KW-based Pout Bought by Everalbum

Laura Smith and Riley Donelson

Laura Smith and Riley Donelson

Pout, the Waterloo Region company whose app allows people to explore the fashion industry, has been bought by San Francisco-based Everalbum for an undisclosed sum.

The company’s co-founders, engineer Laura Smith and designer Riley Donelson, will join the Everalbum team in Kitchener and continue to grow the Pout brand on a global scale.

“We’re proud that this acquisition continues our relationship with the Waterloo tech community,” said Donelson, in a statement distributed by the Waterloo Accelerator Centre. “Pout joins a list of successful startups emanating from University of Waterloo, Velocity, Communitech, and the Accelerator Centre. We’re excited to continue the movement started by our tech peers, like Google, Kik, and Shopify, in establishing a Canadian ecosystem which we are proud to be a part of.”

Smith and Donelson started Pout to develop and foster a community of people who are passionate about beauty and fashion. Their app allows users to explore, discover and share their experiences, styles and techniques through photos and videos. It has gained traction, striking a chord with both users and large brands in the fashion industry.

Pout began in the University of Waterloo’s Velocity program, and subsequently joined the second cohort of Accelerator Centre’s AC JumpStart program to help grow and scale their business to a broader audience.

Everalbum is a blend of a productivity-app and a cloud-storage solution that allows people to store and share their photos and videos forever – the modern equivalent of a family photo album.

The acquisition process began when Donelson traveled to San Francisco to explore funding opportunities, and met Everalbum Co-founder Andrew Dudum through a mutual friend. They quickly discovered they had common ambitions and goals and stayed in touch over the next few months.

Dudum mentioned Everalbum’s desire to establish a second office in Waterloo Region due to the strength of the ecosystem and the talent pool. Everalbum moved into Kitchener’s Lang Tannery building in November and talks about acquiring Pout quickly ensued, said the statement.

“This acquisition is part of a company-wide effort to build the most seamless, mobile first photo experience on iOS and Android,” said Dudum. “Today, we strengthen that ability by adding some of the best design and engineering minds to our team. Pout’s vision for a community of fashion conscious users was to help them explore their unique sense of fashion through photos.”

KW-based Pout Bought by Everalbum

Laura Smith and Riley Donelson

Laura Smith and Riley Donelson

Pout, the Waterloo Region company whose app allows people to explore the fashion industry, has been bought by San Francisco-based Everalbum for an undisclosed sum.

The company’s co-founders, engineer Laura Smith and designer Riley Donelson, will join the Everalbum team in Kitchener and continue to grow the Pout brand on a global scale.

“We’re proud that this acquisition continues our relationship with the Waterloo tech community,” said Donelson, in a statement distributed by the Waterloo Accelerator Centre. “Pout joins a list of successful startups emanating from University of Waterloo, Velocity, Communitech, and the Accelerator Centre. We’re excited to continue the movement started by our tech peers, like Google, Kik, and Shopify, in establishing a Canadian ecosystem which we are proud to be a part of.”

Smith and Donelson started Pout to develop and foster a community of people who are passionate about beauty and fashion. Their app allows users to explore, discover and share their experiences, styles and techniques through photos and videos. It has gained traction, striking a chord with both users and large brands in the fashion industry.

Pout began in the University of Waterloo’s Velocity program, and subsequently joined the second cohort of Accelerator Centre’s AC JumpStart program to help grow and scale their business to a broader audience.

Everalbum is a blend of a productivity-app and a cloud-storage solution that allows people to store and share their photos and videos forever – the modern equivalent of a family photo album.

The acquisition process began when Donelson traveled to San Francisco to explore funding opportunities, and met Everalbum Co-founder Andrew Dudum through a mutual friend. They quickly discovered they had common ambitions and goals and stayed in touch over the next few months.

Dudum mentioned Everalbum’s desire to establish a second office in Waterloo Region due to the strength of the ecosystem and the talent pool. Everalbum moved into Kitchener’s Lang Tannery building in November and talks about acquiring Pout quickly ensued, said the statement.

“This acquisition is part of a company-wide effort to build the most seamless, mobile first photo experience on iOS and Android,” said Dudum. “Today, we strengthen that ability by adding some of the best design and engineering minds to our team. Pout’s vision for a community of fashion conscious users was to help them explore their unique sense of fashion through photos.”

ESentire Raises US$19.5M Round

J. Paul Haynes

J. Paul Haynes

Cambridge, Ont.-based cybersecurity company eSentire has raised US$19.5 million (C$26.8 million) in a round of funding co-led by eastern U.S. fund Edison Partners and Toronto-based Georgian Partners.

ESentire, which protects mid-size businesses against cyberattacks using a combination of automation and 24/7 human analysis, put out a release on Wednesday announcing the raise and stating that the funds would be used for launching in to new locations and verticals.

Both Georgian Partners and Edison Partners had participated in eSentire’s previous Series C raise of $14 million in September, 2014. Other investors in both rounds are returning investors Cisco Investments of San Jose, Calif., and Northleaf Ventures Catalyst Fund of Toronto. A new  investor in the latest round is Information Venture Partners II, of Toronto.

Vidyard Raises $35M C Round

Founded in 2001, eSentire currently protects over $2.2 trillion in the assets for more than 500 clients. The company provides a service called Continuous Advanced Threat Protection, which monitors and solves cyber threats in real time and has been noted as a best practices framework by analyst firm Gartner Research.

CEO J. Paul Haynes stated that it is the company’s surveillance team that sets them apart from competitors.

“We offer clients real eyes on glass monitoring 24×7 and it works,” said Haynes, “This investment recognizes our success and will help us to continue to expand our reach to protect even more clients.”

Haynes adds that there is growing demand for cybersecurity services: “The business community is coming to terms with the new requirement for cybersecurity and the level of protection needed to defend themselves, and eSentire is ready to deliver in this environment where hyper-vigilance married to advanced technology makes the difference.”

In June 2015, eSentire opened its European headquarters in Cork, Ireland, with plans to significantly build their team in the region. In November, the company came in 42nd place in the Deloitte Fast 50, a list which assesses revenue growth of Canadian companies over a four-year span. The company had achieved 202% percent growth over that period.

Lenard Marcus, partner at Edison Partners, said in the statement that eSentire outshone the vast majority of investment opportunities with its impressive year over year growth.

“ESentire and its leadership team continue to prove their ability to innovate and effectively mitigate threats for its clients and its apparent their success isn’t slowing down,” he said.

The Impact of the I-3 Competition

Peter Vinall, left, and Robert Richardson of Sustane Technology show  their hardware.

Peter Vinall, left, and Robert Richardson of Sustane Technology show their hardware.

The great and the good gathered at the Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax Wednesday evening to witness a substantial exercise in seed funding.

Officially, they were at the awards gala for the I-3 Technology Startup Competition, watching Sustane Technologies of Chester win $225,000 for several awards, including the grand prize.

But on a pragmatic level, what they saw was the culmination of a process in which 15 young companies from across the province received at least part of the money and expertise to launch successfully.

This sort of competition has become an annual fixture on the Atlantic Canadian startup community’s calendar. Innovacorp, the Nova Scotia innovation agency, holds its biennial I-3 event to conclude in every even year.

And across the Bay of Fundy, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation stages its Breakthru competition, always winding up in an odd year.

Read the Details of the I-3 Winners

There are two effects of these competitions — one very focused and the other much broader.

First, there is the funding of young companies.

Both competitions hand out several hundred thousand dollars in cash and in-kind services. It was $950,000 in the case of I-3.

What that means is that a handful of companies will receive a portion of the resources they need in their first year or two.

Sustane Technologies gets validation and $225,000 for being selected the winner of the South Shore zone, the waste diversion tech, and the overall I-3 winner.

And $100,000 in cash and services will go to the other four zone winners: Lootbag of Antigonish; Airline Employee Travel Inc. of Elmsdale; Site 2020 Inc. of Halifax; and Orenda Software Solutions of Sydney. Ten other companies each received $15,000 to $40,000. It will help.

Consider the regional winners from the 2013-14 I-3 competition. Grand prize winner Heimdall Networks, which won $225,000, has changed its name to Mimir Networks, but the digital security company has continued to grow in the past two years.

The other regional winners have gone in the right direction. Spring Loaded Technology of Dartmouth is gearing to launch its knee brace that strengthens and stabilizes the joint, and CEO Chris Cowper-Smith won the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur’s Award.

Cellufuel, the South Shore winner two years ago, announced a $5-million funding round last summer to finance the construction of its demonstration plant at the ReNova Scotia Bioenergy site in Brooklyn.

So the funding helped the winners. But these contests do serve a broader purpose. They help to get potential entrepreneurs, people with ideas but limited business experience, out of their basement and into the arena.

Both Breakthru and I-3 offer boot camps to entrants. That helps people with good ideas to move forward, and those with bad ideas to move on quickly. It’s difficult to over-emphasize the importance of weeding out bad ideas fast.

Will all of the winners succeed? Probably not. It’s simply the nature of the startup model that a lot of these companies, even those with great ideas, stumble and fall.

But Sustane and the other winners now have the chance to at the very least flesh out a solid business plan and improve their chances of success.

(Disclaimer: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.)

CareGuide Invests in Qimple

Toronto-based CareGuide, which owns several websites that help people find care-givers, has made a strategic investment in Moncton-based recruitment technology company Qimple.

Qimple Founder and CEO Yves Boudreau confirmed the investment in an email on Thursday. The companies did not reveal the value of the investment.

Qimple, which is a graduate of the 500 Startups program in Silicon Valley, makes the hiring process easier for recruiters and applicants due to its applicant tracking system and proprietary candidate-scoring tool. The company also operates a range of job boards and hiring platform, including the Careguide job board and Entrevestor Job Board (a partnership between Entrevestor and Qimple).

Last year, Qimple closed a $600,000 equity funding round from such investors as the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation; BDC Capital; Dan Martell, founder of Clarity in Moncton; Halifax entrepreneur and investor Patrick Hankinson; and Sanjay Singhal, the CEO of Toronto’s The company also received US$100,000 investment on joining the 500 Startups accelerator.

CareGuide operates a portfolio of care matchmaking services, including,,,, and The company has raised $5.5 million in equity and debt in the past two years, including equity investment from about 70 individual investors.

CareGuide said last year it would use the financing to invest in developing new growth channels, mobile applications, and to explore strategic acquisitions. Last August, it acquired

Sustane Technologies Wins I-3

Robert Richardson, left, appears with Innovacorp Chair Rod Burgar, Peter Vinall, and Innovacorp CEO Stephen Duff.

Robert Richardson, left, appears with Innovacorp Chair Rod Burgar, Peter Vinall, and Innovacorp CEO Stephen Duff.

Sustane Technologies Inc., a Chester-based cleantech company, was named the winner Wednesday of the biennial I-3 Technology Start-up Competition, which recognizes the best new innovative business in Nova Scotia.

The company, which received a total of $225,000 in the competition, developed a system that completely recycles municipal solid waste streams, eliminating the need for landfills.

Innovacorp, an early-stage venture capital firm owned by the provincial government, put on the sixth biennial I-3 Competition, which promotes ideas, innovation and implementation for Nova Scotia tech companies.

Read More Details on the I-3 Winners

Sustane Technologies’ Co-Founder and CTO Javier De La Fuente created a technology that completely separates garbage into recyclables and green energy (for instance, biomass). By using Sustane, cities can save money and abolish landfills, which now contain about 2 billion tons of garbage.

“Nothing is wasted in our system,” Sustane Co-Founder and President Peter Vinall said during his pitch at I-3.

Fuente is a serial inventor, while Vinall worked in pulp, paper and bioenergy production. The third Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer, Robert Richardson is a trained accountant and seasoned businessman in real estate.

Sustane received a total of $225,000 in cash, investment and in-kind services from I-3. It received a $100,000 investment from Innovacorp for winning the overall first prize the I-3 Competition; $100,000 for first place win in Zone 2 (Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth Counties); and $25,000 for first place in the Waste Diversion Technology Sector. Sustane intends to use the money to help launch the business and open its first plant.

“The money is great, but exposure is something you can’t put a price tag on,” said Sustane business development team member Kevin Cameron.

Some 188 startups applied to I-3 in September. A panel of judges from the entrepreneurial community then chose the startups that they believe can move forward with their business ideas. The chosen companies went through an accelerator bootcamp to teach them about moving their startups forward.

More panels of judges then decided which startups placed first and second in the five provincial geographic zones and first place in the six sectors, including IT and Clean Tech. I-3 added two new sectors this year: Waste Diversion Technology Sector and Agricultural Technology Sector.

Zone winners receive $100,000, second-place zone winners receive $40,000, and sector winners receive $25,000. All these prizes comprise cash and in-kind services.

First-place winners in both zones and sectors then compete for the top prize of the $100,000 seed investment from Innovacorp.

The winners of the zones are: Lootbag (Zone 1: Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough Counties); Sustane Technologies Inc. (Zone 2 and Waste Diversion Technology Sector); Airline Employee Travel Inc. (Zone 3: Digby, Annapolis, Kings and Hants Counties); Site 2020 Inc. (Zone 4: Halifax Regional Municipality); and Orenda Software Solutions (Zone 5: Victoria, Cape Breton, Inverness and Richmond Counties).

In the sector categories, the winners are:  Turbulent Research Inc. (Ocean Technology); SATELLIGENT Telemetry Solutions Inc. (Clean Technology);  Zora (Information Technology); Treventis Diagnostics Ltd. (Life Sciences); and Allendale Technologies (Agricultural Technology).

[Disclaimer: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.]

Asiron Joins Masitek to Head Sales

Pablo Asiron and Tracy Clinch

Pablo Asiron and Tracy Clinch

Pablo Asiron, the former CEO of award-winning Industrial Internet of Things company RtTech Software of Moncton, has joined another Moncton-based business-to-business enterprise Masitek Instruments Inc. as executive vice-president of global business development.

Asiron was the founding CEO of RtTech, whose software helps industrial plants operate more efficiently.

During his tenure, the company raised more than $3 million in venture capital, and received a range of awards, including Startup Canada’s national award for innovation in December.

RtTech, Gillis Win at National Awards

Due to a disagreement at the board level, Asiron and RtTech parted ways late last year and Asiron has now joined Masitek.

The five-year-old company’s hardware helps food and beverage producers prevent damage to containers and other accidents that can jam and delay a production line.

“The RtTech board and I had a bit of a difference of opinion about the direction for RtTech, and so it was decided that I should look for new challenges,” said Asiron in an interview Wednesday. He said he was lucky enough to find a company in Moncton that played to his strengths — selling technology to global industrial companies.

Masitek has developed hardware that detects pressure points and logjams on the production lines of food and beverage producers. The system sends sensors within a bottle or can through the production line and finds where problems are.

The readings can be viewed in real time on a mobile device, and since the results are sent to the cloud, they can be read by an operator or executive anywhere in the world. It can also draw comparisons between data from various plants in different countries.

The product is already being used by some of the largest food and beverage producers in the world, including Nestlé, Carlsberg, AB Inbev, Unilever and Diageo.

“Our global customer base has increased tremendously over the last several months,” said Masitek president and CEO Tracy Clinch.

“Masitek will continue to invest in new technology and key personnel to strengthen our position as the global leader in virtual remote sensing technology.”

Masitek began when Moncton venture capital fund Technology Venture Corporation had patented intellectual property for the device and wanted to develop a company around it.

TVC president and CEO Susan Hicks brought in Clinch, who had experience with Moosehead and McCain Foods, to develop the company. TVC is an investor in the company.

Now that the company has traction with so many multi-nationals, it has brought in Asiron to develop its global business. It already has 13 sales partners in 12 countries, and now Asiron’s job will be to further develop the global business. That will include bringing on new clients, and expanding with existing customers so that the products are used in several of their plants.

Asiron said he has known the company for several years and is excited about selling technology he describes as fantastic.

“I had interest from national and multi-national companies to come join them, but I wanted to stay in Moncton,” said Asiron, who is a native of Pamplona, Spain. “It was crazy that I found this great opportunity right here in Moncton.” 

Louisbourg Seafoods Launches Sea++

The fishing industry and technological innovation are being brought together in a competition that aims to solve problems for the fishing industry in Cape Breton and beyond.

Louisbourg Seafoods has launched a two-month contest, SEA++, that asks innovators to solve one or more of five problems.

The issues raised are diverse and cover issues of sustainability, safety and the business side of the industry.

Entrants are asked to look at improving mobile and fixed fishing gear, to solve an issue in aquaculture, to improve sales and marketing, or to solve an issue in the management of a fishing enterprise.

Entrants have until Feb. 9 to register and can do so here.

Closing the Startup-Corporate Gap

Staff at the Louisbourg Seafoods group of companies honed the contest concept over several months. They initially thought of running a hackathon-type event, in which computer programmers and others gather over several days to solve problems.

But they eventually fixed on the contest format, named for the computer programming language C++.

“We’ve always talked about the challenges that exist…We’ve been living with these challenges for some time,” said Adam Mugridge, a company manager and a marine biologist.

“The fishing industry is not just about going to catch fish. It’s a lot more than that.”  

The contest opened on Jan. 26 and so far, entrants are as diverse as the problems. The local startup and tech sectors were invited to participate, but the contest is open to anyone.

Winners will receive $5,000 in prizes. All participants will be given the chance to conceptualize and develop their solutions with the help of industry experts.

The organizers believe the burgeoning startup and tech communities in Cape Breton have the potential to revolutionize traditional processes.

The seafood industry remains one of Cape Breton’s strongest sectors. Louisbourg Seafoods states that in Nova Scotia, the seafood industry earns roughly $1 billion in annual revenue.

With new regulations and customer demands creating new challenges for the seafood industry, innovation, creativity and sustainability are increasingly important, said company manager and marine biologist Glen Fewer.

Mugridge said other industries, including the medical, agricultural and arts and crafts sectors, have now expressed an interest in running similar challenges.

Ideas submitted to the Sea++ contest will be pitched on March 12. The finale will be in April.

Proposify’s Recurring Sales up 1500%

The Proposify Team

The Proposify Team

Proposify, a software-as-service company that streamlines the proposal process, saw a 1500 percent increase in recurring revenue and 709 per cent increase in customers during 2015.

The Halifax-based company’s software simplifies and enhances the process of writing proposals. It streamlines the process in the cloud with online proposal design templates that can easily be customized with text, images, videos, and charts.

With 1,616 paid customers by the end of 2015, Proposify started to see different kinds of users—not just small businesses or marketing agencies. Bigger corporations have begun to look into Proposify to see how it can work for them.

With new customers came new revenue. Proposify increased its monthly recurring revenue to $66,443 by the end of 2015—making it cashflow positive.

Proposify's Unlikely Partnership Works

Proposify founders Kevin Springer and Kyle Racki owned Headspace Design, a Halifax-based website design firm, before beginning Proposify. Most of the Proposify team come from marketing agency backgrounds, where proposals are the main method of generating new business.

With a background as a designer and in his experience running a marketing agency, Racki found that creating a good-looking, comprehensive proposal could take hours and lots of design and copy work.

Responsible for sales, Springer said that he often wished he already had a seamless, easy-to-use system that created beautifully designed proposals to get them to clients quickly. 

“That’s why we originally created this: to scratch our own itch,” Springer said. “We realized early on that why people hadn’t created a robust, powerful, editor in the browser is because it’s friggin’ hard.”

The Proposify team grew from four to eight in 2015. A full-time customer support person, more developers and a marketing manager means that the company can reach more customers to understand their needs, and in turn constantly improve the product.

The templates allow users to move around text boxes (not easy on other proposal templates) and include sample text within the templates for different service offerings to help users begin thinking about how they can pitch themselves to their potential clients.

“The more the customers use it, the more we understand how they’re using it, what their needs are,” Proposify marketing manager Jennifer Faulkner said. “Where else could we apply this in other places?”

Proposify reacted by creating user roles and permissions, which allow the project manager to lock parts of the proposal for the person or team in charge of creating that specific part of the proposal. At a big company, many people may work on one proposal, but the project manager wouldn’t want all team members to have access to all parts of the proposal because it risks tampering with other people’s work and helps maintain brand standards.

“Our initial focus was [agencies] because we’re all from the agency background and we know the pain point and the market is huge, but we haven’t even scratched the surface,” Springer said.

Proposify customers have three choices for monthly payments, depending on the amount of users and how many proposals they send out: Tall, which is $25 per month; Grande, which is $50 per month; and Venti, which is $100 per month. If the customer signs up for a year, they receive a 20 per cent discount. Custom plans for larger companies are also available.

 “We’re seeing such an uptake in the product, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop,” Springer said.

BDO Seeks Startups for VC Event

BDO Canada is looking for startups from across the country interested in pitching to venture capital investors at an event in Toronto on March 8.

The business consultancy and accounting firm is seeking applications for its first investor pitch day, which it calls Connecting with Venture Capitalists: Face to Face. Applications are open until Feb. 10 for the event, which will feature 10 startups pitching to at least four VC funds.

“We’re looking for some of the best startups across the country to be represented at this event, including both seed capital early stage startups as well as those more established,” said BDO Partner Dan Jennings.

“It is our hope that from all the startups applying across the country, we will arrive at a slate of 10 companies pitching that will be representative of the dynamic and high growth potential startups that we know exist in all regions of Canada.”

The successful applicants will pitch to at least four VCs: OMERS Ventures, Real Ventures, Tandem Expansion Fund and Whitecap Venture Partners.  The organizers are talking to more funders that may also join the event.

Companies are invited to apply here and to convey their business strategy. 

BluePoint Says Kindera Sales Rising

The story of how Antoine Boucher developed a device to protect children and teens from Internet threats is a familiar one to many parents.

Boucher, the Co-Founder and CEO of Kitchener-based BluePoint Technology, heard his young sons giggling under the dining table one day. Wondering what the big joke was, he investigated and found them watching something “really questionable” on a laptop.

