Manifold Builds Network with Series A

Jevon MacDonald: 'The modern development stack is complex.'

Jevon MacDonald: 'The modern development stack is complex.'

Manifold, the company that helps software developers access services with ease, has raised a Series A round of US$15 million (C$18.5 million) from a pool of blue-chip investors across the continent.

The Series A round was led by OMERS Ventures, of Toronto. The other institutional members are BoldStart Ventures of New York, Leaders Fund of Atlanta and Toronto, Version One Ventures of Vancouver and San Francisco, Build Ventures of Halifax, and Amplify Partners of Menlo Park, Calif. The funding includes investment from angel investors Alex Bard, Daniel Debow, Matt Wyndowe and Gavin Uhma.

Based in Halifax and San Francisco, Manifold provides a single platform on which developers can access a range of services, thereby simplifying the process of building digital products. Software developers often need an array of services that they can incorporate into their products to accelerate the development process. But finding and accessing all these services can be cumbersome.

Manifold allows developers to easily find, buy, and manage their favorite services without being locked into a single cloud platform. With Manifold, developers are no longer restricted by the confines of any particular cloud, allowing them to create stacks tailored specifically for their project needs.

"The modern development stack is complex,” said CEO and Co-Founder Jevon MacDonald in a statement. “Until now, there has been no easy way for developers to discover and manage the mix of services needed to create modern applications without resorting to the one-size-fits-all offerings of the monoclouds. … Manifold has set out to change this, by providing a simple way for the best developers to connect with their favorite service providers."

MacDonald is best known as the former CEO of GoInstant, the Halifax-based co-browsing startup that raised $1.7 million in 2011, and sold out to Salesforce.com a year later for more than $70 million.

Major Atlantic Canadian VC Financings of 2016-17

Company Raise Lead Investor
Manifold US$15M OMERS Ventures, Toronto
Resson US$11M Monsanto Growth, San Francisco
Kinduct  US$9M Intel Capital, Santa Clara, Calif.
TruLeaf $8.5M Mike Durland, Toronto
Metamaterial Tech $8.3M Radar Capital, Toronto
Sequence Bio US$3M Data Collective, Palo Alto, Calif. 

The big difference in the early funding of GoInstant and Manifold is the size of the round. In 2011, MacDonald knocked on investors’ doors throughout Silicon Valley, assembling a group of blue chip investors who chipped in less than $2 million in a concept.

With Manifold, MacDonald has foregone a public announcement of a seed-round and gone right to a Series A, announcing an initial round about 10 times bigger than GoInstant’s. It signals that his ambitions for this company greatly exceed what he had in mind for GoInstant.

“Manifold is addressing a massive opportunity,” said Build Ventures Partner Patrick Keefe in an interview. “They are developing a platform for finding and managing microservices that developers build into their products. Now they’re properly capitalized. That’s not the type of opportunity you’d want to go after without adequate capital.”

Yet again, the important thing to note is the prestige and geographic makeup of the investor pool. These investors are spread across the U.S. and Canada, meaning Manifold’s network can extend into major markets across the continent. Even the angel investors are impressive – Uhma was MacDonald’s co-founder at GoInstant; Toronto-based Debow is a former Senior Vice-President at Salesforce; Bard is Managing Director at San Francisco-based Redpoint Ventures; and Wyndowe is the Head of Product Partnerships at Uber in San Francisco.

The Manifold Series A may be the largest VC deal ever in the region. There have been larger investment rounds, though they have tended to be more in the private equity realm rather than pure venture capital. The deal announced Thursday adds to the list of major funding rounds announced by Atlantic Canadian companies in the past 15 months, many led by VC funds in the San Francisco area. In the last 15 months, a total of C$64 million has flowed into Atlantic Canadian startups from rounds of more than C$3 million each. 

The round is also a win for Build Ventures, the Halifax-based VC fund that is financed largely by four Atlantic Provinces. Build has been involved in the two largest deals announced in Atlantic Canada in the last year – Manifold and Resson – and continues to expand its roster of co-investors.

Manifold, which now employs 25 people, was vague about what the funds will be used for, saying it intends to expand in both Halifax and San Francisco and add new product features.

“The opportunity in the developer services market is huge, and none of the major cloud players are focused on fostering the developer services ecosystem like the team at Manifold is,” OMERS Ventures Partner Brian Kobus said in a statement. “We are investing in Manifold because we believe their vision for the future of the industry is the right one, and this launch will be the first step in creating a new category of businesses within the cloud economy.”

Startup Education Gained in Africa

Florian Villaume: 'The difficult environment helps bring people together.'

Florian Villaume: 'The difficult environment helps bring people together.'

As he gets into stride in his new role as director of Memorial University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, French-born Florian Villaume keeps in mind what he learned working in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Villaume’s six years in Africa taught him how communities isolated by geography and climate can thrive by striving for the common good. Since assuming his St. John’s-based role in March, Villaume has been struck by some similarities between Sub-Saharan Africa and Atlantic Canada.

“In Atlantic Canada, there’s some of the isolation and strong sense of community I saw in Africa,” he said. “The difficult environment helps bring people together. It can be hard to succeed in isolated environments.

“By leveraging the power of strong community we can create a strong vision and something special — an ecosystem that reflects the values of the community here.”

Villaume said listening was important in Africa, where he met many creative and entrepreneurial people.

“I got to know the culture, living for one year in a village in the desert,” he said. “I wanted to help create change but I didn’t want to be a wise guy from a different country — I saw a lot of that.”

An engineer by training, Villaume first came to Canada in 2004 to complete his master’s degree in fluid mechanics at Laval University in Quebec City.

After graduating, he volunteered to work in Africa on water and sanitation projects with Engineers without Borders.

While there, he co-designed and co-managed five international programs, including the Kumvana Program, which brings leaders from Africa and Canada together. (In the Chichewa dialect of Malawi, Kumvana means “unite so we may discuss and understand.”)

Kumvana had an $8-million fund to support small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises. It was linked to an investment fund of $50 million, funded in part by the Canadian government. Three entrepreneurs it supported were officially recognized as leaders by then-President Barack Obama in 2014 and 2015.

Invest Atlantic Holds its First Conference in St. John's

Villaume also co-founded “le playground” in Canada, a school that provides leadership courses and interventions.

He said his interest in Africa likely stems from childhood. He was born in Mulhouse, a city in eastern France, and lived in a poor area with many immigrants. One of his best friends was from West Africa.

Villaume suffered from scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and wore a brace from age seven to 15. When he was eight years old, his teacher asked him to draw himself and he drew a simple curved line.

“People can be tough with others who are different,” he said. “I grew up wanting to do something meaningful . . . I wanted to study engineering in Quebec — something called me to Canada . . . I’m driven by the need to make an impact.”

He and his wife Lenga, whom he met in Burkina Faso, along with their two boys, are settling into life in St. John’s. He sees an opportunity to contribute.

“Oil and gas are not as strong as they were. There is lots of opportunity to diversify the economy and change how we invest in students and entrepreneurs,” he said.

Like many in the community, he believes in greater regional co-operation, and better branding and connections between organizations that support entrepreneurs.

He said Memorial’s Centre for Entrepreneurship is working with the University of New Brunswick’s Pond-Deshpande Centre to take students from both universities on an educational tour of Boston. The pilot project has two goals: to invest in early-stage entrepreneurs and to help build the ecosystem at Memorial.

He knows that being an outsider is both enabling and limiting.

“It’s important for me to empower people that have a deep understanding of the context here,” he said. “All outsiders have their biases. I bring my own ideas, but I listen carefully to what’s emerging.”

ADI Wins BioNB Achievement Award

ADI Director of Business Development José Molina, second from left, accepted the award

ADI Director of Business Development José Molina, second from left, accepted the award

Fredericton-based ADI Systems was presented the New Brunswick Bioscience Achievement Award on Thursday by BioNB, New Brunswick’s bioscience agency.

BioNB presented the award, sponsored by McInnes Cooper, at an event called Innovation at the Market. More than 150 members of the business and research community gathered to celebrate the substantial growth in the province’s bioscience sector in recent years.

ADI Systems provides wastewater treatment and waste-to-energy technologies for industrial processors around the world. This includes many household names such as The Kraft Heinz Company and The Kellogg Company.

ADI Systems has also completed successful wastewater treatment projects locally—including a system at Old Dutch Snack Foods in Hartland, NB. The company is currently working on a large-scale project at Lake Utopia Paper, a J.D. Irving Company.

ADI Systems was founded in New Brunswick nearly 30 years ago and has successfully expanded over the years to build a global presence. In the process, it has created many employment opportunities for New Brunswick residents, helping grow the local economy, said a statement from BioNB.

“We are honoured to accept the New Brunswick Bioscience Achievement Award,” said Shannon Grant, President of ADI Systems. “The award brings light to our humble N.B. roots, and showcases how a local company can compete on a global scale.”

The New Brunswick Bioscience Achievement Award is given out every year to an individual, company or research team who has made outstanding contributions to the growth and promotion of the sector. The previous winners include Sylvar Technologies, LaForge Bioenvironmental and LuminUltra Technologies.

The other finalists for the achievement award this year were: Chris Baker of IPSNP Computing; SomaDetect, a start-up and finalist in NBIF’s Breakthru Competition, and Murray McLaughlin of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.

PEI’s BioVectra Opens New Facilities

Charlottetown drug manufacturer BioVectra Inc. on Thursday announced the opening of its new flagship warehouse and process development suites.

The company said in a statement the new 21,000-square-foot warehouse enhances BioVectra’s ability to grow with the global demand for its products and services. Equipped with 400 pallet positions, the new warehouse also provides the opportunity to grow with built-in expansions.

Founded in 1970 by J. Regis Duffy, then Dean of Science at the University of Prince Edward Island, BioVectra now manufactures products for drugmakers around the world. In 2013, its founders sold BioVectra for up to $100 million to Questcor Pharmaceuticals of Anaheim, Calif.

“A vibrant and successful BioScience cluster holds one of the keys to continued growth and prosperity for Canada,” BioVectra President Oliver Technow said in the statement. “BioVectra is well positioned as a leader in the highly competitive market we participate in, capitalizing on our unique capabilities, 300 tremendously skilled employees and unwavering commitment to quality.”

He added the company’s recent and future investments demonstrate its ability to remain competitive and to be at the global forefront of innovation. “Our new, state-of-the-art warehouse meets our business needs of today and the future, exemplifying our dedication to grow further,” he said.

BioVectra’s opening coincides with Global Biotech Week, a Canadian initiative that originated in 2003 to raise awareness of the industry and its global potential.

With a total investment of $4M, the new warehouse is equipped with a devoted loading dock, dedicated sampling rooms, robust security system and tight temperature controls to keep products at their required temperatures.

“Global Biotech Week provides an important opportunity to recognize and celebrate biotechnology innovation and the role it plays in addressing environmental and health challenges,” President and CEO of BIOTECanada Andrew Casey said. “Canada is one of a number of nations that are home to thriving and diverse biotechnology ecosystems which are developing game changing and life altering innovations.”

Meanwhile, BIOTECanada on Thursday recognized one of BioVectra’s former executives Ron Keefe, presenting him with the Gold Leaf Award for contributions to the association.

Keefe was CEO of BioVectra for 11 years and is now the CEO of the Regis Duffy BioScience Fund Inc., a private venture fund targeting science based businesses. He is a past Director and Chairman of the Maritime Electric and a current member and past Chairman of the Board of the PEI BioAlliance Inc.

Leach Named CEED Education Head

Ed Leach, long known as half of the team of “Ed and Mary” at LaunchDal, has a new title. He is now Director of Education at the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education & Development.

Leach until recently was Director of the Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship at Dalhousie University. In that role, he worked with his wife Mary Kilfoil to develop Dalhousie’s Starting Lean program and LaunchDal, the umbrella group for launching startups at the university.  

In joining CEED he will help to develop entrepreneurship training and best practice throughout Nova Scotia.

“Dr. Leach is an expert in the field of entrepreneurship education and his addition to the CEED team is part of repositioning our programs and services,” CEED President and CEO Craig MacMullin said in a statement. “Over the next year, CEED will be refreshing its programming and extending its reach throughout the province.  Dr. Leach’s expertise and experience in program development will be an integral part of that repositioning.”

The statement said Leach is a distinguished author of several papers on the subject of entrepreneurship and is a recognized expert in Lean Startup methodologies. He was also the driving force behind Canada’s Business Model Competition, which has attracted student entrepreneurs from across the country for five years.

CEED has been concerned with the issues of entrepreneurship education for over 20 years. It provides assistance to prospective entrepreneurs by providing assistance in business planning, training and early-stage debt financing through the Urban Seed Capital Initiative and the Self-Employment Benefits program. 

In addition, CEED offers workshops and camps for primary and secondary school students throughout the province designed to develop entrepreneurial skills and behaviors, as well as delivering the Youth Employment Skills Program on behalf of the Department of Community Services.

Manifold Raises US$15M Round

Manifold, the company that helps software developers assimilate a range of services, has raised a Series A round of US$15 million (C$18.5 million).

Manifold was founded by Jevon MacDonald, the former CEO of GoInstant, which was acquired by Salesforce.com in 2012 for more than US$70 million. Based in Halifax and San Francisco, the new company provides a single platform on which developers can access a range of services, thereby simplifying the process of building products.

The Series A round was led by OMERS Ventures, of Toronto. The other institutional members are BoldStart Ventures of New York, Leaders Fund of Atlanta and Toronto, Version One Ventures of Vancouver and San Francisco, Build Ventures of Halifax, and Amplify Partners of Menlo Park, Calif. The funding includes investment from angel investors Alex Bard, Daniel Debow, Matt Wyndowe and Gavin Uhma.

“The opportunity in the developer services market is huge, and none of the major cloud players are focused on fostering the developer services ecosystem like the team at Manifold is,” OMERS Ventures Partner Brian Kobus said in a statement. “We are investing in Manifold because we believe their vision for the future of the industry is the right one, and this launch will be the first step in creating a new category of businesses within the cloud economy.”

270 Attend Invest Atlantic in St. John’s

Invest Atlantic, which bills itself as East Coast Canada’s largest networking event for entrepreneurs and investors, hopped the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the first time this week and came to St. John’s.

Having been held in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for the past seven years, the two-day startup event was held in Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday and Wednesday with a theme of building networks.

 “This is your opportunity to create your own network – do not miss that opportunity,” local businessman and conference chair Paul Antle told the 270-strong audience, setting the tone for the conference.

Get collaborative, the conference slogan urged. Get innovative. Get global.

Dividers between adjoining conference rooms at the Sheraton Hotel encouraged this spirit of making partnerships, as did the back-to-back lineups at the luncheon buffets.

Young entrepreneurs, including students, made up two-thirds of the crowd – the largest percentage ever at Invest Atlantic and one of the conference’s biggest successes, said conference organizer Bob Williamson.

Among the entrepreneurs was 28-year-old Otito Atansi of Saint John, N.B., who arrived in Canada from Nigeria eight years ago. He recently co-founded Sankara Cuisine, a distribution service for ethnic food prepared by immigrant cooks.

He was looking for advice on how to make the next move for his startup, which already delivers an average of 80 plates of food a day.

“Right now we want to have a marketing specialist,” he said. “But our budget doesn’t allow us to do that.”

Anne Whelan, UNB Shine at Regional Startup Canada Awards

The two days in which he participated were filled with workshops on a wide range of topics, from turning ideas into business models to partnering with the right kind of investors as the enterprise develops.

The message from seasoned investors was clear: it’s the potential, not the immediate profit, that they’re interested in. As for manner of approach, they like confidence, prefer courtesy over pushiness, and are put off by pitches that are ill prepared.

Still, the message throughout was a constant reminder that there is a support network in place. It sees entrepreneurs and investors as part of one ecosystem in which collaboration plays a key role.     

Attendance at the St. John’s edition of Invest Atlantic shows that this network is growing. When Invest Atlantic launched in Halifax seven years ago, it drew about 150 people, including seven investors with $12 million to invest, said the organizers. Attendance this year was 270, with 33 investors offering up to $250 million.

“We want the private sector to create the jobs,” Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball assured the opening luncheon. “Let them do it. We provide the environment.”

Williamson agrees governments are getting better at doing their part but added nothing can replace the increasingly productive networking inside the entrepreneurial community itself. He said he knew of at least four deals made at the conference.

What would a two-day business pow-wow be without some friendly competition? Ten entrepreneurs, all from Newfoundland, pitched their business ideas to juries of seasoned investors. 

Alex Robbins of Drone NL won the one-minute pitch for investment with a software application that would simplify the permit process for his drone service. He won a $5,000 cash prize.

Emily Bland of Project Sucseed won the two-minute pitch with her presentation of a hydroponic unit that allows families to grow fresh produce in their own homes. She won $2,000 in cash and a market analysis of her project worth $40,000.

Otito Atansi, the food services entrepreneur from New Brunswick, did not find his marketing specialist. But he admitted he learned a few important lessons. For example, he learned his food delivery service is not as unique as he had believed it to be.

He realizes he needs to add something special to attract the interest he thinks his idea deserves and needs.

Disclosure: Invest Atlantic is a client of Entrevestor. 

Sydney To Host Skaled Sales Event

The Cape Breton startup community will present a two-day seminar on sales techniques in the digital marketplace – a curriculum designed to attract participants from other parts of Atlantic Canada.

Momentum Cape Breton, the new group coordinating entrepreneurship efforts on the island, is hosting the seminar Oct. 2 and 3, which will be conducted by the New York-based sales consultancy Skaled. The aim of the sessions will be to introduce systems and processes that help businesses to sell technology in the modern marketplace.

The Skaled Sales Training seminar is part of a larger effort by the Sydney startup community to increase ties with other hubs in the Atlantic startup community. Bob Pelley, the head of Momentum Cape Breton, said the event has already attracted participants from Halifax, New Brunswick and P.E.I., and one company from the U.K. is flying to Sydney to attend it.

“What we’re really trying to do is the create highly curated, world-class training events here that will help companies from Cape Breton and Atlantic Canada grow,” said Pelley. “We want events that people from across Atlantic Canada will want to come to so that we can learn from them while they gain education at the events.“

Pelley said that the Sydney startup community has to improve its “connectivity” with other startups in the region, and the only way to do that is to send Cape Breton companies elsewhere or to attract companies to the island.

6 Takeaways from Sydney's PitchTweet Event

The mentorship program in the greater Sydney area is gaining steam. In August 2016, the Sydney community held a series of events that included sales training provided by Skaled. There were fewer than 10 participants. The organizers say word-of-mouth from the initial participants is generating interest in the 2017 event. They are hoping for about 30 participants this year – big enough to help a lot of business people and small enough that it is a workshop rather than a lecture.

“It’s sales training but it’s really geared toward companies in the digital space,” said Pelley. “A lot of sales training is based on relationships, but hard to do that digitally.” He said Skaled has mastered bringing the methods of relationship sales to the digital world.

The Cape Breton seminar series for this year has already featured PitchTweet, which was hosted this week by Momentum and Twitter Canada. It gave instruction on pitching a company on Twitter.

As well as using the seminars to attract interest from other parts of the region, the Cape Breton startup community is working on developing mentorship for its group of startups. Groups like the Island Sandbox, a partnership between Cape Breton University and the Nova Scotia Community College, and CBU Entrepreneur-in-Residence Permjot Valia are active. And the Cape Breton Partnership has initiated MentorConnect.

“It uses the MIT venture mentoring service model and it’s team-based,” said Pelley, adding that teams of mentors are assigned to each company. “Companies can get attached to long-term teams to work with them through trials and tribulations of growing the business. The mentor team grows as the company grows, and mentors can be replaced as new skill sets are needed.”

Disclaimer: The Skaled Sales Training event is sponsored by several groups that are clients of Entrevestor.

Solace, Byrne Sign Long-Term Deal

A Solace engineer at work in the company's Mount Pearl headquarters.

A Solace engineer at work in the company's Mount Pearl headquarters.

Solace Power Inc., which makes wireless power technology, has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with Byrne, a leading power and data solutions company located in Rockford, Michigan.

Solace said in a statement Wednesday that Byrne will integrate Solace's Resonant Capacitive Coupling technology – known as RC² -- into its mobile power solutions for commercial office, education and healthcare furniture.

Based in Mount Pearl, NL, 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 and then licenses the technology to them. In June, Solace Power said it had received $2.8 million in government financing to expand its lab into one of the leading facilities of its kind in the country. At the time, Solace had 30 employees (20 of them engineers) and was on its way to expanding that number to 35.

According to BIFMA, an industry-leading trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers, the commercial furniture market is valued at more than US$18 billion in North America, with a projected annual growth rate of 3.5 percent.

"RC² will enable us to deliver new solutions to our customers who are among the most innovative companies in the world," said Byrne CEO Dan Byrne in the statement. "Our customers want a more collaborative and customizable office user experience. Eliminating cables and providing mobile power are key drivers to make this a reality.  We're excited about Solace's RC² technology and the enhanced product capability that we'll be able to deliver to our customers."

Solace said its patented RC² technology is an adaptable, lightweight wireless power system that enables freedom of movement in charging, while facilitating flexible product design. Products and applications can charge when they are adjacent to, or in the vicinity of the transmitter, giving users increased freedom of movement. 

Solace has won numerous innovation awards for its technology, including the Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge and the Innovation Leader Award from ACADA, the Atlantic Canada Aerospace and Defence Association. 

"We are delighted to partner with a market leader like Byrne in developing high-quality products for our RC² technology," said Kris McNeil, Founder and CEO of Solace Power. “They're a perfect fit for licensing our technology as we continue to execute on our strategies for growth and profitability. We are excited to be a part of their vision to continually improve their customers' experience."

How Startups Can Improve their Tweets

Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon

Twitter is an effective tool for reaching a global market, but startups should try a few tricks to up their game when using the social media platform.

On Tuesday, a group of startup founders in Cape Breton had a chance to learn some hacks that can be used to amplify their message. They attended the first #PitchTweet event in Sydney, a program put on by Momentum Cape Breton and Twitter Canada that helps small businesses learn how to make a business case in fewer than 140 characters. More than 12 million Canadians now tweet each year, and its global use is still growing by double digits annually, so Twitter is an excellent tool for reaching a worldwide audience.

Cam Gordon, the Head of Communications at Twitter Canada, spent the morning walking the audience through the world of Twitter and showing ways to get more out of the platform. Here are six takeaways from the event:

1. Twitter is what you make it. Twitter can be conversational, immediate, global, concise, a vehicle for images and video. Gordon said the platform can be used in many ways and users should find the way that best suits them. Experiment with it and find out how it best suits your aims.

2. Find an audience that shares your interests. Many – possibly most – startups address niche markets and Twitter can help you find people within these niches. Gordon advised business people to find tweeters with similar interests and see who follow them. Identify people within your global community and engage with them. Learn about the global conversations in your sphere of interest and join it. Find out what hashtags they use rather than inventing your own. “The challenge isn’t about finding more people,” said Gordon. “It’s about finding the people of the right mindset.”

3. Make the time to Tweet. Gordon said some people start tweeting and let it lapse and it doesn’t help their business at all. He advises building Twitter time into your schedule, even if its 20 minutes a day, and even if it involves retweeting other people’s content. The important thing is to keep it up. “I often tell people, ‘If you’re not going to make time to do it, just don’t do it,’” he said.

4. Don’t be afraid to counter-program. By this, Gordon means it’s a good idea to post your stuff at a time when you know a lot of people will be on Twitter – during the Oscars or big sports events, or almost any Sunday night when a big event is on TV. Yes, there will be a lot of other content, but it’s a time when people are browsing and active and there’s a better chance you’ll be spotted.

5. Use Twitter Analytics. Gordon said too few people take advantage of the analytics tab found in the account tab at the top right of your Twitter screen. By learning what tweets have had the greatest response, you can get a better idea of what works and repeat it.

6. Use Twitter Lists. Another under-used feature. With Twitter Lists, users can assemble groups of Twitter users with similar interests without having all their tweets flood your stream. You can make your own list, or do research using other people’s lists. It can help you find members of your community or see what they’ve been tweeting about.

The event ended with a competition to see which participant could come up with the most effective pitch in a tweet. Here’s the winner, submitted by data storage unit manufacturer 45 Drives:

LearnSphere Offers $2.2M to Exporters

LearnSphere, a program that has helped small businesses in New Brunswick to export for 14 years, is now being rolled out across Atlantic Canada.

With new funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the organization said Tuesday as much as $2.2 million is now available across Atlantic Canada to help small- and medium-sized businesses expand their exports.

LearnSphere’s Export Market Access Program and E-Tools for Exporting Program have been successfully supporting New Brunswick’s export businesses since 2003 and the funding is now being rolled out to eligible businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Whether it’s to export seafood or technology solutions, SMEs can access up to $15,000 through two programs – for a total of up to $30,000 – to expand or launch their export business. The funding can be used for help with research, planning, sales, or digital marketing. To be eligible, SMEs need to be currently exporting or export-ready within the next six to nine months.

“We are thrilled to be able to launch this funding across Atlantic Canada,” said LearnSphere CEO Annette Comeau in a statement. “The region has so much to offer. We want to see Atlantic Canadian exports continue to thrive, and economic growth to be realized here.”

She added the Atlantic Growth Strategy aims to double the number of exporters in the Atlantic region by 2025, and LearnSphere said this funding can help more than 180 companies to reach those export goals.

Moncton-based Smart sensor manufacturer Masitek accessed $30,000 in 2016. With it, the company developed a new social media strategy, and re-branded its website. It also accessed funding to help with lead generation in its identified target markets.

“The LearnSphere programs have helped Masitek’s export business to grow exponentially,” said CEO Tracy Clinch in the statement. “We accessed two programs through LearnSphere, and those programs enabled us to build a dynamic website to reach customers in markets where we never would have been able to before.”

The application process is designed to be quick and easy to access, with fast turnaround times on both the application and reimbursement of funds.

CDL-Atlantic Names 24 Mentors

Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic, the East Coast component of the new countrywide innovation accelerator, has named its roster of mentors, which includes such national business leaders as John Risley and Ken Rowe.

Offered in conjunction with Dalhousie University, CDL-Atlantic’s first cohort will begin in December under the leadership of Jesse Rodgers, the chief executive of Volta Labs in Halifax and one of the founders of the original CDL at University of Toronto.

The first group will be a general intake of early-stage startups from various sectors, though the Halifax-based unit will develop a specialty for nurturing companies in ocean tech, cleantech and agritech.

The CDL starts each cohort with a few dozen teams, who attend a one- or two-day mentoring session to receive a set of milestones from mentors. They’re then sent away to work on these tasks. When the cohort convenes again about two months later, teams who missed their milestones are asked to leave. CDL repeats the process several times, so each cohort ends up with a core of graduates.

“This is a tremendous effort to help increase the regional prosperity of Atlantic Canada,” IMP Group founder and executive chairman Ken Rowe said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to mentoring and sharing my experiences with early-stage, high-potential companies.”

Spring Loaded Joins Lazaridis Scale-Up Program

The 24 mentors — some of whom come from outside the region — are divided into two groups, fellows and associates, with the fellows making a larger commitment in terms of mentoring and investing. A spokesman said the fellows are not required to invest in the companies but often end up doing so. The mentors are:

Fellows

• John Risley, president, Clearwater Fine Foods, serial entrepreneur

• Kenneth Rowe, founder and executive chairman, IMP Group International Inc.

• Rob Steele, president and CEO, Newcap Broadcasting Ltd.

• Rob Sobey, former CEO and president, Lawton’s Drug Stores Ltd.

• Jevon MacDonald, co-founder and CEO, Manifold & GoInstant

• Wade Dawe, CEO, Numus Financial Inc.

• Mark Dobbin, president, Killick Capital Inc.

• George Armoyan, executive chairman, Clarke Inc.

• Chris Huskilson, president and CEO, Emera Inc.

• Tom Hickey, former president and CEO, HSE Integrated Ltd.

Associates

• Henry Demone, president, Demone Capital Inc.

• Mike Durland, CEO, Melancthon Capital

• Jeff Grammar, partner, Rho

• Patrick Hankinson, co-founder and past-CEO, Compilr

• Jim Hanlon, CEO, Institute for Ocean Research

• Andrew Harrison, strategic business development lead, Verily Life Sciences at Google

• Patrick Keefe, general partner, Build Ventures

• Justin Manley, managing director, Just Innovation

• Robert Orr, CEO and managing director, Cuna del Mar

• Brice Scheschuk, co-founder and past CEO, Wind Mobile, CEO Globalive Capital Inc.

• Annette Verschuren, chair and CEO, NRStor Inc.

• Mark Wallace, president and CEO, MedGate

• Julia Dexter, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Squiggle Park

•Amy Regan, CEO, Skinfix Inc.

What’s interesting about the list is the mixture of those who have been active and visible in backing Atlantic Canadian tech startups — e.g. Risley, MacDonald and Dobbin — with those who are known more for their work in traditional businesses. The CDL could end up luring a new host of investors into the startup space.

Bird Takes SM-Heart to MassChallenge in Switzerland

CDL-Atlantic also unveiled members of its team. These include entrepreneur Gillian McCrae, who has joined as venture manager. She and Melody Pardoe, chief operating officer of Volta, are collaborating to ensure the inclusion of mentorship and investment from successful women entrepreneurs.

“Gender diversity amongst investors and entrepreneurs is a core value of CDL-Atlantic,” said McCrae in a statement. “We are looking forward to creating additional support for female entrepreneurs across Atlantic Canada.”

