Waterloo Tech Highlights for August 2022

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.

Vena Medical announced their first in human surgeries, successfully presenting a new platform for stroke surgeries and filed for US FDA approval.

Geeq obtainted access to up to $25M of opaque funding for opaque purposes from Global Emerging Markets (GEM) who funds different utility blockchain tokens.

Plum continues to drive adoption with customers Sitel and OLX renewing on multi-year deals and expanding throughout the entire company. They’re going to start raising their Series A in September.

iGUIDE has reached 20% market penetration of residential homes sold in Canada.

Mappedin has signed portfolio wide rollouts with two more shopping centre groups - Klépierre and Taubman.

Intellijoint is expanding its geographic footprint and launched its 7th US city in St. Louis, Missouri.

SSIMWAVE was awarded a patent related to banding detection in streaming video.

eSentire outed the Golden Chickens malware threat actor and shared his identity with law enforcement authorities. He has worked closely with Russian hackers and online extortion organizations for years.

Chris’ Thoughts

The other day I was listening to an interview of the founder of Whoop. I’ve heard the Whoop hype from users but never saw the point. Known as great product developers, they’ve built a sticky following so I was curious to hear the story directly.

Amazingly, the CEO talked in vague terms about the benefits of the product on the podcast, referring to medical studies and such but, like Steve Jobs, he never got mired in the speeds and feeds of the product. He spent 10x as much time talking about the tribe they’ve built - about Lebron James and Michael Phelps, and Rory McIlrory and Dustin Johnson and 25% of the PGA tour and these other NBA players and … you get the idea. Before long I found myself thinking, “I wonder how much it costs per month” and “If those guys use it then maybe I should too.” I found myself actually wanting a Whoop built on the fantasy of, “I could be just like…”

Thinking about it, influencers work because there’s a little bit in each of us who wants to roll with the cool kids.

I overlooked influencer marketing and its viability for far too long since the word “influencer” always seemed to appear in the same sentence as “Kardashian”, causing me to stop reading.

Ignorance blinds me to opportunities.

How much is an influencer worth? I can tell you that 14 out of 18 kids on my PeeWee hockey team had Titan branded sticks because that’s the one Wayne Gretzky used. I bet Wayne got paid less than $100k and probably generated over $100M of revenue for Titan, amplified because the sticks sucked and broke all the time creating replacement purchases.

I’d be willing to bet that $1 paid to the right influencer will sell more product than $50 paid to Google or Facebook or the billboard company or an SEO agency. Which means that the noise is only going to get louder in the coming years.

So, while it feels like “everybody” is an influencer today, I think we will see influencer marketing grow significantly at the expense of current digital marketing in the coming decade, creating a threat not unlike the revenue implosion newspapers have endured. While Mark Zuckerberg wastes billions on a metaverse dream and Google fails to innovate assets like YouTube, I predict a billion-dollar company will emerge that enables brands to effectively engage and mobilize an influencer marketing army.

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