MyMem Plans To Roll Out App in 2018

Aishwarya Ravichandran, second for right, poses with other Volta Cohort.

Aishwarya Ravichandran, second for right, poses with other Volta Cohort.

Armed with $25,000 in initial funding, Halifax startup MyMem plans to spend 2018 rolling out its Software-as-a-Service product that helps people with dementia remember key aspects of their lives.

The company is developing a smart phone or tablet app that uses voice-enabled technology to help people with cognitive challenges remember their life stories, or even simple matters like their grandchildren’s names. In the next year, it hopes to work with seniors’ facilities to test MyMem with dementia sufferers and assess the market for the product.

The company is funding its go-to-market strategy with a $25,000 investment that it won at the Volta Cohort pitching event last week. MyMem was one of five early-stage startups that divided $125,000 in equity financing at the event hosted by Volta Labs.

“We are in a good position with the funds we have from Volta Cohort,” said Co-Founder Aishwarya Ravichandran in an interview after the event. “We can achieve all those objectives with the funding we have at the moment.”

The story of MyMem’s goal to bring a digital “life story book” to dementia sufferers began when Ravichandran and others attended the Hacking Health Hackathon. The event in March aimed to bring entrepreneurs together to create digital health products.

Ravichandran was inspired by one participant, Luc Sirios, sharing the story of how his mother was suffering from memory loss. This reminded Ravichandran of her grandmother in India who also was losing her memory.

“Taking this inspiration to mind and believing that this app might be useful for people like my grandmother and many other older adults, we formed a team there and built a demo of the mobile app within 24 hours of the event,” said Ravichandran.

MyMem follows a Business-to-Business SaaS model, targeting home care and retirement facilities. Ravichandran said getting MyMem to market will happen in three different phases over the course of 2018.

PhotoDynamic Set for Clinical Trials

The first step will be launching the beta version of their app in January. To get there, MyMem is looking for an app designer as well as a marketing professional.

In the second phase, the app will be available for both Android and iOS devices in Canada and the US. At this stage, MyMem will test the app at different retirement and care facilities, and has begun discussions with a few organizations in Atlantic Canada about testing the device.

“Once we’re in the stage to actually launch the beta we will get back to them and see if they’d like to do a pilot study or beta test our app in their residencies,” said Ravichandran, who says they have all the resources they need to complete the first two phases.

MyMem’s third phase will involve adding a brain games feature to the app. To make this happen, Ravichandran plans to apply for funding from BDC’s Women in Tech investment program, which recently added an additional $20 million to its fund.

This feature would allow users to engage with games that can help improve their cognitive function as well as provide data to track how much the user is able to remember.

“Over a period of time when you start using the app and start playing the games part we will collect the data and analyze it,” said Ravichandran. “We can give that information to the family members and caregivers to help the user.”

MyMem functions with voice recognition technology that is simple to use, a priority for the elderly or those who struggle with technology. Ravichandran plans to offer a desktop version of the app once the mobile and tablet versions have been launched.

The MyMem team includes Ravichandran, Harish Gopinath, Arun Athisamy and Eric Fisher. 

Five Startup Press Release Fails

One of the key tools that founders have to get their message out beyond their immediate circle is a press release. But it amazes me how often common mistakes make their way into these important documents. 

Press releases may seem like trifles, but they demonstrate an entrepreneur’s ability to communicate important messages about a company. If media releases are posted in sequence on your website, they can tell the story of your company for potential investors, mentors and customers. And of course, a good PR can get you media attention.

In the next few weeks, I’m holding a series of communications seminars with Propel ICT cohorts, and one message I want to stress is how not to screw up a press release. Here’s what makes a bad media release.

Fuzzy Message – Anyone reading a company statement needs to know this: who is doing what? When, where, how and why are they doing it. And if “it” involves money, how much is involved. That should all be in the first sentence or two.

Here’s what you can leave out of the first paragraph: the company’s commitment to social justice and a clean environment; the founders’ charity work; the benefits of growing the middle class. It’s all laudable. But your press release should precisely and concisely tell the reader the important bits and very little more.

Jargon – Even if your audience comprises people in your technical community, don’t assume your readers will understand reams of technical bafflegab strung together. As a founder, you have to be able to describe your product in terms that can be understood by a range of people. If you litter your statements with jargon, a broad swath of your readership won’t understand it. Not that you’ll hear about it. People who don’t understand jargon rarely admit it. They’ll just ignore you.

On a related point, keep legalese out of your press releases. Your lawyer should sign off on your statement, not write it. No need to put (“the Company”) after the name of your company. We get it. Honest. Those TM marks after the name of your product – they look really dumb.

Not Explaining Why Your Statement Is Important – This mistake occurs in most press releases. People don’t automatically understand the significance of your announcement. Explain it to them. If you’ve raised capital, tell the reader what you’ll do with the money. If you’ve landed a customer, explain why that customer is important. If you’re launching a product, say what gap it fills in the market and why it will improve the industry or have a social impact.

No Contact Details – If you’re sending a media release to journalists, give a phone number and email address where the media can reach the CEO. If reporters phone a startup, they don’t want to talk to anyone other than the CEO. And they don’t want to talk to the CEO at 5 p.m. If your announcement is important, make the CEO available to chat with journalists in the few hours after the statement goes out. When you post the statement on your website, make sure you include contact details, even if it’s just an info-at email address.

Boring quotes – This isn’t a big deal. But if you’re looking for good press, give the journalist something to work with. Say something more than that you’re honoured or excited by the announcement. A quote is an opportunity to add some life to your statement. Don’t make it sound like it was written by a low-level functionary.

With the decline of traditional media, it’s harder than ever to get the notice of journalists. By crafting a concise, precise press release, you increase your chances of getting your message out – to journalists and their readers or viewers.

Jobs: Scientific Analyst at Appili

Appili Therapeutics is seeking a scientific analyst in our Jobs of the Week column today.

This contract position with the Halifax-based biotech company will work with drug development and business development and review its sources of information and identify promising new programs in infectious disease to report to the VP of Business Development.

The company is working on two drug candidates: a compound designed to mask the bitter taste in Metronidazole, a drug used to treat infections among children; and a compound to battle gram-negative bacteria, which has two protective cellular walls making it resistant to existing antibiotics.

The Jobs of the Week column features openings posted on the Entrevestor Job Board, which focuses on jobs in technology, innovation and startups in Atlantic Canada. The Entrevestor Job Board helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities and is operated by Entrevestor and Alongside.

Here is an expert from the posting:


Appili Therapeutics

Scientific Analyst (contract)

Key responsibilities:

Sourcing, review, and management of scientific, clinical, regulatory, commercial/sales, patent, financial and other data pertaining to the life science and healthcare industry;
Summarize information and results via preparation of reports, presentations to identify promising new drug development programs that align with Appili’s corporate strategy;
Prepare and develop presentations on findings for dissemination to internal teams and external advisors;
Work in a team based environment;
Support Drug Development and Business Development projects as needed.


Advanced degree in a life science or related field of study, preferably a M.Sc. or Ph.D. in microbiology, pharmacology, or toxicology;
Demonstrated proficiency with literature searching;
Effective written and oral communication skills;
Familiarity with the commercial biotechnology / pharmaceutical industry, work experience in healthcare, biotechnology, or pharmaceutical industry preferred;
Strong ability to approach new areas of science, learn key concepts, and synthesize ideas;

Read more about the job here

PhotoDynamic Set for Clinical Trials

Halifax-based PhotoDynamic Inc. will put its plaque-killing oral health product through clinical trials in the next month, the outcome of which will shape its strategy for the next few years.

The company will test its product with 20 patients at the Forsyth Institute in Boston, one of the world’s most prestigious research facilities in the field of oral health. If it gets good results from these tests, the company plans to work closely with a Fortune 100 consumer products company to bring the product to market.

That product — called PD Foam and PD Tray — is a system that kills plaque buildup on teeth through a combination of light and an extract from a plant that grows wild in Nova Scotia. Because the plant is known to be safe for human consumption, the product has a relatively simple regulatory path. Its initial target market is the one-fifth of the population who suffer from excessive plaque buildup on their teeth regardless of how much they brush.

“We’ll start in a few weeks and have the results by January,” said CEO Martin Greenwood in an interview. “If the results are good, it will be easy to raise our next round (of financing) and then we’ll be moving on to a larger trial.”

In the spring of 2016, PhotoDynamic raised $250,000 in equity funding through the First Angel Network, and supplemented that capital with money from government programs. The company, which grew out of research by Acadia University professor Sherri McFarland, has remained lean with four employees and used the FAN money to build a working prototype.

PhotoDynamic has developed foam made from the plant extract, which the user places in the top and bottom trays of a special mouthpiece, like a mouthguard a hockey player would wear and which contains LED lights. Users turn on the lights, place the device in their mouth for one minute, and the plaque is gone.

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So far the system has killed plaque successfully in a petri dish and in animal tests, but surprises can crop up in human trials, Greenwood said. For example, 10 subjects will be given the PhotoDynamic device and the other 10 a placebo, to establish a clear gap between plaque buildup in the two groups. If a few of the 10 placebo-takers obsessively brush their teeth all day, it could skew the results.

Greenwood feels confident in the PD Foam and Tray and believes the company has positioned itself to proceed promptly with its commercialization. It has built up a strong working relationship with its multinational partner (whom Greenwood declines to name publicly), and that could help bring the product to market.

PhotoDynamic has also strengthened its board, recently adding former Johnson & Johnson consumer products CTO Neal Matheson and Barry Turner, a former vice-president of global complementary medicines with Warner-Lambert.

Assuming the trials are successful, Greenwood plans to raise about $1.5 million to take the company through the next two years. In that period he hopes to fine-tune the engineering of the product and carry out more thorough clinical trials, involving about 75-125 people over six months.

Then Greenwood plans to sell the oral health product to a large company that can develop it, and PhotoDynamic will use the proceeds to work on other applications for the plant extract.

“The way to really grow this company is to say, ‘We’re the people that can really take this technology to its potential,’” he said. “Let us be the R&D hub. . . . What we want to do is hit a home run and take the funds and reinvest them into the next one.”

Springboard Names Genge as CEO

Daryl Genge: 'Key role in those significant pan-Atlantic initiatives.'

Daryl Genge: 'Key role in those significant pan-Atlantic initiatives.'

Springboard Atlantic, the organization that promotes the commercialization of academic research in Atlantic Canada, has named Daryl Genge as its new president and CEO.

The non-profit network said Thursday that Genge would succeed former CEO Chris Mathis, who announced in September he would step down from the position. Genge joins Springboard from Newfoundland and Labrador, where he worked with the provincial government as the Deputy Minister for the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Genge, who is also a certified management consultant. “The economy in Atlantic Canada is changing and our universities and colleges are really a part of the foundation of that economy.”

Genge will officially join Springboard on Dec. 1. He said in an interview his main focus as CEO will be to foster and increase Springboard’s role in pan-Atlantic initiatives, like the oceans supercluster.

“We’re seeing bigger things happening here,” he said. “We’re seeing more pan-Atlantic types of initiatives and attraction of more investment into our institution for larger research and commercialization projects.”

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The Newfoundland native and graduate of Memorial University said he will begin by sitting down with Springboard’s board, members and investors to determine how the changing economy is affecting them.

“I’m going to be doing a lot of listening right out of the gate,” said Genge. “I really want to get a sense for what our members and our partners are experiencing and what the impact of those changes are having on them and where they see us adding value going forward.”

Last January, Springboard received $9.2 million from the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency, which is being used to support 30 commercialization officers throughout the region over the next three years.

“Daryl is a strong leader, and his understanding of academia, industry and the public sector will be a significant asset to Springboard going forward,” said board chair Brian Lowe in a release.

Prior to joining the provincial government, Genge was also the founding director of Memorial University’s Atlantic Canada Venture Gateway, which prepared high-potential entrepreneurs to raise capital, and brought promising technologies to international markets.

Genge plans to apply that global perspective to his work with Springboard and plans to work on more initiatives that will see more collaboration between the provinces.

“I’m going to focus on ensuring we play a key role in those significant pan-Atlantic initiatives,” said Genge. “We’re kind of unique in that Springboard has been around for more than 10 years and has an understanding and real experience in collaboration and understanding of how to develop collaboration among its members.”

TruLeaf To Use Data, AI in Farming

The TruLeaf farm in Bible Hill

The TruLeaf farm in Bible Hill

With its indoor farm in Guelph, Ont., nearing completion, TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture is plotting its next phase of growth with more farms, a licensing model for its technology and a new round of funding.

Gregg Curwin, founder and CEO of the Halifax vertical farming company, also says the company is focused ever more on machine learning and data analytics to help it produce the most nutritious local food possible.

Halifax-based TruLeaf aims to be a leader in sustainable agriculture through the use of vertical farming — which combines proven hydroponic technology with advancements in LED lighting and reclaimed rainwater to allow year-round production of plants indoors.

Vertical farming is nearly 30 times more efficient than traditional agriculture, uses as much as 95 per cent less water, and takes up less land.

Curwin told a panel discussion at the Big Data Congress last week that the company is now focusing on applying advanced technology to the process of growing plants indoors.

The Guelph plant — which is due to be completed in June, will be fully automated and TruLeaf is looking into using data to improve the process of growing nutritious food.

“The light bulb that’s going off for us is all about machine learning and data,” said Curwin.

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Curwin said that in the controlled environment of its growing facilities, the company can monitor data produced over time from the creation of the seed to shipping grown food to the supermarket. Outdoors, a farmer can get 40 points of data in his or her career; TruLeaf can get 10,000 data points in 10 days at its indoor farms.

One example of TruLeaf’s experimentation is the work it has been doing with LED lighting.

The company is experimenting with how different plants grow under different light spectrums, and what lighting is best at specific phases of the growing process. It is even examining whether special lighting in a supermarket shelf can prolong the freshness of produce.

Curwin added that the company is investigating whether there is a direct link between adding certain greens to your diet and improving cognitive health.

It is interested in producing in Nova Scotia a vegetable prominent in West Africa, where dementia rates are really low.

“Can we make a defensible claim about the prevention of cognitive diseases?” he asked. “Making accurate claims is a significant goal of ours.”

The last 18 months have been busy ones for TruLeaf. It closed an $8.5-million financing round last December and has been working with Loblaw Companies, the parent company of Atlantic Superstores, on the development of its farms.

Appearing under the company’s GoodLeaf Farms brand, products grown in the company’s farm in Bible Hill are now available in a dozen Superstores spanning the three Maritime provinces.

According to the TruLeaf website, the products include broccoli shoots, kale shoots, daikon radish shoots, pea shoots, baby arugula and baby kale.

The company now has 38 employees in Nova Scotia.

“We’re eliminating low-level jobs and most of the jobs we are creating now are . . . in computer science, engineering and plant science,” said Curwin.

27 Oceans and Cleantech Winners

Days after naming 18 winners of its Spark Innovation Challenge, Innovacorp has awarded a total of $920,000 to 27 companies in its oceans and cleantech competitions.

Partnering with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Nova Scotia innovation agency on Wednesday named the winners of its Blue Solutions Startup Challenge for oceans technology companies, and its Cleantech Accelerate Program.

These companies will now have the opportunity to enroll in Innovacorp’s four oceans and two cleantech accelerator programs this fall. ACOA contributed $500,000 toward these programs, while Innovacorp contributed $420,000.


Blue Solutions Startup Challenge

The Blue Solutions Startup Challenge, which was open to companies from anywhere in the world, awards the first round winners $10,000 and entry to an accelerator. The companies will then pitch before judges with the goal of winning up to $50,000.

The first-round winners include two California entries: Redwood City-based Blue Ocean Gear, led by Kortney Opshaug, is developing smart fishing technology that enhances trap retrieval and enables sustainable practices; and Sunnyvale-based ThroughPut, led by Ali Raza and Khizer Hayat, is building a supply chain data analysis platform that eliminates costly bottlenecks.

The other participants in the Blue Solutions accelerator are:

Copsys Industries Inc. – Farzad Hashemi – Halifax

Corrosion management technology that protects assets and reduces maintenance.

Graphite Innovation and Technologies – Mo AlGermozi, Marciel Gaier – Halifax

Graphene-related products customized for specific applications and technologies, such as underwater vessels.

NovaSpectrum Analytics Inc. – Lawrence Taylor – Dartmouth

Lobster management software leveraging automated seafood processing, vision technology and operational data.

Ocean Executive – Mike Budreski – Halifax

Sales and procurement platform for the B2B seafood industry, with a focus on seafood sustainability.

Pelagis Data Solutions Inc. – Glenn Laughlin – Sydney

Resource management software and analytics platform that enables the transformation of ocean food producers into data-driven enterprises.

Rovault – Ehsan Lavasani, Jonathan Reyes – Halifax

Fish processing systems that use vision and machine learning technologies to identify potential efficiencies.

Ocean Technology Research – Calder Robinson, David Barclay – Halifax

Integrated trap system that uses cost-effective technologies to reduce the frequency of checking lobster traps.

ReconOcea – Ulaş Gunturkun – Halifax

Underwater acoustic communications systems enabling wireless communications over long distances.


OceanTech Development Program

Each of the winners in this program receive $20,000, acceleration workshops and guidance from seasoned business people. The winners are:

Enginuity – Alastair Trower, Ben Garvey – Halifax

Rapid connector technology for permanent mooring installations in dynamic and harsh environments.

Glas Ocean Electric Inc. – Sue Molloy, Craig Chandler – Halifax

Diesel to electric boat conversion, using stored energy from the boats to power coastal communities.

Jetasonic Technologies Inc. – Alex Ivanov – Halifax

Sonar for a wide range of applications, including high-resolution bottom mapping, search and rescue, and marine navigation.

Kraken Robotic Systems Inc. – Bill Spencer – Dartmouth

Autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with a suite of sensors and observing systems.

LeeWay Marine – Jamie Sangster – Halifax

Support systems for high speed operation, launch, recovery and recharging of autonomous subsurface vehicles.

Navita Digital Inc. – Scott Samson, Louisbourg Seafoods, VMP Group – North Sydney

Real-time 3D visualization simulations to improve harvesting techniques.

NovaSpectrum Analytics Inc. – Lawrence Taylor – Dartmouth

Lobster management software that leverages automated seafood processing, vision technology and operational data.

RDA Atlantic Inc. – Don Leblanc, Eric Sharp – Halifax

Intelligent mooring buoy to improve experiences for leisure boating.

Turbulent Research – Chris Loadman – Beechville

Underwater sound collecting and processing products to minimize downtime for offshore oil and gas explorers.


Demo at Sea Program

This program offers an opportunity to demonstrate pre-commercial ocean technologies in a genuine ocean setting. The winners are:

GeoForce Group Ltd. – Graham Standen – Dartmouth

Deepsea survey equipment for the geophysical and oceanographic industries.

DMR Boat Design Ltd. – Philip Slaunwhite and Susan Slaunwhite – Terence Bay

Marine hull and propulsion design that increases performance and stability for rigid inflatable search and rescue vehicles.


The Early Adopter Program

The Early Adopter Program contributes $20,000 toward the first deployment and testing of a product with an early adopter. The winners are:

Enginuity – Alastair Trower, Ben Garvey – Halifax

Ocean Executive – Mike Budreski – Halifax

Sales and procurement platform for the B2B seafood industry, with a focus on seafood sustainability.

Swell Advantage – Iaian Archibald – Halifax

Automated operations support and advanced analytics for marinas, boat clubs and waterfronts.

Turbulent Research – Chris Loadman – Beechville 


Cleantech Accelerator Program

This award provides as much as $50,000 for each winner, as well as acceleration activities, incubation space and business guidance. The winners are:

BioPolyOil – Mostafa Aghaei, Alma Zangeneh, Arian Shahnazari – Bible Hill

Agri-based technology for applications in the oil and gas industry.

Oceland Biologicals – Balakrishnan Prithiviraj – Bible Hill

Plant biostimulants that improve the growth, yield and resilience of crops to increase farmers’ incomes.

Finleaf Technologies – Myrna Gillis – Brooklyn

Aquaponics system that enables the delivery of supplemental nutrients to flowering plants.

Nexus Robotics – Teric Greenan, Jad Tawil, Thomas Trappenberg – Barss Corner

Autonomous farming robot that navigates its environment and performs agricultural tasks.

SURU – Michael Uhlarik – Hubbards

Zero-emission, electric-powered bicycles that let users travel 50 km without fuel or pedalling.

Graphite Innovation and Technologies – Mo AlGermozi, Marciel Gaier – Halifax

Green Power Labs – Alexandre Pavlovski – Halifax

Building energy management systems that use local predictions for weather, solar irradiance and energy demands.


Disclosure: Innovacorp and ACOA are clients of Entrevestor. 

BDC Adds to Women in Tech Fund

BDC Capital announced Wednesday it will add $20 million to its Women in Technology investment program, which aims to support women heading tech companies. This investment builds on a previous commitment to invest $50 million, making the total $70 million to be invested over five years.

The federal Crown corporation will invest in early-stage Canadian tech companies led by women and will support these companies with a full spectrum of financing, advisory services and capital solutions.

“We believe it is our combination of smart capital, entrepreneurial thinking, strong relationships, and a long-term approach that will help women tech entrepreneurs build and scale the next generation of companies,” said Michelle Scarborough, BDC’s Managing Director of Strategic Investments and Women in Tech.

This investment complements a 2015 commitment to increase term lending to businesses that are majority-owned by women to at least $700 million over three years. BDC surpassed the mark in 30 months, having lent $809 million.

Under this investment program, $60 million will be dedicated to investments to support women-led tech firms. The program will invest equity at the seed stage, Series A stage and sometimes at the Series B stage, alongside other investors. The eligible companies at the seed stage must have some traction and a scalable product, and be seeking a round of at least $1 million.

The remaining $10 million is allotted to indirect investments through regional initiatives, including a $5 million commitment to the first close of StandUp Ventures Fund I earlier this year.

Since November 2016, BDC Capital has completed nine investments in women-led tech firms totalling close to $3 million.

“With the additional investment announced today, BDC's funding envelope to support Women in Tech becomes the largest of its kind in North America," said Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism in a statement.

Rabbit Hole Wins Gameacon Award

Charlottetown-based Rabbit Hole Studios has won Fan Favourite Digital Game at this year’s Gameacon Crystal Awards in New Jersey for its game The Lost Gardens.

The Gameacon Crystal Awards honour the best indie titles of the year, presenting awards for multiple categories such as best gameplay, best art, best music and sound, game of the year and fan favorite.

The Fan Favorite Award was given to the indie game that was voted by the fans on Twitter. It was the only award not chosen by a judge, but by the people.

Rabbit Hole was founded in 2014 and has since grown into a team that consists of seven people. In late October of this year, they released their third game, The Lost Garden.

The Lost Gardens is an action-adventure game where you are playing as a robot called “The Caretaker” saving the world from fear by the use of puzzles and problem solving.

Rabbit Hole Studios has a strong commitment towards consumer-developer relationships and do three live-streams a week to help the gaming community better understand game development. They do two streams on development and one on animation each week. 

Volta Cohort Selects First Winners

The first batch of winners of the Volta Cohort.

The first batch of winners of the Volta Cohort.

The Volta Cohort, a new micro fund for Atlantic Canadian early-stage companies, got its start last night by awarding a total of $125,000 to five Halifax companies.

Volta Labs, in partnership with Innovacorp and BDC Capital, launched the fund to provide capital for early-stage companies. The startup house’s CEO Jesse Rodgers said there’s a gap in the ecosystem in funding early-stage companies in the region, and he hopes Volta Cohort can fill it.

Some 15 companies – including Phased In from Cape Breton and Art Sharks from St. John’s – presented their companies before a panel of six judges and a full house of spectators. The $25,000 funding and mentorship packages were given to teams that demonstrated strength of team, impact, disruption and ambition. Traction was not a great consideration.

“This definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Rodgers after the event. “We had an amazing applicant pool and all the presenting companies did well in their presentations.”

Three of the presenting teams were led by female founders, and two of them were winners.

Rodgers declined to reveal the details of the funding vehicle, except to say that they are “very founder-friendly.” Applications for the next Volta Cohort, which will take place in six months, are now open here

The companies chosen to join the first Volta Cohort were: – a SaaS tool that is solving the timesheet problem for digital agencies and software consultancies.

Flock – a SAAS knowledge-collection platform helps large organizations to familiarize freelancers and new employees with their operations.

MyMem – An app that helps people with dementia remember key events in their lives and information about themselves and their families. Using voice-based software, it is technology that a person with cognitive problems can use with ease.

Rovault – A device for shrimp-processing facilities that improves the industry’s average yield by detecting good products from the waste pile. The company has designed a camera system that can identify species in terms of size, growth and health.

Trip Ninja – Unique search technology to leverage travelers’ flexibility to find them savings on airfare for multi-city trips. After attending a recent trade show, the company is now in talks with 11 online travel agencies to use its technology.

 “The quality of the pitches made this decision very competitive,” said Rodgers. “We are looking forward to providing these high potential founders with the opportunity to demonstrate some meaningful success.”


Solace Lone Mention in Deloitte 50

Michael Gotlieb: 'Honoured' to be named to Deloitte's Companies-to-Watch list.

Michael Gotlieb: 'Honoured' to be named to Deloitte's Companies-to-Watch list.

Let’s start with the good news from the Deloitte Technology Fast 50: Solace Power of Mount Pearl, NL, was named to the competition’s Companies-to-Watch group for 2017.

And now the bad news: for the second year in a row, not a single Atlantic Canadian company made the Fast 50, a club of the fastest-growing tech companies in the country. And that shutout may highlight a big problem for Atlantic Canadian startups.

Deloitte Canada announced the Fast 50 last week. The global consultancy requires that companies produce four years of revenue to enter the competition, and it ranks the top 50 based on the total sales growth over four years. The winner this year was London, Ont.-based, a social entertainment media publisher that achieved a four-year growth rate of 92,881 percent.

Along with the Fast 50, Deloitte also publishes its Companies-to-Watch list, which comprises highly regarded companies with “effective management experience and superior technology.” As a rule, these companies are at an earlier stage than the Fast 50 companies.

The only Atlantic Canadian company on the ones-to-watch list was Solace Power. Solace specializes in wireless power – that is, delivering electrical energy to batteries or devices without any wires attached to them. It has devised a system called RC² technology, which it licenses to large customers, such as Boeing and data solutions company Byrne. RC² can safely transfer energy in non-traditional environments without heating metal, and it does so over what the company calls usable distances.

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"We are honored to have Solace's rapid growth, innovative RC² technology and team recognized with this distinction," said Solace CEO Michael Gotlieb in a statement.

But Solace was the only East Coast company recognized by Deloitte Canada last week. It’s difficult to say how many Atlantic Canadian companies applied. Saint John-based Partner Mark-Anthony Ashfield would only say the competition received “a positive response from Atlantic Canada-based companies.”

The last two Atlantic Canadian companies to be named to the Fast 50 underwent transformative deals not long afterward. Two years ago, Halifax-based STI Technologies secured the 41st place with revenue growth of 204 percent over four years. Earlier this year, STI was bought by American multinational QuintilesIMS, reportedly for more than $200 million.  In 2012, St. John’s-based Verafin placed 25th on the Fast 50 list, and 18 months later it attracted a $60 million buy-in from American private equity firm Spectrum Equity.

I’m not arguing that these deals happened just because Verafin and STI were named to the Fast 50. But it does highlight that companies in the Fast 50 have the metrics that investors and acquirers are looking for.

A close examination of these two recent Atlantic Canadian winners reveals a problem: It’s that the Fast 50 is getting faster all the time.

To quote Delotte itself: “This year, the Fast 50 winners achieved an average four-year growth rate of 4,625 percent, which represents a 74 percent increase from 2016.”

Or look it this way: to get on the Fast 50 this year, you’d need to have revenues growing 389.2 percent over four years – the level reported by No. 50 TextNow of Waterloo, Ont. To make the list just three years ago, a company needed four-year revenue growth of 182 percent. In other words, the bar hasn’t just been raised – it more than doubled in height in just three years.

The growth rate that landed STI at 41st place two years ago wouldn’t be good enough to make the cut today.

It would be easy to dismiss this by simply saying it just means that it’s harder to get recognition in national competitions. But it points to a far bigger problem. A broad swath of the Atlantic Canadian startup community is looking or will soon be looking for an A Round of funding. Some are even looking toward B rounds. These companies are competing in a forum packed with high-performance Canadian companies that are selling like all get-out. Our companies are going to have to do better and better to attract investors’ attention. 

Jeff Thompson Leaves Serenova

Jeff Thompson: 'Take time to really kinda chill.'

Jeff Thompson: 'Take time to really kinda chill.'

Winter might be moving in, but Jeff Thompson is lacing up his sneakers and hitting the road. One of the region’s most successful serial entrepreneurs, Thompson has recently moved on from his executive role at Contact-Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) provider Serenova. Now, he’s intending to get back to another passion—running.

Serenova was formed after Thompson sold his second company, UserEvents, to California-based LiveOps in 2014. The UserEvents product analyzed a corporation’s data to detect when a customer was having problems with a communications channel and then notified the company’s call centre.

Shortly after the sale, UserEvents’ LiveOps Cloud platform was separated from the LiveOps business process outsourcing business. LiveOps Cloud was bought by private equity firm Marlin Equity Partners and became known as Serenova.

At Serenova, Thompson’s roles included CTO, managing strategy for M&A, and overseeing Fredericton-based office comprising product, engineering, professional services and tier two customer support.

It was a new level of challenge.

