Deprolabs Opens Kickstarter Campaign

The Goldoon sits discretely underneath your flower pot.

The Goldoon sits discretely underneath your flower pot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dash Hudson Launches its Vision Product

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mount A Joins Shad Network

Celine Kavanaugh: 'Amazing experience.'

Celine Kavanaugh: 'Amazing experience.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pfera Wins BioInnovation Challenge

Lisa Pfister: Two big wins this year.

Lisa Pfister: Two big wins this year.

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

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

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

Read Our Report on BioPort 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Hachey Traded Wall Street for a Farm and AgTech

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

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

• Zecken Laboratories, of Sackville, is enhancing the diagnosis of Lyme disease. CEO Kami Harris has been studying ticks and Lyme disease for her PhD at Mount Allison University, and now she is transforming her research into a company. She said there are actually 21 types of Lyme disease, but current diagnostic tests only identify one type. That means about 90 percent of the instances of Lyme disease go undetected, which can lead to long-term health problems. Zecken has already identified peptides that show the presence of the affliction and continues to research the disease to identify new strains as they come along.

Dash Hudson Releases Vision Product

Dash Hudson has added a new product — which it says is a doozy — to its suite of products to help brands and publishers link with their audience.

The Halifax company -- which is profitable and growing revenues strongly -- so far has been best known for providing Instagram analytics to major companies to help them understand what campaigns are finding an audience. Now it has added a new product, Dash Hudson Vision, which can actually help users choose images that will resonate with the public.

“What the product does is it uses a new technology, Computer Vision, which can tell you everything that’s in a picture,” said CEO Thomas Rankin in an interview. “It can determine what inside an image is driving performance, so what we can do is tell a brand what’s in an image that’s working with an audience.”

Rankin said that as Dash Hudson took on more clients, the company found they often had difficulty understanding what photos work best with an online audience. Dash Hudson’s clients — which include fashion brands like J Brand and Revolve and publications like Condé Nast and Clique Media — have millions of images and often find it difficult to choose just the right image for a campaign.

Dash Hudson Vision simplifies the process. It builds a databank of every picture in the client’s archive and can tell instantly what objects, features and colours are in each shot. It features a search function, so a marketer can instantly find an image of, say, curly black hair.

Then it tells the marketer what works. The technology can understand what photos are resonating with online audiences now and help the marketing team find images that work in the current marketing climate. As public tastes change, Dash Hudson Vision can select images that appeal to the current market.

Rankin said the product can also help to assess competitors’ images to see what’s working for them and assess the segmentation in the market.

He said the company has been working on Vision for more than a year and beta-tested it with a few clients starting in June. The feedback helped to refine the product, which Dash Hudson launched last week.

Harbr Commits to Gender Parity

The company’s main Instagram analytics platform has been doing well, and revenues have tripled already this calendar year. Dash Hudson raised more than $2 million in a round led by Build Ventures last year. When asked if he was raising capital again, Rankin replied that there is no need for new equity capital.

“We’ve been profitable the last two quarters so we have lots of money in the bank,” he said. “We’ve been busy growing.”

Dash Hudson, which has 35 full-time staff, had been planning to launch a product that could analyze SnapChat data, but Rankin said there is not enough open data on SnapChat yet to allow for high-quality analysis. The company has “parked” the product and will launch it once SnapChat is more open.

Meanwhile, the company has a suite of products that can assist brands and publishers in reaching a broader audience. And it believes Dash Hudson Vision will help with further growth.

“For the customers that have been using it, it has been fantastic,” said Rankin. “Brands spend so much time and resources trying to get an edge, and they’re working on increments, gaining bit by bit, whereas this creates a significant performance increase almost instantly, like in just a few weeks. “

Embracing Changes in Healthcare

Delegates to BioPort 2017 on Wednesday were told of the impact of recent life sciences innovation in Atlantic Canada and encouraged to embrace further change.

The impact so far is found in the fact that $1 billion has flowed into Atlantic Canada in the last six years from exits by companies in the life sciences and digital health space, and follow-on investment by the companies that bought them.

BioPort is the annual get-together for life sciences entrepreneurs and innovators in the region, and the gathering this year celebrated the growth of biotech in the region, especially in New Brunswick. Pfera Inc., the winner of the BioInnovation Challenge, the conference’s $45,000 pitching competition, is from New Brunswick, as are Zecken Laboratories and Tieös Pharmaceuticals Inc., the two other finalists in the event. (Read our full report on the BioInnovation Challenge.)

The delegates were told to embrace further innovations, especially in overall healthcare.

Peter Vaughan, Chair of Canada Health Infoway and Nova Scotia’s former Deputy Health Minister, urged the delegates to embrace current innovations in healthcare – not just futuristic technologies on the horizon but products that are on the market now.

For example, he cited such companies as Babylon Healthcare in the U.K. and the Mercy Virtual in St. Louis as organizations that are cutting costs and meeting patient requirements through online and video consultations, often including drug delivery.

Patient surveys show that citizens want modern medical processes like e-prescriptions, online access to their medical records and timely medical consultations – goals met by groups like Babylon and Mercy. These organizations also meet the needs of government, as provinces spend upwards of 40 percent of their budgets on healthcare, only to find that 30 percent of healthcare spending has no value, said Vaughan.

“You’re starting to get a picture of what’s available in the present,” said Vaughan. “So how do we take these things and change the one thing that’s on everyone’s mind – access to healthcare?”

Desh Deshpande's Lessons in Creating an Ecosystem

Vaughan said the future of healthcare is found in data because the analysis of vast reams of healthcare data reveals patterns that can predict severe health problems. This data can signal a problem is imminent so measures can be taken to prevent a crisis. Multinationals like Google, Apple and Amazon are now analyzing such data in the cloud, he said, but there is an opportunity for public, open data projects that could benefit everyone. He called on the Atlantic Provinces to come together to pioneer such a project with the data from its 2.2 million residents.

“We in this country have the opportunity to produce a publicly funded ecosystem,” he told the assembled innovators. “This is the opportunity we face in Atlantic Canada. We can be that industry and then you can have access to more information than you ever imagined.”

Scott Moffitt, Executive Director of BioNova, said in an interview there is evidence the life sciences segment in the region is evolving as exits in the space have created about $1 billion in investment.

The exits of the past few years in the life sciences and digital health segments have included the sale of Ocean Nutrition Canada of Dartmouth for $540 million, BioVectra of Charlottetown for $100 million, and STI Technologies of Halifax, reportedly for more than $200 million. Moffitt said his tally also included other exits and investments that the purchasing companies made after the purchases closed.

QRA To Attend 48 Hours in the Valley

Jordan Kyriakidis

Jordan Kyriakidis

Halifax-based QRA Corp. has been accepted into the next cohort of 48 Hours in the Valley, the program offered by C100 to introduce leading Canadian companies to the network of investors and mentors in Silicon Valley.

C100 was formed by Canadian expats in the San Francisco area to help Canadian tech companies find their way around Silicon Valley. For several years now, it has held the 48 Hours event twice a year, bringing 20 Canadian companies at a time to the Valley to show them the ropes.

The cohort in early December will include QRA, which helps manufacturers correct design flaws early in the development process.

“Peer-to-peer mentorship, breakout sessions, investor meetings, and pitch workshops are among the many unique programmatic elements of the 48Hrs event,” said QRA in a blog this week.

Led by CEO Jordan Kyriakidis, QRA has developed technology that helps large manufacturers identify flaws in complicated machinery early in the design stage. The idea is to work out the kinks before the manufacturer spends millions of dollars prototyping a machine that has ill-matched components.

The company, which began as a research project at Dalhousie University, launched a new product called QVscribe in February. The new tool makes sure manufacturers use precise and understandable language in their requirements documents. If left untouched, sloppy language in requirements could result in significant rework in both the design and build phases.

QRA is the second Halifax company accepted into 48 Hours in the Valley this year. The first cohort of 2017 included Athletigen. Athletigen’s platform analyzes an athlete’s DNA so coaches and athletes can better understand peak performance in training and competition. 

Harbr Commits to Gender Parity

The Harbr Team: Approaching gender parity.

The Harbr Team: Approaching gender parity.

Though it is rooted in the male-dominated industries of technology and construction, Harbr has set a target to have an equal balance of men and women on its staff.

The Halifax company released a statement on Tuesday saying that it has almost reached gender balance as its seven-member staff comprises three women and four men. Once it reaches parity, the company intends to maintain a 50-50 gender split within the company.

“I am thrilled with our team dynamics and look forward to continuing to diversify the company,” said Harbr Co-Founder and CEO Dave Kim in the statement. “I have a daughter and a son, and I want to demonstrate to both of them that women can succeed at anything they put their mind to.”

Harbr has developed a mobile app that allows big construction companies and their project managers to analyze data on the sub-contractors they’ve hired for specific projects. That helps big companies to improve efficiency in the short term, and to understand how to improve their overall performance in the longer term.

Deshpande's Lessons in Creating Impact

Kim said the company is growing its customer base at a good pace, mainly through open beta tests. Harbr is “currently working on a significant number of construction sites all across Canada with some of the country's top general contractors, mainly commercial and multi-residential projects,” said Kim.

With the company growing, Kim is now actively raising capital and believes its commitment to gender diversity will help it outperform rivals.

Research conducted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY shows that profits increased by 15 percent when the share of women in leadership positions went from 0 to 30 percent. What’s more, companies with at least one female founder outperformed all-male founding teams by 63 percent over the past 10 years.

“It can be overwhelming and hard for women to enter a workforce that views them as inferior and some women may not enter the field at all if they feel greatly outnumbered,” said Harbr Co-Founder and Head of Product Development Ashley Kielbratowski. “This is a sad reality we have to face and change together; however, the future is bright with companies like Harbr, a company that I am so thrilled to be a part of.”

Harbr’s commitment to gender diversity has won endorsement from such leaders as Annette Verschuren, CEO of NRStor and Chancellor at Cape Breton University.

“Studies have shown better financial performance for companies with diversity at the top. The team diversification at Harbr should be seen as a shining example for other companies to look up to,” said Verschuren. “It is reassuring to see companies such as Harbr attempting to close the gender gap. I know they will continue to have great success because of their company values and innovative product offering.”

TD Donates $500K to Futurpreneur

TD Bank Group has donated $500,000 to the Atlantic chapter of Futurpreneur Canada to support its efforts to support and educate young entrepreneurs in the region over the next three years.

The contribution will allow more Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs to build their confidence, skills and start-up resources through Futurpreneur Canada’s services, said the organization in a statement. These services include the successful Owners Wanted initiative, which gives entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada the support they need to turn their business ideas into reality through educational and networking opportunities.

“We are thrilled to be working alongside Futurpreneur Canada to help more young people access the start-up resources, business financing and mentoring needed to launch and grow a more successful business,” said Scott Belton, TD’s Senior Vice-President for the Atlantic Region. “Having already supported the launch of over 1,000 new businesses in Atlantic Canada through its proven Start-up Program, Futurpreneur is well-positioned to enhance the Atlantic entrepreneurship community.”

Added Hugh MacKay, Ministerial Assistant to the Minister of Business for Nova Scotia: “This partnership will help more young people in Atlantic Canada acquire the skills and connections they need to start businesses and take on the world.” 

Futurpreneur is seeing more young people pursuing entrepreneurship as a career option. TD's investment in young people highlights the value of corporate and other partners working together to support young entrepreneurs, said Futurpreneur’s statement.

Futurpreneur Canada has offered a range of programs to support young entrepreneurs since 1996. As the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18 to 39, it has supported more than 10,000 young people to date.

Futurpreneur’s mentoring program matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of almost 3,000 volunteer mentors. Futurpreneur is a founding member of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance, the Canadian member of Youth Business International, and the Canadian host of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“To ensure a strong future for Canada and small business, it is vital for governments at all levels and corporate partners to actively support the success of young entrepreneurs,” said John Risley, Chair of Futurpreneur Canada’s Board of Directors. “The efforts of both TD Bank Group and the Government of Nova Scotia demonstrate how all sectors can work together to see entrepreneurship succeed.”

NSBI Launches US Export Program

Nova Scotia Business Inc. is seeking applications for its new Scale-up Hub Cambridge program, which aims to help companies from the province increase sales in the U.S. and other countries.

The province's business development agency has posted a notice that it will accept as many as five companies into the new program. For a one-time fee of C$5,000, they will be given office space and mentorship for a year in Cambridge, Mass., which will be their base for building their export capacity in the U.S., especially in the Northeast.

The program will offer the five winners the following resources for a full year: working space in Cambridge; assistance with selling in the New England marketplace; and the services of an in-market business development team to help with sales strategy and market development.

The statement said the project in Cambridge, which it describes as one of the top innovation centres in the U.S., will be the first Scale-Up Hub project.

Information on the program can be found here. The deadline is Oct. 30.

Successful applicants must be technology-focused, high-growth companies that are already exporting their product. The winners will be required to pay a non-refundable participation fee of C$5,000 plus HST.

Deshpande’s Lesson in Creating Impact

Guruaj Deshpande: The goal is to transform complainers into problem-solvers

Guruaj Deshpande: The goal is to transform complainers into problem-solvers

A giant in the field of entrepreneurship came to Halifax last Friday to give educators some schooling on how to build entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and University of New Brunswick grad Gururaj Deshpande was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres (GCEC) Conference last Friday at Dalhousie University in Halifax. And he delivered fascinating insights in how to develop ecosystems in two worlds he knows well — developed countries and developing countries. In both cases, he said, the goal is to nurture innovators who will have an impact.

In a university setting in the developed world, he said, the key is to ensure there is an entrepreneurial culture among students and faculty before creating myriad programs. The reason entrepreneurship has caught on so thoroughly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — where he founded the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation — is that the student body teems with business-minded scientists.

“Don’t put the fuel in before you see the spark,” he advised the gathering. “You’ll just put out the fire.”

The GCEC is a meeting place for university entrepreneurship facilities from around the world, especially the U.S., and its mission is to help educational institutions aid students who want to launch businesses.

Deshpande, known to his friends as Desh, is an authority on the subject. A billionaire tech entrepreneur, he has founded or co-founded entrepreneurship centres in Boston, Fredericton (home of the Pond-Deshpande Centre), Kingston, Ont., and India. The Deshpande Foundation strengthens ecosystems that create significant social and economic impact through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Dal Aims to Double Female Computer Science Students

A native of India, he drew a distinction in his keynote between developing ecosystems in developed and developing countries. In developed economies, incubators must embed innovators in real world situations to make sure their ideas have relevance. The goal is to remove scientists from their bubbles to make sure they’re developing products for the market and not just to win plaudits from their peers. “The whole idea of the Deshpande Centre at MIT is to . . . connect people to relevance up front as they are creating the idea,” he said.

In the developing world, Deshpande said, you have to begin with relevance and then bring innovation in second. What that means is that there is a need to imbue the broader population — those who understand the community’s problems and culture — with an entrepreneurial spirit so they can devise ways to find solutions to their problems. Once there is an entrepreneurial spirit in the community, introducing innovation can help to improve the living conditions of the community.

Deshpande speaks of “building capacity in the community,” such as the Deshpande Foundation India, where 500 people at a time can go through a four-month program to learn entrepreneurship. The goal, he said, is to make a broad swath of the population understand they can solve problems instead of complaining about them.

“Just make people transform from being complainers to being problem-solvers,” he said. “Then it becomes fashionable and everyone is looking for problems to solve. When you have all these entrepreneurs looking around for problems to solve, no problem is going to hang around for too long because there is always someone who is going to grab it.”

