30 Under 30: Joseph Lee is streamlining traditional processes with Freshline and Supademo

Supademo is fast-tracking product demos while Freshline is digitizing food distribution.

Joseph Lee, 28

Co-founder, Supademo and Freshline

Life Story: Not everyone can say they used to meet people in shady Vancouver parking lots at 14 years old, but not everyone’s first entrepreneurial venture was arbitraging retail electronics.

“I would go out and buy electronics in bulk… and flip them on Craigslist,” Joseph Lee recalls with excitement. “It helped pay for the first year of university, which got me hooked on entrepreneurship.”

By his fourth year at UBC, Lee had dropped out. Instead of completing his computer science and business degree, he dove headfirst into Coastline Market, a B2B seafood marketplace he co-founded with Robert Kirstiuk in 2016 to connect commercial harvesters with restaurants. Coastline’s technology, which managed all of the logistics of transporting seafood, reeled in investors like U.S.-based Techstars and made it to Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 list in 2018, only to have to pivot into what is Toronto-based Freshline today. “It’s an e-commerce and operations platform built specifically for food distributors,” Lee explains.

After attracting $2.4 million in venture capital and growing to a team of 16, the company faced the arrival of COVID and the resulting restaurant closures. But Lee’s team was able to spin everything they learned into Freshline, a SaaS product that any supplier could use to digitize their sales.

Then, at the start of 2023, Lee co-founded Supademo with U.S.-based fellow entrepreneur Koushik Marka. “It’s the fastest and easiest way for anyone to create interactive [product] demos and tours,” Lee says of the fully remote company.

Even though he’s come a long way from those shady parking lots, Lee still has the same goal. “I think what drives me in life is to create something from nothing,” he maintains. “It’s the most profound way for me to learn, grow and amplify impact.”

Bottom Line: Supademo helps people and teams demonstrate product features upfront “without paywalling or forcing folks to sign up,” as Lee puts it. The company was able to surpass 2,000 users within five months of launching.

Freshline, on the other hand, was one of six food-tech projects to secure funding from the Canadian Food Innovation Network in May. It received $83,908 from the organization’s Innovation Booster program to improve its B2B platform.