“The level of expectation is very different with private equity compared to venture capital,” he said. “When you’re part of a private equity portfolio, there’s the expectation that the company will grow organically through gaining clients and sales and inorganically, through acquisitions.

“The question is--what big step up will we make, especially through acquisitions, to become a disruptor in the industry?”

As UserEvents showed, exits have been a boon for Atlantic Canada

Thompson had already gained experience of this kind of inorganic growth after he sold his first startup Conseros Software, which prioritizes and distributes work to a company’s best-skilled and available employees. Conseros was bought by Genesys Telecommunications in 2009, and Thompson worked with Genesys for the next three years, taking the product into the Asia Pacific region and garnering big clients like Telstra and PayPal.

He said Serenova became like his third startup.

“It was like being thrust into a marathon you have to win,” said the marathon-runner. “You have to get it right.”

Serenova has indeed grown, both organically and inorganically. Three years ago, Serenova had about 25 staff in Fredericton. The company has just hired its 47th employee.

The company recently made its first growth-boosting acquisition—of Dallas-based TelStrat, which offers a workforce optimization suite.

Thompson said the acquisition, and the fact a new CEO Tom Schollmeyer recently took over from Thompson’s longtime colleague Vasili Triant, made it feel like the right time to move on.

People keep asking him what he’ll do next. At 47, he does feel too young to be even semi-retired but he is determined to “take the time to really kinda chill.”

“I look forward to winter running. I’ll have the flexibility to run in the afternoon when the sun is high,” he said.

“It’s a welcome change, an opportunity to take a breath. People assume I’ll do another startup, but no, that’s it for me. I’m happy with three under my belt.” 

He plans to step up his community involvement. He will remain a board member at regional startup support group, Propel ICT as well as at Ignite Fredericton and Knowledge Park.

He said that when he mentors young entrepreneurs, and those who think they want to be entrepreneurs, he does not mince his words.

“I leave them with the message that it’s incredibly rewarding and challenging and it will test your confidence in yourself and test your relationships at home,” he said.

“It places stress on you and the people you share your life with. It’s easy to forget the drawbacks, even when you have prior experience of founding a company.

“I’m happy to be a mentor, adviser, and board member, to cheer from the side lines, to help grow the industry and the ecosystem. I’m happy to be an angel investor to the one or two startups you run across every year that look really good.”

Brave New World Dives Into Robotics

Mike Rizkalla

Mike Rizkalla

The leap from web design to robotics is a big one, but Mike Rizkalla and his company are making the transition and preparing to bring their first robotics product to the market.  

Rizkalla heads Brave New World, formerly known as Raised Media, a Halifax- and New York-based web design company that is adding robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality to its business channels. It is now raising money to launch its first real product: a board game that features a robot that learns about the players as the game progresses.

For years, this company has showcased interesting projects, such as the game for the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch show, and the digital edition of the Canadian Encyclopedia. Now, Rizkalla wants the company to be a hybrid of service and product companies, targeting tech trends that will become mainstream in five to 10 years,  

“I wanted to basically take the company and make it a future tech company,” said Rizkalla in an interview, saying it therefore set up a robotics unit. “Our focus for the robotics division is that it involves personality robots, like the robots we were promised in movies, something like C3PO. . . . It came down to figuring out how we could go where no one has gone yet.”

Brave New World has assembled a staff of about 18 people, almost all based in Halifax, including specialists in advanced technologies attracted from such countries as Poland, India and China. The team still takes on contract work for clients, but the thing that gets Rizkalla’s blood racing is the robotics group.

Brave New World has developed a mixed-technology game called Chancellor of the Universe. At first glance, it’s just another board game, but there’s one difference – it features a robot (called the Chancellor) that uses machine learning to understand the people playing the game. The Chancellor rules the universe and players have to try to overthrow him. Players can not only interact directly with the Chancellor but can use an augmented reality feature on their phones to enhance the experience. “Nothing like this exists,” said Rizkalla said in a recorded session at the Collision 2017 trade show in New Orleans last month.

Brave New World’s grand vision is that this robot will just be the first step in a line of mixed-reality, robotics-based games. The robot will just be a platform, and the company will release new games so players can remove the Chancellor’s outer shell, replace it with another exterior. The player a whole new game with a different-looking robot.

Rizkalla is now raising money to finance the full launch of Chancellor of the Universe, and then to build out the products arm of the company. The goal is to build a team of experts who can be on the cutting edge of technology, especially in the entertainment field. He wants Brave New World to produce the next generation of things that people use for amusement as digital technology moves beyond computers and mobile devices.

“There are a lot of digital experience companies coming up, and a new segmentation of that space,” he said. “It’s really exciting. When we tried to come up with our approach, we decided that the screen will soon no longer be the screen in the coming years. What will be the screen in the future will probably no longer be a computer, it might not even be a mobile device. It’s the way things are headed, but we’re not there yet.” 

Highlights of our Data Report

If there’s one piece of data that stands out from our study of the Atlantic Canadian startup community in 2016, it’s the number of companies that are gaining meaningful traction.

Last week, at the Halifax luncheon we co-hosted with Charcoal Marketing, we presented our 2016 research on the East Coast startup community to a full house. The highlight of the presentation was our research into exits in Atlantic Canada from 2011 to 2017, but we also delved into the metrics we collected just on last year.

Each year, Entrevestor tracks data on the startup community, basing the results on a survey of companies and on the hundreds of interviews we conduct each year. In 2016, we carried out our survey in conjunction with the Nova Scotia team going through the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program at MIT, and received 190 responses from company CEOs.  

One thing we found was that 46 percent of our respondents are reporting annual revenue of $100,000 or more – up from 21 percent two years earlier. This fact is important because it shows that startups in the region are validating their products with actual sales to actual customers. By landing $100K in annual sales, they are for the most part selling to different customers and have found their product-market fit. It’s a sign that the startup community is producing bona fide companies not just a series of experiments.

Another positive sign: 16 percent of the companies have more than $1 million in annual revenue.

Other nuggets of information we presented last week include our finding that the number of startups in Atlantic Canada continues to grow. We define startups as locally owned companies that are commercializing technology and developing a product for the global market, and we tracked 414 of these companies in 2016. That’s a gain of 12.5 percent from a year earlier.

Halifax is the home-base for 35 percent of the startups in the region, which makes sense as startups tend to occur in large population areas. The striking thing to notice about this graphic is that only 11 percent of the startups in the region are based outside urban areas.

We counted 70 companies that launched in 2016, down from 91 in 2015. We found that 2015 was an unusually strong year for company formation, though we don’t have a clear explanation for the surge. Nevertheless, the production of 70 new startups last year was the second strongest company formation we've seen in the last six years.

The two cities adding startups the most quickly in the last two years were Moncton and Fredericton, mainly because of the work being carried out by Venn Innovation and University of New Brunswick respectively.  We mentioned above that startups tend not to take hold in rural areas, but over the past two years the rural centres have been adding startups at a faster rate than all centres other than the two New Brunswick cities we just named.

One final note, IT rules. Seventy percent of the companies we track are involved primarily in digital technologies.

Next week, we will wrap up our series of articles on our data research by looking at equity funding in 2016.


Please help us continue to provide startup community data:

SMU To Host Student VC Competition

Ellen Farrell: 'It's a pretty spectacular opportunity.'

Ellen Farrell: 'It's a pretty spectacular opportunity.'

Venture Grade, a student-run venture capital fund at St. Mary’s University, has announced its successful bid to host the international Venture Capital Investment Competition.

VCIC is a tri-continental organizationthat hosts competitions at universities around the globe. It has been going on for a decade and no Canadian university has stepped up to the plate to host the event – until now.

“It’s a pretty spectacular opportunity,” said Ellen Farrell, professor of venture capital and entrepreneurship at SMU. “The nation will now realize that the Atlantic region has a real specialization in the area of venture capital.”

Venture Grade will host the competition March 2 and has already received applications from Dalhousie, University of New Brunswick and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Because the university is the host, the team at SMU cannot participate in the Canadian VCIC.  However, it has been invited to an American competition in Boston in February, where it will be up against prestigious universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale and Dartmouth.

At the VCIC, student teams are given an imaginary $100 million to invest, and must pick one of the pitching startups to back. Real venture capital investors serve as a panel of judges to assess which teams do the best job.

In addition to giving VCIC its first Canadian home, Venture Grade has been meeting all of its targets for 2017.

Venture Grade has raised almost $200,000 since its inception in 2016 and is set to meet its $250,000 target in 2018.

Farrell said Venture Grade is the only program of its kind in North America because the students are responsible for making connections and raising funds themselves. Other programs often start its students off with the funding.  

“They went out and talked to high-net-worth individuals, significant business people, and got them to contribute the funds,” said Farrell.

Venture Grade has raised funding from: Innovacorp, East Valley Ventures, TD Bank and Killam Properties and has also cultivated strategic partnerships and mentoring relationships with Sobey School of Business, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and First Angel Network, to name a few.

“The students get the added value of what it’s like actually trying to raise the funds,” said Farrell. “We’re pretty proud of that business model.”

UNB Summer Group Seeks Applicants

Wear Your Label Co-Founders Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed.

Wear Your Label Co-Founders Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed.

The University of New Brunswick’s summer accelerator program—whose alumni include mental-health awareness clothing line Wear Your Label and energy storage solution Stash Energy – has opened applications for its fifth season.  

The Summer Institute is a three-month-long acceleration program that helps entrepreneurs launch their startup. The J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management & Entrepreneurship began the program in 2014, and organizers are hoping the 2018 cohort will be the most ambitious yet.

“We’re looking for entrepreneurs that have a global mindset,” said program manager Melissa Erin O’Rourke in a statement. “We want folks that have an idea for a great product or service and are motivated to grow their business beyond our borders.”

Originally focused on helping businesses at UNB, the program has broadened its scope and accepts entrepreneurs of all interests, educations, and locations.

“We recognize that it’s often entrepreneurs outside the university community that are ready for what an accelerator has to offer and we want to open our doors to everyone,” said O’Rourke.

Sonya Burrill, who took her company Tilia Essential Oils through the Summer Institute this year, said the program was invaluable to her growth as an entrepreneur.

“In a few short weeks, the program took me from having an idea in the lab to managing my own company,” she said. “It was exhilarating, stressful, and worth it for the amount of progress that was made.”

 The Summer Institute will be held at UNB on April 28 to July 20. Applications, which are available here, are open to all aspiring entrepreneurs and close Feb. 5.

Pitchers Named for Volta Cohort

Volta Labs on Tuesday will host a pitching competition to select five startups that will receive a total of $125,000 in early stage investment in the Volta Cohort.

The Halifax startup house will hold the competition at the Discovery Centre beginning with networking at 5:30 pm. Volta already has a shortlist of 15 companies that will be pitching. You can get tickets for the event here.  

Last month, Volta CEO Jesse Rodgers said the organization has partnered with Innovacorp and BDC Capital to establish Volta Cohort. The new program will provide investments of $25,000 to up to five companies in each cohort through a micro-fund. The organizers hope there will be two cohorts a year.

“Volta Cohort helps early-stage, high-calibre founders attract and secure venture capital sooner,” said a statement from Volta. “Along with investment, Cohort companies are given space at Volta Labs and access to a board of mentors comprised of CEOs and founders of Volta’s Resident and Alumni companies.”

Digital marketing strategist Ross Simmonds will be the master of ceremonies and deliver a keynote address. 

Here are the companies that were short-listed as of Friday morning to pitch at the event:

Espial Vision helps the visually impaired see the world through specialized glasses and real-time vision decoding.

Trip Ninja uses unique search technology to leverage travelers’ flexibility to find them savings on airfare for multi-city trips.

Deprolabs Technology designs, develops and produces smart electronic devices in the domain of internet of things (IoT).

IIArena is a platform for the e-gaming industry that provides an arena for gamers to use their skills to compete for money.

B-Line Analytics is an analytics platform that helps real estate developers, municipalities and organizations develop and manage transportation and sustainability goals. They do this by  using mobile devices to collect mobility patterns.

SassyTuna Studio is a Newfoundland and Labrador-based startup and creative digital lab that has developed Art Sharks, a proprietary software platform and video game that will allow children to create their own custom mobile and web-platform video games and share them with their friends online.

IObIO Inc. builds custom automation platforms for industry and is currently working on a prototype platform for clinical data capture and analysis. Their focus is a disruptive tool in hearing diagnostics that will revolutionize the auditory industry.

GroupThinq is a B2B SaaS application that uses AI to provide real-time information about a project's status to every member of the team, across organizational silos, to improve group intelligence.

Rovault - creates smart solutions for the ocean sector to increase efficiency and accuracy. Rovault is creating a device for shrimp processing facilities to improve the industry’s average yield by detecting good products from the waste pile, and has designed a camera system that can detect and identify species in terms of size, growth and health. is a SaaS tool that is solving the timesheet problem for digital agencies and software consultancies.

HiveTrade is an exclusive digital investment club platform that provides investors with the ability to create and manage their own investment clubs and, through democratic voting, build and actively manage their group investment portfolio.

MyMem helps your loved ones with dementia hold on to their memories and experiences by creating a digital "life story book" that preserves the moments they cherish most.

Flock is a SAAS knowledge collection platform that facilitates onboarding freelancers and new employees.

Ceesix Health Inc. uses app-based technology to help diabetics live healthier lives. This diabetes management subscription service aims to provide everything a diabetic needs to manage their health in a cost-effective and user-friendly way.

Phased In allows mobile device users to experience shared augmented reality. Users will see the same virtual objects overlaid onto the real world and detect one another in augmented reality. Initially, this technology will be delivered through a mobile gaming experience.

DeLong Inspired by Kidney Donation

Kacy DeLong: 'All kidney donors are heroes.'

Kacy DeLong: 'All kidney donors are heroes.'

As she packages orders for her latest Christmas tree ornament—a blended kidney and heart design—Kacy DeLong is simultaneously growing her business, raising funds for kidney research and celebrating her husband’s health-saving transplant.

This is the second year DeLong has been operating DeLong Designs, a New Germany, N.S.-based venture that makes Christmas ornaments cast in heirloom-quality pewter. DeLong donates $1 from every ornament sold to the Atlantic Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada to help support patients and families.

Along with her early designs such as the Whale Tail Christmas Tree, this year sees the introduction of the design that tells the story of both DeLong’s business and her husband’s transplant.

“The kidney-heart design evokes the healthy kidney of the donor on one half. On the other, it represents the void the donor fills in the life of the recipient,” DeLong said. “All kidney donors are heroes.”

DeLong’s hero is Dave Langley, her friend since childhood. Langley offered to donate a kidney as soon as he learned that Thomas DeLong’s condition had worsened to the point that it required thrice weekly trips to Halifax for dialysis.

“Dave’s not a mystical kind of guy,” DeLong said. “We told him it wouldn’t be easy and it all depended on whether he was a match. But Dave insisted he knew he'd be the donor.  And, rather incredibly, he was right.

“Without Dave’s selfless gift, I don't like to think what life would be like. Thomas might still be on dialysis, I highly doubt we'd be expecting our first child.” 

The DeLongs know they are fortunate. About 10 percent of Canadians will develop kidney disease. According to the Canadian Organ Replacement Register, around 4,500 Canadians are waiting for an organ donation and about 75 percent of them need a kidney. Nearly half of all organ transplants come from living donors as only 17 percent of possible deceased donors actually become donors.   

Common Good Solutions: Growing as Social Ventures Increase

As her husband recovered, DeLong, who holds a fine arts degree from Halifax’s NSCAD University, pondered her own future. At NSCAD, DeLong had enjoyed woodworking and making jewellery and sculpture. She wanted to return to those skills.

Her husband and his family run a farm in New Germany where they grow Christmas trees, so designing seasonal tree ornaments seemed logical. The family production of Christmas trees and wreaths meant DeLong could tap into existing supply chains.

So, DeLong came up with some designs, and had them made in Quebec. She launched her business in a small way last year, attending craft fairs that allowed her to get her ornaments before the public.

This year, she’s extended her range and has her own website. She worked on her initial business plan with the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre. Recently, she’s been working with Common Good Solutions, a Halifax organization that assists Atlantic Canadian social enterprises (businesses that address a social or environmental problem). The group’s Lisa Lowthers has helped DeLong refine her business plan.

“I’ve made business contacts with other social entrepreneurs. A business like this is all about allyship,” DeLong said  

An important ally is former NSCAD classmate and 3D designer, Aidan Smith, who has helped DeLong with her work.  

Next year, DeLong plans to produce her own line of jewellery. Eventually, she’d like her own casting facility.  She’d love to make enough money to help fund research into kidney disease.

“It would be incredible if people could grow a kidney from their own stem cells. Research is ongoing into 3D printing kidneys. A robotic kidney is being developed, it does the job of the dialysis machine but works internally.”

Right now, DeLong’s kitchen table is covered with Christmas ornaments waiting to be packaged. She relishes the personal connections with customers.

“I share a personal story of illness and love, and, unsurprisingly, people reach back,” she said. “The stories of hardship, triumph and family I hear are incredible.” 

Halifax’s Website for Amazon HQ Bid

The group organizing Halifax’s bid for Amazon’s  second North American headquarters has launched its website,, so anyone can see the rationale for the bid.

The bid pits Halifax against more than 200 other cities, including Canadian competitors like Toronto, Montreal and Calgary.

The site provides a snapshot of Halifax’s key business and quality of life advantages and requirements needed to become Amazon’s HQ2. The site claims that Halifax is the best financial deal for Amazon, and the technology, cultural and commercial heart of Canada’s east coast. The site includes letters from the prime minister, the mayor, Halifax Airport and Nova Scotia Power.

The project was led by Halifax Partnership, the city’s economic development organization, but the bid is the result of numerous organizations and individuals working together.

“Our proposal, like everything we do, is the collective work of many in our city and province. Our mayor, premier, First Nations, business and community partners, and our post-secondary institutions work together regularly, quickly, and effectively to attract business and people to Halifax,” Ron Hanlon, President and CEO of Halifax Partnership said in a press release.

The submission is an extension of ongoing work to attract investment opportunities, and a number of components will be repurposed to attract top companies and talent to do business in and with the city, the release stated.

Entrevestor Study Finds Exits Bring $1.8B, 2,200 jobs to Atlantic Canada

Sandy Bird Exemplifies What Exits Can Do For the Region

Sandy Bird Exemplifies What Exits Can Do For the Region

It’s a little-known fact that IBM’s R&D team for cybersecurity is headquartered in Fredericton — all because of a transformative exit announced in 2011.

IBM that year agreed to buy Q1 Labs, a Waltham, Mass.-based IT startup that had begun in the New Brunswick capital a decade earlier. Q1’s chief technology officer Sandy Bird now heads IBM’s research into the fight against cybercrimes from his lab in Fredericton, from which he oversees 20 major R&D labs around the world.

The 2011 exit of Q1 Labs demonstrates perfectly how a local or regional economy can benefit when a local startup is acquired by a multinational. Since 2011, Fredericton has become a centre for cybersecurity tech development, as IBM has grown its team and new startups like Beauceron Security have launched. The Canadian Institute of Cybersecurity has opened at the University of New Brunswick and the provincial government has made cybersecurity a pillar of its economic development strategy.

This is just one indication of the importance of startup exits in economic development.

Entrevestor on Wednesday released its latest report on the metrics of Atlantic Canada’s startup community, and we featured special research into exits in Atlantic Canada. We found that there had been 27 startup exits since 2011 — that’s the year that Fredericton-based Radian6 was bought by, the deal that really launched the startup movement in the region. We estimate these deals in total were worth at least $1.8 billion.

Novacap Buys Majority Stake in Leading Edge

The overwhelming majority of these acquisitions resulted in operations continuing in Atlantic Canada and growing their workforce in the region. We estimate there are now 2,200 Atlantic Canadians working for exited startups (including startups that exited before the Radian6 deal).

The benefits of exits extend beyond employment and include financing of other startups: Groups like Saint John-based East Valley Ventures, P.E.I.-based Island Capital Partners and St. John’s-based Killick Capital have used exit proceeds to back other startups. New investors like Halifax’s Jevon MacDonald and Patrick Hankinson are investing in companies because of the proceeds of exits.

As for the startup ecosystem, groups like Volta Labs in Halifax, Venn Innovation in Moncton and the pan-regional IT accelerator Propel ICT all were launched or received an early boost because of exits. Exits can even help to shape economic policy, such as the example of cybersecurity in New Brunswick mentioned above.

This research is important because exits are still discussed in policy circles in hushed voices, if at all. The thinking in some circles is that exits are great for the founders and investors, but the multinational buyers end up moving the operations to larger centres, taking jobs and technology with them.

The evidence simply does not support that theory. Exits are highly effective examples of direct foreign investment because the corporate buyers are usually acquiring proven teams with a rare combination of talent and technology.

It’s hard to find that combination (especially talent) so after purchasing the company the buyer is incentivized to grow the team, in its current location, and not screw things up by moving operations.

Government programs often aid this growth but there is no policy I know of that lays out how government departments and agencies can help founders as they are exiting. That should change. Development agencies should have transparent policies that tell business owners: If you’re selling your companies, let us help you welcome the buyer and grow the company after the sale closes.

Panel Calls for Continued Growth

The Panel: Robinson, Fraser, Rodgers, MacDonald and Peter Moreira

The Panel: Robinson, Fraser, Rodgers, MacDonald and Peter Moreira

Atlantic Canada needs more startups, more immigrants, greater links with hotspots like Toronto and Boston, and more capital from huge tech corporations, the panel at Entrevestor’s luncheon said Wednesday.

The panel of experts applauded the growth and collaboration in the current startup community. And they outlined how their organizations are going to help that growth to continue in the coming years.

“We need more startups,” said Jesse Rodgers, CEO of Volta Labs in Halifax. “It would be great to see dozens and dozens of new start-ups in Atlantic Canada instead of just a few here and there.”

Rodgers said that Volta is working to help launch more startups with its Volta Cohort funding program, and by expanding its facilities in downtown Halifax. Rodgers is also a key organizer of the Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic, which he said will help improve the quality of companies in the region and improve links with mentors elsewhere in the country.

Innovacorp President and CEO Malcolm Fraser, who just took over his position last month, said his organization is focused on opening its Startup Yard at the COVE oceans technology park in Dartmouth and supporting new companies through a series of competitions. And Shaun MacDonald, Managing Partner of Toronto-based Extreme Venture Partners, said his fund is really interested in next generation mobile products – not “the app economy” so much as products featuring artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The fund has already invested in one regional company, Ubique Networks, which is based in Toronto and Sydney.

Spark Competition Produces 18 Winners

The panel was held during Entrevestor and Charcoal Marketing’s “Atlantic Canada’s Startup Industry – By the Numbers” luncheon at the World Trade and Convention Centre. McInnes Cooper sponsored the event with the support of Big Data Congress 2017.

Julie Robinson, a partner at McInnes Cooper who specializes in startups, moderated the discussion that covered hot topics in the community.

Panelists kept coming back to such themes as acknowledging the infancy of the region’s startup community, and discussing methods for it to continue to grow and secure its position within the global economy.

Fraser emphasized that innovators, investors, and governments need to see that starting small business is the best way to enhance the region’s economy.

MacDonald added that Atlantic Canada could do a better job promoting the science and innovations that come from its universities.  

“I’m really impressed by the collaboration I’m seeing,” said Robinson, one of several speakers who noted that the ecosystem builders have done a good job of working together to develop support systems.

MacDonald also made an impassioned plea for Atlantic Canada to work harder to bring in more immigrants, saying the current numbers were insufficient.

The panelists were optimistic about the new oceans supercluster, saying it would be the next big thing for the region. The supercluster has potential to help Atlantic Canada stay relevant in the global economy and help boost the Eastern provinces into new global markets, they said.

The panel followed Entrevestor’s presentation on data from the Atlantic Canadian startup industry with a special focus on our recent research in startup exits in the region. 


Disclosure: McInnes Cooper and Innovacorp are clients of Entrevestor. 

Modest Tree’s 3-Year Deal with DND

Modest Tree Media Inc., a Halifax SaaS company that offers 3D simulation and training software, has entered a three-year licensing agreement with the Canadian Department of National Defence.

The agreement lets the department use the company’s Modest3D suite, a software that rapidly creates 3D interactive scenarios, which means anyone can create three-dimensional scenarios and animations without any programing experience.

Modest Tree’s technology is ideal for defense simulation training because of its ability to build a variety of training applications, from virtual task trainers, to immersive scenario based learning. The Canadian military had already been using Modest3D under a one-year licensing agreement.   

“The military’s decision for a three-year commitment to roll out our products across navy, army, and air force training establishments is a significant endorsement that our suite of products are hitting the mark in the defence training industry,” CEO Sam Sannandeji said in a statement.

Modest3D uses a drag-and-drop framework to apply actions, animations and interactions to 3D models to create an interactive scenario. The simple framework reduces the cost and time involved in making 3D training programs by as much as 85 percent.

“Our strategic objectives for modernizing military training include leveraging the most advanced training technologies available on the market,” said Bill Railer, the senior staff officer of Military Personnel Generation, Learning Support Centres.  “The Modest3D Suite delivers the capability we need for developing highly interactive 3D training.”

A graduate of Propel ICT’s former accelerator program Launch36, Modest Tree will showcase new features of the Modest3D Suite to the military this week at new Learning Support Centre in CFB Borden, Ont.

Red Meat Games Expands to Halifax

Red Meat Games, a video game development studio, has expanded its offices into Halifax to develop its new horror-puzzle game, Bring to Light.

“The expansion into Halifax made a lot of sense in terms of financing and talent perspectives,” said Keith Maske, the CEO of Red Meat Games, a video game development company.

Maske, who has more than 15 years of experience in the gaming industry, started Red Meat Games in 2013 in St. John’s, where he worked out of the Genesis Centre. The company, which develops games for mobile devices, consoles, personal computers and virtual reality, then relocated to Kitchener, Ont., in 2015. 

The new Halifax office employs over 10 programmers and artists, who will help create Red Meat Games’ newest project, Bring to Light, a first-person horror game. The project started in September and is funded in part by the Canadian Media Fund.

Bring to Light, which draws its inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, begins in a subway station after a terrible accident that leaves the player as the sole survivor, trapped and searching for a way out. The player has to navigate through the game and solve different puzzles to escape.

“The puzzles that we’re using makes you use light or shadow in different ways, and a lot of the storytelling were doing as well uses light and shadow,” said Maske.

Another Genisis Alum HeyOrca hits US$1M in ARR 

Because of its focus on light and realistic light movement, Maske said one of the biggest challenges in developing the game is designing an environment that is both immersive and scary for the player.

“We have all these parts of the game that go underground and are magical,” said Maske. “Trying to build that world as a scary environment that will put people on edge is a challenge.”

The challenge lies in the amount of work it takes for the small team of artists to design this mystical world. Maske said Red Meat Games, which has received support from Nova Scotia Business Inc., plans to hire another artist to lessen the load and help the company reach its goal of a 2018 release.

Bring to Light will be available for the PC and some consoles. Maske said he is looking into outfitting the game for VR but the company still has technical issues to iron out.

Maske said the expansion into Halifax has gone smoothly and his team is making a lot of progress with the new game.

“We have a team that is really capable and they get along great,” he said. “We already feel a sense of community and we’ve only been in Halifax for a couple of months. It’s awesome.”

Novacap in Leading Edge Buyout

Leading Edge Geomatics, a New Brunswick-based provider of aerial survey and geomatics services, has sold a majority stake to Montreal private equity firm Novacap for an undisclosed sum.

Though the price was not revealed, there’s no doubt this is a significant deal for Atlantic Canada. Founded by Canadian military veterans in 2008, Leading Edge has established itself as a leader in the field of geomatics, which involves the collection and analysis of geographic information. It has a fleet of several aircraft and a double-digit staffing level.

"Novacap is excited to join forces with Leading Edge and continue investing in people and products, and will support the company in finding new market opportunities to bring the business to the next level," NovaCap Partner Yong Kwon said in a press release. "Over the last decade, Leading Edge has delivered best-in-class aerial lidar services and industry leading solutions to the forestry, utility and other sectors."

Novacap is one of Canada's leading private equity firms, having raised $2.26 billion in capital since its inception. In July, Novacap closed its $840 million TMT IV Fund, which financed the Leading Edge deal. The private equity fund said Leading Edge will continue to be led by its co-founders Bruce Hogan, Bill Kidman and Will Lowry, who will retain a significant interest in Leading Edge.

“Novacap's investment will further accelerate growth through expansion into new markets, drive strategic acquisitions and continue investments in research and development of the company's industry leading decision-support solutions,” said the release.

In the 2016 fiscal year, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation provided Leading Edge with an innovation voucher worth $56,000, helping it to conduct research at a New Brunswick institution. NBIF President and Chief Executive Calvin Milbury said in an email Tuesday that Leading Edge is an “impressive growth company by any standard.”

Emergence Reaches Beyond PEI

Based in Lincoln, NB, Leading Edge provides end-to-end aerial surveying services that use lidar – a system based on the principles of radar with the use of laser beams. The company offers unique data processing capabilities and industry-leading decision support solutions.

The company’s Enhanced Forestry Inventory management solution combines lidar terrain and surface products to analyze forest metrics and terrain data. This combination can bring forestry companies an improved management strategy and efficiency in operations.

Leading Edge’s Powerline Mapping solution supports utility companies in better managing hazardous vegetation for thousands of kilometers of powerlines throughout North America.

