Welcome to our weekly Canadian startup news segment where we bring you the most important events in the world of canadian startups. We cover all major cities in canada, mainly Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver and other emerging startup scenes.
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ALBERTA INNOVATES NEW COVID RELIEF PROGRAM FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: $350,000
Alberta Innovates just announced it extended its Innovation Relief and Recovery Program with $350,000, in an effort to help more small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) affected by the pandemic in the province
“Alberta Innovates identified a further need to support more projects to help Alberta businesses.”
The program initially launched in the fall of 2020 with $400,000 in funding from the federal government through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). That initial funding was part of a total $1.3 million contribution from WD to Alberta Innovates.
“The [Innovation Relief and Recovery] program has received a tremendous response with outstanding proposals from the applicants’’. “Consequently, we heard from entrepreneurs there is a need for more of this kind of support.”Spokesperson for Alberta Innovates said in a statement last month
This new funding, which was provided entirely by Alberta Innovates, is aimed at supporting an additional 38 SMBs in their recovery from disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“Alberta Innovates identified a further need to support more projects to help Alberta businesses adapt to new realities, and to keep people working,”
“Continuing to grow our economy through strong innovation-based businesses is a high priority for us.”said Laura Kilcrease, CEO of Alberta Innovates.
HOOTSUITE ACQUIRES SPARKCENTRAL & EXPANDS INTO CUSTOMER SERVICE
Vancouver-based startup Hootsuite has acquired Sparkcentral, a Belgium and New York-based startup offering customer service software. The exact financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sparkcentral’s offers an automated message distribution platform that gives customer service teams the ability to triage and respond to customer inquiries through multiple different social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, and SMS.
This expansion represents a new use case for the social media management company.
The acquisition is part of a larger plan of expansion for Hootsuite. Richard Hungerford, vice president of corporate development and strategy, told us the company is looking to tap into a new product stream: helping customer support teams field and manage inquiries through online messaging platforms.
In terms of why Hootsuite wanted to expand into customer support, Hungerford claimed the pandemic-fuelled shift to digital-first solutions across a wide swath of industries caused the company to look at expanding into the stream.
“As the pandemic hit and we’ve just seen more and more of this move to online and digital-first, customer care has become a real focal point for our customers,”Hungerford said.
However, this expansion follows several tumultuous years for Hootsuite. In 2018, Hootsuite began exploring selling the company after CB Insights pegged Hootsuite’s valuation at $1 billion USD. In early 2019, the sale was halted after initial offers for the company were lower than expected, according to reports from The Globe and Mail.
Four months after the sale was halted, it was revealed that Hootsuite had laid off 100 employees, or 10 percent of its workforce. Those staffing reductions followed reports the company’s marketing and sales teams failed to meet certain targets.
Hungerford noted that although Hootsuite will continue to build out its selling and marketing streams, this customer care stream will also be a key priority in 2021.
“When we laid out our plans for 2021, looking at what we needed to focus on in order to grow and expand our existing business, social customer care was a big part of that,”
Following the acquisition, Hootsuite is focusing on integrating Sparkcentral’s technology with its own product suite.
Thirty members of Sparkcentral’s team will join Hootsuite but will remain in Belgium. Many of those employees will join the company’s product and engineering organization, which Hootsuite is planning to double over the next year.
For more information visit: https://betakit.com/hootsuite-expanding-into-customer-service-acquires-sparkcentral/
TORONTO-BASED EMERGE COMMERCE ACQUIRES TRULOCAL
Toronto-based e-commerce startup Emerge Commerce has acquired Kitchener-Waterloo-based food tech startup truLOCAL for $16.8 million CAD.
The deal, which closed December 31, represents the 5th acquisition for Emerge Commerce and its largest this year.
“Throughout the pandemic, online shopping for groceries, has become a bestselling vertical across both Emerge and the e-commerce sector at large, sparking our strategic interest in the category, and eventually leading us to the formidable business that is truLOCAL under Marc’s leadership,”said Emerge’s founder and CEO, Ghassan Halazon.
truLOCAL was founded back in 2016 with a mission to offer direct-to-consumer monthly locally-sourced meat product plans through an online subscription service that ships to consumers overnight.
Emerge claims truLOCAL generated $19.8 million CAD in revenue in 2020, representing more than a 130 percent growth this year.
In addition to Kitchener-Waterloo, truLOCAL also has offices and facilities in Vancouver, Calgary, and Chicago. Following the deal, truLOCAL’s 50-person team and brand will remain in place.
Emerge brands itself as an acquirer and operator of niche e-commerce brands. Founded in 2015, the company operates in a wide array of e-commerce categories, including groceries, golf, and travel, among others.
“In Emerge, we identified a truly founder-friendly strategic partner that deeply appreciates our culture and is supportive of our ambitious growth plan,”
“We’re excited to leverage Emerge’s acquisition engine and gain access to their full suite of shared services, data insights, and cross-selling with their extensive member database.”said Lafleur.
For more information visit: https://betakit.com/following-tsxv-debut-emerge-commerce-acquires-trulocal/ Stay tuned for weekly updates and the latest news from the world of Canadian start-ups.
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