2021 is in the books and despite what we’ve all been through, it was a pretty good year for the Vancouver tech community and the province as a whole.
We have a lot to look forward across the province in 2022 and what better way to kick off the calendar year than to highlight 10 homegrown startups that Techcouver will be watching closely this year.
A finalist for the Company of the Year – Growth Award at the 2021 BC Tech Awards, Acuva is focused on providing access to affordable clean drinking water in as many countries as possible.
Acuva is a global leader in UV-LED disinfection system design for water, air, and surface disinfection. Alumni of the entrepreneurship@UBC program, the startup released its first consumer UV-LED water purification system in 2016.
Despite having to overcome the challenges brought forward by COVID-19, Acuva has demonstrated its ability to grow year over year, increasing revenue by 5X over the last 2 years. The rapid development and production of the Acuva SOLARIX UV-LED Portable Disinfection System, the first of a number of innovations designed in response to the global pandemic, was released in November 2020.
Positioned to disrupt the stressful and unnecessarily complex car sale process, Autozen is a new consumer-to-business (C2B) marketplace on a mission to create an easier, safer and more transparent way for car owners to sell their vehicles. At the helm is Olivier Vincent, who brings 20 years of tech entrepreneur experience in marketplace, mobile, and AI companies.
Autozen acts as the arbiter between the seller and the buyer, to ensure both are happy with whatever final number is accepted. Their cars are typically of higher quality than most dealerships have ready access to and Autozen pre-vets them with a physical walk-around of each car in a quick, painless process that usually only takes about 30 minutes.
Autozen has grown 100x in sales volume in the past five months and that pace promises to ramp up as they expand into new markets in Q1 including the Greater Toronto Area. Autozen raised a $4.2 million seed round in 2021 and plans to expand into 6 new major markets in 2022.
Stealthy startup Burrata burst onto the scene in late 2021 with news that it had raised a USD $7.7 million seed round to integrate consumer data from Web2 systems into Web3 (blockchain and the decentralized web).
Burrata’s integration layer will help bridge consumer identity and data from silo-ed Web2 systems into Web3. This open and extensible integration layer will help standardize, process, and prioritize the influx of web2 data on-chain. This integration layer is essential to onboarding the next billion users and their on-chain profiles.
Investors in their seed round include include Stripe, Variant, Ideo Co-Lab Ventures, Slow Ventures, CMS Holdings, South Park Commons, Vancouver’s own Dapper Labs, and over 30 other people whom the startup says each bring industry-leading insights, expertise, and networks to the project.
ChopValue is the brainchild of Felix Böck, a former UBC doctoral student in the faculty of forestry who studied bamboo as a building material. The sustainability brand designs and manufactures circular economy products made entirely of recycled chopsticks.
ChopValue had a strong start to 2021 despite the ongoing pandemic. The company saw record-high sales, expanded their product offering at Nordstrom, and formed new retail partnerships with London Drugs and Hudson’s Bay.
The London Drugs partnership includes chopstick collection bins available at every location and interactive Closed Loop displays at select stores that enable consumers to drop off their used chopsticks and shop a variety of beautiful and sustainable products for the home and office.
In 2021 ChopValue raised a $3.15 million round that included Craig Miller, the former Chief Marketing Officer of e-commerce darling Shopify. ChopValue added strategic microfactory franchise locations in Calgary, Montreal, Singapore, and the Lower Mainland’s Fraser Valley in 2021.
Named one of the companies-to-watch in Deloitte’s annual Technology Fast 50 awards last year, CoPilot AI is a lead generation SaaS startup that helps businesses streamline processes related to sales prospecting, opportunity targeting, and campaign generation.
CoPilot AI automatically targets qualified people on networks like LinkedIn, initiates one-to-one conversations and surfaces timely sales opportunities without requiring any cold calling, events, or expensive advertising. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to engage leads through personalized messages and categorize/prioritize them based on responses.
