R|T: The Retail Times – How Hopper’s Fred Lalonde went from hacker to tech titan 

Plus: AI-powered marketing platform Birdseye closes $4.1 million CAD seed round.

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Birdseye closes $4.1 million CAD in seed funding for AI-powered marketing platform

Toronto-based Birdseye has secured $4.1 million CAD ($3 million USD) in seed funding for its AI-powered marketing personalization platform.

The seed round closed earlier this month and featured sole investor Drive Capital, which also provided Birdseye with $685,000 CAD ($500,000 USD) in pre-seed funding earlier this year.

Using an AI algorithm trained on vast amounts of retail transaction data, the startup aims to help retailers hyper-personalize their marketing campaigns, matching potential customers with products they are likely to be interested in.


Innovator of the Year: Hopper’s Fred Lalonde went from hacker to tech titan

For years, countless Canadian startups have pledged to become the next Shopify. Hopper has the best shot—though to be clear, it still has yet to turn a profit. If it can equal Shopify’s success, 50-year-old entrepreneur Fred Lalonde will have delivered the kind of moonshot returns that have largely eluded Canadian startup investors.

Then there’s Lalonde’s side-hustle: trying to save the planet. In September 2022, he launched Deep Sky, a climate-tech startup that’s hoping to capture carbon and store it underground. If it all sounds chaotic, well, chaos is where Lalonde lives, and he’s surrounded by people who’ve strapped in for the ride.


Active Impact Investments launches third climate tech seed fund with $70 million in initial commitments

Vancouver-based Active Impact Investments has secured over $70 million CAD in initial commitments for its third fund, which will continue the firm’s focus on early-stage climate technology startups.

Active Impact aims to raise a Fund III that is twice the size of its second fund, seeking a total of $120 million, the remainder of which it hopes to close in early 2024. These commitments bring Active Impact more than halfway towards that target, at a time when many other venture capital (VC) firms and startups alike are struggling to fundraise.



What is generative AI and will it provide the ROI that executive leadership is looking for?

Global retail giants are seeking cost-efficient solutions to improving their customer experience, and AI is the answer.

Did you know 85% of execs say generative AI will be interacting directly with customers in the next two years? As a result, 63% say that they will have invested in generative AI use cases that serve their agents by the end of 2023.

From reducing customer support response times to guiding consumers to new products, AI is poised to transform eCommerce. Become an expert on generative AI and separate the buzz from reality with the ultimate guide to generative AI for customer service.

Read our expert guide today.

Meal kit company Goodfood reports $3.7M Q4 loss, improves margins

Goodfood Market Corp. reported a loss of $3.7 million in its latest quarter compared with a loss of $58.4 million a year earlier as the meal kit company improved its margins.

The drop in net sales came as Goodfood saw a drop in the number of active customers, partially offset by an increase in average order value.

Goodfood says the decrease in active customers was mainly driven by its focus on attracting and retaining customers that provide higher gross margins and by changing customer behaviour.


Federal Fall Economic Statement promises to expand Payments Canada eligibility, introduce open banking legislation in 2024

The Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement, delivered this week by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, includes promises to implement a consumer-driven banking framework next year, expand Payments Canada eligibility, and bolster the country’s competition watchdog, as well as updates regarding the Clean Technology Investment Tax Credit and the Canada Growth Fund.


WeWork has failed. Like a lot of other tech startups, it left damage in its wake

The worksharing giant WeWork was supposed to fundamentally alter the future of the office. It raised billions of dollars, signed leases in office towers across North America but filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

The collateral damage of startups celebrated for “disrupting” traditional industries can go far beyond investors — hurting not just the old guard but also customers who are stuck with what’s left.


PointClickCare’s Mike Wessinger on how Canada’s tech sector stacks up globally

Mike Wessinger, the co-founder of PointClickCare and current board chair, is the first to admit he may not be a household name beyond industry circles.

In his exclusive interview with Aly Gillani, Head of Canadian Tech Investment Banking at RBC Capital Markets, Mike delves into his advice for cultivating a thriving tech ecosystem that stretches beyond Silicon Valley and how to build tech unicorns in Canada (while still staying humble, of course).


General Assembly Enters into Letter of Intent with CanPR Technology Inc. for Reverse Takeover and Change of Business Transaction

In 2021, General Assembly raised a $13 million Series A round, then listed on the TSXV. Ali Khan Lalani, founder and CEO of General Assembly Pizza, joined the BetaKit Podcast to discuss pivoting from a well-known pizza spot in the heart of Toronto’s tech district to frozen pizza delivery subscriptions (PaaS, pizza as a service) during COVID.

This year, the lauded pivot crumbled: the pizza company decided to no longer sell its pizzas, offloading the frozen pizza business to another Toronto-based restaurant. Now, the corpse of General Assembly Pizza has entered into a reverse merger agreement with CanPR Technology, an Ontario tech company supporting the immigration sector, that will result in CanPR using its control of General Assembly to list on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV).


Exclusive: Amazon to win unconditional EU nod for iRobot deal – sources

Amazon is set to win unconditional EU antitrust approval for its $1.4 billion acquisition of robot vacuum maker iRobot.

Antitrust enforcers around the world have stepped up scrutiny of Big Tech acquiring smaller rivals, concerned about the accumulation of troves of data by a few companies and big players leveraging their dominance into new markets.

The UK antitrust agency cleared the deal unconditionally after a preliminary review.


Federal government commits $4.8M to Knowledge Hub, NACO through WES

The federal government has made $4.8 million in new commitments to two initiatives under its Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES).

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) announced it received $1 million from the WES to launch the National Women’s Initiative, while WEKH, a national network consisting of ten regional hubs and a digital platform that connects women entrepreneurs, received an additional commitment of up to $3.8 million.


Amazon Aggregator Thrasio Prepares for Bankruptcy

Thrasio, a startup that raised billions of dollars to buy up consumer brands sold on Amazon, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as it contends with a postpandemic slump in online spending, according to people familiar with the matter.


Co.Labs hires Broad Street Bulls, Rhino Ventures alum Jonathan Lipoth as executive director

After over a year of searching, Saskatoon-based technology hub Co.Labs has found its next executive director in Jonathan Lipoth.

Lipoth is a Saskatchewan native who has spent years working in early-stage Canadian tech on the venture capital (VC) side with Regina-based Broad Street Bulls and Vancouver’s Rhino Ventures.


Clothing rental service Nuuly reaches profitability, beating rival Rent the Runway to the benchmark

Urban Outfitters’ clothing rental service Nuuly has eked out its first profit thanks to a steady stream of new subscribers and a whopping 86 percent jump in revenue, hitting the benchmark before competitor Rent the Runway, which has yet to turn a profit nearly 15 years into its history.

While there is wide demand for clothing rental services, particularly among younger consumers, the logistics of rental have made it difficult to make money, threatening the platforms’ viability.


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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