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There are a lot of things to do in Canada’s capital. Whether it’s visiting the tulip gardens, touring museums, or checking in on parliament, Ottawa has plenty to offer. It also has an abundance of talent. In 2020, the city ranked #1 in North America for tech talent concentration, making a thriving startup scene almost inevitable. This theory proved true in 2021 when a sudden burst of investor interest put Ottawa startups on the map.
Canada’s capital is now home to some of the nation’s most exciting new startups. From e-commerce to biotechnology and everything in between, there’s no shortage of companies to watch.
Here are 5 Ottawa startups worth looking out for in 2022.
Year Founded: 2019
Even before e-commerce took off with the pandemic, former Shopify executive Alok Ahuja could see a gap in the market for “last mile” delivery. Whether grabbing groceries or picking up a prescription, Ahuja knew consumers needed a way to get their purchases when they couldn’t be there themselves. That’s why he and his partners built Trexity, a same-day delivery platform designed to get products to customers fast.
Trexity works with a network of couriers to allow businesses of any size to deliver their goods through its network of third-party couriers. With over 15 000 drivers on board, the company offers real-time delivery and supports single trips and multiple stop orders. This process helps keep down costs for small businesses. Through Trexity, businesses pay per delivery instead of an annual subscription or monthly fee.
The move has been a profitable one. This Ottawa startup says it has seen a 25% increase in revenue growth from quarter to quarter and is forecasting revenues of 1.5-2.2M in 2022. This success has led to an infusion of investor funds. Trexity says they will use this new capital to hire and expand into new Canadian markets.
Year Founded: 2020
Frustrated by how long it took for their development projects to get off the ground, Gadget founders Harry Brundage and Mohammad Hashemi needed a faster way to write code.
“We were trying to build a bunch of different things ourselves and got frustrated with how long it took,” said Brundage. “It’s frustrating to spend weeks and weeks pre-launching and preparing these things. We figured that lots of people have the same problem.”
To solve it, Brundage and Hashemi created Gadget, a serverless software development stack.
Instead of building from scratch, Gadget works off of the idea that most software uses the same patterns. By pre-building basic configurations and must-have tools, Gadget cuts down on development time while allowing users to customize their code. This frees up developers to do what they do best.
Year Founded: 2021
After launching in May of 2021, Matt Whitteker, Adrian Salamunovic, and Bruce Buffer have used Millions to give athletes more control over their careers. With Millions, professional athletes and other athletic professionals can use their fan base and social media following to create their own revenue streams.
Millions founders noticed mixed-martial-arts, a sport they’re fans of, offered limited earning opportunities for athletes outside the ring. As a result, they developed tools designed to connect these athletes with advertisers worldwide. This approach allows athletes to monetize their audiences through merchandising, live streaming events, and personal videos. Millions earns its money through splits of its merchandise sales with athletes and takes a percentage of Livestream revenue, which they earn through hosting events on the Millions app.
“This product literally fits with every athlete in the entire world,” says Whitteker. “It’s a global opportunity.”
Lead investor Volition Capital is banking on it. The Boston firm led an oversubscribed $12M funding round in September of 2021, a move Millions’ founders hope will help take its success to new heights.
Year Founded: 2019
A 20-year veteran of the learning technology industry, LearnExperts’ founder Sarah Sedgeman wanted to make digital course creation more efficient through artificial intelligence (AI). Surging demand for online course offerings during the pandemic created a need to do things more quickly. However, existing courses use labour-intensive processes that involve poring over pages of documents and consulting with experts. This method can take up to 250 hours to develop a single hour of training.
Sedgeman also found companies that quickly acquired new clients were at risk of losing them when training lagged months behind the product’s release. To fix this, LearnExperts uses its AI to transform a company’s existing content into a ready-to-use course within days instead of weeks.
“Your courses look like an expert built them,” LearnExperts VP of technology and user experience David Dewar told Betakit.
According to Sedgeman, this can sometimes feel “like magic,” and investors agree. Lead investors Sand Hill North closed an oversubscribed $1.25M seed round last September. As a result, the company plans to use these funds to respond to ‘overwhelming interest‘ from its customers.
Year Founded: 2018
Despite being founded before the pandemic made viruses go viral, Virica was poised for growth. Through the development of “viral sensitizers” (VSEs), this Ottawa startup has found a way to make cells more susceptible to viruses. This process makes it easier to develop new viral medicines to treat rare genetic conditions, fight cancer, and create vaccines.
“Demand for these new therapies is outpacing production,” said CEO Jean-Simon Diallo, who also researches virology at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. VSEs’ ability to help scale drug development is key to reducing bottlenecks for viral medicine manufacturers. Consequently, this helps reduce costs and increases the availability of these medicines worldwide.
The company closed an 18M Series A round in October of 2021. The round was led by their lead investor Dynamk Capital, who believe Virica is capitalizing on what they’re calling a “massive opportunity” in the space.