He began to search for some device that would allow him to control and monitor what his kids were watching online. He found nothing that met his needs, so the former Vice-President of Advanced Accessories with Research in Motion decided to make one himself.

Rev Names Members to Third Cohort

Today, BluePoint’s flagship product Kindera is on the market and helping families protect that their children from the filth that floods the Internet.

“It’s a gateway,” said Boucher, sitting in the office of Communitech’s Rev accelerator. “You connect it to your router and … you can set the rules on the traffic from your smartphone.”

Boucher and partner Mike Agar (another veteran of Research in Motion) started the company two years ago and decided the best way to control traffic on to all of a family’s devices was to do it from the family router. That meant all the devices in the household could be controlled.

Kindera uses a rating system that lets parents control who watches what. For example, they could let teenagers have a bit more leeway than younger siblings. Kindera instantly messages the parents if kids are viewing material outside the boundaries they’ve set.

Parents can use their desktop or mobile device to monitor all the family devices in real time and see what their kids are watching. They can set time limits on how much time each child spends online each day.

The duo also made sure that installation was simple to ensure families will be able to adapt the technology easily. Boucher said the Kindera hardware can be installed with only five steps.

The company is now manufacturing Kindera in China, and it has patent pending on the product.

BluePoint Technology was accepted into the Rev accelerator – which helps companies with traction to scale – in November and Boucher said sales have been growing since then. He said sales are most successful when people familiar with the product refer it to friends. BluePoint’s strategy to increase sales revolves around increasing awareness of the Kindera brand, and seeking partners that can help to increase distribution.

In the meantime, Boucher said he feels happy as a parent that his family is using the product.

“It gives me the tools to have an open discussion with my children,” said Boucher. “The Internet is so important that I want them to use it in the best way.”

Singolar Headed to Silicon Valley CTA

Singolar, a Wolfville, N.S., startup that uses advanced intelligence to help companies improve client interactions has been selected to attend the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Silicon Valley this winter.

The company – which now has two clients and is working on its first funding round – has developed algorithms that can help companies to better understand how to interact customers. It therefore helps these companies to deepen customer relationships and attract new customers.

By being one of 12 companies attending the CTA in Northern California, Singolar hopes to reach more American customers.

“The accelerator will provide a huge advantage for Singolar to grow in the U.S.,” said company co-founder and CEO Suman Kalyan in a statement. “It’s providing excellent support to start ups like Singolar to sell their products and services globally.”

The Canadian consular service operates the CTA program at a number of embassies and consulates around the world, and the main ones in the U.S. are in Silicon Valley, Boston and New York City. The programs allow Canadian companies to work in these centres for several months and interact with mentors and potential clients in these market.

ABK, Densitas Head to Silicon Valley

By attending the CTA in the world’s largest tech market, Singolar will be in the program that benefits companies with deep IT capabilities. Singolar’s technology tracks customer interaction with a company at a range of points in the customer experience. That includes the customers’ contact with the call centre, on social media, through the website or other interactions.

“It’s a very new concept so we evolved it to take into account the entire customer journey,” said Kalyan in an interview. He described the program as being like “a conversational engine” so the marketing department can ask questions about their customers and Singolar will provide answers.

One client is Halifax-based Azorus, which helps post-secondary institutions communicate with incoming students and their families. The two companies are piloting enhanced customer relationship management, or CRM recruitment tool with three universities: Warwick and Leicester in the U.K., and Ryerson in Toronto. Once they have finished these tests, they hope to sell the software to universities and colleges around the world.

Singolar also has a client in Malaysia, which is using the technology to improve its mobile ads.

A native of India, Kalyan spent 18 years in a number of technology roles around the world, for blue chip companies and startups, and working as a consultant. In 2013, he and his family come to Nova Scotia and he began to work with Danny Silver, Director of the Acadia Institute for Data Analytics, to become a tenant in the Rural Innovation Centre.

“Suman and his team at Singolar offer a unique blend of technical and business knowledge and experience in the areas of data analytics and business intelligence,” said Silver in the statement. “They understand how to capture, analyze and extract business insights from customer data that has been acquired from multiple channels of interaction with a company.”

The company now has seven employees, including a co-founder and sales lead in Denver. The team is now working on raising its first round of funding with a target of $1 million.

“We are looking at two or three investors to come in,” said Kalyan. “We’ve been talking to investors in Silicon Valley and we also think there will be investors from India.”

Communitech Unveils Rev’s 3rd Cohort

Communitech today announced the four companies that will make up the third cohort of Rev, the Waterloo Region accelerator that helps companies with traction to scale.

The four companies are:

Alaunus, a mobile IT platform bringing outdated and inefficient processes in healthcare into the 21st century;

BitHound, which helps software developers build reliable code;

CloudWifi, which creates fast and reliable cloud-managed Wifi network services for businesses and consumers;

• And, Dozr, whose equipment-sharing platform connects construction equipment renters with lenders.

Communitech said in a statement the startups were selected for the program—which takes no equity from the companies— based on their current sales and overall market opportunity.

Rev Names Four Startups to Cohort 2

Rev started early last year with the goal of helping startups with revenues to increase those sales and become bona fide companies. The first cohort successfully concluded with about eight companies graduating, then the organizers decided to stagger the intake.

So four companies entered the six-month accelerator in November, and four more are starting now. The organizers hope the earlier cohort will be able to help mentor the newcomers.

The cohort members are be held accountable for their weekly sales goals and work closely with seasoned embedded executives to focus on product, sales and marketing.

“I'm keen to get this cohort in house - they're all very different businesses but each have wonderful market opportunities,” said Steve McCartney, vice president of Communitech’s Startup Services Group. “They’re all at the perfect stage to take advantage of the program, and really drive their sales. It’ll be exciting to see what they are able to accomplish.”

The second cohort comprises FunnelCake, BluePoint Technology, TallyFi and Knowledgehook and all are continuing the next phase of the program, implementing the sales and marketing techniques they learned over the first three months. They will present their companies at Centre Stage, Rev’s demo day, in May.

“It’s important for these companies to understand what a marketing engine and a sales engine look like,” said Daryl Sherman, one of the accelerator’s Embedded Executives. “We help them to understand how these matter to their success by digging deep into their businesses, and looking at sales and customers in a different way.”

Communitech said that applications for the fourth cohort are open. That cohort will begin May 1.

Superpower Challenge Seeks Students

Brilliant Labs and its partners are looking for high school students in the Maritime Provinces to pitch their ideas for a new product or service in the Superpower Challenge.

Several student teams or individuals from each participating province will win financial and mentor support worth as much as $5,000 to help them develop their idea into a working prototype or service.

Students are asked to propose innovative solutions to real-world problems -- and the solutions must include the use of technology. They must research a problem and develop a proposal to solve it in one of four categories: Our Community, Our People, Our Environment, Our Style. The proposal should include information on who their solution will help, what the desired outcome will be, and how they will measure their success.

The Student Superpower Challenge is a bilingual entrepreneurial competition for Maritime high school students. Students must submit their ideas here before February 26. The Superpower Challenge judges will review all the proposals and announce 10 finalists. These 10 finalists will Pitch Their Ideas on April 5.

Brilliant Labs is an initiative to encourage technical education in public schools in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. 

Jobs of the Week: NewAE, Onboardly

Jobs of the Week is beginning February with a couple of opportunities at Halifax’s NewAE Technology Inc.

NewAE has developed technology to assist companies in finding the security weaknesses within their embedded hardware systems. The company is looking for a software engineer/programmer, as well as an electronics hardware engineer/designer.

We’re also highlighting this week opportunities for a computer programmer with Clockwork Fox in St. John’s and a senior PR account manager with Moncton-based public relations firm Onboardly.

Entrevestor and Qimple operate the Entrevestor Job Board, which helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities. It’s a cost-efficient way to reach the best people in the new economy.


NewAE Technology

Software Engineer/Programmer

NewAE Technology Inc. develops open-source hardware and software solutions for performing security analysis of embedded computer systems. The successful candidate should have a strong Interest in hardware security (including participation at conferences such as AtlSecCon, Blackhat, and DEFCON). These positions are about three months in length, but may expand to include full-time employment, depending on candidate's interest and upcoming projects. As a very small company, applicants should expect to perform tasks beyond their core competency. The desired qualifications for this position include: six or more years of structured software development (any language); three or more years using Python for desktop or server application development (not web/mobile) and a working knowledge of Linux.

Electronics Hardware Engineer/Designer

NewAE Technology is looking for someone also interested in a contract of about three months as an electronics hardware engineer/designer. This contract could expand to include full-time employment depending on candidate's interest and upcoming projects. The responsibilities include the design of digital and analog electronic systems, including schematic entry and high-speed PCB design◦4+ layer PCB design including BGA devices; assembly of prototype boards; and design for EMC compliance. The company would prefer someone with a bachelors, masters, or PhD degree in electrical engineering considered an asset, and six or more years' experience in schematic entry and PCB routing of high-speed digital systems.

St. John’s

Clockwork Fox Studios

Computer Programmer (Games)

Clockwork Fox, an award-winning game production studio that focuses on learning games and associated educational technology products, is seeking a talented individual to develop games with a solid backend and a superior user experience. This position covers everything from gameplay physics to asset management systems. The responsibilities include following the requirements from design documents and implementing the described features effectively and efficiently; collaborating with designers to develop documentation and specifications with respect to programming requirements; and collaborating with QA to create test plans that identify poor performance and/or bugs. Clockwork Fox is looking for someone with one to five years' experience, preferably with at least one released game. The successful applicant should have a bachelor's degree in computer science or equivalent, and experience or familiarity with C# and digital platforms such as iOS and Android.

Moncton (or Remote)


Senior PR Account Manager

Onboardly, a demand marketing agency that helps small and medium-sized companies fast-track visibility, brand awareness and lead generation, is looking for a senior account manager. The primary role is to assist the Director of PR in planning, coordinating and executing public relations initiatives for agency clients. This person produces bold, strategic, persuasive messages in all media that help our clients reach their business goals. The requirements include being a fantastic writer with proven success, a self-starter and quick thinker. The successful person must write and distribute press releases and be an active social media user. The responsibilities include media relations such as outreach, pitching and ongoing communication with outside media contacts and publications. The successful candidate may also have to research and identify media lists including sourcing contact information and history/background on desired writers, contributors and bloggers.

Digital NS Promoting Women in Tech

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

When Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia read about Deloitte Canada’s recent report on the status of women in tech, she had to agree with the dismal findings.

Deloitte looked at the way women are recruited and hired, their retention rates, pay, and paths to promotion, and found cause for concern in all areas.

But Bahr-Gedalia, the President and CEO of Digital Nova Scotia, is also optimistic because she is involved in a project that is boosting women in tech in the province.

The Women Leaders Fueling the Digital Economy project launched in early 2014.

“This is the first project of its scope in Nova Scotia,” Bahr-Gedalia said.

“The aim of the project is to increase the number of women in senior-level positions working in technology,” she said of the initiative, which is being funded by Status of Women Canada.

Deloitte: More Women Needed in IT

Digital Nova Scotia (DNS) is the industry association for Nova Scotia’s information and communications technology and digital technologies sector.

During the project, DNS has held round-table discussions with senior executives from major ICT companies in the region to develop and implement best practices.

DNS has also met with managers who supervise around 3,000 ICT employees. The managers were provided with a Representation and Planning Management Toolkit developed by DNS to track and measure their progress in relation to gender diversity.

“While the project is not finished until August of 2016, we've already seen positive results,” Bahr-Gedalia said.

“For example, one of our participating companies undertook a gender analysis of the company's compensation system and made several adjustments to female employees' salaries.”

She said that another organization has made changes to management job descriptions and postings to achieve a greater balance between the requirements for technical skills and business and leadership skills.

Job postings, especially in the tech sector, often use gender-biased language with a technical focus, despite the need for business and leadership skills, Bahr-Gedalia said.

“This particular organization reviewed how they could make their posting more inclusive to broaden the number of applicants by highlighting the business and leadership requirements, in addition to the technical capabilities,” she said.

“This approach has led to an increase in applications and hiring of female tech talent in management in this organization.”

Deloitte Canada’s findings about women in tech were included in its Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecom predictions for 2016.

The company forecast that only 22 per cent of information technology jobs in Canada will be held by women this year, lagging behind the 24-per-cent mark in the U.S.

Deloitte said reaching gender parity could take decades. Currently, only 25 percent of computer science students in Canada are women, down from 27 percent in 2009.

Deloitte also found that women are 45 percent more likely than men to leave an IT job after a year. Over five years they are more than twice as likely to leave IT altogether.

When it comes to salaries, U.S. female web designers earn 79 cents for every dollar made by men.

“Pay equity should really not be an issue in 2016, but unfortunately, it still exists, and we need more companies to actively address it,” Bahr-Gedalia said.

The Nova Scotia project is now entering its third and final phase. This is the Digital Diversity Awards program, which will celebrate regional champions of gender diversity in the tech sector.

The four award categories include: Women Leaders in the Digital Economy; Diversity Champion of the Year; Power IT Up: Next Generation Leadership and Volunteer of the Year

The Call for Nominations for the Digital Diversity Awards is open until March 8. Applicants can apply here.

Propel ICT Applications Surge

Propel ICT, Atlantic Canada’s startup accelerator, has announced a 25 percent increase in the number of entrepreneurial teams applying for its startup programs. 

A total of 162 companies have applied to take part in Propel ICT’s Build and Launch programs in the first half of 2016. 

The growing demand means that Propel ICT will now offer its programming for selected companies twice a year. 

Propel ICT’s Build program supports companies that have an established product and market. Its Launch program is for ventures that are just getting started.
Propel ICT’s growth has been boosted by its recent formal expansion into Prince Edward Island.  The province now represents nearly 20 per cent of applications.

Read our Report on the Last Propel Demo Day

“The record interest in Propel ICT’s accelerator programs shows that the startup community in Atlantic Canada is building momentum,” Dave Grebenc, CEO of Innovatia and Chair of Propel ICT, said in a statement.

“More people are recognizing that they can build successful companies from a base on the East Coast. We are offering two cohorts for our programs that will ensure over 72 companies graduate from Propel ICT each year.”
Of the recent 162 applications, 56 companies have been invited to pitch their ideas to panels of private sector judges at selection camps, which will be held throughout the region.

In Moncton, a camp will be held in collaboration with Venn Centre and Planet Hatch, on Feb. 3.  In Halifax, a camp will be held in collaboration with Volta on Feb. 4. In St. John’s, a camp will be held with Common Ground on Feb. 8. And in Charlottetown, a camp will be held with LaunchPad PEI on Feb. 11.
The camps will select a total of 36 finalists for the accelerator programs, set to begin on March 1.
Propel ICT works with volunteer mentors and community partners throughout the region. 

[Disclaimer: Propel advertises in some Entrevestor products.]

Build Invests $3M in Icejam

Stuart Duncan

Stuart Duncan

Charlottetown-based icejam, whose technology incorporates real-world, real-time data in free-to-play games, has secured $3 million in equity financing from the Halifax-based venture capital fund Build Ventures.

The investment brings the total raised by icejam to $3.5 million and will help the company launch the first game on its proprietary platform later this year.

The company is a pioneer in what it calls Playable Data, which is taking big data from real-world sources and incorporating them into games. So it means that an outdoor adventure game could incorporate the weather in the player’s immediate location -- if there is an actual blizzard outside, there’s also a blizzard in the game. The platform can use other data streams as well, like stock market prices, sports stats and the like.

“Icejam is building an underlying platform so anything could be transferred into the game,” said Build Partner Patrick Keefe in an interview. “You can imagine it would have an impact on things like giving people queues to get on the game.”

Read our Report on Build's First 18 Months

Launched in 2014, icejam has created a Playable Data platform, and plans to launch its first game on the platform later this year. The company said that bringing real-world data into gaming space solves “key engagement and retention dilemmas that face the mobile games industry.” What that means is a player may be playing a virtual investment game, for example, and maybe his interest is lagging; but a real stock market rally or crash could spark interest in the game and make him play it longer.

The funding will also allow icejam to open its new Toronto office, which will be responsible for business intelligence and marketing. The company is now hiring in both Toronto and Charlottetown.

“While the traditional mobile games market is consolidating and investments are down, there remains great interest in transformative technologies that play with the boundaries of imagination and reality,” said Founder and CEO Stuart Duncan in a statement. He said this is already seen in augmented reality and virtual reality, and now Playable Data.

Duncan has a long background in the gaming industry. He launched several companies, most notably Charlottetown-based Bight Interactive, which was acquired by gaming giant Electronic Arts Inc. in 2011. Duncan became a director for EA. He developed the company’s studio in Charlottetown, which put out the game “The Simpsons: Tapped Out”, which sold more than US$100 million.

Duncan has now assembled at icejam many of the team members that he has worked with since his days at Bight.

“At the stage that we invest in companies, the seed stage, it really begins with team and Stuart is really a unique talent in this space in Atlantic Canada,” said Keefe, who will join the icejam board. “Stuart has been thinking about this playable data concept for a long time and he’s really excited about it.”

Icejam is the eighth company to be funded by Build Ventures, whose main backers are the four Atlantic Provinces and BDC Capital, part of the federal government’s business development bank. The investment now means that Build has at least one investment in each of the Atlantic Provinces. [Disclosure: Build Ventures is a client of Entrevestor.]

Sentinel Eyes Cross-Country Expansion

Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy

Having landed $525,000 in fresh funding, St. John’s startup Sentinel Alert is gearing up to push its worker safety software into the market across Canada.

The company was one of three Newfoundland and Labrador companies on Tuesday to announce funding from the Venture Newfoundland and Labrador fund and Killick Capital. As well as those two institutional investors, Sentinel also attracted investment from an unnamed angel.

Co-founded by Sarah Murphy and Jason Janes. Sentinel produces software that can detect when a worker has had an accident or may soon have one. From the outset two years ago, the idea has been that a smartphone can detect if someone has fallen and hit the ground, and the phone should be able to alert the company that an accident has taken place.

Now the application is also being used to detect worker risk – that is, to identify situations in which accidents could occur and take steps to fix them. The software is originally being used on devices like smartphones, but the company hopes to eventually partner with a hardware company to produce a wearable device.

Venture NL, Killick Fund 3 Companies

“Creating jobs and expanding access to new markets provides a forum for considerable growth for our company - we look forward to making a powerful, substantial impact on safe work in Canada, the U.S. and beyond,” said Murphy, the company’s CEO.

She added the four-member team has a product ready for use. The developers are now working to make it more scalable so a single company can easily use it with hundreds of or a thousand workers.

Sentinel Alert had been targeting the oil and gas industry with its product. Given the current state of that segment the company is now also targeting heavy construction, infrastructure, shipping and marine, and mega-projects.

What really excites Murphy is the goal of getting 1,000 or more people using Sentinel Alert so the company can generate meaningful data. That would allow it to develop a more predictive analysis and help companies ensure their workers operate more safely.

Sentinel Alert in the autumn won the $35,000 at the Women’s Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp at Communitech in Kitchener-Waterloo. It plans to return to Kitchener soon to work in Deloitte’s Innovation Lab. And it will increase its sales team to sell the product throughout the company.

“We’re very focused on sales growth right now and growing our company across Canada,” said Murphy.

Venture NL, Killick Fund 3 Startups

HeyOrca! Co-Founders Joe Teo and Sahand Seifi.

HeyOrca! Co-Founders Joe Teo and Sahand Seifi.

Three St. John’s tech companies on Tuesday announced total funding of more than $2 million, including financing from the young Venture Newfoundland and Labrador fund and Killick Capital.

Educational game developer Clockwork Fox Studios, marketing collaboration platform HeyOrca!, and worker-safety software provider Sentinel Alert and received funding from a range of investors.

For several years, Killick Capital President Mark Dobbin and various members of the Newfoundland and Labrador government have said the province needs more investment in high-growth companies. The Venture Newfoundland and Labrador Fund helps to achieve that goal as it channels money from the provincial government, BDC Capital and several private investors into startup. The fund is managed by Pelorus Venture Capital, a subsidiary of GrowthWorks Atlantic. And Killick has had two exits in the past two years, allowing it to deploy money into new ventures.

Sequence Raises $500K from Killick 

“These three companies are great examples of how we can use innovative ideas to diversify our economy into new areas of business,” Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development, said in a statement. “This seed money will allow them to continue to grow their operations in our province.”

The three companies receiving financing are:

Clockwork Fox, $1 million, founded by Ed Martin. The educational game producer will receive $750,000 in new investment from Killick Capital and Venture Newfoundland and Labrador LP. It also received funding from Pluto Investments, Petten Holdings, and Joe Antle, said Martin. The company’s flagship product is Zorbit’s Math Adventure, a game-based learning system for early math that aims to improve K-3 learning outcomes. “We have a highly skilled staff who produce market-leading gamed-based learning products for education,” said Martin. “This investment will allow us to produce additional products for schools, and accelerate access to export markets, particularly the US.”

HeyOrca!, $625,000, co-founded by Joe Teo and Sahand Seifi.  HeyOrca! is an online platform that helps marketers collaborate on social media content. The company, which operates out of the Genesis Centre, is a graduate of the PropelICT Build program, allowing it to tap into a $150,000 convertible note from BDC Capital.  Its other investors in this round are Venture NL and Killick. “This investment is important for us because we will be able to grow our team and amplify the business model we created and grew in 2015,” said Teo, adding it will allow the company to get closer to its customers and better understand their needs.

Sentinel Alert, $525,000, co-founded by Sarah Murphy and Jason Janes. Sentinel produces software that can detect when a worker has had an accident or may soon have one. The software is originally being used on devices like smartphones, but the company hopes to eventually partner with a hardware company to produce a wearable device. “We’re very focused on sales growth right now and growing our company across Canada,” said Murphy, the company’s CEO. The company received investment from Killick, Venture NL and a private angel investor.

