An online learning company that was started by a Waterloo Engineering student who challenged himself to think big is now poised to go public.

D2L Corp., which was founded in 1999 while John Baker (BASc '00) was still an undergraduate student in systems design engineering, filed a prospectus with regulators this week to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol DTOL.

The move comes after the Kitchener-based company got a boost from a shift to digital learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, with revenues rising to US $138 million in the year ending July 31, up 21 per cent from the previous year.

'Never more vital'

“D2L’s mission has never been more vital,” Baker, the founder and chief executive officer, wrote in a letter to investors included with the filing.

The company did not list a target share price for the initial public offering, which is being led by TD Securities and BMO Capital Markets.

Now boasting more than 900 employees worldwide, D2L – formerly known as Desire2Learn – was launched after Baker, then just 22, gave himself a tech-for-good challenge during the third year of his undergraduate engineering studies at Waterloo.

“I challenged myself to find the most important problem I could solve, that would have the biggest impact on the world,” he wrote in his letter to investors.

'An idea sparked my imagination'

“Inspired by my own family of educators and my experiences at university, an idea sparked my imagination one day as I walked across campus – learning is the foundation for progress and the impact of work in this area would have a ripple effect from one person to the next, and ripple through generations, communities, companies, and cultures.”

D2L’s core product is Brightspace, a cloud-based platform that helps users design and deliver courses, learning content, educational games and assessments.

Its customers include more than 500 post-secondary institutions, 150 K-12 schools and districts, 50 professional associations and industry groups, and 300 businesses, healthcare institutions and governments in over 40 countries.

Baker was honoured by Waterloo Engineering in 2010 as the recipient of its Young Alumni Achievement Medal for his success as an entrepreneur and ongoing commitment to the University of Waterloo.