Newsmakers

Tech sector hiring spree: Hot off news that Toronto is now North America’s third-largest tech hub, tech companies have been stacking up the hiring announcements. Facebook parent company Meta made a splash with plans to create an engineering hub in Toronto to focus on metaverse development. It plans to hire up to 2,500 employees across Canada over the next five years. Meanwhile, Sentry, a San Francisco-based company that creates tools for software developers, announced plans to open an 80-person office at King and Spadina. And Snap Inc., the maker of Snapchat, said it is doubling down on its Toronto operations and is planning to hire for roles including engineering, data analytics, sales, product development and marketing.

From pop-up to permanent spot: GoodGood, which sells locally sourced products through a pop-up store on King Street West and a delivery service, is settling down. It has signed a lease on its first permanent location on The Esplanade in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. The store will offer locally made snacks, food, beer and wine. Co-founder Kris Linney told Retail Insider that “this neighbourhood has such a strong tradition of supporting local.”

Driving positive change: The National Angel Capital Organization announced the winners of its inaugural Nation Builder of the Year awards. The awards recognize Canadian business leaders making positive changes across the country. The winners are TD Bank executive Claudette McGowan, Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih, Indigenomics Institute founder Carol Anne Hilton, and RBC senior VP John Stackhouse.

Money talk

The new fast food: Toronto-based Spatula Foods has raised $1.87 million in pre-seed funding from investors including executives at HelloFresh and Goodfood. Spatula Foods delivers flash-frozen gourmet meals that CEO Ian Weng said can be ready to eat in 10 minutes or less. “There’s nothing like Spatula on the market in Canada,” he told BetaKit.

Do you have this in a medium? Selling through social networks like Instagram has quickly become a lucrative way for brands to connect with customers. ShopThing is now taking social shopping even further. Its online marketplace offers up products through video livestreams presented by a network of shoppers. ShopThing plans on scaling its team and product thanks to a $10-million Series A round led by Origin Ventures.

Lawyers go digital: MinuteBox, a Toronto legal tech startup that enables firms to create and manage essential corporate records digitally announced a $5-million seed round. Legal firms have traditionally been slow to adopt new tech. MinuteBox co-founder and CEO Daniel Levine said that changed due to the pandemic with the need to provide services remotely. “We had the right product, at the right time, and the right service,” Levine told BetaKit.

PocketHealth secures Series A: Toronto medtech startup PocketHealth landed a $20-million Series A round led by U.S.-based investor Questa Capital and with participation from Toronto’s Radical Ventures. PocketHealth enables healthcare providers to share medical images such as X-rays with patients online and the pandemic fueled demand for its service. The company plans to use the funds to expand in the U.S.

Trends to watch

Supporting Indigenous small businesses: Shelf space is a critical component of retail success for small companies trying to break into the market. Starting this month, products from three Indigenous-led small companies will be on the shelves of select Rexall locations in the GTA. “This opportunity is reconciliation in action. When you lift up female-led, Indigenous brands, you lift the entire Indigenous community,” said jewelry maker April Mitchell-Boudreau, the owner and designer at Lofttan, one of the brands featured.

Making it

Pravda pivots: When Jasmine Daya bought Financial District mainstay Pravda Vodka House in 2020, she knew there’d be issues with running a bar during a global pandemic. Then just as restrictions were lifted, the Russian invasion of Ukraine brought an onslaught of negative reviews and criticism due to the bar’s Soviet theme. She quickly realized she needed to rebrand. Daya sat down with Toronto Life to talk about the challenges of changing the bar’s theme and name in just days.

 
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