Tag Archives: startup

Toronto Travel Startup SnapTravel Snaps $13.2m Additional Investment

Snaptravel , Toronto Travel startup, is super cool to use as you can just your Facebook messenger to talk to their smart AI enabled bot to secure the best deals on hotel websites around the world.

So it comes no surprise that they secured additional $13.2m on top of existing $8m to raise capital all the way $21.2m.

Even famous NBA star player Stephen Curry who plays for Golden State Warrior has decided to invest in the Toronto startup.

Snaptravel Co-founder and CEO Hussein Fazal said:

“Online hotel booking is an incredibly transactional and noisy process, where pop-ups and expiring offers inundate consumers. We are reimagining this experience – making booking hotels feel as natural and personal as talking to a friend. Beyond travel, we’re at the start of a shift in which consumers no longer shop on individual websites or apps, but entirely via conversations with brands.”

Not surprisingly customers have used their app to book over 350,000 nights at 35,000 different hotels across 5,800 cities.

Congrats Snaptravel – thanks for making Toronto great place to do business for startups. Sweet Travels.

Charming and Friendly Toronto Tech Entrepreneur Killed

Described as very charming and friendly by his friends, Matthew Staikos, mostly known for selling his startup company to Blackberry, was murdered in a matter of seconds.

He was walking and chatting with a friend in an upscale Yorkville Toronto neighbourhood on a warm Monday night, when a man from a nearby parked Mercedes jumped out of a car, approached Matthew from the back and shot him in the head. Reportedly there were between 3 to 5 shots fired.

The shooter was described as black male , about 5’10.

Toronto Mayor John Tory responded about recent violence in a twit.

Mathew Staikos studied mechanical and computer engineering at University of Toronto. With his brother George they started a company called Torch Mobile in 2008. Torch Mobile uses the open-source web browser layout engine WebKit to create web applications for mobile phones, Within few years the company was sold to Blackberry for undisclosed amount.

Greek Ambassador to Canada Dimitris Azemopoulos shared his disbelief on Facebook (translated from Greek)

37-Year-old Matthew Staikos, proud Greek and successful Canadian citizen, made us all proud of his without limits love to his mother country and his great achievements in Canada. So this evening, it is honestly so hard to believe the news of his loss. I met him at the time he was trying to established. And I immediately realized that he was going to make it and that he would go high. But I never thought he’d leave us so quickly, so unjustly, so violent.

I read and reread the news in Canadian media and I don’t want to accept that this wonderful man and friend will no longer be among us. But I’m sure his soul has already found its place under the eternal light of God in which he believed himself. The most warmly and through the bottom of my heart condolences to his family. Sometimes it is impossible to express the anguish of our soul. One of these times is also for me tonight writing these lines for my friend Matthew.

Montreal App Hopper Gets Cut by Westjet / Air Canada

Hopper, Montreal startup, that provides travel deals, is in hot water this week due to their faulty PR campaign that landed them in trouble with both Westjet and Air Canada.

Hopper advertising PR campaign claimed (still claims?) that it will provide you, the user, with “secret fares” on its app at discounts of up to 35% off regular fares. They said that you can save up to $500.

Westjet and Air Canada denied that claim, saying that prices given to Hopper are the same prices they give to all their partner providers.

Severing Ties

Westjet said that are not happy with this false advertising and will no longer be working with Hopper:

“What WestJet is providing Hopper is the same fares and discounts our other partners have access to. This is a standard and long-standing practice in the commercial aviation industry. WestJet has always offered our guests low fares and we will continue to do do so through all of our selling channels.”

“Due to the confusion this has created in the marketplace, WestJet is severing ties with Hopper.”

WestJet said that even though it will cut parner ties with Hopper, Hopper still can access their published fares.

Air Canada said that they do not provide any special prices to Hopper that their other partners do not have access to. Air Canada has severed ties with Hopper as well.

Duncan Bureau, Air Canada’s VP of sales said:

“For someone to say that we have a secret fare and that it applies to all of our network is totally incorrect, it doesn’t happen.”