After Tuesday’s announcement, Venture Newfoundland and Labrador and Killick have now closed four deals together, as last summer they invested a total of $1 million in Sequence Bio, a St. John’s company that analyzes genetic data to improve medical outcomes.

Dobbin Looks Ahead After Strong Year

Killick has been reinvesting the proceeds of two recent exits. It grossed US$229 million when it sold off four of the six units of Carrollton, Texas-based Killick Aerospace early last year. And in 2014, the fund exited its investment in financial software company Verafin during a buy-in by California private equity company Spectrum Equity.

As well as the four new investments, Killick also increased its investment in film production software producer Celtx. 

Correction to our Report on Conceptualiz

Entrevestor erroneously reported on Monday that Halifax-based Conceptualiz has a partnership with Thinking Robot Studios of Dartmouth. We based our report on information that was provided to us. In fact, the two companies have signed non-disclosure agreements but are not in any form of partnership.  

Vidyard Raises US$35M Series C Round

Michael Litt: 'Video represents a massive opportunity.'

Michael Litt: 'Video represents a massive opportunity.'

Vidyard, the Kitchener startup that helps customers monitor the performance of their video-based marketing, has raised a US$35 million (C$49.7 million) Series C financing round, which will help it to develop new products.

The company said in a release today the financing was led by Waltham, Mass.-based Battery Ventures with participation from existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners of Menlo Park, Calif., Salesforce Ventures of San Francisco, OMERS Ventures of Toronto, iNovia Capital of Montreal and SoftTech VC of Palo Alto, Calif.

The company was formed by Co-Founders CEO Michael Litt, Devon Galloway and Edward Wu more than four years ago to develop software to host marketing videos and analyze their performance. Vidyard last January said its sales had risen 1,000 percent in 18 months, and company officials have since said the growth has been “consistent.”

The Vidyard statement said the company has now raised more than $60 million. It did not reveal the valuation applied to the funding round.  

Vidyard's Spacecamp Shows its Creativity

The company said that the funding comes as video is establishing itself as a cornerstone of modern marketing. Video now accounts for 64 percent of all Internet traffic, and Cisco predicts that number to rise to 80 percent by 2019, said the statement. In B2B markets, more than 90 percent of businesses say video is becoming more important, 69 percent are increasing investments in video this year, and 80 percent are now dedicating in-house resources to video production.

“Video is revolutionizing marketing, and Vidyard is clearly innovating in this space,” said Michael Brown, general partner at Battery Ventures, who will join the Vidyard board. “We’re convinced that video will not only grow as a strategic platform for marketing and sales, but also as a critical solution for other business functions across every industry.”

Vidyard is clearly benefiting from this trend.

In 2015, for the second year in a row, Vidyard’s revenue tripled and its number of employees doubled. Participation in its annual Space Camp video marketing summit tripled year-over-year, and its growing base of customers now includes 24 of the top 100 global software companies. Its clients include such blue-chip companies as Honeywell, Lenovo, LinkedIn, Cision, TD Ameritrade, BMC Software, and Citibank.

“Video represents a massive opportunity for businesses to drive greater engagement with their message and to use second-by-second viewing data to understand the digital body language of potential buyers,” said Litt in the statement.

The press release said the company will use the funds to develop new products to help businesses expand their use of video for customer engagement and “tap into the digital body language of online audiences.”

The financing comes just one year after Vidyard raised an $18 million Series B financing led by


There have been a flurry of major financing by companies in the Waterloo Region lately – most notably the US$50 million investment in chat leader by China’s Tencent in the autumn. 

ABK, Densitas Head to Silicon Valley

Two Halifax medtech companies, ABK Biomedical and Densitas, will travel to San Francisco next month to take part in the Dose of the Valley – a mentoring and networking event for Canadian life sciences companies.

The Bay Area is renowned as the global hotbed for information technology startups, and for years Canadian IT companies have been attending 48 Hours in the Valley – an event that helps Canadian startups benefit from resources in the area.

Last year the Canadian Commission in San Francisco and C100 (a group that helps Canadian startups make connections in Silicon Valley) began Dose of the Valley for the biopharma, medical device and health IT sectors. ABK and Densitas have been selected for the event Feb. 9 and 10.

CTA Offers Wealth of Mentorship in Boston

“It’s kind of nice that we’ve been selected as one of the medtech companies from across Canada,” said ABK Chief Executive Bob Abraham. “It gives us a chance to meet with partners from across the United States. … My understanding is the event itself is attracting a large number of multinationals who want to see what Canadians are up to.”

His counterpart at Densitas, CEO Mohamed Abdolell, said Dose of the Valley would be a “power networking” event where there would be intense meetings not only with mentors but also investors, opinion leaders, industry partners and potential acquirers.

Most of the medical-technology companies in Atlantic Canada tend to seek mentorship in the life sciences community in Boston due to proximity. But Abdolell said Silicon Valley is a hotbed of health-related IT, especially in terms of data analytics. These are big parts of Densitas’ business so the 48 hours in California will be especially beneficial.

ABK is the developer of OccluSystem, which improves efficiency and safety when treating women for uterine fibroids, or benign tumours, in the uterus. The system uses tiny bio-compatible glass beads to help monitor the deterioration of the tumours following procedures that are designed to eradicate the growths.

The company is now preparing to make its 510(K) submission in the U.S. in the next few months. This is the filing that the Food and Drug Administration requires to establish that a medical device is safe. ABK is also preparing for ISO Certification, which is required to complete regulatory approvals in the European Union, Canada and the U.S. Abraham said the company expects to have a product on the market in 2017.

ABK last raised funding in 2014 through the First Angel Network and Wilmington Investor Network in North Carolina. The company hopes to raise venture capital investment this year.

Densitas last month received regulatory clearance in the European Union and Canada to sell its first product, DM-Density, which enhances breast screening by assessing breast density. Breast density is a key determinant in a patient’s risk of contracting breast cancer, so Densitas helps doctors understand a patient’s risk profile.

Scott Moffitt, the managing director of the Nova Scotia life sciences association BioNova, said the fact these two companies were selected for the event shows the quality of medtech companies being developed on the East Coast.

“It really gives some credibility to the type of companies we’re generating in this part of the world,” he said. “The selection process is a competitive one so it lends credence to our belief in what we’re doing here. It shows that the companies are complex and that they’re strong from the business perspective.”

Our Policy During the Herald Strike

As many of our readers know, the union representing reporters, editors and photographers at the Chronicle-Herald in Halifax is now on strike. We want our readers to know our position during the strike as Entrevestor has contributed three articles a week to the Chronicle-Herald for more than three years.

Entrevestor will continue to place three articles a week in the paper, declining requests from the respective parties in the dispute to increase or cut off our contribution during the disruption.

We’ve taken this position because our company has a long-standing agreement with a client, and we intend to honour our obligations to our clients. We also consider our arrangement with the Herald as part of our mission to broadcast as far as possible what’s happening in the East Coast startup community.

Finally, Entrevestor is now in expansion mode, increasing our activity in the Waterloo Region in Ontario. This expansion costs money and we cannot restrict income during a period of growth. We have two part-time reporters and an artist – all of whom do great work for us. They rely on us, and we need income to pay them.

We fervently hope the two parties in this dispute are able to resolve their differences soon. 

Conceptualiz Finishes App for Implants

After three years, Conceptualiz brought its vision to life: a mobile application for the iPad that can design orthopedic implants personalized to the patient. The current app is exclusively available for research and educational purposes.

The Halifax- and Toronto-based company’s OSSA 3D surgical planning and implant design platform allows orthopedic surgeons to design personalized implants. The implant is then sent to a 3D printer, reducing the time needed to produce the implant.

For a patient to receive a personalized implant, it usually takes six weeks to design and create the implant. 

“Surgeons and engineers are now being connected virtually rather than one-to-one meetings, which is more efficient,” Conceptualiz CEO and cofounder Richard Hurley said in an interview.

The global orthopedic implant market is worth $45.5 billion. Hurley said he has no doubt that the market will shift toward personalized orthopedic implants.

With the current system of engineers and orthopedic surgeons meeting one-on-one, it takes around six weeks to design and manufacture a personalized orthopedic implant. Conceptualiz, by sending the implant designs to a 3D printer, could mark the first step toward mass orthopedic implant customization.

“Orthopedics is typically slow to adapt to changes,” Hurley said. “We’re relying on that slowness to develop a foothold.”

Hurley himself is an orthopedic surgeon, and his cofounders, Ravin Balakrishnan and Karan Singh, are both University of Toronto computer science professors specializing in graphic 3D design and human-computer interaction.

Conceptualiz also has a network of advisors: Dr. James Kellam, who teaches at the University of Texas Health Care Centre and specializes in orthopedic trauma surgery; and Dr. Ross Leighton, who teaches at Dalhousie University and specializes in orthopedic trauma surgery. From 1997 to 2000, Leighton acted as the Provincial Trauma Director of Nova Scotia.

Along with speaking with other orthopedic surgeons and getting them to test Conceptualiz, the clinical application available has been well-received.

“Surgeons say that it’s a very simple, easy-to-use app—which is what we’re going for,” Hurley said.

The Conceptualiz’s iPad OSSA 3-D app costs nothing, but uploading one’s own scans costs US$29.99 to unlock the technology and allow multiple scans.

Conceptualiz has raised $400,000 through its own founders’ loans and a grant from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Conceptualiz put that money toward engineering and design work.

Hurley said Conceptualiz hopes to raise $1 million in a seed round to fund regulatory approval for a clinical version of the software.

Conceptualiz is also looking into strategic investment by interested orthopaedic implant manufacturers and 3D printing companies.

Innovacorp, Nova Scotia’s early stage venture capital organization, shortlisted Conceptualiz in the life sciences sector category in its I-3 Competition.

Conceptualiz plans to release the clinical version of its app later this year. It also hopes to one day locate 3D printers in or near hospitals so that surgeons can quickly and easily pick up their personalized implants.

Other specialities requiring implants can also use Conceptualiz. An ear, nose and throat surgeon has already approached Conceptualiz to start creating nasal implants.

“Anywhere you have a CT scan of a body, it can be applied,” Hurley said. 

Nicoya Releases Latest Product

Kitchener-based life sciences hardware developer Nicoya Lifesciences, a leader in label-free molecular analysis, has released its latest product, OpenSPR-XT, a fully automated molecular analysis instrument.

The new product is based on Nicoya’s successful OpenSPR instrument, which uses nano-technology to help scientists conduct research into the growing field of biotherapeutics. That is research into proteins that can be used to cure diseases.

Conducting such research until now has required access to a piece of equipment called surface plasmon resonance, or SPR. These devices cost about $250,000 and have additional monthly expenses. The costs are so high scientists often have to share them. But the OpenSPR only costs $15,000 and operates at lower costs.

The OpenSPR line uses proprietary nanotechnology-based sensors to provide high-quality molecular interaction data. By combining this technology with robust and user-friendly automation, OpenSPR-XT saves time, reduces errors, and improves data quality and repeatability, said Nicoya in a statement.

The new product provides critical data needed by life sciences researchers, such as binding kinetics, affinity, and specificity of proteins, antibodies, nucleic acids and small molecules.

“The launch of OpenSPR-XT addresses a major gap in the market,” said Nicoya CEO Ryan Denomme. “Most researchers could not afford to have a fully automated SPR solution in their own labs – they had to rely on costly outsourcing or using an inconvenient central lab facility. Now they can have a powerful, high-throughput instrument in their own lab, which will help accelerate new discoveries in fields like biotherapeutics.”

The company officially launched OpenSPR-XT at Peptalk 2016: The Protein Science Week in San Diego.

Nicoya got its start in 2012 when Denomme spun out the nanotechnology sensor technology from the University of Waterloo. The team understood there would be medical applications for the product, but chose the SPR market because it is a research device and therefore does not need regulatory approval.

Nicoya has worked with a range of mentorship groups – it’s a graduate of the Waterloo Accelerator Centre, Communitech’s Rev accelerator, and Velocity. Last year, it closed a round of funding from local angels as well as the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund and BDC Capital.

Jobs of the Week: Focus on Halifax

This week in Jobs of the Week, we’re featuring positions in Halifax, including a new posting by Norex and its division. helps elite athletes find financial support through crowdfunding. The organization is developing a new crowdfunding platform that can also be used by other social organizations. It needs a Ruby engineer to work on the platform.

We also feature postings this week from Athletigen, Clean Simple, Dadavan, Smart Energy, QRA, VMO and BML.

Entrevestor and Qimple operate the Entrevestor Job Board, which helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities. Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.


Norex and

Ruby Engineer

Halifax-based web development company Norex and, its division that operates a crowdfunding site for elite athletes, are searching for a ruby engineer. This person will be in charge of developing a scalable crowdfunding platform used around the world – including payment processing and localization for international clients. The successful candidate will work closely with Norex’s Lead Developer, Lead Designer, Project Manager, and Partner to create a white label crowdfunding platform that will be used for and available to other social organizations around the world. The position requires object-oriented programming, and experience in Javascript, HTML5 & CSS3 and PostgreSQL. Ruby and Ruby on Rails experience is preferred.

Athletigen Technologies

Java Developer

As part of the product development and engineering team, the Java Developer will be expected to play a critical role in shaping Athletigen’s technology offering. This will involve participating in building a state of the art DNA analytics engine using different technologies such as Java, Hibernate, Spring AOP, Spring IoC, python, R, big data systems and REST services. Minimum Qualifications include in-depth knowledge of data structures and Java Collections including, Maps, Sets and Graph implementations. The candidate should have a very strong knowledge of Java Language including, inner, nested and anonymous classes, private constructors, final methods, overloading, and overriding.

BML Web Development and Communication

Intermediate Full Stack Developer (JavaScript+PHP)

BML, which is developing, a youth fundraising website, is looking for talented full stack developer to join its team. The candidate will have to construct, develop, code, debug and maintain web site applications. He or she will also have to define software design methodology for the development and implementation of internet-based applications to support all aspects of web site functionalities. The company is looking for someone with a minimum of three years of PHP web development experience and Javascript development.

Clean Simple

Software Tester

Clean Simple, whose platform improves communications in commercial cleaning services, is looking for a talented Software QA lead to join its team. This person will design and implement the company’s Quality Assurance Program with the expressed objective of ensuring the best possible performance for both its Mobile and Web software. The successful candidate will be given creative control over the design of Clean Simple’s QA program with the mandate of thoroughly de-risking and refining products in development. He or she will collaborate with development and design teams to plan and execute testing across a variety of world-class applications on the newest web and mobile technologies. Clean Simple is looking for someone with three to five years of experience in a similar role.

Dadavan Systems Ltd.

Front-End Developer

Working within the technical team on web-based projects, the Front End Developer’s main responsibility is to produce, modify and maintain web-based user interfaces. The successful candidate must also work closely with server-side developers to understand and use their server-side code to develop complex, interactive and database-driven websites. Dadavan is seeking a candidate with experience designing and implementing web applications that are part of larger, multi-tiered distributed applications that include server and database components and processes.

QRA Corp

Full Stack Software Engineer

QRA develops software to help engineers build flawless products. The company is searching for an experienced software engineer with confidence and talent. It is seeking candidates with a minimum of three years of progressive web and client/server software development experience. A formal education in Computer Science or Engineering is a major asset.

Smart Energy

Sales & Marketing Lead

Smart Energy, which stages conferences on the future of energy, is looking for an executive to head its sales and marketing duties. This person will be responsible for "securing industry partners" for the group’s 11th annual Smart Energy event, formerly known as the Renewable Energy Conference. From your home office, you will have the opportunity to work with other team members to "increase sales and sponsor participation" through targeted one-on-one communications and marketing. You will have the opportunity to engage with industry executives and a number of key stakeholders to bring together the region's #1 smart energy event. The applicant should have a college degree in Business Development, Entrepreneurial, Sales/Event Management, Commerce, or Business Management.

Vmo Solutions

Senior Software Developer

VMO is searching for a lead developer based in the Halifax area with three to five years of experience. The successful candidate should be a self-motivated and independent senior level developer who is current with modern web and cloud-based technologies. The position calls for programming for mission-critical real-time systems, transforming the way airlines operate today. On occasion, the developer will also be tasked with communicating with clients to address open issues with beta and production software.

Innovacorp Awards $850K in I-3 Prizes

Innovacorp on Thursday awarded $850,000 to 15 Nova Scotian companies as the Nova Scotia innovation agency named the regional and sectoral winners of its I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition.

I-3 is the biennial competition for early stage companies in the province. On Thursday, Innovacorp named the winners of five regions in the province, each of whom will win $100,000. It also named the runners-up in each region, which will be awarded $40,000 each. And it announced the winners in six sectors, each of which will receive $25,000. These awards all comprise a mix of cash and in-kind services.

The five regional winners will be considered for the grand prize of $100,000 in seed funding, which will be announced on Feb. 3.

"The winning start-ups were chosen because of their novel products and services, and their potential for rapid growth in global markets," said Innovacorp President and CEO Stephen Duff in a statement. "The quality of entrepreneurs in this year's competition impressed the private-sector judges, making their work both exhilarating and challenging."

One interesting feature of this year’s list of winners is only one company has a chance to capture the maximum $225,000 prize, by winning the grand prize, regional prize and sectoral prize. Chester-based Sustane Technologies is the only regional and sectoral winner.

The zone winners are:

Zone 1 (Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties)

1st Place: Lootbag - Daniel Code-McNeil, Jason Young and Neil Grewal, Antigonish. Lootbag is developing a mobile application that streamlines new product development and market research. The application will let users browse, test and review free consumer goods based on their interests, enabling Lootbag to provide brands with advanced consumer insights quickly and cost-effectively.

2nd Place: AgSeed Technologies (Canada) Inc. - Sandra Newbold and Trevor Newbold, Bible Hill. AgSeed develops agriculturally based biochemical and biomaterial products. The company offers high biobased content biocomposite materials for the furniture and green building markets.

Zone 2 (Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties)

1st Place: Sustane Technologies Inc. - Peter Vinall, Javier De La Fuente and Robert Richardson, Chester. Sustane has developed a system that enables complete recycling of municipal solid waste, eliminating the need for landfills. Through a series of technologies, the waste is transformed into clean, value-added products such as biomass fuel pellets.

2nd Place: WoodsCamp Technologies Inc. - Alastair Jarvis and Will Martin, Mahone Bay. WoodsCamp is developing a multi-sided software platform for sustainable management of privately owned forest resources. Featuring a range of tools designed for both woodlot owners and foresters, the technology connects owners to those requiring feedstock.

Zone 3 (Digby, Annapolis, Kings and Hants counties)

1st Place: Airline Employee Travel Inc. - Donna Lavallee and Colin Lavallee, Elmsdale. Airline Employee Travel is developing a travel platform for airline employees. GO BUMP FREE provides low-cost, last-minute hotel accommodations that can be cancelled for free if airline employees and their families miss their standby flight.

2nd Place: Manzer Apiary Inc. - Brian Manzer and Owen Manzer, Digby. Manzer Apiary has created a beehive that can reduce bee losses, increase crop yields and improve honey production. Initial product testing has shown that the user-friendly technology eliminates the need to treat, winterize or replenish hives. First targeting commercial pollination service companies, the product will improve bottom lines and help solve the global problem of bee loss.

Zone 4 (Halifax Regional Municipality)

1st Place: Site 2020 Inc. - Mitchell Hollohan and Cole Campbell, Halifax. Site 2020 is creating a networked traffic management solution for road construction sites that increases safety while reducing overhead costs. The system networks smart portable traffic lights with a tablet computer, allowing a single employee to manage traffic safely and creating an innovative platform for communication on construction sites.

2nd Place: MouseStats - Kousha Nakhaei and Ehsan Nakhaei, Halifax. MouseStats is developing a customer experience analytics suite that uses website visitor interactions. Through analysis of clicks, scrolls, hovers, touches and other behavioural metrics, the application provides visual reports to help website owners increase online sales and boost conversion rates. Several advanced algorithms will provide in-page design recommendations.

Zone 5 (Victoria, Cape Breton, Inverness and Richmond counties)

1st Place: Orenda Software Solutions, Tanya Collier MacDonald, Sydney. Orenda Software Solutions is developing a social media analysis technology that determines an organization’s overall corporate standing in real-time. Targeting medium to large enterprises, automated analysis calculates the impact of social media activity on an organization’s brand and reputation.

2nd Place: MacCormick Inc. - Bonnie Lyn de Bartok, Sydney. MacCormick is developing a proprietary algorithm-based index that measures social responsibility of global mining and oil and gas companies. The solution helps meet the growing demand for responsible impact investing by public and institutional investors while addressing project delays due to stakeholder disputes.

The sector winners are:

Information Technology:

Zora - Milan Vrekic, Dartmouth. Zora is creating a cloud-based platform for landlords that reduces risks associated with rentals. The tenant scoring system incorporates data from more than 80 factors, offering landlords a quantifiable method to assess the reliability of rental applicants, reduce rent default rates, and avoid costs associated with eviction and damage.

Life Sciences:

Treventis Diagnostics Ltd. - Sultan Darvesh, Chris Barden, Mark Reed and Scott Banfield, Halifax. Treventis is developing a technology for non-invasive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that currently can only be positively identified by examining the patient’s brain after death. Using proprietary compounds to highlight tissue plaques related to Alzheimer’s disease in the living brain, the technology has potential to identify this devastating disease in its early stages and accelerate development of new, more effective therapies.

Clean Technology:

SATELLIGENT Telemetry Solutions Inc. - Arjun Warrier, Bedford. SATELLIGENT is developing a technology to make residential solar power generation more efficient, reliable and affordable. The company's power-dense string inverter converts direct current from solar panels and batteries to usable alternating current for home and business use.