"We see tremendous growth opportunities in the market for Leading Edge and know we have picked a strong partner with deep operational expertise to help us deliver on this potential," said Hogan, the company’s CEO. "We couldn't be more excited about the future for the business and what this means for New Brunswick and our key stakeholders."

Leading Edge was advised by the Charlottetown-based boutique advisory firm Confederation M&A.

“This deal was the result of a competitive bidding process that had substantial levels of interest,” said Confederation Senior Advisor Bob Brown. “After going through the due diligence process it became very clear that Novacap would be a good fit and ultimately, the preferred strategic partner. Their disciplined and proactive investment approach make for a great partnership and will help Leading Edge launch into its next phase of growth.”

Chamber Dinner Showcases Kinduct

Travis McDonough: 'A success story we want all Nova Scotia to hear.'

Travis McDonough: 'A success story we want all Nova Scotia to hear.'

Travis McDonough, the CEO of Kinduct Technologies, will be the keynote speaker at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce’s annual fall dinner on Thursday.

McDonough founded Kinduct, an athlete management system that helps clients find information on the human body and specific athletes. Kinduct supplies its software, which draws data from over 500 sources, to more than 100 professional and elite sports organizations like the NFL, and NHL. The product allows coaches and athletes to make informed training decisions to enhance their performance.

Last October, Kinduct announced a US$9 million (C$12 million) round of funding from Intel Capital. The health- technology company used the funds to enhance their software’s capabilities as the demand for specialized data management and analytics continues to grow in the spots industry.

Kinduct, which has offices in Halifax and Silicon Valley, employs over 100 people.

Patrick Sullivan, President and CEO of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release McDonough is “a success story we want all of Nova Scotia to hear. He spent time away from the province and returned to show that we can build and grow successful companies right here in Halifax.”

McDonough’s accolades include: the 2015 Ingenious Award, 2015 CBC Innovative Company of the Year, and the Best Places to Work Award in 2015 and 2016. He will take the stage at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the World Trade and Convention Centre following the dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Appili Receives US$1.2M Grant

Kevin Sullivan

Kevin Sullivan

Appili Theraputics, an anti-infective drug development company, received a US$1.2 million (C$1.5 million) grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program.

The Halifax company said in a press release it will use the funds to develop a compound for its ATI-1503 antibiotic program. ATI-1503 will be able to treat drug-resistant bacteria called Gram-negative bacteria, which have two protective cellular walls making it resistant to existing antibiotics.  

ATI-1503 is a synthetic version of a natural antibiotic and has the ability to treat deadly diseases like Klebsiella pneumonia, caused by drug resistant bacteria.

ATI-1503 has a broad spectrum, which allows the compound to penetrate both cellular walls and break down the bacteria. Appili will focus on increasing the drugs potency to better break down the double cell wall layer.

Treating drug-resistant bacteria is a high priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization since they cause at least 2 million infections and over 23,000 deaths in the US each year, alone.

The compound is also ideal for the Department of Defense because of its potential to aid doctors on the war front and in veteran hospitals.

“Drug-resistant bacteria threaten a doctor’s ability to care for battlefield wounds among military service men and women,” said Kevin Sullivan, CEO of Appili Therapeutics. “We are honoured to have been selected for this PRMRP award which helps us advance our most promising antibiotic candidate through the critical early stages of development.”

In the past few weeks, Appili was also given the go-ahead in Canada and the U.S. to start clinical trials of another compound, ATI-1501. This compound is designed to mask the bitter taste in Metronidazole, a drug used to treat infections among children.

Julie Robinson Leads Luncheon Panel

Julie Robinson

Julie Robinson

We’re delighted to have received such a great response for our luncheon in Halifax today, and to have Julie Robinson, a McInnes Cooper Partner specializing in startups, joining us as moderator.

At noon today at the World Trade and Convention Centre, Entrevestor and Charcoal Marketing will host “Atlantic Canada’s Startup Industry – By The Numbers”. This luncheon, sponsored by McInnes Cooper with the support of Big Data Congress 2017, will showcase Entrevestor’s latest data on the region’s startup community.

There are still tickets left for the lunch, which you can purchase here.

We’ll outline the metrics for the region in such areas as company formation, funding, revenue and what sectors are most active. And we’ll also present our research into exits in Atlantic Canada, which we believe is the first study of its kind in Canada.

Following this presentation, Robinson will moderate a panel discussion on the data and hot topics in the startup community. Robinson is the perfect moderator for such an event, as she has been practising corporate finance and securities law for several years, and has been immersed in the startup community.

The panel will feature: Shaun MacDonald, Managing Partner of Toronto-based Extreme Venture Partners; Innovacorp President and CEO Malcolm Fraser; and Volta Labs CEO Jesse Rodgers.

This promises to be an outstanding discussion and we hope you’ll be able to join us. 

Graphene Company Heads to Forums

Maier and AlGermozi: Accolades have come quickly.

Maier and AlGermozi: Accolades have come quickly.

The two co-founders of Graphite Innovation & Technologies Inc. are set to fly off to international events this week — two different events on two different continents. It’s another step forward for two guys who a year ago were Dalhousie University students with no idea they were about to found a business.

Mo AlGermozi is scheduled to fly to Qingdao, China, for the finals of the 2017 Global Marine Technology Entrepreneurship Competition. Graphite Innovation won the regional competition in Halifax last month, which gave the company the right to fly to China and compete for the US$70,000 first prize.

“It means access to the Chinese market,” said AlGermozi during an interview on Friday. “China has one-third of the graphite in the world and graphite is our raw material.”

Meanwhile, co-founder Marciel Gaier is on a flight to San Diego to attend BlueTech Week, a conference for marine innovation. Graphite Innovation was invited to attend by the Canadian Trade Commission, which heard about the company from Iain Archibald, the CEO of Halifax-based Swell Advantage, which is working in San Diego.

The accolades have come quickly to the founders who last winter discovered a revolutionary way to produce graphene and spun it into a company in Dal’s entrepreneurship program. Graphene is an unusual pattern of carbon atoms aligned in hexagonal hives to produce a light, durable material. It is 200 times stronger than steel and efficiently conducts heat and electricity. It was only identified and isolated in the past decade or so, so the commercial applications of graphene are in their infancy.

Since discovering an economical way to produce the substance, AlGermozi and Gaier have found their first application for graphene, which explains why they are now part of the oceans cluster.

Calof Brings Competitive Intelligence to Region

The duo has devised a product called GrapheneCoat, a graphene-based mixture that coats the underside of marine vessels to improve performance. The coating material simplifies the process of coating hulls, reduces the amount of copper in the ocean and prevents corrosion. What’s more, it’s effective in an “antifouling” material, which means it impedes the growth of barnacles, algae and marine organisms on ships’ hulls.

That’s important because the buildup of these organisms increases friction as a ship moves through the water. Huge ships use so much fuel that a reduction in friction can make ships more fuel efficient, saving the shipowners money and reducing CO2 emissions.

“The product is almost ready,” said AlGermozi, adding that the company is collaborating with the Dalhousie Centre of Water Sources Studies, the National Research Council and others on developing the product. Graphite Innovationis also working with The Boat Shop in St. Margaret’s Bay, which is helping them test GrapheneCoat on a boat in live conditions.

AlGermozi and Gaier expect to be ready to go to market next year, and are looking at licensing models to bring revenue into the company quickly and without a big manufacturing investment. Under this plan, they believe they will need about $600,000 to $700,000 in equity capital to reach the market. Then they want to begin to work on other graphene-based products.

Meanwhile, they intend to spend this week learning about potential markets in China and Southern California.

“We’re going to pitch for investment,” said Gaier when asked what he hopes to get out of the trip to San Diego. “We are most interested in piloting our product down there, so I’m hoping some of our meetings will be with key people so we can showcase the product and make connections.”

BDC 2017 Buzzword: ‘Predapt’

Rebecca Costa: 'We can't wait to adapt.'

Rebecca Costa: 'We can't wait to adapt.'

The delegates at Big Data Congress 2017 on Monday were advised to get used to the idea of “predapting” to changing technologies and economic conditions.

Predapting – according to BDC keynote speaker Rebecca Costa – is preparing to adapt. And the socio-biology from Silicon Valley told the Congress that we all better get ready to predapt because information is flooding over us in unprecedented volumes, speed and diversity. We have to adapt to change before the change takes place.

Now in its fifth year, the Big Data Congress brings together tech and business executives to discuss the onslaught of data analytics and how it is changing the way we live. As well as specialists like Costa, the congress in Halifax featured several startups that are using data to “predapt” and improve outcomes in such fields as food productions.

“We can’t wait to adapt,” Costa told the audience. “We have to ‘predapt’ and this is a revolutionary idea because if you can’t get our ahead of it . . .  the train will have left the station.”

Costa applies lessons learned from data to the disruption many industries face: from healthcare, finance, manufacturing, food processing, energy and social services to education, governance, transportation, technology and retail. Her book, The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse, was published in 26 countries and has remained in the top 1 percent of Amazon book sales for five straight years.

Her central message on Monday was that we’re so overwhelmed by data that we need to learn how to take it all on board. Bamboozled by the complexity of the modern world, many people ignore facts and base decisions on their beliefs, which leads to bad policy or business decisions.

Oceans Supercluster Group Courts Startups

The good news is that we now have more predictive tools than ever before and can use data to avoid catastrophes before they happen. For example, she said examining the gait of senior citizens can predict whether they are in danger of falling and injuring themselves. By monitoring their gait, it’s possible to extend their time living independently at home by two to three years.

There is no cure for addiction, she said, but questionnaires now exist that can identify whether someone is predisposed to addition. These surveys should be given to anyone receiving opioids for pain relief, because preventing addiction is easier than trying to cure it.

At various workshops at the Congress, various Atlantic Canadian startups were showing how they are using data for predictive analytics – or what you might call predapting.

In one room, Gregg Curwin, the CEO of vertical farming outfit TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, explained that his company is getting more into analytics to improve the production of food. “The lightbulb that’s going off for us is all about machine learning and data,” said Curwin, whose company is selling GoodLeaf Farm brand greens in the Maritimes.

The company is now building a state-of-the-art plant in Guelph to serve the Toronto market. It will be fully automated, and Halifax-based TruLeaf is digging into the data it will produce. Curwin said in the controlled environment of its growing facilities, the company can monitor data produced over time from the creation of the seed to shipping grown food to the supermarket. Outdoors, a farmer can get 40 points of data in the life of a plant; TruLeaf can get 10,000 data points in 10 days at its indoor farms.

Speaking after Curwin, Chris Baker, the CEO of Saint John-based IPSNP Computing, outlined how his Hydra product can use semantic-based searches of accessible databases to help agriculture in developing nations.

IPSNP has been working with the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative, or GODAN, to use data to help farmers understand what products will bring them the best return.

Hydra can tell farmers in real time what crops they can grow most effectively and profitably. What’s more, he said accessible data can even tell farmers what pesticides the crop would need and whether these chemicals could jeopardize other agricultural pursuits, such as keeping honey bees.

The Big Data Congress continues today and Wednesday.

McInnes Cooper Backs Our Luncheon

We’re delighted to announce that McInnes Cooper has come aboard as the sponsor of our luncheon on Wednesday.

We’re now down to the last day before the luncheon, and tickets are going fast. We’re hearing from community members from around the region that they’re interested in attending to learn about our data on startups in the region. You can register here.

The law firm is a long-time supporter of Entrevestor and a pillar of the startup community, and we’re delighted to have firm participating in the luncheon. McInnes Cooper has worked with startups for several years, and recently announced a new package of legal services for startups.

We’ve teamed up with Charcoal Marketing and the Big Data Congress to present the event titled “The Atlantic Canadian Startup Industry – By The Numbers”. This event at noon at the World Trade and Convention Centre is the best place to learn the metrics for the regional startup community. Entrevestor each year collects and analyzes startup data, which will be the basis of the presentation.

After we go over the data, we’ll have a panel discussion, and the audience will be welcome to join in with questions.

It promises to be a great event, with plenty of opportunity to network with people from around the region. We’re expecting a full house so please be sure to register.  

Job Posts: Dash Hudson, Swept

In our Jobs of the Week column today, we’re highlighting Dash Hudson’s search for a Sales Development Representative and Swept’s opening for a Quality Engineer.

Dash Hudson, a Halifax-based company who created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps companies better market through photos and video, is looking to hire a Sales Development Representative.

The company, which already has employees in Halifax, Miami and New York, is looking for someone who is “super organized, to the point of compulsion” to manage their outreach strategy and help build and maintain sales.

Swept, also based in Halifax, creates software designed for the janitorial industry with mobile and web based platforms to better connect with their customers.  Its mission is to help cleaning companies actually support their cleaners, not just check in with them.

Swept is looking to add a Quality Engineer to their team to implement and refine their Quality Assurance Program.

The Jobs of the Week column features openings posted on the Entrevestor Job Board, which focuses on jobs in technology, innovation and startups in Atlantic Canada. The Entrevestor Job Board helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities and is operated by Entrevestor and Alongside.

Here are excerpts from the job postings:


Dash Hudson

Sales Development Representative


As a Sales Development Representative, you are a critical piece to the growth and development of Dash Hudson's sales process. You will manage a creative and customized outreach strategy to potential customers in verticals such as fashion, beauty, luxury, travel food, publishing, consumer electronics, and many more. Through developing and maintaining the early stages of the sales pipeline, you will contribute to the overall success of the sales team!


•             Find and source new leads for companies to go through the outreach process.

•             Assign leads to specific Account Executives.

•             Manage the early stages of the sales pipeline by communicating with potential customers through the outreach process.

•             Customize messages to leads, and maintain a consistent follow up schedule.

•             Collaborate with Account Executives to support their communications with warm leads, providing them with sales collateral.

•             Track the performance of daily outreach: emails sent, opened, clicked, and responded to.

•             Follow leads through the outreach process, and closing gaps where any lapses may occur.

•             Funnel unreached companies back into the outreach process. . . . 

Read more about the job here


Quality Engineer


Swept is looking for a talented Software Quality Engineer lead to join our team. Your role within the team will be to implement and refine our Quality Assurance Program with the expressed objective of ensuring the best possible performance for both our Mobile and Web software.

You have a passion for learning and developing new skills, while working closely with production and client teams throughout the product life cycle. You'll plan methodically, act proactively and scrutinize relentlessly to ensure our products meet exacting standards of usability, and functionality.

You'll work on defining Acceptance Criteria and refining the business rules that are used in the application. You'll collaborate with development and design teams to plan and execute testing across a variety of world-class applications on the newest web and mobile technologies. You'll also have the unique opportunity to shape the tools, processes and culture of Quality Assurance at our company.


•             An aptitude for software testing and a passion for shipping quality products

•             Experience testing scalable cloud applications and/or enterprise-grade web applications across modern web and mobile technologies

•             Familiarity with scrum, agile and lean product development methodologies (BDD)

•             Exceptional exploratory testing skills to help define Acceptance Criteria

•             Expertise with UI automation frameworks (Selenium) on web and mobile platforms

•             Experience developing test strategies and plans that match our release calendar

•             Experience with Security and Load testing

•             Expertise with troubleshooting and debugging problems

•             Excellent written, verbal communication skills

•             A passion for ongoing education, with a desire to learn new skills and approaches to software testing

•             Attention to details; please include your favourite beverage in your cover letter

•             A keen interest in emerging design and technology trends

•             A desire to shape a cross-discipline product testing practice that is driven by growth, collaboration, and an unwavering commitment to product quality . . . 

Read more about the job here

Spark Contest Produces 18 Winners

Innovacorp and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency have announced 18 winners in the first province-wide Spark Innovation Challenge.

The winners will split $800,000, divided evenly between four regions in Nova Scotia. One of the hallmarks of the competition this year is that no winner has received less than $25,000. That means the competition and it organizers have strived to concentrate the capital in the companies they perceive have the best chance of getting to the market. Winners must use the prize money to build prototypes or take new products and services to market.

Innovacorp first launched the Spark competition in Cape Breton a few years ago to provide a bit of capital to a range of startups. And gradually it grew into a provincial competition, replacing the biennial I-3 Startup Technology Competition.

“Participating in the Spark Innovation Challenge will help us further develop our business,” said Tony Ingram, Co-Founder of Halifax-based Axem Neurotechnology, one of the winners. “Now we’re closer to finishing our prototype and testing our devices with local athletes.”

Axem co-founders Ingram and Chris Friesen are developing wearable devices that help professional athletes track and monitor performance. Their product is a brain-sensing headset that measures the quality of mental practice and connects to a smart phone application.

The Spark competition attracted 136 submissions. Thirty-eight finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Finalists also participated in several business workshops and received one-on-one financial advice.

The winners are listed below, and we have included links to the companies we have reported on:  

Spark Cape Breton

Campaign EA – Todd Graham – Sydney ($50,000)

Municipal election campaign management software provided through mobile and desktop applications – Todd Chant, Kevin Chant – Sydney ($50,000)

Golf tournament management platform

GoGo Groceries (now Full Plate) – Jay McNeil – Glace Bay ($25,000)

Personalized grocery shopping and delivery service

Hydrotroniks – Scott Aucoin, Stephane Sogne, Joel Lefort – Cheticamp ($25,000)

Carbon neutral alternative to fossil fuel boat engines through electric energy storage and propulsion options

Talem Health Analytics – Paul Travis, Matthew Kay – Sydney ($50,000)

Software for physiotherapists and orthopedic specialists to track, analyze and predict treatment regimens

Spark Halifax

Axem – Tony Ingram, Christopher Friesen – Halifax  ($50,000)

Wearable technology with built-in sensors to track brain activity and improve athletes’ mental training

Axem Logs Triple-Gain in One Weekend. 

HomeExcept – John Robertson – Halifax ($50,000)

Technology that provides non-intrusive monitoring of seniors for families and caregivers

HomeExcept Bags US Award

TripNinja – Andres Collart, Brett Ziegler, Rob Dumont and Julieta Collart – Halifax – ($50,000)

Navigation tool for flexible, multi-destination travelers to find the most cost-effective route

TripNinja Eyes Big Deal in August

UpFront – Conor Daly, Kyle Gardiner – Halifax ($50,000)

Ticketing and event management platform that uses blockchain technology to eliminate scalping and fraud

Spark North

BidSquid Online Marketplace – David Hachey – Scotsburn ($25,000)

Online marketplace for local food where farmers can reach new buyers

BidSquid's Hachey Traded Wall Street for Agtech

BioPolyOil – Mostafa Aghaei, Alma Zangeneh, Arian Shahnazari – Bible Hill ($50,000)

Agri-based technology for applications in the oil and gas industry

iCrowdX – Sean Sears – Antigonish ($50,000)

Natural, fruit-based drinks with health benefits

Oceland Biologicals – Balakrishnan Prithiviraj – Bible Hill ($50,000)

Plant biostimulants that improve the growth, yield and resilience of crops to increase farmers’ incomes

Spark West

Alias Earth – Jim Dorey – Morden ($50,000)

Database of virtual sets for the entertainment industry

Electric Puppets – Ryan Cameron – Chester ($50,000)

Virtual reality-based solution for the IWK Eye Care Clinic to improve diagnostic and therapeutic tools

Finleaf Technologies – Myrna Gillis – Brooklyn ($25,000)

Aquaponics system that enables the delivery of supplemental nutrients to flowering plants

Nexus Robotics – Teric Greenan, Jad Tawil, Thomas Trappenberg – Barss Corner (25,000)

Autonomous farming robot that navigates its environment and performs agricultural tasks

SURU – Michael Uhlarik – Hubbards ($50,000)

Zero-emission, electric-powered bicycles that let users travel 50 km without fuel or pedaling

Electric Bike Suru Launches in NS.


Disclosure: Innovacorp and ACOA are clients of Entrevestor. 

Entrevestor Lunch To Highlight Exits

One of the most misunderstood aspects of economic development is the subject of exits by high-growth companies. At our luncheon in Halifax on Wednesday, we’ll demonstrate the true economic power of exits.

Entrevestor and Charcoal Marketing are hosting Atlantic Canada's Startup Industry - By The Numbers, a luncheon we're staging with the cooperation of Big Data Congress 2017. We’ll present our latest data, focusing on funding, company launches, and the distribution of sectors and locations. And about half of the presentation will highlight our recent research into startup exits in Atlantic Canada.

There are still tickets available for the luncheon. Please register here and join our presentation and discussion.

We decided to research exits because we frequently hear that investments in startups – especially IT startups – are suspect because the ultimate goal is an exit, or a sale to a foreign multinational. The thinking goes that the founders make money, but the technology and jobs are quickly exported.

Our presentation will prove that that theory is wrong. We’ve tracked the Atlantic Canadian exits that have taken place since 2011 and examined how exits have altered the Atlantic Canadian business community. The financial and employment gains are profound, and the benefits extend to philanthropy, education and economic policy. It’s a powerful story.

The presentation will last about 20 minutes, and then we’ll discuss our findings with a panel of experts.

We’d love to have you join our luncheon. We’re getting a great response and it promises to be a lively discussion. You only have two days left to get your tickets. You can buy them here

Spinzo Attracting More Pro Teams

Emmanuel Elmajian: Providing a more experiential approach to ticket sales.

Emmanuel Elmajian: Providing a more experiential approach to ticket sales.

A New Brunswick startup is helping professional sports teams bring a more experiential approach to their group ticket sales– and some big names are taking notice.

Founded in 2012, Spinzo is a demand-based pricing platform where corporations like sports teams can run promotions for group purchases where the final price depends on the number of committed buyers. Prices drop as more people participate, and everyone pays the final low price.

But company CEO Emmanuel Elmajian said that company has expanded its platform to provide professional sports teams new and interactive way to facilitate these group sales. . . .

Read the full story on Huddle.

Oceans Cluster Group Courts Startups

The Oceans Supercluster Committee in Dartmouth on Wednesday: Finn, Richard, Hebb and Hanlon.

The Oceans Supercluster Committee in Dartmouth on Wednesday: Finn, Richard, Hebb and Hanlon.

The Atlantic Canadian group putting together the pitch for the oceans supercluster is reaching out to startups and small businesses, promising them a role in the ambitious scheme.

The steering committee this week has held information sessions in St. John’s and Dartmouth, with more than 150 people attending each session. The message has been two-fold: first, the oceans supercluster could be a huge opportunity for Canada and its East Coast; and second, small, innovative companies will be needed to provide solutions to industries that toil in salt water.

The idea of a maritime industries cluster has been gaining steam for several years. It received fresh impetus this year when the federal government said it would spend as much as $950 million over five years to support “superclusters” of innovation across the country. Atlantic Canada’s proposal of an oceans supercluster made the shortlist of nine finalists, and organizers hope it will be one of the three to five proposals to divide the federal jackpot. The final submission is due Nov. 24.

The committee envisages a structure that would encourage innovators to provide solutions to problems common to all ocean-related endeavors. Startups and other SMEs would be integral to devising the solutions – especially digital solutions, such as data-analytics products – that could be adapted by companies in Canada and elsewhere.

“Digitization is coming,” said Jim Hanlon, CEO of the Halifax Marine Research Institute and a member of the committee. “The ocean economy is actually late coming to it. ... The question is, How do we bring these capabilities to the supply chain?”

Ocean Executive Prepares for Launch

The information session revealed an oceans cluster structure comprising three layers of participants. At the top is a group of major private investors, which is now made up ofClearwater Fine Foods and the electricity company Emera, both of Halifax; Petroleum Research of St.  John’s; and investment firm Cuna Del Mar. Below this segment are: other corporations involved in oceans-related businesses; and institutions that support research and the ecosystem.

The organization must come up with at least $125 million in private investment, which will be matched by the federal program. The group, which will probably have bases in all four provinces, will then channel the money over five years into a series of projects that will advance ocean-related industries.

Hanlon and other committee members stressed that startup founders have difficulty connecting with boardrooms of large corporations; and big companies also are perplexed by the challenges of developing innovation. The supercluster organization could improve communications channels for both groups, they said, as in would include “technology brokers” to connect projects and innovators.

“This is an opportunity to bring your company, from an SME perspective, into a whole new market,” George Palikaras, the CEO of the Halifax startup Metamaterial Technologies Inc., said during the Q&A session. “This platform lets us expand – the big companies are basically opening up the channels to us.”

That’s not to say there wasn’t some skepticism at the Dartmouth session. One participant noted that the strength of the Quebec aerospace cluster was its capacity to manufacture airplanes and asked: “Where’s the plane here?”

NS Awards Funding to Nine Oceans Projects

The fact is there’s nothing akin to aircraft manufacturing here. Such a manufacturing cluster brings a range of players together in a single supply chain, but the oceans cluster isn’t a single supply chain. It comprises seven different sectors, ranging from aquaculture to offshore oil and gas to marine shipping.

Hanlon and the other committee members – Matt Hebb of Dalhousie University, Christian Richard of Emera; and Dave Finn of Petroleum Research – said repeatedly they thought initially such a fragmentation would be a weakness in their scheme. But the more they dove into it, the more they considered it a strength. All these industries – united only be the fact that they operate in the ocean – face common problems and can improve profits by collaborating to find solutions, they said.

“It’s a bit of a challenge to bolt this one together, but if can pull it together it will be even more disruptive,” said Hanlon.

Hebb said ocean industries account for 2.5 percent of the global economy, but in Canada that figure is only 0.7 percent, even though the country has the longest coastline in the world. In Norway, for example, ocean-related industries account for 7 percent of GDP. The committee argues that the entire country could gain greatly by increasing the percentage of national output derived from ocean industries.

One audience member asked what Plan B is if Atlantic Canada doesn’t win supercluster funding. The panel members said Ottawa has been working to find other funding sources for worthy entrants that didn’t make the short-list. However, the group does not want to settle for consolation prizes.

“It’s ours to lose,” said Hanlon. “We have to find ways to work together that are non-traditional, but if we can do that we can bring in back home to Atlantic Canada.” 

Pavia: A Model Ethical Coffee Shop

Pavia Owner Victoria Foulger accepting her EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Pavia Owner Victoria Foulger accepting her EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

After cementing relationships with suppliers of biodegradable plastics and ethically sourced sugar, the founders of Nova Scotia’s Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar & Café are now celebrating an EY Entrepreneur of The Year award.

Victoria Foulger, Pavia CEO and co-founder, was presented with the hospitality and tourism award for the Atlantic region last month.

“Pavia has won many awards but this turns the spotlight on Victoria’s leadership,” said her partner in business and in life, co-founder Christopher Webb.

That leadership includes making decisions that prioritize ethical concerns that are important to the founders and increasingly important to consumers — concerns such as sustainability and ethical sourcing.

Pavia is known for operating atmospheric Italian cafes and adjoining art galleries that showcase local and international talent. Pavia has four locations — Herring Cove Road, the Nova Scotia Art Gallery, and on the ground and top floors of the Halifax Central Library.

The cafes aim to be authentically Italian, serving imported Florentine espresso and a range of Italian pastries alongside fare such as paninis and soups.

What is less well known is that Foulger and Webb also strive to run an ethical business. Webb said that one of the reasons Foulger won the EY award was Pavia’s emphasis on buying locally and sustainably.

Pavia uses locally sourced and fair trade products wherever possible. They have recently begun receiving sugar from La Siembra Co-operative, a.k.a. Camino, in Ottawa.

All plastic products used in Pavia’s to-go orders will soon be biodegradable, supplied by Toronto-based Green Shift.

Bean Counter Aid Coffee, Vending Machine Deliveries

Webb said that Pavia buys 5,000 eggs each month from Coldspring Farms in the Annapolis Valley. The eggs are free range and organic. Meat comes from Meadowbrook farms, where the size of their order is responsible for 1.5 full-time jobs.

“We want to be a conduit for people in downtown Halifax to invest in our rural farms,” Webb said. “At times, it’s been difficult because of that. When we were growing, it was easy to think of cutting our egg prices — we could have saved $15,000 a year.”

He and Foulger have also created their own gardens and are working toward becoming a zero-waste food business.

Supporting local charities is another priority. The company donates around $24,000 a year to Halifax causes. Employees have swum in the ocean in January for the YWCA and run the Blue Nose Marathon for the IWK Foundation.

Webb, who is also a visual artist, and Foulger, a British-born nurse, began Pavia at their Herring Cove location in 2011, naming the café for Webb’s Italian grandmother, Maddalena Pavia.

Webb said the café and gallery seemed a natural progression for him and Foulger who, after they were introduced by friends, discovered a shared passion for Italy and began running art and cultural tours to the country.

The tours began in 2008 and the couple still take16 people a year to Italy for a celebration of “food, wine, art and wine.” Next year’s excursion will be to Umbria and Tuscany.

An Italian-themed café and an art gallery were perhaps not obvious choices for Herring Cove, but Webb said they felt they could make it work if “the difference was worth the distance.” That philosophy still applies. “If people are going to walk past all the other cafes on Spring Garden Road, Pavia has to be worth it,” he said.

Many clearly do find the distance worth it. Pavia now employs 35 people, both in the day-to-day businesses and in catering events.

Woodwards Donate $1.1M to MUN

The faculty of business administration at Memorial University will receive a $1.13 million donation from the family of the late Melvin Woodward, a Newfoundland business pioneer who founded the Woodward Group of Companies.

The money will be awarded to student entrepreneurs through an annual business competition, now called the Mel Woodward Cup.

The competition, which is a program of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, will award more than $40,000 in cash prizes and offer mentorship and support opportunities for student innovators and entrepreneurs. 

Woodward’s children, Peter, Melvin, and Tana, made the donation in memory of their father, who died in 2015. 

