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10 exciting companies founded by UWaterloo alumni

10 exciting companies founded by University of Waterloo alumni, the school that produced the founders of BlackBerry, OpenText, Faire and more.

The University of Waterloo has a global reputation as a technology and innovation powerhouse. One of the world’s top technology schools, UWaterloo was named “Canada’s Most Innovative University” for 28 consecutive years.

The university’s impressive tech credentials are amplified by a unique creator-owned intellectual property policy that grants full ownership to the inventor. Pair that with a community that’s home to Canada’s #1 private business accelerator, Canada’s most productive incubator and Canada’s top innovation hub, and you have a recipe for new business creation.

And UWaterloo alumni have created lots of new businesses. The big ones include BlackBerry and OpenText, which are both multinational giants. Then there’s our community of scaling companies – ApplyBoard, Vidyard and Auvik Networks, for example – and a few hundred additional companies falling in the startup-to-scale-up range. Oh, and then we have recent unicorns like Faire and Arctic Wolf – both of which have major offices in Waterloo and the United States and started with at least one Waterloo-based founder. In total, more than 1,000 companies have been founded by UWaterloo grads.

In fact, 18% of all founders in Canada come from UWaterloo.

We’re dealing with so many companies that we had to put some guardrails on this top-10 list. So, here are some of the most exciting companies founded by UWaterloo grads that aren’t located in Waterloo.

1. Wish

Wish is one of the world’s leading e-commerce platforms and the number one shopping app in more than 40 countries. The company saw $2 billion in revenue in 2020 alone and is now worth over $14 billion. Wish’s unique approach to online shopping is centered around connecting consumers with affordable products, allowing the company to target a previously underserved market.

Co-founders Piotr Szulczewski, the CEO, and Danny Zhang both studied math and computer science at UWaterloo.

2. Databricks

Databricks helps organizations store and manage their data. The company’s data platform and services enable massive-scale data engineering, collaborative data science, full-lifecycle machine learning and business analytics. In February of this year, Databricks raised $1 billion in a Series G funding round, putting the company’s post-money valuation at $28 billion. Databricks is also the only unified data platform available across all three clouds—Google Cloud, AWS, and Microsoft Azure.

Co-founder and Chief Technologist Matei Zaharia studied computer science at UWaterloo and has since worked as an assistant professor at MIT and Stanford in addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits.

Waterloo's Tech Sector

3. Instacart

Instacart, the leading online grocery platform in North America, just doubled its valuation to $39 billion on a $265 million funding round. The company, which has raised over $2.7 billion in eight years, has seen rapid growth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as consumer demand for safe, convenient delivery services skyrocketed. The new funding will be used to expand Instacart’s corporate headcount by 50% and increase advertising.

Instacart’s Co-founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta graduated with a BASc in Electrical Engineering from UWaterloo.

4. Snapcommerce

Snapcommerce began as travel booking service (Snaptravel) that helped users find deals and book flights and hotel rooms through SMS. Now, the company is poised to cross $1 billion in total mobile sales as their AI-powered mobile platform helps consumers identify promotions and connect with merchants through their phones. Snapcommerce’s recent $107 million raise will support the company’s entrance into new markets.

Co-founders Hussein Fazal and Henry Shi graduated from UWaterloo’s math department.

5. Blend

Blend’s digital lending platform simplifies the application process for mortgages, consumer loans and deposit accounts. The company’s latest raise – $300 million this year – saw Blend nearly double its valuation to $3.3 billion in just five months. With their recent acquisition of insurance provider Title365, Blend is prepared to streamline the full homebuying process.

Rosco Hill, one of the Blend co-founders, studied computer engineering at UWaterloo.

6. Top Hat

Top Hat is an edtech company that provides the first ever all-in-one platform for higher education. Top Hat’s eight-figure revenue is supported by more than 750 top universities and colleges across North America and it’s growing fast. In February of this year, Top Hat raised $130 million at a valuation of $500 million to support an ongoing series of publishing acquisitions.

Co-founders Mike Silagadze (BASc in Electrical Engineering) and Mohsen Shahini (PhD in Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation Engineering) both studied at UWaterloo.

7. Netskope

Cybersecurity company Netskope offers cloud-based data protection for businesses. Netskope’s data-centric approach to cloud security is unique in its speed and reliability, and the company has been recognized for their industry leading security solutions. Since its founding in 2012, the company has raised over $740 million, most recently at an almost $3 billion valuation.

Sanjay Beri, the CEO and co-founder, studied computer engineering at UWaterloo.

Waterloo: Inventing the Future

8. RefleXion Medical

RefleXion Medical is revolutionizing cancer treatment. The company develops biology-guided radiotherapy that can detect and respond to signals emitted from the cancer itself, using it to guide the treatment. RefleXion’s health tech innovation has driven significant advancements in localized cancer treatment. The company finished a $150 million funding round in early March, which included major investments from Pfizer Ventures and Johnson & Johnson. The money will support RefleXion’s market entry strategy for Asia.

RefleXion’s co-founders, Akshay Nanduri and Samuel Mazin (also the CTO) both studied computer engineering at UWaterloo.

9. SingleStore

SingleStore is a scalable SQL database that simplifies companies’ data management and analytics. SingleStore’s all-in-one data management platform provides companies with simplified access to real-time data, enabling them to deliver more value faster. Previously known as MemSQL, SingleStore rebranded in 2020 and the company has since raised $80 million and announced a partnership with software giant SAS.

SingleStore’s Co-founder and CTO Adam Prout studied math and computer science at UWaterloo.

10. PagerDuty

PagerDuty offers real-time visibility and insight into users’ apps and services through its digital operations management platform. Since its inception in 2009, PagerDuty has raised over $170 million and acquired several companies to expand its offerings.

Co-founders Baskar Puvanathasan (Computer Engineering) and Alex Solomon (Software Engineering) are graduates of UWaterloo.

Want to learn more about the incredible talent pipeline you’ll find in Waterloo?