Review of 11 Canadian tech companies to watch in 2020

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For the past few years, thanks to the team at BetaKit, I’ve had the opportunity to share my thoughts on some of the companies I’m excited about in the Canadian tech landscape. I’ll be doing the same for the year ahead, but I first wanted to take a moment to review last year’s list, and see what 2020 had in store for each of them.

To say that it was an unusual year is an understatement, and it feels like a lifetime ago that I last wrote about each of them. Going through last year’s list feels like looking through old high school yearbooks full of young, optimistic faces before they marched off to face the harsh realities of the unforgiving real world. Ok, that might be a bit dramatic but you get the point. So let’s see how each of last year’s companies fared in 2020!

 


 

Klue

Klue provides enterprises with a lens into their competitors’ worlds, continuously updating and connecting dots to help them win more business. It is a new way for product marketers, competitive intel and sales enablement teams to capture, manage and curate intel from the web and across the company, and communicate insights through platforms their teams already use.

2020 proved to be an exciting year for the company, having closed a $19.7m Series A round, as well as winning Company of the Year at the 2020 BC Technology Impact Awards.

 


 

Coconut

Coconut is a leading customer engagement platform for the financial services industry, with dedicated tools to streamline appointment scheduling and lobby management.

Founder Katherine Regnier’s vision proved to be quite prescient given the events of 2020, and resultant need for banks and credit unions to manage appointments digitally and in a safe manner when dealing with in-person visits. After successfully navigating choppy waters throughout the year, the company realized new highs with 22 percent of employees receiving promotions, doubling its growth rate, and tripling revenue over the last fifteen months.

 


 

Damon Motorcycles

Damon is an award winning electric vehicle company making motorcycles safer and smarter to unleash the full potential of personal mobility for the world’s commuters.

In many ways, 2020 was a breakout year for mainstream adoption of electric vehicles, thanks in no small part to industry vanguard Tesla. However, in spite of the fact that motorcycles remain one of the most common forms of commuting globally, electrification and related innovation remains nascent in the two wheeled world. Damon did its part to change that over the last year, racking up a slew of industry awards amidst new product releases. The real prize remains on the horizon, however, as the company expects to begin shipping their bikes to customers in late 2021.

 


 

Properly

Properly aims to eliminate much of the stress and hassle typically associated with a home sale, including untimely house showings and expensive repairs. The company lets you buy your new home before dealing with the sale of your existing home, reducing much of the stress and risk associated with a new home purchase.

The young company made huge strides in 2020, having raised a massive $100 million debt financing facility to fuel its vision. The company currently operates in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary, with plans to expand to other parts of the country.

 


 

Cmd

Cmd allows organizations to proactively secure their Linux environment like never before. The company provides real-time visibility into user actions, customizable controls, and the ability to stop commands pre-execution without the need for human intervention.

The topic of cyber and information security remained a hot topic throughout 2020, with some of the most prolific security attacks of all time taking place during the year. Cmd was well positioned to serve growing demand for information security solutions, as evidenced by having been named one of the 20 Best Cybersecurity Startups To Watch In 2020 by Forbes magazine.

 


 

Flybits

Flybits provides real-time information about what audiences are doing on mobile devices and allows businesses in the financial services industry to respond accordingly.

The events of 2020 accelerated adoption and usage of digital banking, making Flybits’ offering more critical than ever before, as evidenced by the Globe and Mail’s recognition of the company as one of Canada’s top 100 growing companies.

 


 

Unbounce

Unbounce is a drag-and-drop website builder that allows users to create and publish customized landing pages without needing a dedicated software development team to build them.

E-commerce growth hit all time highs in 2020, thanks in part to strict limitations placed on brick and mortar shopping. This led to businesses relying more than ever on web traffic to drive new sales, making Unbounce a necessity for many digital marketing teams. Last year, also saw the company raise its first major funding round, having previously been largely funded by an early seed round, as well subsequent debt financings.

 


 

1Password

1password is a secure password manager, providing businesses a safe way to share passwords, credit cards, and documents. Information security has been top of mind for consumers and businesses alike over the past year, and 1password has not been immune to that heightened attention.

The company responded to growing demand in 2020 by expanding its offering to new computing platforms, as well as enhancing features that are specifically designed to meet business customers’ growing needs for information security.

 


 

Aspect Biosystems

Aspect Biosystems has developed pioneering technology to assist in 3D bioprinting of living, human tissue. The company has bold ambitions, and is working with key industry partners along with some of the world’s leading field researchers to bring bioprinted therapeutics to the clinical setting.

2020 saw a number of key hires, a milestone financing and receipt of several industry awards, as Aspect continues to march towards its goal of commercializing 3D bioprinting of human tissue.

 


 

Korbit AI

Korbit AI is an EdTech startup with the mission to democratize education through AI-powered personalized tutors. With a spike in demand for remote learning, 2020 was a transformative year for Korbit.

Having closed a successful seed round in late 2019, the company focused on honing its product while scaling up to meet growing demand for its education services, both from consumers and businesses alike.

 


 

Maple

Maple is a telemedicine platform, which allows Canadians to see a doctor online within minutes: twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, anytime, anywhere. While telehealth is not a new industry, 2020’s combination of health crisis and physical distancing had a two-fold impact on the digital health industry.

Maple was no stranger to this trend, and capitalized through a milestone partnership with Loblaws that included a $75 million financing.

 


 

2020 was a difficult and trying year for many, and it’s inspiring to see how well the Canadian technology industry adapted to not only survive but, in many ways, thrive in the tumultuous environment. Each of these companies is a testament to the resilience of our tech ecosystem and I’m looking forward to continuing to watch each of them in the years ahead.

Stay tuned for the 2021 list of Canadian startups to watch.

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