"My father strongly believed that you never know what you're capable of until you go out and try,” said Woodward Group President and CEO Peter Woodward in a press release. “With this donation, we want to give students interested in entrepreneurship that opportunity to try. We hope that this fund sparks potential entrepreneurs to follow in the footsteps of our father and, in doing so, do their own part to contribute to expanding the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Melvin Woodward began driving a single-fuel delivery truck in 1976, and grew his businesses into key players in the oil and gas shipping industry. The Woodward Group now includes: Woodward’s Oil, Woodward Aviation, Woodward Auto Group, Costal Shipping and Labrador Marine.  The company founder was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame in 2001 and won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

“This generous donation from the Woodward family shows incredible support for, and belief in, our students and their capacity as potential entrepreneurs," said Isabelle Dostaler, the dean of Memorial’s business faculty. “Through this donation and the Mel Woodward Cup, we will be able to provide a tangible investment in our students and support them on their journeys towards becoming the next generation of business leaders.”

Emergence Reaches Beyond PEI

A few years back, the National Research Council announced that two Atlantic Canadian companies would receive five years of funding from its Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Program, or CAIP.

One was Propel ICT, the high-profile tech accelerator, and the other was the PEI BioAlliance, which launched a life sciences incubation program called Emergence.

Emergence — which received $3.8 million from CAIP and matching funds from other sources — has grown more quietly than Propel but it is still producing some impressive growth metrics, especially outside of P.E.I.

Some 15 per cent of the startups are based in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. A further 21 per cent are located in the rest of Canada, and 15 per cent are based outside Canada (and are interested in moving at least part of their operations to Canada).

In an interview last week, director Martin Yuill stressed that Emergence is neither a place where startups can occupy office space, nor a short-term program. The goal is to support companies across a broad geographic area over several years, in part because biotech companies take time to get to market.

“Emergence is a multi-year, virtual bioscience incubation program,” said Yuill, a dapper South African native who has also worked in Kelowna, B.C., and Peterborough, Ont. “Unlike a lot of the accelerator programs, we are not cohort-based. . . . We stay with them from the idea stage through to success.”

Because there are no set programs for the participants, Yuill said, what Emergence offers its companies is a customized program that suits their needs.

PEI Unveils New Biotech Facilities

For example, Emergence works with its group of mentors, first to identify the areas in which each company needs mentorship, and then to try to find a leading expert in the field to help the company.

The incubator also offers Specialist Services Projects, in which it will fund as much as 65 per cent of the cost of bringing in specialists to help a company with a specific project.

The group strives to help startups find funding, first by making sure they’re investment-ready and then by introducing them to potential investors. And it helps to provide services like market research and connections with professional service providers.

The program only got going three years ago and two-thirds of its members are early-stage companies, but already Yuill said there have been quantifiable results. In the 12 months to March 31, Emergence companies received $48.5 million in follow-on equity financing and filed 22 patents.

Now Yuill and the BioAlliance are looking at the long-term sustainability of the program. The CAIP funding expires in March 2019 and there is a question about whether the program will be renewed or whether other programs will step in to fund accelerators and incubators. In any case, Yuill said, life sciences companies take longer than a few years to get their products to market and there is a need for a long-term program.

“This program needs longer than three years,” he said. “Knowledge economy companies are location-agnostic, so there’s no reason to my mind why Atlantic Canada shouldn’t be able to punch above its weight in growing a bioscience sector.”

Envenio, TotalPave Sell to Feds

The federal government is buying more than $700,000 in engineering solutions from two Fredericton companies through its Build in Canada Innovation Program.

Build in Canada, which buys disruptive products and services from Canadian startups, said this week it has signed a $492,000 contract with Envenio Inc. and a $231,278 contract with TotalPave Inc.

The program aims to boost startups’ revenue and validate their technology, which is especially important for companies in Atlantic Canada where there are fewer big businesses to serve as B2B clients.

Envenio received funding for its air- and fluid-flow simulation software, EXN/Aero. It allows engineers to simulate air or fluid movement around objects, like testing the aerodynamics of a car. The company’s algorithms allow basic computers to simulate the flow of these substances. Like a virtual wind tunnel, it can chart the interactions of liquids and gases in specific conditions and with certain solid shapes.

The Build in Canada contract will allow Defence Research and Development Canada, National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces to test Envenio’s simulation software.

“I’m pleased to have our innovation recognized by the Build in Canada Innovation Program and look forward to working with Defence Research and Development Canada on this project,” said Envenio CEO Ian McLeod in the statement.

“Envenio and DRDC have a long history of collaboration and a common goal of advancing CFD simulation technology. It is very exciting to have this opportunity to make Canada a leader in the CFD simulation space and to help DRDC take their work to the next level.”

Envenio presented its EXN/Aero software at Montreal’s International Aerospace Week at the Aerospace Innovation Hub in April and later received $1.3 million in venture capital in June.

Dragon Veterinary Profitable in Year 2

TotalPave signed a contract for its Pavement Data Collection System, which uses smartphone technology to gather and provide data on road and sidewalk conditions. This product will be tested out by Procurement Canada and Public Services.

“TotalPave is mobilizing our technology, providing Parks Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada and two provincial departments with the tools they need to make data-driven pavement management decisions,” said CEO Coady Cameron.

“The smartphone-based system provides the same standard data at a fraction of the cost of traditional equipment. The Build in Canada Innovation Program was instrumental in unlocking the doors to working with the federal government, especially for a small technical team like TotalPave.”

In the TotalPave system, the user mounts smartphones into vehicles to collect data on road surfaces as these cars and trucks drive around on their customary routes. They relay this data to a central facility that automatically assesses it and reports on what roads need repair most acutely.

Since its launch in 2010, Build in Canada has awarded 260 contracts worth more than $115 million to Canadian innovation companies of all sizes. 

B4checkin Books Sales in US Hotels

Saar Fabrikant: 'All-in-one booking and payment platforms are the future.'

Saar Fabrikant: 'All-in-one booking and payment platforms are the future.'

B4checkin, the Halifax company that develops software for the hospitality industry, has installed its hotel booking engine chameleon in two large American casino hotels.

Black Bear Casino Resort in Carleton, Minn., and Pahrump Nugget Hotel Casino in Pahrump, Nev., already use Visual One, a system offered by b4checkin’s partner Agilysys. Now, they have integrated b4checkin’s chameleon booking engine as well so hotel employees and guests can keep track of reservations and bookings with ease, b4checkin said in a statement this week. 

B4checkin offers a suite of cloud-based software solutions designed for hotels to process reservations, check-ins, and customer feedback. In 2014, b4checkin partnered with the Agilysys to offer its booking engine to the larger corporation’s Visual One property management system customers.

 “The chameleon booking engine has made the reservation process quick and easy,” Black Bear Hotel Manager Corey Van Guilder said in a statement. He added that the software’s mobile responsiveness helps guests, and its admin portal is straightforward for his team.

Black Bear Casino Resort also uses b4checkin’s software b4golf to book and reserve tee-times for its 18-hole golf course.

“All-in-one booking and payment platforms are the future,” said b4checkin President and CEO Saar Fabrikant. “Customers already demand and expect a fluid online experience, and b4checkin’s installations at these casino hotels are yet another demonstration of how our software solutions are helping to meet this need.”

B4checkin was founded in 2006 and now services properties throughout the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. The company received certification from the TripAdvisor website in 2013 and saw a 70 percent sales growth in 2015 after partnering with Agilysys.

“B4checkin will continue to service the global market for integrated solutions that can enhance the guest booking experience as well as offer guests a convenient method of booking additional amenities,” Fabrikant said. 

BDC 2017 To Feature Costa, O’Shea

Rebecca Costa: sociobiologist, author and speaker.

Rebecca Costa: sociobiologist, author and speaker.

The fifth annual Big Data Congress, to be held in Halifax Nov. 6 to 8, will feature noteworthy speakers to illuminate its focus on oceans and agriculture.

The speakers include keynote Rebecca Costa, an internationally renowned American sociobiologist, author and speaker. Costa is described as a provocative new voice in the mold of Thomas Friedman, Malcom Gladwell and Jared Diamond.

Costa applies lessons learned from nature to the disruption many industries face: from healthcare, finance, manufacturing, food processing, energy and social services to education, governance, transportation, technology and retail.

Costa’s book, The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse, was published in 26 countries and has remained in the top 1 percent of Amazon book sales for five straight years.

A second keynote, Tim o’Shea is the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based CleanFish, which works at creating market solutions to the crises in our oceans.

CleanFish promotes a network of responsible producers for eco-savvy chefs, market buyers and seafood lovers. The brand platform rewards better stewardship of ocean resources with premium brand positioning.

Since T4G President Geoff Flood launched the Congress in Saint John in 2012, it has sought to bring together the tech community and potential end-users of data analytics technology.

Its goal is to help traditional businesses, government and organizations understand how Big Data can assist them.

Congress Chair Michael Shepherd, former Dean of Computer Science at Dalhousie University, recently told Entrevestor that he is especially excited about the focus on the primary industries of oceans and agriculture at this year’s event.

“They are very important sectors here in the Maritimes,” said Shepherd, who oversaw the creation of Dalhousie’s Institute of Big Data Analytics during his tenure as Dean. He added that a central theme will be food security, which is important in both sectors.

As well as the keynotes, the event will bring together many global and regional thinkers and innovators to discuss what Big Data is and the global role it can play around oceans and agricultural industries.

The event will feature examples of data technology at work in Atlantic Canada and around the world, and discuss the shared benefits that accrue when the private and public sectors work collaboratively to solve real world challenges.

You can purchase tickets here.


Disclosure: The Big Data Congress is a client of Entrevestor.

Launching our 2017 Startup Survey

Today we are launching our 2017 Atlantic Canada Data Survey, and asking high-growth innovation companies across the region to take a few minutes to fill it out.

Collecting data is a pillar of Entrevestor’s business model, and it’s a win-win for the region. We analyze the data and produce a yearly report on the state of the East Coast startup community. We sell this report to clients. This is the first win: the community, including policy makers, receives metrics on the startup movement, which aids in the development of the ecosystem.

The second win is that it helps us continue to provide free news for the community daily. Every news organization in the world has revenue challenges, and our data report is a value-added product that offsets the cost of our news operation. By filling out the survey, you’re helping us inform and promote startups across Atlantic Canada.

Our 2017 survey comprises only 18 questions and can be filled out in a jiffy. All your answers will be 100 percent confidential as we only reveal aggregated data. You can find the survey here:

A few notes on the survey: We’re asking for metrics as of Dec. 31, 2017. We understand the calendar year hasn’t closed yet, but most startups know what year-end will look like. If you have a big deal pending – funding or a big sale – by all means wait until it closes. But we’d like the majority of companies that can predict the next two months to complete the forms now.

If there is information you choose not to reveal, just leave the slot blank.

The companies we’re targeting are majority-owned by Atlantic Canadians, commercializing technology and producing a product for the global market.

Finally, if you want to witness our latest public data, please join us next Wednesday for a presentation of our data and panel discussion about it. Here are the details of the luncheon event in Halifax.

We want to thank the founders and CEOs who fill out our survey promptly. We’ll hold a draw to give out tickets for our luncheon to three people who have completed the survey by noon on Monday. Just complete the survey, and you’re entered. We’ll announce the results Tuesday.

Many thanks in advance to everyone who completes the survey. 

Calof Brings CI Program to Region

Jonathan Calof: 'It's about gaining insights into customers.'

Jonathan Calof: 'It's about gaining insights into customers.'

Jonathan Calof is an evangelist of competitive intelligence, and one place where he loves to preach his gospel is Atlantic Canada.

A University of Ottawa prof, Calof has recently been an adjunct professor at University of New Brunswick, working with Dhirendra Shukla, who heads the Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program. Now Moncton-based Venn Innovation is organizing a series of programs across Atlantic Canada in which Calof will teach competitive intelligence to startups and other companies.

Competitive intelligence is the study of external factors that can determine success or failure for a company – in this case, a startup. A CI strategy will consider the medium- to long-term direction of technology, pending government regulation, competitors’ patent filings and the buzz around what competitors are planning. The idea is that a company should try to understand what the world will look like in three to five years – which in many cases is when a startup would be releasing its product.

Calof teaches such a strategy around the world – he departed Moncton to fly to Madrid last week – but he’s developed a certain affinity for Atlantic Canada. He’s impressed by the support all members of the ecosystem offer one another.    

“Every time I come out to this region … I see people helping each other,” he said, noting that this includes not just founders and economic development officers but also suppliers, customers, service providers and academics across provincial boundaries. “That’s how you create a strong regional advantage, not by acting like 1,000 small companies but by acting like one big region.”

Dragon Veterinary is Profitable in Year 2

Calof worked with the oceans industry in Newfoundland and Labrador a few years ago to come up with an industry-wide strategy. He said he was blown away that 90 percent of the businesses, academics and government officials in the sector participated in the program. Working together, he said, they were able to double sales within four years.

Calof teaches his charges to gaze outside the customary information points when devising strategy. They should be aware, he said, of coming regulatory changes and the political climate. They should follow the historical changes of big competitors’ websites – if the competitor posted a lot about going in a certain direction and then went silent on it, it can be a sign of a stealth project that could change the market. And founders should be asking clients about what’s expected in the marketplace.

“It’s about gaining insights into the customers,” said Calof. “If you know your customer well enough, you will be able to come up with products that are useful to them.”

Calof’s programs take one month, and he’s just wrapped up the first week of the program at the Venn Centre in Moncton. It comprises 12 companies – the largest ever in one of Calof’s workshops. They have had a few days of instruction, and over the next three weeks will work on assignments to bring to virtual sessions with Calof. Over the next two years, similar workshops will be rolled out across the region.

"Competitive intelligence is vitally important for startups and mature companies alike,” said Venn President and CEO Doug Robertson in a statement. “The techniques and skills to be learned and built upon throughout this two-year training pilot, supported by ACOA, are invaluable. The skills learned will help companies understand factors both inside and outside of their business that can influence their strategy.”


Disclosure: Venn Innovation is a client of Entrevestor.

Novacad’s 3D Printing Competition

The BigRep One

The BigRep One

Dartmouth-based 3D printing company Novacad Systems and a German partner have launched a contest for post-secondary students to reinvent the humble chair and create new designs with 3D printing.

The BigRep Innovation Award is the work of Novacad Systems, which provides 3D printing solutions for its clients, and BigRep bH of Germany, which manufactures what it describes as the world’s largest 3D printers.

In a press release, the organizers said the contest emerged from their shared passion for innovation using large-format FDM (fused deposition modelling). With a prize value of $3,000, the award is open to all students now enrolled in a Canadian program for design, engineering, architecture or a related field.

“We hope the Innovation Award inspires a new generation of designers through access to the latest large-format 3D printers.” said Gregor Ash, Vice-President of Development at Novacad Systems.

Students are invited to submit designs for original 3D printed chairs or stools that can only be made on the BigRep One 3D printer, which has a print volume of over one cubic meter. The organizers encourage experimentation with form, geometry, shape, materials and colour.

“Manufacturing is changing rapidly, and 3D printing is a driving force in that,” said Amir Fattal, Director of Creative and Marketing at BigRep, and a competition jury member. “We’re passionate about fostering talent among individuals and companies to 3D print these creative and industrial solutions.”

The Grand Prize includes production of the winning design by BigRep’s team in Berlin, a $3,000 cash prize and return airfares so the winning designer can receive their finished design and award. Following an open online vote, the winner will be decided by an expert four-person jury.

You can find details and an entry form here.

Dragon Vet Profitable in Year 2

Shawn Wilkie: 'We’ve got a really strong foundation for growth.'

Shawn Wilkie: 'We’ve got a really strong foundation for growth.'

Not many startups can describe themselves as “profitable” before their third anniversary, but Dragon Veterinary can.

Based in Antigonish, Dragon Veterinary provides voice recognition software for veterinarians. Two years ago, when it was just setting out, the company had no sales, but now the product is being used by about 500 vets around the world. The company has funded this growth with just $135,000 in equity financing and a $100,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and now it is scaling.

“The biggest news from my perspective is that we’ve got a really strong foundation for growth,” said president Shawn Wilkie in an interview Monday. “We’ve got a solid base of private investors. We’ve got some money and we are making money day by day. . . . We’re continuing to enhance our software and helping veterinarians around the world.”

Dragon Veterinary came to life when Wilkie, the founder of Antigonish-based Robotnik, which provides robotics networks, was introduced by Nuance Communications to Brian Poteet, a veterinary radiologist in Houston, Texas. Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance is the global leader in voice recognition software. The company had a voice-to-text product for doctors and wanted to work with Poteet and Robotnik on something similar for the veterinary industry.

Wilkie explained that the technical vocabulary used by veterinarians is so complex and so precise that it’s difficult to produce software that recognizes the words and places them in the proper context. Any vet using standard voice recognition software on their smartphone would have about a 30 per cent accuracy rate, he said. But by using Dragon, which is available for iOS or Android platforms, they can achieve an accuracy rate of more than 95 per cent.

Eyesover Accepted Into L-Sprack Accelerator in Ottawa

The company — which has offices in Antigonish and at Volta Labs in Halifax — is continually adding to the vocabulary recognized by the system, especially the names of new drugs. Wilkie said the complexity of this vocabulary provides a barrier to entry for any competitors into its business.

The thrust of its sales pitch is that vets save time by using voice recognition software, which means they can increase their billings. And the fact that it’s a mobile app means that animal doctors visiting farms or homes can make notes on site.

The sales strategy relies heavily on trade shows around the world. The company is attending 26 of them this year, and the total budget for them is almost $300,000. But Wilkie says it’s an effective sales strategy in this market.

“We’re going after doctors who are busy and don’t like people showing up at their office trying to sell them something,” said Wilkie. “And they’re required to attend continuing education every year. We thought this was the best chance we have to get in front of them because they all have to attend these conferences.”

Wilkie said the company’s 500 clients are spread across every continent, which provides strong validation for the product. And given that there are about 300,000 veterinarians in the English-speaking world, he believes the company has only scratched the surface of its market.

“We’re kind of just ready to grow,” he said. “I liken it to a race horse that’s been in training for the past couple of years and is now ready to get on the track.”

Open Data Competition Launched

Two New Brunswick organizations have launched the second Open Data Visualization Challenge to demonstrate the power of open data and an engaged citizenry.

The New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network and the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Business Administration are inviting participants from across the country to enter. Applicants should use their creativity and imagination to build both a visual presentation and an infographic poster featuring data from municipal and provincial governments and other organizations. The infographic posters – which will display a visual summary of the competitors’ findings – can be used to communicate a story, recommendation, or new idea.

“Having data ranging from population data, qualitative data and even road data presented on a national scale is an amazing opportunity to showcase the open data portals of our province,” said Karina LeBlanc, interim executive director at the Social Policy Research Network.

Last year, the winner of the contest demonstrated that a moose fence had caused a dramatic drop in the number of vehicle collisions on New Brunswick’s Highway 7, the organizers said in a press release.  The infographic was used to convince industry and government officials of the effectiveness of the fence, and others like it were installed.

Those interested in forming a team to participate in this year’s challenge can register by contacting Andrew Lockhart at UNB’s Faculty of Business Administration at You can also find information here.

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 13, and finalists will be announced Nov. 16. The infographic posters will be presented at the 2017 GovMaker Conference in Fredericton on Nov. 20 and 21, where the finalists will pitch.

Come Learn of #Startupeast Metrics

The startup community loves to dive into its own metrics. And you have an opportunity to learn more about the Atlantic Canadian startup grouping at our luncheon next Wednesday.

Entrevestor has partnered with the Big Data Congress and Charcoal Marketing to host Atlantic Canada’s Startup Industry - By The Numbers. This luncheon event in Halifax on Nov. 8 will unveil our latest data on the community.

Each year, Entrevestor gathers data on startups in the four Atlantic Provinces, and we will showcase the highlights of our latest data at the luncheon. This will be a chance to learn about the dynamic growth of your industry and join the discussion about what it means.

The presentation will focus on three areas – company formation, funding and exits – but will also break down such metrics as revenue, sectors and where startups are based.

After a presentation of the data, we’ll hold a panel discussion on the startup community that will include leaders in the field: Jesse Rodgers, CEO of Volta Labs; Malcolm Fraser, President and CEO of Innovacorp; and Shaun MacDonald, Managing Partner of Toronto-based Extreme Venture Partners.

This is a great opportunity to learn about the community and link up with other members. We’re really delighted with the response so far – especially from people in New Brunswick and P.E.I. who plan to attend.

You can buy your ticket for the luncheon here. It will be held at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax starting at noon on Nov. 8.

Appili To Begin Clinical Drug Trials

Kevin Sullivan: Appili is hoping to have a product on the market next year.

Kevin Sullivan: Appili is hoping to have a product on the market next year.

The first drug candidate of Appili Therapeutics, an anti-infective drug development company, has been cleared to begin clinical trials in both Canada and the U.S.

The Halifax company said in a press release today that the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. has cleared the company’s IND application to conduct a clinical trial of its compound ATI-1501. Similarly, Health Canada has given the drug CTA clearance, and the company hopes to have the drug on the market next year.

Appili, which announced a $3.1 million funding round last week, plans to conduct the ATI-1501 clinical study in Toronto and will begin recruiting subjects in November. The company expects to enroll about 40 healthy volunteers in this bioavailability study.

“Having both Health Canada and FDA authorization affirms our confidence in our regulatory and development strategy,” said Appili CEO Kevin Sullivan in the statement. “We’re excited to take ATI-1501 into clinical trials because it brings us a step closer to offering physicians a new weapon to fight serious infections and improve patient compliance.”

Zecken Eyes Better Diagnostics for Lyme Disease

Appili last year revealed a two-track strategy. In the next few years it is working to bring to market ATI-1501, which treats clostridium difficile infection, or CDI, in children.

ATI-1501 removes the bitter taste from Metronidazole, a drug that has been used to treat the condition since the 1970s. Metronidazole is effective, but it tastes awful, so children often won’t take it, thereby limiting its effectiveness. By removing the bitter taste, ATI-1501 improves the results of the drug.

CDI is one of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s most urgent antibiotic-resistant bacterial threats. It affects more than 500,000 Canadians and Americans each year and causes 29,000 deaths annually. The Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug designation to the drug, reducing the regulatory burden in launching the drug.

Meanwhile, Appili is also working on ATI-1503, an antibiotic that could fight deadly infections such as Klebsiella pneumonia. CEO Kevin Sullivan has said the drug could combat viruses that are resistant to antibiotics, but it’s a longer-term, riskier project than the first drug.

“We expect the completion of this clinical trial will set us up to file our new drug application in 2018 and advance our commercialization activities,” said Jamie Doran, Vice President of Drug Development. 

PEI Unveils New BioTech Facilities

Rory Francis

Rory Francis

The Prince Edward Island bioscience cluster unveiled a new fermentation and downstream processing equipment suite at the BioFoodTech facilities in Charlottetown on Friday, which should help smaller companies to scale.

The new facilities are part of an effort on the Island to improve the facilities available to young, small life sciences companies and help them to grow. Biotech companies – including young startups – need access to facilities like wet labs and specialist equipment. Large companies can build their own but young companies need communal facilities.

The new manufacturing equipment, which includes fermenters, centrifuge, a filtration unit and spray dryer, is much needed as PEI and Atlantic Canadian companies continue to expand operations, said Rory Francis, Executive Director of the PEI BioAlliance.

“We’re at the stage now where we are moving beyond R&D and have more manufacturing requirements within our region’s bioscience companies,” said Francis. Now, he added, the cluster can “provide access to the technology needed to scale-up manufacturing and help commercialize their products.”

These investments will allow regional and international companies in the intermediate phase of scaling up their production to engage the resources needed to optimize their manufacturing processes and prepare for commercial scale manufacturing, said the statement.

Last month, the governments of Canada and P.E.I. announced nearly $1 million in funding for the new equipment to address a gap in the manufacturing infrastructure in the region. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency provided a grant of $500,000 for the facilities, while the PEI government provided a $100,000 grant through Innovation PEI and a loan of $337,822.

“This type of infrastructure investment further cements our province’s growing reputation as a leader in biotechnology,” Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald said. “By helping to grow the bioscience cluster on Prince Edward Island we are spurring innovation and creating jobs and prosperity for Islanders.”

The bio-cluster in P.E.I. now comprises 53 companies, up from 46 a year ago. The BioAlliance companies generated about $218 million of revenue in 2015, up from $95 million in 2010. The public- and private-sector members of the BioAlliance employed 1400 people as of the end of 2015, up from about 900 in 2010.

Jobs: SkySquirrel Seeks VP Sales

SkySquirrel Technologies’ opening for a Vice-President of Sales is the headline posting in our Job of the Week column today.

SkySquirrel uses drones to gather data from agricultural fields, focusing on the highest-margin segment of agriculture, the wine industry. Though SkySquirrel is working with clients around the world, its emphasis in the near term will be working on its technology to combat Flavescence Dorée, a disease plaguing southern European vineyards. There is no cure for the disease, which prevents plants from producing grapes; once it occurs, the farmer has no choice but to destroy the vine before it spreads.

The Jobs of the Week column features openings posted on the Entrevestor Job Board, which focuses on jobs in technology, innovation and startups in Atlantic Canada. The Entrevestor Job Board helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities and is operated by Entrevestor and Alongside.

Here is an excerpt from the job posting:


SkySquirrel Technologies

Vice President, Sales

Our client, SkySquirrel Technologies is seeking a talented Vice President, Sales to join their growing team.

Reporting to the President & CEO, the Vice President, Sales will develop and implement sales strategy that ensure the prominence of the company’s global position in the vineyard data analytics field. The Vice President of Sales will be a strong leader in the organization, mentoring staff, identifying opportunities and building key partnerships. A results-driven professional, the Vice President, Sales will drive strategy, sales process and business growth. A skilled communicator, the successful candidate will establish and maintain relationships with industry influencers and key strategic partners, while interacting with existing and potential clients in the global market. A process-oriented sales leader, you will direct sales forecasting activities and set performance goals while inspiring a team to deliver results.

As the ideal candidate, you have a Bachelor’s degree coupled with strong experience providing sales strategy and execution at a senior level. A skilled relationship builder, you have a proven track record in consultative sales. A dynamic and diverse individual, you have previous success leading people while fostering an environment of integrity and trust. A goal-oriented achiever, you are motivated by team success and thrive in collaborative environments. The successful candidate will have significant sales process leadership experience and a solid understanding of ‘what good looks like.’ Clients and team members would describe you as innovative and trustworthy with a strong commitment to excellence. International travel is required, approximately 20-30 percent. . . .

Read the full job description here. 

Burke Aids Coffee Machine Deliveries

Andrew Burke describes Bean Counter Technology as a side hustle, but it’s a side hustle that has already grabbed clients across the country and was showcased at a recent national trade show.

Halifax-based Bean Counter has developed a mobile app that helps the owners of coffee and vending machines manage the way these machines are stocked. It helps monitor the replenishing of the machines, control inventory and administer accounts.

Burke and his partner Doug Leblanc are working on it part-time (or as a side hustle, to use the modern parlance) but they’ve been gaining clients at an impressive clip. Already, the app is used to monitor 700 machines and has helped with more than 50,000 visits to them.

“Yes, it’s been a side hustle but we decided to really go for it,” said Burke in an interview this week. “The people who like it really like it, and we’ve shown there is a need for it.”

The story of Bean Counter began when Burke, a hired-gun developer, was doing some work with the Halifax-based mobile development company MindSea in the old Roy Building. The company had a really great coffee machine, and Burke got to know Leblanc, owner of Social Bean Gourmet Coffee Co., when he’d come to fill the machine.

Ocean Executive Preps for Launch

Leblanc explained the problems he had overseeing all his machines — keeping track of their locations, when each was filled, removing and replenishing the change. He asked Burke if he could come up with a digital tool to help with the problem. And thus Bean Counter was born.

Large companies that own hundreds of machines have the resources to produce their own automated system, said Burke, but he and Leblanc learned that small and mid-sized companies suffer the same problems as Social Bean. In a recent presentation at Democamp Halifax, Burke said that you can often see a notebook and pencil in the bottom tray of a vending machine, and that’s how these companies still keep their records.

“You’ve got dozens and dozens of machines all over the place and most of this stuff is done on paper,” he said. “So Doug knew some people in the industry and brought them in. (Bean Counter) proved useful and it was the validation we needed.”

Bean Counter modernizes the process. Anyone tending to the machine uses the app first to locate each machine on a digital map. Once they’re on location, they can track inventory in the machine, what they’ve added, and the money added to or taken from each machine. Back at head office, they have a real-time record of each person’s visits and up-to-date accounts for the entire company.

Earlier this month, Burke and Leblanc took the product to the Canadian Vendor Trade Show in Quebec City, where it had its own booth. Burke said this week it was too soon to determine the results because he still had to follow up on the leads he’d generated at the event.

Overall, he said, people like the product and he can foresee a day when it is used by a broad swath of the industry and has a staff to oversee the company.

ICode+ To Help More Black Youths

Business is Jammin’, which aims to empower Black youth through entrepreneurship, is expanding its iCode+ program across Nova Scotia to expose more young African Nova Scotians to digital technologies.

The not-for-profit organization has teamed up with the Saint Mary’s University Enactus team and the RBC Foundation’s new Future Launch program to extend the program beyond its pilot in the Upper Hammonds Plains community. The program makes digital facilities accessible to black and minority youth aged 16 to 29 and encourages digital education.