Accreon, ABM, iTacit Win Contract

A consortium of three Atlantic Canadian tech companies has won a $10.1 million contract to build a new apprenticeship-management system for five provinces.

Accreon of Fredericton, ABM Integrated Solutions of Dartmouth, and iTacit of Fredericton have been awarded the contract to develop, integrate and implement a Shared Apprenticeship Management Solution. The contract was awarded by the four Atlantic Provinces and Manitoba (all of which will use the system) as well as the federal government.

This new bilingual system will replace existing custom off-the-shelf, or COTS, apprenticeship systems, said Accreon in a statement. It will extend the functionality of the system used by training providers, employers, and apprentices and improve the efficiency of business processes.

Accreon said the partnership brings unparalleled expertise in such areas as learning and workforce management, system design and integration, program and project management, to name a few.

The Shared Apprenticeship Management Solution is part of the Atlantic Workforce Partnership that was established in 2012 by the Council of Atlantic Premiers to help prepare the region to adapt to changing skills requirements in the workforce. This initiative is designed to produce more consistency and efficiency in the way people enter the trades and work toward certification.

Accreon is a business solutions company whose technological focus is on integrating and managing workplace information. In 2015, the company underwent a management buyout with financial support from the Boston-based private equity firm, Mansa Capital.

Jobs: Dash Hudson, Swept, MCE

Dash Hudson, the fast-growing Halifax company that provides analytics for such social media tools as Instagram, is looking for a Director of Marketing.

The Dash Hudson position is featured in our Jobs of the Week column today, which also showcases an opening for a Program Catalyst at the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship in St. John’s  and a Customer Service Representative at Swept in Halifax.

The Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship at Memorial University of Newfoundland inspires MUN students, faculty and staff to take an entrepreneurial path and creates opportunities that expose them to entrepreneurship both in and outside the academic curriculum. The Centre invests in their early stage growth and connects them with the right resources at the right time. The MCE also co-creates with other stakeholders a more attractive provincial ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

Halifax-based Dash Hudson has created a “visual intelligence platform” that helps its corporate clients to create and distribute photos and videos, then analyze their impact. The system is an integrated solution to predict, measure, and enhance engagement across all visual marketing channels.

The company, which already has dozens of employees and offices in Halifax, New York and Miami, has been expanding rapidly.

Fresh with about $2.5 million in new financing, Halifax-based Swept is growing. It has designed software that can help cleaners, bosses and clients communicate on a mobile device. Its goal is to help cleaning companies support their cleaners, not just check up on them.

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

Here are excerpts from the job postings:

St. John’s

Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship

Program Catalyst

Description

We are looking for an inspiring entrepreneur who is excited about creating a vibrant entrepreneurial culture on campus and in the province and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs.

Responsibilities

Reporting to the MCE Director, the successful candidate will foster growth of early-stage business ideas and entrepreneurs by providing personal coaching (for the ideation phase and accelerating the leadership of entrepreneurs), business development mentoring (value proposition development, business models development, early-stage validation, etc.), and relevant connections to early-stage entrepreneurs (programs, funding, mentors, industry experts, first customers, etc.). This will include one-on-one consultation and the design, implementation and evaluation of the student entrepreneur funds. The successful candidate will also manage MCE's contribution to the Entrepreneurial Work Term program in close coordination with co-op offices across campus.

The successful candidate will also design and lead programs, projects and events in and outside the academic curriculum that inspire students, faculty and staff to take an entrepreneurial path and attract them to MCE's programs including but not limited to, organizing in-class presentations, specific skills development workshops, guest lectures and brainstorming sessions, and the design, implementation and evaluation of the Startup Semester program.

The Programs Catalyst will achieve those goals with the direct support of MCE's Program Support Coordinator and by leveraging and developing a community of volunteers, faculty members and external organizations who want to develop a stronger entrepreneurial community in the province. . . .

Read the full job description here.

Halifax

Swept

Customer Service Representative

Description

As the new member of our growing Customer Success team, your primary focus will be to support Small and Medium Business owners in the Commercial Cleaning Industry by teaching them how to use our technology to better run and grow their businesses.

What gets you up in the morning

You are incredibly hard working and love how business can be used to effect positive change. You love the challenge of a quick-paced environment and working in a team to make sure you’re maximizing your impact.

What you believe

You believe that people are at the core of all successful businesses. You believe that to be great at your job you need to love learning new things, and know that working outside your comfort zone is the best way for you to grow. You have impeccable communication skills and you love to make personal connections with customers.

Responsibilities

What You’ll Do

Omni-channel support of customers using customer support systems (online chat / email / phone)

Monitor questions and create support articles to better support customer questions

Conduct online customer training and support sessions

Coordinate and assist with customer onboarding activities

Work closely with the Customer Success team to maintain a positive relationship with all clients

Work closely with product development to provide customer feedback and feature requests

Work closely with Quality Assurance to identify and resolve any issues identified by customers

Master Swept so you can explain it to an 80-year-old

Bring world-class dishes to our potlucks! . . .

Read the full job description here.  

Dash Hudson

Director of Marketing

Description

About Us

Dash Hudson works with the raddest, most discerning brands and publishers in the world to share photos and videos that people care about. Our marketing platform provides brands with a one-stop solution to get deep insights on their performance, create original content, discover content, predict performance, distribute to owned, influencer, and paid channels, measure and monetize.

As a Director of Marketing, you will work with our incredible team to define our position as market leaders through brand development, content creation, and activities that create awareness and density within our amazing community of data-driven creative marketers.

About You

The most important thing we need from you is this:

You want the challenge and opportunity to build brand and awareness of a leading product in a rapidly growing global market.

You want to work with our teams to push the boundaries of innovation, while defining our place in the hearts of our customers.

You can't be afraid to take on challenges you don't understand, and you need to have the confidence to figure it out.

You must be thoughtful. When did you last call your mother?

You will require equal parts diligence and creativity - with the ideal candidate excelling at both. Things move pretty fast over here.

Describes you: humble, focused, thoughtful, analytical, creative. With some swagger.  . . .

Read the full job description here. 

ACOA Funds FAN, Venn, Afred

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has announced funding of $1.4 million to three organizations to improve the ecosystem for startups in Atlantic Canada.

ACOA is providing a grant of $948,000 over three years to the First Angel Network to develop the angel investor community in Atlantic Canada. The goal is to improve access to private capital for early-stage companies in the region.

The federal agency will also provide almost $177,000 to Venn Innovation to provide 60 Atlantic Canadian startups with access to MaRS market intelligence services over the next year, including access to industry-leading research reports and expert analysts.

And ACOA will provide $280,000 to Science Atlantic to support the development and implementation of the Atlantic Facilities and Research Equipment Database, or AFRED, which helps businesses access publicly funded research and development tools.

Andy Fillmore, the MP for Halifax, announced the funding Friday at the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres, which was meeting in Halifax.

“The investments announced today will provide entrepreneurs, wherever they are located, with crucial access to the resources they need to achieve success,” said Fillmore.

For about a decade, the First Angel Network has drawn together private individuals who invest their own money into and provide mentorship to promising startups across the region. 

“This funding, provided over three years, will help us to grow the angel ecosystem across the region,” Co-Founder Brian Lowe said in a statement. “We’re becoming more active in growing the angel network throughout Atlantic Canada.”

Venn operates the startup house in Moncton and provides programing for startups from across New Brunswick. It has recently been doing more to support startups from across the region. Now it is partnering with Toronto-based MaRS to improve startups access to market information.

“The MaRS Market Intelligence service has been and continues to be a vital resource for innovative early stage companies in our region,” said Venn CEO Doug Robertson in a statement. “With startups gaining access to premium databases that they would not otherwise be able to afford, it is helping them inform their business plans and strategies and continues to build a solid foundation to grow successful companies across Atlantic Canada.”

AFRED was launched in March 2017. The database provides quick and affordable access to 400 sophisticated technical instruments from more than 80 research facilities that can be contracted by companies in need of specialized testing.

“AFRED has tremendous potential to showcase specialized research infrastructure in Atlantic Canada and provide researchers with opportunities for partnerships with colleagues in academia and industry,” said Christian Lacroix, Chair Elect of Science Atlantic and Biology Professor, University of Prince Edward Island.

 

 

Disclosure: ACOA and Venn are clients of Entrevestor. 

Shad Program Coming to UPEI

Madeline Hamill, right, and Chloe Ryan at the Waterloo cohort last summer.

Madeline Hamill, right, and Chloe Ryan at the Waterloo cohort last summer.

The University of Prince Edward Island is joining Shad, an award-winning national enrichment program which brings top high school students to 16 university campuses across the country every July.

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

Every year, 900 young Canadians experience an innovative month-long program at one of 16 partner university campuses where they apply STEAM disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges.

“Prince Edward Island is thrilled to host 50 of the brightest young minds in Canada so they can experience what our province has to offer, including our leading researchers in aerospace, and bioscience,” Sonny Gallant, Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, said in a press release. 

The central location for Shad at UPEI will be the new School of Sustainable Design Engineering. Activities will include a mini robotics course.

The Government of PEI is investing $28,000 to help students from the Island attend the Shad program in other parts of the country.

“Shad helped me realize that if you don’t push yourself to try new things or go outside of your comfort zone then you will miss out on so many opportunities,” said Madeline Hamill who is in grade 12 at Kinkora Regional High School on PEI. 

Hamill attended Shad at the University of Waterloo this summer and said some of the highlights included introduction to coding and learning about the human body in an anatomy workshop.

Shad is open to students in grades 10 to 12. Organizers are looking for well-rounded curious students from the Island with a passion for learning.  Many attendees, known as Shads, are heavily involved in extra-curricular activities in school or in their community.

Students live in residence at one of the 16 host university campuses.  They attend lectures and workshops offered by leading faculty and community leaders and participate in field trips to see science and innovation in action.  There are recreational activities to round out the learning.

Shad is accepting applications here for the summer of 2018 until Nov. 20

Dal Seeks More Female CS Students

As part of Dalhousie University’s bicentennial celebration in 2018, the Faculty of Computer Science is launching a campaign to double the percentage of female students enrolling in the next academic year.

Like universities around the world, Dal’s Computer Science faculty has a difficult time attracting female students. Some 20 percent of the class entering the faculty last month are female, and that’s an improvement on the levels of past years.

The faculty has set a target of raising the proportion of women entering computer science in the 2018-19 academic year to 40 percent. To achieve that goal, the faculty is now reaching out to industry partners to provide about 60 scholarships for female computer science frosh next year. These scholarships would include financial support, mentorship from female execs in tech industries, and coop placements.

“If we make that shift in one year, then we hope we can keep the balance higher organically in subsequent years because there will be role models within the faculty,” said Becca Rawcliffe, the Alumni and Communications Officer at the Faculty of Computer Science.

Dal is addressing a huge societal problem – not just in universities, but also in the workforce. According to US News & World Report, females accounted for just 18 percent of computer science students in the U.S. in 2014. That low number restricts the number of women entering ICT businesses. And that means too few women benefit from the technology sector, which is one of the great employment and wealth creators of our era. It also leads to problems of sexism within the tech community, which have been well reported lately.

Rawcliffe said industry overall feels the need to improve workforce diversity, so companies (including tech companies) are striving for a great gender balance in their staff. That’s why the faculty is getting a good reception, she said, as it contacts private businesses and asks them to provide scholarships for female Computer Science frosh next year.

SomaDetect wins US$1M at Buffalo, N.Y. Competition. 

Overall, Dalhousie is hoping to enroll 60 to 70 female students next year in its two Computer Science programs – Bachelor of Computer Science, which focuses on math and coding; and Bachelor of Applied Computer Science, which combines coding with business skills, such as project management, communications and the like.

Private businesses interested in discussing the possibility of providing a scholarship are asked to contact Development Officer Adrienne Power at Adrienne.Power@dal.ca.

Rawcliffe also said the faculty is changing curriculum somewhat to include an elective on the history of technology, so students gain a greater appreciation of how IT fits into the advancement of human society. Dalhousie is trying to eradicate the misconception that only male geeks go into computer science and gain better rounded group of students. 

“The myths are that you have to be really into coding before you come here, which you don’t,” she said. “There are these myths that it’s an isolated discipline and you’re sitting behind your computer coding all day. But our program is very collaborative. And people can be interested in anything -- you can be interested in art, or in healthcare. Our students go on to become many things, doctors, lawyers, many professions.”

 

Disclosure: Dalhousie University is a client of Entrevestor. 

Propel ICT Names Barry Bisson CEO

Barry Bisson

Barry Bisson

Propel ICT, Atlantic Canada’s tech startup accelerator, has named Barry Bisson, former President of Shad Valley International, as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Propel released a statement on Thursday saying that Bisson, who previously headed the Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program at University of New Brunswick, would take the helm at the accelerator. The position came open earlier this year when CEO Anita Punamiya said she would be stepping down, though she is remaining on the Propel board.

"I am thrilled for Propel and the startup community within the region,” said Propel Chairman Steven Burns. “With Barry’s leadership, I believe we will be able to build a strong vision for the region and execute on that vision.”

For twelve years, Bisson led Shad Valley International, building deep ties with the entrepreneurial community in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and throughout Canada. Shad is a pan-Canadian program that provides summer programs for gifted high school students interested in science and entrepreneurship.

Bisson brings those far-reaching networks and a lifelong dedication to fostering entrepreneurial and innovative potential to this new role. In the past few years, he’s been most visible in the region at the bootcamps for the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru competition, teaching workshops on accounting.

“As the former leader of Shad, a national organization, I witnessed firsthand the tremendous impact that can be created when organizations and individuals set aside the interests and priorities of their jurisdiction to support a cause that is for the greater good of the nation,” said Bisson. “In this new role, I am determined to be an effective advocate, fostering collaboration among many stakeholders, all for the greater good of Atlantic Canada and our country.”

Propel offers programs in all four Atlantic Provinces. In its autumn 2017 cohort, It is now offering its Launch program, for early-stage companies, in Fredericton, Halifax and St. John’s. The program has also been offered recently in Sydney and Charlottetown. The Build program for growth-stage companies is being offered in Moncton. 

HeyOrca ARR hits US$1 Million

The HeyOrca team earlier this year.(It's grown since then.)

The HeyOrca team earlier this year.(It's grown since then.)

HeyOrca, the St. John’s company that helps marketing agencies collaborate with their clients, has reached an important milestone. It has now achieved US$1 million  in annual recurring revenue, or ARR.   

Co-founded by CEO Joseph Teo and CTO Sahand Seifi in 2015, HeyOrca has developed software that helps agencies to work with their clients in the planning, developing and approving social media content. For about 18 months, there’s been buzz about the company because its revenue has been growing so quickly. Now its ARR has topped the US$1 million mark and monthly recurring revenue has increased 170 percent since the beginning of the year.

“We’re just doubling down on what works,” said Teo, who began to dabble in entrepreneurship as a student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. “Surprisingly, it’s not rocket science. It’s basically figuring out what works and doing it. … The capital infusion we got this year helped us to double down on that.”

In May, the St. John’s company announced that it received $2 million in funding from previous investors Killick Capital and Pelorus Venture Capital. This took the company’s total equity funding to $2.65 million.

HeyOrca began a few years ago by working on software that would help with the approval process for social media within advertising and marketing agencies. But the founders learned that these agencies have challenges with more than just the approval process. So its product now aids agencies through five phases of the production process – planning, content development, organization, approval and distribution.