Ocean Technology Sector:

Turbulent Research Inc. - Chris Loadman, Dartmouth. Turbulent designs and manufactures underwater data acquisition and signal processing products for ocean science and the oil and gas sectors. It recently developed a new product line for offshore pipeline inspection gauges.

Agricultural Technology:

Allendale Technologies Inc. - Guy Tipton, Cyril Meagher, Ben Pooley and Elizabeth Pooley, Lockeport. Allendale Technologies has developed a carbonation system, FizzWizz, for the microbrewery industry that reduces costs and increases efficiency of craft beer production. The company’s technology lets brewers accurately and repeatedly carbonate fluids with the touch of a button to achieve a stable carbonation for a given style of product, a process that previously required costly equipment or almost constant attention.

Waste Diversion Technology:

Sustane Technologies Inc., Chester

[Disclaimer: Innovacorp is a client of Entrevestor.]

Data Analytics for the Forestry Sector

Andrea Feunekes

Andrea Feunekes

Big data and environmental sustainability have become hot topics in recent years. New Brunswick’s Remsoft has been analyzing big data for decades, a foresight that has made the company a world leader in land and forestry management.

The large volume of data relevant to a particular business or sector can be analyzed for insights that lead to better business decisions and higher profits.

Andrea Feunekes, Remsoft’s CEO and president, started the Fredericton company 24 years ago with her husband, Ugo Feunekes, Remsoft’s chief technical officer.

Feunekes Honoured by Startup Canada

Over the last five years, Remsoft’s growth has accelerated, she said, thanks to its early development of a software platform that allows computational analysis of a company’s information.

The software analyzes a client’s forests. The age, size, growth rate and other aspects of trees are examined in order to predict the best times to do simple things like get logs to market or predict which of thousands of trees may fall and damage a power line.

“The intersection of the environment and business is key for us,” Feunekes said. “Vegetation management is big.”

Canadian clients must be able to plan ahead as trees in Canada’s cold climate can take up to 40 years to grow, compared with five to seven years in Brazil.

“In Canada, you’re planting trees for a market that will occur in the next generation,” Feunekes said.

“We help people think about where they need to be in the future. Businesses need to make money today, but they also need to ensure they are moving in the direction they want to move in.”

Increasingly, that direction is dictated by the need for sustainability. According to the United Nations, around one billion more people will be added to the global population over the next 10 years. Feunekes said that figure makes sustainability even more essential.

“We have to become more efficient and sustainable with the use of resources.”

Remsoft helps with supply chain planning. Efficiency in the supply chain reduces machine use, emissions and the cost of trucking trees.

“We want to minimize what we take from the land and maximize the return,” Feunekes said.

Trees are an important part of sustainability, as a great deal of carbon is stored in wood.

Trees tend to grow fast when young, when they also store carbon at a greater rate. When the number, age and growth rates of trees are known, it’s possible to calculate how much carbon is being stored by a forest.

Companies may be able to balance the carbon held by their trees against the carbon emissions made by their mills to become carbon-neutral. They may also sell their trees’ carbon storage as a carbon credit.

Remsoft helps clients with these evaluations. Feunekes believes carbon taxes and carbon markets will soon become increasingly important.

She said Remsoft is the global leader in its field, with many blue-chip clients attracted by the company’s strengths in business and technology. Less than five per cent of Remsoft’s business is regional, and only 25 per cent is Canadian. Most sales are global.

To meet demand, the sales team, which is based out of Toronto, has been increased in the last few months.

The company’s base in Atlantic Canada has allowed it to benefit from the strong forestry and computer science faculties at the University of New Brunswick, where Feunekes gained her master of science in forestry.

The distance from many key markets has been a challenge. Feunekes said it is also getting harder to find good talent of all kinds in Atlantic Canada.

“We need to grow our population. We need to bring in more people. … We want to entice people from elsewhere to come to Atlantic Canada.”

Ella Poised to Expand Into Toronto

Kelly Lawson

Kelly Lawson

Having been accepted into Toronto’s Fashion Zone in the autumn, Ella of Saint John is planning to launch its online marketplace for used clothes in Canada’s largest city in the spring.

Ella is a mobile app on which women can sell or buy slightly used clothes. The idea is that women who love fashion have closets full of wonderful clothes they might never wear again. They can post the merchandise on Ella and users can buy them.

Founder and CEO Kelly Lawson estimates there is $50 billion worth of slightly used fashion sitting in American closets, and she wants to help women capitalize on it.

So far, about 1,000 people have downloaded the app, with a strong geographic concentration in New Brunswick. But Lawson has been involved with the fashion incubator in Toronto and wants to make a splash in that city.

“The plan is to target Toronto in the medium term,” Lawson said in an interview Wednesday. “We’re going to start getting the right people around the table in February. We’d really like to get some penetration (in Toronto) in March … with a launch planned for sometime in the spring.”

The company’s march toward the Toronto market actually began in Moncton in September, when Ella pitched at the Propel ICT Demo Day. The company had gone through the regional tech accelerator’s Launch program and was chosen to deliver a three-minute pitch at the graduation ceremonies.

Launch Pitches Wow Sean Wise

Also participating in the event was Sean Wise, a professor of entrepreneurship at Ryerson University and a consultant with CBC’s Dragons’ Den. He told Lawson about the Fashion Zone, an incubator for fashion companies affiliated with Ryerson. She applied and was accepted, and spent part of November working at the incubator.

“It’s staffed with a roster of mentors that we have complete access to,” said Lawson.

“I could sit down with any of them at any time and get their feedback and insights into our product.”

She added that discussing her project with fashion industry experts “is something that is not readily available in Atlantic Canada” and helped her business tremendously.

Based on the work at Fashion Zone and feedback from clients, Ella is continuing to develop the product. Users wanted to know more about what others were selling, and they wanted to receive notifications about recent posts. The company is also redesigning the app to place more emphasis on images.

“Esthetics are really important, maybe as important as the functionality,” said Lawson.

The team is working on algorithms that will help to identify clothes for sale that best suit individual users.

So far, about $7,000 worth of merchandise has changed hands using the app. Though that’s not enough traffic to generate money for the company, Lawson said it’s allowed the team to hone the product before it’s released in a big market.

What they’re learning is that it is becoming acceptable, even desirable, for well-dressed women to buy clothing from one another rather than purchasing new items.

“We’re coming into an era where it’s cool to do things like this to protect the environment, whereas before you might not want to wear clothes that someone else has owned.”

Evolution Seeking St. John’s Startups

Greg Hood

Greg Hood

Early-stage entrepreneurs with an idea for a product, company or service are asked to apply for the winter 2016 Evolution program at the Genesis Centre at Memorial University in St. John’s.

The Evolution program is an eight-week intensive workshop that helps entrepreneurs validate their business ideas and get them to market.

Delivered in three phases, the program is derived from best practices and integrates e-learning, in-person workshops, and customer interviews. It blends the Lean Startup movement with programs from the Silicon Valley, including Google’s “Startup NEXT” program.

After eight weeks, the program culminates with “Pitch and Pick”, a pitching event that brings together entrepreneurs, industry experts, and investors.

Change is Afoot at Genesis Centre

“Whether you’re planning to apply to the Genesis Centre’s incubation program or need objective feedback on your product idea, the Evolution program helps you reach that goal,” said Greg Hood, President and CEO, of the Genesis Centre.

“The eight-week program delivers what would normally take a year or two for an entrepreneur to experience in the real world.”

Genesis Centre is Memorial University’s business incubator for technology-based ventures with high-growth potential. It is one of the top ranked incubators in Canada. The centre connects entrepreneurs with marketing, finance, expert mentorship, office space and management resources. 

Since the Genesis Centre was founded in 1997, it has helped over 60 startups raise over $85 million in investment. Genesis alumni include Verafin, Rutter Technologies, Avalon Microelectronics (acquired by Altera), Solace Power, EMSAT, ClearRisk, Genoa Design and Virtual Marine Technology. 

The program fee for Evolution is $50 per team member, which goes directly toward covering program logistics.

The deadline for applications is Jan. 29. Interested parties can apply here.

Maluuba Raises $9M Series A

Waterloo-based machine-learning company Maluuba said Wednesday it has closed a $9 million Series A funding round.

The company, whose technology helps machines to think, reason and communicate with human-like intelligence, said the venture capital investors in the round were Emerillon Capital of Montreal and Nautilus Venture Partners of Silicon Valley. There were also undisclosed strategic investors that participated in the round.

Maluuba, which was founded in 2011, said the funding will be used to further enhance its deep-learning research and development, as well as product expansion in the automotive and Internet of Things sectors. The company’s platform is already integrated across more than 50 million devices.

“At Maluuba, we’re focused on solving cutting-edge problems in artificial intelligence, specifically in natural language understanding, to give machines human-like intelligence,” said CEO Sam Pasupalak in a statement. “We’re integrating this technology into a portfolio of products to make interactions with smart devices easier and more seamless than ever before – and this funding will open the door to even more possibilities for us.”

The company also said it has expanded its board to include Dave Grannan, a previous Vice-President of Nuance Communications and now the CEO of Light, as well as Nautilus Managing Director Brian Kang and Emerillon Managing Director Ludovic Andre.

“Natural language is the unsung hero of deep learning right now, and Maluuba has the chops to significantly advance how we think about and interact with all the machines in our lives,” said Grannan. “Maluuba’s innovation in natural language understanding brings me back to my Vlingo roots and I’m excited to support the next wave of change with the bright minds at Maluuba.”

Added Andre: “No one is tackling deep learning like Maluuba. Their ability to customize solutions for partners in a variety of industries gives them the edge we look for and makes us confident in their potential as a long-term partner with patient capital.”

Maluuba has now raised a total of $12 million in funding. 

Global Game Jam Set for Volta

Volta Labs in Halifax next weekend will be the Nova Scotian base for the Global Game Jam, or GGJ, a worldwide weekend event that unites creative minds to develop games.

The 48-hour event will give participants a chance to develop video games, or more traditional amusements like board and card games.

The event is set to begin at 5 pm on Jan. 29 at the facility at the Maritime Centre office on Barrington St. Anyone 16 years old or older can join the event and the registration is available here.

“Jammers can form teams or join existing ones on Friday and even sleep overnight at Volta to get their games finished,” said Melody Pardoe, Executive Director of Volta. “It’s a great way for anyone to make something fun with friends or meet others in the development, design and gaming community.”

GGJ is the largest multi-site game jam in the world, and this year it will be the largest in its six-year history. Last year’s event attracted more than 28,000 registered participants in 78 countries. At the 2015 GGJ in Halifax, eight games were submitted to the international GGJ website. Creative commons license and IP rights protect every game created at the event so jammers can keep their game to share and develop after GGJ.

The event begins on Jan. 29 at 5 p.m. in each time zone, beginning in New Zealand and ending in Hawaii. Every time zone is given the Jam’s yearly theme when the event begins. Each team must brainstorm and develop a game around the theme within 48 hours.

“Participating in Global Game Jam immersed me into the realm of game design for the very first time,” said Alex Gillis, 17 year-old founder of and winner of the Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur Award. “I worked as a designer on animations and sprites for my team's game. However, over the course of the event I learned new skills such as Unity development and programming in C Sharp.”

Single tickets cost $5 and team tickets cost $10. The ticket price includes the cost of food and drinks for the whole weekend. 

Four Hotspots in Ottawa’s Tech Policy

The symbolism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to southern Ontario last week was tremendously important for his government because it gave important signals about its industrial strategy.

Trudeau toured the Toronto-Waterloo innovation corridor, announcing funding for a few key projects and opening Google’s shiny new Canadian engineering headquarters in Kitchener. And throughout the tour, he spoke about how important innovation is for the Canadian economy.

“I’m tremendously optimistic about the Canadian economy, and it’s not just because I’m standing in a place like this,” he told a cheering crowd in the lobby of the restored block that Google occupies.

 “Canadians have always been forward-looking problem solvers. … We need a government that bets on Canada and invests in Canadian innovation.”

Trudeau Opens Kitchener's Google Office

The message is clear, the logic inescapable. The oil patch is now a rust belt, and the government is seizing on the development of new technologies as its best hope for our economic future. The question is what the government can do to support technology.

The discussion will probably focus on four areas:

•Don’t mess up what’s working

The federal government has some great initiatives that support innovation, like the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program and the Canada Revenue Agency’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development program. There will always be budgetary pressures on programs, but the government should resist the temptation to cut back on programs that are working.

•Taxation of stock options

The recently formed Council of Canadian Innovators has already started lobbying the government to forgo a campaign promise to increase the tax on stock options. Growing Canadian tech companies need to attract top talent, and it becomes more difficult to lure people if the duty on their options looks punitive.

•The Trans-Pacific Partnership

This one’s tricky because tech entrepreneurs explicitly believe in opening up trade. But former Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie has warned that the deal includes clauses on intellectual property that could make Canada a “permanent underclass” in the innovation economy. The government will reveal within weeks how it will handle this. It’s difficult to predict which way it will go.

•Developing the Toronto-Waterloo corridor

This would be a hard political sell for much of the country, but improving transportation between Toronto and the Kitchener-Waterloo region would aid tech development across the country.

Kitchener-Waterloo is one of the world’s greatest centres for developing tech talent. Yes, the world’s.

Toronto is home to Canadian corporations and a lot of investors. They’re only 100 kilometres apart, but congestion in the Greater Toronto Area means it can take as much as three hours to travel one way between them.

A high-speed rail service would marry Kitchener-Waterloo engineering with Toronto’s capital. It would establish a centre of excellence in technology that would provide invaluable resources for the country, in terms of training, outsourcing, capital and assistance with sales.

It’s difficult to convince voters outside Toronto that this could help their regional economies, but startup ecosystems in places like Atlantic Canada and the Prairies would be strengthened if Toronto-Waterloo becomes one of the world’s great centres for innovation.

OnPoint Brings NFL Data to the Fans

Tyler Lyn, left, Vitaliy Kondratiev, and Elisha Ferrara, founders of the mobile sports data company OnPoint Sports.

Tyler Lyn, left, Vitaliy Kondratiev, and Elisha Ferrara, founders of the mobile sports data company OnPoint Sports.

Elisha Ferrara is a Canadian entrepreneur who wants NFL fans to have the same data on their cell phone that the sports announcers have in their broadcast booth.

For free.

Ferrara is the CEO of Kitchener, Ontario-based OnPoint Sports, whose mobile app now provides the user with the broadest range of data possible on an optimal smartphone interface. He started the project because, as a football fan, he thought he could do better than the “dinosaur era apps” that are available for NFL fans. Now his company has almost 5,000 users and he’s looking for a second round of funding.

“Simply put, OnPoint provides a much better service than the standard network-backed sports apps most people are used to,” said Ferrara, pointing to the cell phone in his hand as he sat in the Communitech hub. “We have seen explosive innovation in almost all areas of mobile tech with the exception of sports – OnPoint is the first app to bring sports into the future.”

Early in 2015, he and two work colleagues Vitaliy Kondratiev, and Tyler Lyn began to build an app that would provide instant data to football fans. The business rationale was that the NFL obviously has a massive international following, and its fantasy football bi-product is an even bigger business. In fact, fantasy football is estimated to be an $11 billion-a-year business, exceeding the total $10 billion in revenue brought in by the NFL itself. The business case made sense, and the all three quit their jobs on the same day to focus on OnPoint.

The app, which operates on Android and iOS operating systems, allows the easy display of data on all 32 NFL teams and their players. This includes stats on every play of every game, league leaders in various categories, all presented with charts and tables to provide a visual display of the information the user wants.  

Ferrara said the most popular feature is the side-by-side comparisons of players, which help fantasy football players compare two players on their rosters and decide which they should play in any given weekend.

Going into the 2015 season, the OnPoint team had coded the app, but needed to buy the data so it would work. They found themselves in a Catch-22 situation in which funders wouldn’t put money into the company until they could assess the market reaction to the app loaded with the data; but OnPoint couldn’t buy the data until it got funding.

So Ferarra struck a deal. Sportradar, which provides data to a range of leading media sites, granted the company a trial run through the preseason.  That was just enough of a pilot to convince investors that OnPoint had a market. The company was able to raise about $85,000 – enough to licence the data and cover the storage and server costs.

OnPoint now offers data that dates back to the 2012 NFL season, and is up-to-date with current games. In fact, the app is able to update data three to five seconds after each play in a live football game. The company says it’s the fastest delivery of NFL data on the market.

With about 5,000 users, fans are adopting the technology. Thirty-year-old Brian Kelly, of the Dallas suburb of Little Elm, was browsing the App Store early in the season, found OnPoint and has been using it since.

“I’m a web developer so I noticed the good design first, then I noticed the speed,” he said in an interview. “Mainly I use it for fantasy. Unfortunately, I was plagued with injuries this year but the player head-to-head feature definitely helped a lot.”

As you might expect, most of OnPoint’s clients are in the U.S. but it also has strong penetration in its home country of Canada, and surprising penetration in Mexico. When the company learned of the popularity of the NFL in Mexico, the founders had the content translated into Spanish and got some media play in Mexico City. It led to a surge in Spanish-language users.

With the football season soon ending, Ferrara is now looking ahead. He and his partners are examining sports other than football to cover, and they are trying to raise about $250,000 to push the product forward.

“I can see in the future having all the big sports in here,” he said. “What we’ve been able to build so far is really user friendly, and we want to keep growing. “

Venn Partners with YEC in Moncton

Doug Robertson

Doug Robertson

Venn Innovation Inc. and Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge have entered a multi-year partnership to provide more opportunities for New Brunswick’s future entrepreneurs.

Under the partnership announced this month, Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge will establish an office in Moncton’s Venn Centre and develop several initiatives to promote youth entrepreneurship.

Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, or YEC, is an annual competition organized in conjunction with schools and communities that supports entrepreneurial projects headed by youth.  The program aims to help fulfill teachers’ curriculum and teach students necessary skills through an annual entrepreneurship competition. YEC hopes that this partnership will expand its ability to impact more students, and and create more startups.

The 2016 Gala for the competition will be help May 18 at the Crown Plaza in Moncton.

“We are very excited about the possibilities this partnership presents for the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge,” said YEC Executive Director Sarah Short. “Our partnership with Venn will provide a natural connection between our programs for youth and the entrepreneurship development that is taking place through Venn’s programs and services for entrepreneurs.”

Venn Innovation was founded in 2010 to support innovation-based economic development by a collective of technology entrepreneurs. Today, Venn helps New Brunswick tech start-ups sustain and grow their businesses. Through the partnering with YEC, it hopes to bring services to the younger generation of innovators.

“This partnership is a natural progression for us,” said Venn Innovation President and CEO Doug Robertson. “Our Vennture Garage program helped create 15 new start-ups in its first year of operations in Moncton and we take great pride in noting that one of those companies was the winning team from the 2015 Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.”

The partnership is effective immediately and more details on the 2016 YEC as well as future initiatives will be announced in the coming weeks. YEC is open to people from kindergarten through age 35.

Jobs of the Week: Fredericton Hiring

This week in Jobs of the Week, we’re featuring three positions in Fredericton, with TotalPave and CyberPsyc; and one in Brampton, Ontario with Prism Tradeshow Lighting.

TotalPave is a growth stage startup company that gives municipalities the ability to collect valuable, objective road condition data using smartphone devices for a fraction of the costs incurred by current collection methods.

CyberPsyc provides online computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. Its platform product WellTrack provides help with stress, anxiety, depression, and phobias.

Prism Tradeshow Lighting is a full-service tradeshow lighting company with locations in both the U.S. and Canada. Focused on customized lighting solutions for the trade and consumer show industry, Prism offers a full line of innovative LED products along with halogen, fluorescent, and metal halide lighting products.

Entrevestor and Qimple operate the Entrevestor Job Board, which helps match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities. Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.


Software Developer

TotalPave is currently seeking a software developer to be a key member of the team to develop and support products in the pavement management industry. The candidate will be responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining complex, cutting-edge technology for the customers in global markets. Qualifications for the position include an undergraduate degree in Computer Science/Engineering or equivalent. Experience with Amazon AWS, HTML, jQuery, Bootstrap, or associated web development technologies would be an asset.

Business Development Representative

TotalPave is seeking someone with a passion for customer service and building relationships. As a business development representative, the employee would work closely with local clients while leveraging their prospecting and closing skills in pursuit of new business. The predominant task will be managing and building a sales pipeline. An undergraduate degree in a related field, and a driver’s license with a reliable vehicle for out of town travel are necessary qualifications. Experience in lead generation, B2B sales, social media marketing, meetings, proposals, and RFP responses is recommended.


Full Stack Developer

CyberPsyc is looking for a full stack developer with three or more years of experience. This person will be required to develop the company’s offering and provide direction to management on technology selections and future features. The successful candidate will also be required to assist in the technical on-boarding and support of new customers using CyberPsyc solutions. Strong communication skills, written and verbal, are a must. Responsibilities include working alone or with small teams, solving customer problems, learning new technology and tools, reviewing existing designs/systems to enhance and improve.  Qualifications include a bachelor degree in computer science and three to five years’ experience in a similar role.

Brampton, Ont.

Prism Tradeshow Lighting

Central Operations Manager

Prism Tradeshow Lighting is looking for an experienced central operations manager to join its team in Brampton, Ont. The central operations manager will ensure and improve the performance and profitability of central operations. He or she must also lead the central business functions. This position is a flexible, part-time contract or semi-retirement role (approximately 20-30 hours per week). Qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree in Business Engineering or Business Administration (or equivalent experience) and 10 or more successful years’ operations experience at a management level.

PM Opens Google’s Kitchener Office

Prime Minister Trudeau opens the new office.

Prime Minister Trudeau opens the new office.

Google opened its new engineering centre in Kitchener on Thursday, tripling the size of its staff and broadening its presence in one of the world’s great centres for technological talent.

The new company was officially opened by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said Google’s expansion shows that technology and innovation are bright spots in the Canadian economy.

