Newsmakers

Willow wants to sell you 100,000th of a property: Toronto-based startup Willow just dropped out of stealth mode and is now trying to get Canadians to buy and sell fractions of properties. The company splits up rent-generating purpose-built multiplexes, commercial and industrial buildings into 100,000 “units of ownership,” which it sells online. With many would-be landlords priced out of Canada’s soaring market, Willow told Betakit it has 10,000 customers on its wait list.

Hyatt heads north: Michael Hyatt, the BlueCat founder turned angel investor and dragon on CBC’s Next Gen Den, has joined Northleaf Capital Partners as a senior advisor. Hyatt says he aims to bring an entrepreneur’s viewpoint to Northleaf’s VC and growth equity programs, which have invested in big-name Canadian ventures such as Ecobee, Shopify, Freshbooks and Wattpad.

CDL hits double digits: The Creative Destruction Lab is celebrating its 10th year of supporting entrepreneurs and startups. Since launching in 2011, CDL says it has helped create $15 billion in equity value and supported some of Canada's best-known startups, including Bridgit, Plum, Medstack and Ada.

Money talk

Koho’s megadeal: Koho CEO Daniel Eberhard told Betakit that the alternative banking startup has found its “flywheel,” after the Toronto-based company announced a $210-million series D. That’s one of the largest-ever fintech funding rounds in Canada. The startup recently launched a service that provides a line of credit for $7 month to people who need help to improve their credit scores.

Fyyne raises pre-seed round: Toronto beauty tech company Fyyne announced a pre-seed funding round to help it address the difficulty of finding barbers and hairstylists offering services for Black hair. The startup was founded by three University of Toronto students, Jeffrey Fasegha, Olugbenga Olubanjo and Al-Ameen Ogundiran.

MaRS IAF launches $100M fund: Turning past success into new opportunities, MaRS announced a $100-million fund called Graphite Ventures. Graphite will offer seed and pre-seed capital for startups. The fund, which will be run separately from MaRS IAF, will focus on the B2B SaaS, digital health, fintech, proptech and capital-efficient hardware sectors.

Trends to watch

Direct-to-consumer cremations: You can already buy a car or get a mortgage online, and now you can arrange a funeral digitally, too. The New York Times looks at three startups changing the cremation and funeral planning industries, including Toronto-based Eirene, which enables users to arrange everything online or over the phone. Founder Mallory Greene told the Times that cremation is “one of the industries that really hasn’t changed in the past 100 years”.

Buying things with Bitcoin … maybe: With the Bank of Canada looking into creating a digital loonie, the idea of using cryptocurrencies as actual money — rather than just rollercoaster investments — is resurfacing. The Globe and Mail found one Mississauga dentist who has recently started accepting payment in cryptocurrencies, but it says most small-business owners are still struggling to make crypto part of daily commerce.

Solar panels hide in plain sight: North America’s largest solar power generating wall is being constructed on an industrial building in Etobicoke. According to BlogTO, the 7,000-square-foot wall will generate over 90,000 kWh of renewable energy, but will likely be unnoticed by passersby. It is a new kind of solar panel called “building-integrated photovoltaics” that is designed to blend in with the architecture.

 
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