Varcoe: Tech sector gets more traction in Calgary as big investors target Attabotics

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Moran said the investment from Ontario Teachers’ and Honeywell is a validation of the original OCIF grant and the ability of Attabotics to evolve and expand.

“This is significant,” she said. “We still have gaps in our ecosystem, there’s no question about it. But this instils confidence that there is (more) opportunity here.”

Moran noted venture capital financing for Calgary-based companies hit $136 million last year. During the first quarter, that figure stood at $44 million from five deals, while several larger transactions have occurred since the spring.

For example, Calgary-based software firm Symend raised $73 million in May during a funding round led by Inovia Capital, and has also experienced significant growth during the pandemic.

Consumer behaviour is shifting and Symend’s customers, such as banks and telecommunication firms, are increasingly using its customer-engagement platform that deals with delinquent accounts, CEO Hanif Joshaghani said Wednesday.

“Closing that (financing) round enabled us to very decisively and aggressively scale the business to meet the moment,” he said.

“We have hired 100 people since COVID and we’re hiring five to 10 people a week at this point and have very, very ambitious plans to build a global business, headquartered out of Calgary. So the capital was a key stepping stone towards that.”

For Gravelle, the public interest and outside investment is something he didn’t anticipate when the company was created. He sees the investment as a vote of confidence — one that shows Attabotics is well funded and ready to chase the opportunities ahead of it.

“We built a business from the ground up to actually solve problems,” he said.

“I never imagined this. I never planned this, I never started out saying this is what we’re going to do. I just saw one problem that we started to build a solution for.”

Chris Varcoe is a Calgary Herald columnist.

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