“We replace the manual workarounds of spreadsheets, Dropbox and social media publishing tools that is status quo in the production process, by using technology to involve the right people at the right time,” said Teo. “We’re really excited about this opportunity as the workflow problem doesn’t just plague social media, it exists across all asset types.”

The product is now used by 300 marketing agencies and brands in 12 countries, and prominent customers include: Johns Hopkins University, Scribd, New York City Ballet and Amazon Alexa.

HeyOrca’s growth is continuing. The company is now up to 32 employees and has opened an office in Toronto. Teo said it will continue to focus on the small to medium-sized agencies in the foreseeable future, and that this market is big enough that it has barely scratched the surface.

Teo has already begun to work on the company’s next round of financing, which it expects to close in the first quarter of 2018.

"We're really excited about the future of HeyOrca,” said Chris Moyer of Pelorus Venture Capital. “This team has what it takes to solve the workflow problem for marketing teams around the world."

SDTC Backs MTI with $5.4M

George Palikaras: Funding announcements of almost $20 million this year.

George Palikaras: Funding announcements of almost $20 million this year.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. has received a $5.4 million grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, or SDTC, almost doubling the money going toward the Halifax company’s metaSOLAR division.

In June, MTI said it had signed a $5.6 million agreement with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to develop materials that enhance solar power and can be used on aircraft. The partners agreed to work on the development of metaSOLAR, which incorporates advanced, lightweight materials, suitable for flights.

Now STDC, an arm's-length foundation created by the Government of Canada to fund clean technologies, has said it would provide $5.4 million for metaSOLAR.

This is only the latest in a series of major announcements this year by MTI, which has announced three funding deals worth almost $20 million and launched commercial production of its MetaAIR product. The company’s biggest financing announcement this year was an $8.3 million round in April, led by Radar Capital of Toronto and joined by Innovacorp and other investors.

“Metamaterial Technologies is capturing sunlight in new ways for our—and the Earth’s—benefit,” said SDTC President and CEO Leah Lawrence in a statement. “This Halifax-based clean tech company is doing extraordinary things to increase the efficiency of solar cells, and SDTC is proud to be a supporter.”

MTI is dedicated to producing metamaterials – materials whose compounds are not found in nature – that have an impact on light. The company is already working with Airbus to produce metaAIR, a transparent screen that filters out laser beams. Now the company is moving into its second product line, solar power, and again working with one of the world’s leading aerospace companies.

Palikaras Among the Winners at EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award

MetaSOLAR incorporates NanoWeb, a highly conductive metal mesh printed on to any surface using MTI’s proprietary Rolling Mask Lithography manufacturing tool. RML is used to manufacture functional materials in a variety of shapes and designs, allowing MTI to create a new class of smart materials for a wide range of applications.

It’s understood that metaSOLAR will be a lightweight material that can be shaped to fit on to any surface. For example, it could eventually be used to line an airplane wing and generate electricity while the plane is in flight.

SDTC has also provided money to two other Nova Scotian cleantech companies -- Halifax-based Carboncure Technologies and Chest-based Sustane Technologies. 

MTI said the transport industry accounts for about 23 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, and transport-related CO2 emissions are projected to increase by nearly 50% by 2030. It hopes MetaSOLAR will help to reduce these numbers.

“Today marks another milestone in the advancement of our solar technology, and this investment allows us to accelerate and expand our research and development for the transportation industry,” said MTI Founder and CEO George Palikaras. “At MTI, our team is working to develop and commercialize a new product called MetaSOLAR, which will be the first light-weight and high-efficiency silicon-based solar cell technology suitable for the transport industry here in Canada and globally.”

Bereda Eyes Elite Endurance Athletes

Dennis Cottreau

Dennis Cottreau

If the guys behind Bereda Training are as good at startups as they are at sports, the Halifax company will definitely be one to watch.

A recent addition to the hive of startups at Volta Labs, Bereda Training has developed an online training platform that automates the training plans that coaches prepare for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc.). Its co-founders know a thing or two about these athletic endeavours. CEO Dennis Cottreau was a semi-professional cyclist for two years and CTO Blake Pucsek was the captain of the Harvard University rowing team.

Through their athletic careers, they grew frustrated with the inflexibility of training platforms, so they decided to develop their own.

“A training plan built well has patterns and progression built into it,” said Cottreau in an interview. “There are all these little rules and little patterns that describe ways of training. If we mathematically model it, then we can give the user the ability to make some sweeping edits very quickly.”

What Bereda does is greatly reduce the time it takes for coaches or self-coached athletes to customize the training schedule over the course of a year. It allows them to build highly customized training strategies that can take into account hectic schedules and things like injuries or holidays.

“Going fast takes great coaching, and great coaching is rooted in a solid plan,” said Pucsek in an email from Baltimore, where he is now based. “Once a plan has been formed then a coach’s job shifts toward synthesizing all of the information they’re able to read from their athletes and use that information to make further decisions on where they should be headed.”

Yarmouth-born Cottreau and Pucsek, a native of Victoria, B.C., did not know each other well before they decided to form a startup. What’s more, they didn’t know much about startups.

Two years ago, Cottreau was coaching cycling, and Pucsek had moved from rowing to triathlons, when they linked up through a common friend. They commiserated about the lack of decent platforms for training plans, and agreed to work together to build one that suits their needs.

Volta Launches Early Stage Fund

Earlier this year, Cottreau wandered into Volta Labs in Halifax, hoping to pick up legal advice about incorporating as a company. He began to learn about the startup community, and the mentoring helped Pucsek and him launch two versions of their product in rapid succession this past summer.

Cottreau – who presented at Volta’s DemoCamp on Tuesday night – said they now have dozens of clients and a few potential sales channels that offer potential. A few world-class coaches have reached out to the team, which led to phone discussions. Asked if the company is planning to raise funds, Cottreau merely said it’s something they’ve thought about.

It has been a steep learning curve and the two athletes-cum-entrepreneurs are looking forward to gaining more traction in the fall.

“I only learned what a lean startup was in March,” said Cottreau. “I learned more in two days at Volta than I had in two months doing Google searches. So I figured I should stick around.”

Region Has 17 Startup Award Finalists

The Province of New Brunswick, and the university that bears its name, will be well represented in the finals of the 2017 Startup Canada Awards next week.

Startup Canada, which promotes entrepreneurship across the country, will hand out its national awards Oct. 19 at a gala event in Ottawa. Some 17 Atlantic Canadian individuals and organizations – 11 of them from New Brunswick – are national finalists, including the winners of the regional awards in Fredericton last month.

One striking feature of the shortlist is that three of the four finalists for the Newcomer Entrepreneur Award are from Atlantic Canada – a region that has until recently struggled to attract immigrants. They are: The Hadhad Family, founders of Peace by Chocolate of Antigonish, N.S.; Asif Hasan, CEO of SimpTek Technologies of Fredericton; and Michael Shin, owner of GenInk Printer Cartridges of Fredericton.  

Hasan is one of several finalists associated with University of New Brunswick. Hasan and Jordan Kennie of Stash Energy, another finalist, founded their companies while studying at the university. And the finalists include Dead of Computer Science Ali Ghorbani and Dhirendra Shukla, the head of the UNB Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program.

One New Brunswick company, Remsoft of Fredericton, is nominated in two categories.  

The finalists for the Startup Canada Awards (with Atlantic reps boldfaced) are:

OUTSTANDING IMPACT IN CANADIAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP

1. Startup Canada Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Scotiabank

○ Anne Whelan, President​ ​and​ ​CEO of ​Seafair​ ​Capital​ ​Inc., of St. John’s, for Atlantic Canada

○ Michael Serbinis for Ontario

○ Christiane Germain for Quebec

○ Lynda Brown-Ganzert for British Columbia

○ Chris Lane for the North

○ Chris Johnson for the Prairies

2. Adam Chowaniec Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Mastercard Canada

*only presented at the national level.

○ The Right Honourable David Johnston

○ Andrew Steeves

Francis McGuire, former President of Major Drilling Group International and President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for Atlantic Canada

ADVANCING THE ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURE FOR

ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN CANADA

3. Startup Canada Community of the Year Award

*only presented at the national level.

○ Startup Edmonton

○ Startup Kamloops

○ Startup Sault Ste.Marie

4. Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award

○ Nevin Buconjic for Ontario

Dhirendra Shukla, Co-Founder of the Energia accelerator, for Atlantic Canada

○ Xavier Henri-Herve for Quebec

○ Manny Padda for British Columbia

○ Carey Houston for the Prairies

5. Startup Canada Entrepreneur Support Award

○ Ignite AC - Algonquin College Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for

Ontario

Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre, Wolfville, for Atlantic Canada

○ MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre for Quebec micro

○ Accelerate Okanagan for British Columbia

○ YuKonstruct Makerspace Society for the North.

○ ATB Financial for the Prairies

6. Startup Canada Policy Prize, sponsored by Lockheed Martin

*only presented at the national level.

○ The Honourable Navdeep Bains for Ontario

○ Susan Holt, Chief of Business Partnerships, Province of New Brunswick, for Atlantic Canada

○ David Trawin for British Columbia

EXEMPLIFYING THE SPIRIT OF CANADIAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP,

PRESENTED BY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA

7. Startup Canada Senior Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

○ Cindy Gordon for Ontario

○ Ali Ghorbani, CEO of Eyesover, for Atlantic Canada

○ Albert R. Carbone for Quebec

○ Robert Sharp for the North

○ Vicki Collett for British Columbia

○ Nancy Knowlton and David Martin for the Prairies

8. Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

○ Kelly Lovell for Ontario

○ Jordan Kennie for Atlantic Canada

○ Graham Mann for Quebec

○ Mike Russo for the North

○ Alex Villeneuve for the Prairies

9. Startup Canada Woman Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

○ Nicole Verkindt for Ontario

○ Christina Dove, Founder of the Newfoundland Chocolate Company of St. John’s, for Atlantic Canada

○ Marie-Philip Simard for Quebec

○ Catherine Dahl for British Columbia

○ Heather Dickson for the North

○ Kim Orlesky for the Prairies

10. Startup Canada Newcomer Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

*only presented at the national level.

○ The Hadhad Family for Atlantic Canada

○ Asif Hasan for Atlantic

○ Michael Shin for Atlantic

○ Mohamed Khalil for Quebec

11. Startup Canada Resilient Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

*only presented at the national level.

Shawn Smith, CEO of Don’t dis-my-ability Consultation Services of Fredericton, for Atlantic Canada

○ Cory Zimmer for British Columbia

12. Startup Canada Indigenous Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by BDC

*only presented at the national level.

Trevor Bernard, Fredericton-based CTO of Braveno, for Atlantic Canada

○ Sunshine Tenasco for Quebec

○ Patrice Mousseau for British Columbia

○ Tishna Marlowe for Prairies

○ Joel Pedersen for the Prairies

ENTREPRENEUR-LED BUSINESSES DEMONSTRATING EXCELLENCE

13. Startup Canada Canadian Icon Award

*only presented at the national level.

Remsoft for Atlantic

○ La Maison Simons for Quebec

14. Startup Canada Global Entrepreneurship Award, sponsored by UPS Canada

○ Wave for Ontario

Remsoft for Atlantic Canada

○ TrackTik for Quebec

○ Hootsuite for British Columbia

○ Farmers Edge for the Prairies

15. Startup Canada High-Growth Entrepreneurship Award, sponsored by MNP LLP

○ RateHub.ca for Ontario

B4Checkin of Halifax for Atlantic

○ GSOFT for Quebec

○ BroadbandTV for British Columbia

○ Aimsio for the Prairies

16. Startup Canada Innovation Award, sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks

○ Clearbanc for Ontario

BlueLight Analytics of Halifax for Atlantic

○ Via Science for Quebec

○ Hummingbird Drones for British Columbia

○ Proskida for the North

○ Tevesol, Inc for the Prairies

17. Startup Canada Social Enterprise Award, sponsored by Centre for Social

Innovation

○ African Bronze Honey Company for Ontario

Bibi Lyn Designs, of Shippagan, N.B., for Atlantic Canada

○ SOSsitter.ca for Quebec

○ Keela for British Columbia

○ Pinnguaq for the North

○ Neechie Gear for the Prairies

Volta Launches Early Stage Fund

Volta Labs is launching a new funding program that will give as much as $250,000 a year to “very, very early-stage companies” across Atlantic Canada, CEO Jesse Rodgers announced Tuesday night.

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

“Our goal is to accelerate the growth and success of startups in Atlantic Canada,” said Rodgers. “One of the challenges founders face in Atlantic Canada is access to early-stage investment. With this new program, we are now able to provide these companies with the resources they need to develop their products and expand operations Programs like this help to establish Atlantic Canada as a regional hub for technology entrepreneurs.”

Rodgers said applications for the program are now open, and there will be pitching session for the entrants on Nov. 14.

The five winners will receive $25,000 each and will be mentored throughout the program. Halifax companies will be mentored by founders of companies in Volta, and the organizers will arrange for local mentorship for companies based in other parts of Atlantic Canada.

Rodgers said the goal of the program is to find promising entrepreneurs and give them that little but of funding that can get their project rolling.  The financial component will be an equity investment, not a grant or loan, though the organizers have yet to work the exact structure of equity funding. Rodgers said it would be “founder-friendly.”

Rodgers spoke at the end of DemoCamp, in which 10 entrepreneurs from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick demonstrated their technology. Some are beginning to gain customers and others are more advanced. The final demonstration was by Michael Brown, the CEO of Swept, which had just announced a $2.5 million funding round. Brown said he’d learned this week that Walt Disney Co. has an opening for janitorial services at one of its parks and is requiring all applicants to use Swept. It was a point not lost on Rodgers.

“In Atlantic Canada, we’re producing more companies, better companies, with a global reach,” Rodgers said. “The fact that Disney knows about Swept shows that reach of companies based in Halifax.”  

Hachey Traded Wall Street for AgTech

David Hachey

David Hachey

David Hachey’s entrepreneurial journey took him from Harvard University to Wall Street to a farm in rural Nova Scotia. The result of this unique career path is the recent launch of his startup BidSquid, an online marketplace for agricultural products and goods.

A New Brunswick native, Hachey studied economics at Harvard then spent a decade as a trader on Wall Street. He relocated to rural Nova Scotia for a simpler life as a farmer, and that gave him the idea for a site on which farmers can sell and buy things.

BidSquid directly connects small-scale farmers with consumers to buy and sell bulk produce or other agricultural goods. It works by finding price-based listings for goods like fruits, vegetables, lumber or animal feed for consumers and helps farmers identify the demands in the local market.

“Transparent pricing will show them where the real demand is,” said Hachey in an interview. “It’s a chance for farmers to make production decisions based on real market prices.”

The impetus for this product came in 2010 when Hachey left the hustle and bustle of New York and bought 160 acres of land in Meadowville, Pictou County, where he started a farm and grew a flock of sheep.

“I never planned on being in New York forever – I always intended to move back to Atlantic Canada,” said Hachey. “I travelled a fair bit and lived in India for two years … I saw that the value of land in India is way more than in Atlantic Canada so you start to appreciate that, on a global basis, the agricultural potential we have.”

NB AgTech Company SomaDetect Wins US$1M in Buffalo.

In attempting to sell his goods to local consumers via websites like Kijiji and Facebook or even through good old word of mouth, Hachey grew increasingly frustrated over the  inefficiency of the local rural economy.

“It really bugged me as a student of economics and as someone who is really passionate about the local economy and trying to grow the rural local economy,” he said. “There was certainly a greater calling that has lead me down this path.”