ACTA non-profit, membership-based organization representing the retail travel sector of Canada’s tourism industry, commended Air Canada and Westjet for severing ties with Hopper.

Hopper Not Backing Down

Hopper continued with their claim that they have access to “secret fares” with various airlines and have new ones like Air China and Turkish joining soon.

Hopper was not backing down , saying they have done nothing wrong. The email below was sent from Hopper spokeswoman Brianna Schneider to Huffpost to clarify:

“Airlines offer distinct fares to specific types of agencies, in our case online travel agencies, and they are marketed under a range of different brand names. We are currently contacting relevant parties to clear up any confusion.”

Toronto Tech CEO Spies on Women

Toronto CEO Peter Forde of 3D Avatar company, ItsMe, is accused of voyeurism by Toronto’s police.  He has been charged with six counts of voyeurism.

He was found to be recording women inside their homes without their knowledge or consent. The incidents of voyeurism happened around Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. area in mid March.

Toronto police released a statement:

““We won’t release details of the evidence or what, if any, relationship exists between him and any of the victims. However, the evidence does indicate that there are more victims.””

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Toronto police at 416-808-1400, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com.

Toronto Startup SecureKey Helps Secure Your Online Identity

SecureKey is a leading identity and authentication provider that simplifies consumer access to online services and applications. SecureKey enables next generation privacy-enhancing identity and authentication networks for conveniently connecting people to critical online services using a digital credential they already have and trust. SecureKey is a leading identity and authentication provider that simplifies consumer access to online services and applications. SecureKey enables next generation privacy-enhancing identity and authentication networks for conveniently connecting people to critical online services using a digital credential they already have and trust.

Today, verifying who you are is hard. For example, if you want to open a bank account you have to show up at the bank branch and present your driver’s license and other key personal documents to verify your identity. That doesn’t make sense. Why can’t you verify you are you, online or over the phone? We live in a digital world, but we are being forced to use outdated and broken identity systems. SecureKey is fixing those systems.

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

The company was founded by Chief Executive Officer Greg Wolfond in 2008, a serial tech entrepreneur who brings more than 30 years of experience to SecureKey. His earlier ventures include Footprint Software Inc., a financial software company he sold to IBM, and 724 Solutions Inc., a wireless infrastructure software provider he took public.

Jaime Shapiro, SecureKey’s president, brings a host of experience specifically relating to financial services technology. Prior to SecureKey, he developed businesses, serving as president of Blue Sky Capital; executed M&A and strategic investment transactions as vice president of corporate development at 724 Solutions Inc.; and advised leading banks and insurance companies as a member of A.T. Kearney’s NYC-based financial institutions group.

Didier Serra is our EVP Sales & Marketing. He has extensive experience in sales, channel partnerships, technology partnerships, marketing, and program delivery, with two decades of knowledge in contactless, near field communication (NFC), and secure microprocessors. Prior to joining SecureKey, Didier was general manager and executive vice president of sales for North America at INSIDE Secure, a company he had co-founded in 1995.

Andre Boysen is our Chief Identity Officer. He is responsible for positioning SecureKey’s growth strategy, cultivating opportunities in new and existing markets, and promoting demand for the company’s solutions globally. Prior to joining SecureKey, Andre co-founded and served as chief technology officer of 724 Solutions Inc. Previously, he served as chief technology officer for Footprint Software and as chief executive officer for the company’s Asia Pacific business.

Eric Swedersky is our SVP Delivery and Public Sector. Eric oversees enablement and delivery of our services to clients and partners as well as SecureKey’s Program Management Office (PMO). He also holds a lead role in managing our key Public Sector relations. He brings over 15 years of experience in managing programs and operationalizing strategy over a breadth of industry, financial services, and government spaces. A partiality for applied technology and innovation stems from the beginning of his career when Eric served as an aircrew officer in the Canadian Air Force.

Dmitry Barinov, Chief Technology Officer of SecureKey, is a recognized industry leader with 18 years of experience in information technology and security. Prior to SecureKey, Dmitry has led and delivered numerous technology, security, identity and risk management projects including major implementations in the financial payment industry that have included EMV migration. As Technology Head in a major North American financial institution Dmitry has participated in major payment platform transformations and contributed to the Canadian Bankers Association’s Financial Service Industry Computer Incident Response Team organization (CFI-CIRT).

