Going On 30: Brianna Blaney’s newest company pockets big deal

The former 30 Under 30 winner scored an oversubscribed funding round for Pocketed, a platform that helps businesses win grants.

You always hear that in business, failure breeds success. Although the former wasn’t exactly in Brianna Blaney’s nature, it played a key role in her journey. 

A few years ago, Blaney was profiled in this magazine for her stewardship of Envol Strategies, the recruitment disruptor she founded. That company is still going strong, with 16 employees, and saw 600-percent growth over the past year.  

But early in 2020, Blaney took steps to launch a second endeavour, a predictive hiring and retention platform for restaurants and retailers. That business got off to a promising start, but after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, things turned rocky. “It was like dominoes with customers going out of business,” Blaney recalls. “The timing and product market fit just wasn’t right.” 

But that venture planted the seeds for the next one. “We realized what a massive role grant funding played in building that business, but still felt it was unnecessarily painful to access,” Blaney says. “We learned that the problem wasn’t unique to us—everybody we spoke to shared our frustrations around how hard it is to find programs you’re eligible for.”

READ MORE: She’s bringing a new approach to the recruitment business

So she and co-founder Aria Hahn created Pocketed, a platform built to streamline access to grant funding for small and medium-sized businesses. Officially launched this February, Vancouver-based Pocketed has about 15 employees and has helped more than 2,000 companies secure a total of some $10 million in financing. “It’s really rapid growth at every stage right now,” Blaney says.  

The company has managed to grab some funding dollars for itself as well, to the tune of $1 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by WUTIF Capital. 

Because the platform itself is free (though there is a premium model in the works), Pocketed generates revenue through managed market funding, whereby it helps businesses apply for the grants in question and earns transaction fees for that service.

“The big justification for why we’re building Pocketed is going back to the vision piece—how do we take this opportunity to really level the playing field and help all entrepreneurs successfully access non-diluted funding?” asks Blaney, who points out that 50 percent of Pocketed’s customers identify as having a female founder and 22 percent have a founder who’s part of a visible minority.  

“There’s so much funding available in Canada and the U.S., all of the Western world,” she maintains. “Billions of dollars in Canada alone, which is, frankly, a small market.”