“We live in a society that grows more dependent on science and technology every day,” said Rustum Southwell, CEO of the Black Business Initiative, which oversees Business Is Jammin’. “The goal of the iCode+ pilot program was to expose black youth in the Upper Hammonds Plains Community to technology through coding, with the purpose of building their minds, knowledge and skills.”

He added the program aims to encourage young people’s “participation in higher education in order to advance their own lives but as a community as a whole.”

So far, Business Is Jammin’, or BIJ, has helped more than 8,000 young people to build the confidence and capacity required to take control of their economic future through a range of educational, social, mentorship. The program provides financial support programs while building business acumen and leadership skills.

As a result of this success, BIJ is announcing the expansion of iCode+ facilities so they will be accessible to other Black youth and minority communities across Metro Halifax. The aim is to close the gap between Black youth and their peers in the mainstream community, and to connect Black youth with jobs and careers in the information and communication technology sector.

The RBC Foundation is working with BIJ to open the new facilities in the Halifax area to help youth build the confidence and capacity required to take control of their economic futures. This will be one of several locations to open in Nova Scotia in the upcoming years.

ICode+ aligns well with the new RBC Future Launch program, a 10-year, $500 million commitment by the bank to unlock the potential of young people in Canada by addressing three critical gaps:  experience, skills and networking.

“RBC is excited to support the Business is Jamin iCode+ program helping young black youth learn digital literacy and proficiency,” said Alisa Alyward, RBC Regional Vice-President. “Our aim through the RBC Future Launch program is to help ensure young Canadians have the skills, capabilities and connections to make the 21st century and their place in it, all it should be.”

Zecken Targets Lyme Disease

For the past few years, Kami Harris has studied about 1,000 ticks annually that are sent to the biology department at Mount Allison University. She hopes it continues. Her business model depends on it.

Some come from scientists, some from New Brunswick’s Natural Resources Department, others from members of the public who have heard about her work in ticks and Lyme disease.

Harris is the founder and CEO of Sackville, N.B.-based Zecken Laboratories, which is dedicated to enhancing the diagnosis of Lyme disease. She has been studying ticks and Lyme disease for her PhD at University of Prince Edward Island, and now she is transforming her research into a company. Her faith in the endeavour is based in part on the growing public awareness and fear of Lyme disease.

“We’ve gone in five years from people thinking, ‘This could happen in the Maritimes’ to ‘This is a big problem,’” Harris told the BioPort Atlantic conference in Halifax last week. “Half my day already goes to answering emails from people who know I’m the ‘tick girl.’”

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans by blood-feeding insects, particularly deer ticks. And as the climate warms, ticks are spreading north and their bites are becoming more common in the Maritimes. Concern about Lyme disease is growing.

Eyesover Enters L-Spark Accelerator in Ottawa

Harris, who did graduate and undergraduate studies at Mount A, said there are actually 21 types of Lyme disease but current diagnostic tests only identify one type. That means about 90 per cent of the instances of Lyme disease go undetected, which can lead to long-term health problems. What Zecken is doing is devising products that can identify markers in the other types of Lyme disease to improve diagnosis and therefore generate more treatment.

The company has already identified peptides that show the presence of the affliction, and continues to research the disease to identify new strains as they come along.

“We’re not only going to give you the right information; we’ll give you more information,” Harris said. “We’ll be able to tell you the type of Lyme disease you have.”

At BioPort, Zecken was a finalist in the BioInnovation Challenge, the region’s main pitching competition for life sciences competitions. Earlier this year, it was a semifinalist in Breakthru, the main startup competition in New Brunswick. Soon it will be ready to start bringing in revenue.

The company is planning a basic swab test for consumers in 2018. For $50, consumers find out if a tick in infected with Lyme disease. 

The basic tick test will bring in revenues as the company seeks regulatory clearance for more sophisticated products. They will range from oral swabs to blood tests to detect Lyme disease. Zecken also wants a business-to-business product to offer to such industries as forestry, where tick bites are a growing concern.

So far, the company’s research has been financed through Harris’ research funding, but she and her three teammates know they will need a more structured financing model.

They will probably aim for a $250,000 funding round in their first year.

MacDonald Adds Global View to Panel

One reason to attend our luncheon in Halifax on Nov. 8 is to get a chance to listen to Shaun MacDonald, one of the most experienced tech players in Atlantic Canada.

Though he makes his home in Halifax, MacDonald is a Managing Partner of Toronto-based Extreme Venture Partners, one of Canada’s leading VC funds. He’s so interesting to chat with because of the global perspective he brings to discussions about the Atlantic Canadian tech community.

He will join Innovacorp President and CEO Malcolm Fraser and Volta Labs CEO Jesse Rodgers on a panel at our event Atlantic Canada’s Startup Industry by the Number. The luncheon will be hosted by Entrevestor and Charcoal Marketing and will feature the release of our data on the Atlantic Canadian startup community. You can buy tickets for the event here.

MacDonald recently joined Extreme Ventures after a stint heading global sales and business development for Saint John-based Mariner’s largest division, xVu. Previously, he worked in Silicon Valley heading an M&A and investment team for Cisco, during which time he was involved in more than $1 billion of transactions.

MacDonald understands the flows of capital in the tech industry and wants Atlantic Canada to participate in them more fully.

“How do we attract global companies to Atlantic Canada for investment and M&A, and to connect with our entrepreneurs and business leaders to drive innovation? That’s the big thing that comes to mind with me these days,” he said during a phone conversation this week.

“The whole technology industry is in acquisition mode. Years ago, the primary exit strategy was to go public. Now that’s still a good result, but in over 90 percent of the success stories, the result is achieved via the sale to a public company.”

He noted that the world’s largest tech companies have vast pools of capital sitting on the sidelines and they’re search for the best places to invest it. Meanwhile, ICT companies everywhere are developing technology that is redefining the way we live – in areas like mobile technologies, the Internet of things, virtual reality, and digital health solutions. These companies need capital, and sales to corporations have replaced IPOs as the main source of exits.

The goal, he said, is to position more Atlantic Canadian companies to take advantage of the corporate appetite for investment in the short term, and acquisition in the medium to long term.

“This is not unique to Nova Scotia,” said MacDonald. “There’s been a long-term trend of companies waiting longer to go public, and taking advantage of more private equity and corporate capital.”

MacDonald, Fraser and Rodgers will form a panel at our luncheon to discuss the outlook and ecosystem of the Atlantic Canadian community. The agenda will include a presentation of Entrevestor’s most recent data on the community to be followed by the panel discussion.

We hope you’ll be able to join us. 

HBI Inks Deal with GE Healthcare

Chad Munro: looking forward to leveraging the results of the collaboration.

Chad Munro: looking forward to leveraging the results of the collaboration.

Halifax Biomedical Inc. has struck a partnership with GE Healthcare under which HBI can market its sophisticated imaging products to GE customers.

HBI, which is based in Mabou, Cape Breton, issued a statement this week saying that it had agreed to collaborate with the medical equipment unit of General Electric. GE Healthcare is one of the world’s biggest medical equipment companies, reporting revenues last year of US$18.3 billion, and one of its main businesses is medical imaging equipment.

HBI produces X-ray equipment that can produce images from two different angles simultaneously. They give a surgeon or other medical practitioner a three-dimensional view of a joint or spinal column. HBI focuses on two clinical problems: early detection of implant loosening for hip and knee joint replacements; and assessing the spinal column in patients with chronic low back pain.

“GE Healthcare is committed to innovation in medical imaging,” said Michelle Edler, President & CEO of Global X-ray at GE Healthcare. “We are pleased our collaboration with Halifax Biomedical will make this advanced imaging technology available to our orthopedic imaging customers.”

Appili Raises $3.1M Funding Round

Under their joint development agreement, HBI and GE have created an upgrade for HBI equipment used by existing GE customers. This upgrade integrates seamlessly into GE x-ray imaging rooms by leveraging Halifax Biomedical’s L-arm imaging stand equipped with GE flashpad imaging detector technology.

The combined technology is expected to provide 3D Stereo Orthopedic Radiography measurements while the patient is either standing or lying down with a precision approximately 20 times better than conventional CT scanners. The combined solution is intended to enable such applications as early detection of loose or unstable total joint replacement implants.

“GE Healthcare is a global leader in medical imaging and we look forward to leveraging the results of our collaboration to assist orthopedic surgeons and their patients,” said HBI Chief Executive Chad Munro in the statement. “The upgrade approach we have developed provides an easy way for GE Healthcare customers to obtain advanced Halifax stereo x-ray imaging capability without major changes to their imaging rooms or workflow.”

The development of the Halifax upgrade solution for GE imaging systems is complete. Regulatory approvals are now under way with initial product launches in North America, Europe and Australia expected in early 2018.

Eyesover Enters L-Spark Accelerator

Eyesover Technologies, a provider of opinion tracking and targeting software, has been selected for L-Spark, a Canadian accelerator that nurtures Software as a Service companies.

The Fredericton startup issued a press release on Tuesday saying it would be joining the accelerator to receive help in scaling into a globally competitive company.

“By working with the L-Spark mentors and business development team, our participation will allow us to take advantage of their experience and help us grow our business rapidly.” said CEO Craig Leonard in the statement.

Based in Ottawa, the L-Spark accelerator is on a mission to help market-ready SaaS and cloud startups to connect with Canada’s SaaS experts, said the statement. The accelerator offers one-on-one mentorship with software veterans, intensive SaaS workshops and interaction with successful SaaS entrepreneurs to give Canadian SaaS businesses what they need to succeed.

Gemba Software Solutions, a Saint John company whose ProcedureFlow product helps big business employees navigate their company’s operations, is listed among the accelerator’s graduates.

HeyOrca ARR Hits $1 Million 

Following a three-week boot camp, 12 companies were selected to pitch in Ottawa to compete for a place in the accelerator. The selection committee consisted of 24 leading corporate and venture capital firms, including Lucas Matheson of Shopify, Narbe Alexandrian of OMERS Ventures and Alex Katz of ff Venture Capital.

 “We’re pleased to announce the next cohort of the L-Spark SaaS accelerator,” said L-Spark Executive Managing Director Leo Lax in the statement. “With the support of our mentors and business development team, these seven companies will be on their way to increasing revenues 10x and becoming global leaders in today’s SaaS industry.”

Eyesover’s opinion-tracking software uses artificial intelligence to analyze media and uncover new issues or discussions of importance to the user, said the statement. The technology was devised by Ali Ghorbani, the director of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick.

The founders believe there are a lot of social media-monitoring systems that can highlight public sentiments about a project or policy, but only if the user identifies a specific issue to monitor. Eyesover can alert users to aspects of public opinion that they might not have been aware of.

Eyesover analyzes the data on social media to detect how the public is interpreting an issue regardless of what the user is looking for.

In an email, Leonard said sales of the product are going well. He noted that a company needs at least $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue to get into L-Spark and have sales in the U.S. The company has begun to work on its first fund-raising.

“We've been able to get to this stage with funding from the co-founders, friends and family, and government sources,” said Leonard. “We started meeting with potential investors at home and in Ottawa [and] Toronto over the past few months and I would say we are optimistic on that front.”

NS Funds Nine Oceans Projects

The Nova Scotia government has provided more than $6.5 million for nine oceans research projects from its $25 million Research Nova Scotia Trust.

Premier Stephen McNeil said that the nine projects are expected to support more than 170 jobs in the province, and training for more than 200 research graduates, interns, lab technicians, project managers and faculty.

The fund’s first tranche of funding is being directed to oceans research as part of the effort to make Atlantic Canada a global hub for marine research and enterprise. The region’s oceans sector is one of the finalists for funding under the government’s $950 million supercluster program. The government said there would be more funding in other sectors in the coming months.

“Nova Scotia has a competitive advantage in the oceans sector and we are supporting research that will have the greatest impact on the province’s economy,” said McNeil in a statement. “The Research Nova Scotia Trust will help us create jobs for Nova Scotians, particularly young Nova Scotians. A growing oceans sector will make our province stronger.”

According to the CBC, more than four-fifths of the funding announced Tuesday will go to two projects.

Sara Iverson of the Ocean Tracking Network received $2.9 million to increase the number of autonomous gliders centred in Halifax to monitor ocean conditions.

Ocean Executive Prepares for Launch

Mladen Nedimovic got $2.7 million to establish a seismic-monitoring network in Canada's three oceans.

Nedimovic and researchers from nine other universities in five provinces plan to deploy the system comprising 130 ocean-bottom broadband seismometers within two years.

 “Funding from the Research Nova Scotia Trust will support the deployment of gliders and moored systems in remote parts of the North Atlantic,” said Iverson, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University. “Among many other activities supported, this will allow us to listen for endangered right whales and relay, in near real time, the animals' location to both researchers and vessels in the area.”

The government said the funding helped attract an additional $9.9 million from the federal government, and $9.7 million from other Nova Scotia partners and in-kind contributions.

Established in March 2017, the Research Nova Scotia Trust will support research projects put forward by the province’s universities and the Nova Scotia Community College in the areas of ocean and science technology, aerospace and defence, clean technology, health and wellness, resource sectors and social innovation.

“Investments from the trust better position the province to compete for leading research projects and allow us to attract and retain the very best research talent out there,” said Colin Dodds, trustee of Research Nova Scotia Trust. “This funding is critical to supporting the ground-breaking work done by some of the province’s leading researchers.” 

Disclosure: the Nova Scotia government is a client of Entrevestor. 

UNB To Host Creative Connections

This year’s Creative Connections Conference will be hosted by the University of New Brunswick and the Atlantic Centre for Creativity in Fredericton Nov. 16 to 18.

The goal of the conference is to increase awareness and enhance creative practices across varied disciplines, including the scientific, artistic and innovation communities. The conference will encourage participants to ‘think outside the box’, take risks, share new ideas and enhance teaching practices.

The event will feature three keynotes:   Susan Chichton, the Director of the Centre for Innovation and Learning at the University of British Columbia;  Marjan Eggermont, a design engineer and visual artist from the University of Calgary, and  Nora Young, the CBC Radio Host of Spark, a program about the Impact of new technology.

There will be more than 50 presentations and workshops. Topics will include new media, composition, design thinking, social innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative capacity building.

The Pond Deshpande Centre will be among those offering problem-solving workshops for entrepreneurs. Other centres of innovation will present on the latest research on creativity and its relevance to today’s economy.

The conference will begin with a welcome reception and music event on Thursday evening in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s new Pavilion. The two full days of activities will include a creative showcase on the Friday evening featuring performances by local artists.

Registration is open and closes Nov. 12.

Appili Raises $3.1M Funding Round

Kevin Sullivan, whose company is prepping for clinical trials.

Kevin Sullivan, whose company is prepping for clinical trials.

Appili Therapeutics Inc., an anti-infective drug development company, has raised a $3.1 million round of equity financing, which will help pay for clinical trials due to start within 10 weeks.

The Halifax-based company said the money was raised through a private placement with new and current investors. There was only one investor that chose to be named – Innovacorp, which contributed to previous rounds. In the past, the company has received help in raising funds from the Toronto investment boutique Bloom Burton & Co.

Appili has now raised a total of $7.5 million since its seed round in March 2016. Appili, which is only two years old, was one of the leading Atlantic Canadian companies in terms of fund-raising last year, and is on track to be one of the biggest again this year.

“There is a robust market opportunity for antibiotics that really brings value and the successful closing of this financing round reflects that,” said Appili CFO Kimberly Stephens in the statement.

The company said it would use the money to fund operations, advance its pipeline of anti-infectives and move its lead antibiotic into clinical trials. The company said in the statement it plans to take its first drug candidate into clinical trials this year.

Pfera Wins $45,000 BioInnovation Challenge

Appili last year revealed a two-track strategy. In the next few years it is working to bring to market a drug known as ATI-1501, which treats clostridium difficile infection, or CDI, in children.

ATI-1501, which will soon begin clinical trials, removes the bitter taste from Metronidazole, a drug that has been used to treat the condition since the 1970s. Metronidazole is effective, but it tastes awful, so children often won’t take it, thereby limiting its effectiveness. By removing the bitter taste, ATI-1501 improves the results of the drug.

CDI is one of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s most urgent antibiotic-resistant bacterial threats. It affects more than 500,000 Canadians and Americans each year and causes 29,000 deaths annually. The Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug designation to the drug, reducing the regulatory burden in launching the drug.

Meanwhile, Appili is also working on ATI-1503, an antibiotic that could fight deadly infections such as Klebsiella pneumonia. CEO Kevin Sullivan has said the drug could combat viruses that are resistant to antibiotics, but it’s a longer-term, riskier project than the first drug.

“Appili has assembled a team with the proven ability to bring new antibiotics to market, and has made remarkable progress in building a pipeline that addresses major unmet needs in bacterial infections,” said Lidija Marušić, life sciences investment manager at Innovacorp and member of Appili’s Board of Directors.

Added Sullivan: “We appreciate the confidence investors have in our strategy to build a balanced-risk pipeline of products designed to treat the most serious and drug-resistant infections affecting patients today.”


Disclosure: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.

Ocean Executive Preps for Launch

Having already signed up 400 users from around the world, Halifax-based Ocean Executive is planning for the full launch of its online wholesale seafood marketplace in December.

Chief executive Mike Budreski, whose family is steeped in the East Coast fishery, has been developing the product for several years and has been signing up users through an open beta-test. The company in June increased its visibility in the seafood industry by forming an exclusive marketing relationship with Undercurrent News, the seafood industry’s top online publication, which draws upward of 100,000 readers each month. Now Ocean Executive is planning a soft launch in November and a full launch in December, which Budreski has labelled “CyberSeafood Month.”

When it’s launched, the Ocean Executive platform will essentially be a marketplace for people buying and selling bulk orders of seafood. But Budreski wants it to be a foundation for a benchmark index for seafood products and use the index to encourage a more sustainable fishery.

“We essentially match these buyers and sellers,” said Budreski when presenting the company at DemoCamp in Halifax earlier this month. “When you’re trying to wrap your head around what Ocean Executive does, think of us as the eHarmony of the seafood industry.”

Budreski came up with the idea for Ocean Executive when he was working in New York trading commodities like oil and gas, and saw the sophistication of the trading platform. He dreamed of creating something similar for the business he knew best, his family’s business, the seafood industry.

Atlantic Canada's Oceans Group Shortlisted for Supercluster Funding

Seafood is a huge global business, but the supply-chain is fragmented and inefficient. What Ocean Executive does is allow sellers to post the inventory they want to sell, with a full description of the stock so the market can assess the quality of the shipment. Buyers can then bid for the produce, and once they agree on a price the deal closes and Ocean Executive gets a cut.

The platform is open to market players around the world, who pay a monthly subscription fee, said Budreski. So, for example, a company in Bangladesh that wants new sales channels could use the platform to expand into the U.S. or Europe, he said.

The open beta-test has been a way to show the proof of concept. “It’s a way to see if there is a need for this in the market,” he said. “And obviously, from the fact that 400 seafood companies from around the world are using it, there is a need for this.”

The company has raised a total of $380,000 in equity financing, including $250,000 from Innovacorp. The company is now raising more money and Budreski is interested in meeting more investors. 

Once the marketplace is fully established, Budreski hopes to use the data from the sales to establish indices of seafood prices — something the industry has never had. Seafood buyers now assess the market by phoning around and asking for prices. Budreski intends for each Ocean Executive index to be timely and based on actual prices paid.

One component of the index plan will be to have an index of prices for fish caught through sustainable practises so the market has concrete proof of the premiums paid in the sustainable fishery.

“Eventually, what we also want to do is we want to correlate sustainability with price,” he said. He wants the fishing industry to see concrete evidence of the higher returns they will get if they make the investment to convert to sustainable practises. “Then we want to show people why it’s important to have a sustainable rating.”

Blue Spurs Hosts IoT Hackathon

Fredericton-based Blue Spurs is hosting a full-day Internet of Things hackathon today, which has drawn the participation of the biggest organizations in the province.

Blue Spurs, which has received international recognition for its Blue Kit “Internet of Things starter kit”, said in an email that a diversified group from across the province is coming together to work on IoT solutions for the entire day.

The cloud computing consultancy’s first annual IoT hackathon is focused on building IoT solutions to make offices more efficient. The groups that will participate in the event include McCain Foods, Irving Oil, the Government of New Brunswick, Siemens, as well as a range of others.

IoT solutions allow machines to communicate with each other, assess a situation in real time and respond with greater speed and precision than humans could.

“The Internet of Things is one of the hottest topics in technology today,” said Senior Marketing Communications Specialist Mostafa Shaker in the email. “It is changing every industry as we know it.”

He added that there will be 30 billion connected devices in the world by 2020. Blue Spur said its hackathon should help participants to understand what IoT is and how it is changing their industries. It also aims to help them learn how the technology can help to solve some of their most pressing business problems.

In a hackathon, participants are divided into teams and challenged to come up with working IoT solutions by the end of the day.

Earlier this year, Blue Spurs was awarded a 2017 AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge by Amazon Web Services at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Blue Spurs, which employs almost 100 people, entered Blue Kit in the competition, which it developed in collaboration with CyberNB and the New Brunswick government. Blue Kit is a low-code IoT educational starter kit that allows middle and high school students to understand the fundamentals of IoT.

Using technology that complex IoT systems are built on today, including arduino boards, sensors, AWS IoT and Noodl, students build IoT projects to learn the fundamentals in an interactive, fun environment. Each project builds on the previous one, providing increasing challenges that are aligned with school curriculum objectives.

Attend the Release of our Startup Data

Entrevestor, in partnership with Charcoal Marketing, would like to invite the startup community to a luncheon on Nov. 8 to release and discuss our latest data on startups in Atlantic Canada.

The luncheon will be held at noon at the Halifax World Trade and Convention Centre in downtown Halifax. We’ve received tremendous support from the Big Data Congress 2017 for this event, and will hold the buffet-style lunch following the Congress’ last event at the convention centre.

Each year, Entrevestor publishes data on the Atlantic Canadian startup community, providing benchmarks for size and performance of the innovation segment in the region. This year, we also conducted a study unique in Canada on the impact of exits on the region.

We are teaming up with our friends at Charcoal Marketing to host a luncheon at which we’ll present our most recent findings. After the presentation, we’ll discuss the data with a panel of experts in innovation ecosystems in Atlantic Canada and across North America. The panelists will be:

  • Jesse Rodgers, CEO of Volta Labs. Not only has Rodgers gone from idea to exit as an entrepreneur, but he was instrumental in developing two of Canada’s great support organizations – Velocity at University of Waterloo and the Creative Destruction Lab.
  • Shaun MacDonald, Managing Partner of Extreme Venture Partners, one of Canada’s leading VC funds. MacDonald’s career includes posts as an Senior Vice-President at Mariner Partners and leading over $ 1 billion in global M&A and investment deals for Cisco during its growth years.
  • Malcolm Fraser, President and CEO of Innovacorp. Before taking the helm at Nova Scotia’s venture capital agency this month, Fraser launched, developed and sold MODE (formerly ISL Internet Solutions), a company that guided businesses through their digital transformation. In 2016, MODE was acquired by Vancouver-based digital marketing agency FCV Interactive.

We are looking forward to a lively and insightful discussion with the full participation of the audience. Tickets for the luncheon are $25 and are available here.

We’re hoping for a really great turnout for this event, and would like to thank the panelists, Big Data Congress and the Big Data Alliance of Nova Scotia for making this event possible. 

3 East Coasters Win Startup Awards

Shawn Smith

Shawn Smith

Three Atlantic Canadian success stories – all noted for their tenacity – captured national Startup Canada Awards in Ottawa on Thursday, including a businesswoman who was crowned the top entrepreneur for 2017.

Anne Whelan,​ ​President​ ​and​ ​CEO of ​Seafair​ ​Capital​ ​Inc. of St. John’s, was named Entrepreneur of the Year, having captured the same award in the regional finals last month. At the finals in Ottawa, Shawn Smith, Founder and CEO of Fredericton-based Don’t dis-my-ability Consultation Services, won the Resilient Entrepreneur Award, and the Hadhad family of Antigonish, N.S., captured the Newcomer Entrepreneur Award for their company Peace By Chocolate.

Startup Canada, which promotes entrepreneurship across the country, presented its national awards in 17 categories at the gala event in Ottawa. You can find the complete list of winners here.

Read our Profile of Shawn Smith and his Support for Neuro-Diversity

Here is a brief look at the winners from the East Coast:

Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Anne Whelan

President and CEO of Seafair Capital Inc.

St. John’s

Whelan owns Seafair Capital, a holding company she started in 2012 to invest in a range of businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador. The company now comprises 10 businesses, ranging from a home-care company to a fire-safety company to a pub and restaurant. It aims to buy mid-sized companies in complementary sectors and help them reach their next stage of growth. Seafair’s revenues range between $30 million and $50 million. But in a recent Financial Post interview, Whelan noted her businesses are subject to the ups and downs of the Newfoundland economy and the environment has been tough recently. Whelan sits on the board of the Business Development Bank of Canada and chairs the board of Newfoundland Power.

Newcomer Entrepreneur of the Year

The Hadhad Family

Owners of Peace By Chocolate

Antigonish, N.S.

The Hadhad family came to Nova Scotia from Syria two years ago and turned to the business they had been in before the civil war drove them from their home – making chocolate. Settling in Antigonish, they worked with neighbours to start producing chocolate out of a shed. Then the company began to grow and last month opened a factory in Antigonish, employing 10 staff and planning to add to the number. Tareq Hadhad recently joined the board of Invest Nova Scotia.

Resilient Entrepreneur Award

Shawn Smith

Don’t dis-my-ability Consultation Services


Smith specializes in the emerging field of neurodiversity -- an approach to life that says neurological conditions, such as autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, should be respected as part of normal human diversity. Smith, who was 30 when he was diagnosed with ADHD, set up his own business to help people who have been marginalized. The Fredericton native started his company in 2014. Most of his clients so far have been entrepreneurs and parents of neuro-diverse youth. He has recently taken part in the B4Change accelerator for social ventures at the Pond-Deshpande Centre in Fredericton. His videos on the subject of neurodiversity were noticed by training and consulting group Picasso Einstein. He spoke at the group’s conference about ways to create employment opportunities for neuro-diverse people.

Deprolabs Opens Kickstarter Campaign

The Goldoon sits discretely underneath your flower pot.

The Goldoon sits discretely underneath your flower pot.

A team of Halifax entrepreneurs has launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance a new product that uses machine learning to water your plants while you’re out of town.

Deprolabs Technology Inc. launched its Kickstarter campaign this week to promote its product Goldoon, which automatically waters flowers. The technology allows the user to set the timing and quantity to be delivered, and uses artificial intelligence so that over time it can assess the temperature and humidity to automatically give the optimum amount of water.

Deprolabs, headed by CEO Majid Nasirinejad, hopes to raise $30,000 by Dec. 17 through the crowdfunding campaign. The idea behind a crowdfunding campaign is that people interested in a product pay for it before it’s ready for the market, so the developers have the money to finish production.

“Goldoon is the world’s first learnable flowerpot watering system that is built in a modular structure, giving it the ability to be physically extended,” says a video for the Kickstarter campaign.

The idea for Goldoon came to Nasirinejad last year when he was working on his masters in computer science at Dalhousie University. During a vacation to his home in Iran, he asked a friend to water his plants but that friend was also called out of town. Nasirinejad thought a product that watered plants automatically would solve this problem for a lot of people.

“When I came back, I learned that many of the international students have the same problem,” he said. “If they want to go away, they don’t have a reliable solution for watering their plants.”

So he founded Deprolabs, teaming up with three friends — Shabnam Safari, Alireza Ahmadian and Behrouz H. Soleimani — to build products in the Internet of Things space.

Dash Hudson Launches its Vision Product

Goldoon features a 1.6-litre tank that sits under the flowerpot and contains enough water to last a plant about two weeks. The tank is modular, which means you can add another half-litre, allowing about three weeks of watering.

The system allows the manual or scheduled waterings. Users can carry out the manual watering using an app on their cellphones. The system also uses the app to tell users when their water levels are getting low, or when the battery for the system needs to be recharged.

Nasirinejad said that, over time, the artificial intelligence in the system will learn about the plant and its surroundings and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if the plant is sitting in the sunlight, the system could choose to water the plant early in the morning or in the evening, when there is no direct sunlight. The longer the system is used, the more intelligent it gets.

Like all crowdfunding promotions, the Goldoon Kickstarter campaign has various levels of commitment. It offers buyers discounts ranging from 17-33 per cent. For example, a standard Goldoon is now on offer for $40 through the campaign, saving one-third off the normal retail price of $60.

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, Deprolabs aims to deliver the products to buyers by next August. More than anything, said Nasirinejad, the team wants to use the crowdfunding campaign to validate the consumer demand for the product.

Deprolabs is now working out of Volta Labs, and is planning to produce other products in the machine learning space.

Mount A Joins Shad Network

Celine Kavanaugh: 'Amazing experience.'

Celine Kavanaugh: 'Amazing experience.'

Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, has become the 16th university in Canada to host the national science and entrepreneurship program Shad at its campus.

The national organization announced Thursday that it would host a Shad cohort in July, joining University of New Brunswick as the universities in the province offering Shad programs.

Founded in 1980, Shad has become known as a leading incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship among high school students with a passion for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and Entrepreneurship.

Every year, 900 young Canadians experience an innovative month-long program at one of 18 partner university campuses where they apply STEAM disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges.

Last week, Shad announced it would bring its program to the University of Prince Edward Island. 

“Mount Allison offers a high quality liberal arts and sciences education where students can combine different disciplines to help prepare them for any career path,” said Mount A President Robert Campbell in a statement. “We are pleased to welcome the Shad summer program for high school students to our campus in 2018.”