“The reason for my visit today is to highlight that there is tremendous positive news in the Canadian economy,” Trudeau told about 1,000 people who packed the lobby of the restored building.

Trudeau praised the Waterloo Region as an “extraordinary hub” of innovation and said that it represents the Canadian tradition of creating and adopting new technologies to solve problems. It’s a reason for optimism in the Canadian economy, he said.

The Tale of Two Trudeaus

The stop at the Google building was part of two-day tour of the Toronto-KW corridor that highlighted the role of innovation in the new government’s economic strategy. Trudeau also announced support for water-filtration technology at the University of Waterloo, and pledged $20 million for the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine at the MaRS innovation centre in Toronto.

But Google was the big event. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google first opened its Waterloo-area office 10 years ago with four employees, and for years it grew in the Tannery Hub, best known as the home of Communitech.

About a year ago, the company decided it has outgrown the Tannery and so it restored part of the Breithaupt Block, where it now occupies 185,000 square feet of space.

Today, about 400 Canoodlers (that’s a Canadian Googler) work in the office, including 350 engineers, 60 percent of them graduates of the University of Waterloo.

The office will be Google’s engineering headquarters for Canada, and its occupants will work on a range of products:

- Gmail, especially mobile Gmail;
- Chrome, including the work on Chrome touch, which allows a touch function on laptops and desktops;
- Google Ads;
- OnHub, Google’s new routers for the home;
- And Fiber, a streaming service that the company plans to launch soon in the U.S.

“This is an important expansion story, and it’s not restricted just to Google,” said Sam Sebastian, the Managing Director of Google Canada. “Within a few blocks of where I’m standing, there are more than 1,000 technology companies who call Kitchener-Waterloo home.”

The significance of the new Google office can’t be overstated for the Waterloo area. It is one of several large companies, including Shopify, that have decided to conduct large scale development work in the region to take advantage of the talent coming out of the universities. What’s more, at a time when the Waterloo Region is working to develop links with major corporations, it helps immensely to call one of the world’s biggest tech companies a cornerstone client.

Finally, the restoration of the Breithaupt Block, first opened as a rubber factory in 1902, deepens the architectural character of the city. Like the Tannery and the recently restored headquarters of Vidyard on King Street, the building features the exposed brick and original beams that harken back to the city’s industrial past.  The architectural message is clear and becoming pervasive in the city: Kitchener-Waterloo is honouring and remembering its industrial forebears but the cornerstone of its economy is now the knowledge industry companies that have restored these buildings. 

Foresight Pays Off for Trish Kiley

Trish Kiley: 'Being in the digital space, we sensed what was coming.'

Trish Kiley: 'Being in the digital space, we sensed what was coming.'

For Trish Kiley, president and CEO of digital media company Advanced Publishing, success in business means anticipating trends in publishing and technology.

Forward-thinking is essential because the Saint John, N.B., company helps publishers make digital versions of their publications for viewing on multiple devices.

Kiley anticipated the boom in phablet use in 2012. Phablets are phones with larger screens, midway in size between smartphones and tablets. They have led to more content being read on mobile devices.

She also foresaw the rise of digital media back when she founded her company in 2003.

“Being in the digital space, we sensed what was coming. Craigslist was starting a free classified advertising service in the U.S.,” she said.

“We foresaw that ads would be given away free, then upsold (up-selling allows money to be charged for a premium ad). Kijiji did that, and they’re now owned by eBay and dominate the classified market in Canada.”

Xiplinx Funded by NBIF, BDC, Angels

Kiley said she tried to share her insights about the impending sea change with newspapers, but most didn’t listen.

“At first, we thought newspapers would be our biggest group of clients, but they seemed to be stuck in their ways and missed the boat on much of the changing horizon.

“Most owned their own printing presses, did everything in-house, and they didn’t see the need for digital versions of their publications.

“They had the classified advertising market sewn up, and they subsequently lost most of that.”

Kiley said her six-employee company provides clients with a full range of services designed to help them maximize their digital magazine readership and advertising revenues.

Advanced is tweaking its technology to make its product so easy to use it could provide a less expensive self-service model.

“It’s often difficult to provide full-service and self-service models at the same time, however. It’s hard to be good at everything.”

Changes are also being made to the way magazine stories scroll when read digitally.

“We have to ensure readers see adverts as they scroll digital versions, but we also make stories scrollable in simple text for mobile devices; really, things are moving to a more hybrid approach.”

Kiley enjoys the challenges and responsibilities of entrepreneurship, although she never intended to found a startup. Raised in Fredericton, she studied chartered accounting at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John and then worked in the corporate world.

“I fell into entrepreneurship. I was CFO of cable company Fundy Cable in New Brunswick. After that, I looked to buy an existing traditional business in Saint John but couldn’t find one.

“I worked for the Exigen Group, a software company in San Francisco. One of my shareholders suggested this idea. I thought it was time. I was 40, and it was now or never.”

When she started Advanced, she received investment from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, which retains some investment in the company, and three other private investors, who she subsequently bought out.

At first, business was slow, but the introduction of the iPad in 2010 changed everything because it made reading digital content much easier.

“The iPad created a tipping point that made publishers see that digital content wasn’t going away,” she said.

Trends will continue to shift, but Kiley is happy with the niche Advanced has created.

“We’re not going after mega publishers. Most of our clients don’t have their own technical team. They outsource to us. We work with a lot of associations.”

Advanced faces a lot of competition.

“Our competitors are creeping up all the time, but we have a lot of knowledge,” Kiley said.

“We’ve been in the space for 13 years. We have many strategies. … Advanced is now a sustainable business. It’s never going to be a $100 million company. I don’t want that. It’s a lifestyle business for me.”

Covering Two Prime Ministers Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is right at home in a classroom.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is right at home in a classroom.

This is a tale of two Prime Ministers Trudeau, divided by about 30 kilometres and just over 32 years.

The most recent of these prime ministers, Justin Trudeau, visited Kitchener on Thursday to open the city’s new Google office. Standing in the clutch of reporters in the packed lobby, I was reminded of a chilly night in November 1983 when I travelled to Guelph to report on Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I wondered how many journalists have reported on both men, even fleetingly as I have now done. Not many, I bet. So in a real departure for Entrevestor, I want to record my impressions of covering our father-and-son Prime Ministerial tandem.

In late 1983, I got to cover Prime Minister Trudeau revealing the details of his peace initiative at the University of Guelph. In the dying days of his tenure, Pierre Trudeau wanted to add to his legacy (and divert attention from the dire economy) by championing a disarmament program he would propose to the Soviets and Americans.

I was 23 at the time and delighted to report on the august PM before he left office. I recall it was a snowy evening, though that memory may be a distortion from the fog of three decades. The hall was full of students. A few peaceniks were outside protesting the fact that Trudeau had given the U.S. permission to test cruise missiles in Canadian territory.

PM Opens Google's Kitchener Office

Even though he’d been PM for most of the past 15 years, I couldn’t help but be struck by Pierre Trudeau’s brilliance. He opened the speech with an offhand remark about the oriigins of the word “Guelph” in Italian history. Then he mentioned the mythical symbolism of the Gryphon (the university’s nickname). You knew damn well that no speech writer put that in – it was all Trudeau, drawn from his astonishing memory.

Then he went into the details of his peace initiative, which as I recall was a twin-track policy that relied on disarmament on one hand and a mix of diplomacy and conventional arms on the other. I do remember that I was on deadline and madly flipping through pages of the speech, trying to keep up mentally with the brainiest of Canadian prime ministers. I can’t say I succeeded.

Watching his son work the crowd at the Google office on Thursday, I was unable to detect any genetic link between the two of them, except possibly the high cheek bones. They’re completely different species.

Is Justin Trudeau super-smart as well? I have no idea. He never manifests the professorial learning that his father did. But likeable – Holy Lord, is this guy likeable? He’s at ease with people regardless of their age, whereas Pierre Trudeau gave the impression he would rather be off reading by himself.

The Prime Minister appeared at Google with no jacket, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up and the top button undone. His father was known to be thrifty in buying clothes, but he was nonetheless a dandy.

Justin Trudeau’s first event at the Google office was meeting with a group of school kids who were learning technology through Codemakers, a program that Google is providing with Actua with the goal of teaching tech to 100,000 Canadian children. The Prime Minister, a former school teacher, seemed to thrive on the chance to be with kids, viewing their work and taking them on a virtual reality tour of the Parliament buildings.

Then he was in front of about 1,000 people at the opening and the boyish charm only continued. He noted he had once visited the Google office in Montreal, where he’d played on the climbing wall and rode a unicycle. He apologized that with the “stature” of his new position he wasn’t going to ride a unicycle at the Kitchener office.

“There are limits to how much people will put up with from a geeky prime minister,” he said to roars of laughter. “And I know I’m pushing the limits.”

Note the word “geeky.” Here’s one final difference between the two men – Justin Trudeau is embracing geekdom the way Pierre embraced erudition. The Prime Minister emphasized that when he studied engineering he became a pretty good coder in C++. The backdrop for the photo op yesterday was several rows of Google engineers. He taught the school children what an algorithm is.

Just playing to the crowd in tech-city? Probably not. Justin Trudeau now has to manage a miserable economic situation, and tech offers a rare bright spot in the gloom environment. I think we’ll be hearing more talk of innovation from our new leader.

Mobile Ecommerce To Boom in 2016

Duncan Stewart: Mobile touch commerce will grow 150 percent in 2016.

Duncan Stewart: Mobile touch commerce will grow 150 percent in 2016.

This will be the year when we begin to buy stuff on our cell phones.

That is the main forecast from Deloitte Canada in its 2016 predictions for the Technology, Media and Telecom markets. The global consultancy on Wednesday released its annual outlook for the TMT segment, which has become a post-New Year rite for the tech community.

Deloitte said that the tech world this year will feature the consumer introduction of virtual reality hardware and the continued growth of mobile gaming, but the highlight is that “mobile touch commerce” will enter the mainstream.

“Mobile touch commerce so far has been restricted to window-shopping and browsing and price comparison but not to actual purchases,” Duncan Stewart, Deloitte Canada’s Director of TMT Research, said in an interview following his presentation of the report in Toronto. “Making that easier so that people complete purchases is going to be big.”

Report Highlights Challenges of Women in IT

Stewart explained that in the middle of 2015, some 29 percent of Canadians used their smart phone to browse shopping sites, but only 6 percent made a purchase. However, touch commerce (which simplifies the shopping process) will reduce the time taken to make a purchase. Deloitte predicts mobile ecommerce will increase by 150 percent this year.

Here are Deloitte’s other findings and predictions, with all figures in US dollars:

Mobile games: There’s good news and bad news in this category, which is important to the Canadian economy. Mobile will become the leading games platform by software revenue in 2016, generating 37 percent of sales. This compares to 34 percent for PC games and 29 percent for console games. However, each console game will produce $4.8 million of revenue and each PC game $2.9 million. The total revenue per mobile game: $40,000.

Mobile ad-blockers: Mobile ad-blockers will thwart just 0.1 percent of the $70 billion global mobile advertising market. That adds up to just $100 million. Deloitte expects 0.3 percent of Canadian mobile owners will use an ad-blocker in 2016.

Millennials love their PCs: 18– to 24-year-old Canadians will not abandon personal computers in 2016, said Deloitte. While they may be the smartphone generation, they plan to buy and use PCs more than any other age group in Canada. In a 2015 Deloitte survey, 25 percent of these younger millennials said they hope to get a new laptop in the next 12 months.

Virtual reality: Virtual reality headsets will move from the lab to the store in 2016 with hardware and software sales totaling $1 billion globally, and less than $30 million in Canada. Stewart personally is skeptical about the craze for VR headsets, saying: “It’s like wearing a bucket on your head.”

Movie theatres are safe: The value of movie theatre admissions in the U.S. and Canada will fall by about 3 percent in 2016 to about $10.6 billion, with about 1.3 billion tickets sold. Box office success is largely dependent on the slate of movies released, but since 2002 it has never gone down more than 6 percent or up more than 10 percent.

U.S. TV: This is undergoing erosion, not implosion Deloitte believes the U.S. traditional television market, a bellwether for the Canadian market, will shrink gradually over time. The same thing will happen in Canada, although Canadians watch about 240 minutes of TV daily, compared with 320 minutes in the U.S.

Artificial Intelligence: By the end of 2016, more than 80 of the world’s 100 largest enterprise software companies will have integrated cognitive technologies in their products, signaling a true coming of age for AI. This is a 25 percent increase on 2015. By 2020, Deloitte expects that about 95 percent of the top 100 companies will have incorporated one or more cognitive technologies.

Gigabits to the home: The number of gigabit-per-second (Gbit/s) Internet connections available to Canadians will surge to over 4 million by the end of 2016, said Deloitte. It’s hard to say how many will subscribe in that first year, but the firm expects at least 100,000 homes by year end, in line with global adoption. 

Deloitte: More Women Needed in IT

In its 2016 predictions on leading high-growth industries, Deloitte Canada has highlighted one of the black marks in the tech industries: the lack of women working in the field.

The Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecom predictions are customarily a thorough examination of what innovative products will be hot with customers in a given year. But this year, Duncan Stewart, Deloitte Canada’s Director of TMT Research, and his colleagues have devoted about 4,000 words of the report to the problems facing women in the tech space. 

The report predicts that only 22 percent of information technology jobs in Canada will be held by women this year, lagging behind the 24 percent mark in the U.S. These levels are unlikely to change from 2015.

“With gender parity the goal, the solution will be complex and take time, decades even,” said Deloitte. “To get there, we need improvements to the education pipeline (only 25 percent of those studying computer science in Canada are women, down from 2009 levels of 27 percent); the recruiting and hiring process; retention rates; pay and the path to promotion.”  

One thing that the report highlights is that there is little indication that this problem is improving. There is limited data available for Canada, but the information shows that there has been little change the gender makeup of the Swedish or American tech industries in the past several years.

Stewart said in an interview that the problem is not only in attracting women to the industry but also in retaining them. Women are 45 percent more likely than men to leave an IT job after a year, and over five years are more than twice as likely to leave IT altogether.

Some problems – such as the fact that only one in four computer science students is female – are difficult for companies to correct, said Stewart. But others could be addressed quite quickly.

The Deloitte data shows that one of the big barriers to increasing the number of women in technology is the culture within the industry. Some 27 percent of female IT workers said they felt “discomfort” with the work environment, which is often oriented to male tastes. A high proportion said that they had received sexual advances.

Then there are problems of pay. In the U.S., a female web designer earns 79 cents for every dollar made by her male counterpart.

Stewart added that even the hiring process could change to encourage more women to apply for IT positions. For example, he showed a list of words that women find off-putting in job applications – words like “hierarchal” or “ninja”. If women see such words, they’re unlikely to apply for a position, so companies should avoid using them.

The Deloitte report did find some signs for hope. For example, it said that women hold 27 percent of the IT management positions in the U.S. – a higher proportion than women’s total representation across the whole IT industry. And there are definite role models now with such noted female C-level executives as Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

But overall, there is a lot of work to be done.

“There appears to be a problem in the industry, a hostile culture, and that has to improve,” said Stewart. 

2nd Crowdfunding Rule Due Jan. 25

In a little less than two weeks, there will be not one but two sets of rules overseeing equity crowdfunding in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. And then, there will have to be a few test cases to more fully understand how this crowdfunding thing works in Canada.

On Jan. 25, the so-called Crowdfunding Exemption will come into effect in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and three other provinces (most importantly Ontario.) It will fill in the regulatory framework under which companies can sell equity (or debt or some hybrid) online in Canada.

But it will be a while until all the questions are answered about how the crowdfunding regime will work.

Here are the facts:

There will be now two sets of rules overseeing equity crowdfunding, known in legalese as the Crowdfunding Exemption and the Startup Exemption. They are approved by various provincial regulators, and in Atlantic Canada both are approved in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The Crowdfunding Exemption – which comes into effect on Jan. 25 – will allow companies to raise a maximum of $1.5 million each year, with a $2,500 ceiling for most individual investors per deal, to a maximum of $10,000 a year. This set of rules places tighter restrictions on the fundraising portal than the other plan.

The Startup Exemption was outlined by six provinces last May. No company can raise more than $250,000 in a single campaign, and companies are limited to two campaigns a year. Investors are limited to maximum investments of $1,500 per company.

So there are still lots of questions to be answered. The Startup Exemption looks attractive because a company could potentially raise $1.5 million. But they would end up with at least 600 investors, which could create a range of administrative problems.

Crowdfunding campaigns are known to be intense procedures, and some question whether it is easier to spend the time to court a handful of seasoned, wealthy investors rather than undergo a crowdfunding campaign.

What’s more, no one knows what an equity crowdfunding campaign will look like, as securities regulators are likely to place strict conditions on what issuers can say during a campaign.

Mounted against all these concerns is clear evidence in Europe that crowdfunding can be a fantastic tool for companies needing money. Consider just one example: The British portal Crowdcube, according to its website, has had 350 successful campaigns that have raised a total of £133 million (C$274 million.)

Stay tuned. 

Moncton McCain Event Postponed

The Moncton Cybersocial and Angel Den that we wrote about last week has been delayed by a week because of a winter storm.

The event -- which will feature executives from McCain Foods and its startup partners Resson Aerospace and Fiddlehead Technology -- will now take place on Jan. 20. The event is free but attendees are asked to RSVP here

Twisted Oak Studios Bought by River

Devin Horsman: 'It means expansion.'

Devin Horsman: 'It means expansion.'

Twisted Oak Studios, a Halifax gaming studio specializing in virtual reality, was bought for millions of dollars by River Studios of San Francisco.

The deal was signed in August, and it allowed Twisted Oak, now named River Canada, to remain in Halifax, grow its development team and sharpen its focus on the growing business of virtual reality.

“It provides a lot of stability,” said co-founder Devin Horsman in an interview. “It means expansion. We’ve almost tripled in size since then. We have about 13 people now.”

Horsman and co-founder Matthew Jewkes are providing few details of the deal, other than to say it was worth seven figures. River Studios, which is backed by seed-stage venture capital fund Rothenberg Ventures of San Francisco, initiated the deal to buy the engineering team, as well as Twisted Oak’s intellectual property.

Horsman will continue to lead the acquired company as the director of River Canada, as well as joining River Studios International as technical director.

In the last month, Forbes magazine named Horsman one of the top 30 people under 30 in the gaming industry.

Rogers Buys Halifax's IAI

Jewkes negotiated a special deal that will allow him to move on to found his own company. He and co-founder Rachael Craig have formed an outfit called Smart Company, which will be based in Vancouver but have some staff in Halifax. It has created an advanced data tool to track scientific progress and research-based products, now being tested with private clients.

Horsman and Jewkes founded Twisted Oak in late 2009 and say it soon became a “technical hit squad that interacted primarily with gaming and associated teams.” It became known in the gaming world as a company that gaming studios could go to with a problem in a variety of fields and Twisted Oak would find a solution.

Though its work was varied, it developed strengths in virtual reality, the portrayal of a 3D world in an immersive environment, and in Unity, a cross-platform engine on which programmers can create 3D products.

Last summer, Twisted Oak was working on a film with River and others that was to appear at the Sundance festival. After the work was done, River proposed that rather than pay Twisted Oak, it should just buy the company. The led to the sales agreement in August, and the Halifax group will focus on virtual reality and Unity 3D.

“We’re doing cutting-edge interactive storytelling,” said Horsman. “Think Pixar movies that change with what you do while you’re watching them. The characters will interact with you. There are interactive elements in games that you play that change while you play.”

He said the company will likely add about one person a month for the foreseeable future, and that the broader River Studio group could reach 100 people, including the Halifax operation, within a year.

Though they will miss the variety of being jacks of all trades, Jewkes said the focused approach will allow River Studio to become a leader in its field.

“One of the great things that this deal will do is let them focus on VR. When you’re a leader in a field like Devin is, it really helps when you can focus on one field and make it special.”

Jobs of the Week: Timeless Group

Today in Jobs of the Week, we’re featuring four jobs available with Charlottetown-based Timeless Group of Companies – three with Timeless Veterinary Systems and one with Timeless Medical Systems.

Timeless Veterinary Systems is a specialized software development company that creates innovative products for veterinary professionals. Timeless Medical makes mobile, point of care clinical applications that are on the cutting edge of medical technologies, covering multiple areas of the hospital. The companies say they look and act like startups but they have the benefit of being supported by their established parent company.

Entrevestor and Qimple operate the Entrevestor Job Board, which helps to match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities. Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.

Timeless Veterinary Systems

Senior Software Developer

Timeless Veterinary Systems is looking for energetic and well-rounded Senior Software Developers who will excel at designing and implementing medical applications for the veterinary market. The senior developer’s main goal is to provide advanced level hardware, software and systems support for the various veterinary specialists using the company’s Telemedicine Platform. This person must work on new features and build software from the ground up. The candidate should have a degree in Computer Science, Information Technology or have equivalent work related experience. Ten years or more of experience in a range of technical areas would be an asset.

Intermediate Software Developer

Timeless Veterinary is searching for energetic and well-rounded Intermediate Software Developers who will excel at designing and implementing medical applications for the veterinary market. The position requires someone who can provide advanced level hardware, software and systems support for the various veterinary specialists using the company’s Telemedicine Platform. They also must work on new features and software. Timeless Veternary is looking for candidates with a degree in computer science or IT or with equivalent work experience. They must have experience with Windows or Linux Server environments and with PHP Web Programming Architecture (LAMP / WAMP).

Technical Support Engineer

TVS is looking for a Technical Support Engineer who will excel at providing business critical technical support to partners, highly-skilled customers, IT and functional staff. As a Software Developer, the main goal is to take ownership of customer issues and see problems through to resolution. The successful candidate must also provide enterprise level technical support to our customers via phone, web, and email and other support channels. TVS is looking for someone with a degree in computer science or IT or with equivalent work experience. It would be an asset to have a year or more of experience in Windows or Linux server environments, PHP Web Programming Architecture, PHP, JavaScript, and SQL.

