A five-year anniversary celebration, a grand opening of an office in the U.K., soaring year-over-year revenue growth, a hiring spree, a soon-to-be consummated partnership with Microsoft and a hefty financing round. That’s all Waterloo Region-based GainX has lined up on the immediate horizon.

“We are a rocketship,” says Angelique Mohring, CEO and co-founder of GainX.

A rocketship, yes, with the irony being that Mohring is trained in more earthly pursuits like archeology and anthropology, and that’s only fitting: Her firm’s software gives executives of large companies the tools they need to launch what amounts to a forensic dig on the makeup of their own operation, excavating the places where opportunity and risk reside. The result is a better return on their innovation spend.

“We can actually map how information flows inside of your organization,” says Mohring.

Specifically, GainX software helps organizations identify where untapped pockets of talent exist within their companies, eliminating the need for new hires. It also helps companies pin down what Mohring calls their “clay layer,” the place in every company where good ideas “go to die.”

Data is obtained through a mobile app used by a client company’s employees.

“Let’s say you want to be a digital bank by 2020,” explains Mohring. “We can show you where that idea is going to get stuck, [down to] to the region, the country, the individuals, the teams, the department. Whatever layer of granularity you want, before you spend a dollar.

“We’re able to help you identify where the risks are going to be and then manage the real-time risks. Here’s the portfolio [that the software] can see. Here are the movements in the market. Here is your inherent risk on your multi-billion spend.”

GainX customers in Canada include, among others, CIBC and the Royal Bank, as well as major financial institutions in the U.K. and U.S.

Mohring has been part of the Waterloo Region tech scene for 10 years. She and her husband, Lance, one of three co-founders of the Waterloo Region startup Plasticity Labs, moved here from Seattle when they decided they’d had enough of George W. Bush’s America. She quickly found a post at OpenText, deciding after five years there to bootstrap her own company.

GainX has 15 employees, and plans to open an office in London on May 24 that will house sales and marketing operations. The May 24 event will be attended by Ontario’s Minister of International Trade, Michael Chan, and will include a round-table discussion at Canada House.

Opening an office overseas is part of a deliberate play to expand into global markets. For Mohring, going international is a natural fit. Her father was in the Canadian Forces and was often posted abroad, family in tow. “I have lived in 25 cities and six countries,” says Mohring. “I’ve not had any other perspective in my life except an international perspective.”

And why focus on London, specifically?

“One of the reasons we [plan to] launch [in London] was that I was invited onto the innovation board at the Royal Bank of Scotland. That bought me some credibility to then start working with some other U.K. companies.

“My experience working in the U.S. is it is a phenomenal economy. It is a strong trade partner with Canada. But my experience is, the U.S. talks about the U.S., thinks about the U.S., focuses on the U.S.”

The company’s research and development will remain in Waterloo, housed at the Accelerator Centre.

“Canada brings huge benefits for a company like mine because it has strong international partnerships already. I don’t think you can beat the Canadian dollar against the quality of talent you get here. I am a huge fan of [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and his perspective on innovation. I love what I’ve seen so far.”

Her Canada love cools somewhat, however, when the discussion turns to capital. Thus far bootstrapped, GainX in now looking for money. Mohring expects the round will come from the U.S. or U.K. rather than Canada.

“Most of the investors in Canada come to me with checklists,” she says. “When they do, I’m not even willing to have the conversation.

“We have grown anywhere from three to four times our revenue year over year. This year it will be closer to five to 10.

“[Financing outside of Canada] means most of my growth will happen outside of Canada. Yes, I’ll keep my IP here. Yes, I’ll keep my development here. But most of that growth and funding will come from somewhere else.

“Fitting everything into a box is why we have a D on our international report card.”

Still, financing aside, it’s clear Waterloo Region and its tech ecosystem matter to her. She and her husband moved specifically because they liked what they saw emerging in the region.

“We picked this area with eyes wide open,” said Mohring. “We did a lot of research on Kitchener-Waterloo region before we decided to come back to this part of Ontario.

“This was 10 years ago. It had a up-and-coming tech hub. It had some pretty big tech companies that were starting to take shape. It was close to Toronto. It was easy to get on an airplane. It’s a great place to raise a family. To me, I don’t think I’ll move again.

“I see innovation across the whole world. Waterloo is doing great, but it’s not excellent yet. I wouldn’t give it A-plus on a report card. I think it has a lot of room to grow and we still need to mature.

“[But] the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is generating some pretty rich dialogue. I hope [we] can [take it] to the next level.”

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.