Last month, the team here at Grow threw our own awards show: the first annual Growies—a classy, if not lighthearted, affair. As we celebrated the winners and their respective categories, like Slack Message of the Year, Ping Pong Champion, and Least Improved Person, we had the chance to reflect on the whirlwind that was 2016.
One of our biggest milestones came in January when we received the 2015 Startup of the Year award from Techvibes. This was a significant achievement for Grow for three reasons: it validated a lot of the hard work we had put in the previous year; it provided a great boost to our ability to attract highly sought after engineers and data scientists; and it gave us valuable recognition among our peers in both the technology and banking world.
With the deadline to vote for this year’s Startup of the Year only a day away, we figured we would give a quick update on how this award impacted Grow, and the steps we have taken since winning the award.
One of the reasons I suspect we won the award last year was our ability to recognize where fintech in Canada was heading, and quickly adapt to fit the landscape. We were one of the first Canadian fintech companies to partner with an established Canadian financial institution. This confirmed the thesis that our path to success was going to be as a SaaS Enterprise Fintech provider—solving the problem that historically consumers had to choose between great technology driven banking solutions or banks they already trust. We bridge the gap so consumers can truly enjoy the best of both worlds; modern technology and trusted bank brands.
This commitment to providing software to Canadian banks and credit unions was an exciting moment for our team as it allowed us to focus strictly on building best-in-class software, and training our algorithms to continuously improve the banking experience. As a result of this transition, we’re currently working with a handful of partners including a few of the “Big Five” Banks, some of Canada’s largest credit unions and regional banks, and even powering some of Canada’s cutting edge fintech companies.
To attract more talented people to join our rapidly expanding team, we love to talk about our employee equity ownership model; all of the cool and challenging projects we’re working on; the generous helpings of craft beer stocked in our fridges; and getting to work with downright awesome people. Yet we’ve found that one of the most common reasons a prospective employee reaches out to us is because they heard or read about us from the Startup of the Year award. The lucky recipient of this year’s award (one of either Breather, SkipTheDishes, or TopHat) is about to get a massive boost to their hiring practices!
You really can’t go wrong with any of these three amazing companies.
- Top Hat was listed at number 18 in Deloitte’s Fast 50, growing its revenue by a gigantic 607 percent in 2016, and just recently closed a massive $22.5M financing this past week, lead by Union Square Ventures, one of the most successful VC firms in the world.
- SkipTheDishes ended off 2016 with one of the biggest acquisitions for a Canadian Startup of the year, being purchased by Just Eat in a deal worth up to $200 million. This was a particularly interesting win for the entire Canadian startup environment as it was one of the first concrete wins for the Ottawa’s $400-million Venture Capital Action Plan.
- Finally, Breather ended the year by raising a $40M Series C round to continue growing their network of on-demand meeting rooms and workspaces.
I’m eager to see the results of these three heavyweights in this year’s Startup of the Year race, as well as the amazing people and companies that will get recognized through the other awards for Entrepreneur of the Year, Angel Investor of the Year, the newly introduced Enterprise Transformation Award, and the many other categories that will recognize the strides Canadian technology has made over 2016.
Kevin Sandhu is the founder of Grow, Startup of the Year 2015.