Kitchener, Ont., startup hits $1B valuation to become Canada's latest 'unicorn'
Two of Applyboard's founders pose with Jo Johnson after his appointment to the company's advisory board in 2020. (Submitted)
KITCHENER -- It’s an elite club.
Kitchener, Ont.-based ApplyBoard says it has become the country's third "unicorn," a title achieved when a privately-held startup reaches a value of $1 billion.
The company says that the there are two others in Canada. Tech market intelligence platform CI Insights lists two companies on its website: Nuvei, a Montreal-based payments processor, and Coveo, a Quebec artificial intelligence startup.
ApplyBoard, a platform that helps students apply to top schools around the world, is celebrating its fifth anniversary on May 5, which makes it the Canadian company that achieved this milestone in the shortest amount of time.
"I feel very good because we worked very hard for where we are right now," said CEO and Co-Founder Martin Basiri.
"We really didn’t care that much about the result, in terms of numbers," he added. "We really like to stick to our mission to make education accessible to students around the world."
Martin, Meti, and Massi Basiri launched the company in 2015 after facing their own challenges coming to Canada as international students, on the belief that education has the power to change lives.
They created ApplyBoard as an online platform where students from around the world can apply to top schools in Canada, the U.S., and the United Kingdom.
It streamlines the process by allowing students to easily search for programs, and guiding them through the application, step-by-step.
The process also helps schools recruit the best international students.
Martin Basiri says demand for their service has gone up since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have seen a huge spike in demand because universities, colleges and high schools do want to recruit the students overseas, but they cannot travel because of the pandemic," he explains.
"So they are coming to us because we are the only entwined digital platform that can help them during this time."
Basiri says the entire team has been working remotely, and everyone is happy and safe.
"Our team is really diverse," he said, "which really helped with solving problems in a different manner."
The company says it was recognized last year by Deloitte as Canada’s fastest-growing tech company.