21 May Five Ws with the TIAs Finalists: Company of the Year – Growth Success
Aspect Biosystems, Freightera, Klue, and Lumen5 at the 2020 Technology Impact Awards Finalist Announcement on April 28th, 2020.
In the lead-up to the 2020 Technology Impact Awards, BC Tech is profiling all 38 finalists in 11 award categories. This week, we look at four high-growth companies that we look forward to watching grow and scale to be future anchors of British Columbia. The “Company of the Year – Growth Success” award is presented in partnership with Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.
Who: Aspect’s team of scientists, engineers and business professionals from all over the globe has quadrupled in size since 2016 and is expected to double in size over the coming period (click here for Aspect’s careers page). “We often get comments from partners that they haven’t come across a group that’s so engaged, passionate and interdisciplinary,” says President and CEO Tamer Mohamed, who was awarded B.C.’s “Top 40 under 40” award in 2017. “Everything we’ve accomplished is because of the team.”
What: Aspect is working to save lives and make people healthier by using their microfluidic and 3D bioprinting technology to create living, human tissues for medical research, therapeutic discovery, and regenerative medicine products. Its platform is now being advanced and used across different applications with support from a $26 million Series A financing round announced in January. “This funding speaks to the power of our technology, and will allow us to accelerate internal innovation and expand our global partnerships,” Tamer says.
When: Aspect is no stranger to the TIAs, having already won the 2016 “Most Promising Startup” award just two years after being founded. Honours have come fast and furious since then: BIOTECanada’s Emerging Company of the Year at the 2018 Gold Leaf Awards, being named to the 2018 and 2020 Ready to Rocket Life Science Lists, and LifeSciences BC’s 2019 Growth Stage Company of the Year. Investments and partnerships have been even more frequent, with double-digit funding announcements adding to the recent Series A financing, and strategic collaborators ranging from GSK, Merck and JSR to UCLA and the National Research Council of Canada.
Where: Tamer describes Aspect’s Vancouver home base as “Aspect’s global epicentre of innovation and next-generation healthcare development,” adding that continuing to strengthen the tech ecosystem will allow us to attract the best talent, which has and will always be our focus.”
Why: The COVID-19 pandemic “has been a rallying point for our team,” Tamer says. “It has reinforced the message that nothing is more valuable than health. Our goal is to use our technology to radically improve the lives of patients. If we can help send patients home to their families, and extend their lives while providing a better quality of life, then all our hard work will be worth it.”
Who: “It’s amazing to be featured among TIAs finalists of this caliber,” says CEO Eric Beckwitt, who co-founded Freightera with Zhenya Beck in 2014. Six years later, the company is on track to top 40 employees as it rolls out a new SaaS model and integrates AI in coordination with a broad new public-private consortium. (Click here for Freightera’s careers page.)
What: By giving manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers instant access to exclusive fixed-cost rates from hundreds of SmartWay-certified lower-emission carriers, Freightera’s online freight marketplace is making freight shipping easier, faster, less costly, and more transparent and environmentally friendly than ever. No wonder the company won the 2016 “Excellence in Product Innovation” award at the 2016 TIAs. “Our purpose is to transform the freight industry from polluting and wasteful to efficient, automated and zero emission,” Eric explains.
Where: Freightera’s annual revenue growth has averaged 240 percent since it was founded, with BIV.com naming it the third-fastest-growing company in B.C. “We have a wonderful group of over 250 Angel investors and raised over $9 million,” Eric says. “Now, we need to scale up and raise $100 million over three years.”
When: Based in Vancouver’s Gastown district, Eric says Freightera “is in the heart of an amazing technology ecosystem with world leaders in quantum computing, AI and biotech. I know Canadians tend to be modest, but we should be really proud of the technology community here.”
Why: With the COVID-19 crisis disrupting conventional and global supply chains, Freightera stepped up by launching a “Source Locally Community” linking over 7,800 Canadian manufacturers and facilitating local sourcing. “We all need a reason to live, to get out of bed in the morning, understanding how we are contributing to our families, communities, companies, and the world,” Eric says. “I feel that businesses, and business leaders, can be a powerful force for good, but they need to focus on service, serving the community, their teams, and the larger natural world we are all part of.”
Who: CEO and Co-Founder Jason Smith says Klue “is hiring across the board,” with it’s 35-member team having already built “a strong and vibrant culture that is supportive, enables employees to take risks, and is relentlessly improving and getting better.” (Click here for Klue’s careers page.)
What: Built by product marketers to give organizations the advantage in every competitive environment, Klue’s AI-powered Competitive Intelligence platform enables enterprise sales teams to win more business by providing dynamic insights about rivals anywhere at any time. “When you’re developing technology that didn’t exist before, it’s exciting to be recognized for having success in creating something unique,” Jason says. “We have a product that every single company in the world could use at some level.”
When: Klue launched in 2017 with a $4 million funding round led by OMERS Ventures, and including angel investors such as Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes. A year later the company won the Startup of the Year Award at the TIAs, and was named a “Cool Vendor” in the 2019 Gartner Cool Vendors in Channel and Sales Enablement report.
Where: Jason describes himself as “a huge proponent” of the Vancouver and B.C. tech ecosystem. “I find it incredibly supportive, and there’s amazing talent here. Now, it’s our moment to compete on a global basis as part of an interconnected Left Coast community that extends from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland all the way through to the Bay Area.”
Why: “Purpose for me means building something that your customers, market and your employees can all be proud of,” Jason says. “It needs to encompass everything from how you treat your customers and your employees through to the small decisions you make that end up being part of your product and your brand voice. It’s what being an anchor company is all about, and it’s what we’re working to build.”
Who: “We bring together people that dare to dream,” says Founder and CEO Mike Cheng. “Our team of almost 40 is serious about building something significant.” (Click here for Lumen5’s careers page.)
They were also seriously excited by the Zoom-based announcement of Lumen5 as a TIAs finalist. “It was just so wonderful to have that kind of shared virtual experience with our team,” Mike says. “It certainly felt like our hard work day in and day out was being acknowledged and recognized.”
What: In 2019 over a million videos were created using the unique Lumen5 drag-and-drop platform, which uses artificial intelligence to convert static blog posts and other text into compelling videos optimized for high-volume content marketing. More than 100,000 videos are being created each month by 500,000-plus users, including major brands such as Forbes, Time Magazine, Cisco, Salesforce, PwC, KPMG, and more.
When: Founded in 2017, Lumen5 has already grown into a multi-million-dollar business and a 40-person company within three years. More than 100,000 videos are being created each month by 500,000-plus users, including major brands such as Forbes, Time Magazine, Cisco, Salesforce, PwC, KPMG, and more. “Our mission is to have every online video created using our software,” Mike says.
Where: Vancouver-based Lumen5 “is all the more exemplary of a B.C. success story given that most of our growth has been organic and achieved without raising any capital or marketing spend,” Mike says. “We organically acquired our first 300,000 users without a single dollar spent in marketing.”
Why: Video is the most powerful online storytelling tool, but not everyone has the skills to produce a compelling video that drives online engagement. With Lumen5, anyone can create engaging video content in minutes. “Our algorithm identifies key messages in articles and blogs and creates a storyboard of the content. The AI then finds relevant media within our database of videos, photos and audio tracks to produce a share-worthy video,” Mike explains.
This tech became especially meaningful during the COVD-19 pandemic, when Lumen5 began offering its video platform for free to the World Health Organization and other healthcare authorities to develop video campaigns that combat misinformation and promote fact and science-based information.