Four Canadian tech companies to watch next year

TORONTO -- Canada's technology sector was a hotbed of activity this year as investors circled a new generation of startups in hopes of getting in early for the next rising star.

See Full Article

The steep decline in crude oil prices has offered extra incentive to get behind a different sector in 2016 in the hunt for the next Shopify success story.

Here are four growing Canadian tech companies that have the potential to grab plenty of attention next year, from both investors and consumers:

Zootly

WHO THEY ARE: With a Canadian at the helm of this New York-based company, and half of its 22 employees in Kitchener, Ont., Zootly is making noise on both sides of the border. The startup wants to deliver a shot in the arm to the moving industry with an on-demand app much like Uber. Zootly works as a logistics operator, connecting reputable moving companies -- which generally lack a strong online presence -- with people looking to use their services.

WHERE THEY'LL GO: Zootly works in New York and the company plans to roll out across the United States and Canada starting in 2016.

WHY THEY'LL GROW: Unlike Airbnb and Uber, Zootly partners with movers rather than working against the existing industry, which means pushback should be minimal. So far, they have about 25 moving companies on their side in New York representing about 250 moving trucks.

THE HURDLES: Zootly planned to launch as a public company this year but hit a snag when its reverse takeover of Ethos Gold, a gold miner listed on the TSX Venture Exchange, fell apart in the final hours. The move would have sped up Zootly's IPO process and given the company an ability to use Ethos' former tax losses to its advantage. At this point, Zootly is looking at alternatives and still aims to go public next year.

Bridgit

WHO THEY ARE: Two women from Kitchener are the duo behind a subscription-based app designed to make communication easier for construction workers. Bridgit connects contractors and skilled labourers to a single platform to keep everyone updated on each step -- and every hiccup -- in a construction project. The app integrates text communications, images and other tools.

WHERE THEY'LL GO: Bridgit is already being used on condo projects in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. A beta launch in New York is leading up to a broader U.S. expansion in the new year.

WHY THEY'LL GROW: The construction industry can be a complex beast and communication has been one of its greatest challenges. Earlier this month, the founders won the top prize at Google's Entrepreneurs Demo Day for Women in San Francisco, a competition of 11 startups from around the globe, creating more buzz for what could an industry-wide solution.

THE HURDLES: Developers pay Bridgit a flat rate on a project-by-project basis, which means the founders will have to ensure there aren't any snags in its rollout that sour customers.

Hootsuite

WHO THEY ARE: The Vancouver-based social media management developer has built a business on its computer "dashboard" software that links outlets like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn under one profile, making it easier to manage posts across various platforms. Consumers can use a free version of the dashboard while more serious users can upgrade to a premium account for a monthly subscription fee.

WHERE THEY'LL GO: Hootsuite is forging more partnerships, most recently with Microsoft's suite of business tools like SharePoint, Yammer and Dynamics CRM to enhance marketing on social media, offering new insights into consumer activity.

WHY THEY'LL GROW: The company is chasing business clients willing to fork out big bucks for the support of account managers and analytics data.

THE HURDLES: In early December, Hootsuite laid off about 20 employees in Vancouver, part of its international staff of about 1,000 people, sparking questions about whether the company was tweaking its business to look more attractive for an expected IPO. The company has 1,000 employees across North America. Chief executive Ryan Holmes has spoken about speeding up plans to go public, but so far that hasn't come to fruition, and representatives for HootSuite declined to talk about its future.

Shoes.com

WHO THEY ARE: Founder Roger Hardy shifted his attention from heads to toes, selling off successful eye-care web business ClearlyContacts.ca and shovelling some of the money into shoes. He paired with a number of financiers to merge two e-commerce shoe retailers -- ShoeMe.ca in Vancouver and OnlineShoes.com in Seattle -- into a larger business that could trample the competition.

WHERE THEY'LL GO: Shoes.com is taking a page from traditional retail by opening physical stores in major cities across Canada. The company wants to mimic pop-up stores by stocking only one brand of shoes each month. Shoes.com is also expanding into new product lines through its acquisition of socks and underwear company Richer Poorer.

WHY THEY'LL GROW: Shoes are big business and Shoes.com prides itself in offering 450 brands, about double the selection of its major competitors.

THE HURDLES: Retailers who have expanded product lines too quickly often end up overwhelmed by complications. If Shoes.com strays too far from its business model, it might learn that lesson the hard way.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • 5 reasons Amazon is experimenting with physical stores

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Is the online giant of retail also looking to conquer physical stores? Amazon has been dabbling in physical retail since 2015, during which time it's opened a half-dozen bookstores that double as gadget emporia, a score of campus bookstores that don't sell books and a convenience store without cashiers. Source
  • Home-made bricks for a habitat on Mars

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Scientists said Thursday that they have manufactured tiny bricks out of artificial Martian soil, anticipating the day when humans may construct colonies on the Red Planet. Remarkably, the technique requires only that the red-hued building blocks be compressed in a precise way -- no additives or baking required. Source
  • Canadian Space Agency gets $80.9 million to develop new technologies

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The federal government is providing $80.9 million over five years to the Canadian Space Agency to help it develop new technologies. The funding, which was already announced in this year's federal budget, will support two projects. Source
  • University of Toronto researchers discover 507-million-year old sea creature

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Insects and other crawlies might not be the most pleasant creatures to some, but they are the most abundant organisms on Earth. Now a 507-million-year-old fossil has been discovered by Canadian researchers that is shedding light on their evolution. Source
  • Can't hack it in high altitudes? It's all about genetics

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Try to walk a mile in a Tibetan person's shoes and you will fail miserably. That's because they have evolved to live at high altitudes better than anyone else on the planet. Just in time for the climbing season to open on Mount Everest, a new study from the University of Texas, Houston, tells us about the genes behind this incredible ability. Source
  • Canadian Space Agency getting $80.9 million for two projects

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LONGUEUIL, Que. -- The federal government is providing $80.9 million over five years to the Canadian Space Agency to help it develop new technologies. The funding, which was already announced in this year's federal budget, will support two projects. Source
  • NASA successfully pilots spacecraft between Saturn and its rings

    Tech & Science CBC News
    NASA announced Thursday morning its Cassini spacecraft was successful in its historic first dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings. The unmanned Cassini is back in radio contact with Earth after entering the gap Wednesday in the first mission of its kind. Source
  • NASA spacecraft completes first-ever dive between Saturn and its rings

    Tech & Science CTV News
    After 13 years in orbit around Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has completed the first stage of its most daring mission yet – diving into the narrow gap between the planet and its rings. In an update posted online, NASA confirmed that its Deep Space Network Gladstone Complex (DSN) in California’s Mojave Desert made contact with Cassini at 2:56 a.m. Source
  • Science minister considers forcing universities to attract more female research chairs

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Canada's science minister says universities aren't doing the heavy lifting to appoint more female research chairs, so she wants to force their hands. On her way to give a speech Wednesday to Canada's university presidents in Montreal, Kirsty Duncan was handed the latest statistics on the number of men and women among applicants for new Canada Research Chair positions. Source
  • Amazon is adding a camera to its newest Echo smart speaker

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The first versions of its voice activated Echo speakers still haven't been released in Canada, but technology giant Amazon is already unveiling a new model which includes a camera that can take pictures of its surroundings on command. Source