10+ Canadian startups shaping global workplace culture

What a time to be a startup

Table of Contents

“There’s something special going on in Canadian #fintech.” In fact, there’s something special going on in Canada as a whole: more economic freedom, affordable business tools, unparalleled diversity, and an influx of both homegrown and foreign talent have made Canada an attractive and powerful home for successful startups.

Multi-million dollar companies like Slack, Shopify, Hootsuite, Vidyard, Wealthsimple and Freshbooks already have their roots in Canada, though many still confuse them for U.S. products.

And for newer entrants, the future of Canadian innovation is bright: the Toronto-Waterloo corridor—a.k.a ‘Silicon Valley of the North’—was recently ranked as the 16th best startup ecosystem in the world (Vancouver came in 15th). Canadian angel groups made 418 investments last year, investing a total of $157.2 million.

We’re also home to MaRS Discovery District—one of the world’s largest innovation hubs— prestigious universities, incubators, and accelerators, and an ‘innovation-friendly’ government that has recently launched a new visa program to help tech companies hire highly skilled foreign talent, faster.

All of this activity has made Canadian talent more likely to stay, and foreign talent more likely to come.

This influx of skills and innovation will have a huge impact on how we recruit, retain, and manage our teams. More innovation means more jobs, more competition for talent, and greater expectations around the employee experience.

More innovation means more jobs, more competition for talent, and greater expectations around the employee experience.

Luckily, some of the most exciting and successful startups in Canada exist to address this changing workplace reality. These companies are solving issues around recruiting, employee wellness, engagement, and productivity, all while bringing attention—and investor interest—north of the border.

Read on for some of the most exciting homegrown companies of all sizes that are changing the way we work.


Industry: Executive recruitment
Location: Toronto
Funding: Undisclosed

Up until now there hasn’t been an effective way to match C-level executives with companies that need on-demand help. Kahuso aims to solve this problem by creating the ‘on-demand executive economy.’ Combining the gigging trend with a proprietary algorithm, the Toronto-based company delivers “more intelligent results for both executives and companies alike.”


Industry: Field-based service software
Location: Edmonton and Toronto
Funding: $7.65 million led by OMERS Ventures

Jobber is a paperless scheduling, invoicing and payment app for field-based service businesses, such as plumbers, contractors, landscaping, cleaning, HVAC and others. Since inception in 2011, nearly 7 million people have been serviced by businesses using Jobber, delivering over $3 billion in services to their customers.


Industry: Employee engagement software
Location: Montreal
Funding: $1 million led by GSoft

Officevibe is employee engagement software built on the belief that everyone should be happy at work. Designed for team mangers and HR leaders, Officevibe measures employee engagement through pulse surveys, feedback, and engagement reports. Created in Montreal, the software is used in more than 90 countries across the world, with more than a few Fortune 100 companies in its roster.


Industry: Employee wellness
Location: Montreal
Funding: $4 million led by Diagram

The days of requiring sick notes from employees are over. Not only does requiring sick notes sabotage trust between managers and employees, it wastes time, clogs the healthcare system, and forces employees to sit in waiting rooms where they are exposed to even more germs.

Dialogue is a virtual care platform that connects employees to healthcare professionals through their phones. It’s a modern employee benefit that offers flexible, personal healthcare. The Montreal company is one of Diagram’s two first investments (we’re the other!) and recently announced a $4 million seed round.


Industry: Small business financing
Location: Toronto
Funding: $38.4 million in 8 rounds

Financeit is a true Canadian #FinTech leader. The platform allows contractors to offer consumer financing (i.e. payment plans) to their customers. It’s a clean, modern, and intelligent way for small business owners to increase their sales and offer a more professional, fair, and transparent experience.


Industry: Employee wellness
Location: Toronto
Funding: $33 million led by OMERS Ventures

In 2016, this disruptive company announced one of the largest Series A venture capital funding rounds in Canadian tech history with a $33 million investment. League‘s platform brings a mobile marketplace of medical providers to employers, so they can offer modern employee wellness options. They’ve just announced a major expansion to the U.S.