Rene McIver, Chief Security Officer, brings over 18 years of information security experience to SecureKey and is responsible for ensuring that the security posture of SecureKey’s cloud-based authentication and ID services meet industry best practices and stringent regulatory requirements.   As such, Rene oversees SecureKey’s compliance program and has key involvement throughout the product development and operational deployment life cycle. Prior to SecureKey, Rene held security leadership positions as Chief Security Officer at Authenticor Identity Protection Services, whose aim was to build a federated biometric identity protection utility, and also Chief Information Security Officer with Route1 Inc., a trusted provider of security and identity management network solutions. Rene established a firm foundation of information security in the fields of cryptography, as Crypto-mathematician with the Canadian Government’s Communications Security Establishment; and in biometrics, as Director of Technologies with Bioscrypt Inc., a provider of advanced fingerprint recognition technology.

Scott Allan, SVP Operations, brings to SecureKey over 18 years of leadership experience across IT operations, engineering, security, and architecture domains in diverse heterogeneous computing environments. Scott has demonstrated proven excellence in leading teams in the design and delivery of highly scalable solutions and data center operations for Tier 1 and 2 mobile operators, government and banking industries across EMEA and North America. Prior to SecureKey Scott led teams in the delivery of very large-scale messaging and access infrastructure for 724 Solutions and more recently with Sentaca Communications.

Patrick Engel, SVP, Product Development, has assembled and heads an industry leading team of technology specialists since the founding of SecureKey where he is responsible for product management and product development. Patrick has over 20 years of experience in software and technology development for the financial services, government and manufacturing industries. He was previously Chief Technology Officer of Authenticor Identity Protection Services and was responsible for architecture and design of Authenticor¹s federated biometric identity system. Patrick spent 8 years as VP, Product Development at 724 Solutions, where he was responsible for building secure mobile solutions for Financial Services, and providing software infrastructure and data-usage oriented consumer applications to mobile network operators. He also spearheaded the creation of an industry-leading alerting solution that notifies consumers via SMS, email, MMS, IM, and voice.

How are you being financed? This information is confidential.

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

The technology industry can be tough. Major strides in privacy and security are only effective until the next major data breach or hack, when players in the technology industry are forced back to the drawing board.

To date, there has been a fundamental lack of respect for consumers’ digital identities in the market. SecureKey’s mission is to solve this issue of identity and ensure that consumers are given complete control over their identity, allowing them to decide who they share information with and when.

As such, the biggest challenge we still have to address and overcome is emphasizing to everyday Canadians that their digital identity and assets have value, and should be respected by organizations that have access to this personal information.

Other key challenges SecureKey faced during its inception were:

• The design of a new type of information service that provides user identity validation data, and still retains blinding privacy principles, while eliminating need for centralized authority/operation that do not provide a single point of failure and are resilient against denial of service attacks.

• Maintaining end user privacy and keeping them in full control over their digital assets while registering their consent into an immutable ledger, enforcing ecosystem rules, and providing evidence of data and identifier validity.

• Aligning multiple trusted partners to the idea of a new digital identity ecosystem that could operate and scale at a national level.

• Fast adoption by consumers and businesses. 5. How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We try to be very active in the development community, regularly attending events and participating on panels and through speaking engagements. We have had a significant hiring cycle over the last six months and through our social media channels we have created a “buzz” that has candidates coming directly to us for opportunities.

We also offer our team flexible time off policy where employees can manage their time effectively by taking the personal time off they need and still meet their work deadlines.

Who is your biggest competition?


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

We plan to launch a new innovation publicly in 2018, including substantial efforts in marketing, advertising, communications and more. We also plan to continue to onboard organizations and agencies that will benefit from the new innovation, in order to further expand the reach of the service and benefit to consumers.8. What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.Today, verifying who you are is hard. Identity fraud is a real problem, and the best fraud prevention measures often mean customers can’t access the services they want without going through a complicated, lengthy and costly validation process.

