10 terrific start-ups from Toronto to watch

25 Apr 2019

Image: © rabbit75_fot/Stock.adobe.com

The Canadian city of Toronto is a thriving hub of start-up activity in areas ranging from next-generation marketing to AI, fintech and more.

As one of the biggest cities in Canada and the capital of the province of Ontario, Toronto is in many respects Canada’s start-up capital.

The city’s tech scene is booming. According to Toronto Global, the city and its surrounding region generated more tech jobs in the previous year than New York City or the San Francisco Bay Area combined.

Google has invested $5m in the Vector Institute to make Toronto one of the foremost global players in the AI space.

According to a strategic report from the City of Toronto, the start-up scene and its entrepreneurs are pivotal to the city’s future growth, and the sheer variety of companies and founders embodies the spirit of the city’s motto: ‘Diversity: Our strength.’

The city has a range of co-working hubs as well as important districts including the MaRS Discovery District and Koreatown, and active accelerators include Techstars, Creative Destruction Lab, Extreme Accelerator and Highline.

Key events include the Blockchain Futurist Conference and the Web Summit’s SaaS Monster, and there regular community meet-ups and resources such as Startup Grind and CoFounders Lab.

And so, here are the 10 start-ups from Toronto to watch in the year ahead.


Paid is a key player in the influencer marketing space and its platform brings together more than 15,000 creators and Fortune 500 brands for meaningful collaborations. Founded in 2014 by Adam Rivietz and Bryan Gold, and with offices in Toronto and New York, Paid last year raised $9m in a Series A round led by ScaleUp Ventures.

Atomic Reach

Atomic Reach has built a platform that equips marketers with the insights and tools necessary to get the greatest return from their written content. Founded in 2012, Atomic Reach is led by CEO Bradley Silver. The company has raised $10.8m in funding to date, according to Crunchbase, including $3.4m in a venture round last year involving Fidelity Investments.


BenchSci uses machine learning to scan millions of data points in biomedical research papers, generating searchable results to help shorten the drug discovery process. Raising $8m last year from investors including Google’s AI fund, BenchSci says it is trusted by more than 2,000 academic institutions and 15 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies. The company was co-founded in 2015 by Liran Belenzon, David Q Chen, Tom Leung and Elvis Wianda.


On a mission to simplify the buying and selling of digital assets, Coinsquare is a cryptocurrency trading platform. Founded in 2014 by Virgile Rostand, who was later joined by Cole Diamond in 2017, Coinsquare last year raised C$36m in Series B funding.


Ever get a tattoo and regret it a few days later? Such concerns are a thing of the past thanks to innovative biotech/e-commerce player Inkbox, which has created temporary tattoos that last one to two weeks. Founded in 2015 by brothers Braden and Tyler Handley, Inkbox raised C$17m in Series A financing last year.


NorthOne has built a mobile-first API-based banking platform that helps start-ups and small businesses to bank, manage their finances and integrate all of their financial tools. Founded in 2016, NorthOne is headed by CEO Eytan Bensoussan and COO Justin Adler. The company last year raised $2m in a seed round including angel investor Peter Graham, BetterCompany founder Tom Williams and returning investor Ferst Capital Partners.

Kira Systems

Kira Systems is a machine-learning software company that identifies, extracts and analyses text in contracts and other documents. Founded in 2011 by Noah Waisberg and Dr Alexander Hudek, Kira Systems last year raised C$65m in a Series A round from Insight Partners.


League is taking on the global health insurance industry and turning it on its head by providing companies with the ability to provide meaningful benefits to workers. Founded in 2014, League is led by veteran entrepreneur and CEO Michael Serbinis. It has raised $76.1m in funding to date, according to Crunchbase, including a C$62m Series B round last year led by Telus Ventures.


Ritual allows social ordering from your favourite restaurants and coffee shops by tapping into a network of co-workers and colleagues for fast and easy pick-up. Founded in 2014 by Larry Stinson, Ray Reddy and Robert Kim, last year the company raised $70m in a Series C round led by Georgian Partners.


Wealthsimple is a new type of financial adviser powered by data science and the expertise of former Amazon, Apple and Google workers. Founded in 2014, Wealthsimple is led by CEO Michael Katchen. Crunchbase reports that the company has raised C$166.9m in funding over five rounds, mostly led by Power Financial Corporation.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years