Toronto RoadMunk, roadmapping software, raised $2m Canadian

RoadMunk raised $1.5m USD today to further grow their software product.

This round was financed by Golden Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures and Garage Capital.

Roadmunk Inc. provides visual roadmap software for product management. It offers Roadmunk, an online software solution for creating sprint, project, release, technology, business, and consulting roadmaps. Roadmunk Inc. was founded in 2013 and is based in Toronto, Canada.

In case you are looking for a job – they are hiring: Email Marketing Manager, Quality Analyst, Web Application Developer at their downtown Toronto office.

Toronto Top Hat taking learning to the next level, raises $30m Cdn to date

Top Hat’s interactive, cloud-based teaching platform enables professors to engage students inside and outside the classroom with compelling content, tools and activities. Today, Top Hat is used at three-quarters of the top 1,000 colleges and universities in North America, including Indiana University, the Ohio State University, California State University and Michigan State University.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Top Hat was co-founded by Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini in 2009. Both have engineering backgrounds from the University of Waterloo.

How are you being financed?

We have venture capital funding, and most recently we raised $22.5M USD Series C financing.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

Top Hat was the first BYOD classroom engagement platform in higher education and now millions of students use the platform. Our next step is to disrupt the $10B U.S. textbook industry. In November, we launched an online content marketplace where professors can create course materials and sell it around the world. It’s a revolutionary model for textbooks: the idea is to cut out the publisher and let professors sell directly to students and each other.

Top Hat has proven to increase engagement and participation by recognizing that the way students learn and interact has profoundly changed. Our one challenge is to help professors and schools to innovate and evolve the way they’re teaching in large format classrooms.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We have a few ways that we recruit great talent. The first is by creating a great internal culture that’s transparent and focused on growth and development.

We’re also very active in the Toronto startup community. We participate in numerous events every year like TechVibes Techfest, Startup Open House and the MARS Toronto Startup Job Fair. We also host our own events: we recently we held a standing-room-only open house at SPiN Toronto.

Who is your biggest competition?

We have our eyes on the traditional textbook publishers. The current model is broken and we’re looking to disrupt the industry just as Uber and Airbnb disrupted the cab and hotel industries.

Video – How Top Hat works

Montreal Breather is AirBnb for office space, raises $73m to date

Breather’s aim is to connect the world’s spaces into a network and make them globally accessible via software. Through software, networks, and vision and with a focus on customer experience and design, Breather allows everyone to access space that suits them, anywhere in the world.

Breather aims to be a reliable solution in people’s work lives, with seamless service, conveniently located spaces, and a high standard for our user experience. Ease of use is central to what Breather offers. The spaces are consistently inspiring and beautiful, well designed and thought out. Breather’s multi-functional designs speak to a diverse community of professionals, helping individuals and groups work however they are most comfortable and productive: around a big table, brainstorming in the lounge or writing out strategy soon the whiteboard.

Breather launched in Montreal before expanding to New York City. As of November 2016, Breather is available in 10 cities, adding the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., London, Toronto, and Ottawa to the original two.

See video below of How to work better, by design. What kind of space makes a person feel inspired, creative and professional all at the same time? What are the types of environments that foster connection and allow for brainstorms and collaboration? Breather’s designers and researchers have studied how people work today. Breather is interested in the relationship between people and space, and what it means to create workspaces that promote productivity and collaboration.

 

 

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?
Founded in 2012, by Julien Smith, CEO, and Caterina Rizzi, CCO, Breather connects people to the world’s spaces by making them accessible via their proprietary app. Each space in Breather’s 300+ global network is specially curated to be peaceful and practical and can be booked for any length of time. Located in 10 major cities across North America and the UK.

How are you being financed?
Recently in December 2016, Breather, raised a Series C round of $40 million. The funding brings Breather’s total capital raised to $73 million. Menlo Ventures led the round joined by Valar Ventures, RRE Ventures, Slow Ventures and Real Ventures.