As one of the smallest campuses and communities participating in the Shad program, students will have the unique opportunity to be SHAD representatives visible to an entire community. At the same time, the program will allow students to connect with academic and business leaders and support the growing culture of innovation there.  The students will see how big change can originate from a small place.

In August 2016, the New Brunswick government said it would spend $750,000 over five years to ensure more students in the province gained access to SHAD.

“SHAD was an amazing experience that I am still benefiting from today,” said Celine Kavanaugh, who is from Grand Falls, NB, and attended the program this past July.  “I’m visually impaired but found SHAD has a place for every student with a passion and drive to learn no matter the challenges they face in their daily lives.”

Shad is open to students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 and is accepting applications for summer 2018 from now until Nov. 20. You can apply at here.

Pfera Wins BioInnovation Challenge

Lisa Pfister: Two big wins this year.

Lisa Pfister: Two big wins this year.

Pfera, the Fredericton company that helps horse breeders predict when their mares will give birth, won the $45,000 BioInnovation Challenge on Wednesday, its second big competition win this year.

Now in its seventh year, the BIC is the main competition for young life sciences companies in the region, and is a highlight of the annual BioPort Atlantic conference. As well as winning the BIC, Pfera CEO Lisa Pfister earlier this year won the $375,000 first prize at the Breakthru competition, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation's biennial startup contest.

“I am really excited about what the future holds for us,” said Pfister after the win. “We really enjoyed the whole process, the mentorship and training were invaluable and we will make good use of our cash and in-kind services to take us to the next level.”

Read Our Report on BioPort 2017

Pfera is developing a suite of products to reduce costs and improve survival rates in the breeding of horses. Horse breeding is now a $10.6 billion business and Pfera has already successfully tested its first product, a patent-pending device and software that tell breeders when their mares will give birth.

There’s now a range of about 50 days of when a mare could go into labour, and someone has to watch the horse 24 hours a day during this time. Pfister said Pfera tested its system on 10 horses in P.E.I. this spring and saw vast improvements. 

“We were able to get the notice four days ahead of time,” said Pfister. “We were able to narrow [the predicted delivery time] to within four to eight hours and we’re improving on that all the time.” One of the horses was Pfister's own mare, and she was able to fly into P.E.I. six hours before the birth because of her technology. 

As the winner of the BIC, Pfera will receive a $15,000 seed investment and a package of support services and mentoring valued at more than $30,000.

The company plans to publish the results of its first test at veterinary conferences this year and go into clinical trials early next year. It’s planning a launch in late 2018 or early 2019.

Pfera is also working on a breeding platform for the horse community that contains data on each mare and helps tell when it’s the best time to breed. Pfister added the company is working on a third product, though it is keeping this project under wraps for now.

David Hachey Traded Wall Street for a Farm and AgTech

The BIC event was a big win for the bio-sciences sector in New Brunswick as all three finalists hail from that province.  The other two finalists were:

Tieös Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Moncton, aims to create new paradigms in cancer treatment by targeting several “metabolic pathways” simultaneously to prevent cancer cells from spreading.  Arun Anand, CEO, told the audience that cancer is believed to be caused by genetic mutations, but his team believes that the causes are actually metabolic (meaning tumors are created by non-genetic factors). Tieös plans to revolutionize cancer care by taking a number of actions based on this theory to starve cancer cells of their energy and ability to reproduce.

• Zecken Laboratories, of Sackville, is enhancing the diagnosis of Lyme disease. CEO Kami Harris has been studying ticks and Lyme disease for her PhD at Mount Allison University, and now she is transforming her research into a company. She said there are actually 21 types of Lyme disease, but current diagnostic tests only identify one type. That means about 90 percent of the instances of Lyme disease go undetected, which can lead to long-term health problems. Zecken has already identified peptides that show the presence of the affliction and continues to research the disease to identify new strains as they come along.

Dash Hudson Releases Vision Product

Dash Hudson has added a new product — which it says is a doozy — to its suite of products to help brands and publishers link with their audience.

The Halifax company -- which is profitable and growing revenues strongly -- so far has been best known for providing Instagram analytics to major companies to help them understand what campaigns are finding an audience. Now it has added a new product, Dash Hudson Vision, which can actually help users choose images that will resonate with the public.

“What the product does is it uses a new technology, Computer Vision, which can tell you everything that’s in a picture,” said CEO Thomas Rankin in an interview. “It can determine what inside an image is driving performance, so what we can do is tell a brand what’s in an image that’s working with an audience.”

Rankin said that as Dash Hudson took on more clients, the company found they often had difficulty understanding what photos work best with an online audience. Dash Hudson’s clients — which include fashion brands like J Brand and Revolve and publications like Condé Nast and Clique Media — have millions of images and often find it difficult to choose just the right image for a campaign.

Dash Hudson Vision simplifies the process. It builds a databank of every picture in the client’s archive and can tell instantly what objects, features and colours are in each shot. It features a search function, so a marketer can instantly find an image of, say, curly black hair.

Then it tells the marketer what works. The technology can understand what photos are resonating with online audiences now and help the marketing team find images that work in the current marketing climate. As public tastes change, Dash Hudson Vision can select images that appeal to the current market.

Rankin said the product can also help to assess competitors’ images to see what’s working for them and assess the segmentation in the market.

He said the company has been working on Vision for more than a year and beta-tested it with a few clients starting in June. The feedback helped to refine the product, which Dash Hudson launched last week.

Harbr Commits to Gender Parity

The company’s main Instagram analytics platform has been doing well, and revenues have tripled already this calendar year. Dash Hudson raised more than $2 million in a round led by Build Ventures last year. When asked if he was raising capital again, Rankin replied that there is no need for new equity capital.

“We’ve been profitable the last two quarters so we have lots of money in the bank,” he said. “We’ve been busy growing.”

Dash Hudson, which has 35 full-time staff, had been planning to launch a product that could analyze SnapChat data, but Rankin said there is not enough open data on SnapChat yet to allow for high-quality analysis. The company has “parked” the product and will launch it once SnapChat is more open.

Meanwhile, the company has a suite of products that can assist brands and publishers in reaching a broader audience. And it believes Dash Hudson Vision will help with further growth.

“For the customers that have been using it, it has been fantastic,” said Rankin. “Brands spend so much time and resources trying to get an edge, and they’re working on increments, gaining bit by bit, whereas this creates a significant performance increase almost instantly, like in just a few weeks. “

Embracing Changes in Healthcare

Delegates to BioPort 2017 on Wednesday were told of the impact of recent life sciences innovation in Atlantic Canada and encouraged to embrace further change.

The impact so far is found in the fact that $1 billion has flowed into Atlantic Canada in the last six years from exits by companies in the life sciences and digital health space, and follow-on investment by the companies that bought them.

BioPort is the annual get-together for life sciences entrepreneurs and innovators in the region, and the gathering this year celebrated the growth of biotech in the region, especially in New Brunswick. Pfera Inc., the winner of the BioInnovation Challenge, the conference’s $45,000 pitching competition, is from New Brunswick, as are Zecken Laboratories and Tieös Pharmaceuticals Inc., the two other finalists in the event. (Read our full report on the BioInnovation Challenge.)

The delegates were told to embrace further innovations, especially in overall healthcare.

Peter Vaughan, Chair of Canada Health Infoway and Nova Scotia’s former Deputy Health Minister, urged the delegates to embrace current innovations in healthcare – not just futuristic technologies on the horizon but products that are on the market now.

For example, he cited such companies as Babylon Healthcare in the U.K. and the Mercy Virtual in St. Louis as organizations that are cutting costs and meeting patient requirements through online and video consultations, often including drug delivery.

Patient surveys show that citizens want modern medical processes like e-prescriptions, online access to their medical records and timely medical consultations – goals met by groups like Babylon and Mercy. These organizations also meet the needs of government, as provinces spend upwards of 40 percent of their budgets on healthcare, only to find that 30 percent of healthcare spending has no value, said Vaughan.

“You’re starting to get a picture of what’s available in the present,” said Vaughan. “So how do we take these things and change the one thing that’s on everyone’s mind – access to healthcare?”

Desh Deshpande's Lessons in Creating an Ecosystem

Vaughan said the future of healthcare is found in data because the analysis of vast reams of healthcare data reveals patterns that can predict severe health problems. This data can signal a problem is imminent so measures can be taken to prevent a crisis. Multinationals like Google, Apple and Amazon are now analyzing such data in the cloud, he said, but there is an opportunity for public, open data projects that could benefit everyone. He called on the Atlantic Provinces to come together to pioneer such a project with the data from its 2.2 million residents.

“We in this country have the opportunity to produce a publicly funded ecosystem,” he told the assembled innovators. “This is the opportunity we face in Atlantic Canada. We can be that industry and then you can have access to more information than you ever imagined.”

Scott Moffitt, Executive Director of BioNova, said in an interview there is evidence the life sciences segment in the region is evolving as exits in the space have created about $1 billion in investment.

The exits of the past few years in the life sciences and digital health segments have included the sale of Ocean Nutrition Canada of Dartmouth for $540 million, BioVectra of Charlottetown for $100 million, and STI Technologies of Halifax, reportedly for more than $200 million. Moffitt said his tally also included other exits and investments that the purchasing companies made after the purchases closed.

QRA To Attend 48 Hours in the Valley

Jordan Kyriakidis

Jordan Kyriakidis

Halifax-based QRA Corp. has been accepted into the next cohort of 48 Hours in the Valley, the program offered by C100 to introduce leading Canadian companies to the network of investors and mentors in Silicon Valley.

C100 was formed by Canadian expats in the San Francisco area to help Canadian tech companies find their way around Silicon Valley. For several years now, it has held the 48 Hours event twice a year, bringing 20 Canadian companies at a time to the Valley to show them the ropes.

The cohort in early December will include QRA, which helps manufacturers correct design flaws early in the development process.

“Peer-to-peer mentorship, breakout sessions, investor meetings, and pitch workshops are among the many unique programmatic elements of the 48Hrs event,” said QRA in a blog this week.

Led by CEO Jordan Kyriakidis, QRA has developed technology that helps large manufacturers identify flaws in complicated machinery early in the design stage. The idea is to work out the kinks before the manufacturer spends millions of dollars prototyping a machine that has ill-matched components.

The company, which began as a research project at Dalhousie University, launched a new product called QVscribe in February. The new tool makes sure manufacturers use precise and understandable language in their requirements documents. If left untouched, sloppy language in requirements could result in significant rework in both the design and build phases.

QRA is the second Halifax company accepted into 48 Hours in the Valley this year. The first cohort of 2017 included Athletigen. Athletigen’s platform analyzes an athlete’s DNA so coaches and athletes can better understand peak performance in training and competition. 

Harbr Commits to Gender Parity

The Harbr Team: Approaching gender parity.

The Harbr Team: Approaching gender parity.

Though it is rooted in the male-dominated industries of technology and construction, Harbr has set a target to have an equal balance of men and women on its staff.

The Halifax company released a statement on Tuesday saying that it has almost reached gender balance as its seven-member staff comprises three women and four men. Once it reaches parity, the company intends to maintain a 50-50 gender split within the company.

“I am thrilled with our team dynamics and look forward to continuing to diversify the company,” said Harbr Co-Founder and CEO Dave Kim in the statement. “I have a daughter and a son, and I want to demonstrate to both of them that women can succeed at anything they put their mind to.”

Harbr has developed a mobile app that allows big construction companies and their project managers to analyze data on the sub-contractors they’ve hired for specific projects. That helps big companies to improve efficiency in the short term, and to understand how to improve their overall performance in the longer term.

Deshpande's Lessons in Creating Impact

Kim said the company is growing its customer base at a good pace, mainly through open beta tests. Harbr is “currently working on a significant number of construction sites all across Canada with some of the country's top general contractors, mainly commercial and multi-residential projects,” said Kim.

With the company growing, Kim is now actively raising capital and believes its commitment to gender diversity will help it outperform rivals.

Research conducted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY shows that profits increased by 15 percent when the share of women in leadership positions went from 0 to 30 percent. What’s more, companies with at least one female founder outperformed all-male founding teams by 63 percent over the past 10 years.

“It can be overwhelming and hard for women to enter a workforce that views them as inferior and some women may not enter the field at all if they feel greatly outnumbered,” said Harbr Co-Founder and Head of Product Development Ashley Kielbratowski. “This is a sad reality we have to face and change together; however, the future is bright with companies like Harbr, a company that I am so thrilled to be a part of.”

Harbr’s commitment to gender diversity has won endorsement from such leaders as Annette Verschuren, CEO of NRStor and Chancellor at Cape Breton University.

“Studies have shown better financial performance for companies with diversity at the top. The team diversification at Harbr should be seen as a shining example for other companies to look up to,” said Verschuren. “It is reassuring to see companies such as Harbr attempting to close the gender gap. I know they will continue to have great success because of their company values and innovative product offering.”

TD Donates $500K to Futurpreneur

TD Bank Group has donated $500,000 to the Atlantic chapter of Futurpreneur Canada to support its efforts to support and educate young entrepreneurs in the region over the next three years.

The contribution will allow more Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs to build their confidence, skills and start-up resources through Futurpreneur Canada’s services, said the organization in a statement. These services include the successful Owners Wanted initiative, which gives entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada the support they need to turn their business ideas into reality through educational and networking opportunities.

“We are thrilled to be working alongside Futurpreneur Canada to help more young people access the start-up resources, business financing and mentoring needed to launch and grow a more successful business,” said Scott Belton, TD’s Senior Vice-President for the Atlantic Region. “Having already supported the launch of over 1,000 new businesses in Atlantic Canada through its proven Start-up Program, Futurpreneur is well-positioned to enhance the Atlantic entrepreneurship community.”

Added Hugh MacKay, Ministerial Assistant to the Minister of Business for Nova Scotia: “This partnership will help more young people in Atlantic Canada acquire the skills and connections they need to start businesses and take on the world.” 

Futurpreneur is seeing more young people pursuing entrepreneurship as a career option. TD's investment in young people highlights the value of corporate and other partners working together to support young entrepreneurs, said Futurpreneur’s statement.

Futurpreneur Canada has offered a range of programs to support young entrepreneurs since 1996. As the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18 to 39, it has supported more than 10,000 young people to date.

Futurpreneur’s mentoring program matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of almost 3,000 volunteer mentors. Futurpreneur is a founding member of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance, the Canadian member of Youth Business International, and the Canadian host of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“To ensure a strong future for Canada and small business, it is vital for governments at all levels and corporate partners to actively support the success of young entrepreneurs,” said John Risley, Chair of Futurpreneur Canada’s Board of Directors. “The efforts of both TD Bank Group and the Government of Nova Scotia demonstrate how all sectors can work together to see entrepreneurship succeed.”

NSBI Launches US Export Program

Nova Scotia Business Inc. is seeking applications for its new Scale-up Hub Cambridge program, which aims to help companies from the province increase sales in the U.S. and other countries.

The province's business development agency has posted a notice that it will accept as many as five companies into the new program. For a one-time fee of C$5,000, they will be given office space and mentorship for a year in Cambridge, Mass., which will be their base for building their export capacity in the U.S., especially in the Northeast.

The program will offer the five winners the following resources for a full year: working space in Cambridge; assistance with selling in the New England marketplace; and the services of an in-market business development team to help with sales strategy and market development.

The statement said the project in Cambridge, which it describes as one of the top innovation centres in the U.S., will be the first Scale-Up Hub project.

Information on the program can be found here. The deadline is Oct. 30.

Successful applicants must be technology-focused, high-growth companies that are already exporting their product. The winners will be required to pay a non-refundable participation fee of C$5,000 plus HST.

Deshpande’s Lesson in Creating Impact

Guruaj Deshpande: The goal is to transform complainers into problem-solvers

Guruaj Deshpande: The goal is to transform complainers into problem-solvers

A giant in the field of entrepreneurship came to Halifax last Friday to give educators some schooling on how to build entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and University of New Brunswick grad Gururaj Deshpande was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres (GCEC) Conference last Friday at Dalhousie University in Halifax. And he delivered fascinating insights in how to develop ecosystems in two worlds he knows well — developed countries and developing countries. In both cases, he said, the goal is to nurture innovators who will have an impact.

In a university setting in the developed world, he said, the key is to ensure there is an entrepreneurial culture among students and faculty before creating myriad programs. The reason entrepreneurship has caught on so thoroughly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — where he founded the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation — is that the student body teems with business-minded scientists.

“Don’t put the fuel in before you see the spark,” he advised the gathering. “You’ll just put out the fire.”

The GCEC is a meeting place for university entrepreneurship facilities from around the world, especially the U.S., and its mission is to help educational institutions aid students who want to launch businesses.

Deshpande, known to his friends as Desh, is an authority on the subject. A billionaire tech entrepreneur, he has founded or co-founded entrepreneurship centres in Boston, Fredericton (home of the Pond-Deshpande Centre), Kingston, Ont., and India. The Deshpande Foundation strengthens ecosystems that create significant social and economic impact through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Dal Aims to Double Female Computer Science Students

A native of India, he drew a distinction in his keynote between developing ecosystems in developed and developing countries. In developed economies, incubators must embed innovators in real world situations to make sure their ideas have relevance. The goal is to remove scientists from their bubbles to make sure they’re developing products for the market and not just to win plaudits from their peers. “The whole idea of the Deshpande Centre at MIT is to . . . connect people to relevance up front as they are creating the idea,” he said.

In the developing world, Deshpande said, you have to begin with relevance and then bring innovation in second. What that means is that there is a need to imbue the broader population — those who understand the community’s problems and culture — with an entrepreneurial spirit so they can devise ways to find solutions to their problems. Once there is an entrepreneurial spirit in the community, introducing innovation can help to improve the living conditions of the community.

Deshpande speaks of “building capacity in the community,” such as the Deshpande Foundation India, where 500 people at a time can go through a four-month program to learn entrepreneurship. The goal, he said, is to make a broad swath of the population understand they can solve problems instead of complaining about them.

“Just make people transform from being complainers to being problem-solvers,” he said. “Then it becomes fashionable and everyone is looking for problems to solve. When you have all these entrepreneurs looking around for problems to solve, no problem is going to hang around for too long because there is always someone who is going to grab it.”

Accreon, ABM, iTacit Win Contract

A consortium of three Atlantic Canadian tech companies has won a $10.1 million contract to build a new apprenticeship-management system for five provinces.

Accreon of Fredericton, ABM Integrated Solutions of Dartmouth, and iTacit of Fredericton have been awarded the contract to develop, integrate and implement a Shared Apprenticeship Management Solution. The contract was awarded by the four Atlantic Provinces and Manitoba (all of which will use the system) as well as the federal government.

This new bilingual system will replace existing custom off-the-shelf, or COTS, apprenticeship systems, said Accreon in a statement. It will extend the functionality of the system used by training providers, employers, and apprentices and improve the efficiency of business processes.

Accreon said the partnership brings unparalleled expertise in such areas as learning and workforce management, system design and integration, program and project management, to name a few.

The Shared Apprenticeship Management Solution is part of the Atlantic Workforce Partnership that was established in 2012 by the Council of Atlantic Premiers to help prepare the region to adapt to changing skills requirements in the workforce. This initiative is designed to produce more consistency and efficiency in the way people enter the trades and work toward certification.

Accreon is a business solutions company whose technological focus is on integrating and managing workplace information. In 2015, the company underwent a management buyout with financial support from the Boston-based private equity firm, Mansa Capital.

Jobs: Dash Hudson, Swept, MCE

Dash Hudson, the fast-growing Halifax company that provides analytics for such social media tools as Instagram, is looking for a Director of Marketing.

The Dash Hudson position is featured in our Jobs of the Week column today, which also showcases an opening for a Program Catalyst at the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship in St. John’s  and a Customer Service Representative at Swept in Halifax.

The Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship at Memorial University of Newfoundland inspires MUN students, faculty and staff to take an entrepreneurial path and creates opportunities that expose them to entrepreneurship both in and outside the academic curriculum. The Centre invests in their early stage growth and connects them with the right resources at the right time. The MCE also co-creates with other stakeholders a more attractive provincial ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

Halifax-based Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and videos, then analyze their impact. The system is an integrated solution to predict, measure, and enhance engagement across all visual marketing channels.

The company, which already has dozens of employees and offices in Halifax, New York and Miami, has been expanding rapidly.

Fresh with about $2.5 million in new financing, Halifax-based Swept is growing. It has designed software that can help cleaners, bosses and clients communicate on a mobile device. Its goal is to help cleaning companies support their cleaners, not just check up on them.

The Jobs of the Week column features openings posted on the Entrevestor Job Board, which focuses on jobs in technology, innovation and startups in Atlantic Canada. The Entrevestor Job Board helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities and is operated by Entrevestor and Alongside.

Here are excerpts from the job postings:

St. John’s

Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship

Program Catalyst


We are looking for an inspiring entrepreneur who is excited about creating a vibrant entrepreneurial culture on campus and in the province and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs.


Reporting to the MCE Director, the successful candidate will foster growth of early-stage business ideas and entrepreneurs by providing personal coaching (for the ideation phase and accelerating the leadership of entrepreneurs), business development mentoring (value proposition development, business models development, early-stage validation, etc.), and relevant connections to early-stage entrepreneurs (programs, funding, mentors, industry experts, first customers, etc.). This will include one-on-one consultation and the design, implementation and evaluation of the student entrepreneur funds. The successful candidate will also manage MCE's contribution to the Entrepreneurial Work Term program in close coordination with co-op offices across campus.

The successful candidate will also design and lead programs, projects and events in and outside the academic curriculum that inspire students, faculty and staff to take an entrepreneurial path and attract them to MCE's programs including but not limited to, organizing in-class presentations, specific skills development workshops, guest lectures and brainstorming sessions, and the design, implementation and evaluation of the Startup Semester program.

The Programs Catalyst will achieve those goals with the direct support of MCE's Program Support Coordinator and by leveraging and developing a community of volunteers, faculty members and external organizations who want to develop a stronger entrepreneurial community in the province. . . .

Read the full job description here.



Customer Service Representative


As the new member of our growing Customer Success team, your primary focus will be to support Small and Medium Business owners in the Commercial Cleaning Industry by teaching them how to use our technology to better run and grow their businesses.

What gets you up in the morning

You are incredibly hard working and love how business can be used to effect positive change. You love the challenge of a quick-paced environment and working in a team to make sure you’re maximizing your impact.

What you believe

You believe that people are at the core of all successful businesses. You believe that to be great at your job you need to love learning new things, and know that working outside your comfort zone is the best way for you to grow. You have impeccable communication skills and you love to make personal connections with customers.


What You’ll Do

Omni-channel support of customers using customer support systems (online chat / email / phone)

Monitor questions and create support articles to better support customer questions

Conduct online customer training and support sessions

Coordinate and assist with customer onboarding activities

Work closely with the Customer Success team to maintain a positive relationship with all clients

Work closely with product development to provide customer feedback and feature requests

Work closely with Quality Assurance to identify and resolve any issues identified by customers

Master Swept so you can explain it to an 80-year-old

Bring world-class dishes to our potlucks! . . .

Read the full job description here.  

Dash Hudson

Director of Marketing


About Us

Dash Hudson works with the raddest, most discerning brands and publishers in the world to share photos and videos that people care about. Our marketing platform provides brands with a one-stop solution to get deep insights on their performance, create original content, discover content, predict performance, distribute to owned, influencer, and paid channels, measure and monetize.

As a Director of Marketing, you will work with our incredible team to define our position as market leaders through brand development, content creation, and activities that create awareness and density within our amazing community of data-driven creative marketers.

About You

The most important thing we need from you is this:

You want the challenge and opportunity to build brand and awareness of a leading product in a rapidly growing global market.

You want to work with our teams to push the boundaries of innovation, while defining our place in the hearts of our customers.

You can't be afraid to take on challenges you don't understand, and you need to have the confidence to figure it out.

You must be thoughtful. When did you last call your mother?

You will require equal parts diligence and creativity - with the ideal candidate excelling at both. Things move pretty fast over here.

Describes you: humble, focused, thoughtful, analytical, creative. With some swagger.  . . .

Read the full job description here. 

ACOA Funds FAN, Venn, Afred

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has announced funding of $1.4 million to three organizations to improve the ecosystem for startups in Atlantic Canada.

ACOA is providing a grant of $948,000 over three years to the First Angel Network to develop the angel investor community in Atlantic Canada. The goal is to improve access to private capital for early-stage companies in the region.

The federal agency will also provide almost $177,000 to Venn Innovation to provide 60 Atlantic Canadian startups with access to MaRS market intelligence services over the next year, including access to industry-leading research reports and expert analysts.

And ACOA will provide $280,000 to Science Atlantic to support the development and implementation of the Atlantic Facilities and Research Equipment Database, or AFRED, which helps businesses access publicly funded research and development tools.

Andy Fillmore, the MP for Halifax, announced the funding Friday at the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres, which was meeting in Halifax.

“The investments announced today will provide entrepreneurs, wherever they are located, with crucial access to the resources they need to achieve success,” said Fillmore.

For about a decade, the First Angel Network has drawn together private individuals who invest their own money into and provide mentorship to promising startups across the region. 

“This funding, provided over three years, will help us to grow the angel ecosystem across the region,” Co-Founder Brian Lowe said in a statement. “We’re becoming more active in growing the angel network throughout Atlantic Canada.”

Venn operates the startup house in Moncton and provides programing for startups from across New Brunswick. It has recently been doing more to support startups from across the region. Now it is partnering with Toronto-based MaRS to improve startups access to market information.

“The MaRS Market Intelligence service has been and continues to be a vital resource for innovative early stage companies in our region,” said Venn CEO Doug Robertson in a statement. “With startups gaining access to premium databases that they would not otherwise be able to afford, it is helping them inform their business plans and strategies and continues to build a solid foundation to grow successful companies across Atlantic Canada.”

AFRED was launched in March 2017. The database provides quick and affordable access to 400 sophisticated technical instruments from more than 80 research facilities that can be contracted by companies in need of specialized testing.

“AFRED has tremendous potential to showcase specialized research infrastructure in Atlantic Canada and provide researchers with opportunities for partnerships with colleagues in academia and industry,” said Christian Lacroix, Chair Elect of Science Atlantic and Biology Professor, University of Prince Edward Island.



Disclosure: ACOA and Venn are clients of Entrevestor. 

Shad Program Coming to UPEI

Madeline Hamill, right, and Chloe Ryan at the Waterloo cohort last summer.

Madeline Hamill, right, and Chloe Ryan at the Waterloo cohort last summer.

The University of Prince Edward Island is joining Shad, an award-winning national enrichment program which brings top high school students to 16 university campuses across the country every July.

Founded in 1980, Shad has become known as a leading incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship among high school students with a passion for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and Entrepreneurship.

Every year, 900 young Canadians experience an innovative month-long program at one of 16 partner university campuses where they apply STEAM disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges.

“Prince Edward Island is thrilled to host 50 of the brightest young minds in Canada so they can experience what our province has to offer, including our leading researchers in aerospace, and bioscience,” Sonny Gallant, Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, said in a press release. 

The central location for Shad at UPEI will be the new School of Sustainable Design Engineering. Activities will include a mini robotics course.

The Government of PEI is investing $28,000 to help students from the Island attend the Shad program in other parts of the country.

“Shad helped me realize that if you don’t push yourself to try new things or go outside of your comfort zone then you will miss out on so many opportunities,” said Madeline Hamill who is in grade 12 at Kinkora Regional High School on PEI. 

Hamill attended Shad at the University of Waterloo this summer and said some of the highlights included introduction to coding and learning about the human body in an anatomy workshop.

Shad is open to students in grades 10 to 12. Organizers are looking for well-rounded curious students from the Island with a passion for learning.  Many attendees, known as Shads, are heavily involved in extra-curricular activities in school or in their community.

Students live in residence at one of the 16 host university campuses.  They attend lectures and workshops offered by leading faculty and community leaders and participate in field trips to see science and innovation in action.  There are recreational activities to round out the learning.

Shad is accepting applications here for the summer of 2018 until Nov. 20

Dal Seeks More Female CS Students

As part of Dalhousie University’s bicentennial celebration in 2018, the Faculty of Computer Science is launching a campaign to double the percentage of female students enrolling in the next academic year.

Like universities around the world, Dal’s Computer Science faculty has a difficult time attracting female students. Some 20 percent of the class entering the faculty last month are female, and that’s an improvement on the levels of past years.

The faculty has set a target of raising the proportion of women entering computer science in the 2018-19 academic year to 40 percent. To achieve that goal, the faculty is now reaching out to industry partners to provide about 60 scholarships for female computer science frosh next year. These scholarships would include financial support, mentorship from female execs in tech industries, and coop placements.

“If we make that shift in one year, then we hope we can keep the balance higher organically in subsequent years because there will be role models within the faculty,” said Becca Rawcliffe, the Alumni and Communications Officer at the Faculty of Computer Science.

Dal is addressing a huge societal problem – not just in universities, but also in the workforce. According to US News & World Report, females accounted for just 18 percent of computer science students in the U.S. in 2014. That low number restricts the number of women entering ICT businesses. And that means too few women benefit from the technology sector, which is one of the great employment and wealth creators of our era. It also leads to problems of sexism within the tech community, which have been well reported lately.

Rawcliffe said industry overall feels the need to improve workforce diversity, so companies (including tech companies) are striving for a great gender balance in their staff. That’s why the faculty is getting a good reception, she said, as it contacts private businesses and asks them to provide scholarships for female Computer Science frosh next year.

