Fastest-growing tech company in Canada responds to COVID-19

ApplyBoard raises $100 million and doubles down on commitment to international students and co-op ed

If you want to understand how a University of Waterloo alumni startup became Canada’s fastest growing tech company, you may want to look at how it responded to the COVID-19 crisis.

When the pandemic hit, ApplyBoard doubled down on its commitment to international students, the safety of its staff and the company’s co-operative education students. 

“Student success and well-being are always at the centre of everything we do, and COVID-19 has only heightened our attention to students, says ApplyBoard CEO and co-founder Martin Basiri (MASc ’13).There is far more at stake than economics. We are talking about the lives and futures of human beings who have, in many respects, placed themselves in our care.”

ApplyBoard closes $100 million funding round during pandemic

The ApplyBoard team raised $100 million in funding during the pandemic. This means it can expand the company’s reach by improving technology and partnering with more educational institutions around the world to serve more students.

Basiri co-founded the company with his brothers Meti and Massi in 2015 to help international students apply to colleges and universities in North America. In 2019, ApplyBoard topped the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking as the fastest-growing tech company in Canada with a three-year growth rate of 12,525 per cent. The company partners with more than 1,200 educational institutions around the world and has assisted more than 100,000 students.

Student success and well-being are always at the centre of everything we do and COVID-19 has only heightened our attention to students. 

Basiri said he’s grateful his employees are able to work from home so his entire team can commit to assisting students through this crisis by working closely with government agencies to enact policies and procedures that safeguard their future. “We want to ensure international education remains a priority for Canada. We are staying connected with our partner schools and students to understand their needs during this time, and how we as an organization can rise to the challenge and help them,” Basiri said.

ApplyBoard supports co-op student hiring

ApplyBoard’s engagement with students extends to the deep commitment it has to co-operative education students from the University of Waterloo. Basiri received a graduate degree from Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering and says the COVID-19 crisis has not affected the company’s hiring of co-op students. He says Waterloo’s co-operative education program is a rich source of talent for the company.

“Our co-op hiring has not slowed down and we just welcomed a new cohort of co-op students. ApplyBoard is honouring all of our co-op agreements, and we expect that co-op students will continue to be an important part of our company culture,” says Basiri.

Basiri, who grew up in Iran, says the company’s success is built upon his own frustrating and time-consuming experience applying to graduate schools in North America, as well as a laser focus on students.

This well-established mindset and culture within the company allowed ApplyBoard to swiftly respond to the current global crisis, Basiri says. “We will look back on how we supported our students during this crisis. Our actions now will affect our relationships with both domestic and international students for years to come.”

Hear from Martin Basiri at the virtual Waterloo Innovation Summit

On July 22, join CCO and editor of Forbes, Randall Lane, alongside global leaders and influential entrepreneurs, as he explores how talent and innovation collide in the race to reset today’s workforce and rebuild economies. Register today.

Photography by Hilary Gauld Camilleri at One for the Wall