short time.”

Next on Beacon’s roadmap is a money account that immigrants can open and deposit money into before they move, then use to pay for things through a linked card once in Canada. The company plans to follow this with other financial services.

“We’re just getting started in terms of what we would like Beacon to be,” said Mhatre.

CORRECTION (05/22/24): A prior version of this story stated that Stuart Szabo previously worked in insurance. This story has since been updated to reflect that while Szabo invested in insurance companies and served in board roles at them, he did so while working in asset management at PSP Investments.

Feature image courtesy Beacon.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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