Timeless Medical Systems

Project Manager

The Project Manager must develop and manage a plan to implement Timeless Medical System's applications in healthcare facilities throughout North America. The successful candidate must manage multiple implementation plans simultaneously through a 90-day cycle, engaging the customer at all levels (CIO, Physicians, Clinical Managers, Nurses, IT, Training, and end users). This position interacts with customers virtually and/or on-site. The company is looking for a candidate with a Bachelor’s degree, preferably PMP certification, and a minimum of three years’ experience implementing healthcare software. 

Propel Applications to Close Friday

Propel ICT is asking a new batch of startups in the region to apply for its next cohort after announcing that senior members of its last program raised $2.3 million in venture capital investment.

Atlantic Canada’s regional tech accelerator will close applications Friday for its 2016 cohort, which will feature for the first time a session in Charlottetown. You can find application forms here.

Propel runs two simultaneous channels in its cohort. Propel Build is a program based in Moncton for more mature companies that need to scale their businesses and increase revenues. Propel Launch is a program for earlier stage companies, and is offered in conjunction with community partners, such as Planet Hatch in Fredericton, Volta in Halifax, LaunchPad in Charlottetown and Common Ground in St. John’s.

Propel is also looking for applications from the Sydney area, though companies based in Sydney will likely have to attend some sessions in Halifax, augmented by some livestreamed sessions they can view remotely.

Just before the holiday, Propel announced that the members of the last Build cohort received a total of $2.3 million in funding, mainly from its funding partners BDC Capital, Innovacorp, Venture NL (managed by Pelorus Venture Capital Ltd.) and New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

No details were announced, but the companies themselves are beginning to announce the details.

New Brunswick’s Xiplinx Technologies said last week it had raised $400,000 in equity funding and $250,000 in non-dilutive financing.

The other companies that graduated in the autumn from Propel Build were: Clean Simple and PACTA, both of Halifax; SimpTek Technologies, of Fredericton; Ongozah, of Moncton; and HeyOrca, of St. John’s.

PACTA has since then gone through the FounderFuel program in Montreal.

Members of the Build Program are eligible to receive funding from the accelerator’s financial partners:

-- BDC Capital invests $150,000 (or $250,000 for hardware companies) through a convertible note. This offer extends to Build participants from all four Atlantic provinces.

-- The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and Innovacorp offer $100,000 in convertible notes to Build grads from New Brunswick and Innovacorp respectively.

-- And Venture NL is offering $250,000 funding to grads from Newfoundland and Labrador.

From Journalism to Entrepreneurship

Angela Mombourquette

Angela Mombourquette

With her varied and adaptable work life, Angela Mombourquette considers herself a very modern journalist. The establishment of her website,, has also made her an entrepreneur.

Now, in addition to freelance writing and teaching journalism, she is learning how to monetize her site and build a community of users.

The site was created after Mombourquette was diagnosed with celiac disease and found it hard to find information that would help her eat a diet free of gluten, the mixture of proteins in grains.

Celiac disease is a condition in which the gluten in food damages the intestine. It is said to affect about one per cent of Canadians, but concern about gluten is widespread. Mombourquette said as many as seven million Canadians may be trying to avoid it.

 “I was diagnosed about four years ago,” she said. “The only treatment is a gluten-free diet for life. I soon found the thing you need is good information and, specifically, Canadian information.

“There is a lot of bad information out there. The search for information tends to take you to forums where people just speculate. As a journalist, that wasn’t good enough for me.”

She established her site last April with the aim of providing Canadians with trustworthy information that includes recipes, news, reviews and information aimed at kids.

Turning her website into a business has been aided by completing her master’s in journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, where she was part of the New Ventures stream for those interested in starting journalism-based businesses.

 “I had the journalism skills to do the site. I didn’t necessarily have the business skills. But the 10-month program taught me many things, including digital journalism skills, the basics of starting a business and how to develop my business plan.”

Mombourquette is basing her business on the research and writing skills she has acquired over her career in journalism. She is an award-winning freelance writer and columnist, and a former magazine editor.

Last year, her business concept for won second prize in the Lean Startup competition at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She won a cash prize of $2,500; she used that money and some of her savings to hire a web designer to build her site.

She is able to maintain the site herself because her first degree was in computer science, which she studied at Dalhousie, later settling in Halifax after a childhood spent as a peripatetic “army brat.”

She studied broadcasting at Ryerson University in Toronto and then worked at CBC as a producer of kids TV. Later, she got into freelance writing and magazine editing.

She teaches journalism part time at King’s and recently reduced her teaching load in order to focus on increasing her site’s advertising revenue. She plans to blend display advertising and native advertising.

Native advertising is content written to promote the product or service of a corporate sponsor. The use of native ads can be problematic if the distinction between these stories and regular journalism is not made clear.

Mombourquette said she is well-placed to handle any perceived conflict.

“My goal is to be as upfront and ethical as possible. If a sponsor is involved in a post, I will be transparent about it.

“I also plan to do some consulting in the community to help people newly diagnosed with celiac disease. And I will do some restaurant consulting. I can help restaurateurs design menus and understand the needs of diners who do not eat gluten.”

She is building a community of users for her site with the help of social media.

Being an entrepreneur suits her, she said.

 “There’s the freedom to be self-directed. I like being my own boss. And I still teach and do my freelance writing. I’m very diversified. As a modern journalist, you have to be.”

Moncton Event on Corporate Partners

Shawn Carver and David Baxter

Shawn Carver and David Baxter

There`s an event taking place in the Moncton area on Wednesday afternoon that highlights one of pressing needs for Atlantic Canadian startups – the need to for established corporations in the region to work with tech entrepreneurs.

At this month’s Moncton CyberSocial, there will be a series of presentations on the McCain Food group’s partnership with two New Brunswick startups, Resson Aerospace of Fredericton and Fiddlehead Technology of Moncton. 

Nestor Gomez, McCain Foods’ Manager of Enterprise Analytics Development, will speak just after 1 pm at the event at Centre des arts et de la culture de Dieppe. He will be followed by Peter Goggin, the CEO of Resson Aerospace, and David Baxter, President of Fiddlehead.

This session will be followed by a pitching session for young companies, and a networking time.

“McCain Foods has interest in partnering with local tech companies and the two companies that have done so are a proof of the McCain’s commitment to the local tech community,” said William Langley, an organizer of the CyberSocial. “The event will profile the experiences of a larger corporation in working with the start-up. It provides a model for other larger companies to replicate these success. Larger companies can better understand how and why this works well.”

Langley noted that the relationship with McCain Foods helped to drive funding into the startups because investors could see the young companies were working with a major company to solve problems.

Resson and Fiddlehead are very different companies but have interesting similarities. Resson collects and analyzes data from farms and uses the information to improve farm yields; whereas Fiddlehead helps food companies examine data to forecast demand and ensure the produce exactly the right amount of food to meet demand.

Other than both being involved with food, the greatest similarity is both founded on partnerships between business and technical co-founders. Goggin and Baxter are the business guys, and their co-founders are respected technical people – Rishin Behl at Resson and Shawn Carver at Fiddlehead.

The reason that this is an interesting case study is that there are so few examples of large Atlantic Canadian businesses partnering with startups to develop innovative products. The region has a weaker concertation of large corporations than most other regions, so partnerships like these are important examples of how it can be done. 

Xiplinx Funded by BDC, NBIF, Angels

Xiplinx Technologies Ltd., the New Brunswick company that helps consumer packaging manufacturers improve product line efficiency, has raised a total of $650,000 in capital after its recent graduation from the Propel ICT tech accelerator.

The core of the funding round came from Propel’s funding partners: a $150,000 convertible note from BDC Capital and a $100,000 investment from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation. (Propel and NBIF advertise on Entrevestor.)

The company also received funding from several angel investors, bringing the total equity investment up to $400,000.

CEO Brent MacDonald said the company was also able to secure an additional $250,000 in financing from other organizations, though he declined to provide details.

Xiplinx also has about $375,000 in economic development financing from the New Brunswick government that it has not drawn down. That means the company has access to about $1 million in operating capital.

Athletigen Raises US$1.55M in VC

Xiplinx is best known for its product SiteFlo, which helps managers and workers in packaging plants communicate to ensure maximum efficiency during the packaging process. The company went through Propel’s first accelerator cohort in 2012.

The company endured a difficult period in 2014 before finally targeting consumer packaging as its chosen market. MacDonald decided last year to go through the accelerator a second time to get help with scaling up the business. He said the second stint definitely benefited the company.

“I think I got some confidence back personally; that was important for me,” MacDonald said in a phone interview. “It’s no secret that our company went through a pretty challenging pivot. We had a lot of people rallying around us, and it lifted us up, and it means a lot to a business to have this support.”

As well as the moral support, he said he learned a great deal from the curriculum — things that weren’t in the program four years earlier.

He said the mentors would offer advice on more than long-term strategy. Xiplinx changed the way it did its demonstration and generated sales leads because of the advice.

Coming out of the accelerator in the autumn, the company’s sales were rising, especially in the United States.

Xiplinx now has a stronger emphasis on sales and marketing than on product development. It has struck partnerships with several companies that make packaging equipment, and its sales staff is both selling through these partners and making direct sales to end users.

“Sales are growing,” said MacDonald. “We had a really good end of the year. The most notable thing at the end of the year — and this helped to close the funding — is we had a lot of marquee customers who bought in large volumes.”

He said the company is still developing products and in particular is working on Internet of Things products — that is, automated systems that use logarithms to make adjustments in machines with greater accuracy and speed than humans.

“The whole industrial Internet of Things is hitting the (packaging) sector at the perfect time for us. We’re a bit lucky in that in the packaging sector, things really kicked in in 2015. There’s a bit of luck plus planning plus support that got us here, but 2016 is going to be a really exciting year for us.”

Canada Unveils Plan to Boost Exports

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland

Canadian businesses hoping to break into international markets can now apply for financial assistance from a new federal program announced Tuesday at Communitech.

The new program called CanExport intends to encourage small and medium-sized Canadian businesses to participate in global markets by reimbursing companies for as much as 50 percent of the costs associated with becoming export-ready.

The program aims to boost Canada’s presence in international markets by increasing Canadian companies’ competitiveness abroad and creating new jobs domestically.

“CanExport is an investment in growing our economy, strengthening the middle class and helping those working hard to join it,” said International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland in a statement. “This program will enable small businesses in Canada to explore new opportunities, giving them an advantage in competitive and potentially lucrative new markets, while creating good-quality jobs at home.”

CanExport will run over the next five years and provide as much as $50 million to an estimated 1,000 businesses. Each company will be eligible for a matching contribution between $10,000 and $100,000. Eligibility is determined by several criteria including, revenues between $200,000 and $50 million, being an incorporated legal entity or LLP and having fewer than 250 workers.

The program will support costs to businesses associated with travel, participation at trade fairs, market research, adaptation of marketing tools for new markets and legal fees associated with distribution and representation agreements.

Today 65 percent of Canada’s GDP comes from international trade, with one in five jobs connected directly to exports. Meanwhile, while small and medium-sized businesses employ nearly 90 percent of the private sector.  

“CanExport is part of our plan to support small businesses that are seeking to become more productive, more innovative, and more export-oriented,” said Small Business Minister Bardish Chagger, the MP for Waterloo. “With this program, which is part of Canada’s trade strategy, we want to make it easier for small businesses to take advantage of government financing and export-oriented supports.”

Concern has grown in government and the business community about Canada’s weak participation in foreign markets in recent years. In 2014, Canada had the lowest share of foreign investment stock in Asia or Africa of any G7 nation, and had 9000 fewer companies participating in international markets than at the start of the 2008 recession, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

ClearPicture Plans 2nd JUDI Release

ClearPicture plans to release a second version of its mobile survey application, JUDI, at the end of January, having released the first version on Nov. 4.

ClearPicture has been creating online surveys since 1995. The Halifax-based company was one of the first in the online survey industry. It offers surveys to capture insights around things like employee engagement, community newspaper readership and athletic associations.

Scott Murray, President and CEO of ClearPicture, said that the company used its survey expertise to ask customers what they would like to see from the company. Many answered innovation. 

The company took its customers’ feedback seriously and decided that with the uptake in mobile usage, JUDI fit this criterion.  JUDI allows users to provide opinions on anything a company or individual may want to know about its audience. Due to JUDI’s presence on smartphones, customers can answer companies’ questions quickly. This allows companies to ask questions on time-sensitive and relevant materials.

“We wanted a mobile-based solution that provides feedback and opinions when the user has an opinion and is willing to give it,” Murray said. “The mobile smartphone market is speed—it’s fast, it’s agile. Answering a 70 or 50 question survey is neither agile nor quick.”

The second version of JUDI will allow administrators to see the response rate to their questions within the app, rather than logging on to the online portal to see it, which is the current method. A later version of JUDI will also contain a library of questions so that users can search for questions related to their interests, such as sports, leisure and business.

 “Most providers online are simply taking a survey application and making it fit onto a mobile device, so it’s not built specifically for mobile use, but adapted,” Murray said.

With its launch at the beginning of November, over 600 users have signed up for JUDI. Sixteen of those users are companies or organizations, such as Shopify and the Greater Halifax Partnership, but the rest are customers, including Mayor Mike Savage, who was one of the first people to use JUDI.

Murray said that he hopes to see more businesses, post-secondary institutions and municipalities use JUDI.

Survey administrators on JUDI can make their questions private or public. Private channels require an invitation and companies often use them to ask their own employees questions. Anyone can answer questions in public channels.

Customers can also receive rewards points when they answer companies’ questions. JUDI offers two kinds of rewards: one offers invitations to private channels, and the other offers points within existing reward programs.

“JUDI’s filling a void in the market,” Murray said. “It’s working its way to becoming a very social application…giving feedback in peer groups and driving those type of feedback on mobile devices is very telling to the millennial generation.”

JUDI remains free for companies with one administrator and less than 100 participants. Once the company exceeds one administrator or 100 participants, JUDI costs $79 per month, and charges per administrator.

Customers can use JUDI for free. You can purchase JUDI on the iTunes store or Google Play.

5 Hot Topics in #Startupeast in 2016

Happy New Year, everyone. As we get into the groove of being back at work, let’s take a look at five things to look out for in the Atlantic Canadian startup segment in 2016.

Herding gazelles

A gazelle, in business-speak, is a company that has increased revenues by at least 20 per cent annually four or more years in a row, starting from a base of at least $1 million. Ten to 20 of these beasts now call Atlantic Canada home.

If the tech-biotech segment in the region is going to make any impact at all, these are the companies that will do it. The existing ones will have to keep getting bigger, and the overall number will have to keep growing. Which brings us to …

International sales growth

Canadian startups — not just those in Atlantic Canada — tend to grow more slowly than international competitors because they rely too much on the domestic market. In 2014, about 64 per cent of the revenue of East Coast startups came from outside Canada.

It’s a lot, but for those gazelles to grow meaningfully, international sales will have to improve. Startups based in Tel Aviv, for example, report that 74 per cent of their customers are outside Israel.

Charlottetown and the Sydney area.

These two municipalities (population 35,000 and 102,000, respectively) have burgeoning startup communities that appear ready to make some noise.

Propel ICT, the regional tech accelerator, is working on holding cohorts for its Launch program in each place. Charlottetown has the Emergence incubator program for life sciences companies. Sydney has the UIT tech program affiliated with Cape Breton University.

Both places seem ready to make some news this year.

Equity crowdfunding

This will be, depending on who you talk to, either the greatest revolution in business financing since the invention of the stock market, or much ado about nothing. In 2016, we should get a clearer idea which it is.

Securities commissions in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and other provinces are getting ready to enact two sets of regulations that will allow companies to raise equity financing online. Several European countries have launched successful crowdfunding portals that have benefited hundreds of companies. It will be interesting to see how this financing tool develops with Canada’s cautious regulators and investors.

A big deal

I mean big, like nine figures.

This year marks the fifth anniversary since two New Brunswick companies, Radian6 and Q1 Labs, sold out for a reported total of about $1 billion.

Since then, there have been a few big exits, such as Ocean Nutrition Canada of Dartmouth going for $540 million in 2012 and Charlottetown’s BioVectra selling out for $100 million in 2013. But the last two years have been marked by smaller deals, such as the sale of Halifax-area companies Ascenta and SecureReset, neither of which revealed their values.

It’s time for a bigger deal — something to get excited about.

It would be nice to think Atlantic Canada could produce an initial public offering, but it’s doubtful the public markets will be strong enough to produce strong IPOs. The acquisition of a major Atlantic Canadian startup is a possibility. Canadian assets are cheap on the international market, and there are some impressive companies to choose from.

Founder Institute to Launch in KW

The Founder Institute, which aims to mentor idea-stage entrepreneurs, will hold an introductory session for anyone interested in joining the program in the Waterloo Region.  The session will take place at 6:30 pm on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Atlas/Matrix Room at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener.

The Founder Institute is an international organization that operates in about 40 countries and is already active in three cities in Canada. The four-month program allows people with an idea for a startup to make sure the idea is valid and that they personally are well suited to launching a startup.

“If you have an idea for a technology company but you don’t have all the skills to bring that company into reality, then this is for you,” said Sunil Sharma, the Managing Partner of Extreme Venture Partners, and one of the hosts of the meeting.

Sharma said the Founder Institute is designed to help latent entrepreneurs decide if the startup life is for them. It is a rigorous course, but people can take it while working at their existing job.

Attendance at the weekly meetings is compulsory, and the participants are given homework to do each week. Each team has to pitch to the group each week. On entering, the candidates are given a psychometric examination to make sure they are well suited to the collaborative nature of startups. Not everyone completes the course.

The program helps the potential founders to assess their idea, and teaches what to look for in a co-founder and how to pitch.

Sharma and the other organizers will launch the fourth chapter of the program in Toronto on Jan. 20.

Athletigen Raises US$1.55M in VC

Halifax-based sports genetics company Athletigen Technologies Inc. has raised more than C$2 million to help to fund the growth of its flagship product, the Athletigen Performance Platform.

The company said in a statement today that the financing was led by Exponential Partners, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based venture capital fund that specializes in health and human performance innovations.  It invested US$1.55 million ($2.14 million). CEO Jeremy Koenig said there was additional angel financing in the round, though he declined to provide specifics.

Athletigen’s platform helps elite athletes to understand their athletic genetic strengths and weaknesses, so that they can improve their training regime. The company works with partners, allowing athletes to submit a sample of saliva and find out details of their genetic makeup.

"Athletigen is leading the charge of a genomic revolution, making this an exciting investment opportunity,” Exponential General Partner Pat Wilkison said in the statement. “Their unique ability to analyze individual athletic traits and recommend effective action holds tremendous potential, particularly as advances in technology have made genetic testing so affordable.”

Athletigen uses an online interface to present genetics analysis in a format that athletes and coaches, looking to improve performance, can easily understand and incorporate into their training plan. For example, if the analysis reveals that athlete has tendency toward muscle or joint injury, then he or she can adjust the training schedule to avoid injury.

The company says it has been working extensively with Olympic coaches and athletes ahead of the Olympic games this year in Rio de Janeiro.

Athletigen has also partnered recently with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Affymetrix, a global leader in genotyping microarray technology. Under the partnership, Athletigen will enhance the California company’s expert-informed proprietary DNA analysis, which analyzes 850,000 genetic variants to inform human athletic performance research.

The Halifax company said it will use the new funds to take advantage of the fast-growing consumer genomics market and advance its human performance platform to help athletes unlock their potential.

"We are proud of what our outstanding team has accomplished to date, launching the world’s most comprehensive sports genetics analysis platform,” said Koenig in the statement. “We welcome the confidence and guidance of Exponential Partners and our other investors and look forward to using these new resources to establish Athletigen as the leading human performance brand in the field of genomics."

The existing investors in Athletigen include: medical doctor Ray Muzyka, who is Co-Founder of Bioware and CEO of Threshold Impact, an angel fund that invests in information technology, new media and medical innovation; and Content Bloom, a digital agency that helps companies approach, implement and evolve technology solutions.

TranQool To Launch Mental Health App

Chakameh Shafii: 'Our mission is to make therapy affordable for Canadians.'

Chakameh Shafii: 'Our mission is to make therapy affordable for Canadians.'

The treatment for mental health issues often involves particular difficulties we rarely hear about, and a Toronto-based startup called TranQool is hoping it’s found a way to alleviate them.

Just finding the right therapist is a challenge, and the need for complete confidentiality complicates matters further. It’s hard to meet a therapist during business hours without colleagues knowing why you’re leaving work. Even meeting a therapist can be treacherous because someone may see you entering or leaving a clinic.

That’s why TranQool Co-Founder and CEO Chakameh Shafii and her team are developing an online platform that helps people with mental health issues find and work with the best therapist possible.

“We connect people with mental health professionals and we facilitate a secure video therapy session on the platform,” she said in an interview in the Communitech hub, where TranQool is now being mentored. “You don’t have to leave your house to use it, so it reduces the stigma. Everything in it is about convenience.”

Like many of the best startups, TranQool grew out of a difficulty that Shafii herself was going through. Having a Masters degree in mechanical engineering from University of Toronto, Shafii last year was working for a Fortune 500 company when she began to feel confused and anxious. She wanted to talk to a professional about her anxiety, but couldn’t find the right person.

“I just needed to talk to someone and that’s when I started looking for a therapist -- someone I was comfortable with and fit around my schedule,” she said.

AIR: A Business Founded on Resistance

What she found was that it’s hard for people in her position to find a therapist to talk to. Shafii and her co-founders are working on improving the treatment of mental health. She believes it’s a huge problem given that one in five Canadians have a mental health problem and anxiety and stress are the most common health problems among young people in the country.

