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What comes next for Canadian tech? | BetaKit



Plus: Wealthsimple partners with the Wealthsimple of mortgages.

If you weren’t able to attend BetaKit’s first-ever town hall, fear not. Videos of the night’s feature conversations—including BetaKit board chair Satish Kanwar’s fireside chat with Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke, and founder perspectives from leaders at Cohere, MedEssist, among others—are ready for you to watch. BetaKit also has a full recap of the evening for you, plus a pulse check from attendees on the state of Canadian tech and where it needs to go.

What comes next has been top of mind for me and many others since the town hall. Despite the renewed energy and cries for courage and ambition, I keep going back to Ben Yoskovitz of Highline Beta’s warning to not get “caught up in the hype [without] appreciating the need for actual hard conversations.”

BetaKit contributor and entrepreneur Stefan Palios observed that many problems discussed at the BetaKit Town Hall—from the dearth of early-stage funding to the magnetic pull of the American market—have been talking points in our ecosystem for several years. 

Turning conversation into action isn’t easy. If adding “🇨🇦/acc” to your social media bio was the solution, Canada’s tech problems would have been solved long ago. Besides, Lütke reminded us at the town hall that the term only contains the meaning we imbue it with.

So if this week’s event was a rallying cry for Canadian tech, what meaningful action have you been inspired to take? We want to know.

Thanks for reading on and ‘til next week, 

Bianca Bharti

Newsletter editor


Xatoms is planning a quantum leap to clean the world’s water

It was on a backpacking trip to India at the age of 14 that Diana Virgovicova got her first glance at the human cost of water pollution.

Rivers play a vital role in the natural ecosystem and the livelihoods of millions in India, but in the suburbs of Mumbai, Virgovicova observed that these critical waterways ran black, flowing with a hazardous mix of waste chemicals, dyes, and other pollutants. To her, it was immediately obvious that this was more than an environmental reality.

People were using the polluted water for showers, with young girls using the water to wash during their menstrual cycles, which could make them sick.

(Read more)

Wealthsimple enters mortgage space through Pine partnership

Wealthsimple has introduced a new co-branded mortgage product that uses Toronto-based Pine’s digital mortgage application platform.

“We know there’s a housing affordability crisis going on right now, and since the rates have shot up over the past couple of years, we know a lot of our clients are feeling the pain,” Simon Lejeune, vice-president of growth at Wealthsimple told BetaKit in an interview. “We wanted to go to market with a way to relieve that pain.”

According to the companies, users can receive a pre-approval rate in minutes and a formal approval process can be completed in less than 24 hours, which they say is much faster than the typical timeframe of up to three days offered by traditional banks.

(Read more)

New open letter from business groups condemns capital gains changes as “divisive”

The Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association and a collection of other business groups released an open letter addressed to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Thursday, maintaining pressure on the federal government to walk back plans announced in the 2024 budget to increase the capital gains inclusion rate from 50 percent to 66.7 percent.

“While this proposed measure attempts to provide a solution to Canada’s deficit, it is shortsighted and complex, and it sows division at a time when we need a Team Canada approach to economic growth,” the letter reads.

(Read more)

Shopify posts revenue beat and surprise loss in Q1, touts European growth

Canadian e-commerce software giant Shopify surpassed analyst revenue estimates but its shares have fallen as the company also posted an expected net loss in its first-quarter earnings.

Shopify reported $1.86 billion USD in revenue for 23 percent year-over-year growth during Q1 2024, or 29 percent after adjusting for the sale of its logistics business last year. This amount slightly exceeded the average analyst forecast of $1.84 billion, driven by growth in subscription revenue, payments penetration, and gross merchandise volume.

(Read more)

OSC introduces new initiatives to boost capital access for angel investors and startups

The new initiatives include an extension of the self-certified investor prospectus exemption to October 2025, as well as new, temporary dealer registration exemptions for early-stage businesses and not-for-profit angel investor groups, which are also effective until October 2025.

The initiatives are being introduced as part of the OSC’s TestLab, which is the regulator’s testing environment for new solutions and approaches to regulation. The OSC said it will use data collected from these initiatives to inform future policymaking.

(Read more)

#CDNtech companies Nuvei, WonderFi, Thinkific saw revenue growth in Q1 2024

Nuvei, WonderFi, and Thinkific have reported their results for the three months ending March 31, 2024. All three posted positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization as well as revenue growth on either a yearly or quarterly basis. NowVertical also reported yearly revenue growth, with its latest earnings covering both the fourth quarter and full year of 2023.

BetaKit has compiled a roundup of their performance.

(Read more)

Hard Knocks: The lawyer behind some of Canada’s biggest (and quietest) deals

Not many people have behind-the-scenes access to Canada’s biggest tech exits and funding deals. Chad Bayne does.

As a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s emerging and high-growth companies practice, he gets a front-row seat to how these deals are really done. One of his top takeaways? That the loudest startup in the room isn’t always the one making the most progress.

(Read more)

Why every business leader in Canada needs a Tech MBA

A new world of business calls for a new kind of business degree.

That was the thinking behind the launch last fall of the MBA in Technology Leadership—better known as the Tech MBA—by York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“We live in a completely different world, one that’s driven and constantly disrupted by technology,” said Detlev Zwick, Dean of the Schulich School of Business, one of Canada’s top-rated business schools.

(Read more)

Funding, Acquisitions, and Layoffs

SFO – App Direct acquires Builtfirst
VAN – Innovate BC opens Ignite program applications
VAN – Maia Farms – $2.3M
OTT – Growcer – $3M CAD
HFX – Springboard Atlantic receives $9.8M from ACOA

The BetaKit Podcast

Tobi Lütke finally comes on the podcast

“I think ambition is a problem… Canada is a go-for-bronze culture, and that sucks.”

Kinda. Presenting BetaKit chair Satish Kanwar’s fireside chat and AMA with Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke at the BetaKit Town Hall. The pair discuss the state of Canadian innovation, government and policy, and what comes next. With special guests from CDL, Ada, Knix, and Version One Ventures.

B|K: The BetaKit Podcast is powered by Schulich School of Business

Embrace Disruption and Innovation

In today’s business world, every leader needs a tech edge. Schulich’s Tech MBA offers an innovative, ever-evolving curriculum  and experiential learning opportunities in the Toronto tech scene. Designed for those who are aiming to lead transformation, not just follow. 

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