 

 

Who is your biggest competition?
We feel that Breather doesn’t really have a direct competitor, as what we do by offering private on-demand spaces, currently does not exist in this manner. However, if we were to identify the competition, it would be companies like Peerspace, Liquidspace, Sharedesk and apps from traditional office rental businesses like Regus that now allow booking of rooms via mobile.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in
revenues? In what markets?
Founded in 2012, Breather operates approximately 300 spaces across 10 markets, including in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and outside of the U.S. in Toronto and London.

Breather intends to use its Series C capital for hiring, and geographic expansion, including further saturation where it already offers workspaces, and new cities as yet to be determined.

Canadian Startups Can Now Post Jobs for Free on Facebook

Forget LinkedIn and Monster – where posting jobs can cost as much as $1,000 after taxes – now you can reach millions of candidates by posting your jobs on Facebook. The cost? $0. But hurry up – free job listings might not be free forever.

The Facebook on their blog post said:

We know that finding the right talent can be a challenge. 40% of US small businesses report that filling jobs was more difficult than they expected, which is surprising when you consider that these small businesses also employ nearly half of the country’s workforce.

We’re focused on building new ways to help make it easier for businesses to interact with the over 1 billion people visiting Pages every month. Businesses and people already use Facebook to fill and find jobs, so we’re rolling out new features that allow job posting and application directly on Facebook.

Beginning today, businesses in the US and Canada will be able to post job openings, and their future employees will be able to easily find those posts on their Page or in the new jobs bookmark. This new experience will help businesses find qualified people where they’re already spending their time—on Facebook and on mobile.

Do you Know Your Rights at the US Canada Border Crossing?

A lot of our users live in Canada and commute to the US on weekly basis to go to work, conferences, seminars, etc. Since Donald Trump got elected, it seems, it became more frequent for border guards to do secondary inspection and inspect your belongings including your cell phone.

Even in Canada under Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Canadian government wants to introduce Bill C-23 under which if passed: U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government. A Canadian going to the U.S. through a pre-clearance area [on Canadian soil] can say: ‘I don’t like the way [an interview is] going and I’ve chosen not to visit your country.’ And they can just turn around and walk out.

“Under the new proposed bill, they wouldn’t be able to walk out. They can be held and forced to answer questions, first to identify themselves, which is not so offensive, but secondly, to explain the reasons for leaving, and to explain their reasons for wanting to withdraw,”

–Michael Greene, Q.C.

So what do you do? Can US border agents force you to unlock your devices?

No.  But they can make your experience pretty uncomfortable. Do you really want to put up with 10 hours in custody because you do not want to show your facebook posts? If you agree to give up your device it might be seized for weeks and the data on it might be copied.

Can US border agents force you to give up enter your password for social media?

Once again the answer is No. But if you unlock your device – most people’s cellphones do not require passwords to enter their Facebook or Twitter.

So what do I do when entering US?

Travel with least data possible.  Maybe have one device for your work and one for your personal or store all your data in the cloud.

You can comply and get on your way or put up a fight and ask for a lawyer. If you are not American citizen or immigrant with Green Card you might be refused entry to the US due to this decision.

How about Canadian border up North? Mounties are nice, right?

Not so quick. Read the following excerpt from the Canadian Customs website:

Customs Searches Under Canada’s Customs Act, Canada Border Services Agency officers have widespread powers to stop and search people, their baggage and other possessions and devices at any Canadian port of entry (land border crossing, air terminal or sea port).

Canadian courts have generally recognized that people should have reduced expectations of privacy at border points. In this special context, privacy and other Charter rights are limited by state imperatives of national sovereignty, immigration control, taxation and security.

Canada Border Services Agency officers are authorized to conduct searches of people entering Canada, including their baggage, parcels or devices such as laptops and smart phones. These searches may be conducted without a warrant. Officers may examine devices for photos, files, contacts and other media.

If your laptop or mobile device is searched, you will likely be asked to provide the password. If you refuse, your device may be held for further inspection. Our understanding is that the issue of whether a border security agency can compel an individual to provide a password for a personal electronic device at a border crossing is not something that has been specifically looked at by the Courts in Canada.

Safe travels!