Last spring, Hachey went to Sydney, Cape Breton, to learn how to build his startup at UIT, the tech and entrepreneurship program at Cape Breton University. While at UIT, Hachey met Andrew MacDonald, a skilled coder who co-founded BidSquid. MacDonald helped to build the clean, user-friendly website that is BidSquid today.

The team was accepted into Propel ICT’s Launch program where they continued to build their business and presented at Propel’s Halifax Demo Day in June. BidSquid also recently qualified for the shortlist for Innovacorp’s 2017 Spark Innovation Challenge.

The latest addition to the BidSquid team is Daniel Strock, a former Wall Street colleague of Hachey’s. Strock, who is based out of Philadelphia, will help expand the company to U.S. markets.

Since its launch in mid-September, BidSquid has been growing steadily with 100 users already signed up and roughly 40 listings posted. He has bootstrapped the project so far, but is considering trying to raise about $200,000 in the coming months.

Hachey wants to see BidSquid gain traction with larger scale consumers, hoping school and hospital cafeterias will start stocking their kitchens from listings found on BidSquid. Hachey also hopes other industries, like the province’s many distilleries and breweries, will use the website.

“I really see that as the next wave of the buy local movement,” said Hachey about his triple bottom line business model. 

Oceans Supercluster Makes Shortlist

The proposed oceans supercluster in Atlantic Canada is one of nine proposals shortlisted for the federal government’s $950 million Supercluster Initiative.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, was in Halifax on Tuesday to announce the shortlisted applicants and discuss the initiative.

In his March budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the government will spend as much as $950 million over five years to support “superclusters” of innovation across the country. Officials working on the Atlantic growth strategy, representing the four provinces and the federal government, developed a strategy to tap supercluster funding in ways that would benefit all four provinces.

The Atlantic Canadian oceans cluster would incorporate economic strengths from each province, including those not often associated with ocean industries, such as cybersecurity and smart grids.

“If selected as one of Canada's five superclusters, the Ocean Supercluster would energize Canada's ocean economy by investing in digital ocean technologies that will increase Canada's competitiveness and create middle-class jobs for this generation and the next," said Bain in a statement.

Of more than 50 proposals, involving over 1,000 firms and 350 other participants, nine have been shortlisted and up to five will be selected as Canada's new superclusters.

According to the CBC, these are the other supercluster proposals that have been shortlisted:

From Quebec: an artificial intelligence supercluster to bolster Canadian leadership in AI and data science.

A mobility supercluster focused on innovation and commercialization in the aerospace, ground transportation and advanced manufacturing.

From Ontario: a supercluster looking at transforming Canada's mining sector and focusing on clean resources, clean technology and responsible sourcing of metals.

From Ontario. A supercluster promising to speed up Canada's manufacturing competitiveness.

From the Prairies: A protein supercluster to capture the export market opportunity for safe, nutritious plant-based food.

A supercluster to invest in technologies related to Canada's crop, livestock and agri-food processing sectors.

A infrastructure supercluster promising to change how Canada's infrastructure is designed, built and operated using advanced digital communications, cutting-edge tools and interconnected applications and services.

From British Columbia: a digital technology supercluster dedicated to making Canada better at inventing, developing and applying digital technologies to drive competitiveness in environment and resource technology, precision health and manufacturing. 

Disclosure: The federal government, some provinces and their agencies are clients of Entrevestor.

Cohort 2 of Fredericton’s Export Igniter

Ignite Fredericton, the community economic development agency, is inviting Fredericton-based companies aiming to enter new markets to apply to the Export Igniter acceleration program.

Since the successful pilot program concluded in March 2017, graduate Export Igniter companies created in nine new jobs related to their export growth. Participants in the first cohort included SimpTek Technologies, Red Rover Breweries, Marr’s Sweet Syrup, Mayday Printing, Unforgotten Metal Art and Ginger Design. In a survey following the program, all participating companies gave top marks to the program and said they left with a fully developed export plan that was ready to be executed in-market.

Export Igniter is the first export accelerator of its kind in Atlantic Canada. It’s designed to help export ready companies develop a strategy to ensure they succeed in seizing opportunities and navigating the complex landscape of international business. Over 12 weeks, participants go through workshops led by subject matter experts such as Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Opportunities NB, Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Corp., customs and logistics consultants, and others. Each company is paired with a mentor, a successful local exporter who provides their insights and advice.

“To create a global impact you need to get out of your backyard,” said Keelen Gagnon, Chief Operating Officer of SimpTek Technologies and member of the first cohort. “The Export Igniter program and mentorship that came with it was invaluable in helping us grow outside our region.”

Companies are also paired with a team of highly motivated business students from the University of New Brunswick who help with research and lead development.

Hillary Baird was a student in the first cohort and was paired with Ginger Design who hired her after graduating, “It’s a very different way of learning,” she remarked on the Export Igniter program, “you can put yourself in the shoes of an actual consultant; you have that real-life work experience for a semester, which is something not all students get.”

Ignite Fredericton is now accepting applications for its second cohort, which will begin January. The intent is to build on the success of the first cohort incorporating time for companies and mentors to interact informally with each other.

Interested companies can learn more, and apply to participate by visiting Ignite Fredericton’s website. Additionally, information sessions will be held at Planet Hatch throughout the fall for interested entrepreneurs.

Disclosure: Ignite Fredericton is a client of Entrevestor.

INovia, Afore in Swept’s US$2M Round

Michael Brown and Matt Cooper

Michael Brown and Matt Cooper

Fresh from the 500 Startups accelerator in California’s Silicon Valley, janitorial software-maker Swept has closed a US$2-million funding round, led by venture capital firms iNovia and Afore Capital.

Halifax-based Swept (formerly called CleanSimple) has developed software that helps commercial cleaning companies communicate with and support their cleaners and customers. The flashy side of the Swept story is that the company graduated in August from 500 Startups, one of the world’s most prestigious accelerators. It was also the only Atlantic Canadian company to attend the Metabridge conference in Kelowna, B.C., this summer. And now Swept -- which raised a $575,000 round last year -- has the equivalent of C$2.5 million in funding from Montreal-based iNovia and Silicon Valley-based Afore. 

But the most fascinating side of Swept is found in its unglamorous work with cleaning companies and their staff. At its core, Swept is a social venture striving to improve the lives of under-appreciated people.

Co-founders Michael Brown and Matt Cooper started CleanSimple as a cleaning company that allowed clients to book cleaners online. They soon understood the challenges faced by commercial cleaners themselves — people who work on their own at night with little contact with clients or their bosses. Often, English is their second language so they are sometimes confused about their instructions. If their company does use software, it’s usually used to check up on them, rather than help them.

“The challenges we faced are common in the janitorial industry — like employee turnover rates between 75 per cent and a whopping 375 per cent each year,” said Brown, the company’s CEO. “We discovered that 74 per cent of professional cleaners have said they feel like slaves at work, which no doubt contributes to the high turnover rates, so we designed our software around better supporting the cleaner.”

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Swept has designed software that can help cleaners, bosses and clients communicate on a mobile device. For one thing, the cleaners can now communicate in their native language. It helps provide feedback and questions, and can even help employers assess performance. Brown said it was always difficult to understand the job done by someone who works at night, and now employee-of-the-month awards can reward people who have done exceptional work.

In an interview, Brown said people — including potential investors — often brush off Swept because the thought of janitorial software isn’t appealing. But he and Cooper frequently gain converts once they explain that their mission is to help improve the lives of cleaners and reduce turnover in the cleaning business. Brown has had speaking engagements on the topic in such locations as Las Vegas and Florida.

“We believe in Swept because their founding team is stacked with janitorial industry operators, and because their technology is ultimately about improving quality through improving community,” said iNovia Principal David Nault in an email. “Swept is helping employers and employees feel more connected. This is 100 percent in line with our vision as a fund.”

Brown also said the company, which is adding to its current staff level of 14, is gaining clients rapidly. In August, the company said it had had annual recurring revenue of US$440,000, and Brown said that during its three-month stint at 500 Startups it went from bringing on eight clients a month to 30.

With the new capital, Brown and Cooper plan to keep accelerating sales growth and improve their product. The company is now used widely enough that it is producing a critical mass of data, and the development team is working on using the data to improve clients’ efficiency. And, Brown says, it will continue to help them make life better for front-line cleaners.

“Clients realize that these people are important and you need to talk to them,” said Brown. “While other companies are creating software to track and control employees, we’re creating software that helps them out.”

Jobs: Swept, HeyOrca, Remsoft

A pair of job postings from janitorial software producer Swept head up our Jobs of the Week column today.

Fresh with about C$2.5 million in new financing, Halifax-based Swept is growing and is looking for Directors of Customer Success and Project Management. Other posting on the Entrevestor Job Board this week include openings for a remote Software and Infrastructure Architect with St. John’s-based HeyOrca, and a Project Manager with Remsoft of Fredericton.

Swept has designed software that can help cleaners, bosses and clients communicate on a mobile device. Its goal is to help cleaning companies support their cleaners, not just check up on them.

Read about Swept’s Latest Round of Funding

HeyOrca, which announced a $2 million raise in May, has been gaining a lot of buzz lately because its monthly recurring revenue has been increasing rapidly. As of May, its customer base had increased 800 percent in the past year, adding 160 new businesses. The customers listed on its website include Saatchi & Saatchi, Microsoft Studios, Hilton Head Island and TheSocialDiner.

Remsoft produces software that analyzes a client’s forests. The age, size, growth rate and other aspects of trees are examined in order to predict the best times to do simple things like get logs to market or predict which of thousands of trees may fall and damage a power line. The company has been adding staff as it moves to the cloud.

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

Here are excerpts from the job postings:

Halifax

Swept

Director of Customer Success

About You

You’re driven by measurable results and are comfortable being held accountable to the goals you set out for your team.You value well defined processes that help the team understand how to do things both efficiently and effectively.

You understand the distinction between customer success and customer support and why all B2B SaaS companies should have both. You’re passionate about building real relationships with your customers and know that it takes time, effort, and intent to do well.

What you’ll be doing

•Developing, managing and improving the automated activation program to convert trials to customers.

•Developing, managing and improving the customer adoption program to ensure customers are successfully using the features they have purchased.

•Work closely with product development to contribute and execute on the customer research program to ensure Swept is developing features and improvements that add measurable value to our customers. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

Director of Product Development

About You

You love the internet. Not because of all the awesome cat videos, but because of it’s amazing potential to affect positive change in the world. When it comes to your work, you’ve been described as “passionate” by your friends, family and co-workers.

You love working as part of a team and are excited to talk detail or blue sky to help solve problems. You’re at your best when you’re converting those blue sky ideas into tangible, usable, valuable things people will use.

You’re looking for your opportunity to take your game to the next level. Sound about right? Keep reading!

What you’ll be doing

•Define, lead, and execute a cohesive strategy related to Swept’s products.

•Working collaboratively with sales, marketing and development to deliver on that strategy.

•Stay intimately connected to our customer through qualitative and quantitative research you conduct.

•Manage, measure and analyze the ongoing list of feature requests from internal stakeholders (Swept Team) as well as external (customers) to ensure we are making decisions with data. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

St. John’s

HeyOrca

Software and Infrastructure Architect

What is HeyOrca?

As a developer, you have probably done some freelance or consulting work. The success of such project relies on effective communication between you, your team and the external stakeholders of the project by defining goals, deliverables, collaborating on work and communicating the results. Marketing agencies work similarly: they help tens and hundreds of clients with their marketing strategy and content; all with different deadlines and deliverables. HeyOrca is a web-based tool to make sense of this chaos: bringing the marketing team and their clients together in one place to communicate, create and deliver. Think of it as GitHub for marketing agencies.

The wise one

At HeyOrca, our 8-10 developers are creating numerous features and refactoring a great deal over multiple technology stacks and containers. Getting things done sometimes prevents us from having things well thought out. That's why we need an experienced person who knows the way and its pitfalls: the wise one.

That's where you come in. We are looking for a software architect who has seen teams and software scale and can align our team efforts with a software and infrastructure architecture and design that benefits HeyOrca and its customers.

This position is open to remote applicants. . . .

Read the complete job posting here.

Fredericton

Remsoft

Project Manager

An integral role on the Remsoft Client Services team, the Project Manager directs and controls all project activities, including directing human resources and controlling costs, schedules and deliverables. With the support of the Client Services team members, the Project Manager manages, plans, and coordinates activities of projects to ensure that the goals and objectives of all projects are accomplished within prescribed time frame and funding parameters. Reporting to the Remsoft Director of Delivery, the successful candidate has a deep understanding of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and a proven track record of successfully performing in a project management capacity, within a professional services organization.

Responsibilities

•Maintains open lines of communication between the Client Services team and the client

•Reviews requests for changes in scope, schedule, or budget prior to submission to the client

•Responsible for the day-to-day coordination and execution of project activities

•Responsible for overall project risk and quality management

•Defines and documents project plans, policies, and procedures

•Prepares and submits project status reports, as required

•Facilitates project status meetings and project review meetings

•Works with the Remsoft and client teams to facilitate project tasks and produce high quality work products and deliverables

•Maintains staffing plans

Read the complete job posting here. 

Deshpande To Open GCEC Event

Desh Deshpande

Desh Deshpande

Famed entrepreneur and philanthropist Desh Deshpande will officially open the 2017 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres Conference on Friday at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The consortium is a meeting place for university entrepreneurship facilities from around the world. The event in Halifax will discuss the role of these centres in the development of new companies and the education of students.

The event will be opened by Gururaj Deshpande, known to his friends as Desh, a University of New Brunswick grad who has financed entrepreneurship centres around the world. Best known in Atlantic Canada as a Co-Founder of the Pond-Deshpande Centre in Fredericton, Deshpande is a lifetime member of the MIT Corporation and the driving force behind MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation. The Deshpande Foundation strengthens ecosystems that create significant social and economic impact through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Deshpande’s opening remarks will be followed by two debates. The first will pitch education against acceleration. It will ask whether the primary mission of the university entrepreneurship centre is to educate students and provide the context for successful venturing or be economic generators producing talent for growing companies.

The second debate pits the centralized approach against the organic approach to entrepreneurship and innovation. Is the university entrepreneurship ecosystem best served by a centralized approach to reduce duplication of effort or by an organic approach that embraces orderly chaos?

Debate participants will include Mike Morris of the University of Florida, Ted Zoller from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Jeff Reid of Georgetown University and Alex DeNoble of San Diego State.

There will be a lunchtime address by veteran entrepreneur and investor Gerry Pond, the chair of Mariner Partners and East Valley Ventures. The conference is hosted by Dal, Saint Mary's University and UNB.

Registration is available here

Blue Solutions Contest Offers $200K

Entrants from around the world are being sought for a Nova Scotia competition designed to find solutions to ocean industry problems and offer about $200,000 in prize money.

The Blue Solutions Start-Up Challenge has been established by Innovacorp and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to provide cash and business guidance to winning entrepreneurs.

The contest is designed to build on the increasing ocean technology development across the region and to ignite the startup community in Nova Scotia, the partners said in a release.

Entrants must have a new knowledge-based product or service with annual sales revenue of less than $1 million.

Companies from around the world may apply, but winners must register as a business in Nova Scotia. Entrants must be the majority owner(s) of the venture and plan to work full-time with the business in Nova Scotia.

A judging committee of representatives from the private and public sectors will determine who receives financial support in Round 1, and who receives additional support at the end of Round 2.

As many as 10 Round 1 winners will receive grants of as much as $10,000 and guidance from seasoned business people. Up to 10 awards are anticipated for this round. Round 2 finalists will pitch their prototypes and business concepts to the judging committee, vying for up to $50,000 each. At least two awards are anticipated for this round.

