Waterloo Tech Highlights for April 2021

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.

Magnet Forensics began trading as a public company. The first IPO from Waterloo in a long time, they managed to raise their price late in the process due to strong demand, raising just over C$100M. They're trading on the TSX under the ticker MAGT.

NERv Technology raised C$3.32M of equity from SOSV, Graphene Ventures, OneValley, Northspring, Boutique Ventures. Threshold Impact and others. They'll use the funding to secure Health Canada by the early 2022 and then pursue FDA approval.

Axonify sold a majority stake in the company to Luminate Capital Partners, who invested C$313M and valued the company at C$438M. The founders will remain with the company, who plan to accelerate their growth.

Dejero also went through a significant recapitalization, attracting $60M from Vertu Capital for a minority stake in the company although it's unclear if any of that cash is going to the company's balance sheet.

Nicoya received an additional $2M from the Canadian government to develop a 20 minute COVID testing solution powered by a smartphone.

Intellijoint set new records for daily and weekly surgical volumes. They're growing with over ten open positions.

Vidyard was chosen by Sandler Training as their standard video platform that they train sales people to use.

KA Imaging added new distributors in Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Miovision began installing an additional 240 intersections in the Region of Waterloo, building on the 40 they have already.

Mappedin signed a deal with Arabian Centers, the largest owner and operator of malls in Saudi Arabia.

TextNow hired Evan Fein as their CFO.

eleven-x has an indoor air quality solution receiving increased attention as as part of the epidemic aftermath. They've signed contracts with a pension plan, governments and a large commercial real estate company.

Cloud DX announced plans to work with Maple and Curiato to build a home care platform for COVID out-patients.

Chris’ Thoughts

Most of the revolutionary products of our generation have made something 10x cheaper (Amazon Web Services), 10x easier (AirBnB, or Uber), or 10x faster (Google Maps). But what about products that make us feel 10x less dumb?

Zoom falls into this category. Count me among many who have paid access to both Microsoft Teams and Google's whatever-they-call-it-this-month conferencing solution yet still I pay additionally for Zoom because it doesn't leave me feeling stupid. The main reason Zoom exists is because it just works in a market where the other solutions insult their users.

Like many, I hate feeling dumb, so I avoid going into Indigo at all costs. One walk through that confusing store is enough to sell me an Amazon Prime membership. I feel the layout is designed intentionally to frustrate me and I end up purchasing more from Amazon while physically at Indigo than I buy from Indigo. Amazon doesn't make me feel dumb.

In a 15 minute conversation with my family we came up with the following list of things that we avoid because they make us feel stupid: investing, banking, playing golf, watching football, OSAP, University of Guelph website, Google drive, Apple Shortcuts, and home routers.

Talking with local tech CEOs they added the following: brain teaser job interview questions, crypto investing, home renovation projects, personal taxes, doing anything with my car, online dating, push/pull confusing doors (known as Norman Doors), Patents, know-it-alls and Discord.

Behind every unnecessarily complex thing, there's a group more focused on looking smart than ensuring they don't insult their users. It's an inspiring list for disruptors looking to dig into a problem. There are some areas like Insurance and Banking that have thousands of startups taking bites out of incumbents who insist on unnecessary complexity, and other areas that haven't grown a challenger - yet.

We had an investment advisor for years who we had to fire because my wife hated meeting with him. He always made her feel stupid. Having to deal with people who show their expertise by using terms like "covered calls", "beta", and "yield curve inversion" is why a good majority of people either keep their money in low-yielding GICs, or invest in terrible mutual funds that both underperform and charge criminal fees.

As a society we've gone from trusting authorities who manage complex things we don't understand, to desiring transparency. We've realized there's not as much behind the curtain as our parents believed. There's a product design shift that mirrors this change, but some markets move faster than others. I'm still trying to figure out the implications but seeing Zoom rocket out of nowhere shows the potential for products that empower and inspire users.

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