SomaDetect wins US$1M at Buffalo, N.Y. Competition. 

Overall, Dalhousie is hoping to enroll 60 to 70 female students next year in its two Computer Science programs – Bachelor of Computer Science, which focuses on math and coding; and Bachelor of Applied Computer Science, which combines coding with business skills, such as project management, communications and the like.

Private businesses interested in discussing the possibility of providing a scholarship are asked to contact Development Officer Adrienne Power at

Rawcliffe also said the faculty is changing curriculum somewhat to include an elective on the history of technology, so students gain a greater appreciation of how IT fits into the advancement of human society. Dalhousie is trying to eradicate the misconception that only male geeks go into computer science and gain better rounded group of students. 

“The myths are that you have to be really into coding before you come here, which you don’t,” she said. “There are these myths that it’s an isolated discipline and you’re sitting behind your computer coding all day. But our program is very collaborative. And people can be interested in anything -- you can be interested in art, or in healthcare. Our students go on to become many things, doctors, lawyers, many professions.”


Disclosure: Dalhousie University is a client of Entrevestor. 

Propel ICT Names Barry Bisson CEO

Barry Bisson

Barry Bisson

Propel ICT, Atlantic Canada’s tech startup accelerator, has named Barry Bisson, former President of Shad Valley International, as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Propel released a statement on Thursday saying that Bisson, who previously headed the Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program at University of New Brunswick, would take the helm at the accelerator. The position came open earlier this year when CEO Anita Punamiya said she would be stepping down, though she is remaining on the Propel board.

"I am thrilled for Propel and the startup community within the region,” said Propel Chairman Steven Burns. “With Barry’s leadership, I believe we will be able to build a strong vision for the region and execute on that vision.”

For twelve years, Bisson led Shad Valley International, building deep ties with the entrepreneurial community in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and throughout Canada. Shad is a pan-Canadian program that provides summer programs for gifted high school students interested in science and entrepreneurship.

Bisson brings those far-reaching networks and a lifelong dedication to fostering entrepreneurial and innovative potential to this new role. In the past few years, he’s been most visible in the region at the bootcamps for the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru competition, teaching workshops on accounting.

“As the former leader of Shad, a national organization, I witnessed firsthand the tremendous impact that can be created when organizations and individuals set aside the interests and priorities of their jurisdiction to support a cause that is for the greater good of the nation,” said Bisson. “In this new role, I am determined to be an effective advocate, fostering collaboration among many stakeholders, all for the greater good of Atlantic Canada and our country.”

Propel offers programs in all four Atlantic Provinces. In its autumn 2017 cohort, It is now offering its Launch program, for early-stage companies, in Fredericton, Halifax and St. John’s. The program has also been offered recently in Sydney and Charlottetown. The Build program for growth-stage companies is being offered in Moncton. 

HeyOrca ARR hits US$1 Million

The HeyOrca team earlier this year.(It's grown since then.)

The HeyOrca team earlier this year.(It's grown since then.)

HeyOrca, the St. John’s company that helps marketing agencies collaborate with their clients, has reached an important milestone. It has now achieved US$1 million  in annual recurring revenue, or ARR.   

Co-founded by CEO Joseph Teo and CTO Sahand Seifi in 2015, HeyOrca has developed software that helps agencies to work with their clients in the planning, developing and approving social media content. For about 18 months, there’s been buzz about the company because its revenue has been growing so quickly. Now its ARR has topped the US$1 million mark and monthly recurring revenue has increased 170 percent since the beginning of the year.

“We’re just doubling down on what works,” said Teo, who began to dabble in entrepreneurship as a student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. “Surprisingly, it’s not rocket science. It’s basically figuring out what works and doing it. … The capital infusion we got this year helped us to double down on that.”

In May, the St. John’s company announced that it received $2 million in funding from previous investors Killick Capital and Pelorus Venture Capital. This took the company’s total equity funding to $2.65 million.

HeyOrca began a few years ago by working on software that would help with the approval process for social media within advertising and marketing agencies. But the founders learned that these agencies have challenges with more than just the approval process. So its product now aids agencies through five phases of the production process – planning, content development, organization, approval and distribution.

“We replace the manual workarounds of spreadsheets, Dropbox and social media publishing tools that is status quo in the production process, by using technology to involve the right people at the right time,” said Teo. “We’re really excited about this opportunity as the workflow problem doesn’t just plague social media, it exists across all asset types.”

The product is now used by 300 marketing agencies and brands in 12 countries, and prominent customers include: Johns Hopkins University, Scribd, New York City Ballet and Amazon Alexa.

HeyOrca’s growth is continuing. The company is now up to 32 employees and has opened an office in Toronto. Teo said it will continue to focus on the small to medium-sized agencies in the foreseeable future, and that this market is big enough that it has barely scratched the surface.

Teo has already begun to work on the company’s next round of financing, which it expects to close in the first quarter of 2018.

"We're really excited about the future of HeyOrca,” said Chris Moyer of Pelorus Venture Capital. “This team has what it takes to solve the workflow problem for marketing teams around the world."

SDTC Backs MTI with $5.4M

George Palikaras: Funding announcements of almost $20 million this year.

George Palikaras: Funding announcements of almost $20 million this year.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. has received a $5.4 million grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, or SDTC, almost doubling the money going toward the Halifax company’s metaSOLAR division.

In June, MTI said it had signed a $5.6 million agreement with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to develop materials that enhance solar power and can be used on aircraft. The partners agreed to work on the development of metaSOLAR, which incorporates advanced, lightweight materials, suitable for flights.

Now STDC, an arm's-length foundation created by the Government of Canada to fund clean technologies, has said it would provide $5.4 million for metaSOLAR.

This is only the latest in a series of major announcements this year by MTI, which has announced three funding deals worth almost $20 million and launched commercial production of its MetaAIR product. The company’s biggest financing announcement this year was an $8.3 million round in April, led by Radar Capital of Toronto and joined by Innovacorp and other investors.

“Metamaterial Technologies is capturing sunlight in new ways for our—and the Earth’s—benefit,” said SDTC President and CEO Leah Lawrence in a statement. “This Halifax-based clean tech company is doing extraordinary things to increase the efficiency of solar cells, and SDTC is proud to be a supporter.”

MTI is dedicated to producing metamaterials – materials whose compounds are not found in nature – that have an impact on light. The company is already working with Airbus to produce metaAIR, a transparent screen that filters out laser beams. Now the company is moving into its second product line, solar power, and again working with one of the world’s leading aerospace companies.

Palikaras Among the Winners at EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award

MetaSOLAR incorporates NanoWeb, a highly conductive metal mesh printed on to any surface using MTI’s proprietary Rolling Mask Lithography manufacturing tool. RML is used to manufacture functional materials in a variety of shapes and designs, allowing MTI to create a new class of smart materials for a wide range of applications.

It’s understood that metaSOLAR will be a lightweight material that can be shaped to fit on to any surface. For example, it could eventually be used to line an airplane wing and generate electricity while the plane is in flight.

SDTC has also provided money to two other Nova Scotian cleantech companies -- Halifax-based Carboncure Technologies and Chest-based Sustane Technologies. 

MTI said the transport industry accounts for about 23 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, and transport-related CO2 emissions are projected to increase by nearly 50% by 2030. It hopes MetaSOLAR will help to reduce these numbers.

“Today marks another milestone in the advancement of our solar technology, and this investment allows us to accelerate and expand our research and development for the transportation industry,” said MTI Founder and CEO George Palikaras. “At MTI, our team is working to develop and commercialize a new product called MetaSOLAR, which will be the first light-weight and high-efficiency silicon-based solar cell technology suitable for the transport industry here in Canada and globally.”

Bereda Eyes Elite Endurance Athletes

Dennis Cottreau

Dennis Cottreau

If the guys behind Bereda Training are as good at startups as they are at sports, the Halifax company will definitely be one to watch.

A recent addition to the hive of startups at Volta Labs, Bereda Training has developed an online training platform that automates the training plans that coaches prepare for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc.). Its co-founders know a thing or two about these athletic endeavours. CEO Dennis Cottreau was a semi-professional cyclist for two years and CTO Blake Pucsek was the captain of the Harvard University rowing team.

Through their athletic careers, they grew frustrated with the inflexibility of training platforms, so they decided to develop their own.

“A training plan built well has patterns and progression built into it,” said Cottreau in an interview. “There are all these little rules and little patterns that describe ways of training. If we mathematically model it, then we can give the user the ability to make some sweeping edits very quickly.”

What Bereda does is greatly reduce the time it takes for coaches or self-coached athletes to customize the training schedule over the course of a year. It allows them to build highly customized training strategies that can take into account hectic schedules and things like injuries or holidays.

“Going fast takes great coaching, and great coaching is rooted in a solid plan,” said Pucsek in an email from Baltimore, where he is now based. “Once a plan has been formed then a coach’s job shifts toward synthesizing all of the information they’re able to read from their athletes and use that information to make further decisions on where they should be headed.”

Yarmouth-born Cottreau and Pucsek, a native of Victoria, B.C., did not know each other well before they decided to form a startup. What’s more, they didn’t know much about startups.

Two years ago, Cottreau was coaching cycling, and Pucsek had moved from rowing to triathlons, when they linked up through a common friend. They commiserated about the lack of decent platforms for training plans, and agreed to work together to build one that suits their needs.

Volta Launches Early Stage Fund

Earlier this year, Cottreau wandered into Volta Labs in Halifax, hoping to pick up legal advice about incorporating as a company. He began to learn about the startup community, and the mentoring helped Pucsek and him launch two versions of their product in rapid succession this past summer.

Cottreau – who presented at Volta’s DemoCamp on Tuesday night – said they now have dozens of clients and a few potential sales channels that offer potential. A few world-class coaches have reached out to the team, which led to phone discussions. Asked if the company is planning to raise funds, Cottreau merely said it’s something they’ve thought about.

It has been a steep learning curve and the two athletes-cum-entrepreneurs are looking forward to gaining more traction in the fall.

“I only learned what a lean startup was in March,” said Cottreau. “I learned more in two days at Volta than I had in two months doing Google searches. So I figured I should stick around.”

Region Has 17 Startup Award Finalists

The Province of New Brunswick, and the university that bears its name, will be well represented in the finals of the 2017 Startup Canada Awards next week.

Startup Canada, which promotes entrepreneurship across the country, will hand out its national awards Oct. 19 at a gala event in Ottawa. Some 17 Atlantic Canadian individuals and organizations – 11 of them from New Brunswick – are national finalists, including the winners of the regional awards in Fredericton last month.

One striking feature of the shortlist is that three of the four finalists for the Newcomer Entrepreneur Award are from Atlantic Canada – a region that has until recently struggled to attract immigrants. They are: The Hadhad Family, founders of Peace by Chocolate of Antigonish, N.S.; Asif Hasan, CEO of SimpTek Technologies of Fredericton; and Michael Shin, owner of GenInk Printer Cartridges of Fredericton.  

Hasan is one of several finalists associated with University of New Brunswick. Hasan and Jordan Kennie of Stash Energy, another finalist, founded their companies while studying at the university. And the finalists include Dead of Computer Science Ali Ghorbani and Dhirendra Shukla, the head of the UNB Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program.

One New Brunswick company, Remsoft of Fredericton, is nominated in two categories.  

The finalists for the Startup Canada Awards (with Atlantic reps boldfaced) are:


1. Startup Canada Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Scotiabank

○ Anne Whelan, President​ ​and​ ​CEO of ​Seafair​ ​Capital​ ​Inc., of St. John’s, for Atlantic Canada

○ Michael Serbinis for Ontario

○ Christiane Germain for Quebec

○ Lynda Brown-Ganzert for British Columbia

○ Chris Lane for the North

○ Chris Johnson for the Prairies

2. Adam Chowaniec Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Mastercard Canada

*only presented at the national level.

○ The Right Honourable David Johnston

○ Andrew Steeves

Francis McGuire, former President of Major Drilling Group International and President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for Atlantic Canada



3. Startup Canada Community of the Year Award

*only presented at the national level.

○ Startup Edmonton

○ Startup Kamloops

○ Startup Sault Ste.Marie

4. Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award

○ Nevin Buconjic for Ontario

Dhirendra Shukla, Co-Founder of the Energia accelerator, for Atlantic Canada

○ Xavier Henri-Herve for Quebec

○ Manny Padda for British Columbia

○ Carey Houston for the Prairies

5. Startup Canada Entrepreneur Support Award

○ Ignite AC - Algonquin College Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for


Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre, Wolfville, for Atlantic Canada

○ MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre for Quebec micro

○ Accelerate Okanagan for British Columbia

○ YuKonstruct Makerspace Society for the North.

○ ATB Financial for the Prairies

6. Startup Canada Policy Prize, sponsored by Lockheed Martin

*only presented at the national level.

○ The Honourable Navdeep Bains for Ontario

○ Susan Holt, Chief of Business Partnerships, Province of New Brunswick, for Atlantic Canada

○ David Trawin for British Columbia



7. Startup Canada Senior Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

○ Cindy Gordon for Ontario

○ Ali Ghorbani, CEO of Eyesover, for Atlantic Canada

○ Albert R. Carbone for Quebec

○ Robert Sharp for the North

○ Vicki Collett for British Columbia

○ Nancy Knowlton and David Martin for the Prairies

8. Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

○ Kelly Lovell for Ontario

○ Jordan Kennie for Atlantic Canada

○ Graham Mann for Quebec

○ Mike Russo for the North

○ Alex Villeneuve for the Prairies

9. Startup Canada Woman Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

○ Nicole Verkindt for Ontario

○ Christina Dove, Founder of the Newfoundland Chocolate Company of St. John’s, for Atlantic Canada

○ Marie-Philip Simard for Quebec

○ Catherine Dahl for British Columbia

○ Heather Dickson for the North

○ Kim Orlesky for the Prairies

10. Startup Canada Newcomer Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

*only presented at the national level.

○ The Hadhad Family for Atlantic Canada

○ Asif Hasan for Atlantic

○ Michael Shin for Atlantic

○ Mohamed Khalil for Quebec

11. Startup Canada Resilient Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

*only presented at the national level.

Shawn Smith, CEO of Don’t dis-my-ability Consultation Services of Fredericton, for Atlantic Canada

○ Cory Zimmer for British Columbia

12. Startup Canada Indigenous Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

*only presented at the national level.

Trevor Bernard, Fredericton-based CTO of Braveno, for Atlantic Canada

○ Sunshine Tenasco for Quebec

○ Patrice Mousseau for British Columbia

○ Tishna Marlowe for Prairies

○ Joel Pedersen for the Prairies


13. Startup Canada Canadian Icon Award

*only presented at the national level.

Remsoft for Atlantic

○ La Maison Simons for Quebec

14. Startup Canada Global Entrepreneurship Award, sponsored by UPS Canada

○ Wave for Ontario

Remsoft for Atlantic Canada

○ TrackTik for Quebec

○ Hootsuite for British Columbia

○ Farmers Edge for the Prairies

15. Startup Canada High-Growth Entrepreneurship Award, sponsored by MNP LLP

○ for Ontario

B4Checkin of Halifax for Atlantic

○ GSOFT for Quebec

○ BroadbandTV for British Columbia

○ Aimsio for the Prairies

16. Startup Canada Innovation Award, sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks

○ Clearbanc for Ontario

BlueLight Analytics of Halifax for Atlantic

○ Via Science for Quebec

○ Hummingbird Drones for British Columbia

○ Proskida for the North

○ Tevesol, Inc for the Prairies

17. Startup Canada Social Enterprise Award, sponsored by Centre for Social


○ African Bronze Honey Company for Ontario

Bibi Lyn Designs, of Shippagan, N.B., for Atlantic Canada

○ for Quebec

○ Keela for British Columbia

○ Pinnguaq for the North

○ Neechie Gear for the Prairies

Volta Launches Early Stage Fund

Volta Labs is launching a new funding program that will give as much as $250,000 a year to “very, very early-stage companies” across Atlantic Canada, CEO Jesse Rodgers announced Tuesday night.

Speaking at the conclusion of DemoCamp, Rodgers said Volta has partnered with Innovacorp and BDC Capital to establish the program called Volta Cohort. The new program will provide investments of $25,000 to up to five companies in each cohort through a micro-fund. The organizers hope there will be two cohorts a year.

“Our goal is to accelerate the growth and success of startups in Atlantic Canada,” said Rodgers. “One of the challenges founders face in Atlantic Canada is access to early-stage investment. With this new program, we are now able to provide these companies with the resources they need to develop their products and expand operations Programs like this help to establish Atlantic Canada as a regional hub for technology entrepreneurs.”

Rodgers said applications for the program are now open, and there will be pitching session for the entrants on Nov. 14.

The five winners will receive $25,000 each and will be mentored throughout the program. Halifax companies will be mentored by founders of companies in Volta, and the organizers will arrange for local mentorship for companies based in other parts of Atlantic Canada.

Rodgers said the goal of the program is to find promising entrepreneurs and give them that little but of funding that can get their project rolling.  The financial component will be an equity investment, not a grant or loan, though the organizers have yet to work the exact structure of equity funding. Rodgers said it would be “founder-friendly.”

Rodgers spoke at the end of DemoCamp, in which 10 entrepreneurs from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick demonstrated their technology. Some are beginning to gain customers and others are more advanced. The final demonstration was by Michael Brown, the CEO of Swept, which had just announced a $2.5 million funding round. Brown said he’d learned this week that Walt Disney Co. has an opening for janitorial services at one of its parks and is requiring all applicants to use Swept. It was a point not lost on Rodgers.

“In Atlantic Canada, we’re producing more companies, better companies, with a global reach,” Rodgers said. “The fact that Disney knows about Swept shows that reach of companies based in Halifax.”  

Hachey Traded Wall Street for AgTech

David Hachey

David Hachey

David Hachey’s entrepreneurial journey took him from Harvard University to Wall Street to a farm in rural Nova Scotia. The result of this unique career path is the recent launch of his startup BidSquid, an online marketplace for agricultural products and goods.

A New Brunswick native, Hachey studied economics at Harvard then spent a decade as a trader on Wall Street. He relocated to rural Nova Scotia for a simpler life as a farmer, and that gave him the idea for a site on which farmers can sell and buy things.

BidSquid directly connects small-scale farmers with consumers to buy and sell bulk produce or other agricultural goods. It works by finding price-based listings for goods like fruits, vegetables, lumber or animal feed for consumers and helps farmers identify the demands in the local market.

“Transparent pricing will show them where the real demand is,” said Hachey in an interview. “It’s a chance for farmers to make production decisions based on real market prices.”

The impetus for this product came in 2010 when Hachey left the hustle and bustle of New York and bought 160 acres of land in Meadowville, Pictou County, where he started a farm and grew a flock of sheep.

“I never planned on being in New York forever – I always intended to move back to Atlantic Canada,” said Hachey. “I travelled a fair bit and lived in India for two years … I saw that the value of land in India is way more than in Atlantic Canada so you start to appreciate that, on a global basis, the agricultural potential we have.”

NB AgTech Company SomaDetect Wins US$1M in Buffalo.

In attempting to sell his goods to local consumers via websites like Kijiji and Facebook or even through good old word of mouth, Hachey grew increasingly frustrated over the  inefficiency of the local rural economy.

“It really bugged me as a student of economics and as someone who is really passionate about the local economy and trying to grow the rural local economy,” he said. “There was certainly a greater calling that has lead me down this path.”

Last spring, Hachey went to Sydney, Cape Breton, to learn how to build his startup at UIT, the tech and entrepreneurship program at Cape Breton University. While at UIT, Hachey met Andrew MacDonald, a skilled coder who co-founded BidSquid. MacDonald helped to build the clean, user-friendly website that is BidSquid today.

The team was accepted into Propel ICT’s Launch program where they continued to build their business and presented at Propel’s Halifax Demo Day in June. BidSquid also recently qualified for the shortlist for Innovacorp’s 2017 Spark Innovation Challenge.

The latest addition to the BidSquid team is Daniel Strock, a former Wall Street colleague of Hachey’s. Strock, who is based out of Philadelphia, will help expand the company to U.S. markets.

Since its launch in mid-September, BidSquid has been growing steadily with 100 users already signed up and roughly 40 listings posted. He has bootstrapped the project so far, but is considering trying to raise about $200,000 in the coming months.

Hachey wants to see BidSquid gain traction with larger scale consumers, hoping school and hospital cafeterias will start stocking their kitchens from listings found on BidSquid. Hachey also hopes other industries, like the province’s many distilleries and breweries, will use the website.

“I really see that as the next wave of the buy local movement,” said Hachey about his triple bottom line business model. 

Oceans Supercluster Makes Shortlist

The proposed oceans supercluster in Atlantic Canada is one of nine proposals shortlisted for the federal government’s $950 million Supercluster Initiative.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, was in Halifax on Tuesday to announce the shortlisted applicants and discuss the initiative.

In his March budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the government will spend as much as $950 million over five years to support “superclusters” of innovation across the country. Officials working on the Atlantic growth strategy, representing the four provinces and the federal government, developed a strategy to tap supercluster funding in ways that would benefit all four provinces.

The Atlantic Canadian oceans cluster would incorporate economic strengths from each province, including those not often associated with ocean industries, such as cybersecurity and smart grids.

“If selected as one of Canada's five superclusters, the Ocean Supercluster would energize Canada's ocean economy by investing in digital ocean technologies that will increase Canada's competitiveness and create middle-class jobs for this generation and the next," said Bain in a statement.

Of more than 50 proposals, involving over 1,000 firms and 350 other participants, nine have been shortlisted and up to five will be selected as Canada's new superclusters.

According to the CBC, these are the other supercluster proposals that have been shortlisted:

From Quebec: an artificial intelligence supercluster to bolster Canadian leadership in AI and data science.

A mobility supercluster focused on innovation and commercialization in the aerospace, ground transportation and advanced manufacturing.

From Ontario: a supercluster looking at transforming Canada's mining sector and focusing on clean resources, clean technology and responsible sourcing of metals.

From Ontario. A supercluster promising to speed up Canada's manufacturing competitiveness.

From the Prairies: A protein supercluster to capture the export market opportunity for safe, nutritious plant-based food.

A supercluster to invest in technologies related to Canada's crop, livestock and agri-food processing sectors.

A infrastructure supercluster promising to change how Canada's infrastructure is designed, built and operated using advanced digital communications, cutting-edge tools and interconnected applications and services.

From British Columbia: a digital technology supercluster dedicated to making Canada better at inventing, developing and applying digital technologies to drive competitiveness in environment and resource technology, precision health and manufacturing. 

Disclosure: The federal government, some provinces and their agencies are clients of Entrevestor.

Cohort 2 of Fredericton’s Export Igniter

Ignite Fredericton, the community economic development agency, is inviting Fredericton-based companies aiming to enter new markets to apply to the Export Igniter acceleration program.

Since the successful pilot program concluded in March 2017, graduate Export Igniter companies created in nine new jobs related to their export growth. Participants in the first cohort included SimpTek Technologies, Red Rover Breweries, Marr’s Sweet Syrup, Mayday Printing, Unforgotten Metal Art and Ginger Design. In a survey following the program, all participating companies gave top marks to the program and said they left with a fully developed export plan that was ready to be executed in-market.

Export Igniter is the first export accelerator of its kind in Atlantic Canada. It’s designed to help export ready companies develop a strategy to ensure they succeed in seizing opportunities and navigating the complex landscape of international business. Over 12 weeks, participants go through workshops led by subject matter experts such as Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Opportunities NB, Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Corp., customs and logistics consultants, and others. Each company is paired with a mentor, a successful local exporter who provides their insights and advice.

“To create a global impact you need to get out of your backyard,” said Keelen Gagnon, Chief Operating Officer of SimpTek Technologies and member of the first cohort. “The Export Igniter program and mentorship that came with it was invaluable in helping us grow outside our region.”

Companies are also paired with a team of highly motivated business students from the University of New Brunswick who help with research and lead development.

Hillary Baird was a student in the first cohort and was paired with Ginger Design who hired her after graduating, “It’s a very different way of learning,” she remarked on the Export Igniter program, “you can put yourself in the shoes of an actual consultant; you have that real-life work experience for a semester, which is something not all students get.”

Ignite Fredericton is now accepting applications for its second cohort, which will begin January. The intent is to build on the success of the first cohort incorporating time for companies and mentors to interact informally with each other.

Interested companies can learn more, and apply to participate by visiting Ignite Fredericton’s website. Additionally, information sessions will be held at Planet Hatch throughout the fall for interested entrepreneurs.

Disclosure: Ignite Fredericton is a client of Entrevestor.

INovia, Afore in Swept’s US$2M Round

Michael Brown and Matt Cooper

Michael Brown and Matt Cooper

Fresh from the 500 Startups accelerator in California’s Silicon Valley, janitorial software-maker Swept has closed a US$2-million funding round, led by venture capital firms iNovia and Afore Capital.

Halifax-based Swept (formerly called CleanSimple) has developed software that helps commercial cleaning companies communicate with and support their cleaners and customers. The flashy side of the Swept story is that the company graduated in August from 500 Startups, one of the world’s most prestigious accelerators. It was also the only Atlantic Canadian company to attend the Metabridge conference in Kelowna, B.C., this summer. And now Swept -- which raised a $575,000 round last year -- has the equivalent of C$2.5 million in funding from Montreal-based iNovia and Silicon Valley-based Afore. 

But the most fascinating side of Swept is found in its unglamorous work with cleaning companies and their staff. At its core, Swept is a social venture striving to improve the lives of under-appreciated people.

Co-founders Michael Brown and Matt Cooper started CleanSimple as a cleaning company that allowed clients to book cleaners online. They soon understood the challenges faced by commercial cleaners themselves — people who work on their own at night with little contact with clients or their bosses. Often, English is their second language so they are sometimes confused about their instructions. If their company does use software, it’s usually used to check up on them, rather than help them.

“The challenges we faced are common in the janitorial industry — like employee turnover rates between 75 per cent and a whopping 375 per cent each year,” said Brown, the company’s CEO. “We discovered that 74 per cent of professional cleaners have said they feel like slaves at work, which no doubt contributes to the high turnover rates, so we designed our software around better supporting the cleaner.”

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Swept has designed software that can help cleaners, bosses and clients communicate on a mobile device. For one thing, the cleaners can now communicate in their native language. It helps provide feedback and questions, and can even help employers assess performance. Brown said it was always difficult to understand the job done by someone who works at night, and now employee-of-the-month awards can reward people who have done exceptional work.

In an interview, Brown said people — including potential investors — often brush off Swept because the thought of janitorial software isn’t appealing. But he and Cooper frequently gain converts once they explain that their mission is to help improve the lives of cleaners and reduce turnover in the cleaning business. Brown has had speaking engagements on the topic in such locations as Las Vegas and Florida.

“We believe in Swept because their founding team is stacked with janitorial industry operators, and because their technology is ultimately about improving quality through improving community,” said iNovia Principal David Nault in an email. “Swept is helping employers and employees feel more connected. This is 100 percent in line with our vision as a fund.”

Brown also said the company, which is adding to its current staff level of 14, is gaining clients rapidly. In August, the company said it had had annual recurring revenue of US$440,000, and Brown said that during its three-month stint at 500 Startups it went from bringing on eight clients a month to 30.

With the new capital, Brown and Cooper plan to keep accelerating sales growth and improve their product. The company is now used widely enough that it is producing a critical mass of data, and the development team is working on using the data to improve clients’ efficiency. And, Brown says, it will continue to help them make life better for front-line cleaners.

“Clients realize that these people are important and you need to talk to them,” said Brown. “While other companies are creating software to track and control employees, we’re creating software that helps them out.”

Jobs: Swept, HeyOrca, Remsoft

A pair of job postings from janitorial software producer Swept head up our Jobs of the Week column today.

Fresh with about C$2.5 million in new financing, Halifax-based Swept is growing and is looking for Directors of Customer Success and Project Management. Other posting on the Entrevestor Job Board this week include openings for a remote Software and Infrastructure Architect with St. John’s-based HeyOrca, and a Project Manager with Remsoft of Fredericton.

Swept has designed software that can help cleaners, bosses and clients communicate on a mobile device. Its goal is to help cleaning companies support their cleaners, not just check up on them.

Read about Swept’s Latest Round of Funding

HeyOrca, which announced a $2 million raise in May, has been gaining a lot of buzz lately because its monthly recurring revenue has been increasing rapidly. As of May, its customer base had increased 800 percent in the past year, adding 160 new businesses. The customers listed on its website include Saatchi & Saatchi, Microsoft Studios, Hilton Head Island and TheSocialDiner.

Remsoft produces software that analyzes a client’s forests. The age, size, growth rate and other aspects of trees are examined in order to predict the best times to do simple things like get logs to market or predict which of thousands of trees may fall and damage a power line. The company has been adding staff as it moves to the cloud.

The Jobs of the Week column features openings posted on the Entrevestor Job Board, which focuses on jobs in technology, innovation and startups in Atlantic Canada. The Entrevestor Job Board helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and start-up communities and is operated by Entrevestor and Alongside.

Here are excerpts from the job postings:



Director of Customer Success

About You

You’re driven by measurable results and are comfortable being held accountable to the goals you set out for your team.You value well defined processes that help the team understand how to do things both efficiently and effectively.

You understand the distinction between customer success and customer support and why all B2B SaaS companies should have both. You’re passionate about building real relationships with your customers and know that it takes time, effort, and intent to do well.

What you’ll be doing

•Developing, managing and improving the automated activation program to convert trials to customers.

•Developing, managing and improving the customer adoption program to ensure customers are successfully using the features they have purchased.