The TranQool platform allows the users to search a database of therapists to try to find the right one. All are licenced social workers and are trained in cognitive behavioural therapy.  Once the patient and therapist are matched, they can book a video session, often outside office hours. It means the patients can fit the sessions into their schedule and is assured complete privacy.

Each session costs the user $60, which is an attractive rate given that therapists generally charge $120 to $400 per session. The therapists like the program because it allows them to work outside their normal hours and make extra income.

Tranquool plans to launch its product on Jan. 22 and is hoping for about 1,000 beta users. It already has a stable of 60 therapists. The initial market for the product is restricted to Ontario because it must adhere to provincial health regulations.

Shafii and her co-founder do eventually want to take the product across Canada. They hope to expand into Nova Scotia in late 2016 and then move into other provinces.

“I’m trying to solve a problem that I personally had,” she said. “This was a problem that faced me and a lot of my friends. Our mission is to make therapy affordable for Canadians.” 

Jobs of the Week: The Latest Postings

Entrevestor and Qimple have launched the Entrevestor Job Board, which helps to match job openings and candidates in the tech and startup communities.

Today we’re featuring the latest posts on the board from companies based in Toronto, Halifax and Fredericton. This is part of our Jobs of the Week feature, which appears on Entrevestor each Monday morning.

Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.



Back-End Developer

Repable, which powers data-informed decision-making for streamers and eSports athletes, is looking for a back-end developer to turn its MVP into something scalable. The position requires a lot of flexibility and deep knowledge in scraping and API consumption. The candidate would ideally have experience working with startups and/or with analytics companies. The requirements for the position include mastery of web scraping and consuming information from third party APIs, as well as a thorough understanding of Amazon Web Services and competing suites of products. 

UI/UX Designer

Repable is seeking a user interface/user experience designer – someone to design user interfaces, site flows and user flows for its product offerings. The successful candidate will have a fundamental understanding of why sites like Lever, Buffer, KISSMetrics, Slack, Hall and RescueTime look great and work well.  He or she will also appreciate the concept of designing with data, knowing when to use numbers to inform decisions, and when to go with your gut. Repable wants someone who will be responsible for Repable's visual identify, creating our public-facing assets including website and other collateral as required. The company is seeking candidates with one to six years of experience in similar roles.

Front-End Developer

Repable has a front-end development position open. This person will work closely with the back-end, product management and UI/UX design team members. The primary duty is creating and developing user interfaces for gamers using the Repable platform. This position requires prior experience -- not straight out of a programming boot camp, unless you were among the best in your class.  You may need to create assets from time to time, but you'll be focusing largely on the development side of our user experience, onboarding and dashboards. 


Clean Simple

Software Tester

Clean Simple, whose platform improves communications in commercial cleaning services, is looking for a talented Software QA lead to join its team. This person will design and implement the company’s Quality Assurance Program with the expressed objective of ensuring the best possible performance for both its Mobile and Web software. The successful candidate will be given creative control over the design of Clean Simple’s QA program with the mandate of thoroughly de-risking and refining products in development. He or she will collaborate with development and design teams to plan and execute testing across a variety of world-class applications on the newest web and mobile technologies. Clean Simple is looking for someone with three to five years of experience in a similar role.

Smart Energy

Sales & Marketing Lead

Smart Energy, which stages conferences on the future of energy, is looking for an executive to head its sales and marketing duties. This person will be responsible for "securing industry partners" for the group’s 11th annual Smart Energy event, formerly known as the Renewable Energy Conference. From your home office, you will have the opportunity to work with other team members to "increase sales and sponsor participation" through targeted one-on-one communications and marketing. You will have the opportunity to engage with industry executives and a number of key stakeholders to bring together the region's #1 smart energy event. The applicant should have a college degree in Business Development, Entrepreneurial, Sales/Event Management, Commerce, or Business Management.



Business Intelligence and Support Services Officer

The BioNB team works with start-ups, SMEs, growth stage companies and researchers to help foster economic development opportunities in New Brunswick's biosciences sector. The organization is seeking a Business Intelligence and Support Services Officer. This person will work closely with these clients to understand and assess their bioscience technologies and business development challenges. The officer will provide clients with timely and relevant advice on business development hurdles, market intelligence and market development, and determine the appropriate approach for customer/technology development. The organization is hiring for a two-year term with a possible extension, and is looking for someone with two years of relevant work experience. 

Holiday Wishes to All our Readers!

What a year it’s been! The tech and innovation communities in our markets have been on fire and we’ve had the joy of chronicling it for all of you.

From the Breakthru competition in New Brunswick to Innovation Week in St. John’s to several conferences in Halifax, the startup groups across Atlantic Canada had another great year. And we were overwhelmed by the great reception we received as we expanded into the Waterloo Region.

We’d like to thank all our readers for their support and encouragement through the year, and wish all of you a happy holidays. We also hope that all of you have a great 2016.

We’re looking forward to the new year in a big way. The biggest event on our calendar is our first Entrevestor Intelligence report in the Waterloo Region, which will be coming out in February. We’ll also be covering the I-3 Competition in Nova Scotia and plan to produce more articles based on the data we collect on Atlantic Canada.

We're taking a break now until Jan. 4, and then we'll be back to provide more coverage of these startup communities. 

May you all have a happy, peaceful holiday. See you in 2016. 

MTEI Teams Focus on Africa

SeeMePly Co-founders Samuel Ayanlaja, left, and Shawn Simamba pose at St. Mary’s University.

SeeMePly Co-founders Samuel Ayanlaja, left, and Shawn Simamba pose at St. Mary’s University.

Three students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are toiling away on a social venture that could soon help improve education in Africa.

SeeMePly is a nascent company dedicated to simplifying the process of finding and applying to private secondary schools in Africa. Its co-founders, Shawn Simamba from Zambia, Samuel Ayanlaja from Nigeria and Stephanie Winter from the Caribbean island of Antigua, are all enrolled in the master of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation program at Saint Mary’s.

The 16-month graduate program teaches students to start their own businesses, or how to innovate within a large organization. (Disclaimer: The program advertises on Entrevestor.)

What’s interesting about the current cohort is it comprises seven teams, each developing a business, and three of them feature African co-founders who are targeting the African market. By nurturing African entrepreneurs, the Canadian university is helping to bolster the middle-income bracket in Africa, an essential component in the development of emerging economies, and it’s happening through lean startup methods.

“The MTEI program is a powerful enabler for international entrepreneurship, as we see from the rich business models for the African markets that we helped foster within weeks of the students’ arrival in Halifax,” said Dawn Jutla, the professor in charge of the program.

In addition to SeeMePly, the companies include Aspira, an e-commerce platform for crafts, which is being developed by Ahlam Khoury of Ghana, and Your Surest Bus Hub, which is working on a private commuter bus service for Nigeria.

In the case of SeeMePly, co-founders Simamba and Ayanlaja understood customer pain from their own experience in the African school system. A huge percentage of secondary school students in Africa attend private schools — 60 per cent in Lagos, the Nigerian state where they hope to pilot the project.

“We’re developing an online platform to help to streamline the application process for private schools in Africa,” said Winter in an interview.

The current application process is burdensome. Students and their parents must choose from a range of schools and fill in several forms on paper for each. When applying, they have to make a cash down payment, which means going to a bank to withdraw money.

SeeMePly would streamline the process. The platform would provide information on a range of schools. Applications would be standardized and put online. It would allow electronic payments.

What excites Simamba about the project is the prospect of contributing to the African economy, first in Lagos and then in other states and countries. She said she hopes SeeMePly can help showcase excellence in education in Africa.

One day, it could allow people from outside the continent to apply to African schools.

“I think it’s very important for kids to get a good education, and I think it’s important for us as African people to support each other,” she said.

“The education I received in Zambia was really good, and we really want to showcase it. I’d love people from the U.K. or Canada to go there for school.”

An NS Teen Tackles E. coli

Rachel Brouwer

Rachel Brouwer

Three media interviews, basketball practice, schoolwork—this is a typical week in Rachel Brouwer’s life.

The 14-year-old also needs to fit in time for her own project: a water pasteurization system she created which kills 100 percent of E. coli in water.

“I don’t have one free night,” Brouwer said.

After a hike in New Hampshire, where she saw several UNSAFE DRINKING WATER signs, Brouwer started thinking about how she could purify dirty water. Her hike in New Hampshire coincided with her reading of “I Am Malala,” the autobiography of Malala Yousafzi, who was 15-years-old when shot by the Taliban for going to school in Pakistan.

“Before that, I never really knew about problems in other countries, I never really thought about it,” Brouwer said. “After reading that book, it completely changed how I think about the world.”

Brouwer knew about an upcoming Halifax science fair, and thought that creating a water pasteurization system could make an interesting project.

She was right. The then 13-year-old won the gold medal in the Canada-Wide Science Fair with her project, “Can We Improve the Quality of Water in Developing and Third World Countries?”

Brouwer’s water pasteurization system contains a wax filter, which is the innovative part of it. The wax changes colour to signal when the user can safely drink the water. When the sun has heated the water enough that it removed the bacteria, the wax will change colour to indicate that the user can safely drink the water. 

Brouwer used specific materials, like charcoal and cotton, for her filtration system because women and girls in third-world countries can access those materials to create their own systems.

“You would think that this is everywhere, this is kind of unnecessary, why wouldn’t the sun just get rid of bacteria?” she said. “If you don’t filter out the dirt particles, then the bacteria can latch on to them and hide inside of them, and the water can become contaminated.”

Charities have already approached Brouwer about bringing her system to countries like Uganda and Kenya.

Brouwer won the Lobster Pitch, an entrepreneurial pitch competition, two years in a row for her invention. Haligonian entrepreneurs judge the competition and help the winner further their project. One entrepreneur showed her how to make a website, which she plans to make in the next few months.

Brouwer was also recently named a young community hero by the Halifax Mooseheads. 

“I’d never been to a hockey game before,” Brouwer said.

At the beginning of November, Brouwer created a GoFundMe page to help her raise $25,000 to patent her system. So far, she has raised $1585.

The funding has no end date, but Brouwer said she intends to check on her funding every month to see how she can increase donations and awareness around her project.

To donate, visit

Farewell to Allison Sparling

Allison Sparling is leaving Halifax and has bid a thoughtful adieu to the city on her website.

Sparling is a 25-year-old blogger, community organizer and communications specialist who has tried to make a go of it in her native Halifax, but the economics just didn’t work out. You can find the details in her own well-chosen words at

“Twenty-five years in this city have made me an exceptional planner, mastering a transit system that is neither consistent nor logical, preparing for work that won’t last, finding new best friends every year because no one stays,” she writes.

“In Halifax, it’s hard to be present; if you’re not thinking ahead, it’s your fault for not being prepared.”

Halifax blogger Allison Sparling has tried to make a go of it in her native Halifax, but the economics just didn’t work out.

Her reasons for leaving boil down to five main points: bad transit; high rents; the insistence that entrepreneurship will fix everything; a lack of tolerance for people doing different things; and no Bruce Springsteen. (On this last point, Sparling and I are on the same page. But if she doesn’t like high rents in Halifax, she’s really going to hate the price of a Springsteen ticket in Toronto in February.)

The entrepreneurship item certainly caught my eye, given that I spend much of my time preaching that gospel. Sparling says entrepreneurs are wonderful.

“But if an upper-middle-class white person with a pension never says the word hustle again, it will be too soon.”

Fair enough. The truth of the matter, as I see it, is that there are limits to modern entrepreneurship, by which I mean the lean development of disruptive innovation to quickly move into a global market. In Atlantic Canada, it so far has not benefited three groups of people most displaced by economic and technical trends: those in rural areas, blue-collar workers and people with a background in the arts or humanities.

So Sparling is right that entrepreneurship is great, but it’s not a cure-all.

Her points about bad transit and high rent in Halifax are tied together because young people with high student debt loads are hamstrung. They struggle to find decent pay, so most of their income goes to rent. That means they can’t afford cars, and the bad transit limits opportunities to get around for shopping, employment and recreation.

The odds are slim that entrepreneurship would solve those problems. Even if an entrepreneur succeeds, and that’s always a big if, there are a few lean years when it’s really hard to make ends meet.

Does it shake my belief in entrepreneurship? Not in the long term. The greatest economic problem in the Maritimes is that we have too few high-growth businesses exporting into the global market. Hopefully, in a few years, there will be more of these companies providing a greater range of opportunity.

My one piece of advice for Sparling is the same I give all young people who tell me they’re planning to leave Atlantic Canada for Toronto: Don’t stop at Toronto.

Young people should live in other places, but you’re limiting the experience by staying in Canada. The real growth and fulfilment comes from living in foreign countries (note the plural). So think of places like Asia, Europe, South America or others. Halifax will always be here if you want to return.

The fact that Atlantic Canada is losing another talented young person is tragic, but my wish for Sparling is that it’s the beginning of a great personal adventure.


A Business Founded on Resilience

Jackie Kinley

Jackie Kinley

Workplace stress is a common cause of mental illness and distress. A Halifax venture is working to protect the health of workers by increasing their emotional toughness.

The Atlantic Institute for Resilience was founded last year by psychiatrist  Jackie Kinley, the institute’s president and CEO.

Resilience is the capacity to not only endure but to grow through challenge and adversity.

“Resilience can be developed. It has several aspects, including mental, emotional and social,” Kinley said.

People need to be mentally strong in order to deal with the complex demands of modern life, she said.

“Emotional resilience enables us to respond, not react. It helps us know our limits and when we need to slow down and relax.

“Low resilience puts people at risk of illness and injury. And we know the immense costs this assumes in human, social and economic terms.”

Kinley and her colleagues are working to boost psychological health and skills through programs they are developing for employees.

“By exploring and practising real-life situations in small groups, we aim to create the conditions for participants to develop social and emotional skills such as empathy and the ability to cope with intimacy and conflict,” Kinley said.

“The learning is effective because of the group context. The group acts like a simulator.”

The institute’s programs are under development and are only offered part time, as Kinley and her colleagues all work elsewhere. Kinley is an associate professor of psychiatry at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

Another Starting Lean Grad Heads to Next 36

Born and raised in Halifax, Kinley comes from a family of physicians. She started out as a family doctor after doing her medical training at Dalhousie but later studied psychiatry at the University of Colorado.

“I wanted to understand what drives people’s behaviour and the social circumstances in which they become ill,” she said.

“I became interested in resilience and in how to create the conditions in which people can flourish.”

She said the skills taught by the institute’s programs work by rewiring participants’ brains so bad habits are lost and new habits take root.

“Brain plasticity, the potential of the brain to change and grow throughout life, is a popular topic right now,” she said.

“There is growing awareness concerning the necessity of resilience, but there are few, if any, evidence-based programs that are specifically designed to develop it.”

She stresses that the institute is not offering therapy.

“It’s not personal. This isn’t about the past. It’s about how you act in the present.”

Kinley began the institute after she and her colleague, Daniel Rasic, took part in the Starting Lean program for entrepreneurs, run at Dalhousie University by Ed Leach and Mary Kilfoil.

The institute’s team now includes Edward Yuzda and three MBA students. Board members include local businesswomen Jane Mitchell and Barbara Campbell.

Kinley stressed that the business is very much in the planning and development phase, and is being built in close association with Dalhousie.

Early financing has been provided by independent private backers.

Kinley sees a lot of potential for growth, as clients and health insurers have already asked if the programs will be offered in other locations.

“We hope this will be a new approach to workplace health and will have a broader social impact,” she said.

“It’s destigmatizing. It’s not about illness. It’s about promoting health to prevent illness.”

She said resilience training can return people to their earlier, healthier selves.

“We are born well. We’re born wired a certain way, but we pick up habits of mind and behaviour that don’t serve us; they hinder our performance.

“This is about the science of health and performance. We have the power to engineer ourselves. It’s about building our psychological infrastructure.”

Investing Beyond Atlantic Canada

When Salt Lake City biotech company IVeena raised $1.5 million in capital this past year, it received part of its funding from an unlikely place — Atlantic Canada.

The company, which develops ocular drug products that eliminate the need to apply eye drops and painful injections, raised some money from an investment group in its home state of Utah, said the startup databank CrunchBase. But the other funder in the round was Technology Venture Corporation, a Moncton investment group founded by tech entrepreneur Jon Manship.

What’s notable about the Technology Venture involvement is that investments like this are not that unusual these days. Atlantic Canadian investors are becoming more frequent investors in new technology around the globe. And what’s interesting about this trend is that it is actually a healthy part of the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The fact that Atlantic Canadian investors are placing their money in other parts of the world is a sign that the East Coast innovation community is coming into its own, and it will ultimately benefit the region.

Examples of local investors finding targets outside the region include: Build Ventures of Halifax joined a $10-million investment round in InteraXon of Toronto, which has developed a consumer headset that reads brainwaves; and Killick Capital of St. John’s, N.L., invested in LookBook HQ of Toronto, which has developed its own online marketing platform.

Those are just the institutional deals. There are individuals (especially those who have made money in technology) who make angel investments on their own, and several of these have placed money into growing businesses outside the region.

Throughout the growth of the startup community in the past few years, there has been a constant complaint that there’s not enough capital in the region. So logic would suggest that there’s reason for concern if investors are moving money outside the region.

But when I asked Build Ventures partner Rob Barbara about the upside or downside of these investments, he said they are undeniably a good idea.

“To place restrictions on where an investor should invest is unreasonable,” said Barbara.

First off, an investor’s job is to find the best opportunities possible, and if they are focused only on a limited geographic space, they are seriously limiting themselves. Second, if the investment pays off (admitting this is never guaranteed), then money will flow back into the region, bolstering the investor’s ability to make more investments. And third, the investment process encourages collaboration with investors from other places, which helps Atlantic Canadians in drawing that capital into the region.

Barbara emphasized that investors will always invest in companies based near their headquarters because they want to work with the company and know the executive team. And the evidence shows that these Atlantic Canadian investors overwhelmingly invest in the region.

The Technology Venture Corp. portfolio, for example, includes such companies as Medusa Medical Technologies of Halifax and Inversa Systems and Sentrant Security, both in Fredericton. The Moncton investment fund was also the biggest private-sector investor in Build Ventures, further strengthening its mission to invest in Atlantic Canadian companies.

QRA Working With Lockheed Martin

Jordan Kyriakidis

Jordan Kyriakidis

QRA Corp announced Tuesday it has begun to provide Lockheed Martin engineers with an advanced early-stage systems verification solution for the development of increasingly complex cyber-physical designs.

QRA helps machine manufacturers to detect problems with their designs early in the development process. It grew out of research that Kyriakidis and his team performed at Dalhousie University under a contract for Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defence contractor.

The current work being done by the company work brings together QRA Corp’s verification technology with Lockheed Martin’s large-scale system integration and design capabilities. The company said this allows QRA to push the rigorous analysis capabilities of its QVTrace product well beyond the efficiency and effectiveness of any competing tool on the market.

“All large-scale system integrations will eventually proactively use technology similar to QVTrace,” said CEO and President Jordan Kyriakidis in a statement. “Although QVTrace is already an incredibly powerful tool for engineers, this work will help ensure it remains on the bleeding edge of innovation by taxing it with some of the most complex and demanding systems in the world. It’s an exciting time.”

To achieve this goal, QRA will develop and deliver QVTrace, which enables engineers to target and detect errors within complex systems throughout the development cycle.

By proactively ensuring critical system designs always satisfy their requirements, QVTrace will help Lockheed Martin engineers avoid costly reworks and potential catastrophic deployment failures. It does this by eliminating errors at the early stages of design – increasing systems confidence, reducing costs, and accelerating time to market.

Last year, QRA received $1 million in funding from Innovacorp.



SageCrowd, Dal to Study E-Learning

Sean Sears

Sean Sears

SageCrowd, the Halifax startup that enhances corporate training, has partnered with the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University to research the effects of training methods on online learning.

​This study, funded by an engage grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, or NSERC, will test how different variables impact learning. These variables include content assembly, unit volume, reflection, and time between learning and testing. In conducting this research, sageCrowd and Dalhousie’s NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab will find out what specific variables help students learn course content more effectively.

The company said in a statement that enterprises spend $140 billion annually on employee training with more and more of that spending moving online. E-Learning has grown to a $93 billion industry growing annually at double digits.

CTA Offers Wealth of Mentorship

Despite all this spending, most training programs are executed with little to no study on whether the program worked or how the students learned the material. The Training and E-learning industries are now paying close attention to a new discipline co-created between Psychology and Education referred to as the Science of Learning.

“This project will strengthen our Sagecrowd Way methodology providing direct input into how we refine and optimize our learning experiences,” sageCrowd CEO Sean Sears said in a statement. “The research will be invaluable to both the NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab and sageCrowd, because it will demonstrate how specific learning methods impact skill adoption and permanent memory creation.”

NSERC’s Engage grant will provide $25,000 in funding for this research. The study will take place over the next six months and involve 80 participants over four experiments.

“This project is significant in how it’s bridging a gap between academic research and business,” said Aaron Newman, Director of the NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab and principal investigator of the study. “SageCrowd is dedicated to developing a learning platform that is scientifically validated, and are eager to follow evidence-based design. This project is also an excellent opportunity for the scientists we’re training at Dalhousie to learn how to apply science outside of academia and understand the relevance of their work.”

SageCrowd is a software company that began as a tool that would construct programs to enhance the learning in personal development books. The company last year raised $850,000, including contributions from members of the First Angel Network. Sears has spent a lot of time this year at the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Boston, and the company has become more of an enterprise training business.


Disclaimer: Dalhousie University is a client of Entrevestor


Ending the Atrocity of Sweat Stains

Chanakya Ramdev meets the future PM.

Chanakya Ramdev meets the future PM.

Chanakya Ramdev got the idea for SweatFree Apparel when he had to trudge to work each day in the sweltering heat of Hong Kong.

