In six short years the number of offices owned by Toronto-based fintech startup RateHub.ca has quadrupled, its employee numbers have increased more than 15 times over – and today, the company announced it has received nearly half a million dollars in funding from the Canadian government.
RateHub secured the funding, worth up to $495,000, through the National Research Council of Canada-sponsored Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP).
“We have been growing quickly, and we’re self-funded, so we’ve been re-investing profits,” RateHub CEO and founder Alyssa Furtado told ITBusiness.ca. “Receiving such a large contribution means we can grow at an even bigger scale – bringing on incredibly talented developers, product managers, and designers, so that we can really invest in the company’s future.”
Like all IRAP funding recipients, RateHub was required to prove the money will be used to support research and development projects that will benefit Canada’s economy, she said.
“When you’re putting together your application you not only have to outline your project, but successfully communicate how it’s going to A) be successful; and B) drive results for Canadians,” Furtado said.
In RateHub’s case, the company plans to invest the money into building a new user platform, to help strengthen its relationship with its user base, she said.
Since Furtado founded RateHub in 2010, its employee base has grown from three to more than 50, and it now has four offices across Canada.
While the current website, which offers Canadians mortgage rate, credit card, savings account, and insurance comparisons, serves some 350,000 monthly visitors, the majority disappear after receiving a referral, she said.
“Right now a customer comes to RateHub, compares rates, maybe submits a lead, and then we never speak to them again,” Furtado said. “We want to develop a user platform that would actually have them create a profile on our site, so that we could learn more about their financial background and refer them to other products tailored for them.
“That way, instead of just providing them with a mortgage, we can offer them the best credit cards, or know when they need a home insurance product, or give them better information when they’re looking for a GIC,” she continued.
Asked if she had any more advice for other companies applying for IRAP funding, Furtado noted that the department employs staff of its own to research and identify companies with strong earning potential – especially at higher levels.
As a result, while some companies might have luck applying for a smaller $50,000 research grant, or for the organization’s youth employment program, which provides small- and medium-sized businesses with the funds needed to hire students or recent graduates, larger projects such as RateHub’s user platform typically require an existing relationship, she said.
“You usually have to start with the smaller projects, build rapport with them, show a history of follow-through, and then you can apply for the larger projects,” Furtado said.