•Work closely with product development to contribute and execute on the customer research program to ensure Swept is developing features and improvements that add measurable value to our customers. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

Director of Product Development

About You

You love the internet. Not because of all the awesome cat videos, but because of it’s amazing potential to affect positive change in the world. When it comes to your work, you’ve been described as “passionate” by your friends, family and co-workers.

You love working as part of a team and are excited to talk detail or blue sky to help solve problems. You’re at your best when you’re converting those blue sky ideas into tangible, usable, valuable things people will use.

You’re looking for your opportunity to take your game to the next level. Sound about right? Keep reading!

What you’ll be doing

•Define, lead, and execute a cohesive strategy related to Swept’s products.

•Working collaboratively with sales, marketing and development to deliver on that strategy.

•Stay intimately connected to our customer through qualitative and quantitative research you conduct.

•Manage, measure and analyze the ongoing list of feature requests from internal stakeholders (Swept Team) as well as external (customers) to ensure we are making decisions with data. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

St. John’s


Software and Infrastructure Architect

What is HeyOrca?

As a developer, you have probably done some freelance or consulting work. The success of such project relies on effective communication between you, your team and the external stakeholders of the project by defining goals, deliverables, collaborating on work and communicating the results. Marketing agencies work similarly: they help tens and hundreds of clients with their marketing strategy and content; all with different deadlines and deliverables. HeyOrca is a web-based tool to make sense of this chaos: bringing the marketing team and their clients together in one place to communicate, create and deliver. Think of it as GitHub for marketing agencies.

The wise one

At HeyOrca, our 8-10 developers are creating numerous features and refactoring a great deal over multiple technology stacks and containers. Getting things done sometimes prevents us from having things well thought out. That's why we need an experienced person who knows the way and its pitfalls: the wise one.

That's where you come in. We are looking for a software architect who has seen teams and software scale and can align our team efforts with a software and infrastructure architecture and design that benefits HeyOrca and its customers.

This position is open to remote applicants. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.



Project Manager

An integral role on the Remsoft Client Services team, the Project Manager directs and controls all project activities, including directing human resources and controlling costs, schedules and deliverables. With the support of the Client Services team members, the Project Manager manages, plans, and coordinates activities of projects to ensure that the goals and objectives of all projects are accomplished within prescribed time frame and funding parameters. Reporting to the Remsoft Director of Delivery, the successful candidate has a deep understanding of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and a proven track record of successfully performing in a project management capacity, within a professional services organization.


•Maintains open lines of communication between the Client Services team and the client

•Reviews requests for changes in scope, schedule, or budget prior to submission to the client

•Responsible for the day-to-day coordination and execution of project activities

•Responsible for overall project risk and quality management

•Defines and documents project plans, policies, and procedures

•Prepares and submits project status reports, as required

•Facilitates project status meetings and project review meetings

•Works with the Remsoft and client teams to facilitate project tasks and produce high quality work products and deliverables

•Maintains staffing plans

Read the complete job posting here. 

Deshpande To Open GCEC Event

Desh Deshpande

Desh Deshpande

Famed entrepreneur and philanthropist Desh Deshpande will officially open the 2017 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres Conference on Friday at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The consortium is a meeting place for university entrepreneurship facilities from around the world. The event in Halifax will discuss the role of these centres in the development of new companies and the education of students.

The event will be opened by Gururaj Deshpande, known to his friends as Desh, a University of New Brunswick grad who has financed entrepreneurship centres around the world. Best known in Atlantic Canada as a Co-Founder of the Pond-Deshpande Centre in Fredericton, Deshpande is a lifetime member of the MIT Corporation and the driving force behind MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation. The Deshpande Foundation strengthens ecosystems that create significant social and economic impact through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Deshpande’s opening remarks will be followed by two debates. The first will pitch education against acceleration. It will ask whether the primary mission of the university entrepreneurship centre is to educate students and provide the context for successful venturing or be economic generators producing talent for growing companies.

The second debate pits the centralized approach against the organic approach to entrepreneurship and innovation. Is the university entrepreneurship ecosystem best served by a centralized approach to reduce duplication of effort or by an organic approach that embraces orderly chaos?

Debate participants will include Mike Morris of the University of Florida, Ted Zoller from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Jeff Reid of Georgetown University and Alex DeNoble of San Diego State.

There will be a lunchtime address by veteran entrepreneur and investor Gerry Pond, the chair of Mariner Partners and East Valley Ventures. The conference is hosted by Dal, Saint Mary's University and UNB.

Registration is available here

Blue Solutions Contest Offers $200K

Entrants from around the world are being sought for a Nova Scotia competition designed to find solutions to ocean industry problems and offer about $200,000 in prize money.

The Blue Solutions Start-Up Challenge has been established by Innovacorp and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to provide cash and business guidance to winning entrepreneurs.

The contest is designed to build on the increasing ocean technology development across the region and to ignite the startup community in Nova Scotia, the partners said in a release.

Entrants must have a new knowledge-based product or service with annual sales revenue of less than $1 million.

Companies from around the world may apply, but winners must register as a business in Nova Scotia. Entrants must be the majority owner(s) of the venture and plan to work full-time with the business in Nova Scotia.

A judging committee of representatives from the private and public sectors will determine who receives financial support in Round 1, and who receives additional support at the end of Round 2.

As many as 10 Round 1 winners will receive grants of as much as $10,000 and guidance from seasoned business people. Up to 10 awards are anticipated for this round. Round 2 finalists will pitch their prototypes and business concepts to the judging committee, vying for up to $50,000 each. At least two awards are anticipated for this round.

Submissions will be evaluated on the quality of the product or service, industry knowledge and management experience, barriers to competitive entry, market size and credibility of plans to reach key milestones.

The deadline for submissions is this Thursday, Oct. 12 at 5 pm AST.

Submissions must be made online.


Disclosure: Innovacorp and ACOA are clients of Entrevestor.

Randell Wins EY’s Atlantic Award

Joe Randell, CEO of Chorus Aviation Inc., an organization that offers a full suite of aviation services, is this year’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Atlantic winner.

“Joe has played a vital role shaping the landscape of the Canadian airline industry,” Gina Kinsman, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Atlantic Program Director, said in a statement. “He’s navigated some turbulent times, but his strong management and entrepreneurial mindset has, and will continue, to guide him to success.”

Capping off a gala event in Moncton, EY recognized Randell for his passion for the airline industry. The passion developed when he completed a research study for the startup of a new airline as part of his MBA. This project laid the groundwork for the creation of Air Nova – one of the first classic regional carriers in Canada – serving five destinations in Atlantic Canada with two aircraft.

The airline was bought by Air Canada in 1991, but through the acquisition Randell continued to grow the airline to 22 aircraft serving 19 destinations. Looking to expand further, Randell consolidated Air Nova and Air Alliance, and was subsequently tasked with the consolidation of the other major regional operators in Canada. The newly merged company launched its new brand, Jazz, in 2002. Today, his company is Chorus Aviation – a corporation that owns Jazz Aviation, Voyageur Aviation and Chorus Aviation Capital.

“Joe has seen it all – from startup, growth and restructuring to mergers, acquisitions and rebranding,” said Kinsman. “He soars through with vision and passion to overcome complex challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Joe is the definition of a risk-taker, and we couldn’t be happier to recognize him with this award.”

Randell will now compete with top entrepreneurs from the Pacific, Prairies, Ontario and Quebec regions for the national honour of Canada’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017, to be presented at a gala celebration in November in Toronto. The winner of that competition will move to compete with more than 50 country recipients for the title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year.

EY also presented Gerry Pond, the head of East Valley Ventures and the dean of the tech movement in Atlantic Canada, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the event Thursday night.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Atlantic category winners are:

Business-to-Business Products and Services

Coach Atlantic Transportation Group | Charlottetown

Adam Doiron, Michael Cassidy

Business-to-Consumer Products and Services

Supplement King Canada | Dartmouth

Roger King

Emerging Entrepreneur

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. | Dartmouth

George Palikaras

Hospitality and Tourism

PAVIA Gallery - Espresso Bar & Cafe | Herring Cove

Victoria Foulger

Information Technology

Trihedral Engineering Limited | Bedford

Barry Baker, Glenn Wadden

Manufacturing and Construction

MQM Quality Manufacturing Ltd. | Tracadie-Sheila

Serge Theriault

Technology and Communications

Solace Power | Mount Pearl

Kris McNeil

SomaDetect Wins US$1M at 43North

Nicholas Clermont and Bethany Deshpande: Latest in a series of wins

Nicholas Clermont and Bethany Deshpande: Latest in a series of wins

Fredericton-based SomaDetect has won the US$1 million first prize in the 43Northcompetition in Buffalo, NY.

As well as giving the one-year-old company the equivalent of C$1.25 million, the win grants SomaDetect space at the 43North incubator in Buffalo for three year, and 10 years of paying no state taxes in New York State. Buffalo could prove a valuable U.S. base for the company as SomaDetect has used its time in upstate New York to gain letters of intent from 50 dairy farmers to be possible clients when its device is launched in March.

The win is only the latest in a series of successes for CEO Bethany Deshpande and her team. Already this year, they have placed second in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundations’ Breakthru competition, and was the co-winner at Communitech’s Fierce Founders bootcamp in Kitchener, Ont.

Founded by Deshpande and COO Nicholas Clermont, SomaDetect helps dairy farmers check the health of their herd quickly, accurately and precisely while testing the quality of their milk. Deshpande’s patented technology sends a laser beam through the milk as each cow is milked, instantly recording the fat content and somatic cell count, both of which indicate the presence of the disease mastitis and the quality of the milk. The farmer has the data instantly for each cow twice a day.

The Buffalo News quoted one judge in its article on 43North as being impressed with the Deshpande’s presentation in the finals of the $5 million competition.

"They were so buttoned up,” the newspaper quoted judge David Jakubowski, director of publisher solutions at Facebook, as saying. “The way they articulated the value proposition of why it was good for people, why it was good for cows. She has the potential to be the biggest CEO in dairy."

SomaDetect is now carrying out pilot projects in New Brunswick, and is already developing a network of potential clients in the U.S. The U.S. market will be important because the size and number of dairy farms is so much larger than in Canada.

In the spring, working with the Saint John sales-focused consultancy Momentum, SomaDetect toured Vermont to validate the international demand for its product. The Fredericton AgTech company signed letters of intent with three-quarters of the 80 farmers it met with during the trip.

Kitchener-based Suncayr, whose Spot product tells you when your sunscreen has worn off, captured a US$500,000 runner-up prize at 43North on Thursday. 

Solace Appoints Gotlieb as CEO

As it raises its Series A funding round, Solace Power of Mount Pearl, NL, has named Michael Gotlieb as CEO to guide the company alongside Founder and President Kris McNeil.

Solace Power specializes in wireless power – that is, delivering electrical energy to batteries or devices without any wires attached to them. It works on projects for specific customers, such as Boeing and data solutions company Byrne, and then licenses the technology to them.

A company spokesperson said Gotlieb will be focused on increasing licensing opportunities for Solace while working with McNeil to streamline other areas of the business as it expands.

"Michael's experience driving commercial opportunities and executing corporate strategy make him an ideal fit to lead Solace through the next stage of growth," said Solace Chair Gordon Conlin in the statement. "Under Michael's leadership, we have a strong team in place that's focused on increasing market opportunities."

Gotlieb joins Solace from wireless power solutions provider, NuCurrent, where he led all customer interactions and guided the strategy and product roadmap. Gotlieb's 25-year global technology career includes experience in embedded electronics, analog/power, software and services across a multitude of end markets.

Gotlieb has served in several strategic leadership roles including Motorola and its IPO spin out, Freescale Semiconductor.  At Freescale, Gotlieb was instrumental in creating the turnaround strategy resulting in the sale of the company for $17.6 billion.

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"Solace provides compelling technology for a diverse set of customers and applications. I look forward to helping deliver on Solace's full potential and on the differentiated advantages of RC2," said Gotlieb. "Wireless power is experiencing tremendous expansion in awareness, product exploration and first-generation implementation. Next generation solutions, like Solace's, will ignite a much larger movement to re-architect and reconsider existing power transfer solutions."

Also on Thursday, McNeil claimed the first prize for the Technology and Communications category at Atlantic EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 in Moncton.

With 35 employees, Solace has been bringing capital into the company to fuel the growth. It is now in the process of raising Series A financing, though the spokesperson declined to provide details, such as how much it hopes to raise. Since the beginning of June, Solace Power has announced a total of $3.3 million in government financing and a US$2.3 million investment from Lockheed Martin. The company previously raised funding from the First Angel Network. 

The company said Gotlieb is joining a strong executive team comprising seasoned leaders in the commercialization of disruptive technologies, including: McNeil; Neil Chaulk, Vice-President of Business Development; Magnus Nyberg, Vice-President of Engineering; and Frank Iadipaolo, Chief Financial Officer.

Solace Power made the announcement at the Wireless Power Summit in Denver, where it is showcasing its RC wireless power technology.

Stash Explores Energy Storage Systems

Jordan Kennie: 'We aim to store as much energy as possible.'

Jordan Kennie: 'We aim to store as much energy as possible.'

With heat pump technology improving and the devices becoming more popular, Fredericton’s Stash Energy is well positioned to build a business around storing that energy.

Stash co-founder and CEO Jordan Kennie believes Stash is the only energy storage venture in North America that is working with heat pumps. The startup intends to sell energy storage by partnering with utility companies.

Kennie said working with heat pumps is complicated by the fact that they work at low temperatures. Stash’s answer is a chemical solution that stores heat energy at 40-50 C — baseboard heaters or furnaces work at around 60-70 C, he said. The team is currently preparing to patent its technology.

Kennie said there were problems with early types of heat pumps — some didn’t work well at low temperatures, for instance. But he said heat pump technology and efficiency have improved.

“Most new homes being built in the Maritimes are now being fitted with heat pumps,” he said.

“The North American market for heat pumps was worth $2 billion to $3 billion in 2008 and is now worth $7 billion to $8 billion.”

He said heat pumps are more efficient than other common forms of heating. They also cool buildings in summer, vastly expanding Stash’s potential market.

The Stash system works with conventional heat pumps to thermally store energy. The stored energy reduces peak electricity consumption and allows use of more electricity from renewable sources.

“We aim to store as much energy as possible,” Kennie said. “For example, if the wind is blowing at night, that energy can be stored.”

The startup is midway through a pilot project with P.E.I. utility company Summerside Electric. The company’s website states that 46 per cent of Summerside’s electricity comes from wind power, the highest percentage on the continent.

Kennie said Stash’s three co-founders are currently in the process of closing a pre-seed investment round. This round will help them finance their initial work with several regional utility companies. They intend to begin with other small utility companies, like Summerside.

“We don’t want big clients to start off and bankrupt ourselves. We want to grow organically,” he said.

NBIF Backed 29 Startups in 2016-17

In time, the company will need to get outside the region and into other markets. The federal government’s trade commission services are already helping Kennie make international contacts. Stash is also in talks with utility companies that own power companies in the Maritimes and across the Americas.

The Stash team — Kennie, chief operations officer Daniel Larsen, and Erik Hatfield, chief technology officer, met at the University of New Brunswick when they were all taking electrical and computer engineering.

Larsen went on to focus on power systems and utility grids, Hatfield focused on computer engineering. Kennie enjoyed electrical engineering and technology but gradually realized he didn’t want to be an engineer.

In 2015, the last year of their electrical engineering degree, he, Larsen and Hatfield took the school’s technology management and entrepreneurship (TME) diploma program. They designed an energy storage system for heat pumps that became the foundation for Stash Energy.

It was a turning point for Kennie.

“We learned how to commercialize technology and I fell in love with that side of things,” he said.

Kennie has since received a master’s degree in TME from UNB and was recently awarded Startup Canada’s 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Stash has also made it onto UNB’s new Energia accelerator for companies in the energy, cleantech and cybersecurity fields.

Like others in the cleantech space, Kennie is passionate about his subject.

“Our big vision is to try to enhance renewable energy,” he said.

“You hear all the time about coal and diesel generators that run only on the coldest days of the year. We are wasting a lot of money on environmentally terrible ways of producing power. We hope to not have that happen anymore. This is our part of the answer.”

Innovacorp Unveils Spark Shortlist

Innovacorp on Thursday revealed the shortlist for its Spark competition, which will award a total of $800,000 in non-dilutive capital to startups across the province.

The innovation agency said in August its Spark competition would provide grants of $10,000 to $50,000 to each winner. The competition breaks the province into four zones, and will award $200,00 in each area.

There were 136 submissions, and the following companies will move on in the competition:


Campaign EA – Todd Graham – Sydney

Election campaign management software provided through mobile and desktop applications – Todd Chant, Kevin Chant – Sydney

Golf tournament management platform

GoGo Groceries – Jay McNeil – Glace Bay

Personalized grocery shopping and delivery service

Hydrotroniks – Scott Aucoin, Stephane Sogne, Joel Lefort – Cheticamp

Carbon neutral alternative to fossil fuel boat engines through electric energy storage and propulsion options

Ingenuity Products Solutions – Hisham Sleem – Sydney

Natural haircare products that use ingredients extracted from potatoes to reduce pollution and toxic risks

Mirovia Ocean Technologies – Craig Phillips, Kent Simpson – Louisdale

Technology to predict road and marine traffic to reduce congestion, greenhouse gases and accidents

Navita Digital – Scott Samson, Louisbourg Seafoods, VMP Group – North Sydney

Applications that make it easier to visualize, share, interpret and use ocean data

Phased In – Eric Lortie, Alban Gray, Dan Hooper, Allyson White – Sydney

Augmented reality technology powering a mobile gaming experience

Talem Health Analytics – Paul Travis, Matthew Kay – Sydney

Software for physiotherapists and orthopedic specialists to track, analyze and predict treatment regimens

Tapnbe – Ron Campbell – Dominion 

Technology that lets companies easily engage with customers on their smartphones

TrAIner – Shea Munro – Sydney

App that monitors workout techniques and suggests adjustments to avoid injury


Aurea – Cat Adalay – Halifax

Urban wind energy system for highrises that generates electricity from wind tunnels

Axem – Tony Ingram, Christopher Friesen – Halifax

Wearable technology with built-in sensors to track brain activity and improve athletes’ mental training

Graphite Innovation and Technology – Mohamed Algermozi, Marciel Gaier – Halifax

Graphene-related products customized for specific applications and technologies, such as underwater vessels

Home Except – John Robertson – Halifax 

Technology that provides non-intrusive monitoring of seniors for families and caregivers

IOBIO – Guy Earle, S. Aiken – Halifax 

Multi-purpose clinical data collection platform for researchers and clinicians

NovaResp – Hamed Hanafi – Halifax

Breathing support devices enabling patients with sleep apnea to breathe more easily and comfortably

Play the Field – Kara Holm, Helen MacMillan – Halifax

Mobile game featuring augmented reality to simulate entertaining consumer experiences to attract new clients

SaySo Communication – Pam Streeter, Elizabeth Allard – Halifax

Children’s digital media products that increase collaboration, critical thinking and social communication

Trip Ninja – Andres Collart, Brett Ziegler – Halifax

Navigation tool for flexible, multi-destination travelers to find the most cost-effective route

UpFront – Conor Daly, Kyle Gardiner – Halifax

Ticketing and event management platform that uses blockchain technology to eliminate scalping and fraud


BidSquid Online Marketplace – David Hachey – Scotsburn

Online marketplace for local food where farmers can reach new buyers

BioPolyOil – Mostafa Aghaei, Alma Zangeneh, Arian Shahnazari – Bible Hill

Agri-based technology for applications in the oil and gas industry

Chuck Creations – Glen Simon – Antigonish

Silicone skin and body parts for medical prosthetics and tattoo artist practice

Fintech Innovations – Aaron Stevenson – Debert

Smart devices and an on-board data management system that alert vessel crews of external dangers

iCrowdX – Sean Sears – Antigonish

Natural, fruit-based drinks with health benefits

Oceland Biologicals – Balakrishnan Prithiviraj – Bible Hill

Plant biostimulants that improve the growth, yield and resilience of crops to increase farmers’ incomes


Alias Earth – Jim Dorey – Morden

Database of virtual sets for the entertainment industry

DevScript – David Pratt – South Greenwood

App that provides secure communication, file sharing and synchronization to enable team collaboration

Electric Puppets – Ryan Cameron – Chester

Virtual reality-based solution for the IWK Eye Care Clinic to improve diagnostic and therapeutic tools

Finleaf Technologies – Myrna Gillis – Brooklyn

Aquaponics system that enables the delivery of supplemental nutrients to flowering plants

Fundy Language Analytics – Marion Meudt, John Read – Wolfville

Software that lets English language learners practice pronunciation and fluency

Hydra – Nic Strum, Bruce Strum – Mahone Bay

Groundwater monitoring system using hydrogeological theory to enable safe access to water

Lobster Made Easy – Mark Lowe – Mahone Bay 

Trap monitoring system that lets fishers on land receive data on what is in their traps

Nexus Robotics – Teric Greenan, Jad Tawil, Thomas Trappenberg – Bass Corner

Autonomous farming robot that navigates its environment and performs agricultural tasks

nGageIT Digital Health Solutions – Jennifer Murdoch – Annapolis Royal

App to track and improve medication adherence in real-time

Phycus Biotechnologies – Vik Pandit – Wolfville

Technology that allows CO2 emissions to be converted into everyday products such as plastics

SURU – Michael Uhlarik – Hubbards 

Zero-emission, electric-powered bicycles that let users travel 50 km without fuel or pedaling


Disclosure: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.

Durland in LifeRaft’s $1.45M Round

John Gallinaugh: 'We tripled our revenues from last year.'

John Gallinaugh: 'We tripled our revenues from last year.'

LifeRaft, the Halifax company whose platform uncovers potential threats through social media posts, has brought in noted investor Mike Durland to its team as an investor and adviser.

The company said today that Durland led a “non-dilutive” $1.45 million financing round, and will now become a strategic adviser to the company. The round, which comprises three investors, is non-dilutive (meaning it will not further dilute the founders’ holdings) because Durland and his co-investors are buying out previous investors. LifeRaft would not reveal the exiting investors, but CEO John Gallinaugh said it was a friendly transaction.

Launched in 2014, LifeRaft identifies threatening keywords, such as “kill” and “gun,” on social media sources like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It filters the findings so only the most important information is communicated to the client. Once Liferaft’s clients have been alerted about someone using suspicious terms, they can drill into any post to better understand the context of an individual’s comments.

“This is a strategic round that will allow us to significantly advance our growth and development plans,” said Gallinaugh in a statement. “Leading this round is Mike Durland, a sophisticated investor, who sees the value in our solution and clearly recognizes the potential of Liferaft. Mike is a welcomed addition to our team.”

In an interview, Gallinaugh said LifeRaft is in “good shape financially” and is not poised to raise more money immediately. The company, which raised $2 million in March 2016, has a staff of 20 people and is building up both its sales and development teams.  It has clients in about 12 countries with a concentration in such sectors as financial services, insurance and utilities.

“We’ve managed to get very focused in the space we’re in,” he said. “We tripled our revenues from last year and this year we’ve set a goal to double it again. But what we’ve found is it’s about creating awareness and getting in front of the right people and we’re getting better at that now.”

Manifold Builds its Network with US$15M Raise

A native of Middleton, N.S., Durland is the former Group Head and Chief Executive Officer of Global Banking & Markets at The Bank of Nova Scotia.

Since making a large donation to St. Mary’s University’s Master of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program two years ago, Durland has become a force in the Halifax startup ecosystem. He led an $8.5 million investment round in indoor farming concern TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, and is listed as a board director at the blockchain solutions company PeerLedger. He was recently named an associate at the Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic. Now he’s adding LifeRaft to the list.

“As technology advances, we need to be continually analyzing how it impacts our security operations,” said Durland in the statement. “LifeRaft’s software offering is truly revolutionizing the way critical information is identified and turned into actionable intelligence.”

LifeRaft was recently named one of the Top 25 Up and Coming ICT companies in Canada by Branham Group Inc. The Canadian Trade Commissioners Office also chose LifeRaft to take part in the Canadian Technology Accelerator program in New York City.  

Mary Jane Leslie, LifeRaft’s Director of Sales & Marketing, said the CTA program is helping the company connect with advertising and marketing people in New York and build out its network. The company is planning four more trips to New York this year.

Oceans Contest Offers China Access

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones

A new startup competition in the OceanTech space is offering competitors cash prizes of as much as US$70,000 (C$87,5000) as well as access to the Chinese market.

Halifax is one of a handful of cities around the world that will host regional competitions for the 2017 Global Marine Technology Entrepreneurship Competition. These will be the entry points for the final competition in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao in November. The winners will receive mentorship, cash and office space in China.

Entries for the Halifax competition close on Oct. 17. For more information about entering the competition, contact Carolyn Clegg at

“The structure of the competition is open and done so on purpose to encompass a wide range of applicants,” said Stephen Jones, the CEO of Halifax-based 4Deep Inwater Imaging and the Executive Chair of the competition. “It could be companies of any size, individual entrepreneurs or savvy business students for example. There is also no set standard for the technological level of readiness so long as the innovation has broad commercial attractiveness.”

Hosted by Shandong University and Qingdao City, the competition is intended to be a pathway for entrepreneurs that want access to Chinese capital and markets.

There two themes in the competition -- Theme I is Marine Science and Technologies; and Theme II is Robotics, Life and Health Sciences, Smart Hardware, Artificial Intelligence, New Energy, Internet and Information Technology, Environmental Protection and others.

For the final competition, the prize money in each theme is: one first prize of US$70,000; two second prizes of US$43,000; and three third prizes of US$15,000 .

Regional contests will be held in Silicon Valley, Chicago and Boston in U.S.; Toronto and Halifax in Canada; as well as in other centres in England, Germany, France and China. There will also be an online competition.

Two winners from each region will be flown to Qingdao for the finals. The winners of the Halifax competition, which is Co-Sponsored by Dalhousie University, will receive pitch training from Andrew Ray of Innovacorp and Permjot Valia, CEO of MentorCamp, before traveling to China.

The Halifax pitching competition will be held Oct. 24 at the McInnes Cooper offices, Purdy’s Wharf II, in Halifax.

“I look forward to seeing the quality and breadth of entries and it is my hope that the selected winner form the Halifax event ends up going to Qingdao in November and winning the entire competition,” said Jones. “Doing so would represent a massive opportunity.”

PEI Ignition Fund Backs 10 Startups

The government of Prince Edward Island has announced that 10 young companies will receive Ignition grants of $25,000 each to develop their products or services.

The government said Tuesday the grants would be awarded to the companies to help commercialize their new products. The government created the Ignition Fund in 2014, and since then it has assisted 38 new or expanding Island businesses.

 “I am confident this support will be a great asset to these ambitious, innovative companies as they move forward with their business plans and cutting-edge ideas,” Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald said in a statement. “For a small province we have a large number of dreamers and doers – and the Ignition Fund is one more way we are helping Islanders turn their big dreams into reality.”

This year’s recipients, and the aim of the grants, are:

Exit Speed Inc. – To patent and market an innovative training apparatus that will increase baseball or softball players' bat speed and power.

Island Aquatech – To commercialize a novel oyster cage flipper that provides a simple and cost-effective method for flipping oyster cages.

Redrock Power Systems – To develop and commercialize zero-emissions fuel cell solutions for use in the marine industry by working with world-leading suppliers and industry-leading customers.

Fresh Start Fauxmage – To produce nut-based, dairy-free, vegan cheese alternatives in a variety of flavours.

Lighters Candle Company – To produce all-natural soy wax candles and home products.

MacWorth Industries – To produce the Highway Safety Prevention Bar, a safety device intended for use on school buses.

Taylor Pharmaceuticals – To develop and manufacture a hybrid high flow nasal irrigation device.

The Bony Broth Co. – To increase production, to enable export, and to develop new products.

FieldEtect – To commercialize a handheld device to that will permit DNA identification of known pathogens in the agriculture sector.

Cradle Technology Design Inc. - To develop an innovative urinalysis device to provide athletes with reliable, informative, and empowering health data to help optimize their performance.


Disclosure: The P.E.I. government is a client of Entrevestor.

NC Client Adds CarbonCure Systems

CarbonCure Technologies says one of its major clients has installed its technology at two more of its concrete production facilities.

Dartmouth-based Carboncure this week distributed an announcement by North Carolina-based Concrete Supply Co., saying that it has installed the systems in two more of its facilities. It means three CSC plants around the Greater Charlotte area now use CarbonCure technology to reduce carbon emissions.

This kind of expansion is in line with the growth strategy devised by CarbonCure. The rapidly expanding company aims for growth in part from getting existing customers to install its technology across multiple sites.  

CarbonCure’s technology – which is now used by more than 60 concrete producers across North America -- recycles waste carbon dioxide into concrete. The CO2 is permanently converted into a solid mineral within the concrete. The addition of CO2 also improves the concrete’s compressive strength.

The press release states that CarbonCure is part of a growing industry of CO2-utilization technologies that are expected to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent by 2030. The company is one of 23 semi-finalists in the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE challenge, which has been called the Nobel prize for climate technologies.

CSC has nearly 90 facilities across the Carolinas.

In August, CarbonCure said it had been selected to help produce environmentally friendly construction materials for the California High-Speed Rail project. The company said it has partnered with Outback Materials of Fresno, Calif., which will install CarbonCure’s technology at its Fresno plant. That means the plant will consume rather than emit waste carbon during the production of concrete for several projects, including the high-speed rail project.

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