Shopify’s triple take

The leaves may be falling but Shopify’s prospects this autumn are soaring.

Shopify, the Ottawa-headquartered e-commerce company, capped a fast-paced month of October in Waterloo Region with a number of developments, not least among them the announcement that the firm intends to add 300 to 500 new positions in Waterloo, tripling its operation here.

Days after its jobs announcement, Shopify unveiled third-quarter results, reporting a 72-per-cent growth in revenue compared to the same period last year. The company additionally took the wraps off an integration with eBay for merchants based in the U.S.

Unsurprisingly, a job survey in October by the website Hired found that 83 per cent of respondents wanted to work at Shopify, a figure eclipsed only by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and tech giant Google.

Dollars and data

While Shopify was busy making money, Kitchener-based AdHawk Microsystems was busy raising it. AdHawk, which makes power-efficient motion tracking systems, announced a US$4.6 million Series A round led by Intel Capital.

AdHawk’s raise was just one of a number of money-related developments in the region.

New Brunswick-based SomaDetect, which took part in the Fierce Founders Bootcamp during the summer and shared in the Fierce Founders pitch competition $100,000 grand prize, earned US$1 million early in October at the 43North business plan competition in Buffalo, N.Y. SomaDetect makes a sensor that measures milk quality and cow health.

SomaDetect wasn’t the only Canadian company to make a splash at 43North: Velocity’s Qidni Labs, which is making an implantable artificial kidney, earned US$550,000 at the same event and, as Terry Pender described in the Waterloo Region Record, is seeking a further $2.5 million in funding to continue the project’s development.

Meanwhile SkyWatch, a Waterloo-based company housed in the Communitech Data Hub and which is working to make satellite data more readily available, was one of two winners at the $100,000 Rev Demo Day pitch competition in Toronto. The other winner was Ada Support, which aims to improve its clients’ customer service delivery through a chatbot creation platform. Rev is a Communitech program for growth-stage companies.

Another Communitech-led initiative, ODX, also known as Canada’s Open Data Exchange, announced its second cohort of investment, funnelling $438,000 to 10 companies via ODX Ventures. ODX Ventures supports Ontario-based businesses which use open data in their product or service. Knowledgehook, Focus21 and Borealis Wind, all based out of the Lang Tannery building, were among some of the money recipients.

Raising money is one thing, but knowing what to do with it, and how to raise more of it, is an area of expertise for Communitech partner BDC, also known as the Business Development Bank of Canada. The BDC’s Ryan McCartney this month put his expertise to work in a new column called Banknotes on Communitech News, aiming to improve financial literacy and give startups a place to go when they have financial questions. Ryan’s column will appear monthly.

Ottawa calling

The federal government announced its shortlist of nine finalists aiming to grab a portion of the $950-million “supercluster” fund, and an entry from the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor was among them. The nine, culled from a list of 50, will be further winnowed to five by March. Local proponents of the Corridor bid include OpenText, Clearpath Robotics, Miovision and Thalmic Labs.

The Data Hub was in the news yet again as the venue for a press conference held by Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who met with local VC and angel investors during a roundtable at the Data Hub then held a press conference, promising “we’ll get this right,” when it comes to addressing concerns of tech investors on tax issues.

Hacking the blockchain

News emerged in early October that Kik, the maker of the social messaging app by the same name, conducted a cryptocurrency token distribution event in late September and raised nearly US$100 million, part of Kik’s previously announced plan to roll out an Ethereum-based payment ecosystem called Kin.

The Kik ICO presaged another Ethereum-related development some two weeks later: ETHWaterloo, billed as the world’s largest Ethereum hackathon, held at CIGI and adjacent Shopify.

ETHWaterloo attracted 400 developers and some of the biggest names in the sphere, including Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-born former University of Waterloo student who wrote the original Ethereum white paper. Buterin spoke with Communitech News during the event about the fast-evolving blockchain technology.

Pedal to the metal

A number of Waterloo Region companies showed signs of strong and accelerated growth. Prime among them, Vidyard, which issued a news release citing deals with a number of U.S. companies and a user base that has now reached 130,000 in 100 countries.

Miovision, meanwhile, the maker of smart traffic technology, unveiled details of work it is now doing with the State of Massachusetts, Orange County, Florida, Pima County, Arizona, and the City of Stratford, as they create a foundation for smart cities.

And Igloo, the Kitchener-based maker of digital workplace solutions, announced record-breaking numbers in the third quarter, signing up50 new companies and reaching 79-per-cent in year-over-year net new business growth.

Growth is the watchword at Kitchener-based Bridgit, which makes a digital management tool for construction projects. Staff at Bridgit has tripled to 30 in the past 18 months and the company’s product has now been used by more than 10,000 subcontractors, growth that attracted the attention of Techvibes, which penned a recent feature on the company and its female co-founders, Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake.

Finally, Atomic Labs held a launch party at the Tannery Event Centre, where it announced the expansion of its Kitchener-based talent experiment to Montreal and Vancouver under the new brand “Terminal.”

Taking flight

Waterloo-based Magnusmode, the company behind MagnusCards, has completed a partnership with Toronto’s Pearson Airport. MagnusCards is a free app that offers digital how-to guides for people with autism and special needs.

And if you find yourself travelling through an airport, keep in mind a milestone reached by CDMN, the network of 26 regional innovation hubs from across Canada known as the Canadian Digital Media Network.

CDMN announced that its Soft Landing Program, which provides funding for tech companies to travel and reach new markets, has facilitated more than 500 “landings” in 52 countries since 2012.

In other news

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About The Author

Craig Daniels
Senior Journalist

Craig Daniels is a veteran reporter, columnist and editor who has joined Communitech’s editorial team as senior journalist. He worked most recently at Postmedia in Hamilton, where he led the team that produced the National Post, and before that at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun, Financial Post, the Montreal Daily News and the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, N.B. He has an abiding interest in the transformational power and promise of tech and startup ecosystems, is a commercially licensed pilot, and has a debilitating wrist-watch fetish.