CDL-Atlantic aims to be a regional initiative, and Dalhousie is in discussions to partner with the University of New Brunswick and other Atlantic universities to open its CDL course to their students.

“I’m proud to be part of launching this program in Atlantic Canada,” said Risley. “It will bring a new collaborative approach to growth and prosperity for our region, one that will set up our innovation-driven technology companies to emerge as world leaders.”

CloudKettle Names 1st Senior Partner

Greg Poirier: 'We want really smart people.'

Greg Poirier: 'We want really smart people.'

CloudKettle, the Halifax SaaS tech consultancy that advises major international customers, is hitting a milestone this week.

Founder Greg Poirier announced Monday that CloudKettle is bringing on the firm’s first senior partner in Jon McGinley, the former CEO of Livelenz (which was acquired last year by Mobivity). Poirier said the signing of McGinley, a former colleague at the social media monitoring company Radian6, is the first step to CloudKettle growing with the addition of new partners, just as a law firm or accounting firm would grow.

“Jon is now a full partner in the business,” said Poirier in an interview last week. “It allows us to build the organization the way other profession services firms would. We want really smart people and to attract them we have to make them a partner in the business.”

Now in its third year, CloudKettle is a tech consultancy whose client-base is dominated by companies with billions of dollars in revenue. It brings in seven figures of annual revenues. Poirier and McKinley say their specialty is “revenue stack” for Software-as-a-Service providers. What they mean by that is CloudKettle improves clients’ online interaction with the market – from posting a digital ad, to engaging with a potential client, to making the sale and then renewing the client. Even after that, CloudKettle helps clients ensure the data on the client relationship is passed on to the appropriate people, like the customer success division, and acted on.

“It’s a pretty niche market,” said Poirier. “We’re working with one end-to-end SaaS company that sells a pretty expensive product. They need someone who can come in and move the needle on that thing because even a single sale can be worth a million dollars or more.”

SimplyCast Launches Version 9.0

CloudKettle now has seven full-time staff in Halifax, as well as two part-time people and several sub-contractors. Most of its highly experienced staff is based in Halifax, and it has a few Atlantic Canadian clients like Spring Loaded Technology of Dartmouth and Charlottetown-based iWave Information Systems. But most of its clients are in the U.S., especially in the San Francisco area. In fact, Poirier and McGinley will host a seminar called the Revenue Stack Summit at the Press Club in San Francisco today for top-tier executives of existing and potential clients. It will be a chance, they hope, to get a few clients into what CloudKettle execs among themselves call “the dating project.” The official name is the “Revenue Stack Audit.”

The goal of the Revenue Stack Audit is to assess whether a corporation would be a good client for CloudKettle. The potential client pays for CloudKettle to come in and run a series of tests. The audit takes about four or five weeks, and at the end of it the corporation should know the systems, technology, processes and personnel that need to be upgraded.  And CloudKettle should know whether this is a client they want.

“By the end of four or five weeks, we should know a couple of things,” said Poirier. “One is whether we can help them … and then additionally we know if we like them. “

Added McGinley:  “We want to grow responsibly. I think we can both agree that we want to get the right client and that doesn’t necessarily mean the most revenue.”

The fact that the company is based in Halifax adds a lot to the Atlantic Canadian tech ecosysten. Both Poirier and McGinley have a stable of companies they mentor, and Cloud Kettle works with groups like Propel ICT to help young SaaS companies improve their client acquisition.

Four Vie for NB Bioscience Award

Chris Baker: One of four Finalists

Chris Baker: One of four Finalists

With Global Biotechnology Week beginning Wednesday, New Brunswick biotech organization BioNB and the law firm McInnes Cooper will present the province’s Bioscience Achievement Award  this week.

The award recognizes the contributions made by one individual or organization and will be announced Thursday. The four nominees are:

Murray McLaughlin: McLaughlin has spent his career in agricultural research in the U.S. and Canada. He was Founding President of AgWest Bio, Deputy Minister for Agriculture for the Government of Saskatchewan, and Executive Director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada. He is a past Chairman of the BioNB Board. He was named one of the Top 100 Global Leaders in the Advanced Bioeconomy at the Biofuels Digest Conference in Washington in 2016, and received the 2017 International Award from the Chemical Institute of Canada.

SomaDetect: In just over a year, SomaDetect has grown from an idea to a product that’s used by dairy farmers across North America. Founded by Bethany Deshpande and based in Fredericton with six staff, SomaDetect sells hardware and software that provides dairy farmers with the information they need to produce the highest quality milk possible. In 2017, SomaDetect was a finalist in the NBIF Breakthru Competition, the winner of the Fierce Founders Bootcamp in Ontario and winner of the Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis.

SomaDetect Making Waves in the U.S.

Chris Baker, CEO of IPSNP Computing: IPSNP has developed a data query platform named HYDRA, which provides decision support to managers based on integrated access to analytical software and enterprise databases. HYDRA was successfully tested in a U.S. hospital for the clinical surveillance of sepsis and is in trials for use in agriculture. Baker's career has spanned industry and academia in the U.K., Canada and Singapore. He is currently professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. In 2016, Baker was a finalist for the Canadian Open Data Leader of the year. In 2017, he was invited as a speaker at the Annual Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists of G20 States (MACS-G20) on Linked Open Data in Agriculture.

ADI Systems: Founded in 1989, ADI Systems has grown into one of the world's leading providers of wastewater solutions for industry. ADI Systems focuses on anaerobic digestion, aerobic treatment, biogas treatment and utilization for green energy recovery and water reuse technologies. It has over 260 customers in more than 35 countries. In July this year, ADI Systems was acquired by Pittsburgh-based Evoqua Water Technologies, the world's largest provider of wastewater solutions.

Thursday’s award event will be held at Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton. 

SomaDetect Making Waves in the US

Bethany Deshpande

Bethany Deshpande"

SomaDetect, the Fredericton company that helps dairy farmers detect early signs of disease in their cattle, is becoming the most precocious of startups.

The company, which began only last year, is stringing together a list of accolades that is rare in such a young company. The list grew longer last week when the company was named as a finalist for the 43North competition in Buffalo, N.Y. Earlier in the week, the company won US$5,000 by capturing the prize for best pitch at the ninth annual Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis, Mo. SomaDetect is also a finalist for the New Brunswick Bioscience Achievement Award, which will be awarded Thursday night.

There are a few Atlantic Canadian startups – like Halifax companies Spring Loaded Technology or CarbonCure Technologies – whose trophy cabinets are bursting from repeated wins at a range of events. What’s unusual about SomaDetect is the number of awards it has won in its first full year of operation.

“We are honoured to be selected and to be recognized as one of the top emerging companies in the 43North Competition,” said SomaDetect CEO Bethany Deshpande in a statement. “New York is a strategic state for SomaDetect, as it is among the top five dairy-producing states and would be an excellent region to begin U.S. sales.

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 company was selected as one of 22 companies to present at the Ag Innovation Showcase, which bills itself as the “world’s premier event focusing on the convergence of agriculture and technology.” In the previous eight years, the companies presenting at the showcase have raised a total of $477 million in direct investment.

Then a couple of days later, SomaDetect learned it was one of the 16 finalists in the 43 North competition.

SomaDetect joins one other Canadian startup as a finalist and is the only Atlantic Canadian company remaining in the competition. Some 502 applicants entered the competition, and eight will receive prizes. Five companies will win US$500,000, while one will win US$550,000 and the runner-up will take home US$650,000. The winner will receive US$1 million. SomaDetect will pitch at the 43North finals in Buffalo on October 5.

Since competing in the BioInnovation Challenge at BioPort Atlantic in Halifax last October, the company has won a string of accolades. It was named recently to the CIX Top 20, a group of the top innovation companies in Canada. That came weeks after it won $50,000 from the Fierce Founder Bootcamp at Communitech in Kitchener, Ont. Earlier this year, the company won the $180,000 second-place prize in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru competition.

SomaDetect has been working on its pilot project in New Brunswick, and recently validated the international demand for its product. The company signed letters of intent with three-quarters of the 80 farmers it met with during a recent trip to Vermont.

“The announcement of being a finalist [in 43North] comes at an exciting time for SomaDetect as we recently unveiled new developments in our technology and are raising funds to commercialize our technology,” said Deshpande. “If successful, the 43North Competition would play a large part helping us move forward in this.” 

Jobs: CloudKettle, NBIF, Springboard

We have a range of posting in our Jobs of the Week column today, from the CEO of the organization that coordinates university commercialization to a tech consultant to a marketing manager.

The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation is looking for a Marketing Manager. NBIF is best known for its early-stage venture capital investment in the province, but it also oversees other aspects of the provincial government’s innovation policy, such as the innovation voucher program.

CloudKettle is a tech consultancy that helps large business-to-business SaaS clients generate millions of site visits, qualify hundreds of thousands of leads, and close billions of dollars in sales and renewals. It is seeking a Hubspot Marketing Automation Analyst in Halifax.

Springboard Atlantic, which is looking for a President and CEO to replace Chris Mathis, works with 19 colleges and universities across Atlantic Canada to try to amplify the economic impact of their research and development capacity. The organization acts as a dating service between industry and academia. It also offers funding and other support for faculty and students creating new companies.

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.

The following are excerpts from the postings we’ve received in the past week.

Fredericton

New Brunswick Innovation Foundation

Marketing Manager

We are looking for a Marketing Manager to join our organization. This individual will be responsible for the idea generation, development, implementation and ongoing operations of our marketing, communications, and PR plans and tactics. As the lead with our marketing agency and through collaboration with our internal stakeholders, you will be our brand champion and our voice to build our strategies and tactics to ensure it portrays the mission, values, and produces the desired outcomes for our team and organization.

Responsibilities

Lead the requirements and workshops with stakeholders to build out plans and tactics in these areas: marketing campaigns; communications plans & tactics; stakeholder engagement; and, content strategy.

Collaborate with our agency to build out: communications materials; digital strategy and execution, social media strategy and execution, event strategies and execution; website strategy and management.

Content development including idea generation, writing, editing, and producing content. Examples include: website, blog posts, new releases, annual report, presentations, and speeches.

Relationships management with vendors, sponsors, media, external partners and marketing agency.

Champion the NBIF brand both internally and externally, ensuring that the brand consistently and accurately portrays the mission and values of the corporation.

Building marketing and communications KPI’s and report on these on a regular basis.

Building and owning an annual budget. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

Halifax

CloudKettle

Hubspot Marketing Automation Analyst

Push the boundaries of digital marketing while building solutions for some of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the world by becoming a Marketing Automation Analyst in our Halifax office. In this hands-on role, you will be expected to become an in-depth specialist in a major marketing automation platform in order to help build and optimize our client’s marketing automation and lead nurturing machines.

The chosen candidate should have a strong passion for marketing automation and significant experience configuring and using either Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua or Pardot.

Responsibilities

The Marketing Automation Analyst will be responsible for assisting in the implementation, configuration, customization, and maintenance of client instances of marketing automation platforms by:

•Helping clients acquire new leads through better calls to action, landing pages and workflows

•Optimizing client’s marketing automation efforts to improve how leads are nurtured and the number of leads that mature to a marketing status and eventually sales

•Developing documentation and training for client’s marketing automation instances to help ensure they are well-maintained . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

Halifax (or other location)

Springboard Atlantic

President and CEO

Springboard is seeking an energetic and motivated individual with demonstrated leadership and management skills to build upon the significant accomplishments of the corporation to date, and to effectively lead the network through the next stage of strategic growth and regional impact.

The President and CEO will combine learning agility, effective listening, and consensus forming skills with their natural ability to build and foster constructive relationships within complex landscapes, to promote and grow Springboard’s mandate and value to all stakeholders. The leadership skills for this position are diverse as the successful candidate will lead the small central office team and be responsible for the strategic direction of the broader network.

Responsibilities

Reporting to the Springboard Atlantic Board of Directors, the President and CEO will provide proactive leadership and direction for the identification, development and management of effective and strategic collaborative innovation partnerships. The President and CEO will facilitate the creation of collaborative opportunities both within the Springboard Network as well as with external stakeholders, and will promote a clear understanding and broad awareness of Springboard’s mandate and services. The position will require financial management and the negotiation of future funding and financial agreements for the organization with existing and potential partners. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

Spring Loaded in Lazaridis Program

Months after launching its revolutionary knee brace, Spring Loaded Technology is entering the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program, one of the country’s leading accelerators for growth-stage companies.

The Dartmouth-based company on Thursday was named to the program offered by the Lazaridis Institute at Wilfrid Laurier University, which called participants in the new cohort “Canada’s 10 most promising technology companies.”

Now in its second year, the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program helps high-growth innovation companies make the difficult transition from startups to bona fide corporations. The organizers said the first cohort of 10 companies — which included Halifax-based QRA Corp. — saw significant revenue growth, improved efficiency and expanded capacity as they went through the program.

“We’re honoured to be among this elite group of young Canadian tech companies participating in the Lazaridis Scale Up Program,” said Spring Loaded CEO Chris Cowper Smith in an email. “After completing a successful year of presales and officially launching our bionic knee braces in June, we are well poised to leverage the expertise and opportunities this program offers.”

Read About the 10 Participants in the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program

Founded at Dalhousie University’s Starting Lean program in 2012, Spring Loaded has been developing a knee brace that not only stabilizes the joint but also adds power to it. The result was the Levitation knee brace, which the company refers to as the world’s first “bionic knee brace.” The company launched the Levitation for consumer sales across North America in June.

The company has grown from three guys with an idea five years ago to a multi-faceted manufacturing corporation now. In the last few years, the company has enhanced its management team. Co-founder Bob Garrish left for medical reasons and was replaced by chief technology officer Stephen Fitzgerald. The executive team added chief operating officer Dawn Umlah, the former entrepreneur-in-residence at Innovacorp, and sales and marketing head Rene Leclerc.

The company this year embarked on a $3.8 million program to develop new products, boost its manufacturing capabilities and set up a human performance lab in Dartmouth to test its products.

The Lazaridis Scale-Up program targets companies at this stage in their development — those that have international sales and need to grow revenue while they develop and/or improve their products. The 10 participants were chosen by a panel of Canadian and American venture capitalists and ecosystem leaders, who assessed the companies based on data found on the startup data platform, Hockeystick.

“We are so impressed with the depth of talent, the passion and the ambition of these 10 Canadian companies,” said Lazaridis Institute managing director Kim Morouney in a statement. “They all have the potential to be global leaders in their industries. We’re looking forward to working with them over the next year and beyond to help them overcome their barriers to scale.”

The Lazaridis Institute said the companies in the first cohort benefited from the practical knowledge that was immediately applicable to their organizations and relationships they delivered with tech leaders from across North America.

“The Lazaridis Scale-Up Program was very beneficial for us,” said QRA Corp. CEO Jordan Kyriakidis, adding that it helped the company to know it was on the right track. “It gave us a framework in which to think about markets, growth, products and solutions. It gave us tools with which to run our company intentionally, and guide it forward.”

10 Join Lazaridis Scale-Up Program

The Lazaridis Institute this week named 10 growth-stage companies from across the country to the second cohort of its Lazaridis Scale-Up Program.

The Institute, which operates out of Wilfrid Laurier University, aims to help Canada’s leading high-growth companies to overcome the growth pains that come when they become global corporations.

“Scaling a technology company in Canada presents several challenges,” said the Institute in a statement. “Founders cite difficulty in recruiting experienced senior talent, accessing capital, and moving into global markets as among the major barriers to growth (source). The Lazaridis Scale-Up Program provides the connections, networks, knowledge and support tech companies need to create maximum value here, in Canada.”

Read Our Feature Report on One Participant, Spring Loaded Technology

Here is a quick look at the 10 companies (Click on the logo to visit each company's website):

7shifts

Saskatoon

Founded by Jordan Boesch in 2011 to help his family's restaurant operation, 7shifts provides employee scheduling software designed just for restaurants. Managers can quickly create and update their staff schedules through an intuitive cloud‐based scheduler, and employees can access their schedules, request time off or trade shifts using free mobile apps. It is now used by over 150,000 restaurant professionals in more than 20 countries.

Agendize Services

Montreal

Established in 2009 by Alexandre Rambaud, Agendize is a customizable, conversational booking and customer relationship management app offering powerful engagement tools that enrich an integrated CRM. Agendize’s mobile‐first integrated app improves business efficiency, maximizes customer engagement and ultimately increases revenues. With its industry‐leading technology, available on a white‐label basis with advanced APIs, Agendize serves a growing network of partners: digital agencies and publishers, as well as major enterprises and franchises, in over 20 countries. It has been growing its scheduling user base at 20 percent per month for the last year and hopes to grow to over 1 million users.

Bus.com

Montreal

Kyle Boulay and Wolf Kohlberg recognized the charter bus industry needed tools that streamlined the process of planning, booking, and coordinating of bus transportation. They founded Bus.com in 2015, with the ambition of creating a booking engine that solves all the major pain points of bus travel, and enables event organizers to connect with the communities they mobilize.

Dream Payments

Toronto

Dream Payments is a fintech that powers digital and mobile payment services for businesses of all sizes. Dream Payments was founded in 2014 and leading financial institutions, including TD Bank and Chase Paymentech, leverage Dream's Payments‐as‐a‐Service cloud to provide mobile point‐of‐sale solutions, B2B payments, and value‐added commerce services to their end business customers.

Flytographer

Victoria

Flytographer is an online marketplace that connects travellers with talented and carefully vetted local photographers in 200 cities around the world. Founded in 2013 by Nicole Smith and inspired by her belief that memories are the best travel souvenir, Flytographer helps people around the world “capture the magic of travel”.

Showpass

Calgary

Showpass, founded in 2014 by Lucas McCarthy, has become the largest Canadian‐based ticketing company. Its event and venue management platform has been proven to be the world’s foremost authority on a globalized multi-channel distribution in ticketing. Its ability to leverage the network effect to sell more tickets has been the key to its success.

Spring Loaded Technology

Dartmouth, N.S.

Spring Loaded Technology is an award‐winning company that has introduced compact and high‐performance bionic knee braces to the world. The company has revolutionized knee bracing technology to enhance the strength and power of the leg muscles. By increasing leg strength, this technology can be used in a wide range of applications including: mobility assistance, fatigue reduction, injury prevention and rehabilitation, and performance enhancement.

Terramera

Vancouver

Terramera, which means “our earth”, is a sustainable agriculture cleantech company founded in 2010 by Karn Manhas. The company aims to solve the problem of why natural or organic products perform less efficiently than synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It has since achieved what the industry thought was impossible: plant‐based, organic products that outperform some of the most toxic synthetic chemicals in use.

Unata

Toronto

Unata is transforming the shopper experience in grocery retail. Founded in 2011, Unata offers a suite of solutions to power the entire digital grocery buying cycle, providing highly personalized, engaging, and interconnected in‐store and online experiences.

Vendasta

Saskatoon

Vendasta helps B2B companies provide expert marketing solutions to local businesses. Founded in 2008, Vendasta is a white label platform that offers a suite of sales tools and marketing automation including needs assessment, automated email marketing campaigns, CRM, an app marketplace and fulfillment.

Springboard’s Mathis Steps Down

Chris Mathis: 'It's time to look for the next adventure.'

Chris Mathis: 'It's time to look for the next adventure.'

Chris Mathis, the President and CEO of Springboard Atlantic, is stepping down from the organization that promotes and coordinates the commercialization of technology at Atlantic Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Mathis told the group’s annual general meeting last month that he would be moving on to other opportunities. Springboard, which is in its 12th year, is now searching for Mathis’ replacement.

Springboard works with 19 colleges and universities across Atlantic Canada to try to amplify the economic impact of their research and development capacity. The organization, which landed $9.2 million in funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency this year, acts as a dating service between industry and academia. It also offers funding and other support for faculty and students creating new companies out of intellectual property developed at the institutions.

“It’s time to look for the next adventure,” Mathis said in an interview Thursday. “It’s a good time to step down, given that we are funded to 2020, and the central staff are awesome, the network is doing well based on the results we are seeing.”

Check out Springboard's Progress in this Infographic

Mathis, who has held the position for six years, was vague about his own plans – he will assist Springboard Chair Brian Lowe and the board with the search for his replacement. Then he will look for a new role in helping a company or companies to scale and develop IP.

He was much more anxious to discuss the transformation Springboard has undergone since 2011, when Springboard had a part-time administrator and smaller role in the economy.  

“We redefined the organization, its governance, its long-term strategic goals, including being inclusive of all forms of R&D and striving for sustainable operations,” said Mathis. “We built a transparent communication and trust base with the member institutions and the network of industry liaison and tech transfer officers – these being the real key to sustained engagement with the private sector.”

Springboard devotes a lot of energy to tracking its progress and is proud that its members signed 6200 contracts – mainly research work – with private enterprise in 2014-2017. It exceeds the target set in 2014 by 24 percent.

UNB Unveils Innovation Fellowships

Mathis said these engagements range in size and complexity, but overall they help companies, including Atlantic Canadian companies, to grow and perform more efficiently. Meanwhile, Springboard has also contributed to startup and other early-stage products.

“In the last 12 years, this program put out $4.8 million, and current revenues returned to the institutions amount to $1.9 million,” said Mathis, adding that most of this comes from licensing royalties of about 5 percent of revenue. “So we can approximate company sales of more than $30 million have been likely generated. That is a nice ratio.”

He added the number of startups coming out of the universities is increasing dramatically.

One statistic that has not increased in the last two three-year periods is the total research spending at Atlantic Canadian universities. It was just over $1 billion in 2014-17, the same level as in 2011-14. Mathis said R&D funding tends to come in cycles and he’s optimistic about the near future. There’s an upward trend in ACOA’s Atlantic Innovation Fund funding and there are new opportunities offered by the Ocean Frontiers Institute and the pending supercluster applications.

Overall, Mathis is optimistic about the organization and its mission.

“It’s been a real privilege being in such a unique regional role, meeting so many companies and faculty,” he said. “And closer to my heart is the network and central staff that I work with on a daily basis – a real pleasure.”

NB’s New $7M-a-Year Sidecar Funds

Opportunities NB has established two sidecar funds that could add $7 million in equity financing each year to the funding totals for New Brunswick startups.

The Crown corporation, which attracts and supports business in the province, said Thursday it has created new Seed and Series A funds to help startups access the capital they need to grow. Both funds are sidecar funds, which means they will match the equity invested by approved investment groups up to a certain level.

 “Supporting entrepreneurship is one of our primary objectives,” said Stephen Lund, CEO of Opportunities NB. “In addition to working with our approved partners in supporting New Brunswick startups, we hope to attract additional investors from outside the province to enhance our growing startup ecosystem.”

Under the Seed program, Opportunities NB can invest up to $500,000 in a seed-stage company, said an ONB statement. A maximum of $2 million is available per year from the fund.

The Series A program allows the Crown corporation to invest as much as $1 million in a company that is generating or about to generate revenue. A maximum of $5 million per year is available from the fund.

These two sidecar funds could provide an additional $7 million a year in equity financing. To put that in context, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s venture capital operation invested a total of $3.8 million in 22 companies in the 12 months to March 31, 2016, which are the most recent figures available. According to data collected in Entrevestor, New Brunswick startups received total equity investment of $23.1 million in 2016, in an exceptionally strong year for funding.

Opportunities NB said the list of approved partners so far comprises: NBIF, East Valley Ventures, BDC Capital, GrowthWorks Atlantic, Pelorus Venture Capital and Technology Venture Corp.

The beauty of a public sector sidecar fund is it will only make an investment after another investment manager, usually in the private sector, has vetted and approved a target company. Knowing that this complementary funding is available can encourage private funders to invest. 

Eligible companies must be registered and headquartered in New Brunswick, with the majority of its employees and operations in the province.

“East Valley is excited and committed to the growth of the export innovation economy,” said Jeff White, chief operating officer of East Valley Ventures. “The companies we work with are focused on innovation and growth to enhance economic prosperity in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada. This program aligns private and public capital, filling a void in the current marketplace.”

Sydney Hosts #PitchTweet Next Week

A series of events next week in Sydney will teach participants how to use Twitter to promote their business.

Momentum and Twitter Canada will host Twitter 101, the #PitchTweet symposium, and the #PitchTweet competition on Monday and Tuesday. It is the first time such an event has been held in Canada, and the competition will feature two winners – one local and one global. Tickets are available here.

“#PitchTweet offers anyone with a product, company or idea they wish to promote, a forum to practise their marketing skills,” said a statement from Momentum, which is a new hub for Cape Breton entrepreneurs, innovators and the many organizations supporting them.

The Tweet-a-thon begins Monday evening with Twitter 101, an introductory/refresher course for anyone who wants to know more about the 140-character-at-a-time social media phenomenon. Using Twitter's Flight School, Island Sandbox manager Darren MacDonald will walk participants through a basic overview of Twitter and explore the features that can help them reach their desired target.

The #PitchTweet event follows on Tuesday, featuring a full-day instructional session and the #PitchTweet competition. The event will begin with a workshop on Communicating Business Messages using Twitter with Cam Gordon, Head of Communications for Twitter Canada.

After lunch, MentorCamp founder Permjot Valia will walk participants through value proposition and pitching tactics.

The day will end with the competition. People can tweet their pitches with a #PitchTweet hashtag. A panel of judges, comprising entrepreneurs and business professionals, will share their thoughts on the top 10 local tweets, live at the event. The organizers will also name a global winner based on the number of retweets and likes that their #PitchTweet receives.

Here is the full agenda:

Twitter 101

Monday, September 18, 2017 | 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Navigate Startup House Event Space

103 - 37 Nepean Street, Sydney NS B1P 6A7

#PitchTweet

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 | 8:30am - 5pm

Jenu Room, Membertou Trade and Convention Centre

50 Maillard St, Membertou, NS B1S 3W3

8:30am-8:50am                Registration

8:50am – 9:00am             Welcome

9:00am – 10:15am           Twitter Workshop with Twitter Communication Head

10:15am – 10:45am        break

10:45am – 12:00pm        Twitter brief overview and Q and A with Twitter Communications Head

12:00pm – 1:00pm          lunch

1:00pm – 2:15pm             Value proposition workshop with Permjot Valia

2:15pm – 2:45pm             break

2:45pm – 4:00pm             Pitching Workshop with Permjot Valia

4:00pm                             Launch of #PitchTweet competition

4:00pm – 4:30pm             Judges Deliberation

4:30pm – 4:50pm             Live Judges Presentation and feedback on top ten and winner announcement

4:50pm                             MC closes event

Bird Takes SM-Heart to MassChallenge

Thomas Bird used a trip to Israel to make sure his Fredericton-based company SM-Heart was accepted into the MassChallenge Accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland.

This globe-trotting startup is developing an ankle bracelet that monitors swelling in the lower leg, which can be a key indicator of heart failure. The company now has a working prototype and hopes that within a couple years it will have the medical device on the market in Canada and northern Europe.

One of the institutions that is helping Bird move toward the market is MassChallenge, a global accelerator that holds training sessions in such centres as Boston, Geneva, Tel Aviv and other places. It bills itself as “the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet,” and has graduated more than 1,200 startups in seven years. It’s believed SM-Heart is the first Atlantic Canadian startup to enter the program, and Bird says his application came together quickly.

“In March, I saw that the deadline for the MassChallenge applications was due the next day, so I put together an application as fast as I could,” said Bird in an interview from Switzerland last week. “I got an email saying I made it through the first round. I was at a conference in Tel Aviv, so we did the interview in Jerusalem.”

Jaza, SomaDetect Enter CIX Top 20

The technology that won SM-Heart a place at Mass Challenge solves a problem that means a lot to Bird. He lost his grandfather to heart disease a few years ago. So when he entered the masters of technology, management and entrepreneurship program at University of New Brunswick, he made it his mission to design a product that would help people suffering from heart failure.

Heart failure is a weakening of the heart that causes too little blood to be pumped through the body. One of the symptoms is a swelling around the ankle as the heart is not strong enough to pump blood out of the lower extremities. Sometimes, this goes unnoticed. Bird worked with a fellow student to design a light-weight, non-intrusive anklet that would alert people if there was swelling in the ankle. That would ensure early detection, which improves the chances of recovery.

The anklet can be worn by people who have a history of heart problems or those in high-risk groups.

As he went through MassChallenge, Bird’s mentors and the physicians he interviewed encouraged him to increase the functionality of the product so it can detect more than just heart failure. So the company is now enhancing the product so it can detect other diseases such as diabetes.

Bird says the medical device community in Switzerland is second to none. He has planned to seek regulatory approval for the device, first in Canada and northern Europe. He said those would be the easiest jurisdictions to gain regulatory approval. The clinical work needed for regulators is probably a little ways off.

“We’re still in the research and development phase and we’re doing our own internal testing right now,” said Bird. “We want everything to be optimal before anything is done in a clinical setting. We’re probably 18 months away from an actual clinical test.”

SimplyCast Launches Version 9.0

Saeed El-Darahali

Saeed El-Darahali

SimplyCast, a Dartmouth-based leader in communication automation, is launching the ninth iteration of its multi-channel platform.

The company said in a statement this iteration, dubbed 9.0, will update the existing new user interface on the platform’s applications, introduce new features, and provide an updated navigation bar.

Other updates include enhanced 508 functionality and increased responsiveness to further the platform’s user-friendly tools.