Submissions will be evaluated on the quality of the product or service, industry knowledge and management experience, barriers to competitive entry, market size and credibility of plans to reach key milestones.

The deadline for submissions is this Thursday, Oct. 12 at 5 pm AST.

Submissions must be made online.

 

Disclosure: Innovacorp and ACOA are clients of Entrevestor.

Randell Wins EY’s Atlantic Award

Joe Randell, CEO of Chorus Aviation Inc., an organization that offers a full suite of aviation services, is this year’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Atlantic winner.

“Joe has played a vital role shaping the landscape of the Canadian airline industry,” Gina Kinsman, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Atlantic Program Director, said in a statement. “He’s navigated some turbulent times, but his strong management and entrepreneurial mindset has, and will continue, to guide him to success.”

Capping off a gala event in Moncton, EY recognized Randell for his passion for the airline industry. The passion developed when he completed a research study for the startup of a new airline as part of his MBA. This project laid the groundwork for the creation of Air Nova – one of the first classic regional carriers in Canada – serving five destinations in Atlantic Canada with two aircraft.

The airline was bought by Air Canada in 1991, but through the acquisition Randell continued to grow the airline to 22 aircraft serving 19 destinations. Looking to expand further, Randell consolidated Air Nova and Air Alliance, and was subsequently tasked with the consolidation of the other major regional operators in Canada. The newly merged company launched its new brand, Jazz, in 2002. Today, his company is Chorus Aviation – a corporation that owns Jazz Aviation, Voyageur Aviation and Chorus Aviation Capital.

“Joe has seen it all – from startup, growth and restructuring to mergers, acquisitions and rebranding,” said Kinsman. “He soars through with vision and passion to overcome complex challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Joe is the definition of a risk-taker, and we couldn’t be happier to recognize him with this award.”

Randell will now compete with top entrepreneurs from the Pacific, Prairies, Ontario and Quebec regions for the national honour of Canada’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017, to be presented at a gala celebration in November in Toronto. The winner of that competition will move to compete with more than 50 country recipients for the title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year.

EY also presented Gerry Pond, the head of East Valley Ventures and the dean of the tech movement in Atlantic Canada, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the event Thursday night.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Atlantic category winners are:

Business-to-Business Products and Services

Coach Atlantic Transportation Group | Charlottetown

Adam Doiron, Michael Cassidy

Business-to-Consumer Products and Services

Supplement King Canada | Dartmouth

Roger King

Emerging Entrepreneur

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. | Dartmouth

George Palikaras

Hospitality and Tourism

PAVIA Gallery - Espresso Bar & Cafe | Herring Cove

Victoria Foulger

Information Technology

Trihedral Engineering Limited | Bedford

Barry Baker, Glenn Wadden

Manufacturing and Construction

MQM Quality Manufacturing Ltd. | Tracadie-Sheila

Serge Theriault

Technology and Communications

Solace Power | Mount Pearl

Kris McNeil

SomaDetect Wins US$1M at 43North

Nicholas Clermont and Bethany Deshpande: Latest in a series of wins

Nicholas Clermont and Bethany Deshpande: Latest in a series of wins

Fredericton-based SomaDetect has won the US$1 million first prize in the 43Northcompetition in Buffalo, NY.

As well as giving the one-year-old company the equivalent of C$1.25 million, the win grants SomaDetect space at the 43North incubator in Buffalo for three year, and 10 years of paying no state taxes in New York State. Buffalo could prove a valuable U.S. base for the company as SomaDetect has used its time in upstate New York to gain letters of intent from 50 dairy farmers to be possible clients when its device is launched in March.

The win is only the latest in a series of successes for CEO Bethany Deshpande and her team. Already this year, they have placed second in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundations’ Breakthru competition, and was the co-winner at Communitech’s Fierce Founders bootcamp in Kitchener, Ont.

Founded by Deshpande and COO Nicholas Clermont, SomaDetect helps dairy farmers check the health of their herd quickly, accurately and precisely while testing the quality of their milk. Deshpande’s patented technology sends a laser beam through the milk as each cow is milked, instantly recording the fat content and somatic cell count, both of which indicate the presence of the disease mastitis and the quality of the milk. The farmer has the data instantly for each cow twice a day.

The Buffalo News quoted one judge in its article on 43North as being impressed with the Deshpande’s presentation in the finals of the $5 million competition.

"They were so buttoned up,” the newspaper quoted judge David Jakubowski, director of publisher solutions at Facebook, as saying. “The way they articulated the value proposition of why it was good for people, why it was good for cows. She has the potential to be the biggest CEO in dairy."

SomaDetect is now carrying out pilot projects in New Brunswick, and is already developing a network of potential clients in the U.S. The U.S. market will be important because the size and number of dairy farms is so much larger than in Canada.

In the spring, working with the Saint John sales-focused consultancy Momentum, SomaDetect toured Vermont to validate the international demand for its product. The Fredericton AgTech company signed letters of intent with three-quarters of the 80 farmers it met with during the trip.

Kitchener-based Suncayr, whose Spot product tells you when your sunscreen has worn off, captured a US$500,000 runner-up prize at 43North on Thursday. 

Solace Appoints Gotlieb as CEO

As it raises its Series A funding round, Solace Power of Mount Pearl, NL, has named Michael Gotlieb as CEO to guide the company alongside Founder and President Kris McNeil.

Solace Power specializes in wireless power – that is, delivering electrical energy to batteries or devices without any wires attached to them. It works on projects for specific customers, such as Boeing and data solutions company Byrne, and then licenses the technology to them.

A company spokesperson said Gotlieb will be focused on increasing licensing opportunities for Solace while working with McNeil to streamline other areas of the business as it expands.

"Michael's experience driving commercial opportunities and executing corporate strategy make him an ideal fit to lead Solace through the next stage of growth," said Solace Chair Gordon Conlin in the statement. "Under Michael's leadership, we have a strong team in place that's focused on increasing market opportunities."

Gotlieb joins Solace from wireless power solutions provider, NuCurrent, where he led all customer interactions and guided the strategy and product roadmap. Gotlieb's 25-year global technology career includes experience in embedded electronics, analog/power, software and services across a multitude of end markets.

Gotlieb has served in several strategic leadership roles including Motorola and its IPO spin out, Freescale Semiconductor.  At Freescale, Gotlieb was instrumental in creating the turnaround strategy resulting in the sale of the company for $17.6 billion.

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"Solace provides compelling technology for a diverse set of customers and applications. I look forward to helping deliver on Solace's full potential and on the differentiated advantages of RC2," said Gotlieb. "Wireless power is experiencing tremendous expansion in awareness, product exploration and first-generation implementation. Next generation solutions, like Solace's, will ignite a much larger movement to re-architect and reconsider existing power transfer solutions."

Also on Thursday, McNeil claimed the first prize for the Technology and Communications category at Atlantic EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 in Moncton.

With 35 employees, Solace has been bringing capital into the company to fuel the growth. It is now in the process of raising Series A financing, though the spokesperson declined to provide details, such as how much it hopes to raise. Since the beginning of June, Solace Power has announced a total of $3.3 million in government financing and a US$2.3 million investment from Lockheed Martin. The company previously raised funding from the First Angel Network. 

The company said Gotlieb is joining a strong executive team comprising seasoned leaders in the commercialization of disruptive technologies, including: McNeil; Neil Chaulk, Vice-President of Business Development; Magnus Nyberg, Vice-President of Engineering; and Frank Iadipaolo, Chief Financial Officer.

Solace Power made the announcement at the Wireless Power Summit in Denver, where it is showcasing its RC wireless power technology.

Stash Explores Energy Storage Systems

Jordan Kennie: 'We aim to store as much energy as possible.'

Jordan Kennie: 'We aim to store as much energy as possible.'

With heat pump technology improving and the devices becoming more popular, Fredericton’s Stash Energy is well positioned to build a business around storing that energy.

Stash co-founder and CEO Jordan Kennie believes Stash is the only energy storage venture in North America that is working with heat pumps. The startup intends to sell energy storage by partnering with utility companies.

Kennie said working with heat pumps is complicated by the fact that they work at low temperatures. Stash’s answer is a chemical solution that stores heat energy at 40-50 C — baseboard heaters or furnaces work at around 60-70 C, he said. The team is currently preparing to patent its technology.

Kennie said there were problems with early types of heat pumps — some didn’t work well at low temperatures, for instance. But he said heat pump technology and efficiency have improved.

“Most new homes being built in the Maritimes are now being fitted with heat pumps,” he said.

“The North American market for heat pumps was worth $2 billion to $3 billion in 2008 and is now worth $7 billion to $8 billion.”

He said heat pumps are more efficient than other common forms of heating. They also cool buildings in summer, vastly expanding Stash’s potential market.

The Stash system works with conventional heat pumps to thermally store energy. The stored energy reduces peak electricity consumption and allows use of more electricity from renewable sources.

“We aim to store as much energy as possible,” Kennie said. “For example, if the wind is blowing at night, that energy can be stored.”

The startup is midway through a pilot project with P.E.I. utility company Summerside Electric. The company’s website states that 46 per cent of Summerside’s electricity comes from wind power, the highest percentage on the continent.

Kennie said Stash’s three co-founders are currently in the process of closing a pre-seed investment round. This round will help them finance their initial work with several regional utility companies. They intend to begin with other small utility companies, like Summerside.

“We don’t want big clients to start off and bankrupt ourselves. We want to grow organically,” he said.

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In time, the company will need to get outside the region and into other markets. The federal government’s trade commission services are already helping Kennie make international contacts. Stash is also in talks with utility companies that own power companies in the Maritimes and across the Americas.

The Stash team — Kennie, chief operations officer Daniel Larsen, and Erik Hatfield, chief technology officer, met at the University of New Brunswick when they were all taking electrical and computer engineering.

Larsen went on to focus on power systems and utility grids, Hatfield focused on computer engineering. Kennie enjoyed electrical engineering and technology but gradually realized he didn’t want to be an engineer.

In 2015, the last year of their electrical engineering degree, he, Larsen and Hatfield took the school’s technology management and entrepreneurship (TME) diploma program. They designed an energy storage system for heat pumps that became the foundation for Stash Energy.

It was a turning point for Kennie.

“We learned how to commercialize technology and I fell in love with that side of things,” he said.

Kennie has since received a master’s degree in TME from UNB and was recently awarded Startup Canada’s 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Stash has also made it onto UNB’s new Energia accelerator for companies in the energy, cleantech and cybersecurity fields.

Like others in the cleantech space, Kennie is passionate about his subject.

“Our big vision is to try to enhance renewable energy,” he said.

“You hear all the time about coal and diesel generators that run only on the coldest days of the year. We are wasting a lot of money on environmentally terrible ways of producing power. We hope to not have that happen anymore. This is our part of the answer.”

Innovacorp Unveils Spark Shortlist

Innovacorp on Thursday revealed the shortlist for its Spark competition, which will award a total of $800,000 in non-dilutive capital to startups across the province.

The innovation agency said in August its Spark competition would provide grants of $10,000 to $50,000 to each winner. The competition breaks the province into four zones, and will award $200,00 in each area.

There were 136 submissions, and the following companies will move on in the competition:

SPARK CAPE BRETON 2017 SHORTLIST COMPANIES

Campaign EA – Todd Graham – Sydney

Election campaign management software provided through mobile and desktop applications

EasyGolfTour.com – Todd Chant, Kevin Chant – Sydney

Golf tournament management platform

GoGo Groceries – Jay McNeil – Glace Bay

Personalized grocery shopping and delivery service

Hydrotroniks – Scott Aucoin, Stephane Sogne, Joel Lefort – Cheticamp

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

Ingenuity Products Solutions – Hisham Sleem – Sydney

Natural haircare products that use ingredients extracted from potatoes to reduce pollution and toxic risks

Mirovia Ocean Technologies – Craig Phillips, Kent Simpson – Louisdale

Technology to predict road and marine traffic to reduce congestion, greenhouse gases and accidents

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

Applications that make it easier to visualize, share, interpret and use ocean data

Phased In – Eric Lortie, Alban Gray, Dan Hooper, Allyson White – Sydney

Augmented reality technology powering a mobile gaming experience

Talem Health Analytics – Paul Travis, Matthew Kay – Sydney

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

Tapnbe – Ron Campbell – Dominion 

Technology that lets companies easily engage with customers on their smartphones

TrAIner – Shea Munro – Sydney

App that monitors workout techniques and suggests adjustments to avoid injury

SPARK HALIFAX 2017 SHORTLIST COMPANIES

Aurea – Cat Adalay – Halifax

Urban wind energy system for highrises that generates electricity from wind tunnels

Axem – Tony Ingram, Christopher Friesen – Halifax

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

Graphite Innovation and Technology – Mohamed Algermozi, Marciel Gaier – Halifax

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

Home Except – John Robertson – Halifax 

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

IOBIO – Guy Earle, S. Aiken – Halifax 

Multi-purpose clinical data collection platform for researchers and clinicians

NovaResp – Hamed Hanafi – Halifax

Breathing support devices enabling patients with sleep apnea to breathe more easily and comfortably

Play the Field – Kara Holm, Helen MacMillan – Halifax

Mobile game featuring augmented reality to simulate entertaining consumer experiences to attract new clients

SaySo Communication – Pam Streeter, Elizabeth Allard – Halifax

Children’s digital media products that increase collaboration, critical thinking and social communication

Trip Ninja – Andres Collart, Brett Ziegler – Halifax

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

UpFront – Conor Daly, Kyle Gardiner – Halifax

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

SPARK NORTH 2017 SHORTLIST COMPANIES

BidSquid Online Marketplace – David Hachey – Scotsburn

Online marketplace for local food where farmers can reach new buyers

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

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

Chuck Creations – Glen Simon – Antigonish

Silicone skin and body parts for medical prosthetics and tattoo artist practice

Fintech Innovations – Aaron Stevenson – Debert

Smart devices and an on-board data management system that alert vessel crews of external dangers

iCrowdX – Sean Sears – Antigonish

Natural, fruit-based drinks with health benefits

Oceland Biologicals – Balakrishnan Prithiviraj – Bible Hill

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

SPARK WEST 2017 SHORTLISTED COMPANIES

Alias Earth – Jim Dorey – Morden

Database of virtual sets for the entertainment industry

DevScript – David Pratt – South Greenwood

App that provides secure communication, file sharing and synchronization to enable team collaboration

Electric Puppets – Ryan Cameron – Chester

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

Finleaf Technologies – Myrna Gillis – Brooklyn

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

Fundy Language Analytics – Marion Meudt, John Read – Wolfville

Software that lets English language learners practice pronunciation and fluency

Hydra – Nic Strum, Bruce Strum – Mahone Bay

Groundwater monitoring system using hydrogeological theory to enable safe access to water

Lobster Made Easy – Mark Lowe – Mahone Bay 

Trap monitoring system that lets fishers on land receive data on what is in their traps

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

Autonomous farming robot that navigates its environment and performs agricultural tasks

nGageIT Digital Health Solutions – Jennifer Murdoch – Annapolis Royal

App to track and improve medication adherence in real-time

Phycus Biotechnologies – Vik Pandit – Wolfville

Technology that allows CO2 emissions to be converted into everyday products such as plastics

SURU – Michael Uhlarik – Hubbards 

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

 

Disclosure: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.

Durland in LifeRaft’s $1.45M Round

John Gallinaugh: 'We tripled our revenues from last year.'

John Gallinaugh: 'We tripled our revenues from last year.'