Even with these measures put into place to safeguard businesses and consumers, Equifax estimates fake identification is costing Canadians as much as $1B overall each year. That’s above and beyond the billions of dollars and millions of hours wasted each year due to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in the validation process.   SecureKey is building a federated identity ecosystem that puts the control of digital assets back into the hands of the consumer. We have learned that, once informed, people and business are incredibly receptive to pursuing these ecosystems.

eZWake, Vancouver startup app, best way to wake up according to science

ezWake is a youth-driven company that aims at an extremely simple problem: waking up. The company creates apps that activates the mind enough to make it difficult to fall back into sleep. Eventually, with enough uses, the app being personalized – adjusting its own difficulty and duration to the specific needs of the user.

Who started the company? Do you/team members have tech background?
Alannah Zhou, an executive of Illuminate Vancouver’s Tekathon, started the company. Her position gave her connection to a lot of figures in the Vancouver tech scene as well as the team’s developers with tech backgrounds. Her, as well as the marketers and designers, do not have as much tech background but do have a knack for what they do.

How are you being financed?
We currently have a Kickstarter accessible at http://kck.st/2iq85AE .

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?
Starting our project in July, and aiming to launch our app in the fall of 2017, time is our biggest obstacle as we hope to launch sooner in order to more quickly help those in need – those who struggle to wake up, and get out of bed in a timely manner, our mission. At ezWake, that, is what we strive for.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?
ezWake tries to use each marketer’s social media network to spread the word of our hiring applications. This gives ezWake a larger pool to select from.

Who is your biggest competition?
Time is our biggest competition. We don’t see other companies (that exist currently) as reason to worry.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?
An area that a lot of small-team apps fail at is marketing and design. We have a passionate team with marketers who have large access to our target market – high school and postsecondary students. Moreover, the app’s unique spin – individualized wake ups with differing durations and difficulties – will help steer in clients who are looking for something fit for them. ezWake has already started a research journey into how people wake up and interact with alarm apps.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.
Hard work works when talent stops working. When a large group of teenagers dedicate themselves to a large project at the heart of summer break, the individuals who are truly driven to make ezWake succeed shine through. Those who prove their passion for the project become the best kind of executives – willing to risk great amounts for the team.

Montreal Local Logic does AI for Real Estate

Local Logic is a big data company which uses a combination of geospatial and user generated usage data to quantify the qualities of any given location within a city. The technology developed by Local Logic is used to guide the decisions of e-commerce consumers when looking for real estate or travel accommodations and built predictive models to inform decision makers investing in urban environment.

We sat down with Naoufel Testaouni to get to know more about the company:


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

Alexandre Pagé, Colin Stewart, Gabriel Damant-Sirois and Vincent-Charles Hodder are the co-founders of Local Logic. Alex and Colin have a programming background while Gab has a background in statistics.

How are you being financed?

We have revenue from our existing clients and closed 2 rounds of financing from VC.

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

The biggest obstacle will be to scale our technology in geographies where the data we use in our algorithms are harder to collect.

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

We have the chance to build a product that can impact how cities are used and developed and most people find that project quite appealing. This helps us attract great candidates. Also, we’re trying to be involved in strategic community initiative and gain a good reputation and exposure through these.

Who is your biggest competition?

Walkscore is our main competitor. They offer Walkscore, Bikescore and Transitscore. They are based in Seattle and have been acquired in 2014 by Redfin an online real estate company. Spatial.ai is another competitor that offers layers of information to add on maps in travel and real estate. Their algorithms use AI fed by social media feed such as Twitter and Foursquare. Based in Cincinnati, they offer their services to automotive industries to power autonomous vehicles.

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

Our product is already available throughout North America and has good traction with major players in the Real Estate market. We also have big potential in the travel market, and in building predictive models for organizations investing in urban environment.

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

Putting in place a process that guides the tech and product team to build small iteration providing values to clients or other stakeholders, rather than converting new ideas into huge projects, allows you to build what is really needed and not waste months on the wrong thing.


Learn more: https://www.locallogic.co