“I’ve been waiting all year to announce our 9.0 update to our customers and the world,” said President and CEO Saeed El-Darahali in the statement. “The updates we’ve made for 9.0 allow businesses of any size to increase engagement and build strong relationships with their clients. We’ve listened to customer feedback and incorporated new features to create a truly unique platform that puts user experience first.”

Existing SimplyCast users have received a sneak peek at the 9.0 update through new features that were added to the system in anticipation of the launch, such as a new navigation bar that provides a better user experience by organizing the platform’s many tools.

SimplyCast aims to launch the 9.0 iteration in the coming weeks.

With clients in 175 countries, SimplyCast is a leading provider of interactive and multi-channel communication software for organizations around the world. The company has been growing steadily, with revenue growth of more than 30 percent in each of the last two years.

In February, SimplyCast launched EmergHub – a military-grade platform that allows optimal communications between key personnel during an emergency. It adds nine new communications channels to the original SimplyCast suite of multi-channel communications applications to ensure emergency communication processes are safer and more efficient.

300 Attend Halifax Startup Celebration

The Maestro, John Hamblin.

The Maestro, John Hamblin.

Would-be entrepreneurs should build their businesses around problems worth solving, a large audience was advised Tuesday night as they gathered in the Halifax Central Library to learn from the experiences of eight successful local entrepreneurs.

The event, titled An Insider’s Look at Homegrown Startup Success, was hosted by John Hamblin, President of Startup Halifax.

The audience of about 300 was told growth will be boosted by further developing the ecosystem. Upcoming initiatives include COVE (the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship), and the new arm of the Creative Destruction Lab tech accelerator.

Fundmetric’s Co-Founder Mark Hobbs, whose software company helps charities raise money, offered the advice about problems worth solving. He said charities struggle because 50 per cent of donors don’t donate to the same charity two years in a row.

His theme was echoed by Gregg Curwin, Founder of TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, which designs and makes vertical indoor farms, in order to improve human health.  TruLeaf is Curwin’s seventh startup. He established various healthcare-focused companies before founding TruLeaf in his mid-forties in Bible Hill, NS.

“This is a great time to start a business to do good,” he said, alluding to investors’ growing interest in ventures that aim to address a social or environmental need.

Travis McDonough, Founder and CEO of Kinduct Technologies, also stressed the importance of effort.

McDonough, whose company has developed data analytics and AI software to enhance health and athletic performance, said technology is a tough space.

“Burn the boats, be fully engaged in the process,” he said. “I’ve been second in sport, I’ve had mediocre businesses. I have full, unadulterated investment in my business now.”

He said the founders and staff of a company need a shared vision.

“We need to believe we are just as good as people in other regions,” added McDonough, who has spent the last 12 months in Silicon Valley.

Innovacorp Unveils $1.7M in Non-Dilutive Funding

Chris Cowper-Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Spring Loaded Technology, described the excitement of bootstrapping his company, which uses a liquid spring to store kinetic energy in a knee brace.

The company’s initial prototype was disappointing and the spring had to be re-invented. Their first client was the Canadian military, but he said growth is never a straight line.

“Don’t get hung up on one thing,” he advised.    

“Employees are the most important resource. You must invest in them if you want to be successful,” he added.

Saeed El-Darahali, Founder and CEO of SimplyCast, also stressed the importance of people.

SimplyCast has marketing systems that acquire and manage customers for businesses. The CEO advised listeners to find good partners and choose a chairman carefully.

“Bill Ritchie Is the reason I’m successful,” he said of SimplyCast’s Chairman.

Stephanie Holmes-Winton, CEO of The Money Finder, said she founded her company because she wanted financial advisers to offer clients financial advice, not advice on buying financial products.  

She raised $1 million in revenue before hitting problems. The Next Phase workshop run By Toon Nagtegaal and David Crow put her venture on track.

“Successful startups have a lot of road rash…That’s how you get successful,” she said.  

The presenters expressed gratitude to the many individuals and groups who have supported them.

George Palikaras, Founder and CEO of Metamaterial Technologies, a company which manipulates light, praised Canada and Nova Scotia.  

“I owe everything to this amazing country,” said the native of Greece.

He said he received help because he asked for it and he advised listeners to do the same.

He stressed the three Ts: team; technology and traction. Metamaterials has gained traction through working with its partner Airbus.

“There will be a lot of problems along the way but it’s all in your hands,” he said. “You have to reinvent yourself.

“We founded our team, our concept, our company more than ten times. We founded again and again until we made it happen.”

Tim Gillis, CEO of healthcare tech company STI Technologies, spoke of the company’s exit. STI was purchased by American multinational QuintilesIMS.

“Run your company as if you’re ready to sell tomorrow,” he said. “Have a Board of Directors and have audited financials.”

He said STI received multiple bids, but made sure to secure a sale before interest waned. They closed the deal, said to be worth several hundred million dollars, in early February.

Event host John Hamblin told the audience that there are so many successful local startups that a similar event will be held in the New Year. 

ACOA, Innovacorp Grant $2M to Volta

As it plots its expansion in downtown Halifax, Volta Labs has received $2 million in funding from the federal government and the province of Nova Scotia.

The two governments announced Tuesday that the federal government’s Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will grant $1.5 million over three years to the Halifax startup house, while the provincial government will contribute $500,000 through Innovacorp.

The funding comes as Volta prepares to triple its size, and thereby triple its capacity to house and mentor high-growth companies. The organization said in July it had signed a lease to take out 60,000 square feet of space in the Maritime Centre in Halifax. The startup house this winter will take over the ground, mezzanine and second floors of the 19-storey office tower on Barrington Street.

"Expanding Volta's programming is an investment in entrepreneurship and in this province's future," said Nova Scotia Business Minister Geoff MacLellan in a statement. "This funding will help more technology entrepreneurs develop the skills they need to turn good business ideas into successful companies. Ultimately, that means more jobs and opportunity for young Nova Scotians."

Volta Labs was established in 2013 by a group of emerging technology entrepreneurs and is now the cornerstone of Halifax's innovation district. Volta will use the new funding for educational programs, mentorship, community networking events and human resources.

 "This investment, and the support of our private-sector partners, will expand our programming significantly," said Jesse Rodgers, CEO of Volta Labs. "That's good news for entrepreneurs and it's good news for Halifax."

By occupying a flagship location, including highly visible street-level space, Volta’s presence in the central business district will amplify the message of the importance of tech and innovation in the business community.

"Volta is a key contributor to building a high-tech, startup community where founders come together, learn from each other, grow their companies and build global markets," said Halifax MP Andy Fillmore. "Volta's vision, engagement and results are well aligned with the Atlantic Growth Strategy goals of creating new jobs, developing a skilled workforce and injecting a new vibrancy into the region's economy."

Pond Wins EY Achievement Award

Gerry Pond receiving his honorary doctorate from SMU

Gerry Pond receiving his honorary doctorate from SMU

Gerry Pond, the dean of the tech movement in Atlantic Canada, will receive the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Atlantic Lifetime Achievement award next month.

EY said in a statement Tuesday Pond would receive the award in recognition of his enduring contribution to Canadian business, philanthropic endeavours and outstanding leadership.

“It’s because of people like Pond that we created the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Lifetime Achievement award,” said Jim Lutes, EY’s Atlantic Canada Managing Partner. “His dedication to business and the community is a reflection of the values we should all strive to embrace. His devotion has had massive economic impacts and his caring nature is witnessed by countless humanitarian awards.”

Most recently appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, Pond was previously named the 2011 Canadian Angel of the Year; received the Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian award for New Brunswick; and was twice named by the Learning Partnership as a Champion of Public Education. He has received the Order of New Brunswick; the Wolf Blass Lifetime Achievement Award; and was named the first-ever Business Development Bank of Canada Entrepreneurship Champion.

Born in Québec and raised in New Brunswick, Pond earned a degree from the University of New Brunswick and has attended management programs at Harvard University, McGill University and the University of Waterloo. He has also received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of New Brunswick and Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Saint Mary’s University.

As the Chairman and Co-Founder of Mariner Partners Inc., Pond has also co-founded a number of successful information and communications technology (ICT) businesses. He has become a cornerstone of entrepreneurial spirit through Propel ICT, the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick, and East Valley Ventures, all aimed at accelerating start-up companies.

On the humanitarian side, Pond is a Director of the Upside Foundation and the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI) of Saint John.

“Pond has relentlessly and consistently given back to the community in a variety of ways,” said Lutes. “Whether you look at the jobs he’s created or hours of volunteer time he spent giving back, Gerry has and continues to inspire others. He reflects the kind of mentorship that helps Canada’s businesses operate at the highest level.”

EY will present the award to Pond at the Atlantic Entrepreneur Of The Year awards gala in Moncton, New Brunswick on 5 October 2017. 

Nielsen Takes on Sentrant Assets, Staff

Ali Ghorbani: The UNB Computer Science Dean was a Sentrant Co-Founder

Ali Ghorbani: The UNB Computer Science Dean was a Sentrant Co-Founder

Sentrant Solutions, the Fredericton cybersecurity company that combats fraudulent online advertising, has quietly exited, with the media-rating giant Nielsen Holdings buying key assets and hiring its personnel.

Sentrant has never announced the transaction, and two Sentrant co-founders did not respond to emails last week. But a spokesperson for Nielsen confirmed that the deal has taken place. It’s understood the deal closed in the first few months of this year.

“Nielsen did not acquire Sentrant Security’s entire business but rather some selected technology assets and hired key talent,” said the spokesperson, who asked not to be named.

Sentrant started in 2014 as a cybersecurity company that developed out of work carried out at University of New Brunswick. It evolved into a specialist in detecting and fighting fraudulent online advertising schemes that use sophisticated botnets. It helped corporate marketers control their advertising campaigns better without worrying about cyber-criminals influencing the messaging with hard-to-detect malware.

The Sentrant technology is now owned by Nielsen, a British company that operates in more than 100 countries and employs 44,000 people worldwide. Its total revenues were US$6.2 billion in 2015. The company has also hired two of the Sentrant co-founders, according to their LinkedIn profiles — chief technical officer Ehsan Mokhtari and ad fraud detection specialist Hadi Shiravi. At least one Sentrant developer has also joined Nielsen.

The Nielsen spokesperson declined to reveal any financial terms of the deal. But it appears to not have been a large amount as Nielsen is a publicly traded company and would have had to disclose a substantial transaction.

The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and Technology Venture Corporation (the Moncton investment fund run by tech veterans Jon Manship and Susan Hicks) each invested $250,000 in Sentrant in 2014.

Whelan, UNB Shine at Regional Startup Canada Awards

Sentrant had a storied if brief history. The company was originally called Ara Labs and was established under the oversight of Ali Ghorbani, UNB’s version of a Swiss Army knife. Ghorbani is the dean of computer science at the university, and a co-founder of not only Ara Labs/Sentrant but also social media monitoring company Eyesover. He was recently named the Canada Research Chair in cybersecurity and last week captured the regional Startup Canada Award for senior entrepreneurship.

Mokhtari and Shiravi were PhD candidates studying under Ghorbani when they launched the company. Ghorbani moved on to oversee his other duties and to co-found Eyesover. Mokhtari and Shiravi grew Sentrant, and in late 2014 the two natives of Iran became two of the first Atlantic Canadians to secure permanent residency through the federal government’s Start-up Visa Program.

Though the quasi-exit of Sentrant did not produce a big payout for investors, people familiar with the deal say the backers hope the operations continue to grow in the Fredericton area. The New Brunswick capital has a rich ecosystem for cybersecurity research and development, including the Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence at UNB. There have been other recent examples of New Brunswick companies that have had modest exits and grown large operations in the province.

Venn Offers Pan-Regional Workshops

Venn Innovation, the Moncton-based tech support organization, has announced a series of workshops to be held across the region to help startups learn more about competitive intelligence.

The organization said last week the workshops this fall will be conducted by renowned competitive intelligence expert Jonathan Calof.

Venn Innovation said in a statement it is launching the educational series because companies that can effectively assess risk and opportunity are ultimately able to grow and succeed more effectively.

These workshops are designed to teach companies to build strategies that consider internal and

external factors that will impact their operations.

“Companies can’t succeed on great resources, strategy and management alone,” said Calof in the statement. “They can only succeed if the external environment cooperates with them.”

Venn is organizing the workshops with support from ACOA, Innovacorp in Nova Scotia, the Genesis Centre in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the PEI Business Women’s Association.

 “Connecting entrepreneurs to critical resources for growth and long-term sustainability is a

significant focus for us,” said Venn CEO Doug Robertson. “This initiative will give companies in our region the opportunity to get world-class training, insight and advice here at home that will enable them to reach their global markets.”

You can register here for the workshops, which will be held at:

Nova Scotia: Oct. 16 at Innovacorp’s Technology Innovation Centre.

New Brunswick: Oct. 23 at the Venn Centre.

Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. dates will be announced soon. 

Innovacorp Unveils $1.7M in Funding

Nova Scotian startups will soon have the opportunity to access about $1.7 million in non-dilutive financing through new programs unveiled by Innovacorp in the last few weeks.

The Nova Scotia innovation agency and early stage venture capital fund has made several announcements in the past few weeks. It’s worth stepping back and taking a look at what they mean for startups in the province.

Until last year, Innovacorp used to stage its biennial I-3 competition, which in 2015-16 offered almost $1 million in prizes in money and services. Then it also offered its Spark competition in specific regions, which would provide grants of $10,000 to $50,000 to each winner. And the agency made VC investments in promising companies, amounting to about $5 million or $6 million a year.

The VC aspect of what Innovacorp does will be unchanged in the future – it will still back early stage companies that are gaining traction. But other things are changing.

The biggest change is that the I-3 competition has been scrapped, and the Spark competition will now take place in four regions simultaneously, covering the entire province. An Innovacorp spokeswoman said that the 2017 edition of Spark will be a chance to assess the enlarged program. If it’s successful, Sprack in its new form could become an annual event. Whereas the I-3 awarded $950,000 every second year, the Spark competition is on track to award $800,000 each year.

The competition – applications for with close Sept. 21 – will award $200,000 in grants each of four regions across the province. Each applicant is eligible for as much as $50,000 in funding. Details can be found here.

Fraser To Succeed Duff at Innovacorp

Last week, Innvoacorp issued another statement saying that there would be a series of competitions that would offer further funding and in-kind services to two specific sectors – oceans and cleantech.

The agency said in a statement that the Nova Scotia government and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will back six business acceleration programs this fall, offering funding worth a total of $920,000. Most of the money will be paid out directly to the participants, though some may be paid to service providers assisting the startups.

These programs, to be managed by Innovacorp, will include a new Blue Solutions competition to find innovative ways to address problems in the ocean sector. There are also three other programs to help ocean technology companies develop their products and business models and demonstrate their prototypes in a real-life setting. And two programs will help cleantech companies address technical and business milestones and move closer to investment readiness.

“We’re investing in these programs to build on the tremendous ocean technology and clean technology development happening across Nova Scotia,” said Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Business. “Our investments will help innovators and start-ups move their projects forward, helping us create opportunities for young Nova Scotians.”

Calls for submissions for the ocean-tech and cleantech programs will be made throughout September. 

Job of the Week: Dash Hudson’s SDR

Dash Hudson’s opening for a Sales Development Representative in Halifax is the focus of this edition of Job of the Week.

Halifax-based Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and video, 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.

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.

Halifax

Dash Hudson

Sales Development Representative

Dash Hudson is looking for a sales development representative, who will be a critical piece to the growth and development of Dash Hudson's sales process. He or she will manage a creative and customized outreach strategy to potential customers in verticals such as fashion, beauty, luxury, travel, food, publishing and consumer electronics. Through developing and maintaining the early stages of the sales pipeline, the successful candidate will contribute to the overall success of the sales team. The position carries three main responsibilities: first, managing lead generation; second, overseeing custom outreach process, and third, being responsible for performance and tracking. The company is looking for a super-organized individual with a desire to learn and improve processes, with strong written and verbal communication skills, and who is self-motivating.

Whelan, UNB Shine at Startup Awards

Anne​ ​Whelan of St. John’s and the University of New Brunswick walked away as the big winners at the regional Startup Canada Awards celebration in Fredericton on Thursday night.

Whelan,​ ​President​ ​and​ ​CEO of ​Seafair​ ​Capital​ ​Inc., was named Entrepreneur of the Year for Atlantic Canada. Seafair is a diversified investment firm that has backed nine companies that together employ more than 700 people. The fund aims to unlock the potential in existing businesses and on acquiring medium-sized companies in related sectors that are ready to explore their next stage of growth.

Three members of the UNB startup community claimed awards -- Dhirendra Shukla, the head of UNB’s Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program; Ali Ghorbani, the Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity and the Dean of Computer Science; and entrepreneur Jordan Kennie, a Co-Founder of Stash Energy of Fredericton.

Startup Canada, the national organization promoting entrepreneurship, each year holds regional awards across the country. The 10 Atlantic Canadian winners will now compete for the national awards, which will be announced in Ottawa on Oct. 19.

“This is tremendous and well-deserved recognition for all three of these innovators at the University of New Brunswick,” said UNB President Eddy Campbell in a statement. “We’re so very proud of Jordan, who has proven his mettle through the Summer Institute at UNB as well as our diploma and master’s programs in technology management and entrepreneurship. On top of all that, he earned a place as one of the first to be accepted into our new Energia Ventures accelerator.”

​​Kennie​ won the Young Entrepreneur Award for launching the company ​Stash​ ​Energy, which has developed cost-effective energy storage technology. ​ ​Ghorbani,​ who is a serial entrepreneur as well as holding a range of academic posts, won the Senior Entrepreneur Award for founding the social media monitoring company Eyesover.

​ ​Shukla won the Entrepreneur Promotion Award for his role in founding the​ ​Energia​ ​Ventures accelerator.

“It really is a nice nod to the hard work and determination of a number of people here at the University of New Brunswick who are so passionate about entrepreneurship,” said Shukla in an email. “I’m thrilled that Energia, in particular, is being recognized. It’s been less than a year since we launched and we’re flying high.”

The Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre, at Acadia University in Wolfville, won the regional award for Entrepreneur Support. With a focus on entrepreneurship in rural areas, the AEC has been delivering workshops for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and not-for-profits for over 28 years.

The winner of the Innovation Award for Atlantic Canada is BlueLight Analytics, the Halifax company that helps dentists ensure they are using just the right amount of energy when curing the resin in fillings.

B4checkin Inc., the Halifax company that provides cloud-based software to the hospitality industry, won the award for High-Growth Entrepreneurship.

Christina​ ​Dove,​ St. John’s, ​Owner of the​ ​Newfoundland​ ​Chocolate​ ​Company, won the Woman Entrepreneurship Award. Bibilyn​ ​Designs​ ​Inc., Shippagan, N.B., won the Social Enterprise Award; Bibilyn is a fashion company that donates a portion of its sales to combatting domestic violence. And Remsoft, the Fredericton company that makes software for the forestry industry, captured the Global Entrepreneurship Award.

The regional winners will now be evaluated by the National Adjudication Committee, comprising some of Canada’s leading entrepreneurship and industry experts. The national awards ceremony will take place in conjunction with Startup Canada Day on the Hill, in which the startup community gathers on Parliament Hill to promote entrepreneurship. 

Jaza, SomaDetect Join CIX Top 20

Sebastian Manchester, right, and Jeff Schnurr at a Jaza Energy installation in Africa.

Sebastian Manchester, right, and Jeff Schnurr at a Jaza Energy installation in Africa.

Two Atlantic Canadian companies – Fredericton-based SomaDetect and Jaza Energy, which based in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – have been named to the prestigious CIX Top 20 by the Canadian Innovation Exchange.

Jaza is a solar energy startup that operates in Sub-Saharan Africa. By building solar charging stations in off-grid communities, Jaza powers households by selling their customers batteries, which are used to power lights and mobile phones. The company is on track to power 30 communities by the end of the year.

“Jaza is working to solve a huge problem and it’s great that the Canadian innovation and startup community is behind us,” said CEO Jeff Schnurr. “There are 1.2 billion people living without access to electricity around the globe and we believe that we can solve that problem with clean and affordable solar energy.”

The company was founded by Schnurr and Sebastian Manchester and has powered more than 500 households using affordable solar energy. The company aims to serve the 600 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa without access to electricity.

Somru BioScience Maps Out Aggressive Expansion

Founded by CEO Bethany Deshpande, SomaDetect is on a heck of a roll lately. Its inclusion in the CIX Top 20 comes weeks after it won $50,000 from the Fierce Founder Bootcamp at Communitech in Kitchener, Ont. Earlier this year, the company won the $180,000 second-place prize in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru competition.

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 CIX Top 20 Program had a record number of applications this year, with a high proportion of early-stage companies with less than $100,000 in revenue,” said CIX Executive Director Lauren Linton in a statement. “It is exciting to see so many young tech companies with such great potential to contribute to Canada s success as a global innovation leader.”

The CEO of each CIX Top 20 company will present at CIX 2017 on Oct. 17-18 and share their story and innovation to a crowd of more than 750 investors and peers in the North American technology ecosystem.

Atlantic Canada has done well in the CIX competition the last few years. In 2016, Gemba Software of Saint John was named to the list. In 2015, Atlantic Canada had three entries in the Top 20 – RtTech Software of Moncton, and LeadSift and SkySquirrel Technologies, both of Halifax.

The other members of the 2017 CIX Top 20 are:

Aspect Biosystems, Vancouver

Automat, Montreal

BioConnect, Toronto

Clio, Burnaby

Cloud DX, Kitchener

Dot health, Toronto

Elucid Labs,

Waterloo FI.SPAN, Vancouver

GBatteries, Ottawa

Hubdoc , Toronto

integrate.ai, Toronto

Litmus Automation, Toronto

MindBridge Analytics, Ottawa

Pyrowave, Montreal

SecureKey Technologies, Toronto

StackAdapt, Toronto

Tealbook, Toronto

Top Hat , Toronto

Somru Plans Aggressive Expansion

Researchers work away at a Somru facility in Charlottetown.

Researchers work away at a Somru facility in Charlottetown.

As Somru BioScience puts the finishing touches on its new 5,000-square-foot headquarters in Charlottetown, its leaders are already talking about doubling its size next year and eventually building a 20,000-square foot facility.

The reason for the aggressive expansion plans is the company, which has developed a series of tools for the early detection of diseases, recently formed a joint venture with a major pharmaceutical company in Bangladesh. The P.E.I. company expects the partnership with Radiant Pharmaceuticals will produce sales of $50 million over five years — that’s just the cut for Somru itself. With such strong sales growth, the company expects its Charlottetown staff will grow from the current level of 15 people to about 100.

“We look forward to a fast expansion in Bangladesh to strengthen our footprint in the growing health sector, leveraging our own unique products and technical expertise developed in Canada for international markets,” said Somru vice-president Mohammed Moin.

Having been in business for about five years, Somru already has 70 clients in more than 20 countries, though its joint venture with Radiant is easily its biggest deal yet. Radiant is a drug manufacturing company that has grown into a multinational enterprise with more than 1,000 employees since it received its first licensing deal with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. of Basel, Switzerland in 2005.

In an interview, Moin said the joint venture will use Somru’s tools in the Bangladeshi market to ensure the early diagnosis of diseases like diabetes and cancer. Somru decided to form a new company with Radiant rather than just selling the Bangladeshi company its products so it could gain from the success of the business.

PEI Launches Early Stage Investment Fund

The story of Somru began about 15 years ago when Moin came to Canada from his native Bangladesh to attend the University of Prince Edward Island. Meanwhile, his brother Rafiq Islam had attended university in Nebraska. The two brothers shared ideas for developing a company around Rafiq’s research into disease detection. They launched the company in 2012, choosing Charlottetown as the headquarters because of its support network for biotech companies.

“There are very good incubation services available in P.E.I. and there was space available,” said Moin. “So we thought it would be a good place to undertake research and development and commercialize our products.”

Today, Somru offers a range of products centred around antibody technology for research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications. The company uses a unique technology that produces antibodies that bind more readily with or draw greater responses from living tissue than other products.

The company is now working out of three facilities in the Charlottetown area, and Phase 1 of its new headquarters in the BioCommons Research Park should allow them to consolidate their operations within a month. Last spring, Somru said it would finance the new facility with a $500,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and additional funding worth $450,000 from the provincial government. The company has also worked with such groups on P.E.I. as the EmerGence biotech incubator.

So far, Moin said the brothers have not raised external funds, preferring to retain equity as their family provided early stage financing. But he added that he has begun discussions about raising equity capital. financing. These discussions are continuing as some potential investors want to invest in specific products and other want to back the whole company.

Invest Atlantic To Feature Alistair Croll

Alistair Croll, Visiting Executive at Harvard Business School

Alistair Croll, Visiting Executive at Harvard Business School

Celebrated author and tech guru Alistair Croll will be the keynote speaker at Invest Atlantic, which for the first time is being held in St. John’s.

For the past eight years, Invest Atlantic has aimed to be a meeting place of founders, funders and support organizations from around the region. Organized by Jameson Consulting Group, the conference was held in Halifax for several years before moving to New Brunswick last year and now Newfoundland and Labrador. It expects at least 275 people will attend the event. Registration is available here.

“The biggest thing for us is that St. John’s is an up and coming entrepreneurship market,” said Jameson spokesman David Finlayson. “We’ve had great support [from the community]. They’re making sure that the important people who should be there know about it and will be there.”

Invest Atlantic will take place September 19 and 20. On Day 1, there will be a series of workshops that are open to the public, and the Pitch 101 and Pitch 201 pitching competitions. Day 2 will feature a series of panel discussions on a range of topics of interest to entrepreneurs.

In choosing Croll as its keynote speaker, the organizers have chosen someone familiar with Atlantic Canada. Croll is a Dalhousie University grad whose career includes being an entrepreneur, author and conference organizer. He may be best known as the co-author (along with former Halifax resident Benjamin Yoskovitz) of Lean Analytics: Use Data To Build a Better Startup Faster. He is now a visiting executive at the Harvard School of Business.

Croll will deliver his keynote address during Day 1.

Finlayson said that one of the panel sessions that should be interesting is the closing session, which is called “Story-Telling with Investors & Beer”. The idea is that the bar opens and a group of investors chat informally with the delegates. “We feel more comes out of more relaxed sessions, when people are just sitting down and telling stories and enjoying themselves,” said Finlayson.

He also said there will be about 15 companies pitching in the Pitch 101 and 201 competitions, in which founders get one minute to describe their businesses. Though the lists are not quite complete, Pitch 101 (for new companies) will include DroneNL, Trip Ninja, and Peter Lane Foods. Pitch 201 (for more advanced companies) will feature such companies as Neck Tronics, Agile Sensors Technology, Fytics, and Wreckhouse Energy.

As it has in past years, Invest Atlantic has its Host an Entrepreneur program, in which established members of the community can help cover the registration costs of less experienced and novice entrepreneurs. Finlayson said there are still spots open for young founders interested in attending. They can register here.

Overall he foresees a conference at which a range of entrepreneurs can make the connections and learn the skills they need to succeed.

“People should come to the event if they’re interest in many facets of entrepreneurship with a focus on ownership and business growth in any sized enterprise,” said Finlayson. “We’re bringing together a mix of service providers, funders and founders and you can come away with exposure to all of them.”

Disclaimer: Invest Atlantic is a client of Entrevestor. 

UNB Unveils Innovation Fellowships

The University of New Brunswick has announced the creation of a post-doctoral fellowship program focused on innovation, the latest in a string of initiatives at UNB to enhance the development of new technologies.

The Fredericton university said in a statement on Tuesday it had received a $1.25 million gift from The McCain Foundation, which will fund the new fellowships.

The goal is to equip PhD graduates with the resources they need to transform their research into a product ready for market. These two- to three-year fellowships are valued at $50,000 per year and will be awarded competitively on an annual basis.

The McCain Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Innovation are designed to attract top early-career researchers to UNB. Over the course of their tenure, they will deepen their expertise in a specialist subject under the mentorship of faculty and through partnerships with industry leaders.

UNB has made several announcements lately in the tech and innovation space as it boosts its programing in research, commercialization and a combination of the two. The university announced the opening of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity in January, and the new Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in May. Last December, it launched its Energia Accelerator for companies in the energy, cleantech and cybersecurity fields, and last October, RBC donated $1 million to its entrepreneurship program.

“I wish to extend my thanks to The McCain Foundation for this exceptional gift,” said UNB President Eddy Campbell in the statement. “The McCain name is synonymous with entrepreneurship and innovation in New Brunswick and these new fellowships will carry on that legacy. They will attract highly trained and experienced researchers who will promote and encourage vital partnerships between academia and industry with potential benefits for all Canadians.”

Campbell added the McCain Fellowships will play a key role in driving discovery, expanding knowledge, and advancing the economy in the province and beyond.

Beauceron Moves Past Adopter Stage

The inaugural recipient of the McCain Fellowship is Edward Cyr. He came to UNB from the University of Waterloo in May, and began building his research program at the Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre. He is investigating the role that artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing play in the evolution of printed materials such as advanced stainless steels and aluminum alloys. He expects that the results will have applications in the marine industry, as well as the automotive, construction, and aircraft industries.

Linda McCain, chair of The McCain Foundation, said the fellowships will provide unique training opportunities for early-career researchers. “We believe that these fellowships will enhance the recipients’ specialized expertise and also give them valuable skills that will translate their ideas into more opportunities for themselves and others in New Brunswick,” she said. 