Pivoting from their original fintech business idea to focus on lead generation, CoPilot AI picked up the Business Pivot Award in the Canadian Business 2020 Growth Awards and placed #140 on Canada’s 500 Fastest-Growing Companies list.
This content is sponsored by Floorspace‘s Matt Carlson. Matt advises tech companies on their remote work and in-office real estate strategies. Check out Matt’s article Canada’s Tech Companies Face Decision Time to Embrace Hybridized Work.
Founded in 2014, Vancouver’s Latergramme was the first Instagram scheduling tool (and is likely an acquisition that HootSuite regrets not making). Rebranded as Later.com, Later is now a visual marketing platform that allows businesses to manage their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and LinkedIn accounts, from end to end. Later also offers a feature called Linkin.bio which redirects Instagram users to the actual landing page when they click on a post.
Last year Later landed 16th on the Technology Fast 50 list with revenue growth of 1,074% and ranked #51 on the Globe and Mail’s 2021 Top Growing Companies list with 1,164% revenue growth and annual revenue between $25-50 million. The scaleup has grown to over 175 employees and is trusted by over 3 million users.
Manifold enables web3 creators to have true creative ownership, preserve on-chain provenance, and interoperate with all major NFT marketplaces.
To achieve their web3 vision, the team has created Manifold Studio, a free toolkit for minting NFTs that recognizes a basic truth of the web3 world: the creator is the platform. Manifold Studio democratizes creativity by deploying creator-owned smart contracts to mint NFTs with on-chain provenance, interoperable with all major NFT marketplaces.
Manifold was co-founded by A Thinking Ape co-founders Eric Diep and Wilkins Chung along with Richerd Chan, who was recently in the news for turning down a $12 million offer on his CyberPunk NFT. In late 2021 Manifold raised a seed investment round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) who have bet heavily on crypto and the future web.
Vancouver clean energy startup Moment Energy raised a $3.5 million seed round in 2021 led by Vancouver’s Version One Ventures with major involvement from Fika Ventures, Garage Capital and MCJ Collective.
Co-founded by four young and diverse entrepreneurs from British Columbia, Moment Energy creates sustainable energy storage systems by repurposing retired electric vehicle batteries. Their solution has been installed in off-grid areas to reduce diesel consumption and enables a transition to renewable energy.
In June Moment Energy was awarded the $100K grand prize as the winner of Spring Activator’s first-ever National Impact Investor Challenge and in October they claimed the $35,000 Innovate BC Third Place Prize Package in the 2021 New Ventures BC Competition.
Founded by Dejan Pralica and Justin Dusanj in 2018, SoleSavy‘s mission is to tackle the biggest problems plaguing the footwear industry by leveraging the passion of the sneakerhead community. The fast-growing sneaker startup gives its members access to highly sought after sneakers at retail prices.
Last year SoleSavy raised a USD $12.5 million Series A funding round led by Bedrock Capital and joined by notable investors including Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH, Panache Ventures, Bessemer Ventures, Turner Novak’s Banana Capital, Dapper Labs’ Roham Gharegozlou, Shopify’s Harley Finkelstein and Thomas Wesley “Diplo” Pentz.
SoleSavy recently added Chief Content Officer Ali Adab to lead content initiatives, drive its Web3 & NFT strategy, and secure partnerships with brands, creators, and media companies. In the coming months, SoleSavy will be launching its marketplace, Collect, which allows members to buy, sell and trade without extra fees.
Last year UBC-born social enterprise Takachar won £1 million at the inaugural Earthshot Prize sponsored by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
What farmers cannot sell, they often burn, with catastrophic consequences for human health and the environment. The burning of agricultural waste causes air pollution that in some areas has reduced life expectancy by a decade. Takachar has developed a cheap, small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors in remote farms. The machine converts crop residues into sellable bio-products like fuel and fertilizer and reduces smoke emissions by up to 98%.