 

Kitchener Clearpath Robotics’s OTTO Motors makes self driving vehicles for warehouses, raises $55M Canadian to date

OTTO Motors, a division of Clearpath Robotics, provides self-driving vehicles designed exclusively for indoor material transport. The vehicles operate with infrastructure-free navigation, offering intelligent, safe, efficient, and reliable transportation within industrial centers. Proprietary hardware, software, and services are delivered to provide customer excellence.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Clearpath Robotics was founded in 2009 by Ryan Gariepy (CTO), Bryan Webb (COO) and Matt Rendall (CEO). In April 2016, the company launched its industrial division, OTTO Motors, to provide self-driving vehicles for material transport to manufacturing and warehouse operators.

How are you being financed?

Our parent company, Clearpath Robotics, raised its first round of VC funding in March 2015 and its Series B funding in October 2016.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

Scaling a high-growth company is our biggest challenges. It’s something we’ve had a lot of practice with over the course of our business, but there are always growing pains associated when it comes to scaling up. From improving team communications to efficiently planning inventory stock, there’s a full range of factors that can be impacted when growing a company’s team, product line, and customer base.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We’re fortunate to receive over 9,000 applicants each year for the positions we post on Clearpath Robotics and OTTO Motors. We open our application process to prospective team members globally, engage in recruitment activities with local universities, and engage in the online community through social media discussions and recruitment advertising.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

We were profitable within 18 months of inception and now we’re a multi-million dollar organization. Addressing the market needs to ensure a product-market fit is our number focus, and we do this by listening to our customers and iterating on products and solutions quickly to ensure we provide the highest value possible. Expanding with our industrial division was an important strategic move for us since OTTO Motors serves a very separate market (ie: manufacturers in industry) than the Clearpath Robotics business (i.e: researchers in academia).

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.

The biggest lesson we’ve learned is how to manage growth, yet with more growth, comes more growing pains. So although we’ve learned a lot, there is always more to gain!

Waterloo Axonify, helps companies train / better retain their employees, raises $27 million to date

Axonify is the world’s first Employee Knowledge Platform that uniquely combines brain science, gamification, micro-learning and personalized knowledge to deliver a highly effective learning experience to corporate employees. Through a daily, 3 minute session on any device, Axonify creates memory and changes employee behaviour in positive ways that can drive significant business outcomes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYjrs_w2yNk

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

The company was started in 2011 by Carol Leaman and Christine Tutssel who acquired the IP and one customer from the original founders. Carol is a CPA and a serial tech entrepreneur while Christine is a senior Executive Sales professional. Neither has a tech background other than running and working in tech companies for 20 years. The overall team is now comprised 30% of developers.

How are you being financed?

We’ve raised venture capital and private equity.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

The biggest obstacle is always creating brand awareness when you are selling to large corporate enterprise. As a small company with fewer dollars to spend on marketing, it’s a challenge to build the business one customer at a time, while balancing cashflow and the need to grow. That challenge never goes away, but it does get easier.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We have used our networks to find great developers. We’re fortunate to have a really good reputation in Waterloo Region as an employer, and it’s allowed us to attract amazing talent.

Who is your biggest competition?

Our biggest competition is the “do nothing” customer. We are disrupting old, established processes and technology that our customers have typically invested millions in. They can be reluctant to take the leap to a completely modern approach. We’re still in the early adopter phase, but I sense the tipping point is coming.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in
revenues? In what markets?

2017 is a year where we are doubling down on the markets and applications we know work best for us, which are retail, plant and logistics (industry heavy on deskless workers). Our marketing dollars and sales teams will be laser focused on those targets, and leveraging the results from our existing customers to replicate. We expect to see increased velocity of sales and lots of other good things come out of that.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this venture.

This is my fourth technology company and I can say that the hard lessons I learned in previous experiences have helped me avoid most of the same problems this time around! Axonify has been a significantly smoother build, and I can’t say that there have been any huge lessons that jump out at me. But I do keep having to remind myself how long it takes to get customers when you’re selling to Fortune 1000. I guess my biggest lesson at Axonify has been having patience in the face of driving urgency.

 

Website: www.axonify.com

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