Showcasing High-Growth Companies

Travis McDonough's Kinduct will be one of seven companies presenting Monday.

Travis McDonough's Kinduct will be one of seven companies presenting Monday.

A startup event is taking place in Halifax next Monday that isn’t really about startups. It’s a showcase for high-growth innovation companies, most with international customers. With luck, the attendees will include the broader business community, as this is the perfect opportunity to witness the potential of the startup community.

Startup Halifax will host the free showcase Sept. 11 at the Halifax Central Library. (You can register for the event here.) The seven presenting companies are all in their growth stages — they have developed their products, found clients and are growing strongly.

The word startup can be misleading. It literally means a new company. But it has come to mean a young company that’s commercializing technology and has massive growth potential.

“We hope this evening of presentations will dispel the myth that startups are only little businesses . . . playing with technology,” Startup Halifax president John Hamblin said in a statement. “This is an opportunity for members of the broader business community to witness the exciting developments in the local tech and innovation community.”

CarbonCure's Tech in California Rail Project

Hamblin said the seven companies employ a total of about 300 people. One, STI Technologies, was acquired by a multinational company this year, reportedly for more than $200 million. The other six have raised collectively well over $20 million in venture capital and angel investment in the last year alone. They are:

Fundmetric, Halifax — Fundmetric’s software helps charities and not-for-profits raise money. The company, which recently participated in the Creative Destruction Lab, has attracted clients throughout North America.

Kinduct Technology, Halifax — The 2015 CBC Innovation Company of the Year winner has developed data analytics and AI software to enhance sports performance and health. Kinduct raised US$9 million last year in a funding round led by Intel Capital.

The Money Finder, Halifax — The Money Finder has developed a unique Cash Flow Training approach to financial management. The company, which raised $1.8 million in venture capital this year, has designed software for both training planners and cash flow analysis.

SimplyCast, Dartmouth — This company’s sophisticated marketing systems acquire and manage customers for all types of businesses. SimplyCast recently introduced EmergHub, a platform that enhances communication for teams responding to emergencies.

Spring Loaded Technology, Dartmouth — Spring Loaded manufactures the Levitation knee brace, which uses a “liquid spring” to store energy as you bend the knee, returning it as you straighten up. Spring Loaded recently received $2.46 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities’ Agency’s Atlantic Innovation Fund.

STI Technologies, Halifax — Over 15 years, STI built a patient-management system that enhanced the way pharma companies distribute drug samples to patients. The company was acquired by U.S. multinational QuintilesIMS in January.

TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, Truro — TruLeaf is a pioneer in building simple, cost-effective and scalable indoor farms. The company, which last year raised $8.5 million in equity capital, is now building a facility in Guelph, Ont., to service the Toronto market.

What’s interesting is that it there were so many other candidates that could have been put on a stage to showcase Nova Scotian growth-stage startups. Halifax-area companies like Blue Light Analytics, Dash Hudson, CarbonCure or Proposify all fit the bill. And this is just Nova Scotia. There is a vast range of so-called startups across Atlantic Canada that are becoming bona fide corporations.

Fraser to Succeed Duff at Innovacorp

Innovacorp last week named its new boss and unveiled the makeup of its new-and-improved Spark competition. And the Nova Scotia innovation agency is expected to have a third announcement later this month – the winner of the competition to set up a new venture capital fund in Halifax.

Malcom Fraser has been selected as the President and CEO of the Crown corporation. He will take over from Stephen Duff on Oct. 2.

Fraser started ISL Internet Solutions Ltd., later rebranded as MODE, in 1995, and grew the company to be Atlantic Canada’s top digital agency, said Innovacorp in a statement. ISL coached many businesses through digital transformation including Stanfield’s, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Tourism Nova Scotia. In 2016, ISL was acquired by Vancouver-based digital marketing agency FCV Interactive and Fraser joined the firm’s executive team.

"After an extensive search which generated interest from across Canada, we’ve landed a fantastic new leader for Innovacorp," Innovacorp Board Chair Rodney Burgar said in the statement. "Malcolm is an entrepreneur, through and through. He’s built and led a technology company and he’s hustled to acquire clients and raise capital. Recently he led his company through a successful acquisition by a national company.”

Fraser has a bachelor of commerce in marketing and economics from Mount Allison University. He is board chair at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, research committee chair at Destination Canada, a board member with the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation and Sobey Art Foundation, and past chair of ITANS, now Digital Nova Scotia.

"I am very excited about this role," said Fraser. “I’m eager to dive in, get to better know all the players in our start-up ecosystem and strengthen Innovacorp’s contribution to the community.”

Innovacorp Invested $5.6M in 2016-17

Innovacorp last week also unveiled its plan for the new Spark competition, which will be held in four regions simultaneously this fall. Details of the competition, which will award a total of $800,000 in non-dilutive funding, can be found here.

The Spark competition started in Cape Breton in 2014, awarding seeding funding between $10,000 and $50,000 to a handful of startups. The idea was to give entrepreneurs a bit of support, and then see who grows. Innovacorp also held a Spark West in Western Nova Scotia last year.

The agency said earlier this year it would no longer hold its biennial I-3 competition, but would expand Spark. The competition will award $200,000 in each of four regions, and each applicant is eligible for as much as $50,000 in funding. Applications close Sept. 21.

Another major initiative that Innovacorp is due to complete soon is the creation of a new venture capital fund in Halifax.

The provincial government will put up $25 million for the fund and has received proposals from seven private-sector players interested in bringing in additional money and managing the fund.

The announcement of the winner had been expected earlier this year but was delayed because of the provincial election. Spokeswoman Dawn House said the announcement is expected by the end of September.

Disclaimer: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.

Jobs: Dash Hudson, DGI Clinical

Today, our Jobs of the Week column is featuring two openings at dynamic startups in Halifax – Dash Hudson is looking for a Customer Success Representative and DGI Clinical needs an office manager and bookkeeper.

Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and video, 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.

DGI Clinical is focused on the provision of tools and techniques for patient-centered research and health care. DGI has a focus on individualized outcome measurement and works with clients to build SymptomGuides.

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.

Halifax

Dash Hudson

Customer Success Representative

Dash Hudson is a smarter way to market through photo and video. Our visual intelligence platform provides brands with the a one-stop solution to create, source, measure, and enhance the engagement of their photos and videos.

Dash Hudson works with the raddest, most discerning brands and publishers in the world.

Your Role:

As a Customer Success Representative, you will be one of the founding members of our Customer Success team who will work to help our customers with their visual marketing strategies, maximize the value they get from the Dash Hudson platform, and increase the lifetime value of Dash Hudson customers.  . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

DGI Clinical

Office Manager and Bookkeeper

The Office Manager, is a key contributor responsible the financial, administrative function and day-to-day office operations at DGI Clinical. The Office Manager will contribute through supporting company operations in the areas of: finances, payroll, office supplies, systems and records, travel support and other administrative tasks.

Responsibilities

Financial:

•Record all financial transactions in Quickbooks and ensure records are maintained on Hubdoc

•Performing bookkeeping for the company including performing the full cycle day to day accounting function, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, bank reconciliations, monthly financial statements, GL entries, year-end closing and adjusting entries. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

If You Need Us, We’ll Be at the Beach

As we have done every year, we're taking a brief holiday from Entrevestor in the last week of August. 

So unless there's big, big news new week, you won't be hearing from us until the Tuesday after Labour Day. Then we'll dive into a busy, busy autumn. 

Take care. Peter and Carol. 

Telling the B Corp Story Through Film

Joel Thompson: 'I’ve always been interested in telling stories of social good.'

Joel Thompson: 'I’ve always been interested in telling stories of social good.'

A New Brunswick-made documentary that explains the benefits of starting a social venture and gaining B Corp (Benefit Corporation) certification will soon be available for public viewing.

A social venture is a business that aims to solve a social or environmental problem as well as turn a profit. Social ventures are becoming more common and more influential.

The new 15-minute documentary, B is for Benefit, was created by Joel Thompson, founder of Fredericton film production company East Lens Media. It features some of those best-known for promoting social entrepreneurship in the region.

In it, they speak passionately about moving away from the customary focus on profit to a new emphasis on the three Ps — people, planet, profit — that characterize a social venture.

For Thompson, making the film proved educational.

“I’ve always been interested in telling stories of social good, but I’d never heard of B Corp, didn’t realize it was a thing,” he said.

He learned that B Corp certification is a globally recognized way to prove that a business’ ethics are sound in everything from sourcing to marketing.

There are now more than 2,000 B Corps in more than 50 countries; 13 in Atlantic Canada. (Certification is dispensed by Pennsylvania-based B-Lab, the non-profit that launched the movement in 2006.)

“Our documentary was funded by the Pond-Deshpande Centre at University of New Brunswick, which works to support social ventures,” Thompson said. “I had no idea about Pond-Deshpande either but they’re there to support people starting businesses for the right reasons — because they want to change their communities.

“Now I’m hoping to show the documentary in high schools, to show students that creating a successful business is a great way to effect change.”

Should Tech Startups Become B Corps?

Making the documentary was a natural progression for Thompson. Two years ago, he created the Facebook-based social enterprise Friendly Fred, which uses video to tell stories of social good being done in and around Fredericton. Thompson intends to extend the idea to cover the entire Atlantic region.

“Friendly Fred got going because when I was producing films for companies and people in and around New Brunswick I’d often hear about positive things in the community, such as a fundraiser,” he said.

“I felt those people were not getting attention. It hit me that as a videographer I could tell those stories.”

Thompson, now 33, has been in the business of making movies for the last 17 years. He’s worked on well-known feature films, such as Growing Op, Sticks and Stones, and American Sunset. He has also produced many short films, feature films, documentaries and music videos. One short film, Boxface, won several awards.

Born in Nova Scotia, he moved to Fredericton at age six and got into videography at 10 when his dad, Pastor Paul Thompson, brought home a video camera.

Thompson and his colleague, videographer Jesse Anthony, are currently finishing their documentary’s final edit.

The film will initially be screened on Sept. 15 at a showing for those involved. Afterwards, the makers will brainstorm ideas on how to best use it.

“I’d love the documentary to be a tool to be shown at conferences,” Thompson said, “and to show to young people, to show young entrepreneurs that they can make a difference.

“Even if you don’t become a B Corp, you can be a triple-bottom line business. You can have those values of people, planet and profits in your DNA.”

Thompson said people interested in screening the documentary can contact him through his company.

Beauceron Moves Past Adopter Stage

Chatting with David Shipley on Monday, I was curious to know how a guy goes from being a business journalist to CEO of an up-and-coming cybersecurity startup. It happens when the guy works in-between the two for an organization that receives half a billion cyberattack attempts each week.

Shipley is the co-founder and CEO of Beauceron Security, a Fredericton company that measures clients’ cybersecurity risks. A former business reporter with the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, he spent five years as the director of strategic initiatives of information technology services at the University of New Brunswick.

He was amazed at the attempts to hack the university’s IT system — 500 million attempts each week. He explained that many of these cybercriminals use Canadian universities as a beachhead for broader attacks in Canada.

“They’re what’s known as brute force attacks and are the cyber equivalent of rattling the doorknob or trying a window,” said Shipley. “They’re noisy, but the truly dangerous attacks are the malicious emails, and we saw an increase in those from 140,000 to more than 1.79 million between 2015 (and) 2016.”

Beauceron helps businesses and organizations protect themselves against this sort of attack — and, of course, more severe attacks. It’s an online product that helps organizations assess whether they have the right systems and culture to protect themselves. Named for a sheepdog from Northern France, it helps organizations make sure they’re not sheep in a world full of wolves.

“Most cybersecurity companies are founded by people steeped in math, computer science and engineering — let’s call them systems thinkers,” said Shipley. “There’s a bias (among them) that says that people are stupid. They’re going to click on links so you need a better system. But we believe that if a company is full of stupid people, then cybersecurity is not its greatest problem.”

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Beauceron introduces all employees to the realities of cyber crimes, and offers them a simple quiz that can test their knowledge of cyber-risks and online habits. It even sends these employees emails that resemble messages from hackers — If the employee clicks on them, Beauceron knows they need extra attention.

Shipley, COO Benjamin Steeves and CTO Sean McDougall began working on the company in 2015 and last year took it into UNB’s Energia Accelerator. Their company offers a subscription service so that, over time, it provides a scoring system to indicate if organizations and individuals are improving in their cybersecurity.

The company has partnered with such leading New Brunswick tech companies as Mariner and Bulletproof Solutions, which have become resellers of its product. It also raised $500,000 in equity investment in June from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and East Valley Ventures. The company has used the money to build up its development team. It now has five full-time and five part-time employees.

As well as money, Shipley said the investment round brought invaluable relationships that have helped the startup grow into a bona fide business. For example, Jeff White, the CFO of East Valley Ventures, now serves as Beauceron’s CFO.

Beauceron now has 15 customers, including such large organizations as Mariner and the City of Fredericton.

Shipley said the company expects to break even on a cash flow basis in the second quarter of 2018.

“We’re now moving out of the early-adopter stage,” said Shipley. “The fact that we’ve recruited 15 clients already demonstrates the interest and the enthusiasm for the product.”

Irvings Donate $2.2m to Dal’s IDEA

Irving Oil has donated $2.2 million to Dalhousie University’s upcoming Innovation and Design in Engineering and Architecture project, more commonly known as the IDEA project.

According to a post in Dal News, the Saint John oil and gas company has made a substantial contribution to the $64-million project in Dalhousie’s downtown Sexton campus.

The Irving donation will include the new $1.5 million, 450-seat Irving Oil Auditorium – a state-of-the-art learning space designed to meet the needs of engineering students and available for public presentations, performances and lectures. 

Irving will also provide more than $700,000 to support high-performing engineering students who’ve completed their second year of studies. As well as providing 10 scholarships of $7,500 annually, the 10-year commitment includes a co-op placement with Irving Oil for each recipient.

“As an Atlantic Canadian company, committed to our communities, we know that our young talent and future leaders want to stay here — provided the opportunities exist,” said Mark Sherman, Irving Oil’s vice-president and chief operating officer. “Building that dynamic, innovative regional economy starts here at home, by investing in our higher education.”

Irving Oil also supported the Engineering orientation program in 2016, helping to foster a culture of safety from the moment the students step on campus, said Dal News.

Propel Applications Close Friday

There are just two days left to apply for the next cohort of Propel ICT, the regional IT accelerator.

The organization, whose goal is to find and support the first $1 billion tech company in Atlantic Canada, has been holding information sessions across the region to tell prospective participants about its program offerings. It wants participants to understand which program is best suited to accelerate their startup, and the outcomes they can expect to see throughout the accelerator.

The organization is (or soon will be) closing in on bringing its 200th company through its programs.

Propel ICT holds an advanced Build program in Moncton with each cohort, designed to help companies with a product to scale their businesses. It also holds its more rudimentary Launch cohorts in different cities across the region to help new companies work toward a product-market fit. So far, Launch cohorts have been held in Halifax and Fredericton with each cohort, and in other cities depending largely on the supply of companies in each place that meet its criteria.  For example, in the most recent cohort, there was a program offered in Sydney, and in previous cohorts they were offered in Charlottetown and St. John’s.

The applications for the fall cohort end on Aug. 25. You can find applications and more information here

HelpMeOrder Expands Into Toronto

A year after a launching in Atlantic Canada, HelpMeOrder has just expanded its dish-rating service into the Greater Toronto Area, hoping to capture clients in Canada’s culinary capital. 

Based in St. John’s and Mississauga, HelpMeOrder is a restaurant rating app with a difference. What HelpMeOrder does is let people rate or recommend specific dishes and to share the reviews with friends and people in the local community.

The idea is that people are often confused about what restaurant they want to go to, or once they arrive at a restaurant what dish to order. HelpMeOrder lets them know the plates that people are talking about, so they can sample cuisine that other people have found interesting.

“There are so many great foodie apps out there, but they’re mostly focused on overall restaurant reviews,” said Co-Founder Mina Michail in a statement. “You have to scroll through pages and pages of reviews to get a sense of what’s good. I always had such a hard time deciding.”

Michail and his boyhood friend Peter Francis started the company last year to offer something new to foodies. They bootstrapped the company to develop an app for both iPhone and Android devices and launched it last year for Atlantic Canada, mainly in the St. John’s area, where Francis lives. Working out of the Genesis Centre on the Memorial University campus, Francis focused on the vibrant restaurant scene in the Newfoundland and Labrador capital, though it also had some uptake in Halifax and Moncton.

There were about 1500 downloads of the free app in the first few weeks, then came the challenge of producing a product that people would engage with again and again over time, said Francis in an interview last week. The solution was a feature they have just added – smart location-based notifications that tell users the dishes people are highlighting at restaurants in their cities.

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“We’re now making recommendations of what’s trending in the community and what your friends are writing about and saying you have got to try so you can make your own bucket list,” said Francis.

The new feature has just been rolled out and Francis said the company now has to monitor the market reaction over its first 30 days.

HelpMeOrder, which with through the PropelICT accelerator last year, plans to make money by partnering with the restaurants, many of whom are frustrated by existing online marketing efforts. HelpMeOrder is able to get data on what people like and help restaurants communicate with people who would like their fare. However, first the company has to build up a base of users before restaurants will subscribe to the service.

Meanwhile, the company is launching this month in the GTA, which offers the largest culinary community in Canada. Michail and Francis – who grew up together in Mississauga -- believe Toronto is the right size city to target, and its foodie culture is perfect for HelpMeOrder.

“In recent years in Toronto specifically, there’s been a lot of growth in foody influencers – there are bloggers and instagrammers and the like,” said Francis. “There are tens of thousands of people who follow them just to get recommendations on food. So Toronto is the right place because it’s primed and ready for us.” 

Should Startups Become B Corps?

WoodsCamp Technologies seems like a natural candidate to become a B Corp, but its CEO isn’t rushing to gain certification.

The Mahone Bay, N.S., startup has developed an online tool to help manage private woodlots, identifying the inventory of trees and helping owners and harvesters decide which can be sustainably and profitably cut down. It promises to enable sustainable forestry and prevent clearcutting.

WoodsCamp is a textbook triple-bottom-line company – that is, a business that wants to enhance people and the planet as well as profits. It’s a great fit to become a B Corporation, the global movement to certify businesses that strive to benefit the planet and people as well as their shareholders. But WoodsCamp’s co-founders have decided not to seek B Corp certification, at least not yet.

In fact, most tech startups don’t. As of the end of 2016, Entrevestor was tracking 414 Atlantic Canadian startups--we define startups not as new companies but as locally owned companies commercializing innovation. Only one, Dadavan Systems of Waverly, N.S., is a certified B Corp. It begs the question: should startups seek B Corp certification? Most startups argue their product creates societal or environmental benefits, and the B Corp ethos overlaps nicely with the change-the-world mindset so intrinsic to the startup world. But founders face the question of whether it’s worth the time and expense to gain B Corp certification.

WoodsCamp CEO Alastair Jarvis, for example, believes it would be premature to go through the certification process while he and Co-Founder Will Martin are in the fluid process of determining what their business will become.

“As a startup, we are searching for a business model that works and we don’t know what that business model will be yet – we have hypotheses and we’re testing them,” said Jarvis in an interview.

“For us, certification becomes relevant once you have found a repeatable and scalable business model. . .  If it’s important to you, then certifying that business model as a B Corp makes sense. But all the time you’re searching, it doesn’t make sense to seek certification as a B Corp.”

It’s a view that’s commonly held but not unanimous in the startup world, and even sceptics readily admit that having the official B Corp certification can help with marketing, fundraising and attracting and retaining staff.

Common Good Solutions: Growing with the Social Venture Movement

To gain certification, companies have to establish to Wayne, Penn.-based B Lab, the non-profit organization that launched the movement, that they meet certain metrics in environmental standards, transparency, diversity and philanthropy. The cost to get certified is as little as $500, and people who have done it say the time required can be manageable so long as you have the right documents at your fingertips. To retain the certification, companies have to go through the process again every two years.

Some entrepreneurs believe the benefits of certification outweigh concerns about the time and money needed.

“If they have the value set of really living to benefit the environment and society, they have absolutely nothing to lose by doing it,” said Saint John filmmaker Greg Hemmings, the CEO of Hemmings House Pictures. “My company can send the message to the outside world that we live by those values.”

Hemmings House is one of the 13 Atlantic Canadian B Corps, and Hemmings himself is an official B Corp ambassador. He lists three main reasons to seek certification.

First, it helps marketing to have an instantly recognizable B Corp logo on all marketing material that tells customers the company’s social commitment has been audited. Second, it helps attract and retain employees who want to work for companies that hold such values. And finally, it helps the owners of these companies remain true to their values, even when commercial pressures tempt them to stray.  Above all, he said, a B Corp certification can’t be faked.

“I mean, there’s so much greenwashing out there . . . but when you get a really rigorous certification it proves 100 percent that you are living up to the standards that you’re telling people you’re living.”

One solution is simply for young companies to set internal directives so that they can live up to the ideals of the B Corp movement without going through the process, said Aaron H. Emory, the head of Marketing and Community Development at Propeller Brewing Co. in Halifax, and the former B Corp lead at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District.

“You can just have the directive within your company,” he said. “It’s a good idea just because as corporations we owe it to our fellow man to do better.”

The Task of Finding a Co-Founder

Randy Campbell: 'It's all about resiliency.'

Randy Campbell: 'It's all about resiliency.'

Finding the right co-founders to grow a startup is often a challenge. Just ask entrepreneur Randy Campbell, who has launched ShopLaw, an online platform that helps people find a lawyer to meet their needs and budget.

The serial entrepreneur has spent two years researching the market for his Fredericton-based business and trying to bring consumers and lawyers onto ShopLaw’s platform.

Now he is using that validation to attract co-founders. It’s different from hiring employees. Campbell is looking for people to become part of the business and have a greater exposure to its risks and rewards.

“It’s very challenging,” he says of the process. “When I started ShopLaw I was advised to validate my idea. The more evidence you have that this can work, the better. Talented people have opportunities thrown at them all time. They don’t want to work on something that isn’t of benefit.”

He set out to find five co-founders with different technical skills and positive but realistic expectations.

“It’s all about resiliency, which means being able to adapt and respond quickly and effectively to changing circumstances,” he said.

“You’ll likely find that many of your assumptions may not be true. You may find the economics of the business demand you excel in tasks you are not prepared to excel in. It’s critical to have someone that can focus on overcoming that barrier.”

To spread the word, he relied on his network and launched a co-founder recruitment webpage at randycampbell.ca.

He posted on relevant websites such as AngelList, Founder2be and reddit.com.

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He’s currently working on trial projects with three potential co-founders and is looking for a chief technology officer and a senior salesperson.

Campbell has learned from his earlier experience as a co-founder of YouMeal.ca, founded in his native Charlottetown.

That startup set out to deliver healthy meals to busy families.

“We started with a designer, a programmer, a business strategist, and partnered with a chef,” Campbell said.

“After a few months we had 400 families on our waiting list . . . Soon we realized that the core competency of the business was delivery

“We learned the business required technical skills in optimizing delivery routes and reducing delivery cost.

“ The website technology wasn’t complicated. We didn’t need to have over half our equity stuck in those technical skills . . .”

Before studying business and law — he has an MBA from University of New Brunswick and is currently an articled clerk at Cox & Palmer in Charlottetown — Campbell taught outdoor leadership and led wilderness therapy expeditions.

Those experiences taught him about teams and the common problems that arise. These include leaders not appreciating the work of team members and not communicating expectations clearly.

Like good co-founders, a good team boosts resiliency and creates accountability, he said.

“They’re there to tell you if you aren’t doing what needs to be done in the short term.

:In the long term, it’s only the client’s voice that matters, but their voice is hard to hear sometimes.”

Campbell believes the Canadian market is ripe for a business such as ShopLaw, which aims to improve access to justice, which he says is hindered by a lack of transparency around legal costs and services.

Ventures like ShopLaw are few in Canada, he said, although the market for online legal services is competitive in the U.S. and elsewhere.

“There are many people who are not accessing the legal services they need or desire because the shopping experience is too onerous,” he said.

“Typically, people shop for legal services at a stressful time. Any barrier can be the end of the road. People may live without making a divorce official or without a will, resulting in family turmoil, or without a proper business agreement, leading to conflict.”

So far, Campbell has bootstrapped his venture with his own funds and loans from sources such as the Business Development Bank of Canada, Futurpreneur and the Community Business Development Corporation organization. He is currently seeking investment.

Growing as Social Ventures Increase

As the social entrepreneurship movement gains momentum, Common Good Solutions of Halifax is keeping pace and growing its business locally and internationally.

The company is dedicated to working with a range of stakeholders to nurture businesses that are committed to a triple bottom line, or what’s known as the three Ps — people, planet and profit. The idea is spreading that modern capitalism needs to do more for society than simply reward shareholders, and Common Good Solutions is profiting from the movement.

The company now employs 21 people and in May it launched the Social Enterprise Institute, an online tool that provides training in how to create and grow ethical businesses. Common Good Solutions provides a range of services, from consulting work to advocacy, and its wingspan is lengthening each year.

“We’re in the early days of (the movement) — at the dawn of it, really,” said David Upton, the CEO of the company. “This is going to be one of the themes of the century. Everyone talks about the risks and rewards of business, but we need a third category — the ethical return of a business.”

Upton was speaking in an interview in the boardroom of the company’s headquarters in downtown Halifax — a space it has now outgrown and will soon forsake for larger premises.

Common Good Solutions has come a long way since Upton and co-founder Andy Horsnell launched it in 2012 — the year that Nova Scotia passed legislation enabling “community interest companies,” which are for-profit companies established to support social goals.

CarbonCure's Tech Used in California High-Speed Rail Project

It’s difficult to pinpoint what Common Good Solutions does because it does so many things. It’s an incubator that nurtures triple-bottom-line businesses, and it does some policy work, advising government and others on the development of the ethical business ecosystem. Specializing in social financing, it works across the spectrum of purpose driven organizations — from not-for-profits, to social enterprises, to corporations that embrace corporate social responsibility.

“We exist to build the capital of organizations that exist to deliver social value through entrepreneurship,” said Upton.

As the first Atlantic Canadian company to win a B Corp certification, Common Good Solutions reflects its social mission in its own operations. Its 21 employees include 11 women. About a fifth are from visible minorities and four-fifths are under 30. Everyone is paid at least a “living wage,” which amounts to $37,000 a year in Halifax.

The group made one of its biggest moves ever this year when it launched the Social Enterprise Institute, a sister company with a library of social enterprise training seminars that can be purchased over the internet. The topics range from profit-focused lessons like successful Instagram marketing, to enhancing social or environmental impact through hiring people with disabilities. It now has clients in six countries and in four months has exceeded its first-year sales projections.

The institute is one way that Common Good Solution can take its mission beyond Atlantic Canada.

“We’re using the tools in Nova Scotia, but this is not our market,” said chief financial officer Mike Kennedy, who is also an Acadia University business professor. Referring to the company’s export potential, he added: “We’re on track to becoming the ideal Ivany Report business, and we didn’t even intend to do it.”

PEI Launches Early-Stage Fund

Steve Nicolle: One of four investment directors at Island Capital

Steve Nicolle: One of four investment directors at Island Capital

Island Capital Partners, a new $4-million-plus investment fund, has launched to fund startups and add some investment power to the deepening startup ecosystem on Prince Edward Island,.

The new early-stage investment fund will be managed by a committee of four business people, most with international business experience. They have received commitments of $2 million from the P.E.I. government and roughly the same amount from about 20 angel investors based on the island. The enthusiasm of the private investors may allow the team to increase the size of the fund to as much as $5 million. The founders said in an interview Monday that many of the private investors may also invest individually in some of the companies selected by the fund.

Island Capital is coming about as the startup community on P.E.I. is adding depth and diversity. The Startup Zone has opened in downtown Charlottetown as a working and mentoring space for startups, and the life sciences sector (always a strength on the island) has been strengthened by the development of such support groups as EmerGence and Natural Products Canada.

“There has been a perceptible buzz around Charlottetown in the last little while,” said Island Capital managing investment director Alex MacBeath, a former CEO of Grant Thornton Canada. “The Startup Zone was created about 16 months ago and now we have Island Capital. So there is a lot coming along at this time.”

PEI's Startup Zone Admits Four New Teams

The investment managers for the fund are: Ron Keefe, the former CEO of Charlottetown drug manufacturer BioVectra; Steve Nicolle, former CEO of Halifax-based STI Technologies; and Paul Lypaczewski, who has run several IT companies over the past 30 years.

These four businessmen, who are not receiving a management fee, aim to invest about $200,000 to $400,000 in each company, meaning that the fund has the ability to back about 10-20 high-growth companies.

The investment directors say they will invest only in companies that have high growth potential, and they will mentor the companies to position them to attract further rounds of investment. They would like to participate in follow-on rounds but admit they have limited funds so the later investment rounds will be led by other funds.

Island Capital has already invested in Forestry.io, an IT company that went through TechStars New York last year. The Charlottetown fund is in discussions with five other companies and is tracking a total of 17 startups.

Nicolle stressed that the fund is independent of government. “I would not be involved in this if the government was in any way running the fund and they’re not,” he said. “They’ve giving us complete autonomy.”

