E-commerce giants are lending cash: Shopify and Square are introducing loan programs to compensate for declining e-commerce revenue streams. In exchange for a percentage of future sales, the companies offer loans to small businesses that need financial support. “If they go through a rough spot, and we’re able to keep them in business over time, we’re able to help them survive,” Square Banking’s Luke Voiles told the Globe and Mail.
Crypto companies want trust: Nine Canadian companies, including Toronto-based Wealthsimple and Coinsquare, are joining U.S.-based industry group Travel Rule Universal Solution Technology (TRUST). TRUST was formed to create a standard approach for cryptocurrency companies to combat international money laundering.
ReturnBear gets a new boss: Former Shopify GM Sylvia Ng has joined ReturnBear as CEO. The Toronto-based company offers retailers an end-to-end solution to handle product returns in physical locations. The company was developed by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan’s in-house venture builder, Koru, to address a growing demand for help with e-commerce product returns from partners, including Cadillac Fairview.
Forma raises $45-million Series B: Sales performance management startup Forma AI has raised a $45-million Series B led by ACME Capital. Forma’s software is designed to help enterprise companies optimize their sales compensation using artificial intelligence.
Fable secures US$10.5 million: Toronto-based Fable Tech Labs has announced a US$10.5-million investment led by Five Elms Capital with backing from Toronto financier John Ruffolo. The startup helps companies make their products accessible to customers with physical disabilities. “We think that by helping them, we’re unlocking access to many more users on the net,” Fable founder and CEO Alwar Pillai told the Globe & Mail.
Humi closes $31-million Series B: Human resources startup Humi announced a $31-million Series B led by Kensington Capital Partners. The company reported a five-times increase in users during the pandemic. In addition to its cloud-based HR solution, Humi now offers customers business insurance options, an employee benefits marketplace, and tools for recruiting and onboarding.
Ryna is making renting easier and safer for women: Sheryl Song and KD Dao are behind Ryna, a platform that helps women, members of BIPOC communities, and like-minded allies find a safe and affordable place to rent. Ryna uses an algorithm to connect compatible roommates, and it has partnered with select institutional landlords to source safe rental units.
Architect by day, potter by night: Garbo Zhu has turned her ceramic hobby into a full-time business with Grumpy Kid Studio. Zhu, a graduate of the architecture program at Toronto Metropolitan University, took up ceramics as a hobby at a local pottery studio. Today, she creates colourful mugs and other dishware that sell out quickly with each release.
Swedish candy side hustle: Toronto-based publicist Jen Knox has launched an online store offering tasty treats from Sweden. Knox’s stepfather was from Sweden and introduced her to the country’s candies. Knox tried to order from a U.S.-based online store during a pandemic-fueled craving, but the shipping fees to Canada were too high. She started researching distributors online, and that’s when the idea for Konfekt, an online store for made-in-Sweden candies, was born. “It was like, wait a second, I’m not the only person who loves this stuff,” Knox told Toronto Life.
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