2017 was a phenomenal year for VC funding in Canada, with numerous industries taking in an impressive amount of investment. For example, Canadian AI companies received $191M in financing across 22 deals in Canada’s Q3 alone, with annual funding and deal totals hitting record numbers. And the industry of AI is not alone. A number of startups from a plethora of industries have demonstrated their ability to lure investors with innovative offerings.
Upchain, a cloud-based, collaborative product development platform, raised $7.4M from Canadian investors to help companies become more efficient. Upchain is also a member of the L-SPARK accelerator, which gives early-stage Canadian SaaS companies the tools to scale their businesses. To get a better understanding of what this means for the company we spoke with Upchain CEO John Laslavic.
Congratulations on your new investment success. How will this impact the company moving forward?
It will facilitate our growth in that we will be able to build our global sales, marketing and customer success teams as well as allow us to continue to build out our vision of a platform that facilitates a connected value chain.
I understand Upchain aims to help companies become more efficient using their platform. Can you give an example of a company or case study that has really benefited from Upchain’s service?
One of our companies had a large new project that they were challenged to deliver on time due to a lack of resources at the division that one the contract. With our software, they were able to leverage resources from other divisions around the world that had bandwidth as well as engage with freelancers and outsourced engineering firms, easily integrate them into the design process quickly and easily, without our software this would have been impossible.
Sometimes entrepreneurs like to use analogies when describing an idea that is novel or innovative, is there an analogy you use or one that comes to mind when describing Upchain?
We are creating a platform where an ecosystem of creative people will be able to find each other engage and collaborate and invent together freely no matter what tools they use, what their background is or where they are geographically in the world.
Who do you consider to be your main competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
There are large enterprise software companies like Siemens, SAP, Dassault, their solutions are really designed for large enterprises, our target market –supply chain companies that are smaller and have unique challenges in managing their customers data requirements – is not serviced well by these enterprise software companies as they cannot manage their data, process nor cost requirements, we designed our software platform to service this industry and we see our software as complimentary to the large enterprise PLM solutions as we integrate to them and allow the WHOLE value chain to collaborate in real time ad hoc as required.
What was the main motivator to solve this problem, for example, did it arise from a personal experience or something you recognized others having issues with?
It arose from leading many enterprise software implementations where the vision of PLM where information flow and people collaboration was never achieved due to the issues of integrating the disparate value chain never created a platform where an ecosystem of collaboration could evolve.
On a somewhat separate note, from your LinkedIn account, I can see you have degrees in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering. What technology are you really looking forward to seeing develop over the next five years?
The evolution and integration of AI and IoT will have staggering implications in our everyday lives.