We now have a tradition of publishing our annual list of the Canadian businesses that have impressed us the most over the past year (2019, 2020). Our goal is to highlight companies that are redefining the way business is done in Canada, from creating innovative products to disrupting a long-established market.
There is no shortage of talented companies in Canada; narrowing the list down to just 12 was challenging. However, in our opinion, the 12 companies mentioned below deserved a special shout-out this year for their remarkable achievements and we can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store for them.
We’ll definitely be watching!
The Ad Tech startup Blockthrough definitely caught our attention this year. Being in the online media advertising space, we’re obviously very familiar with ad blockers. Well, this Toronto company works with publishers to help them recover revenue from blocked inventory.
Their solutions let publishers serve light-spec ads that meet the highest UX standards only to opted-in users. Blockthrough’s solution comes at a critical time, as consent-based advertising is on the rise. Check out their website to learn more: https://blockthrough.com/
Blockthrough had a phenomenal year: they ranked No.11 on the Globe and Mail’s list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies with a three-year growth rate of 3418%. Plus, their Director of Publisher Success, Leela Fallah, was recognized as an up and comer in the 2021 Top Women in Media Awards. And, finally, they were on Deloitte’s 2021 Companies-to-Watch award and they were featured in AdExchanger’s Programmatic Power Player for 2021. What a year!
2. Love Good Fats
Suzy Yorke, Love Good Fats’s CEO and founder, was featured on the cover of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine. Her entrepreneurial story is incredibly inspiring. In 2017, after 30 years working as a marketer, she dropped everything to follow her childhood dream of starting her own business.
She launched a CPG brand offering high-fat, low-carb and low-sugar bars, recognizing consumers’ changing view on nutrition. Her bars are now sold across Canada and the U.S. in health stores and big box retailers like Costco and Whole Foods.
The Good Fat co. clearly understands the definition of hypergrowth. The Globe and Mail ranked them as Canada’s fastest-growing company with a 19,263% three-year revenue growth. This year, Suzy Yorke was also a top finalist for the RevolutionHer Impact Entrepreneurship Award.
This Montreal business only launched 3 years ago and is already making waves in the apparel industry. Mini-Cycle’s mission is to promote sustainability and reduce the impact of children’s fashion on the environment.
They offer an out-of-the-box solution where parents can buy used or new kids’ clothes on the Mini-Cycle website and send them back once their kid grows out of it. How smart!
We aren’t the only ones impressed by Mini-Cycle’s circular economy model, so is Montréal Inc. They named Mini-Cycle as one of the 20 most promising startups in Montréal.
iLobby offers a Visitor Management System to help businesses track, manage and monitor visitors in their facility. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way landlords manage their workspaces and iLobby’s solutions came in handy for thousands of businesses such as Pepsi, Nikon and Hershey’s to name a few.
In early 2021, the Toronto-based company raised their first private investment of USD $100 Million to help better serve their clients and bring innovative solutions to the market faster. Their CEO Ariel Mashiyev was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 in Ontario.
Learn more about their success here: https://www.ilobby.com/
If you haven’t been using Drop while shopping, stop reading and go download their app. Drop members earn points from shopping through the app and can instantly redeem rewards from brands like Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks to name a few.
As Canadians, we love the winter but hate the freezing cold. Sabrina Hémond, the founder of HotPoc, recently developed two innovative ideas to help Canadians make the most of the winter season.
- Reusable hand warmers to limit the environmental impact of disposable ones
- Sleeping bag for your phone to prevent it from shutting down due to cold weather.
The startup launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2021 to source used coats as material to make their Sleepers. They even reached their goal of raising $50 000 in 30 days!
Winter lovers should definitely check out the HotPoc store here: https://www.hotpoc.ca/en/
Upon discovering this Montreal-based company, we were blown away by its clear and purposeful mission to give every student an equal opportunity to excel academically.
Paper partners with K-12 schools throughout the U.S. and Canada to give every student an equal opportunity to excel academically. With Paper, over one million learners have access to 24/7 support and extra tutoring help. In just one year, they went from 100 tutors to 1000!
In 2021, Paper was also named one of the 150 most transformational growth companies in digital learning by GSV EdTech 150. They also raised $100K in Series C round to open new horizons for them in terms of innovation and scalability. We look forward to seeing where they go next.
Gazelle.AI, a Montréal startup, has seen rapid growth ever since it launched a few years ago. The company uses artificial intelligence to help businesses improve their business development strategy and, eventually, accelerate their growth.
2021 has been a great year for Gazelle.AI as they were named one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch and ranked on the Globe and Mail’s Top Growing Companies list. Learn more about what they do here.
9. General Assembly Pizza
We love pizza and we love General Assembly Pizza’s innovative mindset. You’d think there wouldn’t be much room for innovation in the frozen pizza industry, right? Well GA Pizza has proved us wrong.
The Toronto-based company, which launched in 2017, became the first premium frozen pizza brand to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange after completing an oversubscribed Series A funding round in February 2021.
General Assembly Pizza is changing the game with a flagship Toronto restaurant, e-commerce offerings (frozen pizza subscription and pizza gifting service), and a premium freezer-to-table CPG line sold in grocery stores across Ontario.
In August, they launched their new user-friendly e-commerce site revealing a new eye-catching branding. Go take a look here: www.gapizza.com
The future looks bright for this Toronto venture.
We love a good win-win situation. Flashfood lets users get fresh produce at a discounted price and grocery chains reduce store-level food waste through a user-friendly app. Smart! No wonder they were featured on the CIX’s Canada’s Most Innovative Technology Companies and their CEO, Josh Domingues, was featured on the Globe and Mail’s list of Changemakers.
In 2021, Flashfood reached an impressive milestone, their service is available across 1,000 supermarkets in North America! And, a few months later, Flashfood announced its partnership with IGA Inc., the largest voluntary supermarket network in the world. Hopefully, more and more grocery stores get to participate in Flashfood’s mission to reduce food waste.
Parents know how important it is to start teaching their kids financial literacy at a young age. Wingocard, a Montreal-founded startup, is designed to help teens learn how to save, budget and understand their money.
12. BrainBox AI
As of 2019, BrainBox AI has brought the latest in artificial intelligence to the built environment, making buildings greener and more efficient. It’s always inspiring to see a business leverage artificial intelligence for the greater good. Their solution produces a saving in total energy costs of up to 25% and a 20-40% reduction in carbon footprint.
It’s been a big year for BrainBox AI. First, they presented a pilot project of their next innovation at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and it was selected as the winner of the Tech for Our Planet Challenge. Second, they raised $24M to further deploy its AI technology and develop its next phase of innovation.And third, they were named “a best workplace for technology” by Great Place to Work.
If you’re into entrepreneurship, we’d highly recommend following the businesses mentioned above on social media for a daily dose of inspiration.
Let us know in the comments which companies left a lasting impression on you this year.
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