GEDI Exchange

Member profile: Brigade

Work at Toronto Pearson Airport and digital sign

Brigade is Canada’s most innovative digital integrator and a member of the GEDI Exchange. Matt Austin, president of Brigade, provides his thoughts on his company and perspective on Brigade’s connection to the University of Waterloo.

In a short pitch, how would you describe Brigade’s offerings? What makes it innovative? What industry sectors and/or customers are you focused on?

Brigade is a fully digital design, build, integration company that helps the client from planning to permitting, installing, and integrating their digital solution from video walls to drive-thru menu boards. Our innovation comes from merging our partnerships with startups and their novel technologies to larger clients in commercial space, from banking to quick-service restaurants.

Providing more detail, what is the value proposition of Brigade’s offerings? Examples could include the underlying technology, new capabilities, cost reduction, risk reduction, improved performance, new business model, etc.

We are a double-facing digital installer. For startups, we are a “one-call” installer of novel technologies that can help startups in their go-to-market (GTM) strategy by enabling and servicing their pilot projects. For larger commercial clients, we install a diversity of digital features. We also present novel technologies from startups with plans for integration and installation. Simultaneously, we de-risk the adoption of these leading-edge technologies. We do this by bringing forward only those that have achieved a reasonable level of maturity, conducting rigorous tests and trials, and wrapping them with optional additional levels of support.

What is Brigade’s biggest achievement/success story to date?

One of Brigade’s biggest achievements was the installation of hundreds of displays at Toronto Pearson Airport. This included the large, curved departure boards on the ceiling at Terminal 3, the arrival screens at Terminal 1 where one goes to greet travellers, and the baggage carousel displays at both terminals. For national success, it would be being chosen as an installation partner for Tim Hortons’ outdoor digital menu board across Canada, expanding our presence in Western and Atlantic Canada.

What does the future hold for Brigade?

Brigade will continue to grow nationally by partnering with startups in their GTM strategy while consolidating ourselves as a national electrical contractor focused on digital integration. Within the next five years, a big focus will be on office automation and changes to make office space multi-use once the pandemic concludes.

Another focus will be in quick-service restaurants that have decided during the pandemic to start changing from static menu boards to digital across multiple major brands with the capability to pay at the menu board. Brigade is positioning to be a part of this massive change while identifying further automation in the drive-thru experience.  We are comfortable working with integrating innovations from startups that are powered by AI, big data, 5G, and so forth.

What is Brigade’s connection to the University of Waterloo?

Brigade’s founder, Matt Austin, was accepted into the Arts & Business program at the University of Waterloo. Part of the class of 2007, Matt's studies were halted from 2006-2009, as he was involved in the combat operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Completing full-time service with the Canadian Armed Forces, Matt returned to UWaterloo and graduated in 2010. From 2019 onwards, Brigade has been actively present on campus at pitching events and entrepreneur meetings.

Why did you decide to join the GEDI Exchange? What do you want to get out of it?

We decided to join the GEDI Exchange to help startups in their GTM strategy gain access to key market players while positioning Brigade to be the integrator and installer of choice for new and novel technologies.

Brigade