Seed rounds can prove pivotal milestones for startups. Until that first rush of capital, startups are typically bootstrapped, often operating lean on shoestring budgets with a short runway leading to a steep cliff.
Lack of financial and related support—such as the wisdom and expertise good investors can supply—marks a big reason why the vast majority of new businesses fail within a year or two.
It takes an ecosystem to launch a startup.
Recognizing this, Techcouver took a look at some recent seed rounds in the BC technology scene and what each funding influx meant for the startups.
Big Whale Labs is using web3 technologies to reimagine what digital identity and the social graph could be by building a social protocol to facilitate pseudonymity through zero knowledge and crypto. For example, StreetCred allows people to interact as pseudonymous NFT identities with verified credentials and reputations attached to these NFTs all on the Ethereum blockchain.
The web3 startup secured the capital from M13 and Road, with participation from Slow Ventures, C2, Goodwater, Panache, NFR, and angel investors.
“Open blockchains such as Ethereum are public ledgers,” explain founders Jason Kim and Nikita Kolmogorov. “There are tons of privacy tradeoffs associated with open blockchains.”
The BC company cites several possible use cases for its technology, including social media network verification, work email, and school affiliation. Big Whale Labs plans to use the funding to accelerate product development.
The online motor vehicle marketplace has been heating up in BC. For its part, Autozen recently closed an oversubscribed seed round of over $5 million led by Vanedge Capital.
Through Autozen, car sellers benefit from hundreds of pre-vetted professional buyers that compete to give sellers the advantage of the best possible price, for free. Once the offer is accepted, Autozen takes care of everything else including paperwork, payment and pick-up.
Autozen was named one of 10 Homegrown B.C. Startups to Watch in 2022 earlier this year.
“Based on this solid validation, this seed round will fuel our expansion into new markets, both in Canada and the US,” the founders stated.
Autozen is currently expanding from its Vancouver origin into Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton—as well as in US, starting with the Greater Seattle Area.
Quandri was founded in early 2021 with the concept of deploying digital workers to run companies’ high-volume, repetitive tasks. With today’s available technologies, there is no reason for people to be performing repetitive tasks in their work, the BC company believes.
To seize an opportunity in the insurance technology market, Quandri raised $2 million in seed funding. The capital hails from California’s Aviso Ventures, Markham-based Good News Ventures, and Toronto’s N49P Ventures. Undisclosed angels also supported the round.
The startup plans to use its fresh capital to expand its team and launch three new bots.
Jackson Fregeau, who studied Finance at the University of Calgary, launched Quandri alongside his brother Jamieson, an electrical engineering graduate from the University of Victoria, at the start of 2021.
BarrelWise believes that the ancient traditions of winemaking are ripe for merging with cutting-edge technology—a “union of art and science” which creates fertile ground for innovating in the market space. Based in Vancouver, BarrelWise secured its $3 million seed funding from Conexus Venture Capital through its Emmertech fund, with additional investment by Ag Capital Canada.
“With this investment from our partners Emmertech and Ag Capital Canada, we look forward to making high-precision quality control the global standard for wine production,” stated Jason Sparrow, CEO of BarrelWise.
Ready-to-rocket BarrelWise designs integrated measurement and data systems which improve efficiencies and control in winemaking. The company’s flagship product, the FS1, is a cloud-connected SO2 analyzer for winemaking. It allows wineries to take routine measurements up to 15x faster than traditional lab analysis, directly in the cellar.
Origen Air secured a seed funding round in order to accelerate its commercialization efforts, the Victoria-based startup announced in August.
Origen raised $1.5 million through a strategic investment from First Inflection Business Advisors, a Toronto-based organization which provides seed capital and business expertise targeted to early-stage Canadian technology companies.
The BC startup is aiming the investment toward Pinnacle, which it describes as an “industry-first, enhanced plant air purification solution for commercial indoor environments.” The company’s combination of bioengineered plants, HEPA filtration, and IAQ sensors “is a true-green technology,” according to a statement from Origen, which has successfully installed Pinnacle solutions across Canada.
Origen Air was founded in Victoria by Susan Blanchet and Andrew Crawford in 2019. The startup saw some action last year during Spring Activator’s first-ever Canada-wide Impact Investor Challenge.
Avivo / ABOzymes
Built upon the discoveries of Dr. Peter Rahfeld and Professor Stephen G. Withers of UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories, ABOzymes was named one of 10 homegrown startups to watch in 2021 by Techcouver. The startup—which recently rebranded to Avivo—completed a substantially upsized seed financing in June.
This funding builds upon a pre-seed financing completed in February 2021 and non-dilutive funding from the Canadian Glycomics Network, Genome British Columbia, NRC-IRAP and MITACS. The funds will be used to further develop its ground-breaking proprietary platform that enables a world where a patient’s blood type is no longer the first constraint when they need life-saving organ transplants or blood transfusions.
“This latest capital raise is an important milestone for ABOzymes, allowing us to expand the impact of our platform across a number of use cases, hire more technical staff, and continue to progress our preclinical program to achieve our mission to improve and save lives in ways previously deemed impossible,” stated John Coleman, PhD, President and CEO of Avivo, at the time of the transaction. “We appreciate the strong investor interest in this recent financing.”