The launch of the Island Capital Partners means that all four Atlantic Provinces now have funds supported by provincial governments to provide early-stage financing to startups. The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and Nova Scotia’s Innvoacorp have been in operation for more than a decade. The Invest Newfoundland and Labrador fund, managed by Pelorus Venture Capital, was launched two years ago. The P.E.I. government has been studying how to provide funding to its startups, and has now backed Island Capital.

The funding environment in the region should be further developed soon, as the Nova Scotia government is due to name who will set up a new venture capital fund based in Halifax. About half a dozen firms have applied to manage the fund, which will receive $25 million from the provincial government and is expected to attract capital from other sources. The Halifax-based fund will invest in and beyond Atlantic Canada.

V4C Partners with McInnes Cooper

Venture for Canada, a not-for-profit organization that recruits, trains and supports recent graduates to work at leading Canadian startups, has announced a partnership with McInnes Cooper.

Through this new partnership, McInnes Cooper will provide legal training to Venture for Canada fellows on employment issues and matters related to launching their own businesses. In addition, McInnes Cooper will host and sponsor a series of events and provide pro-bono legal services.

“We are proud to partner with McInnes Cooper as Venture for Canada’s Atlantic Canadian Legal Partner,” Venture for Canada Executive Director Scott Stirrett said in a statement. “This partnership enables us to help more Atlantic Canada based startups gain the talent they need to grow, while strengthening the retention of entrepreneurial recent graduates in Atlantic Canada.”

Venture for Canada’s work aligns with the federal and provincial governments’ Atlantic Growth Strategy, which emphasizes the need to “enhance the region’s capacity to develop, deploy and retain a skilled workforce” as well as to “foster greater business innovation by supporting the scaling up of small firms.”

“McInnes Cooper is delighted to support Venture for Canada,” said Sandra Goodwin, McInnes Cooper’s Managing Director of Client Development. “We’re seeing more and more great startups in Atlantic Canada. Our lawyers are passionate about helping this sector grow, and Venture for Canada is an ideal partner to help boost the talented young people who will make it happen.”

With rich ties to Atlantic Canada’s history, McInnes Cooper serves clients across North America and abroad from six offices in Halifax, St. John’s, Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John, and Charlottetown. The firm has more than 500 employees, including 200 lawyers.

Venture for Canada Fellows spend two years working at a Canadian startup, in addition to a four-week Training Camp, and ongoing mentorship and professional coaching. Through the program, recent graduates gain the experience, network, and training to successfully launch their own firms. For the most recent cohort, more than 2200 Canadian youth applied for only 60 fellowships.

CarbonCure in California Rail Project

Halifax-based CarbonCure Technologies has been selected to help produce environmentally friendly construction materials for the California High-Speed Rail project.

The startup issued a press release Sunday saying that 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.

CarbonCure, which has raised almost $10 million in equity investment, has developed technology that injects carbon into concrete to strengthen it and reduce costs. Traditional concrete production produces huge amounts of carbon dioxide, but the CarbonCure method actually reduces CO2. The company began with a process for concrete blocks and last year launched a process to inject carbon into ready-mix concrete.

“I think it’s important for this industry to align with California’s environmental commitments by adopting greener technologies,” Outback CEO Curtis Lovett said in the statement. “Partnering with CarbonCure is an essential piece in doing our part to improve air quality and preserve the environment.”

Known as one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects under development in the U.S., the California High-Speed Rail project will be a 1300-kilometre rail link connecting the metropolitan areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2029. That first phase of the project is expected to cost US$64 billion. In Phase II, the railway will be extended to Sacramento and San Diego.

TruLeaf Launches Across the Maritimes

Outback will supply nearly half a million cubic yards of concrete for the first sections of the project, part of a 29-mile segment connecting Madera and Fresno counties, in which there are 25 concrete structures. It will install CarbonCure’s technology in its Fresno plant to chemically sequester waste CO2 in the concrete during the manufacturing process.

Outback said it has been dedicated to providing high-quality concrete from six local locations to California’s Central Valley for 50 years. This new equipment will improve not only the environmental impact of the concrete they produce, but the overall integrity of the material, as well. “This partnership solidifies Outback's commitment to help contribute to California’s environmental targets,” said the California company.

"It is truly an honour for CarbonCure have the opportunity to partner with a great producer like Outback Materials and to partake in an infrastructure project with the magnitude of the California High-Speed Rail," said CarbonCure CEO Robert Niven. "If CarbonCure's technology were used to produce the concrete for the rest of the first construction package, spanning from Madera to Fresno, the carbon reductions would be equivalent to the amount of CO2 consumed by 3200 acres of American forest over a year."

CarbonCure’s technology is now being used in a growing number of concrete plants across North America, including several of the world’s largest vertically integrated cement and concrete companies. The company is one of 27 semi-finalists in the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE challenge, which has been called the Nobel Prize for climate technologies. 

Jobs of the week: Dash Hudson

Halifax-based Dash Hudson just keeps on hiring.

Today, our Jobs of the Week column is featuring three Dash Hudson openings – for a front-end web developer, sales development representative and an account executive.

Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and video, 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.

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.

Halifax

Dash Hudson

Sales Development Representative

Dash Hudson is looking for a sales development representative, who will be a critical piece to the growth and development of Dash Hudson's sales process. He or she will manage a creative and customized outreach strategy to potential customers in verticals such as fashion, beauty, luxury, travel, food, publishing and consumer electronics. Through developing and maintaining the early stages of the sales pipeline, the successful candidate will contribute to the overall success of the sales team. The position carries three main responsibilities: first, managing lead generation; second, overseeing custom outreach process, and third, being responsible for performance and tracking. The company is looking for a super-organized individual with a desire to learn and improve processes, with strong written and verbal communication skills, and who is self-motivating.

Account Executive

The account executive will work with Dash Hudson’s sales team on the business development process, contributing to such tasks as lead generation, sales outreach, progress tracking and closing deals. He or she will engage with new and existing leads through creative outreach and follow-up communications. The duties include meeting monthly and quarterly sales quotas, reviewing and qualifying inbound leads, and managing CRM and sales pipeline. Dash Hudson is looking for someone with one to four years of experience in a similar role, and someone with analytical, business development, strategy, and sales skills. The successful candidate must be hyper-organized with equal parts diligent and creative.

Front-End Web Developer

Dash Hudson is looking for talented and motivated engineers across all levels of experience who can thrive in an independent and high pressure environment. The front-end web developer will influence the initial specs for new products and features, build and/or modify backend APIs, write front-end javascript code that consumes APIs. He or she will be responsible for ongoing improvements once the product is deployed. The ideal candidate will display an ability to learn and adapt, possess a problem-solving mentality and take a product-first approach to building software. The company is looking for someone with a bachelor's degree or a year or more of experience doing hands-on software development. Check out the job posting for the technical requirements. 

Muise Turns Anxiety Battle into Startup

Joel Muise

Joel Muise

Entrepreneur Joel Muise’s struggles with mental illness motivated him to found his startup, Tranquility Online. Now Muise is seeking participants to test his online service for treating anxiety.

Muise is looking for 48 people who suffer from anxiety to help him test whether cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered online by a team of coaches is effective.

Muise wants to use coaches rather than therapists because he believes coaches can be trained to help clients. Using coaches rather than therapists, as some similar sites do, will make the service more affordable.

“Our program is based on CBT, which follows a simple, repetitive way of tackling anxiety and depression,” he said.

“The challenge is getting people from the starting line to the finish line. There are lots of CBT books and apps but most people don’t finish. Our coaches will be trained in motivational interviewing and active listening to get clients to the finish line.”

Muise established his online CBT business after a blog post, written in February 2015 about his struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and depression attracted attention. He realized there were many sufferers in need of help.

“I’d always been a supporter of ending the stigma around mental health,” he said. “I’d always been open about my struggles but I’d never shared the entire story.

“I thought, if I lay it out there people may judge me but at least I’ll be free from that burden . . . of wearing a mask. Analytics for the site told me that almost 4,000 people visited the post within 48 hours. The post got shared 63 times on Facebook.”

Following the post he took a health coaching course and the idea for Tranquility began to form.

Squiggle Park Downloads Jump 5600%

Muise has recently taken his venture through Propel ICT’s regional program for new startups. He also met his co-founder Rebecca Tucker, who is completing her doctorate in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University.

Tucker has experience delivering CBT programs. Her interest in finding alternative ways to deliver mental health treatment arises from growing up in a rural area where she and others had difficulty accessing mental health care. Tucker’s mentor, Dr. Alissa Pencer, is Tranquility’s scientific advisor.

By using coaches (most likely undergraduate psychology students) instead of therapists, Muise aims to keep charges to $99 for a month of one-on-one coaching, and $65 for group sessions.

He said the pilot, which is free to participants, will be run with 16 people in three groups. One group will receive one-on-one coaching, another will receive group coaching, and the third, the control group, will use self-help materials with email guidance.

Participants must be older than 18, have a computer with internet access and be able to commit to 10 weeks.

Muise, now 30, suffered particularly severe anxiety and depression in Grade 12 while at high school near Yarmouth. He went on to train as a chartered financial analyst and worked for six years as a stock analyst for a Halifax investment company. But he didn’t thrive in that role and quit, suffering from burnout and depression.

He wants his venture to provide timely and affordable help for anxiety sufferers. He said it can take six months to a year to get a referral to a psychologist in the public health system. Private patients pay around $175 for an hour of counselling and most insurance policies only provide for $500 of coverage annually, he said.

So far, Muise has bootstrapped his venture, using his own money and prizes won from pitching contests. But he is interested in talking to potential investors.

If all goes well, the service may launch by the end of the year. Muise plans to go on to tackle depression and other problems that CBT has been shown to lessen.

Muise’s Tranquility blog and vlog can be accessed here: www.tranquilityonline.co/blog and https://youtu.be/yZcfsFSTG0w.

FAN Focuses on Biotech, Follow-Ons

Spring Loaded is one of the companies in which FAN members have made repeat investments.

Spring Loaded is one of the companies in which FAN members have made repeat investments.

As it continues to fund young companies, the First Angel Network has developed an investment niche for the biomedical space and is showing an eagerness for repeat investments.

FAN, as it is known, has been investing in Atlantic Canadian startups for 12 years, making it the dean of active investment groups. Its portfolio has included a couple of exits and a few failures. The group has sometimes been controversial, and a group of FAN investors is now suing the developer of King’s Wharf in Dartmouth.

Through it all, the co-founding team of Ross Finlay and Brian Lowe has been arranging quarterly investments for their network of angels, as they have been for the past 48 quarters. The landscape has changed since FAN started, and the group concentrates more these days on life sciences companies or IT companies that have medical applications. Recent investments like Chinova Bioworks, Covina Biomedical and Spring Loaded bear this out.

“It seems like our members gravitate toward those types of deals,” said Lowe in an interview last week. “Our members like to invest in biotechnology and medical devices. They seem to understand the sector well.”

Springboard, IA Aim to Attract More Investors

A look at the companies FAN has invested in shows the concentration in life sciences:

Spring Loaded Technology, Dartmouth — Spring Loaded has recently launched the Levitation knee brace, which not only stabilizes the joint but also adds power to it.

Chinova Bioworks, Fredericton — Chinova is using the multi-purpose compound chitosan in an anti-microbial agent, which it uses in a natural preservative in such foods as juices.

Iron Apple International, Halifax — Iron Apple International provides food safety solutions to transportation companies throughout North America.

Covina Biomedical, Halifax — Covina is commercializing a non-toxic bone cement that can be injected into the vertebrae of osteoporosis patients who have suffered a fracture. The company has said it raised $350,000 from FAN as part of a round with a target of $1 million.

WellTrack, Fredericton — WellTrack is a product that helps organizations — especially universities — improve the mental health of their members, especially those suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.

NB Biomatrix, Saint John — NB Biomatrix has developed Naqua-Pure, a liquid that uses nanotechnology to remove heavy metals and other pollutants from waste water.

Spring Loaded Launches Levitation, Unveils Funding

What’s interesting about the Spring Loaded funding is that it is the second time the knee-brace-maker has tapped FAN for funding. The company received funding from FAN and Innovacorp two years ago, then from Build Ventures last year and returned to FAN earlier this year.

“FAN has been a long-term supporter of Spring Loaded,” said CEO Chris Cowper Smith in an email. “They are well organized and offer an efficient process for raising capital through their network. We had excellent uptake from FAN on our current offering and we look forward to working with them going forward.”

Lowe and Finlay said the organization is interested in providing follow-on funding from its more successful portfolio companies. It has done return investment for Spring Loaded and Halifax-based Metamaterial Technologies Inc., which recently announced an $8.3-million funding round that included contributions from FAN. Some of these companies are also raising money through the Wilmington Investor Network, a North Carolina group with whom FAN sometimes co-invests.

Finlay noted that research by the Angel Research Institute of the United States shows that follow-on funding accounts for more than half the angel investment in the U.S.

“We’ve been wondering if we should try to focus more on not chasing the shiny new object but on supporting the companies that are already in our portfolio,” he said. “We think that’s a good use of our capital.”

Easing the Stress of Credit Cards

Credit cards are scary.

Not just when you have a large balance on them, but even the process of choosing one can bring overwhelming confusion to the point where stuffing all your money under a mattress doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. With so many options and with financial institutions pushing their own products, it’s easy to just take what you’re offered and deal with.

But a new tool created by two Moncton entrepreneurs is hoping to change that.

Credit Card Genius is a free website that allows anyone to easily compare Canadian credit cards based on fees, perks, interest rate and various rewards.

Credit Card Genius is the brainchild of Stephen Weyman and his wife and co-founder Maria. Weyman has been running his other website, HowToSaveMoney.ca, since 2010 and has had a strong interest in credit cards, credit card rewards and credit card comparisons. . . .

Read the full story on Huddle.

Pilot Project Aims to Attract Investors

Springboard Atlantic and Invest Atlantic have teamed up to launch a pilot project aimed at bringing more investment to Atlantic Canadian startups.

The two organizations issued a statement on Tuesday saying they hope the pilot project called the Investment Opportunities Program will attract $500,000 in angel investment to four startups, with an average of $125,000 each.  The goal will then be to grow the project to attract more funding.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has provided $104,000 in funding for the pilot project, which has been allocated through ACOA’s Business Development Program, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises.

The long-term goal of the program is to increase early-stage funding for startups in Atlantic Canada. The number of new startups has been growing in recent years, and some observers worry that the pool of local angel capital is not keeping pace. The Investment Opportunities Program aims to correct this problem by working with high-potential companies to court investment from outside the region.

Launchpad Alum UpFront Among Those Mulling ICO

“This is an ongoing need in the region where we see so many startups created and needing early-stage support to validate their opportunity, then solid investment to get the opportunity built and scaled,” said Springboard Atlantic President and CEO Chris Mathis in the statement.

“Part of our mandate is to support the building of the regional ecosystem and to help industry be competitive. This work should help increase investment in the Atlantic region and increase national awareness for our growing number of regional start-ups.”

The pilot program will primarily focus on selecting 12 investment-ready startups, which will be trained and mentored on pitching to the investor group from outside the region.

Springboard and Invest Atlantic said they will work hand-in-hand with collaborative regional investors to assemble an ex-pat investment group – that is, a group of investors with links to Atlantic Canada who now live outside the region.  They will create a secure online portal to promote investment opportunities in Atlantic Canada, with an initial target of $500,000.

The pilot program will include recruiting and training target companies, organizing a pitching mission to the Greater Toronto Area, and a follow-up evaluation for the 12 participating startups.

NB's SomaDetect Courts Vermont Farmers

“This whole initiative was born out of conversations led by [East Valley Ventures Founder] Gerry Pond and other prominent Atlantic investors at past Invest Atlantic events,” said Bob Williamson, President and CEO of Jameson Group and founder of Invest Atlantic. “Gerry and I have helped hold regional and ex-pat conversations on this need, and are happy to be working with Springboard Atlantic to pilot the idea.”

Now 13 years old, Springboard Atlantic is a not-for-profit organization that promotes and coordinates the commercialization of research at Atlantic Canadian universities and colleges. The group has identified more than 30 startups coming from the Springboard network of public post-secondary institutions each year, with a record 82 in 2016.

Invest Atlantic is a conference for Atlantic Canadian startups and investors, which has taken place each year since 2009. The 2017 Invest Atlantic conference will take place in St. John’s on Sept. 19 and 20. You can register for the conference here.

 

Disclaimer: Springboard Atlantic and Invest Atlantic are both clients of Entrevestor. 

UpFront and Others Mulling ICOs

Conor Daly and Kyle Gardiner produced a “Say What?” moment when they presented their company UpFront at the LaunchPad Dal Demo Day last month and said they were planning an ICO.

The Dalhousie business students said they weren’t seeking equity investment for the company, which uses blockchain to stop scalpers from jacking up ticket prices. They plan to finance it through an Initial Coin Offering in the autumn.

ICOs have been in the news recently but it was the first time I’d heard of an Atlantic Canadian company proposing one. To understand what it means, we’ll have to explain the whole craze of blockchain, cryptocurrencies and the evolving regulatory environment surrounding ICOs.

Blockchain is the technology that allows the issue of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — digital currencies that are “mined” over time as specialists unlock the encryption on this electronic money. Blockchain is a series of ledgers in which cryptocurrency transactions can be recorded.

Because these ledgers are permanent and open, startups are finding a range of new uses for blockchain, such as state-of-the-art identity systems.

UpFront, for example, plans to use blockchain in a ticket management system for concerts. Daly and Gardiner want to use blockchain to create an identity for each concertgoer, and the ticket would be added to a digital wallet attached to that identity.

“Since the ticket can only exist on our platform, the promoter could place a price ceiling on the ticket,” said Daly. Adios price-gouging by scalpers. Over time, UpFront would provide promoters invaluable data about their audience.

To finance the development of the system, the two Dal students are considering an ICO — a financing technique that blockchain-based companies around the world have used to raise more than $1 billion already in 2017. An ICO, or token sale, is a crowdfunding campaign in which people subscribe to cryptocurrency that a company will produce using its blockchain over time. Subscribers pay now for the right to own the cryptocurrency when it is mined. Some companies will mine their own currency, or tokens, which would include features that enhance the interaction between the company and its clients.

Braveno Plans a Blockchain-based Financial Exchange

Given the millions of dollars being raised by each ICO, there are a couple of blockchain-based startups in the region considering such a move. There’s UpFront and also Hypergive, a Halifax company whose blockchain-based system will improve the way people make donations to the homeless.

“With the raising environment so hot right now in this space, if you have a venture for which it makes sense to raise via a token sale, the question becomes, why wouldn’t you?” said Hypergive co-founder Scott Burke. “The key things to navigate here are the structure of your sale and evolving guidance from securities regulators, and any emerging determinations on what is classified as a security.”

That’s the rub right now. Regulators everywhere are wondering what to make of ICOs, and whether these companies are selling something they produce (a currency, which does not require regulation) or a company security or derivative, which would require regulation.

Last month, the Securities and Securities Commission in the U.S. ruled that several digital tokens should fall under securities rules, and the Ontario Securities Commission in March warned blockchain businesses that their offerings may have to be regulated.

The Nova Scotia Securities Commission says each ICO has to be assessed individually to see if the thing being offered could be considered a security or a derivative.

“There are no rules or regulations specifically addressing ICOs, however anyone developing an ICO must abide by the Nova Scotia Securities Act if their ICO is deemed to involve a security or derivative,” said NSSC spokesman David Harrison in an email.

“Not all ICOs necessarily involve securities or derivatives and those that do not would not fall under the NSSC’s jurisdiction. Each ICO must be assessed based on its own merits to determine if it falls under the NS Securities Act.”

He added there could also be complications if regulators decide that the trading of the tokens is something that falls under their jurisdiction.

Jobs: HeyOrca, Audiobooks.com

The ever-growing HeyOrca team earlier this year.

The ever-growing HeyOrca team earlier this year.

We have a couple of openings for developers – one in St. John’s, and one in Ontario – to headline the Jobs of the Week column today.

St. John’s-based HeyOrca, which makes collaboration software for marketers, is looking for a Software QA Developer, and Burlington, Ont.-based Audiobooks.com, is seeking a Front-End Developer.

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.

Almost 15 years old, Audiobooks.com has been streaming audiobooks since 2011. The service offers tens of thousands of titles to its users, at a lower price than some competitors. It also has a history rolling out innovations in the audiobook market.

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:

St. John’s

HeyOrca

Software QA Developer

As a developer, you have probably worked on some contracts and projects at some point in your life: setting up a website, developing software, consulting. The success of the project relies on active communication between you, your team and the 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 expectations, 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 like GitHub for marketing agencies. . . .

See the full job posting here.

Burlington, Ont.

Audiobooks.com

Front-End Developer

If you're a skilled front-end developer looking for a company where you can have real impact and work with a small and passionate team, look no further.

Audiobooks.com is looking for a front-end developer to bring our website up to speed with our awesome apps and mobile products. We're looking for someone who can make and keep our website looking good and functioning beautifully, while internally supporting other departments with new features and functions that will make our users cheer.

We're an audiobook company on the outside but a tech company at our core, so expect a fast-paced and constantly shifting role. We're obsessed with experimenting and love trying new things. Got a great idea? Don't hold back. New projects and opportunities appear on a weekly basis-here, your job description is a launch pad, not a jail cell. Autonomy is a major part of our office culture, so we're looking for someone who works well in a team but doesn't need someone looking over their shoulder. . .  

See the full job posting here.

NBIF Reviews Options on 500 Startups

Expressing disappointment at the closure of 500 Startups Canada, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation is now working with the fund manager to see what can be done about its investment in the fund.

Earlier this year, NBIF said it would be a limited partner in the new fund, which was to be a Canadian offshoot of the Silicon Valley-based seed funding organization 500 Startups. However, the U.S. organization was engulfed in controversy this summer when several women said 500 Startups Founder Dave McClure had made inappropriate sexual advances on them. In the fallout, as first reported by Betakit, 500 Startups Canada announced that it would shut down and no longer raise funds. The fund will continue to manage its 38 investments.

“We’ve advanced a portion of our committed capital to the Canada Fund, and we are now working with the Fund Manager to investigate the options available to NBIF,” said NBIF President and Chief Executive Calvin Milbury in an email.

Though the innovation agency did not disclose how much it had committed to invest in 500 Startups Canada, Milbury said in a previous interview it was “nothing over the top.”

Innovacorp Invested $5.6M in 2016-17

NBIF had hoped to use its relationship with 500 Startups not only to increase funding in the region but also to broaden its network across North America.

“We were very disappointed to learn that the Canada fund was unable to reach an agreement to sever ties with the parent organization,” said Milbury on Thursday. “This is unfortunate as the Canada fund was playing an important role in seeding emerging, high growth companies across Canada. Seed equity is so critical for our startup ecosystem. It’s also frustrating as [500 Startups Canada Venture Partner] Sanjay Singhal has built a strong investment team who has already made many impressive investments.”

Atlantic Canadian links with 500 Startups are stronger than those with other Silicon Valley accelerators.

Fredericton-based WellTrack, which has developed online therapy for students with mental health issues, recently graduated from the 20th cohort of 500 Startups in Silicon Valley. And Halifax’s Swept, which makes software for janitorial customers, is now in the 21st cohort. In 2015, Moncton-based recruiting software maker Alongside went through the accelerator in 2015 and received funding from the parent organization.

All these companies received US$150,000 for a six per cent stake in their business.

Milbury added that NBIF is still open to backing VC funds when it makes strategic sense for NBIF and New Brunswick startups, though it is not considering any deals at the moment.

He said: “We do believe in the model and consider it our role to connect with VC funds outside the region and expose them to our startup community here in N.B. and across the region.” 

Ritchie Gears Up for Incubator Launch

Dale Ritchie: 'We want to be a catalyst.'

Dale Ritchie: 'We want to be a catalyst.'

With more people, especially millennials, seeking work that is both meaningful and useful to society, Dale Ritchie is launching a Moncton-based accelerator and fund that will boost opportunities for social entrepreneurs.

Ritchie, President of the city’s McKenzie College, is behind the Community Accelerator and Hub Fund, due to launch in September. The accelerator will be based at McKenzie College, which focuses on Art, Design, IT, and English for Business and Academic purposes.

“The accelerator for social entrepreneurs will be a post-graduate program, so instead of doing a master’s degree some students may choose to study entrepreneurship and education,” said Ritchie.

“Students may go on to develop their own ideas, or they may meet someone on the program and combine talents and ideas, or they may become an intrapreneur and work with a large company on a project.”

The Moncton initiative is the latest boost to social entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada. It joins the B4Change program at the Pond-Deshpande Centre in Fredericton, the Impact Incubator at Common Good Solutions in Halifax, and various Enactus university-based programs. 

Ritchie said organizers are in talks with local corporations about their potential involvement in contributing to the Hub Fund and the mentorship of entrepreneurs.

“We want to be a catalyst,” Ritchie said. “It’s a community project.”

He said the idea was inspired by his own daughter, Jill, whose partner of ten years, Lucas, passed away after a battle with mental health and addiction issues.

Jill and Lucas had started Lead With Your Heart, a project that provides creative therapies for people suffering from mental illness and addiction. Jill has continued the cause in memory of Lucas, who died aged just 29.

SomaDetect Courts Vermont Farmers 

It’s hoped the Hub Fund will eventually raise $1 million. Local investors will be able to obtain a 50 per cent tax credit under the New Brunswick Equity Tax Credit program. The fund will be professionally managed by an independent third party.

Ritchie said there are many potential participants in the accelerator. They include students of the school’s English program.

“One of our students has a PhD in philosophy from Russia, his wife is a computer programmer. They want to map the local ICT community. That project would help the economy develop and help immigrants when they get here.”

People who want to form charities can apply to attend the accelerator, but are not eligible for funding as the fund can only invest in for-profit corporations.

Ritchie said material for course programming is being sourced from places such as England’s School for Social Entrepreneurs, and U.S. schools, like Boston’s Hult International Business School.

“The U.S. is further ahead than us on the education side of social entrepreneurship, but I think we Canadians are a bit further ahead on the thinking side,” he said.

Ritchie’s own career has been inspired by his father, Oral, who owned Ritchie’s Clothing in Moncton. Ritchie and his twin brother, Neil, helped their dad with chores like sweeping floors.

When his health declined, Oral sold the store and opened Rocklyn Trailer Park outside Moncton. Oral got the twins to work out things like the profit margin on a box of chocolate bars and how that would diminish if they ate the bars.

“It was very practical experience. One day, Dad told me, ‘I’m going to show you how money grows on trees,’” Ritchie recalled. He didn’t know what his dad meant until they sold Christmas trees felled from their land, and Ritchie obtained $500 toward his university tuition.

Ritchie went on to obtain a business degree from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, where he also studied Computer Science and Finance.
“Millennials don’t have a lot of practical skills,” he said, “but they have a real desire to start a business and it’s easier today in many ways, with the internet and the support.”

The organizers are still recruiting mentors, advisors and investors. Contact info@mckenzie.edu.  

ADM Sold to Vinci Energies

ADM Systems Engineering, a Saint John electronics engineering company, has been purchased for an undisclosed price French industrial giant Vinci Energies.

The French company, which has 65,000 employees in 51 counties, issued a statement Thursday saying it was purchasing ADM to strengthen its industrial services business. Vinci booked 10 billion euros in revenues last year. ADM will become part of Vinci’s Actemium brand, an industrial services business that has 300 units.

“With this acquisition, Actemium will start offering solutions and services in industry in Canada, including its multinational customers,” said the statement.

ADM began in 2002 and has grown into an operation with 40 people. Vinci said that last year the Moncton company reported revenue of 4 million euros, or about C$6 million. ADM has strengths in automation, data management, mechanical design and industrial energy management.

One of ADM’s big achievements was giving birth to the Industrial Internet of Things company RtTech, which specialize in automated systems that help industrial complexes reduce energy consumption. RtTech in 2015 raised $3 million in venture capital funding from McRock Capital and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

ADM partners Arnold Nicholson, Jim Gillis, Brent Donovan, Keith Flynn and James Boone said in a statement: "While we will continue to offer our services as Atlantic Canada’s largest systems integrator, this transition represents a significant step towards our vision of international growth by means of proven solutions that improve clients’ operational performance.”

Squiggle Park Downloads Jump 5600%

Halifax-based edtech company Squiggle Park is starting August off the right way, pondering how to build on its app’s 5000-percent-plus jump in downloads in iTunes last month.

The company, whose online games help children to learn to read, received the news last week that Apple had selected it late in July to appear in the section titled “New Apps We Love” for iTunes Canada - which is the top section displayed in the store. As a result for the month of July, there were 965 downloads of the Squiggle Park app – up 5,576 percent from the previous month. Impressions were even stronger, jumping 2.7 million percent to 3.2 million. Almost all the increase came in the last five days of the month, after it appeared in the highlighted section.

Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Julia Rivard Dexter said in an interview today that she was taken aback Wednesday when she received the latest analytics.

“When I got those metrics, it took a moment to figure out whether these are real,” she said. “I studied them and realized they were real. Then I spent the rest of the day asking what this means. How do we recreate this success?”

Squiggle Park, which recently went through the Fierce Founder Accelerator at Communitech in Kitchener, Ont., has been on a bit of a roll lately. The company’s online games are now used in 3,000 schools, concentrated in North America but including such markets as Oman and China. And it recently received approval from the Build in Canada Innovation Program, which will provide $500,000 to an educational body that adopts the technology.