LifeRaft, the Halifax company whose platform uncovers potential threats through social media posts, has brought in noted investor Mike Durland to its team as an investor and adviser.

The company said today that Durland led a “non-dilutive” $1.45 million financing round, and will now become a strategic adviser to the company. The round, which comprises three investors, is non-dilutive (meaning it will not further dilute the founders’ holdings) because Durland and his co-investors are buying out previous investors. LifeRaft would not reveal the exiting investors, but CEO John Gallinaugh said it was a friendly transaction.

Launched in 2014, LifeRaft identifies threatening keywords, such as “kill” and “gun,” on social media sources like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It filters the findings so only the most important information is communicated to the client. Once Liferaft’s clients have been alerted about someone using suspicious terms, they can drill into any post to better understand the context of an individual’s comments.

“This is a strategic round that will allow us to significantly advance our growth and development plans,” said Gallinaugh in a statement. “Leading this round is Mike Durland, a sophisticated investor, who sees the value in our solution and clearly recognizes the potential of Liferaft. Mike is a welcomed addition to our team.”

In an interview, Gallinaugh said LifeRaft is in “good shape financially” and is not poised to raise more money immediately. The company, which raised $2 million in March 2016, has a staff of 20 people and is building up both its sales and development teams.  It has clients in about 12 countries with a concentration in such sectors as financial services, insurance and utilities.

“We’ve managed to get very focused in the space we’re in,” he said. “We tripled our revenues from last year and this year we’ve set a goal to double it again. But what we’ve found is it’s about creating awareness and getting in front of the right people and we’re getting better at that now.”

Manifold Builds its Network with US$15M Raise

A native of Middleton, N.S., Durland is the former Group Head and Chief Executive Officer of Global Banking & Markets at The Bank of Nova Scotia.

Since making a large donation to St. Mary’s University’s Master of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program two years ago, Durland has become a force in the Halifax startup ecosystem. He led an $8.5 million investment round in indoor farming concern TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, and is listed as a board director at the blockchain solutions company PeerLedger. He was recently named an associate at the Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic. Now he’s adding LifeRaft to the list.

“As technology advances, we need to be continually analyzing how it impacts our security operations,” said Durland in the statement. “LifeRaft’s software offering is truly revolutionizing the way critical information is identified and turned into actionable intelligence.”

LifeRaft was recently named one of the Top 25 Up and Coming ICT companies in Canada by Branham Group Inc. The Canadian Trade Commissioners Office also chose LifeRaft to take part in the Canadian Technology Accelerator program in New York City.  

Mary Jane Leslie, LifeRaft’s Director of Sales & Marketing, said the CTA program is helping the company connect with advertising and marketing people in New York and build out its network. The company is planning four more trips to New York this year.

Oceans Contest Offers China Access

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones

A new startup competition in the OceanTech space is offering competitors cash prizes of as much as US$70,000 (C$87,5000) as well as access to the Chinese market.

Halifax is one of a handful of cities around the world that will host regional competitions for the 2017 Global Marine Technology Entrepreneurship Competition. These will be the entry points for the final competition in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao in November. The winners will receive mentorship, cash and office space in China.

Entries for the Halifax competition close on Oct. 17. For more information about entering the competition, contact Carolyn Clegg at carolynclegg@gmail.com.

“The structure of the competition is open and done so on purpose to encompass a wide range of applicants,” said Stephen Jones, the CEO of Halifax-based 4Deep Inwater Imaging and the Executive Chair of the competition. “It could be companies of any size, individual entrepreneurs or savvy business students for example. There is also no set standard for the technological level of readiness so long as the innovation has broad commercial attractiveness.”

Hosted by Shandong University and Qingdao City, the competition is intended to be a pathway for entrepreneurs that want access to Chinese capital and markets.

There two themes in the competition -- Theme I is Marine Science and Technologies; and Theme II is Robotics, Life and Health Sciences, Smart Hardware, Artificial Intelligence, New Energy, Internet and Information Technology, Environmental Protection and others.

For the final competition, the prize money in each theme is: one first prize of US$70,000; two second prizes of US$43,000; and three third prizes of US$15,000 .

Regional contests will be held in Silicon Valley, Chicago and Boston in U.S.; Toronto and Halifax in Canada; as well as in other centres in England, Germany, France and China. There will also be an online competition.

Two winners from each region will be flown to Qingdao for the finals. The winners of the Halifax competition, which is Co-Sponsored by Dalhousie University, will receive pitch training from Andrew Ray of Innovacorp and Permjot Valia, CEO of MentorCamp, before traveling to China.

The Halifax pitching competition will be held Oct. 24 at the McInnes Cooper offices, Purdy’s Wharf II, in Halifax.

“I look forward to seeing the quality and breadth of entries and it is my hope that the selected winner form the Halifax event ends up going to Qingdao in November and winning the entire competition,” said Jones. “Doing so would represent a massive opportunity.”

PEI Ignition Fund Backs 10 Startups

The government of Prince Edward Island has announced that 10 young companies will receive Ignition grants of $25,000 each to develop their products or services.

The government said Tuesday the grants would be awarded to the companies to help commercialize their new products. The government created the Ignition Fund in 2014, and since then it has assisted 38 new or expanding Island businesses.

 “I am confident this support will be a great asset to these ambitious, innovative companies as they move forward with their business plans and cutting-edge ideas,” Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald said in a statement. “For a small province we have a large number of dreamers and doers – and the Ignition Fund is one more way we are helping Islanders turn their big dreams into reality.”

This year’s recipients, and the aim of the grants, are:

Exit Speed Inc. – To patent and market an innovative training apparatus that will increase baseball or softball players' bat speed and power.

Island Aquatech – To commercialize a novel oyster cage flipper that provides a simple and cost-effective method for flipping oyster cages.

Redrock Power Systems – To develop and commercialize zero-emissions fuel cell solutions for use in the marine industry by working with world-leading suppliers and industry-leading customers.

Fresh Start Fauxmage – To produce nut-based, dairy-free, vegan cheese alternatives in a variety of flavours.

Lighters Candle Company – To produce all-natural soy wax candles and home products.

MacWorth Industries – To produce the Highway Safety Prevention Bar, a safety device intended for use on school buses.

Taylor Pharmaceuticals – To develop and manufacture a hybrid high flow nasal irrigation device.

The Bony Broth Co. – To increase production, to enable export, and to develop new products.

FieldEtect – To commercialize a handheld device to that will permit DNA identification of known pathogens in the agriculture sector.

Cradle Technology Design Inc. - To develop an innovative urinalysis device to provide athletes with reliable, informative, and empowering health data to help optimize their performance.

 

Disclosure: The P.E.I. government is a client of Entrevestor.

NC Client Adds CarbonCure Systems

CarbonCure Technologies says one of its major clients has installed its technology at two more of its concrete production facilities.

Dartmouth-based Carboncure this week distributed an announcement by North Carolina-based Concrete Supply Co., saying that it has installed the systems in two more of its facilities. It means three CSC plants around the Greater Charlotte area now use CarbonCure technology to reduce carbon emissions.

This kind of expansion is in line with the growth strategy devised by CarbonCure. The rapidly expanding company aims for growth in part from getting existing customers to install its technology across multiple sites.  

CarbonCure’s technology – which is now used by more than 60 concrete producers across North America -- recycles waste carbon dioxide into concrete. The CO2 is permanently converted into a solid mineral within the concrete. The addition of CO2 also improves the concrete’s compressive strength.

The press release states that CarbonCure is part of a growing industry of CO2-utilization technologies that are expected to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent by 2030. The company is one of 23 semi-finalists in the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE challenge, which has been called the Nobel prize for climate technologies.

CSC has nearly 90 facilities across the Carolinas.

In August, CarbonCure said it had been selected to help produce environmentally friendly construction materials for the California High-Speed Rail project. The company said it has partnered with Outback Materials of Fresno, Calif., which will install CarbonCure’s technology at its Fresno plant. That means the plant will consume rather than emit waste carbon during the production of concrete for several projects, including the high-speed rail project.

McInnes Cooper’s Startup Package

McInnes Cooper, the Atlantic Canadian law firm, has announced its new Start-up and Retainer Packages with the goal of making legal services more accessible for innovation-driven startups in Atlantic Canada.

The firm said in a statement on Tuesday that its MC Start-up Package provides the essential legal services a business needs to get off the ground, from incorporation to one-on-one legal advice, in a way that fits a limited budget.

“We’ve had positive feedback on the ‘Transformation’ theme,” said partner and startup specialist Rob Cowan in the statement. “It enables us to say that we’ve been listening to startups, and now we’re changing the way we do things – very much a ‘startup mindset’ for a law firm.”

He added: “The new blue colour and tagline ‘Transforming with you’ shows our startup services as new and distinct from the ‘old’ McInnes Cooper offering.”

To get started, owners pay a modest up-front fee of $400, paying the balance of $4,600 only after the business is funded.

A second offering, the MC Retainer Package is designed for existing businesses in the startup sector that have day-to-day legal needs and are looking for increased fee certainty. Businesses pay a set monthly fee based solely on the level of service required. For smaller enterprises, retainer fees can be as low as $200 a month.

A McInnes Cooper lawyer will arrange quarterly check-in calls to ensure that clients are getting the right level of legal services and to help address issues early on. As business needs change, the MC Retainer Package offers the flexibility to revisit and adjust monthly fees as required.

“We’ve completely transformed the way we price for start-ups,” said Sandra Goodwin, the firm’s Managing Director of Client Development and Service.

So far, early adopters of the packages span the Atlantic Region.

Said Hugh Wright, CEO and Managing Partner of McInnes Cooper: “By supporting startups during the early stages, we hope to facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Atlantic Canada.”

 

Disclosure: McInnes Cooper is a client of Entrevestor.

Boondoc’s MRR To Hit $140K in Jan.

Before discussing his survey of 1,450 physicians about tax reform, Blair J. Ryan was more than happy to discuss the financial success his company, Boondoc, has been enjoying lately.

Halifax-based Boondoc is best known as the holding company for The Rounds, a social network for Canadian physicians which was launched four years ago. Last year, Boondoc launched a sister organization called QID, which is an international network for pharmacists. The two Boondoc networks now have more than 60,000 members, more than half of them in 14-month-old QID. It makes money by selling corporations engagement with its members.

The group broke even in August, and has signed deals that will ensure that by January it will have monthly recurring revenue of $140,000. Ryan, the company’s CEO, expects monthly recurring revenue will increase by 20 to 30 percent per month throughout 2018.

 “We’re all pretty excited,” said Ryan in an interview Monday. “We’re now officially a five-year-old company. For the first 80 percent of our existence we focused on growing engagement with our users. . . . Then in the last nine to 12 months we’ve had a shift in focus to tap into our big revenue opportunities.”

The purpose of the interview was to discuss a survey on tax reform that The Rounds had just conducted with Flaim Wolsey Hall, Atlantic Canada’s largest accountancy for physicians. They released the survey — which drew responses from 1,450 Canadian doctors, including 277 from Nova Scotia — last week and were delivering it to the Opposition leader’s office in Ottawa on Monday.

The respondents from across Canada overwhelmingly opposed the proposed tax reforms, which aim to close some loopholes employed by businesspeople and professionals who incorporate. Some 84 per cent of the doctors said the reforms, if implemented, would reduce the attractiveness of practising in Canada for new physicians, while 72 per cent foresaw a worsening shortage of doctors and 81 percent predicted longer wait times.

How Proposed Tax Reforms Would Affect Startups

Ryan said he was surprised by some findings, such as 65 per cent of the respondents saying they would give less to charities if the reforms go through. It shows, he said, that there could be unintended consequences of the reforms.

The Nova Scotian and Canadian results tend to be within a few percentage points of each other, with one notable exception. Across Canada, 18.9 percent of the respondents said they would leave their province if the proposals go through, but in Nova Scotia the figure was 41.2 percent.

“I think that’s got to do with a bunch of doctors who are already fed up with the amount of tax they have to pay,” said Ryan. “That’s conjecture but it is educated, as I have talked with these folks over time.”

More than the survey, Ryan is focused on growing his company in the coming year. The company, which has 13 employees, quietly raised $1.5 million in capital (70 percent of it from investors in the U.S.) last year, and intends to raise again in 2018.

In terms of operations, Ryan plans to increase sales and to sign up more users outside Canada, both for QID and The Rounds.

“It’s all about revenue growth within the Canadian market, and for the other parts we’re focusing on member growth outside of Canada,” he said. “The Rounds will be international in 2018, perhaps sooner.”

Key Findings of the National survey

If the proposed tax legislation goes through, what impact would this have on you?

Leave the Province                                                                                                    18.9%

Leave the Country                                                                                                     23.3%

Reduce likelihood of expanding our practice                                                             49.4%

Look to the Province for help in recovering the losses incurred                                45.0%

Reduce my work hours                                                                                             55.8%

Reduce community support (e.g. charities)                                                              64.4%

Number of respondents: 1450 Canadian physicians.

SMU’s New Multicultural Sales Course

The Sobey School of Business at St. Mary’s University will hold an information session Thursday for its new sales course, Sell Beyond Borders.

The information session will be held at the Innovacorp Enterprise Centre, 1334 Summer Street, at 11:30 a.m.  You can register for the information session here.

Bruce Good, one of the instructors in the program, will take the audience through a quick summary of the program's outline and intentions.

Sell Beyond Borders is a new program from the Sobey School that teaches current and future sales professionals to sell in a multicultural environment.  It aims to help participants sell not only in foreign countries, but also in a multicultural environment within Canada.

The course, to be offered between November and February, is divided into three sections: Building Cross-Cultural Communications Expertise; Championship Selling, and Game Day, in which participants are immersed in a real-life, challenging selling and customer call environment.

To learn more, contact Lynn Coveyduck, Sobey School of Business, at 902 491 6497.

 

Disclosure: The Sobey School of Business advertises on Entrevestor.

Immigration Event Planned for Halifax

John Hamblin

John Hamblin

Startup Halifax and The Halifax Library will host an event on Oct. 16 to educate people on the processes available to foreigners who want to immigrate to Canada.

In particular, the free session is targeting three groups: international students who wish to stay in Canada; entrepreneurs from other nations who are interested in establishing businesses here; and Canadian businesses interested in hiring skilled employees from outside of Canada.

The session is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about immigration, visas, express entry, and permanent residency.

“Canada and especially Nova Scotia need to attract and keep immigrants,” said Startup Halifax president John Hamblin in a statement. “Immigrants bring great skills and truly diverse experiences, and integrating them into our business community will help Canada to grow and prosper. This event provides an opportunity to learn, network, make contacts and meet others that are genuinely interested in all aspects of immigration.”

Speakers will include: immigration lawyers, representatives from the Federal and Nova Scotia Immigration Departments; representatives from other organizations that aid and support entrepreneurs and students who wish to establish themselves in our great country as well as new startups providing software and services to assist in the immigration process.

Entrepreneurs from other countries who have participated in the new entrepreneur immigration program will also speak of their experiences.

The event will take place Monday, Oc. 16 from 5:30-8:30pm in the O’Regan Auditorium at the Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Road). The event will end with refreshments and time to network.

You can register here

Jobs: Dash Hudson’s Sales Dev Rep

Dash Hudson has an opening for a Sales Development Representative in Halifax, and this is the focus of Job of the Week today.

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.

How Would Reforms Affect Startups?

Finance Minister Bill Morneau

Finance Minister Bill Morneau

Like many entrepreneurs, Alastair Trower recently told his member of Parliament of his outrage about the proposed tax reforms, which are being billed as an attempt to ensure fairness in the tax system.

