Kanata’s Martello Technologies wasted no time proving why 2018 will be its year. In just the first week, the fast-growing firm announced a merger with Montreal’s Elfiq Networks. But it’s only going to get bigger from there.
New CEO John Proctor confirmed what outgoing chief executive Bruce Linton hinted at last year, that Martello may seek an initial public offering in 2018. If that weren’t enough, Martello is also still looking for acquisitions – “The hunt is still on,” Proctor says.
Martello has made waves in the Ottawa business community as a company to watch since it was founded in 2009. A child of Wesley Clover International, the firm develops software to support cloud-based communication systems, specifically focusing on Mitel customers. Martello has been one of OBJ’s fastest-growing firms and led Ottawa companies on the 2017 Profit 500 list of Canada’s rising stars.
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The field is open for a Martello IPO to be Ottawa’s sole public offering this year. If its ambitions pan out, it could end up being the city’s biggest tech story of 2018.
Montreal made waves with blockbuster artificial intelligence investments in 2017, but Ottawa’s best chance for an AI leader may be in MindBridge AI.
MindBridge applies its AI algorithms to fraud detection, alerting auditors to discrepancies and anomalies in the books. The firm has already garnered attention from fintech heavyweights such as the Bank of England, partnering on proof-of-concept projects with the massive institution.
Deloitte Canada also named MindBridge as a startup to watch on its 2017 Fast 50 list.
In June of last year, MindBridge scored $4.3 million in seed funding from investors such as the Capital Angels Network, Montreal’s Real Ventures and Silicon Valley-based 8VC, a fund that counts former prime minister Stephen Harper among its advisers.
The firm raised its seed round to meet international demand for its product, its founder Solon Angel said. CEO Eli Fathi told Techopia Live a few months later that the firm has a disruptive product in a hot market, and the main concern he has is making sure the firm doesn’t grow too quickly. Good problem to have.
Fathi believes MindBridge’s success can be a boon for Ottawa, which he told Techopia Live can become a hub for AI startups.
“Our intention is to actually put Ottawa on the map, plant the flag here that we are open to business in AI, we have great companies and we can become a centre of excellence in this area,” he said.
But MindBridge AI isn’t the only local startup with momentum (and funding) in artificial intelligence. Solink is also using AI to detect fraud, in this case to analyze surveillance footage from restaurants, retail outlets and banks. By establishing a pattern of behaviour from videos, Solink’s software can flag suspicious behaviour to business operators.
Solink was one of OBJ’s fastest-growing firms last year, and in November it landed $5 million in financing from some high-profile funds. Chicago-based Valor Equity Partners, for example, which also counts Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and SpaceX amongst its portfolio.
Massive restaurant chains such as Tim Hortons and New York Fries already make use of Solink’s software, and investors are bullish on the firm.
Speaking last month to OBJ, CEO Mike Matta hinted at two more major clients in the pipeline that could double the firm’s current business and projected recurring revenues of $100 million in five-years time.
If comeback stories are more your thing, you may want to keep an eye on Leonovus this year. The publicly-traded firm has faced a sales dry spell for the past two years, but started to build momentum in late 2017 with a pivot to blockchain technology.
Last month, Leonovus raised an extra $13.75 million to put the finishing touches on its new product, which provides encrypted protection for clients migrating data to the cloud.
CEO Michael Gaffney told OBJ that the firm has seen an uptick in interest from potential customers now that its technology is “blockchain-hardened” (you can find an explanation of what that means here). Interested parties include a big six Canadian bank and a global healthcare data firm, both of which signed proof of concepts with the Ottawa company last year.
Gaffney says Leonovus’ technology, developed over eight years and millions in investment, was always solid but needed to be packaged in the right way. He believes he’s done that with “Leonovus 3.0,” and has thus far been able to convince investors and prospective customers that it’s worth a shot.
“I think we’re on the right track now. We’ve taken the pieces that were broken and fixed them,” he says.
Like Fathi, Gaffney believes that if Leonovus is successful it could build momentum for Ottawa’s emerging industries. He wants to build a blockchain development team in Ottawa to train homegrown talent in the increasingly-popular field, rather than exporting expertise.