Norex Rebrands as Code + Mortar

In May, Squiggle Park struck a partnership with the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, which places the company’s edtech product in some of the most disadvantaged schools in Canada. Following that, Indigo/Chapters CEO Heather Reisman invested in Squiggle Park, joining such backers as members of East Valley Ventures. “Having the largest powerhouse on the scene in Canada, in terms of literacy, is really something and we’re very proud of that,” said Rivard Dexter.

Rivard said being highlighted in iTunes has created a new opportunity for the company, and now she and her teammates are trying to figure out how to build on it.

The entry into the “New Apps We Love” section only covered iTunes Canada, so there is always the possibility of getting similar play in the U.S., which could create even more of a bang. What’s more, the downloads come from parents. Most of the company’s traction to date has been with educators. Nnow the company has more inroads in the parent market – a far larger group of potential customers, but one that requires broader marketing than reaching out to schools and teachers.

The Squiggle Park app is now free, and the company plans to introduce a paid app in the autumn. The recent wave of downloads gives the company a base to which it can market the paid app.

Said Rivard Dexter: “The goal now would be to really understand how this happened so we can re-create this type of success in the future and sustain it.”

Air Realty Helps With Mere Listings

A new Nova Scotia real estate brokerage has launched an online service that allows homeowners to list their homes themselves on the Multi Listing Service.

Air Realty is the brainchild of Joshua Svec, an entrepreneur in Cow Bay.  In founding Air Realty, he is hoping to change the way Nova Scotians list their property on the MLS, the standard site for listing properties for sale.

Svec said that homeowners can access the MLS themselves through a little-known process called “mere listing” and Air Realty lets them take advantage of the mere listing rules. He said that by listing the properties themselves, homeowners can save on their listing fees. They pay a flat fee for the listing commission, though they would still have to pay a commission (usually about 2.5 percent) to the agent selling the house.

“Many homeowners do not know that mere listings are an option to them when selling their house,” said Svec. “Air Realty is looking to solve that problem by offering the homeowner all the tools and resources they need to list their property online, themselves, using any device. There is currently no other brokerage offering this type of service in Nova Scotia.”

TruLeaf Launches Across the Maritimes

This will allow the homeowner to potentially save thousands because they will pay no commission for the listing fee, they will just need to pay a small flat fee for listing and pay the buyer’s agent (typically 2.5% of purchase price).

He said the homeowner can list his or her home within 24 hours through a three-stage process: First, the homeowner fills out the interactive forms online. Second, they submit the listing forms to the brokerage for review. Third, they electronically sign the listing documents.

The brokerage now includes just Svec and his partner Steve Ritchie but he hopes to add agents across the province.

Svec said in an interview that he is now in talks with a brokerage in Ontario to work with in launching the service in that province and then to add provinces across the country. 

TruLeaf Launches Across Maritimes

TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, the agtech company planning a chain of indoor farms across the country, announced Monday its locally grown microgreen products are now available in select Atlantic Superstores across the Maritimes.

Appearing under the company’s GoodLeaf Farms brand, these 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.

TruLeaf is seeking to become 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 10 times more efficient than traditional agriculture, uses as much as 90 percent less water, and takes up less land.

TruLeaf, which closed an $8.5 million financing round last December, has been working with Loblaw Companies, the parent company of Atlantic Superstores, on the development of its farms.

“We know our customers are looking for exceptional produce, grown locally wherever possible, which is why we are such huge supporters of local and regional suppliers,” said Loblaw Director of Corporate Affairs Mark Boudreau said in a statement. “Having fresh local vegetables year round in the Maritimes would have been impossible a decade ago. We’re excited about today’s launch, and proud of our role working with TruLeaf over the past few years to bring this innovative farming technology to our Atlantic Superstore customers.”

SomaDetect Courts Vermont Farmers

The announcement comes as TruLeaf begins construction on its 50,000-square-foot facility in Guelph, Ont., which will produce vegetables for the Toronto market.  The company said last year that its $8.5 million funding round would be used to build a plant and access the massive Toronto market. The round was led by Mike Durland, the former CEO of Scotiabank’s global banking and markets division, and included funding from Neil Murdoch, former CEO of Connor, Clark & Lunn Capital Markets.

TruLeaf said GoodLeaf Farms has been embraced by local wholesalers and restaurants and now the brand is available across the Maritimes in select stores.

“We are thrilled to be bringing a new era of freshness to Atlantic Canadian consumers,” said TruLeaf CEO Gregg Curwin. “We grow our produce in tightly controlled environments to the very highest standards in the industry. It’s a difference you can truly taste – our products are bursting with flavour and nutrition. And by dramatically reducing the time and energy needed to grow produce, it really is a new way to eat responsibly.”

We Should Follow Trump’s Lead

Donald Trump: Setting a target of 3 percent growth.

Donald Trump: Setting a target of 3 percent growth.

Now that I have your attention, let me explain what we mean by the headline.

The Trump Administration (or what’s left of it) has set a target of three per cent annual economic growth each year of his presidency. I doubt he has an ice cube’s hope in hell of making it but I like the fact that his administration has announced the target as part of its budget. Atlantic Canadian governments should follow this lead and announce GDP growth targets.

(For the record, I’m not a fan of the president. Nowhere near it. Naming a growth target is one move that impressed me. If asked for a second I wouldn’t be able to do it.)

Atlantic Canada’s economic growth has been dreadful and setting a target in itself might be the first step to addressing the issue.

Here’s the story on our GDP: RBC estimates Canada’s GDP will increase 2.6 per cent in 2017. In May, it was growing at an annualized rate of 3.5 per cent. But Atlantic Canada is expected once again to underperform. RBC expects growth rates of 1.5 per cent in New Brunswick, 1.1 per cent in P.E.I. and 0.8 per cent in Nova Scotia. Newfoundland and Labrador’s GDP is expected to shrink 2.2 percent. It’s part of a tradition of lagging — mainly in the Maritimes — that has plagued our region for at least a generation.

What Atlantic Canada needs is for provinces to identify a target for GDP growth. Two per cent would seem reasonable. Maybe the target should be to exceed the national figure — though that would be difficult if Alberta and Saskatchewan rebound this year.

Innovacorp Invested $5.6M in 2016-17

It’s a difficult argument to make in these parts as too many complain that strong GDP growth can reward the rich and leave everyone else poorer. Well, it can. So add on an accompanying target for growth in median after-tax income. Problem solved. There’s also the argument that GDP growth can represent industrial growth that causes problems that cost money to fix later, like over-fishing or petroleum industries. There are industrial, environmental and resource regulations that can balance the economic, social and environmental needs.

Setting a target for GDP growth establishes what’s acceptable and unacceptable in economic performance. And it will highlight the need for more and larger high-growth companies in the region, which have the potential to drive economic growth.

Atlantic Canada is making progress on this front but we have a long way to go. When the Ottawa consultancy Branham recently published its list of the 250 top tech companies in Canada, there’s wasn’t a single Atlantic Canada company in the top 100. The highest-ranking East Coast company was Saint John-based Mariner at No. 128. We’re not at a point yet where the tech companies and other high-growth companies have a great enough impact to increase GDP meaningfully.

There’s a foundation of these companies but they are still growing. Entrevestor estimates that there are more than 70 companies that have 10 or more employees and have been growing revenues at 20 per cent annually. Some of these companies will be bought, some will sink and a few will continue growing to eventually produce meaningful growth.

First let’s decide what acceptable growth is. I’d say it’s two per cent per annum.

Innovacorp Invested $5.6M in 2016-17

Innovacorp, the venture capital and innovation agency owned by the Nova Scotia government, sank $5.6 million into startups in its 2016-17 fiscal year, continuing at the same pace as the previous three years.

The agency released the numbers last week in its annual accountability report, which outlines its finances and investments in the 12 months that ended March 31.

Last year at this time, Innovacorp was warning that it might have to fund its investments in the future from exits as its Nova Scotia First Fund was running out of money. But the province in October freed up $40 million to refinance the fund, ensuring several more years of investment. And the Crown corporation said Nova Scotia still has a way to go to reach the national average in terms of investment in innovation.

“Although per capita venture capital in Nova Scotia has surged from $19 to $54 to $67 over the past three years (adjusted for population growth), the Canadian average has demonstrated parallel growth from $53 to $64 to $88,” said the report. “This leaves a gap of $21 per capita, or 24 percent, between the Nova Scotian and Canadian averages.”

Last year, Innovacorp said it had averaged $5.6 million per year in venture capital investment over the previous three years. It maintained the level in 2016-17, as it made 13 investments in 12 companies. Some $4.7 million of this money, or 84 percent, was follow-on investment in companies already in its portfolio.  Two of the companies receiving money were new to the portfolio.

Neck Tronics Plans Launch This Year

The two largest investments were to materials company Metamaterial Technologies with $1.5 million, and life sciences company ABK Biomedical, which received $1.1 million.  

“Innovacorp said the 13 investments also attracted an additional $18.3 million in venture capital and private equity investment, most of it from outside Nova Scotia,” said the report. “Innovacorp’s other portfolio companies raised a further $18.6 million through deals in which Innovacorp did not participate.”

Innovacorp said that $175,000 in advances in the last fiscal year include second tranches paid to Island Water and Vendeve in previously approved deals.

The biggest surprise from the document is that it revealed the price of the Analyze Re exit. The company received US$9.5 million ($13 million) when it sold out to Jersey City, N.J.-based data analytics company Verisk Analytics in October.  In total, the Nova Scotia First Fund received about $2.54 million from exits, secondary share sales, dividends and interest.

The following are the Innovacorp investments for 2016-17:

Information Technology  
The Money Finder $250,000
Dash Hudson  $280,000
Ubique $200,000
Vendeve  $25,000
Life Sciences  
ABK Biomedical    $1.1 million
Densitas $500,000
Appili Therapeutics $500,000
CleanTech  
Metamaterial Technologies $1.5 million
SkySquirrel Technologies $750,000
WoodsCamp                       $250,000
Swell Advantage  $50,000
Island Water  $150,000

Innovacorp said tha as of March 31, 2017, the NS First Fund had a carrying value of $31.4 million, including its investments in venture capital funds Build Ventures and Cycle Capital Funds I & III. The fund had $10.5 million in commitments, and $66 million available for new and follow-on investments in promising Nova Scotia start-ups (including $25 million for a new technology seed capital investment fund). Innvoacorp is overseeing the backing of a new fund to be located in Halifax, which would invest mainly in Atlantic Canadian companies. The selection committee has been reviewing a handful of companies, and is expected to make an announcement within a few months. 

Innovacorp is now conducting a search for a new CEO as the current holder of that position, Stephen Duff, has told the board he will not seek a second five-year term. 

Disclaimer: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.

Job of the Week: Code + Mortar

Weeks after its relaunch, Code + Mortar of Halifax is building up its development team and looking for a senior developer.

Code + Mortar headlines the Job of the Week column this week, having been in the news in June when it changed its name from Norex.

Code + Mortar aims to work with clients on innovation, helping them conceive new products, build them, and take them to market. One interesting quirk about the company is that it is actively targeting startups as clients, not just large-enterprise clients.

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.

Halifax

Code + Mortar

Senior Developer

Here’s an excerpt from company’s job posting:

These are the guys with the serious technical chops. They’re true builders, creating powerful infrastructure from lines of code. They bring strength, efficiency and performance to each project.

Lead the project workflow and understand all team members roles on each project

The ability to lead client projects. You are keenly aware of your team's’ priorities and lead the management of tasks

Consistently meet or exceed your development milestones

Code consistently works as designed with few bugs. You thoroughly test your code and believe it to be right before handing it off. You write unit tests for all new code (on specified projects).

Lead client technical strategy, client meetings and annual reviews.

Accurately scope a project independently.

See the full job posting here.

SomaDetect Courts Vermont Farmers

As it begins its pilot project in New Brunswick, SomaDetect has been validating the international demand for its product. The Fredericton AgTech company recently signed letters of intent with three-quarters of the 80 farmers it met with during a recent jaunt to Vermont.

Working with the Saint John sales-focused consultancy Momentum, SomaDetect CEO Bethany Deshpande made a four-day road trip to Vermont to assess the market for her product, which can quickly detect diseases in cows. Vermont is an interesting market for SomaDetect because it has 900 dairy farms, which is more than all of Atlantic Canada. What’s more, some of those farms are far bigger than what we have in Canada’s East Coast.

“A farm with 400 to 600 cows is a big farm in Atlantic Canada,” said Deshpande in a Thursday phone interview, which she conducted while monitoring a milking machine in New Brunswick. “But in Vermont, we met people with 5,000 cows and that’s a different market than what we have here.”

The trip validated Deshpande’s belief that SomaDetect can find a market beyond Atlantic Canada. In four days she met with 80 farmers and 60 of them signed letters of intent to buy the product once it’s on the market. That’s 6 percent of the state’s dairy industry, bagged in a four-day trip.

Momentum focused on building a sales funnel of dairy farmers from Maine, Vermont and New York state, and secured support from economic development agencies in each state. Its team built the contact lists and executed a mission to these states securing signed letters of interest in SomaDetect’s technology.

10 Teams Emerge from UNB TME

The trip came as SomaDetect – which won the $180,000 second-place prize in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru competition this year – began its pilot project. The installation of a device in a New Brunswick farm came two months ahead of schedule.

“Feedback gained from the pilot project will be used to further develop and commercialize our technology,” said Deshpande in a press release. “Once the sensor is commercially ready, Vermont will be a key state to springboard SomaDetect into the U.S. market.”

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.

By catching the disease early enough, SomaDetect can prevent mastitis disease from moving through the herd, save the lives of some cows, and reduce the amount of antibiotics used by dairy farmers. The product also captures each farm’s data in the cloud, which can produce reports in real time for the farmer.

Deshpande is looking to Vermont and Maine – which she can drive to in a few hours – to be beachhead states for the company’s advance into the U.S. market. And the validation in Vermont is timely as it comes as the company is working on a fundraising round with a target of $2 million.

“SomaDetect is aiming to be New Brunswick’s next big agro-tech success story,” Deshpande said. “We are excited about what the future brings, and about the interest we have from dairy farmers here.”

Nova Box Globalizes Local Products

Allyson England: bringing local Nova Scotian products to the world

Allyson England: bringing local Nova Scotian products to the world

Each of the ship captains currently in Halifax for the Tall Ships Regatta will take home a box full of Nova Scotia-themed treasures along with their memories. The Nova Boxes are being provided by Nova Box creator Allyson England, who established her e-commerce gift-giving business in less than a year.

The seven items in each box include: a driftwood frame by Saltwreck; Maud Lewis coasters from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; and Sea Salt Soap from Nova Scotia Fisherman. The Tall Ships order was placed by the Waterfront Development Corporation.

England, a native of P.E.I., is delighted with this latest step in the swift growth of her business.

“I’ve worked with 23 different companies from Yarmouth to Cape Breton. Boxes have been shipped across Canada and the U.S. as well as to Sweden and Australia,” she said.

England launched Nova Box for Christmas in early November 2016 in order to test the market for a gift box packed with Nova Scotia-based products.

You can order a Nova Box here. 

The box was immediately popular with people who wanted to buy for homesick relatives. Encouraged, England expanded the idea, introducing seasonal boxes and corporate options. Now her clients are split fairly evenly between online customers and corporate clients.

Developing an e-commerce business has been a learning experience. An online store does not offer opportunities for face-to-face contact with customers so England uses social media to build her brand.

“An online store is more like a vending machine,” she said. “So, you have to find ways to engage with clients. Social media is important in building trust and awareness and telling our story.”

England blogs about every company in her boxes and releases the blogs over the course of a season.

Having started her career in recruiting, and having worked with gift card company Halifax Paper Hearts, she already had almost 8,000 connections on the professional site LinkedIn. She finds LinkedIn a good place to blog and links her blogs to her site and those of the companies she works with.

She finds Twitter good for promotional tweets — such as the suggestion that a Nova Box makes a great engagement gift. On Facebook she posts more personal information about herself and participating companies. Instagram is for pretty pictures of Nova Scotia, such as a sunny beach shot.

Moncton's New Social Venture Project

England makes her site simple to navigate and communicates shipping fees up front.

“Customers will take their business elsewhere if they have a poor experience on a site,” she said.

Research by Baymard.com shows that online shoppers abandon their shopping carts 68 per cent of the time. Being presented with unexpected costs at checkout is the biggest reason for online shoppers not purchasing.

England finds Google Analytics useful for finding out how long people spend on her site, and when and where they leave it.

She has learned the importance of having inventory and packs the Nova Boxes herself in her home office.

“I feel have mini-store in my house,” she said.

She now splits her working time between Nova Box and her company, Cedardog Distribution. Through Cedardog, she helps find new retail outlets to carry Halifax Paper Hearts products.

She said Nova Box’s growth means that companies are now reaching out to her in the hopes of participating. As the venture expands, England may create boxes for the other Maritime provinces, or perhaps a Maritime-themed box.

This year’s Christmas box will be an important growth indicator. She’s expecting to sell at least a few hundred boxes. It could be many more.

“Gift-giving takes time and the Nova Box saves time. It takes time to be thoughtful, to go to stores and pick out nice products,” she said.

Dane Creek Adds to Pet Food Venture

Dane Creek Capital Corp. this week agreed to buy pet-related assets of Dartmouth-based Nature’s Way Canada in its latest step in building up a Nova Scotia-based portfolio of sustainable pet food products.

Dane Creek is a Mississauga, Ont.-based merchant bank specializing in pet-related businesses, and in the last nine months it has done three deals in Nova Scotia.

As a result, it has established a Nova Scotia-based holding company called Dockside Investco to house its investments in the province.

The company issued a statement Tuesday saying it would buy the non-manufacturing pet assets of Nature’s Way Canada, which makes supplements for dogs and cats under the CanineOmega3 and FelineOmega3 brands. They plan to close the deal by Sept. 30.

“We are excited to be making this announcement,” said Dane Creek president and CFO Glen Tennison in the statement.

“Nature’s Way is well known for manufacturing high-quality supplements for both people and pets.

“We look forward to working with them to create a wide range of supplements to meet the needs of health-conscious pet owners shopping online, in pet specialty retail stores and in mass retail and grocery stores.”

Neck Tronics Plans Launch This Year

The parties did not disclose the terms of the deal, under which Dane Creek will acquire all current and future brand formulations. Nature’s Way will continue to produce supplements for Dane Creek over the next six years.

Nature’s Way, an affiliate of Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals of Germany, came to the Halifax area in 2015 when it bought Dartmouth-based Ascenta Health, whose NutraSea brand of nutritional products are made naturally from omega-3 fatty acids.

Nature’s Way, a global natural health leader, decided to make Dartmouth its Canadian headquarters and has continued to grow the business since the acquisition. It will continue to produce and market products for humans in Dartmouth.

“Our partnership with DCCC will allow Nature’s Way to focus more closely on the development and manufacturing aspect of our business,” said Steve Chiasson, vice-president and general manager of Nature’s Way Canada.

“Our track record in human supplements speaks to our expertise in those areas and we look forward to bringing that to the expanding market for pet supplements.”

The buyers also entered the Nova Scotia business community through an investment. Last year, Dane Creek said it paid an undisclosed sum for a 48-per-cent stake in Midgard Insect Farm Inc. of Windsor.

The insect farm, which won $45,000 in Innovacorp’s Spark West competition last year, produces protein from crickets and converts it into its Dockside brand of pet treats.

In November, Dane Creek announced the creation of Dockside Pet Products Inc., the first pet treats and meal mixer manufacturer to exclusively use “rescued fresh food” and sustainable ingredients.

As well as using crickets, Dockside pet foods include such ingredients as cauliflower, wild blueberries and lobster shell.

Tennison said in the statement the deal with Nature’s Way will continue the growth story.

“In addition to the opportunities this opens up, this partnership is also about creating jobs in Nova Scotia and our commitment to the development of a pet industry hub in the province,” said Tennison.

“Combining our distribution capabilities with Nature’s Way’s manufacturing excellence is a formula which will lead to a bigger business supporting more jobs.”

Big Data Congress Eyes Oceans, Ag

The fifth annual Big Data Congress, to be held in Halifax in November, will feature something that none of the previous four have – a focus on specific sectors.

Alternating between Saint John and Halifax, the Congress is an annual celebration of data analytics, and its goal is to help traditional businesses, government and organizations understand how Big Data can assist them. The theme this year is “Ocean & Earth” as the sessions will focus on data applications in ocean technology and agriculture.

The Big Data Alliance of Nova Scotia, which is organizing the event, have opened registration for the Congress, which will take place Nov. 6 to 8. You can purchase tickets here.

Congress Chair Michael Shepherd, who recently retired as the Dean of Computer Science at Dalhousie University, said in an interview he is especially excited about the focus on primary industries 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. “Here at Dalhousie, data analytics is very important in the ocean sciences, and we have oceans ventures in the region.

“And the part that I found particularly interesting is that we decided to add agriculture. It turns out there is a lot going on in this space in the region, with vertical farming, precision farming, and drone technologies.”

He added that a central theme will be food security, which is important in both sectors.

Armed with Data, Island Water Plans to Scale

Shepherd is not slowing down in retirement. He still has an office at Dal and is involved with the Big Data Alliance. And he’s been spending a lot of time in India, where he is working with the MYRA School of Business in Karnataka, where he has helped to set up a centre of excellence in data analytics. He’s also helping to organize the school’s InfoVision 2018 conference, which will focus on next-generation analytics.

For now, his focus is on the upcoming BDC, which he said will likely attract about 400 to 500 delegates. Since T4G President Geoff Flood launched the Congress in Saint John in 2012 it has always sought to bring together the tech community and potential end-users of data analytics technology. This year, it’s hoping for end users from the oceans and agriculture sectors.

“We’re very specifically looking at and designing the program around how people in these two sectors can use data to improve their bottom lines,” said Shepherd.

One of the keynote speakers fits squarely into this theme. Tim o’Shea is the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based CleanFish, which works at creating market solutions to the crises of our seas. The other keynote is American sociobiologist Rebecca Costa, the author of bestselling book The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse.

Shepherd is hoping for a strong turnout from the traditional business community, members of which are starting to understand they produce data that has an economic value.

“Businesses have started to realize that they are sitting on a very valuable asset in the data they have,” said Shepherd. “They’re now trying to figure out how to leverage that asset and improve their bottom line.”

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

NL Replaces RDC with InnovateNL

Mark Dobbin

Mark Dobbin

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is replacing its Research & Development Corporation with a new body called InnovateNL, whose first chair is Killick Capital President Mark Dobbin.

In a statement last week, the government said the creation of InnovateNL is the next step in its plan to foster greater innovation and accelerating business growth in the province. InnovateNL will fall under the responsibility of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation and will be a single agency window for the delivery of innovation programs.

The new body’s mandate will be to streamline access to government supports and extend innovation founding across the province. It will aim to leverage research and innovation resources and help companies bring their products to the global market.

InnovateNL, which will be in place by mid-autumn, will be overseen by a new board called the NL Innovation Council, to be headed by Dobbin. He said the InnovateNL will provide a “comprehensive, holistic approach” to supporting the innovation sector in the province.

“Companies and individuals require a wide variety of programs and services to develop and commercialize their products and services in our modern economy,” Dobbin said. “Enhanced coordination and tailoring these supports to match specific needs will make them more effective. This, along with the benefits of input from a diverse council, will significantly help provincial innovators broaden and diversify our economy.”

The provincial government began an engagement process for its new business innovation agenda last November. Participants in the process said the province needs a single agency that can provide one-stop coordinated advice, integrated service delivery and better linkages to various sources of capital.

Both the current government, headed by Premier Dwight Ball, and the previous government have been working to enhance the ecosystem for high-growth companies in the province. Two years ago, the government established the Venture NL Fund, a venture capital fund managed by Pelorus Venture Capital. The fund has made several investment,  almost always hand-in-hand with Dobbin’s Killick Capital. 

Trip Ninja Eyes Big Deal in August

Andres Collart

Andres Collart

Last Friday, Halifax’s Trip Ninja integrated its travel-planning platform with Galileo, a computer reservations system owned by the international travel service company TravelPort.

It was one more step in a three-year process in an entrepreneurial journey that began when co-founder Andres Collart tried booking a trip to several European cities and learned of the difficulties in doing so. Since then, he and his three partners have been pushing forward, producing a product and learning the intricacies of the international travel industry. And by the end of August, they hope to sign their first online travel agency as a client — a deal that could mean significant revenue for the young company.

“We’re not an online travel agency,” Collart told an audience of about 350 people at the Dalhousie LaunchPad Demo Day last week. “But with Trip Ninja it’s easy to provide any person with a personalized trip created just for them.”

Trip Ninja serves people who want to travel to several different cities in a single trip and don’t care about the order in which they visit these locations. Three years ago, Collart himself wanted to travel to five different European cities and found there were 120 possible combinations of flights. There was no online travel agent that would help someone planning a multi-city trip.

What Trip Ninja does is take someone’s travel dates plus the cities they want to visit and plot the trip to find the lowest-cost flights. The company does not have the certification to issue tickets so it is partnering with online and traditional travel agents to provide better service to multi-stop travelers.

Dalhousie's LaunchPad Graduates 11 Teams

The company has its website up and running, and consumers can now use Trip Ninja to plan their multi-city trip, then book the trip on the phone with Halifax travel agency United Travels.

But Collart and his co-founders — Brett Ziegler, Rob Dumont and Julieta Collart — want their product used in the international online market. So they are beginning to strike partnerships and licensing deals with major partners that can use the company’s application program interface, or API, to better serve their clients.

One of the biggest steps forward was getting on the TravelPort platform. Based in Langley, U.K., TravelPort offers a range of services to the international travel industry, has connections with 400 airlines and brings in more than US$2 billion in revenue each year.

Trip Ninja is now on the TravelPort marketplace and its API has been fully integrated with two TravelPort products – Apollo and (as of Friday) Galileo.

The Halifax company is now in talks with some online travel agencies. Signing even one would dramatically change its revenue picture. It has funded the company so far only through investments from the founders, and is not looking for external capital now. These deals could bring in the money it needs to grow.

“We’re already in talks with a bunch of smaller ones, and some that are pretty large,” said Andres Collart. “The minimum that we’re looking at is that they’d bring in $60,000 every year (in revenue for Trip Ninja). . . . We expect to sign first of these in late August and it’s well above the minimum.”

RtTech Receives Key Certification

Moncton-based RtTech Software announced last week that its Cipher platform has received a major certification for interoperability in the industrial automation space.

The Industrial Internet of Things company, whose products help industrial companies reduce their energy consumption, announced that the OPC Foundation has certified its Cipher Embedded OPC UA Linux Connector.

OPC is the interoperability standard for the secure and reliable exchange of data in the industrial automation space, said the company in a statement. The OPC Foundation is responsible for the development and maintenance of this standard.

"Having the OPC Foundation's Certification for Cipher's Embedded OPC UA Linux Connector provides industry-leading and recognized validation for Cipher's interoperability," said RtTech CEO Keith Flynn. "Having successfully passed the OPC Foundation's testing allows for users to have confidence in Cipher's interoperability with whatever infrastructure is already in place in their organization, regardless of age or level of sophistication."

RtTech created and released Cipher in the last year-and-a-half so clients can use a vast range of IIot applications on a single platform.

Cipher is equipped with remote monitoring, allowing for seamless asessment and data sharing from various networks in any number of locations. Cipher provides users with insight into OEE, Downtime Tracking, Asset Management, and Energy Management through a non-intrusive approach to the Industrial IoT using edge device technology at the sensor level.

"This certification is a critical step in our quality management and gives us added confidence in the quality of products and services provided by RtTech," added Flynn.

In February, Flynn said RtTech’s products were being used in 28 countries — 11 of them added since the end of 2015. Its client list now ranges from local champions like Irving and McCain Foods to such global powerhouses as Procter & Gamble, even NASA.

Late in 2015, the company landed $3 million in venture capital funding from McRock Capital and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

Job of the Week: Dash Hudson SDR

Dash Hudson continues to grow its staff, and its opening for a Sales Development Representative in Halifax is the focus of this edition of Job of the Week.

Halifax-based Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and video, 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.

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.

Halifax

Dash Hudson

Sales Development Representative

Dash Hudson is looking for a sales development representative, who will be a critical piece to the growth and development of Dash Hudson's sales process. He or she will manage a creative and customized outreach strategy to potential customers in verticals such as fashion, beauty, luxury, travel, food, publishing and consumer electronics. Through developing and maintaining the early stages of the sales pipeline, the successful candidate will contribute to the overall success of the sales team. The position carries three main responsibilities: first, managing lead generation; second, overseeing custom outreach process, and third, being responsible for performance and tracking. The company is looking for a super-organized individual with a desire to learn and improve processes, with strong written and verbal communication skills, and who is self-motivating.

Views on Mental Health Must Change

Attitudes and expectations within Atlantic Canada’s innovation community need to change to improve entrepreneurs’ well-being, writes researcher Michael DeVenney in the sixth and final part of his report into entrepreneurship and mental health.

Halifax-based entrepreneur DeVenney began The Mindset Project survey in May 2016. He received 485 replies to his extensive questionnaire, 80 percent of them from Atlantic Canada. He believes the survey may be the largest on mental health and entrepreneurship in the world.

DeVenney, who is open about his own struggles with anxiety and depression, believes the current model of entrepreneurship extracts a high toll.

“Founders of companies face incredible expectations — from themselves, government and private investors — to achieve success, and quickly,” he writes.