A veteran of the startup world, Trower heads Cove Business Development, a consulting company that helps Nova Scotian startups bring products to the market. He has added his voice to the chorus of entrepreneurs opposed to the federal government’s proposals — the consultation period for which ends Monday.

“The easiest thing in the world would be for me to shut my business and get a job in one of the three layers of government,” he said in a recent missive to his MP. “I won’t do that because I fundamentally believe that small businesses are the engine of the economy, the catalyst for change, and the required inspiration for the new and future contributors coming out of the education system.”

Trower is, of course, not alone among entrepreneurs who oppose the moves. David Campbell, a New Brunswick consultant and the region’s best economics writer, has tracked the response and say 95 per cent of the public commentary has opposed the reforms.

One question that needs to be answered is how much these changes in the tax system will affect the startups that Trower spoke on behalf of — the tech, cleantech, and biotech companies that can spend years commercializing technology before they’re profitable. It has been difficult to assess given that a) the rhetoric has got a tad heated, and b) the tax system is mind-numbingly complex.

Read David Campbell's Take on the Tax Reforms, Via Huddle.Today. 

According to tax experts, the proposed changes will affect startups in two main areas: how income on passive capital is taxed, and in seeking equity investment at the early stages.

“Even at a startup phase, these rules affect these companies,” David Steinberg, national tax lead for the private client group at EY in Toronto, said in an interview. “Many tech-type startup companies, when they start up they all believe they’re going to be success and they all spend a lot of time on their capital structure. The new rules on capital gains are going to affect them.”

For example, startups may find it more difficult to raise capital from family members under the new proposals. If family members invest in a company that is later sold, under the current rules they each can claim a capital gains exemption of as much as $800,000. However, the reforms may do away with this exemption, said Steinberg, which would make it less attractive for new companies to raise money from family members.

Steven Carr, president of the Halifax accountancy Sandhill Financial, added that the taxation of passive income could also impact young companies that commercialize technology. If a promising company raises a lot of capital to fund operations before it is cashflow positive, it will earn interest on that capital. Under the proposed reforms, that so-called passive interest would be subject to taxation.

“If I have an operating loss and I’ve been able to attract capital and I place that in an interest-bearing account, I pay tax on it,” said Carr, speaking as hypothetically as if he ran a startup. “Even though I’m operating at a loss, I have to pay that tax, which is going to shorten my runway.”

Both accountants expressed shock that the government would propose such drastic changes to the tax system with only 75 days of consultation. Steinberg, who’s been practising since 1986, said he has never seen such a backlash over tax changes.

“Their (the government’s) whole premise is that people are incorporating to take advantage of the low tax rates,” he said. But many businesses incorporate to limit liability, he said, and startups can only attract investment capital if they incorporate.

“It’s very clear that there is no technology company in Canada that incorporates just to take advantage of the tax system. It just doesn’t happen.”

NBIF Backed 29 Startups in 2016-17

One of the highlights of NBIF's year was Breakthru, won by Pfera.

One of the highlights of NBIF's year was Breakthru, won by Pfera.

The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation released its 2016-17 annual report on Wednesday, revealing an active year, in which it invested in 29 different companies.

The report on the innovation agency’s operations in the 12 months to March 31, 2017, reveals that NBIF’s two funds invested a total of $4.6 million in the 29 companies. In the 2016 fiscal year, NBIF had invested a total of $3.8 million in 22 companies.

NBIF makes its investments through two funds – the Venture Capital Fund, which invests up to $1 million per round, and the Startup Investment Fund, whose maximum investment in one round is $200,000.

The largest investment last year was in Fredericton-based Smart Skin Technologies, which has developed pressure-sensitive linings to help detect jams in large-scale bottling operations. It received $497,884.

In his address to stakeholders, CEO Calvin Milbury noted that the venture capital investments make up only part of the mandate for NBIF, which also provides research vouchers to help companies work with university researchers.

“Last year, we invested $12.1 million into New Brunswick entrepreneurs and researchers,” said Milbury. “For every dollar we invested, an additional $4.24 was leveraged from other capital sources. That’s a $63.4 million impact.”

The 2017 fiscal year included the biennial Breakthru competition, in which NBIF provided $300,000 in funding to four new startups.  The total prize pot, fincluding funds and services from other sources, was more than $1 million.

The following are the investments in the 2016-17 fiscal year:

Venture Capital Fund

Smart Skin                           $497,884

Flixel                                    $400,000

Resson                                $308,981

Fundmetric                          $300,000

Precision Plasma                $250,000

RtTech                                $250,000

Sorcimed                             $250,000

Populus Global                    $200,000

Cyberpsyc                           $200,000

Knowcharge                        $175,000

Eigen                                   $100,000

Envenio                               $100,000

Itavio                                 $100,000

Porpoise                              $100,000

Sentrant                               $93,126

Inversa                                 $75,000

Xiplinx                                  $60,000

Agora                                   $20,000

Total                                     $3.48 million

Leveraging                           $24.2 million

Startup Investment Fund

Kognitiv Spark                     $200,000

Repable                               $150,000

Jaza Energy                        $100,000

Rise Home Design              $100,000

Patchell Brook                     $100,000

Black Arcs                           $100,000

Chinova Bioworks               $100,000

Newpy*                               $100,000

Pfera*                                  $100,000

Soma Detect*                      $50,000

WenTech*                            $50,000

Total                                     $1.15 million

Leveraging                           $2.7 million

* Awarded as part of the Breakthru competition.

The annual report also notes that the organization now has 45 companies in its portfolio, and lists the lifetime investment in each. Here are the top five in terms of investment levels:

RtTech Software                  $1,250,000

Inversa Systems                  $1,075,381

SmartSkin Tech                   $1,001,454

Populus Global                    $971,600

Gemba                                $750,000

 

Disclosure: NBIF is a client of Entrevestor. 

DemoCamp Set for Halifax Oct. 10

GKStopper, one of the productions on display at DemoCamp Halifax.

GKStopper, one of the productions on display at DemoCamp Halifax.

The countdown is on for DemoCamp Halifax, which is set to take place Oct. 10 at Pier 21 in Halifax.

DemoCamp is an opportunity for early-stage startups to present their projects to an audience of fellow innovators and potential investors. The catch? No PowerPoint presentations.

DemoCamp, which was first held in Halifax in 2011, is about getting your product to work in front of an audience.

Eight startups, almost all from the Halifax area, have already been confirmed to present and more may be added by the time the event takes place.

Debbie Fougere, Director of Product Management at STI technologies, will be giving this year’s lighting speech. Before joining the STI team, Fougere served as product manager with Smart Technologies, and has a background in product development and management with Eastlink and Intuit.  As Director of Product Management with STI Technologies, Fougere is a key driver of product and service innovation at STI, which was bought earlier this year by American multinationa QuintilesIMS. She is scheduled to speak at 7:30pm.

A spokeswoman for Volta Labs, this year’s organizer, says the startup house is awaiting confirmations from a few more companies to appear at the event.

Here are the ones scheduled so far:

Bereda Training -- Bereda gives endurance athletes a framework to easily build and update customized training plans in line with modern training theory.

Green Power Labs -- Predictive building control for operational HVAC management of commercial buildings.

Kilo Communications -- Existing metrics for tracking goalkeeper game performance in soccer provide a flawed measure of goalkeeper ability. Kilo has created GKStopper, an analytics app that records and analyzes goalkeeper strengths and weaknesses independently of overall team performance.

Kognitiv Spark – The Fredericton company is building a worker support platform that brings holographic augmented reality visualization to the field or job-site.

Ocean Executive -- Ocean Executive is a sales and procurement platform for the seafood industry, with a focus on seafood sustainability. Its matchmaking platform connects seafood buyers and seller from around the world.

Site 2020 -- Site 2020 Inc. is creating a traffic management solution for road construction sites that increases safety while reducing overhead costs.

Swept -- Swept develops software specifically for the commercial cleaning industry. Its software is designed for the unique challenges cleaning companies have when managing a large number of cleaners and clients with limited resources.

TripNinja -- Trip Ninja is a travel-booking service for people who want to travel to several different cities in a single trip and don’t care about the order.

DemoCamp is being held in the Kenneth C. Rowe Hall at Pier 21. Doors open at 6:00pm with opening remarks beginning at 6:30pm. You can find tickets here.

ScreenScape Cited for Sales Growth

ScreenScape Networks, the Charlottetown-based digital signage company, has been ranked as one of the fastest-growing software companies in the country by Canadian Business magazine.

With 591 per cent revenue growth in the five years to 2016, the company gained a ranking of No. 34 in the magazine’s list of the fastest-growing software companies in the country. ScreenScape placed No. 118 overall among the fastest-growing companies in Canada, and was named the second-fastest growing company in Atlantic Canada, exceeded only by Dartmouth-based Supplement King Canada, whose revenues rose 856 percent over the five-year period.

A pioneer in digital signage in public spaces, ScreenScape helps businesses and organizations that want to advertise on location-based TV monitors. It aims to offer an easy-to-use, cost-effective product that is well suited for business franchises such as chain stores.

“You can trace the last three years of progress to one moment in time,” said CEO Mark Hemphill in an interview. “In October 2014 we made a course correction and that’s the main reason we’ve grown so much in the last three years.”

That course correction involved introducing a smart device that simplified the process of setting up a TV monitor in a public space and putting content on it. When Hemphill started ScreenScape eight years ago, these monitors were expensive and cumbersome to set up and use.

Manifold Extends its Network with US$15M Series A

In autumn 2014, ScreenScape partnered with computer manufacturer Dell Inc. to produce a smart device that users could install to simplify the setup and management of the monitors. The device looks like a standard flash drive and plugs into a high-definition TV, allowing operators to control their advertising and other content from just about anywhere. It improved efficiency and flexibility for clients, who were able to test the product more easily and make faster purchase decisions.

“We changed our business model, so it was an easier buy for clients,” said Hemphill. “It meant we weren’t getting on planes and we had an easier sales process. . . . People started to trend toward ScreenScape more because it was more cost-effective.”

Another change in the company that took place in 2014 was the hiring of chief revenue officer Mark Binns, who had held several senior positions including CEO at Mobio in Vancouver. Hemphill said Binns is an expert in internet growth models, and added that the hiring helped with the growth.

Hemphill would not discuss how many customers the company now has. And when asked about the range of the company’s revenues, he said the Canadian Business survey required companies to be in the $2 million-$5 million range. ScreenScape, which received $6 million in funding from Montreal-based Hartco in 2011, has 19 employees, all but three of them based in P.E.I.

The Canadian Business survey only accounted for growth up to the end of 2016, but Hemphill said the growth rate has not slowed down at all in 2017.

“It’s very much a straight path, which is a tribute to our sales model,” he said. “We’re on a steady 30-40 per cent per year growth trajectory, including 2017.”

Ignite Fredericton Nabs 2 IEDC Awards

Ignite Fredericton announced Wednesday it has received two Excellence in Economic Development Awards from the Washington, D.C.-based International Economic Development Council.

The Fredericton economic development agency won Gold for the Fredericton Community Profile in the category of General Purpose Print Brochure, and Silver for Planet Hatch in the Entrepreneurship category.

The awards were presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held in Toronto.  This was the first time that IEDC held its conference in Canada. The IEDC is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind.

“On behalf of the IEDC Board of Directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations to Ignite Fredericton,” IEDC Board Chair Michael Langley said in a statement. “Not only did they work to provide a necessary service to their community; but also, their participation in the awards program sheds light on their stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark.”  

The Fredericton Community Profile is a booklet containing an economic snapshot of the community comprising various statistical data and value propositions to attractively position the region. In addition to a brief history of Fredericton, the information highlighted in the profile ranges from demographic data to awards and recognitions to education and lifestyle.

Planet Hatch, New Brunswick’s flagship accelerator, is an economic initiative led by Ignite Fredericton and Knowledge Park. These three outfits operate as a single organization but have three distinct brands and service offerings.  The startup suite of services runs from Planet Hatch -- offering a full range of programming designed to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into game-changing products and services in all sectors.

“These awards are considered leading economic development best practices among IEDC’s network of 5,000 members,” said Laurie Guthrie, Economic Development Specialist with Ignite Fredericton, who was present to accept the awards as an IEDC member. “It’s a major compliment to have our work recognized on this international stage.”

Hudson To Lead Sequence Bio’s SAB

Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner

Sequence Bio has named American scientist Kathy Hudson, who held a senior role at the National Institutes of Health during the Obama administration, as Chair of its Scientific Advisory Board.

The St. John’s company, which is researching the genetic traits of Newfoundlanders for drug research, said Tuesday that Hudson will offer expertise in population genomics projects. The company aims to improve the way new drugs are produced and create meaningful engagement with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hudson is the CEO of the People-Centered Research Foundation, which aims to accelerate clinical research for patients and providers. She previously spent eight years leading science policy, legislation, and communications and outreach efforts at the NIH during the presidency of Barack Obama.

Her duties included the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative, which intends to build a precision medicine cohort of 1 million Americans to research how to better treat diseases and patients based on their individual characteristics.

“Obama trusted her with his 1,000,000 Genome project,” said Sequence CEO Chris Gardner in a Facebook post. “Sequence Bio now trusts her with providing leadership and counsel as we tackle something equally ambitious.”

He added that he is “beyond honored to call Dr. Hudson a colleague and a friend.”

Villaume Brings Entrepreneurship Lessons from Africa to St. John's

In a statement, Gardner said Hudson is a leading expert in large-scale biomedical research projects and understanding the scientific, ethical and social implications of the work that Sequence Bio is carrying out.

Founded in 2013, Sequence works with partners to analyze vast sets of data from gene pools to get a deeper understanding of human biology and the treatment of diseases. The company aims to capitalize on Newfoundland’s genetic data. The island has a rare — possibly unique — genetic grouping of families that have lived on the island for generations and who have distinct genetic markers. Sequence has signed an agreement with Memorial University to use the university’s genetic databank.

Hudson will join fellow advisory board members Euan Ashley (Stanford University) and Pek Lum (CEO of Capella Bio) in helping guide Sequence Bio’s planned research and development with strategic advice and expert opinions.

“Sequence Bio has a one-of-kind opportunity to create a unique resource and platform for the development of drugs to improve human health, all while engaging meaningfully with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Hudson in the statement. “Sequence Bio has a unique approach to participant engagement and is committed to returning benefits to participants and the province, making it a very exciting scientific opportunity.”

In August 2016, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Data Collective led a US$3 million (C$3.9 million) seed round of funding in Sequence Bio, calling the company’s work in health data “a globally significant opportunity.”

The other investors in the round were: Killick Capital, the St. John’s investment fund headed by Mark Dobbin; Venture Newfoundland and Labrador, which is managed by Pelorus Venture Capital; and Klister Credit Corp., an Ontario investment fund headed by John H. Phillips.

Startup Weekends Set Across Region

Sally Ng, Startup Weekend Facilitator.

Sally Ng, Startup Weekend Facilitator.

As surely as it brings jack-o-lanterns and fresh apples, autumn is a season that brings us Startup Weekends. And this year, Startup Weekends – or events following a similar format – will be held across the region.

Springing from a Seattle-based organization, Startup Weekends are 54-hour events in which strangers come together on a Friday evening, pitch business ideas, and break into teams. On Sunday afternoon, each team pitches to see whose business has progressed the farthest.

