Tenure, based in Collingwood, is one of the hottest tech start-ups of the year, recently making #17 in the Top 500 hottest tech companies at Collision 2023, a prestigious Toronto-based fintech competition. Recently selected for the Calgary-based Fintech Showdown and awarded the IFH Lab program by Fintech Cadence – Tenure is developing a unique AI-powered employee recognition and reward platform disrupting the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEBI) industry.

Tenure is an AI-powered employee rewards, recognition, and savings platform that improves employee morale, driving a return on investment of lower turnover and greater employee satisfaction. Starting in early 2023 by Jonathan Hillis, a Collingwood local, in response to the global impact of the Great Resignation, a recent period where sectors across the globe saw record high employee turnover rates from inequalities in employee recognition.

Collingwood local Collision Top 500

Tenure offers a multitude of benefits for both employers and employees

Employers can easily recognize and reward their employees (and teams) for their work by supporting their personal and financial goals. The app’s intuitive and user-friendly features allow employees to onboard and get set up in fewer than five minutes. Once employees link their payment cards on the secure app, they can earn cash back when they shop with one of Tenure’s hundreds of retail partners, such as Canadian Tire, Hello Fresh and RW&CO. The Tenure app also features AI-powered budgeting and financial literary tools that enhances employees understanding and managing their finances. “Built on transactional data and machine learning Tenure’s AI can provide budgeting and financial literacy insights that are personalized and meaningful”, explained Jonathan.

For employers, the platform makes it easier to attract and retain employees by allowing employers the ability to personalize employee incentives. Finally – employers will be able to understand what motivates each of their employees – creating a unique and fulfilling work culture that meets the needs of individuals’ ambitions.

Tenure helps companies to support local BIOPOC or LGBTQ+ owned businesses

Tenure app helps local business by allowing them to join the Tenure marketplace network – making it easier for employers to support local. When employer wants to support specific initiatives, such as Black History or Pride Month, the employer is able to create special cardlinked offer to promote owners within those communities.

“We help incentivize employees to shop local with cardlinked offers that bring more value while helping them achieve their financial goals.”

Companies seeking to join Tenure marketplace simply go to Tenure’s website

Tenure Downtown Collingwood

85% of employees are actively disengaged in the workplace

The Tenure platform comes to the market at a crucial time. According to Gallup’s State of the Workplace report, as many as 85% of employees are either unengaged or actively disengaged from their work. A Gallup study also showed that companies with highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable. These findings have important implications for employee retention rates and the wider economy.

Collingwoods top 4 industries (Retail Trade, Health Care + Social Assistance, Accomodation + Food Service and Construction) make up 44.4% of the workforce. Those industries have some of the highest turnover rates in the country which inspired the creation of Tenure. “Our goal is to help Canada’s most volatile industries to retain employees and reduce costs of turnover costs for many small to medium size businesses,” explained Jonathan, “Creating an affordable, low cost service that businesses of all sizes can benefit from creating personalized rewards and recognition for their employees, helping them achieve their financial goals.”

Jonathan at The Foundry

Choose Collingwood for its entrepreneurial hub

Tenure is currently operating out of the Collingwood Foundry, a coworking space and community hub for entrepreneurs in Downtown Collingwood. With two locations in town, the Foundry is renowned for being an entrepreneurial haven in the area. It offers workspace, an online member network, benefits, discounts and other resources that are designed to help entrepreneurs succeed. Jonathan credits the Foundry and its founder Brandon Houston for playing an important role in his business success. He says, “Without the Foundry, I don’t think Tenure would be where it is today. The advice and support we receive from the Foundry community and other entrepreneurs is incredible. I am so grateful to be a part of this community.”

When asked about his decision to move to Collingwood, Jonathan shares that his in-laws first moved to the area, drawn in by the town’s many attractions. After his in-laws’ move, Jonathan and his wife started exploring the possibility of moving their family. Reflecting on their decision to move to Collingwood, Jonathan recalls that the town’s natural beauty, its proximity to the water and the ski hills, was a major draw. Jonathan also notes, “A thing I love about Collingwood is that people are so giving – I think that is what sets this community apart. Everyone is just looking to see you succeed.” Having grown up in Paris, Ontario, Jonathan shares that the close-knit community feel of Collingwood makes it feel like home.

Rewards app

Passion for entrepreneurship and service

Jonathan grew up in an entrepreneurial family. His father founded Pride Signs, a leading sign solutions company in North America. Jonathan recalls that watching his father develop the business from a small shop to an industry-renowned large company was very inspiring.

As a young adult, Jonathan tried his hand at various ventures, from lawn care to car detailing services. After graduating from university, Jonathan went on to work in the post-secondary and insurance industry for over a decade. Yet his entrepreneurial spark was once again re-ignited when he saw how students faced challenges paying for their education. In 2019, Jonathan founded Payd, a student card app that sought to help students save and pay for their education.

As the pandemic unravelled established ways of working and living, Jonathan perceived a new opportunity to positively impact the community by helping employees feel more engaged and connected to their workplace. The idea gradually evolved into Tenure as it is today.

Beyond just leading his successful start-up business, Jonathan is an active community member. In early 2023, Jonathan founded the Collingwood Volleyball Club, now growing to over 200 members. Jonathan also serves as vice president of the local Optimist Club. “At the end of the day, I want to get involved in my community and give back. Collingwood is one of those communities with so much opportunity,” says Jonathan.

Tenure operates out of The Foundry

Powered by a dedicated team

Tenure currently has a team of seven employees, most working remotely or in a hybrid mode. Jonathan shares that being open and flexible about in-office requirements has allowed him to tap into a wider group talent network in the community. The Tenure team has a monthly in-person meeting, which Jonathan sees as an opportunity to introduce his out-of-town colleagues to the incredible array of offerings available in Collingwood. The Tenure team also uses the app internally and constantly makes adjustments for improvement.


The Foundry has state of the art pods

Tenure is winning in the DEIB reward and recognition space

While Tenure has already been recognized as one of the most cutting-edge start-ups of this year, it is only getting started. Tenure clients are across North America, Jonathan shares that he is not limiting the impact of the work to geographical boundaries. His vision is to take the business to the global stage where more people can access the opportunities made available through Tenure.

Reflecting on his start-up journey in Collingwood, Jonathan says, “When it comes to technology and innovation, I believe Collingwood is the place to be. As we continue to grow Tenure, we intend to invest more into Collingwood, creating more local jobs and opportunities. We want to show everyone what can be done here in Collingwood.”

Jonathan of Tenure

If you are a business seeking an affordable and user-friendly platform to grow and retain talent you can sign up and get more information here. Tenure plans to open its pre-seed round for investment in the next month, so if you are an investor looking for exciting opportunities reach out to Jonathan via [email protected]

To stay up to date with the exciting developments from Tenure, visit https://www.tenurefi.com/

All inquires about product or investment opportunities, contact:
Jonathan Hillis
Co-founder and CEO
[email protected]

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Photo Credits: Dave West Photography