Entrepreneurs begin their ventures with great optimism but DeVenney states it is actually uninformed optimism as the founder is unlikely to have a full understanding of their product, the market, the customer and the potential for creating a viable business model.

“As the founder tries to deliver against the vision, many other aspects intervene . . . Expectations are high and sometimes very little goes according to plan,” he writes.

He found that entrepreneurs’ anxiety escalates as they work to meet increasing commitments.

“Confidence levels start to falter as the ceaseless pace of trying to get the business off the ground affects sleeping, eating and exercise patterns, draining energy.

“For the founder, high anxiety levels and low confidence levels intersect as critical decisions are being made. Over time this leads many businesses to fail.”

Moncton's New Social Venture Project

DeVenney found the experience of an entrepreneur becomes a series of conflicting objectives. He states that:

- Entrepreneurs express a high overall sense of well-being in terms of life satisfaction and meaning, with very low day-to-day happiness.
The single greatest reason for entrepreneurs to start their business is to attain freedom, yet they spend all their time and energy meeting the expectations of others.
- When asked what they need more of, entrepreneurs answer money. Yet when asked what has been the best part of their life, they cite the people around them (family and friends).
- A great emphasis is placed on growth (faster and bigger), yet the more growth that is desired, the more entrepreneurs work in ways that hurt their ability to grow.
- Seen as optimistic (to the extreme at times) by those around them, entrepreneurs actually express a pessimistic perspective internally. The passionate disposition that drives entrepreneurs toward success can consume them and become their greatest weakness.
- While entrepreneurs are almost always networking and viewed as outgoing, they actually feel incredibly isolated and unable to talk to those around them.
Despite being lauded as the great disrupters in an era of disruption, entrepreneurs continue to blindly follow the traditional approach to their work without question or resistance.

Entrepreneurs rate their ability to cope with stress relatively highly at 7.2 (on a scale of 1-10), yet report significant deterioration in physical (49 percent) and mental health (42 percent) since starting their businesses.

Still, DeVenney said, there are entrepreneurs who thrive despite working long hours. These are the ones (12 percent of respondents) who prioritize self-care and develop resilience.

These respondents said they confided in friends, family and investors about their business issues. They exercised, took time for themselves, and focused on nutrition and sleep.

The revenues of their businesses were higher than average. Most importantly, they had a high sense of independent self-identity and did not equate their worth with the success of their business.

DeVenney thinks the community needs to redefine success for entrepreneurs, integrating the notion of entrepreneurial well-being.

“With fewer traditional job opportunities available, Millennials are being encouraged, to the point of pressured, to choose entrepreneurship as a career.

“As the incidence rate of poor mental health is much higher for Millennials than for preceding generations, there is a greater propensity for negative outcomes. The time for awareness and change is now.”

Dal LaunchPad Graduates 11 Teams

LaunchDal graduated its summer cohort of entrepreneurs on Wednesday night with pitches from 11 teams that were heavily weighted in hardware and oceans technology.

Almost all the teams Dalhousie University's LaunchPad program are working with or have lined up early adopters, and some have already raised capital from sources other than the university.

Led by entrepreneurship professor Mary Kilfoil, LaunchPad is the summer program offered by LaunchDal, the program at the university that helps students to start businesses. The program offered a total of $100,000 in development costs to the participants.

In introducing the companies, Kilfoil noted that since she and partner Ed Leach began their Starting Lean course five years ago, their programs have helped to launch 100 ventures that created 800 jobs and have raised $20 million.

One notable thing about the 2017 summer program is that three of the 11 teams – ROVault, G.I.T. and Vioa – are in the ocean technology space. That’s significant because the four Atlantic provinces are applying for federal funding for the oceans “super-cluster” and this cluster needs more startups familiar with salt water.

It’s also worth noting that several of the companies are producing hardware. LaunchDal has been working over the past year to enhance its programing for hardware-makers,  who face a different set of challenges than software producers.

Here are the companies that pitched Wednesday night:

Axem – A wearable technology that allows athletes to track their brain activity to enhance performance. The company has attracted several Olympic training centres and professional teams to participate in its beta tests in 2018, and has already raised $100,000 of a $300,000 round. Read our previous coverage of Axem.

FrontLineVR – Uses virtual reality to provide an inexpensive and interactive virtual reality simulator for first responders and the military.  FrontlineVR, which is raising $400,000, has arranged for pilot projects with the RCMP and the Halifax Fire Department.  

Graphite Innovation & Technologies – The company produces graphene through its unique process. Its first graphene-based product will be a rust-proofing paint for ships and boats. Dalhousie’s Water Studies Centre and Nova Scotia Power will work with the company on its pilot product. G.I.T. is raising $250,000. Read our previous coverage of G.I.T.

Trip Ninja – Trip Ninja helps travellers find the best route for their multi-city trips, searching hundreds of possible flights to find the lowest cost option. Trip Ninja is already plugged into one portal that connects it to 400 airlines and intends to sign up another portal soon. It is pursuing a licencing model and hopes to have a deal with an online travel company by the end of August.

ROVault – Uses imaging technology and artificial intelligence to find nuggets of valuable food within waste seafood shells. It is working with a range of oceantech organizations, and Louisbourg Seafoods has signed a letter of intent to pilot the technology. The founders are working on a $500,000 round.

UpFront – A ticket-sales and event-management platform that uses blockchain technology to eliminate ticket scalping, fraud and improving the overall experience. The founders have already established links with a range of potential customers, including the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto and the Cincinnati Arts Association.

ADDText – A peer-coaching platform that uses texting to help youth and adults living with ADHD and other challenges. The company has already interacted with 173 educators and learning strategists who have networks of amounting to thousands of people. The company is on track to produce $75,000 in monthly recurring revenue by year-end. Read our previous coverage of ADDText.

PLANifax – PLANifax helps companies and organizations tell their story through video and broadcast them to a growing network of followers. The founders call it engagement journalism. PLANifax hopes to open offices across North America.

Mowbot -- MowBot is developing automated lawn mowers controlled through the internet and hopes to use them on golf courses. Calling itself “the Tesla of Grass Mowing”, the company has five golf courses interested in the product, one of which has signed a letter of intent.

NovaResp – A novel technology that will help patients with sleep apnea breathe easier and more comfortably during sleep. NovaResp has already struck a partnership with The Snore Shop and has raised $100,000 in equity funding. It is now looking for $500,000 in funding.

Vioa – Vioa supports the sustainable management of sea life through the recycling of shellfish shells to manufacture protein additives for aquaculture feed. It is already in discussions with large seafood producers and has a letter of intent from one. 

MetricsFlow Eyes $10K MRR in 2017

Isaac Adejuwon pitches at a Propel Demo Day in 2016

Isaac Adejuwon pitches at a Propel Demo Day in 2016

With a couple of clients in the bag and some leads in the sales funnel, Isaac Adejuwon has a singular goal for his company Metricsflow to reach by year-end – $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

The company began last year and has made rapid progress in developing its tool to help companies convert their content-marketing audience into clients. The five-member team has produced its minimum viable product and signed up M5 Marketing Communications and the St. John’s fraud detection company Verafin as clients.

As it builds up the product to a full enterprise-level solution, which it hopes to have out in the first quarter of 2018, Adejuwon is talking to a few more leads and hopes to sign them and more in the next six months. 

“In the second half of the year, we’re looking at revenue – we’re targeting $10,000 in MRR by December,” said Adejuwon in a recent phone interview from Kitchener, Ont., where he was attending a strategy bootcamp at Communitech.  “We’d need 20 customers paying the base price of $500 per month. It’s fairly challenging because we have a long sales cycle but I think it’s something we’re up to.”

A native of Nigeria, Adejuwon came to St. John’s in 2010 to study at Memorial University, and two years ago began to work on a product that would improve the results of content marketing. The problem as he saw it is that companies turn out some great content online, material that readers gobble up and learn from. But it’s difficult to bring that relationship into the sales process.

Read about St. John's-based Vish Color Pitching at FounderFuel

What Metricsflow does is identify parties that are consuming your content, and assess what content they are most interested in. Using no cookies, Metricsflow mines the data on the content and lets the users take action that results in conversions.

“You don’t really know much about what content that lead was most interested in,” says a promotional video from the company. “Neither do you have information on what other anonymous sales leads are coming down the funnel, yet to be identified. But we do. If you use Metricsflow, their digital DNA would be all over your data.”

Once a company understands what content interests individual members of its content audience, it can share that information with the sales or marketing ops teams. They can then customize a sales strategy to suit that potential client, and close a deal more quickly.

Metricsflow is also in the process of developing a product to help companies reconnect with leads that had been engaged but have gone away.

The team has been gaining momentum for a few years. It went through the MUN entrepreneurship program, then the Evolution program at the Genesis Centre, then through a Propel ICT Launch cohort in St. John’s. Then it entered a strategy program at Communitech – its second mentorship at the sprawling tech hub in the past year.

The company has not raised any funds yet. Adejuwon said the company does plan to tap investors, but wants to hit a few more milestones first.

“We now have an MVP and can deploy our tracking code to any company,” said Adejuwon. “It’s not enterprise level yet but …we’re writing code every day and we’re pushing it out.”

Volta To Triple Maritime Centre Space

In a deal that will triple its capacity, Volta Labs has signed a lease to take out 60,000 square feet of space in the Maritime Centre in Halifax.

The startup house this winter will take over the ground, mezzanine and second floors of the 19-storey office tower on Barrington Street. It has signed a new lease with Slate Office REIT, which owns the building, to establish Volta as a cornerstone of the “innovation district” being planned for Halifax.

By occupying a flagship location, including highly visible street-level space, Volta’s presence in the central business district will amplify the message of the importance of tech and innovation in the business community.

"These new headquarters will allow Volta to be the growth catalyst for Halifax's technology community, establishing a home base inside the city's ‘Innovation District’ and attracting new interest from entrepreneurs," said Volta CEO Jesse Rodgers in a statement. "For many reasons, Halifax is a great place to build a technology-focused company and we are looking forward to providing more resources to these businesses. Ultimately, this growth will result in new jobs and a massive economic impact for Nova Scotia."

Swell Advantage Lands San Diego Port Funding

The statement said the larger space will allow Volta to offer more space for resident startups, corporate innovation outposts, and network members. It will also offer a large multi-purpose space, private meeting rooms, and larger co-working spaces.

The expansion is the latest chapter in the project first mooted by entrepreneur Jevon MacDonald when his company GoInstant received $1.7 million in funding in 2011. At the time, MacDonald talked about getting more office space than GoInstant needed so other entrepreneurs could share the company’s space and learn from its team.

That sparked the creation of Volta Labs in 2013 in two floors above a mattress shop on Spring Garden Road. It was not an accelerator or incubator but a “startup house”, where new companies could set up offices and the tech community could hold events.

In 2014, the organization moved to the Maritime Centre, occupying 20,000 square feet on two floors. There had been plans for it to eventually settle in the former Halifax Memorial Library building on Spring Garden Road, but those plans never materialized.

CDL-Atlantic Opens Applications for 1st Cohort

Volta now hosts a range of companies and spaces. Its website lists 14 current resident startups, most of which have been formed in the last year or two. It is also the home of Build Ventures, the regional venture capital fund.

Volta has opened its corporate innovation outpost – a place where established businesses can plant a few staff members to develop innovation. These outposts help the corporations, and also establish links between startups and traditional businesses. Atlantic Lottery Corp. set up the first outpost in Volta last year, and Rodgers is known to be interested in attracting more corporate participants.

The enlarged Volta is expected to be a cornerstone for the new “Innovation District” which will extend from the Dalhousie University campus to the new Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship in Dartmouth.

"Slate Office REIT has a long-term commitment to revitalizing Halifax's iconic Maritime Centre and we are proud that the building has become an integral part of Halifax's ‘Innovation District’, with Volta as a marquee tenant," said Slate CEO Scott Antoniak in the statement. "We recognize the importance of the Maritime Centre's location, design, amenities and function and its role in bringing together collaborative endeavours and ideas in the technology space." 

ViewPoint Adds Mortgage Brokerage

ViewPoint Realty Services, which produces the key website for real estate data in Nova Scotia, has announced that it will now offer a mortgage brokerage to complement its real estate services.

Founded seven years ago by tech veteran Bill McMullin, ViewPoint quickly became known or its website that featured data gleaned from the Multiple-Listing Service, or MLS, on every property in the province. The site immediately became a first stop for anyone wanting to buy or sell real estate (or find out what their neighbours’ house is worth).

To monetize the site, McMullin and his team developed the company into a real estate brokerage, and now employs 75 people in six offices across the province. To meet their clients’ needs, ViewPoint will now help clients find the best mortgages available from a range of financial institutions.

“To accomplish our goal of providing a convenient, one-stop-shopping experience, we’re now offering mortgage and insurance brokerage services,” said McMullin in an email. “ViewPoint now has the technology and people to help you find, buy, mortgage and insure your property - with ease. Our powerful yet free website is funded by these brokerage services. So by using our brokerage services, you’re supporting our ability to innovate and grow - making ViewPoint even better.”

McMullin has made no secret of his hope to expand beyond Nova Scotia, and could find out late this year whether ViewPoint can expand into the key Toronto market.

ViewPoint needs access to MLS data to open a site, but outside Nova Scotia real estate boards, which control the data, have refused to provide members (and therefore ViewPoint) with the MLS data.

The Competition Bureau of Canada initiated legal action against the Toronto Real Estate Board in 2011, and last year a competition tribunal directed TREB to open its MLS system to its members. TREB appealed the ruling to the Federal Court of Appeal, which is expected to rule on the matter this year. 

Neck Tronics Plans Launch This Year

Bill Smith believes he’s developing the best product available for strengthening neck muscles, and that it will be even better thanks to a deal he just signed with SimWave Consulting of Kanata, Ont.

Smith is a Bridgewater chiropractor who has used his professional knowledge to develop Neck Tronics, whose product helps athletes and people recovering from injury to strengthen the neck.

Last month, he announced that Neck Tronics has formed a partnership with SimWave Consulting, a specialist in augmented reality and virtual reality. The idea is that the new product — which will go through human trials in the two months — will help strengthen the neck, and the AR-VR component will help the user use the product and understand its benefits.

“We’re developing a product for strengthening the neck,” said Smith in a phone interview last week. “There are a lot of products out there to strengthen the neck but . . . we believe that we have the best product that’s out there.”

Smith said the Neck Tronics product is attacking a huge market because there are so many people suffering from whiplash or concussion. Studies have shown that athletes reduce the risk of concussion if they strengthen their neck muscles, so Neck Tronics is developing a preventive tool to help avoid one of the blackest marks against modern sports — the risk of head trauma.

Spring Loaded Launches Levitation

Whiplash and concussions cause physical pain for individuals and families, and massive pain for the economy, said Smith. Adding in lost productivity, the cost of rehabilitation and other factors, he said, whiplash costs the economy $25 billion to $40 billion a year in the U.S. and Canada, and with concussions the figure is closer to $60 billion.

The Neck Tronics device will help sports trainers, coaches and athletes assess the strength of an individual’s neck and then work to bolster the muscles between the shoulders and skull. And for people with injuries, it will help with the rehabilitation process. Smith, who came up with the idea about three-and-a-half years ago, said there is a huge benefit to having a visual component in the product, and that is why he partnered with SimWave.

“At SimWave, we have been working on the forefront of VR/AR technology since 2013 and have seen many new and interesting implementations of the technology across a multitude of industries,” said SimWave CFO Adam Caitness in a statement. “We are proud to be able to collaborate our efforts in the AR/VR field with a medical provider to create a new and exciting product that is much needed.”

Smith has received some grant money and is now raising equity to finance the growth of Neck Tronics. He’s raised about $200,000 in a round he hopes will reach $550,000 soon.

He plans to take the product to market as a strength device for athletes and has already had interest from rugby organizers, as well as those in hockey and football. Introducing Neck Tronics as a product for athletes will avoid the lengthy regulatory process associated with medical devices, so it could be on the market in November.

Meanwhile, the company is also applying to have Neck Tronics approved as a Class II medical rehabilitation product with the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. and Health Canada. If successful, Smith hopes to have the product in rehab centres by the third quarter of 2018.

EhEye Wins StartupFest Award

James Stewart

James Stewart

EhEye, the Saint John company that enhances security video, left the Startup Festival in Montreal as the Atlantic Canadian company that seems to have captured the most buzz at the annual festival.

The company was the co-winner of the Grandmothers’ Choice Award, a pitching competition in which a panel of grandmothers chooses the winners, according to a report in Betakit. The other winner was Waste Robotics, a robotic waste sorting solution from Quebec City.

The winners will receive legal services from Fasken, while FounderFuel will work with companies as part of its three-month program and provide funding, said Betakit.

EhEye Co-Founder and CEO James Stewart said on social media that the “biggest prize of all” was linking up with Isaac Souweine, entrepreneur-in-residence at Real Ventures and General Manager of FounderFuel. Souweine said he's looking forward to spending time with the company in the coming months. 

EhEye has produced technology that notifies authorities if there is something suspicious caught on the video. In other words, it can recognize someone wearing a ski mask or carrying a gun in a crowd. At a packed stadium, it can even recognize if someone is carrying a backpack and later is walking around without the backpack.

The company was a finalist in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru competition this year, and awarded the province’s Kira Awards for Most Promising Start-up and Innovation through Technology.

Shad Brings Out Best in Teens

You wouldn’t expect to see high school students hard at work in classes on a hot July day. But for this group of young SHAD program participants, the robotics lab on University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus is exactly where they want to be.

Initially founded in 1980, SHAD brings together students who are passionate about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) for a yearly, one-month long program of lectures, workshops, projects and activities at campuses across Canada. This year’s program theme is reducing Canada’s carbon footprint.

Loren Condie is a Grade 11 student from Waterville, Nova Scotia, a rural dairy community. She says she first heard about the SHAD program from her high school chemistry teacher and pursued it because she wanted to meet more people who thought like her and had similar ideas. . . .

Read the full story on Huddle.

Jobs: Dash Hudson Account Exec

Dash Hudson is continuing to expand its staff, and today we’re highlighting an opening at the social media analytics company for an account executive.

Halifax-based Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and video, 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.

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.

Halifax

Dash Hudson

Account Executive

The account executive will work with Dash Hudson’s sales team on the business development process, contributing to such tasks as lead generation, sales outreach, progress tracking and closing deals. He or she will engage with new and existing leads through creative outreach and follow-up communications. The duties include meeting monthly and quarterly sales quotas, reviewing and qualifying inbound leads, and managing CRM and sales pipeline. Dash Hudson is looking for someone with one to four years of experience in a similar role, and someone with analytical, business development, strategy, and sales skills. The successful candidate must be hyper-organized with equal parts diligent and creative.

Helping Carers of the Elderly

Ashley King, left, and Daphne Noonan

Ashley King, left, and Daphne Noonan

After focusing on providing dementia care training and services to staff in care homes, consulting company Person Centred Universe is turning its attention to supporting those who care for dementia sufferers in private settings like family residences.

Company founders Ashley King and Daphne Noonan hope their Fredericton-based venture will improve care and lessen the loneliness of caregivers, who often struggle to provide loved ones with the best, most informed care.

The venture’s new offering, Dementia Journey Coaching, will be a telephone or Skype service that will assist the primary caregivers of individuals living with dementia.

“Carers often feel alone, they don’t feel heard,” Noonan said. “They might talk to the family doctor, but they struggle with the practicalities of coping around a loved one wandering or leaving the stove on.”

The couple are just starting a beta test of their new idea. The beta test will involve working with 10 caregivers to help alleviate a patient’s main problems. For instance, if a patient is not sleeping at night, it may be necessary to eliminate an afternoon nap or allow the patient to become more socially engaged.

“We want to help carers develop a lifestyle plan and find information and resources that can be hard to find and navigate,” King said. “We will direct them to free programs, suggest things to try at home, and tell them how to access social resources.”

The couple have gathered a small team of caregivers to work with them over the eight-week beta test period.

Once launched, the service will cost clients $1,099. The founders hope governments will eventually bear some of the burden.

The new service is a natural progression from the pair’s existing training services for care home staff. They began offering these services in 2013, after gaining Dementia Care Mapping Certification from Bradford University in the U.K.

Read About the 10 Teams Emerging from UNB's TME Program.

Widely used in the U.K. for 30 years but new to Canada, Dementia Care Mapping looks at the dementia sufferer as an individual.

It uses a patient’s personal life story and narrative to enhance care, for example by creating an “office” space for a former businessman so that he can relive the experience of having a desk and paperwork.

“It’s creating a feeling of familiarity, a feeling he’s doing what he understands and knows,” said Noonan. “Enhancing that feeling of identity might reduce symptoms such as wandering.”

Dementia Care Mapping also requires observing patients’ engagement with their environment. For instance, it may become clear someone struggles at mealtimes.

“Staff might then adjust where a person sits or get the patient to set tables as an introduction to meals,” Noonan said.

“It reduces guesswork . . . It shows dementia needn’t be a horrible experience if those around understand you.”

Both founders have bachelor degrees in gerontology. They have a great deal of experience working with dementia sufferers, including with family members.

King first became interested in the field of aging as a university student when she was helping care for her grandmother.

“My gran could have been one of our clients,” King said. “My family was doing our best with what we had. But it involved me or my 15-year-old brother sleeping on a mattress beside her bed so Gran wouldn’t wander if she got up.”

The founders have recently completed the B4 Change accelerator for social ventures at the Pond-Deshpande Centre at University of New Brunswick. The experience helped them develop their ideas. They also gained $5,000 in catalyst funding

“The program helped us get to this point,” Noonan said. “It got us thinking about the customer and their experience.”

In the future, they plan to create peer coaching networks, which may feature a dementia coach connecting with maybe four to six caregivers on a phone or Skype call.

“We love the idea of becoming global, of potentially someone in the U.K. supporting someone in New Brunswick,” Noonan said.

East Coast Troop at StartupFest

On Thursday, 55 entrepreneurs from Atlantic Canada arrived at Montreal StartupFest on a luxury charter bus, what the Taskforce Fredericton Startup Network is calling the East Coast Caravan.

The Taskforce Fredericton Startup Network worked with regional partners such as Planet Hatch, Ignite Fredericton and Enterprise Saint John to send the 55 entrepreneurs from across the region to StartupFest.

Montreal StartupFest is a global gathering of the world’s leading mentors, entrepreneurs, founders and venture capitalists. The three-day festival features world-renowned keynotes and investment opportunities for attendees. Last year’s festival reportedly had $500,000 worth of investments and prizes.

One of the entrepreneurs on the Caravan is Amanda Betts, CEO of Fredericton-based startup eChart. She said she was looking forward to networking and learning about other cool emerging companies. As eChart is getting ready to scale-up, Betts will also be looking to learn some tips from others.

“We’re looking for ways to educate ourselves on that and just learning from other people’s experiences and learning about what we should be aware of, what other people might have experienced that wasn’t good so we can learn from that. Just so we do it right,” says Betts. . . .

Read the full story on Huddle

[Editor’s note: The three-day StartupFest began Thursday and ends Saturday. Huddle ran this article earlier in the week, and we have changed the tenses so it makes sense.]

Mariner Aims To Improve 28% Growth

Craig Storey: 'You go harder, faster.'

Craig Storey: 'You go harder, faster.'

Craig Storey has just taken over international sales at Atlantic Canada’s most influential tech company, Saint John-based Mariner, and he’s not satisfied with its 28-per-cent revenue growth in 2016.

Until recently, Storey was the CEO of Shift Energy, the Mariner subsidiary that provides automated energy controls to larger complexes. In the last six months, Shift has been integrated into the main corporate structure of Mariner, and Storey has been given the role of head of global sales for the group.

Mariner was already performing well as 2016 revenue reached $28.2 million. That earned Mariner the No. 128 place in the Branham 300 list of the top tech companies in Canada — tops among Atlantic Canadian IT companies.

But Storey said that there are opportunities within the Mariner group to cross sell among the various groups of customers and produce even more revenue.

“You go harder, faster,” he said when asked how he responds to leading a sales group that’s already performing well. “There’s a lot more value we have to offer existing clients, and new. We are now positioned for larger, more transformational deals in our chosen marketplace.”

To understand the current vision in Mariner’s executive suite, it helps to understand the company’s four pillars. The company began early in the century when veterans of iMagicTV, which provided software for video services, launched a new company to improve the delivery of videos online and alert providers of any problems with video delivery. That business, known as xVu, is the core of Mariner’s business.

Mariner, NBIF Invest $500K in Beauceron

The other three pillars are: Shift Energy; Mariner Innovations, which provides advisory and professional services and project delivery; and East Valley Ventures, the loosely held portfolio of 24 startup investments, held by Mariner itself and/or members of its network.

Storey said Mariner is now in a position to expand its reach and produce larger deals than in the past. XVu (pronounced X-View) has a strong client base in North America, from which Storey believes it can draw more sales. And he sees huge opportunities in new markets for the company, such as Asia, Europe and South America.

He also thinks that Mariner can increase sales by selling products from one of its pillars to clients of another. For example, xVu clients deal mainly in video, but many are huge corporations with large facilities that could cut costs with Shift Energy’s technology. Storey even wants to work with East Valley’s startup companies to introduce their technology to its clients and accelerate adoption of their innovation.

Mariner, whose best-known executive is its chairman, tech evangelist Gerry Pond, recently received some good news in its sales efforts as Shift Energy’s first U.S. client reported great results from its EOS product.

Amalie Arena, the 19,204-seat home of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning, began using EOS a few months ago. The arena management was so impressed with the results that it allowed Shift to report them publicly — an energy cost reduction of 14 per cent, a consumption reduction of nearly 1,500,000 kWh, and a 1,100-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

“The Shift EOS solution has materially reduced Amalie Arena’s energy consumption and improved operations by providing integration from our front office event booking right through to our building management,” said Darryl Benge, executive vice president and general manager for the arena. “The EOS technology did what our team simply didn’t have the time to do on a daily basis and it has performed exceptionally well for us.”

Moving to the Cloud, Remsoft Adds Staff.

Mariner execs admit the sales cycle for EOS is longer than they had expected. But the success of their first U.S. installation as well as that of Canadian customers like the Rogers Arena in Vancouver are helping with other sales. Storey said the Amalie results were released just before the annual meeting of the Green Sports Alliance, a national group that aims to improve the environmental performance of sports facilities, and he was able to showcase the Tampa Bay results to other arena operators.

“That market validation was very strong,” he said. “And in addition to the strong validation we have in Vancouver, people are starting to take notice.”

Vish, Porpoise Pitch at FounderFuel

Vish Salon Tech and Porpoise, two emerging Atlantic Canadian startups, presented at the FounderFuel Spring 2017 Demo Day in Montreal this week, which coincided with the city’s massive Startup Festival.

Pitching before a roomful of investors and tech enthusiasts, the two companies told of the traction they had gained since entering the Montreal accelerator earlier in the year. You can find video of the presentations here, though the sound quality may pose a problem – Vish CEO Timothy Howard begins his presentation at 1:31 and is followed directly by Porpoise CEO Topher Kingsley-Williams at 1:40.

St. John’s-based Vish has produced a technology that helps the owners of beauty salons reduce waste when dying clients’ hair and increase revenue. The product acts as a CRM for salon owners, and also helps measure the colour in the dye to reduce waste, collects data and makes sure clients receive the precise colour every time. Its market is vast, given that there are 1.5 million salons bringing in $48 billion a year – just in just in North America, and about one fifth of their dye inventory is wasted.

A dozen salons have already signed up with Vish across North America, divided evenly between the U.S. and Canada. Howard cited three clients that have saved $100,000 in reduced waste by using Vish, while increasing revenue and improving client relationships.  He added that Vish is also working with beauty brands like L’Oreal and Goldwell to give them insights on the demands and challenges of salons.

Monthly revenue grew from $3,000 in April to $6,000 in June, and are on track to hit $18,000 in August, he said.

“Vish is raising $750,000 a month as we reach our goal of being in 300 salons, generating $90,000 in recurring revenue each month,” said Howard.

Read our Most Recent Report on Porpoise.

A certified B-Corp, Porpoise is a social venture based in Moncton. Porpoise probes its clients’ employees to learn what they’re doing in their communities. It then helps to align the employees’ charitable aspirations with the company’s social strategy, and helps them amplify the benefits by promoting what the company and its staff are doing.

“We hope to leverage the power of volunteering,” Kingsley-Williams said. “Historically, brands have been defined by the products they produce. But today that’s not enough. Today the people who work for these companies define the brand as well. “

He said the company has secured such clients as Salesforce.com and National Bank of Canada, and that Porpoise is now experiencing month-on-month growth of 18 percent. Since joining Founder Fuel, the company has added about $650,000 in new business, which it expects to close in the next few weeks. 

Propel ICT Prepares for Fall Cohort

Propel ICT, the regional IT accelerator, is now accepting applications for its 2017 Fall Accelerator and will hold information sessions across the region for people interested in applying.

The one-hour sessions are intended to tell prospective participants which program is best suited to accelerate their startup, and the outcomes they can expect to see throughout the accelerator.

The accelerator holds an advanced Build program in Moncton with each cohort, designed to help companies with a product to scale their businesses. It also holds its more rudimentary Launch cohorts in different cities across the region to help new companies work toward a product-market fit. So far, Launch cohorts have been held in Halifax and Fredericton with each cohort, and in other cities depending largely on the supply of companies in each place that meet its criteria.  For example, in the most recent cohort, there was a program offered in Sydney, and in previous cohorts they were offered in Charlottetown and St. John’s.

