Waterloo Tech Highlights for February 2019 

Our goal is to provide you with a monthly primer on significant news events from private Waterloo-based technology companies in 5 minutes or less.

Dozr closed a $14M equity round led by BaseCamp and construction mogul Juan Carlos Mas.

ProNavigator closed a $2M seed round from MaRS IAF, GreenSky Capital, Innovation Grade Ventures and local angel investors. 

North dropped the prices on Focals by 40% and laid off 1/3 of their staff, about 150 people.  The Canadian government rescinded a $24M loan to support job creation as a result of the layoffs.

Miovision secured a significant deal with Tucson to digitize all their intersections.

Auvik has grown to six data centers serving customers operations in 73 countries.

Bartesian will start shipping in March.  The linked story highlights some of the challenges of early hardware and how to do right by your early customers.

Avidbots signed a distribution deal with Daeduck International to bring their cleaning robot to South Korea and with Rotator Oy to distribute in Finland.

Emagin announced an agreement with Black & Veatch to help with distribution and management for their UK customers.

Igloo has hired Jason Hahn as CRO.

SSIMWAVE has hired Carlos Hernandez to run sales.

Alchemy continues to add resellers across the globe.  They began a project to augment AV sensors with a major OEM.

TextNow has over 14 million monthly active users.  The company turned 10 this month.

Vidyard spent two weeks in February focused on community development projects at all their locations with 200 employees supporting six charities for 800 hours of volunteer work – all part of their prioritization of local community as a company stakeholder.

Chris’ Thoughts

Interesting to see a string of events surfacing tensions between citizens and corporations with government squarely in the middle.  From the horrific mess the governing Canadian Liberal party has dug themselves into trying to get SNC-Lavalin off the hook from bribery charges, to citizen backlash against government deals with Amazon in NYC, to the uprising against Google-backed Sidewalk Labs’ deal in Toronto’s Waterfront community, there’s a growing citizen sentiment that governments have gone too far in their attempts to cater to corporations.

In the end it all comes down to resource allocation – how much do companies and citizens get in terms of money, rights and privacy and how do these things get decided, especially when our institutions don’t seem as keen on or capable of protecting citizens.

Maybe it’s just a phase, but I think it’s more – part of an overall shift of power away from sovereigns towards corporations.  Does Corpocracy continue to wax and governments switch from primarily serving citizens to serving employers?  As corporations get more information about us, move faster than laws can contain and seek productivity through labour mobility and technology adoption will they only be held to account by bumping into each other competitively?  It’s the cause of sharp divisions but is it a bad trend for society?  One thing is for sure, it’s not a good time to be a bully.

I’m probably over-thinking things and something will cause the metronome to change course.  Working my way through Piketty’s Capital and has me pondering resource allocation a great deal.  I boiled it down to my kids by asking them, “If you had the choice to be a surgeon, a nurse or a janitor but all three jobs paid the same amount, which one would you do?”  All of them chose surgeon because they felt like it would make the biggest difference in the world despite the work involved.  In the end we all want an opportunity to make a difference.

March Events

While it’s not necessarily the nicest weather this time of year, three events make March a compelling and busy month if you’re interested in the future of technology and the people who will create it.

First, Velocity will be holding a new format pitch competition on March 27.  Details will be here.

Second, the newly minted iron ring wearers, including the first graduating class from Biomedical engineering will be showing off their Capstone projects throughout March at UW.  It’s an amazing collection – if you live in the region and have kids you want to get interested in STEM, take them after school for a couple hours.  Many Waterloo tech companies make their first appearance here.

Finally, the FIRST Robotics Ontario Championships will be taking place at UW from March 21-23.  Totally inspirational stuff for kids and adults alike.  Amazing sophisticated robots built by high school kids.  Details here.  Some local tech companies have sponsored teams as an investment in building the next generation of our tech community.

Wishing for spring!!  Thanks for reading.


Waterloo Tech Highlights is a communication initiative run by a group of experienced investors and strategists who would like to receive and share real news about the vibrant Waterloo, Ontario tech community.

If you would like to share news with us, or our readers, email info@ironhorseangels.com. If you are interested in continuing to receive Waterloo Tech Highlights, you can subscribe here:

Chris Wormald @cwormald