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.