“Our ultimate goal is for PLATO to become a majority-Indigenous owned company and be able to start sharing our success.”
This latest financing builds on Raven’s previous investment in PLATO of $500,000, which closed at the end of November 2020.
Founded in 2015 by Keith McIntosh, CEO of testing firm Professional Quality Assurance, PLATO has the mission to build a network of 1,000 Indigenous software testers across Canada. The company provides a software testing training program, an eight-month course consisting of five months of in-class training followed by a three-month internship with one of PLATO’s corporate clients.
Since launch, PLATO claims to have held 20 training programs and trained more than 225 Indigenous students in software testing. It noted that it has created a significant impact in over 60 communities, injecting more than $10 million directly into the Indigenous economy.
PLATO has offices on or near Indigenous communities across Canada. In addition to its headquarters in Fredericton, PLATO is also located in Miramichi, Sault Ste. Marie, Toronto, Calgary, Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria.
McIntosh calls Raven’s $2 million investment the “first of many on the horizon” as he expects PLATO to experience a few busy months ahead.
“We’re in discussion with five Indigenous community partners interested in investing in the company,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is for PLATO to become a majority-Indigenous owned company and be able to start sharing our success.”
McIntosh told Entrevestor that he hopes to raise a full $10 million by June, also from Indigenous investors. With a current headcount of around 260 to 270 spread across the country, he also told the outlet that PLATO plans to reach about 500 people by this time next year.
Backed by a total investment of $2.5 million from Raven, PLATO intends to continue to support the training and employment of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students as software testers, creating jobs from coast to coast.
PLATO has been active in expanding its impact on Indigenous communities through recent partnerships, most notably its acquisition of Information Technology Consultants Ltd., a Saskatchewan-based firm that specializes in independent IT staffing solutions for provincial organizations, including the Government of Saskatchewan, SaskTel, SaskEnergy, The Co-operators, and Farm Credit Canada.
The acquisition was completed in February, with the goal to enable PLATO to expand its footprint in the Saskatchewan market. In the same month, PLATO also announced that it is teaming up with digital health software company VeroSource Solutions Inc. to collaborate on application development projects in Manitoba initially, with aims to offer development and QA testing services to additional jurisdictions later in 2022.
In November, PLATO partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Bank of Montréal to develop AWS re/Start, a tech training program for Indigenous students in Canada.
PLATO’s deal with AWS and BMO will virtually deliver a 12-week cloud computing training course, followed by a six-month internship with BMO; the program is meant to prepare students for an entry-level career opportunity with the financial institution.
Featured image courtesy of PLATO Testing.
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