Startup Weekends will be held in every province in the region in the coming months. Events in Holyrood, NL, and Charlottetown in November will be held in conjunction with Global Startup Week, when hundreds of Startup Weekends are held around the globe. Sally Ng, the Fredericton-based certified Startup Weekend facilitator and CEO at The Triple Effect, will facilitate the Charlottetown event on Nov. 17.

Here’s a list of the upcoming Startup Weekends, and other events that ask participants to form a company over a weekend.

Startup Weekends

Saint John

Sept .29-Oct 1

You can register here.

Contact: Stjohn@startupweekend.org

Halifax

Oceans Edition

You can register here.

Sydney

Oct. 20-22

Contact: Sydney@startupweekend.org

Fredericton

Social Impact Theme

Nov. 3-5

You can register here.

Contact: NB@Startupweekendend.org

Newfoundland and Labrador

Nov 10-12

You can register here.

Charlottetown

Nov 17-19

Contact: PEI@Startupweekend.org

You can register here.

Mashup Weekends

These events, organized by by Mashup Labs, tend to target rural entrepreneurs.

Port Hawkesbury, NS

Ocean

Theme

Sept. 22-23

Eastern Shore ​Nova Scotia

Oct. 13-14

You can find information and forms on Mashup Weekends here

Propel Names 28 to Fall 2017 Cohort

Propel ICT, Atlantic Canada’s startup accelerator, has announced the 28 companies that will make up its autumn 2017 cohort, more than one-third of them from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The organization today revealed its latest cohort, including the five companies that will enter the Build program, which helps companies with products in the market to scale their businesses. The Build cohort, which will be held at the Venn Centre in Moncton, includes one company from outside the region, SnapSuite.io of Toronto, as well as participants from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

For the fall cohort, Propel will hold Launch programs at PlanetHatch in Fredericton, Volta Labs in Halifax and Common Ground in St. John’s. The Newfoundland and Labrador capital will host the largest intake, with 10 companies.  The Launch program, which includes companies form all four Atlantic Provinces, tends to help position early stage companies to enter the market and attract investment.

Startups will participate in 12 weeks of intensive programming, with startup experts like Dom Coryell of GimmeGrowth (San Francisco), pitch coach Rachael Holmes (New York City), Greg Poirier and Jon McGinley of CloudKettle (Halifax), David Dufresne of Panache Ventures (Montreal), and others from across Atlantic Canada and North America.

 “We are excited to see the early stage startup community across Atlantic Canada continue to strengthen,” said Propel Interim CEO Trevor MacAusland in a statement. “The selected cohort includes some very strong candidates that are well positioned to take full-advantage of our programming. We’re starting to see Launch startups that have early signs of revenue and Build companies with significant customer bases already in place.”

The members of the Fall 2017 cohort are:

Launch -- Fredericton

Cradle Technology Design (Charlottetown) – BioTech;

Proofific (Fredericton) – Workflow Automation;

Newpy (Saint John) – Online Marketplace;

Night Puck Technology Inc. (Saint John) – Sports Tech;

Parental Marketplace (Rothesay, NB) – Online Marketplace;

Passiv (Fredericton) – FinTech;

Unicare Home Health Care Inc. (Miramichi, NB) – HealthTech;

Launch -- Halifax (All are based in Halifx):

HiveTrade -- FinTech;

SeaSmart Technologies – IoT;

Skyline – AI & IoT;

Virtus VR – VR/AR/MR;

UpFront Tickets - Blockchain;

Launch -- St. John’s

ABA Access Inc. -- EdTech;

AndesVR -- VR;

BlueBrick Design & Development -- EdTech;

CoLab Software – Workflow Automation;

Creatros - AI;

Cyno - HealthTech;

Hashtag Tutors -- EdTech;

Proximas Technologies -- Mobile;

SafeAlert -- Mobile;

Zambara Inc. -- FinTech;

Build -- Moncton

Guild – Bedford, NS;

SomaDetect – Fredericton;

Securicy – Sydney, NS;

SnapSuite.io – Toronto;

TripNinja  – Halifax;

 

Disclosure: Propel ICT is a client of Entrevestor. 

Breton SmarTek Extends its Reach

Four years after launching its first app for firefighters in Cape Breton, Breton SmarTek offers a suite of four products and is eyeing expansion into new sectors and jurisdictions.

The Sydney company came to light a few years ago when it was a prizewinner in the I-3 competition in 2013-14. At that time, it was marketing FireQ — a communications app that would allow for interaction between firefighters and their central dispatch. The product aimed to quickly let a volunteer fire department send a message out to its members saying that there was an emergency, and for the firefighters to indicate whether or not they were in a position to respond.

Since then, the company has added to its list of products:

• CareQ allows care facilities to communicate with employees during an emergency;

• PageQ is a dispatch relay service that can send text and audio messages from dispatch centres directly to emergency service providers and let them respond;

• EQ Enhanced Notification System provides municipalities, facilities and other groups with the ability to execute an emergency response plan quickly and efficiently.

The common theme is that Breton Smartek helps with the planning for emergencies, and once the emergency happens it helps people in authority work with their crews with optimum speed.

“The system allows you to pre-plan,” Ian McVicar, the director of operations, said in an interview. “When the flames are fanning out throughout the building, nobody keeps a cool head. We help facilities to do the right planning so if an emergency happens everyone is prepared.”

A long-standing volunteer firefighter, McVicar said the company has grown as executives in new sectors become aware of the company’s capabilities and ask it to build a product for that industry. For example, the FireQ product had been adopted by fire services across Nova Scotia a couple of years ago, and nursing homes learned of it. They wanted their own product.

That led to the launch of CareQ 18 months ago, and it is now in 23 care facilities across Nova Scotia and expanding its footprint. McVicar said CareQ now accounts for about 20 per cent of the company’s business, but he’s optimistic that number will grow.

“We’ve just put our first one in New Brunswick,” said McVicar. “Something that’s always a challenge in small business is getting the word out to the market. There’s nothing like this out there, but how do you get the word out there? Education in the marketplace is a big thing for us.”

McVicar, who founded the company with partner Ken Grisham, has been thinking a lot lately about getting the word out. The company is working on growing beyond Atlantic Canada and into new sectors. The company has been talking with airports and with a major 911 centre as possible customers.

Breton Smartek, which now has two employees and employs a contractor, has never raised capital, but McVicar said he is now considering it as the costs of expansion across the continent would be substantial.

“To get across Canada and into the U.S., it will cost a bit of capital, so we’re thinking of it,” he said. “Your overhead just continues to expand as you want to bring in more clients.”

McCrae Back in the Mentorship Game

Gillian McCrae: 'Everything in entrepreneurship is hard work.'

Gillian McCrae: 'Everything in entrepreneurship is hard work.'

Returning to a task she loves, Gillian McCrae is once again working in the accelerator world, serving as Venture Manager at Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic.

The former entrepreneur-in-residence of Propel ICT is now hard at work fielding interest in CDL from companies in Atlantic Canada and in such locations as New England and Toronto. She and the team are preparing for the opening of the first cohort in December, and responding to criticism that there are too few women in the group of mentors.

Known as a demanding program, the CDL began five years ago at University of Toronto, and will soon offer programs in five cities, including Halifax. About 20 teams will enter the first Atlantic cohort, which will meet five times in seven months. The mentors and founders agree on three tasks the team must carry out between meetings, and only those judged to be meeting their milestones will continue with the program. In an interview, McCrae said only about half of the companies are still there at the end.

“But everything in entrepreneurship is tough – it’s hard work,” she said with a laugh. “And many companies are enthusiastic about the format and are keen to get into a room with that calibre of business judgment.”

The judgment in question belongs to the CDL mentors, termed fellows and associates, who help the entrepreneurs set and reach their objectives.

The CDL-Atlantic list of mentors was criticized last week for containing very few women. Of the 10 fellows, who make the greatest commitment regarding mentoring and investing in the new companies, none are female. Of the 14 associates, only three are women.

McCrae said the mentors were chosen for their experience. “There’s no question there’s room for improvement in fostering greater gender equality in our mentorship program,” she said.

Manifold Extends Network with US$15M Series A

The organization has also said it is still at work attracting mentors, and McCrae said the issue is being addressed. The announcement of the mentors list was preceded, on Sept. 18, by a meeting hosted by herself and Melody Pardoe, COO of Halifax startup house Volta Labs. Attendees included senior female executives and founders who discussed how to boost gender diversity and equality.

“We need people who have built, scaled and in some cases exited companies,” she said of the mentors, who include well-known figures like John Risley and Ken Rowe, as well as others from across the region.

McCrae did not come out and say it, but there’s no doubt deep pockets are also desirable. When asked if fellows must be wealthy, she said they must be “actively looking to make investments”.

Mentors are particularly important in the CDL model, both in terms of mentoring and investment. CDL does not focus on formal programming or classroom learning. The mentors help founders crystalize three key objectives to complete over a two-month sprint. When the cohort convenes again, accountability is high priority, completions of objectives are reviewed and new objectives are established.

“The mentors ultimately decide the companies that get through the program,” McCrae said.

She said that CDL has proven its model.  Since it began at UofT, graduates have attracted equity investment that valued their companies at more than $1.4 billion in total.  

Given its ties to universities, the CDL is looking for companies that are commercializing “deep science”. In other words, the group aims to work with companies whose products were developed in rigorous research in innovative fields like robotics, data analytics and artificial intelligence. The Atlantic cohort will emphasize the “blue-green technologies”, meaning cleantech, oceans tech and agtech.

As well as McCrae, the CDL-Atlantic team is being led by Louis Beaubien, Acting Director of the Rowe School of Business and Jeff Larson, Dal’s head of innovation. Jesse Rogers, CEO of Volta, is an Associate Director.

As the Atlantic region develops expertise in fostering blue-green technologies, CDL in Toronto is focused on artificial intelligence and quantum machine learning. CDL-West in British Columbia specializes in biomedical technologies. CDL in the Rockies focuses on clean energy, while Montreal is focused on artificial intelligence and data science. Companies working outside these areas of expertise are accepted at some sites.

McCrae said CDL-Atlantic is still taking applications. Anyone interested in participating in the CDL accelerator, should contact McCrae at gillian@creativedestructionlab.com. Applications close September 30.

32 Finalists in EY Atlantic Competition

The global business service consultancy EY will name the Atlantic winners of its Entrepreneur of the Year competition next Thursday in Moncton.

EY has selected 32 finalists in eight categories, who will be showcased at a gala at the Delta Beausejour on Oct. 5. The winners will move on to the national competition. Tickets for the Moncton event are available here.

“Although Atlantic is one of the smaller regions, our entrepreneurs certainly have no less drive,” says Gina Kinsman, Entrepreneur Of The Year Atlantic program Director. “This year’s finalists dare to dream big and aren’t letting uncertainty stop them from stepping on the gas. They’re forward-thinking, developing solutions to problems we don’t know exist. I’m proud to have them represent the Atlantic region.”

Here are the finalists for the Atlantic region, including, where possible, our coverage of the companies:

Business Services

Chorus Aviation Inc. | Dartmouth

Joe Randell

LuminUltra Technologies | Fredericton

Pat Whalen

Professional Quality Assurance Ltd. | Fredericton

Keith McIntosh

Business-to-Business Products and Services

Alpha Chemical Limited | Dartmouth

Paul Rawding

Coach Atlantic Transportation Group | Charlottetown

Adam Doiron, Michael Cassidy

Fishermen's Premium Atlantic Lobster Inc. | North East Point

Erica Smith

 Business-to-Consumer Products and Services

Coyle Group of Companies - Keary Coyle Motors Ltd. | Saint John

Keary Coyle

Distillerie Fils du Roy Inc. | Petit-Paquetville

Sébastien Roy

Supplement King Canada | Dartmouth

Roger King

Emerging Entrepreneur

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. | Dartmouth

George Palikaras

MTI Raises $8.3M, led by Radar Capital

PitchPerfect Software, Inc d/b/a Proposify | Halifax

Kevin Springer, Kyle Racki

Proposify's Recurring Revenues Soared in Early 2016

Ray Agency | St. John's

Jenny Smith

The Money Finder | Halifax

Stephanie Holmes-Winton

The Money Finder Closed $1.75M Funding Round in February

Hospitality and Tourism

Institut Figurra | Dieppe

Chantal Chiasson

PAVIA Gallery - Espresso Bar & Cafe | Herring Cove

Victoria Foulger

Upstreet Craft Brewing | Charlottetown

Mitch Cobb

Information Technology

Prima Information Solutions Inc. | St. John's

Patsy Tremblett -Di Nillo

Trihedral Engineering Limited | Bedford

Barry Baker, Glenn Wadden

Vimsoft | Dieppe

Mitch Manuel

Manufacturing and Construction

MQM Quality Manufacturing Ltd. | Tracadie-Sheila

Serge Theriault

Mrs. Dunsters | Sussex

Blair Hyslop, Rosalyn Hyslop

Sunsel - Andra | Dartmouth

Julian Taylor      

Trout River Industries Inc. | Coleman

Darrin Mitchell, Harvey Stewart

Technology and Communications

B4Checkin | Halifax

Saar Fabrikant

B4Checkin Partners with Agilysys

Nautel | Hacketts Cove

Kevin Rodgers

Nautel Turns to Rocket Science

ShiftCentral Inc. | Moncton

Mario Thériault

Solace Power | Mount Pearl

Kris McNeil

Solace Lands $2.8M for Lab Expansion

8 Semi-Finalists In BioPort Contest

BioNova has announced eight semi-finalists for the 2017 edition of The BioInnovation Challenge, or BIC, the pitching event at BioPort Atlantic in Halifax on Oct. 17 and 18.

Scott Moffitt, Managing Director of Nova Scotia’s life sciences organization, announced the semi-finalists last month. (We were on our annual summer break when the announcement came out, so we’re getting around to publishing their names now.)

The semi-finalists will receive pitch training in the lead-up to the semi-final run off, which will be held at the first day of BioPort Atlatnic, BioNova’s annual conference, on Oct. 17. The top three presenters will then pitch to the judges and the conference audience on Oct. 18. The winner will be announced that afternoon.

The BIC is held in collaboration with BioNB and PEI BioAlliance, which promote the life sciences sector in NB and PEI respectively.

“We’re very excited about this year’s BioInnovation Challenge,” said Moffitt. “We have a number of brand new semi-finalists, which shows that, year over year, this region is producing great life science ideas and great innovators.”

The semi-finalists (with links to Entrevestor’s previous coverage of some companies) are:

Tieös Pharmaceuticals Inc., New Brunswick

Neck Tronics Inc., Nova Scotia

Neck Tronics Plans Launch This Year

iPSNP Computing Inc., New Brunswick

IPSNP: Using Data To Fight Global Hunger

Heterogeneous Nanosystems Ltd., Nova Scotia

Zecken Laboratories, New Brunswick

• ADDtext Inc., Nova Scotia

ADDtext Aims To Help Troubled Youth

Pfera Inc., New Brunswick

Pfera Eyes Pilots at PEI Farms 

Canuevo Biotech Inc., New Brunswick

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

BioNova said 38 companies from the three Maritime provinces have entered BIC since 2011, each receiving significant training to help position them for investment attraction. As of 2016, BIC had provided about $250,000 in funds and in-kind services to support life sciences companies in the region.

Last year, the competition was won by MacKenzie Healthcare Technologies of Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S. It has developed ParaGlide, a device that allows wheelchair users to move from a slouching to upright position by using a remote control that operates a motor-driven belt behind his or her back.

BioPort Atlantic, the region’s main conference for the life sciences sector, will take place at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel on Oct. 17 and 18. You can register here

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 2016, 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, sanitation and agriculture 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.”)

He also co-led 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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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