Waterloo Tech Highlights for May 2024

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.

Nfinite Nanotech raised $8.9M in a financing round led by Collateral Good with participation from FTW Ventures, MaRS IAF, Overlay Capital, Ponderosa and Republic Capital.  They make sustainable packaging from paper that performs like plastic.


Intellijoint achieved an EBITDA positive performance in Q1.


KA Imaging received a Health Canada Medical Device License (approx. US FDA equivalent) for their mobile imaging system.


RideCo had a record Q1 for sales and won large fleet deals in Arkansas and Missouri and a deal with the newly amalgamated transit system in the Niagara region including St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.


Skywatch launched a self-serve arial imagery tool that lets real users and map geeks  browse and purchase maps easily.  It’s really cool. 


Plum launched PlumThrive, a new tool to help organizations better evaluate and recognize its workers.  They also launched PlumFlourish, a tool for job seekers and employees to map their career path with more precision.


TextNow launched free mobile data that includes email, maps, and transport.  It compliments their existing free mobile calling and texting solution.

Chris’ Thoughts

A few mini-thoughts this month


The Sound of Silence

Sometimes I have an experience that creates a solution to an unrealized problem.  Kind of like the first time I got an Uber instead of a taxi, or used a fingerprint instead of typing a password.


Edmonton hosted an AI conference last week where the main conference hall had 3 stages – all running simultaneously.  Attendees wore over-ear headphones and tuned into the talk they wanted to hear, leaving a giant silent room where networking conversations take place just a few meters away from hundreds of people listening to three different talks all at the same time.  Really cool.  Plus, if I didn’t enjoy one talk, I just had to push a button to hear a different one.


Speaking of Edmonton

Picture the highest concentration of smart AI-trained people looking for work - that's in Edmonton.  How much of Jobber’s success story aligns with Edmonton’s deep and relatively untapped talent pool?  If I was looking to set up a Canadian R&D center, I’d spend some time checking out Alberta’s capital.  That city just needs a few visionary product leaders and some amazing things will come out.


Pouring into the Funnel

It seems like many companies’ current struggle involves finding enough leads to put into the top of the sales funnel. Is this an emerging trend?  Although there’s well established machinery to move through the various stages from lead to closed, finding quality top-of-funnel leads without blowing up customer acquisition costs has become the growth limiter, especially in B2B and B2G sales.  Consumer companies increasingly rely on influencers with good success, but there’s no influencer channel for B2B.  Maybe it’s a case of buyer fatigue, but it feels like companies need a new way to find potential buyers.  One of the B2B companies I work with has gone all-in on direct mail.   I’m sure a solution will emerge. I’m also sure I’ll get a bunch of spam emails offering to help by running a Google ad campaign.


Luxury Software

If you could afford to spend an extra $500/month on software to increase your productivity, reduce your frustrations, simplify your life and stand out above the noise, I bet you’d have a hard time doing it.  Spending more on software makes life more complicated – always.  I stumbled across an interesting tweet the other day observing that most segments of products except software have luxury categories.  I’ve wondered if there’s a market for Luxury Software and whether it’s even desirable to create something digital and luxury.  In Software bespoke often means forked and unsupported.  At the same time luxury demand continues to grow faster than any other segment.  Like many things, if it works, it will be obvious in hindsight.

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.

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Chris Wormald @cwormald