Here is a calendar of the information sessions:

Charlottetown

Monday, July 17, 12 pm at the Startup Zone

Tuesday, July 18, 12 pm at the Startup Zone

Register for a Charlottetown info session

Fredericton

Wednesday, July 19, 12 pm at Planet Hatch

Wednesday, July 19, 2 pm at Planet Hatch

August dates TBD

Register for a Fredericton info session

Halifax

Friday, July 14, 12 pm at Volta Labs

Monday, July 24, 12 pm at Volta Labs

Thursday, August 17, 12 pm at Volta Labs

Tuesday, August 22, 12 pm at Volta Labs

Register for a Halifax info session

Moncton

Tuesday July 18, 12 pm at Venn Innovation

August dates

Register for a Moncton info session

Saint John

TBD

St. John’s

Friday, July 14, 12:30 pm at Common Ground

Tuesday, July 18, 6 pm at Genesis Centre (Register here for this event)

Thursday, August 10, 5:30pm at Common Ground

Tuesday, August 22, 12 pm at Common Ground

Register for a St. John’s info session

Sydney

Wednesday, July 26, 12 pm at New Dawn Centre

Monday, August 14, 12 pm at New Dawn Centre

Register for a Sydney info session

Virtual Sessions

Propel also plans to offer an online information session in July and August. Dates will be announced soon. 

Moncton’s New Social Venture Project

Dale Ritchie: The goal is

Dale Ritchie: The goal is "to be the social enterprise capital of Atlantic Canada."

Members of the Greater Moncton business community have launched a new initiative featuring an accelerator and funding vehicle to encourage the development of more social enterprises in the area.

Social enterprises are businesses created to further a social purpose, or solve a social problem, in a financially sustainable way.

Millennials comprise the biggest generation in the Canadian workforce and are gravitating towards socially responsible careers and businesses. The Moncton initiative aims to ensure those seeking to create positive change in the community, using a financially sustainable model, receive the support they require.

The initiative consists of a two-pronged approach to further the growth of social enterprises in Greater Moncton – the Community Accelerator and the Hub Fund.

The organizers hope the Hub Fund will eventually raise $1 million to fund social ventures. An independent board will govern the fund and any social enterprise in the area will be eligible to apply to an investment committee, which will make investment decisions.

The Community Accelerator is a program developed to help social entrepreneurs that have an idea for an enterprise but need mentorship and support. Facilitated by McKenzie College, the accelerator will provide them with the resources and skills they need.

“This truly is a community project,” said McKenzie College President Dale Ritchie said in a statement. “It takes a community to create real social change and this initiative will be successful because of community involvement. Investing in social enterprises will benefit Greater Moncton both socially and economically.”

Ritchie added the goal is "to be the social enterprise capital of Atlantic Canada."

Ten Startups Emerge from UNB TME

The idea was inspired by Ritchie’s daughter, Jill, whose partner Lucas passed away after a long battle with mental health and addiction issues. Jill and Lucas had started “Lead with your Heart” and Jill has continued the cause in his memory – a legacy project to provide alternative, creative therapies for people suffering from mental illness and addiction.

“Social enterprise is one of the fastest growing business models in the country because consumers, millennials in particular, are demanding that businesses be more actively engaged in solving social and environmental issues,” said Wendy Keats, executive director of the Cooperative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick. “This new Community Accelerator and Hub Fund is a huge step forward in the development of an ecosystem in New Brunswick that will grow the social enterprise sector and we applaud them for their innovation and commitment to the community.”

Many community members have lent their support to the initiative but organizers are still recruiting mentors, advisors and investors. Those interested in getting involved can contact info@mckenzie.edu.

Disrupting the Market for Graphene

Marciel Gaier, left, and Mo AlGermozi in their lab at Dalhousie University

Marciel Gaier, left, and Mo AlGermozi in their lab at Dalhousie University

When Mo AlGermozi and Marciel Gaier manned their booth at the recent Atlantic Venture Forum, they handed all visitors a three-inch piece of black, plastic-like material and challenged them to break it.

It was graphene, a revolutionary new material that the two entrepreneurs are now producing in commercial quantities at their lab at Dalhousie University. They have discovered a new, economical way of producing graphene, and that’s the basis of their company, Graphite Innovation & Technologies Inc.

“We found a way to produce graphene 10 times cheaper than what’s out there,” said AlGermozi, a graduate of Dal who originally hails from Yemen.

The company began earlier this year when the two material engineers needed some graphene for a research project. 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.

It’s also in high demand, so AlGermozi and Gaier experimented to see if they could make their own graphene for their project. They ended up discovering a way to produce high-quality graphene economically, and decided to spin this process into a new company.

Their production process is an environmentally friendly method that will allows mass production of graphene. Once they made the discovery, they set up a rudimentary production facility so that every day they produce about 50-70 grams of the substance. It’s enough to sell to a few customers and bring in some revenue, but the duo has bigger plans.

Dal Will Be Pivotal to Startup Community in Next 12-18 Months

They hope to expand production to produce larger amounts of the material — they’re now thinking of a kilogram a day, or more than 14 times their current production. They believe their process will lower the cost of graphene, which in turn could lead to new commercial applications as industry finds it economical to use graphene in everyday products. In fact, they want to develop their own graphene-based products.

“We are doing research and development on three products — a coating to prevent corrosion, a composite material and semi-conductors,” said Gaier, a native of Brazil.

Having launched their company only in the past few months, AlGermozi and Gaier are now working on the financial and structural side of the firm. The learning curve has been steep and they are working on several key variables in planning their business, like how to set up and finance a production facility, and what is the best product to get to the market quickly.

They have revenue from their daily graphene production, and they are participating in Dalhousie’s summer LaunchPad program, which provides participants with $10,000 each in development costs. They are also speaking to various funding organizations about tapping programs.

“It’s all happened so quickly,” said Gaier. “We’re in the exploration process. We’ve learned so, so much in the past two months, and we think that it two or three months we’ll have a decent idea of where we’re going to be going.”

10 Teams Emerge from UNB TME

Dhirendra Shukla: 'They all have the potential to be significant businesses.'

Dhirendra Shukla: 'They all have the potential to be significant businesses.'

The University of New Brunswick’s Master of Technology Management & Entrepreneurship program held its final pitching session Thursday night, allowing 10 teams comprising 13 students to present their companies to peers, mentors and local business leaders.

Every Thursday morning at the J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management & Entrepreneurship, students have presented their ventures to a panel of entrepreneurs and coaches.

“These are not student projects -- they all have the potential to be significant businesses,” said Dhirendra Shukla, director of the J. Herbert Smith Centre. “That’s a really indicative marker of the quality of the program and people attracted to it.”

Shukla added the TME pitching event will be July 21 with 17 new startups being launched from the Masters in Technology Management & Entrepreneurship program, the Energia accelerator and UNB’s Summer Institute.

Over the past year, students in the program have gone through the process of launching a startup, either individually or in groups of up to three people.

“Our role is to provide guidance on how to validate their idea, not to judge their idea,” said Program Manager Phil Lambert. “Mentors encourage students to get outside of the building and meet with their target market to establish if they have a viable idea.” 

The presenting companies last Thursday were:

Hinge Paintball (Joshua White, Stephenville, NL) -- White has developed a stock system that will allow players to drastically shorten the overall length of the paintball marker on the fly. The Fredericton-based venture has hopes of licensing the design to major paintball manufactures for the innovation to be included in future marker designs and even retrofit onto current units.

Blütek (Sébastien Haché, Shippagan, NB) – Blütek is focused on developing original ways to add value to wild blueberries prior to export. It specializes in wild blueberry extraction for anthocyanins.

ServeUs App (Vikram Devaguptapu, Visakhapatnam, India) –Devaguptapu is creating an app that will help caregivers for the elderly by connecting family caregivers with the information and resources they need. The mobile application is a collection of information and resources organizations in one place, accessible anywhere with the use of data.

Pfera Inc. (Lisa Pfister, London, Ont./Rusagonis, NB) –  After breeding horses for several years, Pfister developed a milk analysis system able to predict when a mare will foal as well as an electronic health record for horses. The patent-pending milk analysis system predicts birth accurately within hours whereas she says competitors’ predictions are off by days and produce false alarms.

Read about Pfera Winning $375K in the Breakthru Competition.

Sm-Heart (Thomas Bird, Fredericton) – Bird describes Sm-Heart as “A fitbit for your heart.” After losing his grandfather to heart disease at a young age, Bird grew passionate about finding a way to minimize the effects of the disease. He has designed an anklet which monitors edema in those suffering from heart disease. For the next four months, Bird will be in Geneva, Switzerland, as a finalist in the MassChallenge accelerator program.

Stash Energy (Daniel Larsen, Belfast, PEI, Erik Hatfield, Rothesay, NB, and Jordan Kennie, Fredericton) -- PEI is having trouble meeting energy demand as residents switched from oil-burning heat sources to electric heat pumps, so the island is building a $70 million diesel power plant. The three were convinced that they could use existing heat pump systems to store energy during periods of low demand and then make that energy available during peak hours.

Rabbit Town Whisky Co. (Stewart Hillhouse, Toronto, Ont.) – Hillhouse is developing a process to diminish the time whisky spends maturing in barrels. Rabbit Town is bringing traditional ingredients and modern processes together to accelerate the aging process.”

PHYS Technologies (Casey Glenen, Riverview, NB) –  PHYS has created a device which measures power output while training in the gym. PHYS Technologies is currently undergoing a three-month long pilot period. PHYS Technologies was started last year by Luke Dillman, a former TME student who is now studying at Dalhousie University. He was unable to continue with PHYS, so Glenen is helping him out.

Mbissa Energy Systems (Caleb Grove, Fredericton, NB) – A Canadian who grew up in Central Africa, Grove wanted to find a way to bring electricity to his neighbours. Grove has integrated modern equipment with local culture and ideas. His system works by having a central hub in a communal area, like a general store. The store hosts a large battery, charged by wind and solar sources, from which people can charge smaller batteries to take home for individual use.                                                           

Terra Toran (Kris Bowman, Rexton, NB, and Jonathan Kummer, Little Shemogue, NB) – Terra Toran is a video streaming service package that will allow environmental organizations and other groups to set up live feeds in remote locations. Despite the number of cameras in the modern landscape, set up, maintenance, and curation of video streams is still a major undertaking for many groups. Bowman and Kummer want to take that barrier away.

Jobs: Dash Hudson, BioNB

Our Jobs of the Week column this week features postings from Dash Hudson, which is seeking a Sales Development Intern, and BioNB, which has an opening for a Marketing and Communications Officer.

Halifax-based Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and video, then analyze their impact. The system is an integrated solution to predict, measure, and enhance engagement across all visual marketing channels. The company, which has been expanding rapidly, has offices in Halifax, New York and Miami.

BioNB is a bioscience association that works with start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses and researchers to provide coaching and development services in New Brunswick’s biosciences sector.

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.

Halifax

Dash Hudson

Sales Development Intern

The successful candidate will be a critical piece in the development of Dash Hudson's sales process. He or she will support a creative and customized outreach strategy to potential customers in such verticals as fashion, travel, food and others. The responsibilities include generating sales leads, and then tracking the performance of the lead generation strategy. Dash Hudson is looking for someone who is hyper-organized, obsessive about details and able to work under tight deadlines. Strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as a desire to learn and improve processes are great assets for this position.

Fredericton

BioNB

Marketing and Communications Officer

BioNB is looking for a talented person to oversee the idea generation, development and ongoing implementation of the organization’s marketing, communications and public relations strategy.

The organization wants someone with a passion for all things social media and a strong understanding of digital marketing tools including, but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, MailChimp and Hootsuite. This person should know how these platforms can be deployed to support the group, its clients and the New Brunswick biosciences sector. The Marketing and Communications Officer will be responsible for: stakeholder engagement; content strategy and development; communications materials; digital strategy and execution; and other related duties. BioNB is looking for someone with a post-secondary education in marketing, communications or a related field and two or more years of professional marketing and communications experience.

Armed with Data, IWT Plans to Scale

The Island Water Tech installation at Gagetown

The Island Water Tech installation at Gagetown

Island Water Technologies has completed the first installations of its Regen water-treatment facility, and those two projects are providing the company with the one thing it needs to win other contracts — data.

Based in Montague, P.E.I., IWT now has two products on the market, both of which offer efficient means of treating water away from urban locations. Regen can treat waste water for remote facilities ideally housing 75 to 250 people. And the company also offers ClearPod, an efficient septic system for individual households.

While ClearPod is gaining traction across Canada, IWT in the past year has installed Regen facilities with the Canadian military at Gagetown, N.B., and at a remote oil services camp in Hassi Messaoud, Algeria.

CEO Patrick Kiely said in an interview this week that these two Regen installations are giving the company data on such facets as the amount of water treated and the overall energy consumption. And that means it can prove to potential clients that the system works. Kiely hopes he can record a couple more installations by year’s end.

“Our big barriers to sales are the lead times it takes to do a deal, but we should be able to minimize that because we have the data,” he said. “So now we’re ready to ramp up our business development.”

Regen is a self-contained product that provides state-of-the-art water treatment in remote locations. It all fits in a shipping container, so it can be delivered virtually anywhere in the world. Solar panels bolt on to the exterior to power the operation.

Remsoft Adding Staff in Move to the Cloud

Kiely explained that the technology is effective because it requires so little energy — it relies on a unique plastic material that can treat water using a fraction of the energy required by competing systems. Regen uses so little electricity that it can draw all the energy it needs from solar panels, meaning it does not need an external source of electricity. And because of its plastic system, Regen needs no chemicals to be added during the treatment process.

The Algerian project, which was installed in a couple of days once the people and materials arrived at the camp, is successfully producing water that is pure enough to be used to irrigate farms. At

Gagetown, IWT is working with emergency disaster relief teams so that Regen could be deployed in the event of a humanitarian disaster.

ClearPod, meanwhile, continues to gain clients in Canada and abroad. Island Water is selling the product through a distributer in B.C., and it just received approval from the Ministry of the Environment in Ontario. IWT’s distributor in Ontario is also active in China and has sold demo products to potential partners in the country. IWT has also began to reach out to clients in such countries as Honduras and Kenya.

Having received $250,000 in funding from Innovacorp, Island Water now employs 10 people and is in the process of raising capital to scale up its business development team. The target is an equity investment of $2.5 million, which would transform the business.

“Every industry is different and the waste water space requires a lot of patience,” said Kiely. “For the last four years, we’ve ... purposefully been keeping costs very low. Now it’s a matt of scaling and making sure we have the outreach with the clients.”

PEI’s Startup Zone Adds 3 Teams

Startup Zone, the hub for new businesses in downtown Charlottetown, has announced that three new companies have joined its business incubation residency program.

The latest companies to be accepted into the program are Shoplaw, Local Legends Apparel, and Cradle Technology Design Inc.

Shoplaw, founded by Randy Campbell, adds transparency and choice to the process of selecting a lawyer with an online platform. Local Legends Apparel, co-founded by Aidan Northcott and Ashley Paynter, is a clothing company that creates clothing inspired by Prince Edward Island.

Read Our Recent Coverage of Shoplaw

 Cradle Technology Design Inc. is developing a consumer product that will allow users to be able to collect and track valuable data from urine. The Cradle Technology team is made of four graduates of the University of Prince Edward Island’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering - Andrew Simmons, Javon Mayhew, Brady Gallant, and Alex Gamble.

“The value of the program is in our deep focus on customer needs and creating a network of entrepreneurs for support and collaboration,” stated Doug Keefe, Interim CEO. “Our network only gets stronger the more it grows. We are incredibly excited to welcome these new founders.”

With these three additions, the Startup Zone network has grown to include 18 resident companies and 12 alumni. 

Securicy Ramping Up Paid Beta Tests

Darren Gallop: Giving small companies the functionality of a CISO.

Darren Gallop: Giving small companies the functionality of a CISO.

When veteran tech entrepreneur Darren Gallop learned how hard it was to meet his partners’ demands for cybersecurity, it led to the creation of a new company that helps with such tasks.

Gallop is best known as the founder and CEO of Sydney-based Marcato Digital Solutions, which provides online administration systems for music festivals. As his company grew, Gallop learned Marcato had to meet the cybersecurity standards laid down by his major clients, companies as large as Walt Disney Co. Working with his tech team, he set out to automate the process of understanding and meeting cybersecurity standards. When others in the market learned about what the Marcato crew had done, they contacted Gallop asking to use the new tool.

Thus the new company called Securicy was born.

“Large companies have CISOs (chief information security officers) to make sure they’re keeping up-to-date with the cybersecurity landscape,” Gallop said in an interview at the Atlantic Venture Forum in Halifax last week. “What we do is we give that functionality to small and medium-sized businesses who can’t afford their own CISO.”

Securicy is a software-as-a-service product that helps enterprises navigate the complex routes to make sure they are compliant with their clients’ and partners’ cybersecurity standards. This field is so complex that even tech entrepreneurs are often asked for material they’ve never heard of.

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“When they get started with cybersecurity, people know they need to do something but they don’t really know what it is,” said Laird Wilton, the former Marcato chief revenue officer who is now working full-time on Securicy. “This system is really good at helping them get started.”

Securicy offers its clients a dashboard that automates the procedure so these small businesses can quickly adhere to common standards.

Though cybersecurity protections are constantly evolving to keep ahead of the most current threats, the standards are more constant and Securicy users can remain up to date with these standards. When standards or best practices change, the platform is updated and these changes spread to the clients.

As Marcato continued to grow into a company with 16 employees, Gallop and Wilton last autumn began to develop the new cybersecurity business. Gallop is still at the helm of Marcato, while Wilton is working full-time at Securicy.

In April, they began paid beta tests with five clients, adding five more in short order. Early this month, they plan to introduce a further 10 clients, bringing the total to 20.

Securicy now has 10 employees, and the cofounders expect the staff to double in the next six to 12 months. So far, they have raised more than $500,000 to finance the company.

Wilton said the feedback from users so far has been positive. Simply being asked questions about their cybersecurity infrastructure can teach small business owners in a range of fields what they need to do to become compliant.

Gallop said that starting Securicy has been different than Marcato because he had to be a jack of all trades in starting his first company but can now delegate to specialists.

Evoqua Buys Fredericton’s ADI

Pittsburgh-based Evoqua Water Technologies has bought ADI Systems, Lange Containment and Geomembrane Technologies from ADI Group Inc. of Fredericton for an undisclosed price.

In a statement released Wednesday, Evoqua said the three businesses are world leaders in wastewater solutions for industrial and manufacturing applications, primarily based in Fredericton.

Founded in 1989, ADI has about 100 employees. It will become a part of Evoqua’s Integrated Equipment Technologies segment within its Industrial Division.

The ADI businesses offer a wide range of technologies tailored to their customer base around the world in anaerobic digestion, aerobic treatment, and biogas treatment. They also provide green energy recovery and water reuse technologies as well as industrial wastewater cover liners and containment systems. Combined, ADI Systems and Lange Containment based in Fredericton, and Geomembrane Technologies based in Denver, Colorado have more than 260 customers in 35 countries.

“The combination of ADI with Evoqua, including our recently acquired Environmental Treatment Systems business, gives us the widest-ranging industrial wastewater offerings to help our customers succeed,” said Evoqua CEO Ron Keating in the statement.

Evoqua helps municipalities and industrial customers protect and improve the world's most fundamental natural resource: water. Its cost-effective and reliable treatment systems and services ensure uninterrupted quantity and quality of water, enable regulatory and environmental compliance, increase efficiency through water reuse, and prepare customers for next-generation demands.

The company was created in 2014 when New York private equity fund AEA Investors bought Siemens Water Technologies LLC.

Evoqua says its portfolio of brands, advanced technologies, mobile and emergency water supply solutions and service helps cities across the world provide and discharge clean water, and enable leisure and commercial industry to maximize productivity and profitability. 

Moving to Cloud, Remsoft Adds Staff

Andrea Feunekes: 'We have to get this done in two to two-and-a-half years.'

Andrea Feunekes: 'We have to get this done in two to two-and-a-half years.'

Remsoft, the Fredericton company that produces predictive analytics software for the forest industry, is moving to the cloud, leading to one of the strongest staffing increases in its 25-year history.

The company, which now employs 33 people, plans to add about eight to 10 personnel in the next year as it develops an end-to-end cloud-based solution for its clients based around the world.

“We’re really excited about what we’re doing now,” said Co-Founder and CEO Andrea Feunekes in an interview last week. “But we’re having trouble finding the right people. This is a constant problem.”

Remsoft began in the early 1990s when the husband-and-wife team of Ugo and Andrea Feunekes began to offer software solutions to forestry companies to help them manage their lands. Over the last seven years, Remsoft’s growth has accelerated thanks to its early development of a software platform that allows computational analysis of a company’s information.

The software 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. But the software has always been on the clients’ desktop computers, and now the company is transforming to the cloud. It’s a huge undertaking.

Richard Jones Highlights IIoT as Huge Opportunity

Remsoft has already introduced its first cloud-based solution for clients in the southeast U.S., but the company now wants to completely revamp its platform so everything is based on the cloud.

“It became clear to us that there was a lot to do,” said Feunekes. “This wasn’t just going to be a lift-and-shift job – we had to start from scratch.”

She added that the work is complex. In fact, since the beginning of the year Remsoft has been working with leading American consultants on the project, and they reported back that the undertaking is in the top 5 percent in the world in terms of complexity.

She said the complexity comes from the multi-faceted nature of the forestry industry – there are logistical consideration, developments in technology, a changing market for wood products. And on top of it all is the fact that it relies on biology and production can change with yearly rainfall or natural disasters. In their presentations, Feunekes and her partners note that it can take 80 years to grow a forest, so executives using the technology are often planning something that will reach fruition after they’re gone.

One thing that Feunekes noted is that there is a global shortage of data analytics professionals, and these people can be exceptionally difficult to find. The growth of Big Data in Atlantic Canada has only made that shortage more acute.

Remsoft hopes to add five people in the near future, and bring the total new hires to eight to 10 people over the next year.

“This is one of the biggest growth spurts in our history,” said Feunekes, adding it is the largest jump in such a short time. “We can’t take five years to get there. We have to get this done in two to two-and-a-half years.”  

New Look in Sydney Startup Hub

The startup ecosystem in Cape Breton is changing, with the creation of a new program called the Momentum Initiative and the end of the ground-breaking UIT program at Cape Breton University.

The changes are taking place at a seminal moment in the growth of the Cape Breton tech community. Last week, three of the 11 companies presenting at the Propel ICT Demo Day in Halifax hailed from the Sydney area, and the regional tech accelerator just completed its first cohort in the city. There are new IT companies like Click2Order and Securicy that are gaining traction and some funding.

Last month, the federal and provincial governments announced almost $2 million in funding for the Momentum Initiative, which is a new hub for entrepreneurs, innovators and the many organizations supporting them.

The move comes as the news has spread that UIT — which stood for the Uhma Institute of Technology — will not be re-offered by CBU in the coming academic year.

“It’s too bad about UIT,” said Bob Pelley, Innovacorp’s investment manager in Sydney, who will head up Momentum. “But like with any startup, when these things happen you get over it and you move on.”

The Momentum program will receive $1.4 million from the federal government and $500,000 from the province, and will be based in the New Dawn Enterprises Centre. That will put the innovation hub in the downtown core and ensure accessibility to other Sydney businesses and organizations.

It will feature shared office space for a range of young ventures, said a press release. And for those working in hardware or physical products, it will feature a computer station for computer-aided design, a high-end 3D printer, an electronics lab, welding equipment and other tools for inventing and prototyping.

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Momentum will partner with such organizations as New Dawn, Cape Breton University and the Nova Scotia Community College, and will have an entrepreneur-in residence to help mentor founders.

“I’m delighted to see these organizations come together in a more collaborative and co-ordinated way,” said Kimberly Desveaux, co-program director for Brilliant Labs. “I know first-hand how important it is for entrepreneurs to access the supports they need, when they need them.”

The sad news for the community is that UIT is no more. It was created three years ago by Gavin Uhma, the Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of GoInstant, which sold out to Salesforce.com in 2012 reportedly for more than $70 million.

Uhma wanted to create a program that would encourage other Cape Bretoners to develop technological talents and convert them into companies. UIT did not grant degrees, but it worked with scores of young people who are now working in the Sydney tech community. One laudable aspect of a program was that it strove to have a student body that was 50 percent female each year.

The Momentum Initiative funding will be rolled out over the next three years.

“This initiative will help Cape Breton’s startup community grow faster and stronger,” said Stephen Duff, president and CEO of Innovacorp. “We’re excited to get going.”

Jobs: Propel Seeks a New CEO

Propel ICT, the regional tech accelerator, is searching for a new CEO, which is the highlight of this edition of our Job of the Week column.

Propel is a unique phenomenon – the only tech accelerator in the country that holds cohorts in four different provinces. The organization has three levels of programming – the Launch cohort for companies proving their concept; Build for those gaining traction; and Growth for those scaling into corporations.

Former CEO Anita Punamiya announced last month that she would be stepping down, and former executive director Trevor MacAusland, who heads the Build program, is now stepping into the role on an interim basis.

Propel has hired the recruiting form Venor in an attempt to find just the right person to replace Punamiya. Board Chair Steven Burns told Entrevestor that the Board also has a list of names it would like to talk to and will take the proper amount of time in hiring someone.

“We want to make sure we get the right person,” said Burns. “They’ll have to have a really strong connection to the startup community in Atlantic Canada. They have to have a dynamic personality and have to be a relationship-builder. We have a lot of organizations now. What need to do is to make sure that we are all working together.”

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.

Atlantic Canada

Propel ICT

Chief Executive Officer

The CEO’s responsibilities include working with the Board of Directors to further develop the vision and strategy to drive growth and guide Propel ICT over the short and long-term. This person must act independently to execute on that vision and achieve results, involving the Board as needed. He or she must actively find ways to engage our communities, represent Propel at appropriate community events, and share the organization’s story

Propel is looking for someone with experience in a similar role, ideally in the technology sector, in successfully managing large-scale, multi-partner initiatives or projects.

The successful candidate must be excellent at building and fostering relationships with diverse groups of stakeholders. The ideal candidate will be someone who has experienced first-hand the opportunities and challenges of being a founder and entrepreneur. He or she must demonstrate excellent financial acumen and ability to create sustainable revenue or funding strategies.

Jones Highlights IIoT as Opportunity

Richard Jones

Richard Jones

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is still a relatively new field, one ripe for development in a region such as Atlantic Canada, where there are educational and business systems primed to boost entrepreneurship.

This is the belief of Richard Jones, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Propel ICT, Atlantic Canada’s startup accelerator.

Jones has decades of experience in the business world, including as CEO of both Eigen Innovations and Shift Energy, two of the highest-profile IIoT outfits in the region.

IIoT refers to machines communicating with, and taking instructions from, each other without human interference. These machine interactions allow industrial processes to be optimized. For example, Eigen’s Intellexon product selects data from sensors and other sources in a customer’s plant, analyzes it and adjusts machinery — all in real time — to reduce waste and improve efficiency.

“IIoT is the sector where engineering technology and information technology overlap,” Jones said.

“IIoT is an opportunity for a region like Atlantic Canada, where there are many good engineering and computer science schools producing graduates with the relevant skill sets, as well as creative business minds and programs and accelerators that allow them to come together.”

Jones cited the example of Fredericton-based Blue Spurs, a recent winner in the 2017 AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge for its Blue Kit Internet of Things starter kit.

Amazon Web Services recognized 19 organizations from around the world during the contest. Blue Spurs won for Blue Kit, which it developed in collaboration with CyberNB and the New Brunswick government. Blue Kit is an IoT starter kit that allows middle and high school students to understand IoT fundamentals.

“When we get those kits in the hands of high school students, we’ll see more IIoT ideas coming out of universities,” Jones said. “It’s a huge opportunity…The industrial economy amounts to about a quarter of global GDP.”

Jones contrasted the current development of the Internet of Things with the early days of the internet.

Those days, he said, were dominated by Silicon Valley, but that needn’t be the case now.

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“In 1995, the internet was just getting developed. It was focused on solving consumer-based problems or the flow of information, like on Facebook.

“Silicon Valley owned the first generation of the internet. They financed it, drove it and the rest of the world picked up the crumbs . . . The Valley got in a dominant position because of the money and talent that flowed in there.

“But with the IIoT, users need to customize good foundational technology to gather data about their own processes. Analysis of the data allows them to become more efficient.

“There are massive opportunities for people to help with analysis and feed analytics back into industrial processes.”

Becoming a Propel entrepreneur-in-residence is a kind of homecoming for Jones, who was a member of Propel’s board of directors from 2006-11. The Fredericton native, whose many qualifications include an MBA from Dalhousie University, would love to see lots of companies in the IIoT space in all the region’s accelerators.

Certainly, entrepreneurship is becoming more popular.

“When I first got involved with Propel in Saint John in the mid 2000s, entrepreneurship was almost like a dirty word,” he said. “Entrepreneurs were viewed as not mainstream, not conformist enough to get a job in a big company . . . Now it’s the thing to be an entrepreneur. That’s partly because we’ve had some successful exits (company sales) and success breeds success.

“I’m in my mid-50s. One of the reasons I’m hanging around in the startup community is I feel a sense of mission to help develop the next generation of leaders who’ll transform our world.”

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