How an eBike Firm Managed to Grow During the Pandemic
“With funding like this, we’re able to make competitive pay for people from other provinces to get them to move to Saskatoon and Saskatchewan.”
That’s what Biktrix founder and CEO Roshan Thomas said this summer. His Saskatoon-based eBike firm was one of a number of businesses receiving funding from the Business Scale-Up and Productivity (BSP) program through Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan).
Biktrix custom-builds electric bikes in Saskatoon, directly selling them online and showing them to prospective owners in-person at storefronts in Saskatoon and British Columbia. The bikes are designed in Canada and are completely customizable by the buyer. The company exports worldwide and has customers in the USA, Europe, and the Middle East.
Like many other companies, Biktrix struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was hard to meet salary expectations, resulting in a labour shortage that hurt employers across the country. So, Thomas applied for funding from PrairiesCan. Biktrix received a $3.5 million interest-free loan, allowing it to keep growing and bring software and hardware for its eBikes to market.
This funding gave Biktrix the chance to train local, Saskatoon-based workers while also recruiting new hires from across Canada by offering competitive wages. Opening the door for skilled labour in Saskatchewan helps brand the province as an attractive place to work. It even helps attract those with little or no experience in the growing e-commerce sector. For example, Thomas was able to hire an employee who, at the time, was making sandwiches. PrairiesCan funding enabled him to pair this recruit with a senior web developer and learn the skills needed to succeed in his new role.
In June, the Hon. Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, announced funding of almost $26 million for 11 innovative businesses in Saskatchewan, including Biktrix. The funds would help them expand, modernize their operations, and create jobs with competitive wages. PrairiesCan delivered these funds through the Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program and the Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF). The funds are expected to result in over $470 million in revenue for the province, including more than $290 million in export sales.
Through BSP, PrairiesCan supports high-growth businesses that are scaling up and producing innovative goods, services, or technologies. It offers interest free repayable funding to incorporated businesses.
The success of Saskatchewan-based firms like Biktrix is precisely why the Government funds them in the first place. As Minister Vandal said when announcing the funding, “Saskatchewan’s economy is strong, and the businesses supported today are just a few examples of what makes Saskatchewan a great place to invest, do business, and grow.”
Thomas agreed, stating that PrairiesCan funding will help “catapult our growth by hiring more qualified staff and generating more economic impact through local and export sales.”
It’s that kind of partnership between the federal government and local small and medium-sized businesses that turn funding needs into local success stories. Biktrix joins a growing list of partners that have navigated economic challenges in a changing world, and adapted their operations to keep growing.
You can read more about Biktrix and other success stories on PrairiesCan website. The stories are sorted by sector, ranging from manufacturing to tourism and life sciences. You can also follow on Twitter or LinkedIn to get the latest news on funding programs and how they help grow and stabilize local economies.
As Minister Vandal said in June, “To succeed in the new global economy, businesses need to commercialize their cutting-edge products and services to accelerate growth and create new markets. When those promising businesses need that extra help to achieve success, our government will be there to help.”