Industry: Employee training
Location: Toronto
Funding: Undisclosed

Skyprep is online training software for businesses that recognize the importance of employee development. An intuitive and easy-to-use platform, Skyprep lets businesses easily create and manage custom courses, track completion, and offer certifications. Big-name Canadian customers include TIFF, Ripley’s Aquarium, and Telefilm Canada. Also check out their spinoff company, BoostHQ.


Industry: Office real estate
Location: Montreal
Funding: $69 million in 6 rounds

Montreal-based Breather is a mobile app aiming to reinvent the workplace by letting users find and book workspaces on-demand. With a strong focus on simplicity and design, Breather provides a much-needed solution to freelancers, giggers, and modern small businesses alike: finding beautiful, as-needed spaces to collaborate and work in peace. Now offered in 10 cities around the world, Breather is a breath of fresh air in the Canadian startup world.


Industry: Small business accounting
Location: Toronto
Funding: $79.5 million in 9 rounds

We won’t make a pun about Toronto-based Wave making a splash in #FinTech, but the app is getting serious attention. Wave provides accounting, invoicing, lending, and credit card processing to small businesses in Canada. More than two million small business owners in more than 200 countries use Wave Apps to run their business. Most recently, the company made it to CB Insights’ FinTech 250 list, among just a few other Canadian startups.


Industry: Employee engagement software
Location: Toronto
Funding: Undisclosed

Founded by Achievers alum Rob Catalano and Nadir Ebrahim, WorkTango trains leadership teams to drive employee engagement and invest in their employees for better results. Just like Officevibe, WorkTango believes in a truly people-focused route to success. Their expert HR services include management training and executive coaching to deliver the best results from employees. WorkTango was recently named one of the Global Employee Engagement Influencers of 2017.


October 2017: Since we first published this post, we’ve received tremendous feedback from the Canadian startup community. Thank you! We’ve also been introduced to a few more work-tech startups of note:


Industry: Cultural assessment
Location: Toronto
Funding: Undisclosed

Unconscious bias, culture fit, D&I and employee engagement are hot topics in HR. Fortay uses machine learning to help make sense of it all. Specifically, their app conducts cultural assessments and pulse surveys to help hiring managers find great people and keep them engaged.


Industry: Employee engagement software
Location: Toronto
Funding: Undisclosed

TemboStatus empowers organizations to act on their employee feedback by automatically turning engagement survey results into actionable to-do lists for leaders, HR, and people managers. Oh, and they host one of the most impactful HR professionals’ meetups in the game. Catch us at the next #TorontoHR learning from the industry’s best.


Industry: Legal services
Location: Toronto
Funding: Undisclosed

A unique company in this list, Founded empowers entrepreneurs to manage routine legal tasks, such as incorporation, without hiring a lawyer. While there’s nothing wrong with lawyers per se, (Founded’s team includes two) legal services for small business are notoriously complex and expensive. With Founded, entrepreneurs can take back control of their legal needs and run better businesses.


Industry: AI for recruiting
Location: Toronto
Funding: $5.5M

Ideal is an intelligent virtual assistant for recruiters. On the time-saving side, the company’s AI capabilities automate repetitive tasks like candidate sourcing, résumé screening, shortlisting and candidate outreach. But its true advantages go further: Ideal believes that AI in recruiting helps to eliminates human bias, improve quality of hires, enhance the candidate experience and increase recruiter efficiency.


Industry: Small business bookkeeping
Location: Vancouver
Funding: $49.1 million over 9 months

Bookkeeping is complicated, Bench makes it simple. Bench combines intuitive fintech software with a live bookkeeping team to help entrepreneurs and small businesses organize their financials. Check out their site for some beautiful visuals and advice about small business bookkeeping.

Building a better work experience

As Canada moves to the forefront of the global startup economy, our work spaces, expectations and experiences will change—and we’ll need to embrace workplace technologies to help us keep pace. These companies are leading the charge of the modern workplace experience in Canada and abroad.

As a Canadian startup ourselves, we’re proud to be helping small Canadian businesses better manage and take care of their people with our free HR and benefits platform.

Do you know any other Canadian companies changing the way we work? Let us know on Twitter or Linkedin!

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