Ottawa-based Canvaspop acquired by Colorado printer

Nazim Ahmed and Adrian Salamunovic
Nazim Ahmed and Adrian Salamunovic

An Ottawa firm that capitalized on the rapid adoption of mobile cameras and social media by building a business around turning its customers’ photographs into customized artwork has been acquired by a U.S. printing firm.

Canvaspop, which was officially launched in 2009 and secured millions of dollars of investments – including receiving the backing of several major executives in the city’s technology sector – was purchased by Colorado-based Circle Graphics, which is owned by H.I.G. Capital. Financial terms of the transaction, which closed earlier this week, were not disclosed.

Canvaspop co-founders Adrian Salamunovic and Nazim Ahmed teamed up in 2005 to launch a custom printing firm called DNA11. That venture led to Canvaspop, which grew to create a variety of custom prints on a range of materials including canvas and throw pillows for more than 450,000 individual customers in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Australia. In addition to its Hintonburg headquarters, Canvaspop also operated a production facility in Las Vegas.

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Canvaspop navigated a rapidly changing photography and consumer landscape throughout its history, including the near-ubiquitous adoption of smartphone cameras and social media. For example, Canvaspop was the first firm to integrate with Instagram for large-scale prints.

In 2018, the company secured a $3.3-million seed round led by Celtic House Venture Partners and BDC Capital. Med-Eng co-founder Richard L’Abbé participated in the investment, as did Shopify’s Tobi Lütke and Cody Fauser.

Salamunovic stepped aside a few months later, but said at the time that he would remain a shareholder and board director.

In a statement, Circle Graphics CEO Andrew Cousin highlighted Canvaspop’s “well-established global following” and said the acquisition is an opportunity to “accelerate its growth and provide them the resources they need to maximize their vision.

Ahmed paid tribute to Canvaspop’s employees in a LinkedIn post, calling the team the “only one reason Canvaspop continues to thrive and is currently in the healthiest state that it has ever been in.”

“We all grew together, evolved together and learnt together and there is nothing better than doing those things with a group of people you feel energized to work with,” Ahmed wrote.

Meanwhile, Ahmed said in his LinkedIn post that he would have “another big announcement coming in a couple of weeks regarding my next move.”

“I am just getting started,” he wrote.

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