During his coop work term with the University of Waterloo’s alumni office in Hong Kong last year, he would arrive at work with embarrassing wet patches under his arm – which were doubling embarrassing as his job required him to interact with alumni. The University of Waterloo student dedicated himself to coming up with a product that would put an end to wet armpits and the sweat stains that ruin clothes.

He and a team of collaborators have formed SweatFree Apparel, which has developed an undershirt with special pads in the armpits that absorb moisture while still allowing air to circulate through the fabric. The company, which is now in the university’s Velocity incubator, plans to launch the product in Canada next summer.

“The opportunity to attack the atrocity of sweat stains is a super cool thing to do,” said Ramdev in a recent interview in the Communitech hub. “If 10 years from now, no one in this world suffers from sweat stains, I think that’s a great way to spend 10 years.”

Four Startups Tap the Velocity Fund

The Sweat Free product is a high-end undershirt that includes three-ply pads in the armpits. The layer on the outside is hydrophobic, meaning it will not allow moisture to seep into the out clothes. However, it will allow water to evaporate and pass through the clothes.

To combat the odour produced by the bacteria in our perspiration, one layer includes silver nanoparticles that can combat the smell. Ramdev said the team is now working to solve one problem: The nanoparticles can be washed away when the undershirts are washed. But he believes the developers can overcome this. Ramdev’s father has a background in manufacturing clothes in the Punjab in India, which will help with the manufacturing of the product.

The product will sell for about $24 – a premium price for an undershirt, but one that can be justified if it protects an expensive suit from being ruined by sweat stains.

Ramdev, who heads a seven-member team, has been hustling the product ahead of the launch. He recently won $25,000 in the Velocity Fund finals, most which will be used to patent the product.

He has lined up sales programs with several corporations, such as SunLife Financial. These companies have “perks” programs that grant employees discounts on specific products and Sweat Free plans to sell through these offerings.

He has also pitched the product to the Prime Minister. When Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was campaigning in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ramdev waited for hours outside the event so he could meet the man who would be prime minister, show him the product and be photographed with him. The resulting selfie is now a key part of the company’s presentations.

Canada will be the first market for Sweat Free Apparel, but he then has plans to expand into lucrative markets, especially in Asia.

“I’m sure there’s an opportunity in Hong Kong,” he said. “But I’m equally sure there’s an even bigger opportunity in India.”

Eosense Launches 3 New Products

Gordon McArthur at the AGU Conference yesterday.

Gordon McArthur at the AGU Conference yesterday.

Eosense, the Dartmouth company that makes instruments to detect gases escaping from the ground, is appearing at the American Geophysical Union this week with three new products on display.

The company, formerly called Forerunner Research, is dedicated to making rugged, low-power devices that can detect carbon dioxide and other gases escaping from the ground. These products help scientists assess such things as carbon dioxide leaks from industrial sites or monitor gas emissions in the North.

Today, the company is launching its eosFD portable soil carbon dioxide flux sensor, a stand-alone product that can log data collected by sensors. This follows the release last week of two products that support the greenhouse gas analyzers produced by Eosense’s partner, Los Gatos Research in Mountain View, Calif.

“These launches are validation for our technical team,” Eosense CEO Gordon McArthur said in a phone interview Monday from San Francisco.

The big news is the release of the eosFD, which is a low-power device that can be deployed with gaps between each unit of metres or kilometres. That means it can monitor carbon dioxide seepage in a vast area, opening up new possibilities for field researchers.

The eosFD weighs only 1.6 kilograms, which the company says makes it truly portable. Operating with Eosense’s patented forced diffusion technology, it requires little power and can be left in the field for up to one year without being checked.

“The eosFD is why we created this company; it’s the first commercial sensor to change the way flux is measured,” Eosense chief scientist Nick Nickerson said in a statement.

“Forced diffusion results in something quite different from traditional methods, (and) we are looking forward to the creative ways in which scientists will use it.”

Eosense's technology was developed at a St. Francis Xavier University lab run by David Risk, and it is gaining traction mainly with researchers but also with energy companies. The company’s clients include the University of California at Berkeley, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

In February, the company was one of eight accepted into the fourth cohort of the accelerator operated by Surge Ventures of Houston, a funding and mentoring organization specializing in energy technology.

Risk said in the statement he developed forced diffusion technology to measure CO2 leakage in soil in harsh environments, such as the Canadian Arctic.

“In fact, my Antarctic FD has now delivered year-round CO2 soil fluxes for five years running, on a small solar panel,” said Risk.

The new products give researchers a system built for the rigours of fieldwork, said the company. It also marks further success for Eosense because it is working with one of the world’s leading companies in measuring gases.

“It’s exciting for Nova Scotia as a whole,” said Matt Herdon, Eosense’s marketing and sales manager, during the interview.

“This is home-brewed patentable technology that will be used around the world.”

MedStack To Aid Healthcare Apps

MedStack CEO Simon Woodside, left, and Co-Founder Balaji Gopalan.

MedStack CEO Simon Woodside, left, and Co-Founder Balaji Gopalan.

Healthcare apps are on the rise, both in popularity and proliferation, but they often have to adhere to medical regulations. That’s why Waterloo-based MedStack is developing a platform that helps healthcare app developers build products that comply with regulations.

“Health and fitness is the single biggest growing category in the app store by a factor of two,” said MedStack Co-Founder Balaji Gopalan. “It’s a $4 billion market today and it’s expected to be a $27 bilion market by 2020.”

Within this emerging field, not all opportunities are equal. There are three distinct types: apps for professional use, apps for personal use and apps that relay information between professional and patient. Due to complex privacy acts regulated by the U.S. and Canadian governments, the last category is significantly more difficult to enter, which can act as a deterrent to innovation.

This is where MedStack comes in. Gopalan and Simon Woodside created the company last winter, inspired by several healthcare projects that Woodside’s app studio Monolith Apps  had taken on.

“They kept running in to the same problems when they built these things,” says Gopalan, a Blackberry veteran who was recently involved with high-profile wearable security product Nymi. “So they realized, there’s got to be a platform opportunity here.”

Once Woodside had identified this opportunity, he asked Gopalan to join him on the business side, and the two set out to create a product that resembles consumer stack platforms such as Parse and Heroku.

Users will be able to drag and drop in compliant modules for things such as secure messaging, authentication and form input. Those building blocks will be made exactly to the specifications of the American Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Canadian provincial regulations such as Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act, and will also run on MedStack’s secure and compliant server.

The startup has American competitors in compliant platform and storage companies and TrueVault, but it is peerless in the Canadian market.

Gopalan said users will have to pay a slight premium for the product, compared to the rates of consumer platform services, but the cost will pale in comparison to the alternatives of hiring legal consultants or toughing it out without assistance.

“We’re hearing consistently that the process costs $30,000 to $1 million and a six to 12 months delay, because of the various review processes and iterations that need to happen.”

Gopalan says MedStack currently has two companies in beta testing, naming stress-monitoring app StressWelliQ as one, with 10 more in the pipeline. He predicted the product would be ready to launch mid-Spring 2016. The company has been working with several incubators, including the MaRS Discovery District, the DMZ at Ryerson University and Communitech. Gopalan stated the company would likely close its seed funding round in the first few months of the new year.

Jobs of the Week: St. John’s

Entrevestor and Qimple last month launched the Entrevestor Job Board, which helps to match job openings and candidates in the Atlantic Canadian tech and startup communities.

Today we’re featuring posts on the board from companies based in St. John’s. This is part of our Jobs of the Week feature, which appears on Entrevestor each Monday morning.

Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.

Here are the postings from St. John’s:


Director of Growth

HeyOrca, which is developing a platform to help marketers collaborate, is looking for a marketing maverick to head up its marketing efforts and the growth of its sales funnel. The successful candidate will be in charge of attracting site traffic, converting that traffic into new leads for the business, and nurturing those leads to close into customers. The successful candidate should have a one to 10 years of experience in a similar role.

Content and Client Success Manager

HeyOrca is looking for a prolific and talented content creator to write and produce various types of downloadable content and blog regularly, to expand the company’s digital footprint, awareness, subscribers, and leads. In addition to being a writer, the candidate must also be a relationship builder. The company wants candidates with one to five years of experience in a similar role. They should have a bachelor degree or equivalent work experience.

Full Stack Developer

HeyOrca is seeking a full stack developer to join a small development team, which is tasked with expanding and maintaining its web-based software. The job entails adding new features, improving existing ones and eliminating bugs. The successful candidate's role would include: actively participating in the Agile meetings, taking responsibility of stories and tasks, quality assurance and most importantly helping teammates. The company is looking for someone with one to five years of experience in a similar role.

Sentinel Alert

Full Stack Developer

The St. John’s startup, which is developing a mobile worker safety solution, is interested in working with experienced software developers or highly talented recent graduates who can quickly take an active role in our development team. The Full Stack Developer will be ultimately responsible for expanding and maintaining our web platform and improving our database architecture by working with the rest of the team. The company is looking for someone with a college degree in Computer Science and experience in developing JavaScript LAMP and PHP.

First Nation Entrepreneurs Recognized

Eileen Paul: 'I love to see people becoming independent and self-sufficient.'

Eileen Paul: 'I love to see people becoming independent and self-sufficient.'

When former prime minister Paul Martin spoke at the Startup Canada awards in Toronto last week, he called for a national prize to recognize entrepreneurship among First Nations people.

Martin told the audience of business innovators that aboriginal people have a strong history of entrepreneurship, which is not always recognized by the wider population.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston recently hailed Cape Breton’s Membertou First Nation as a community that has developed the leadership and innovation vital for success.

Eileen Paul, manager of the Membertou Entrepreneur Centre, is pleased by the high-profile praise.

“I think Paul Martin’s idea is a good one,” she said.

“Across the country, there is a lot of First Nations entrepreneurship, but it needs to be recognized and encouraged.

“First Nations people thrive as entrepreneurs, but I don’t think we would even have recognized the word, we’ve been doing entrepreneurship so long.”

Paul said entrepreneurship is especially strong in Membertou because Chief Terrance Paul and the council have made it a focus.

Many First Nations communities have economic development offices, but Paul believes Membertou is the only band in Atlantic Canada to have its own entrepreneurship centre.

The centre was started in 2005. The business plaza now includes a business incubator, which focuses on the rapid development of six ventures. Eight others work out of the entrepreneurship centre.

Paul has also spearheaded the development of a group for aboriginal women in business called Balance.

The entrepreneurship centre was started with the help of the Cape Breton YMCA. The group trained and mentored Paul, who until then had worked with high school students, to run the centre.

She has continued with her own studies and will soon complete her business degree.

The Membertou Entrepreneur Certificate Program offers participants seven courses in subjects such as business planning, bookkeeping and customer service.

Paul mentors entrepreneurs until they have formed their business plan, then sets them up with people who can help them with other aspects of business and financing.

“These include the Ulnooweg Development Group and Aboriginal Business Canada. Ulnooweg provides loans, while Aboriginal Business Canada offers grants.”

She said many of the businesses she assists are retail outlets and ventures that focus on traditional crafts. However, more modern ventures are coming.

“People are realizing they can do more. We are seeing people working in computers, catering, conferencing — things we never had before.”

Interest in entrepreneurship is growing, and Paul said about 10 per cent of Membertou’s population, which totals around 1,300, are business owners.

Business growth is enabled by the community’s location within Sydney, she said.

Clients include the local population and visitors, some of whom stay at the award-winning Hampton Inn developed by the community. The hotel abuts the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre and other businesses.

“We encourage entrepreneurship in schools through the E-Spirit Youth Entrepreneur Program, which is funded federally by the Business Development Corporation.”

Paul’s other community involvements include sitting on the executive board for Native Women of Nova Scotia. She has participated in the National Status of Women roundtable and received the Impact Award for Women in Business.

This year, her work with local women was profiled at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

She said she is motivated by the success of the community.

“I love to see people becoming independent and self-sufficient. When people do well, it brings a sense of pride. When kids see the success of their parents, when standards of living rise, everyone becomes successful.”

Javorek Heads to The Next 36

The 2016 Cohort . . .  in a lighter moment.

The 2016 Cohort . . . in a lighter moment.

Justin Javorek, a fixture in the Dalhousie University entrepreneurship community for the past few years, has been named to the 2016 cohort of The Next 36.

The program aims to select the best university entrepreneurs from across Canada, who develop businesses over eight months and receive instruction from leading academics and business people. This year, The Next 36 accepted 38 participants, 80 percent of whom have started at least one business.

Javorek, a native of Bratislava, Slovakia, is the only Atlantic Canadian representative in the cohort.

"For me, coming from a post-Communist country, we were not raised in an environment conducive to high expectations for our personal potential and ‘big thinking,’" Javorek said Wednesday night. “As an international student and soon-to-be immigrant, I believe that programs like Next 36 are a tremendous opportunity to not only grow as an aspiring entrepreneur but to foster deeper connections with like-minded individuals in Canada."

Javorek has worked on a couple of startups as he went through the Starting Lean course at Dalhousie. The Next 36 cohort is now in the process of dividing into teams to work on businesses, and he doesn’t know yet what his team’s project will be.  

Dal's Starting Lean Hosts Launchpad 

Javorek, was selected from 1,100 students applying to the program. They represented 44 institutions across Canada and the U.S., including Harvard, Wharton, Cornell and University of North Carolina.

He is a mainstay of the Dalhousie Entrepreneurship Society, which recently piloted the first ever student-led hackathon for oceanography and marine programs. Hackamarine 2015 produced five winning teams having access to a total of $10,000 of seed funding to pursue their ideas.

Javorek is also one of the University Innovation Fellows at Dal, the first group from outside the U.S. in the program run by Stanford University and Venture Well. 

A world junior hockey player, Javorek came to Nova Scotia five years ago on a Dalhousie University athletics scholarship to play hockey. 

Following a series of injuries, Javorek was inspired to pursue entrepreneurship by his roommate Shea Kewin, co-founder of Spring Loaded Technology and UHWK, and his friend Daniel Bartek, co-founder of Sage Mixology.

The N36 entrepreneurs will spend the next eight months building their companies with the support of their mentors, a unique academic program, a pool of business advisers and access to up to $50,000 in seed capital.

The Next 36 mentors have an impressive entrepreneurial and venture capital track record and include, Kirk Simpson – co-founder of Wave, Janet Bannister - general partner at Real Ventures and former head of Kijiji Canada, and Andy Yang – CEO of 500px.  The ventures receive seed capital from a fund that includes Relay Ventures as an investment partner.

 “Each year the finalist pool seems to gets stronger," said The Next 36 Managing Director Peter Carrescia in a statement.  "For our 2016 cohort, we sought applications from individuals who were already working on ideas and the response from the start-up community blew us away.  We now allow all 38 of our successful finalists to choose their own co-founders and this additional flexibility has helped us attract more applicants with an existing track record of entrepreneurship than ever before."

Bridgit Wins GFE Competition

Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Hasegawa

Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Hasegawa

Bridgit, the Kitchener startup that improves communication on construction sites, has won the Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day for female-led startups.

The company was the only Canadian entry in the competition, in which 11 finalists from around the world were selected from among 450 applicants.

It’s the third prize that Bridgit, co-founded by Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Hasegawa, have won since the beginning of September. They have also won the inaugural C100 Startup Challenge in Toronto in September, and days later won a $25,000 prize at the demo day for Communitech’s Rev accelerator.

Google for Entrepreneurs announce that Bridgit had won its event on Wednesday.

Read our Coverage of the Rev Demo Day

Bridgit’s product is Closeout, an app that helps project managers with deficiency management – which means making sure that all the little jobs in a construction project are completed to perfection.

In a highrise condo project, there are probably about 50 subcontractors. So assigning and checking up on all these odd jobs is a pain for someone overseeing a multi-million-dollar project.

Closeout is a cloud-based mobile app that lets the site manager take a smart-phone picture of the deficiency and assign the task of fixing it to a subcontractor. They can write a description, the location and deadline. Once the job is done, the subcontractor can report back to the site manager, even send a photo of the completed job.

As of last summer, the app was being used in 10 high-rise projects in seven cities in the U.S. and Canada, including two in Seattle.

AC Names 26 Startups to JumpStart

The Accelerator Centre in Waterloo has selected 26 companies to participate in the third cohort of the AC JumpStart program, which offers seed funding and 12 months of mentorship to startups.

The program started earlier this year and features three cohorts in 2015. There will be two cohorts per year launched in the coming years with the goal of supporting 180 companies over four years.

Funded through an $8 million commitment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, JumpStart gives each company $30,000 in seed funding and $10,000 worth of mentorship from the AC’s team of industry experts.

"What really stands out about the companies coming into the program is how diversified they are," Andrew Jackson, Vice-President of Client Services at the Accelerator Centre, said in a statement. "As the ecosystem matures, we're really seeing a greater depth in our entrepreneurs, both in how they bring together hardware and software, and in the range of industries they're working in."

The companies in the third cohort are:

CoinValue — a coin valuation software and hardware developer;

Digital Governance Group —real-time political engagement software platform;

Dimples — customized 3D printed jewelry;

Eleven-X — cellular IoT hardware and software;

English Never Stops — cloud-based peer-to-peer language acquisition platform;

FishBuoy — Software offering real-time water and environmental conditions to anglers;

Fidget Toys — developers of a multifunctional stress-relief toy;

Find BoB — online marketplace easing the transfer of financial business ownership;

HealthIM — standardizing hospital admission processes for persons with mental illness;

HH Development — data management solution for professional motorsports;

Horizon Solutions — helping building owners improve energy efficiency;

InkSmith – Manufacturing filament for 3D printing using bioplastics and 100% recycled materials;

iSports Development — software platform connecting professional and amateur athletes;

Kineris — wearable devices that speed recovery from joint injury or surgery;

Local Line — connecting local food suppliers to customers;

Massuni — allows users to easily design customized furniture that meets their exact needs;

ONEIRIC — sports tech manufacturer;

Palette — platform of physical input devices for improving creative workflow;

Pressa — developing a water bottle allowing users to naturally flavour water;

Streetcast — mobile platform that allows organizations to communicate with local residents and visitors;

TaaCam — virtual reality and higher dimensional (3D/4D) digital image or video solution;

Thalo — revolutionizing the way information is displayed on portable devices;

UCIC — enables users to see any place in the world in real-time by connecting people;

Vidhub — platform for profs, students and researchers to have discussions in a sandboxed environment;

VIV Life Group — helps people discover meaningful experiences that are curated just for them;

And zpharm — medical tech company focused on smoking cessation;

AC JumpStart is offered in partnership with Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.

National Broadcasts Showcase iSports

Bryan Trottier: Helping former pros give back.

Bryan Trottier: Helping former pros give back.

When Rogers Hometown Hockey features Sarnia, Ont., in two weeks, it will also highlight a Waterloo-based startup that aims to revolutionize the way coaches interact with their players.

ISports Development will be featured in the national broadcast on Dec. 20. And it is also scheduled to be showcased when the 2016 Scotiabank Hockey Day is broadcast on Feb. 6.

The reason this roughly-one-year-old company is creating so much buzz in the hockey world is it both helps young players gain mentorship and retired pros find new meaning in life after they have left the game. And it doesn’t hurt that the startup team includes a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame – former New York Islanders great Bryan Trottier.  

“It does help the former players get back on track after their playing days are through,” said Founder Steve Wicklum in an interview in the Waterloo Accelerator Centre, which iSports has called home since September. “And for the [young] players, it’s about the drive and persistence to get you to the next level and giving you the mentorship you need to get there.”

UHWK Launches Kickstarter Campaign

The product is an app that connects coaches (many of them veterans of the NHL) with minor hockey players, mainly seven to 15 year olds. The site now lists about 50 coaches, about half of whom have been trained on using the app.

When a young player comes to the site, he or she can search through the list of coaches. Once the player finds a suitable coach, they can begin meeting through video linkups right on the site. They can discuss game video together, and go over different drills to improve skills.

The players (or most likely their families) pay for the time with the coach and iSport takes a percentage of the fee. Wicklum said the lessons can be about hockey skills, strategy or even life lessons that can help a young player develop.

Wicklum said there was no “lightbulb moment” that led to the creation of iSports. He spent 25 years playing hockey, including stints at the University of Buffalo State and stints in the Southern Professional Hockey League. And he wanted to find a tech-product that would help to improve the game.

As he and some partners were developing the platform, they met Trottier through a mutual friend, and he began to work with them. That led to a partnership with the NHL Alumni Association, which sees iSports as a great tool to help former players work with the next generation of hockey players. One of the association’s priorities is helping professional players adjust to life after the game, and iSports is a key tool in doing so.

Wicklum is now more interested in paid users than funding, and his goal in 2016 to have 1,000 coaches on the site and that they be interacting with several thousand users. The primary market is still hockey, but he looks forward to a day when the product can expand to other sports.

“The vision is to master hockey and to have a great model so we can replicate it with other sports,” he said. 

Closing the Startup-Corporate Gap

If there was one task Atlantic Canadian businesses should focus on in 2016, what should it be?

Opinions would vary, but my answer would be stronger links between established businesses and government on the one hand and the startup community on the other.

This should be a priority because it would, in theory at least, help solve two problems: the uneven quality of startups in the region and the negligible amount of research and development carried out by developed Atlantic Canadian companies.

I’ve been talking to several people on this subject lately and it becomes clear there is still too great a gulf between the old and new economies on the East Coast.

Canada Loses Ground in Innovation

I say this because Step 1 in forming a startup is to find a problem somewhere. Step 2 is to come up with new technology that can solve the problem in a cost-effective manner, and other steps follow after that.

We have a problem with that first step.

Many, if not most, of the startups in the region come out of universities or are begun by twentysomethings. They bring energy, dedication and technical abilities. But a lot of them lack the real-world experience to completely understand problems that businesses encounter, so they never get the ideas that lead to killer applications. For that reason, some early-stage companies are based on weak ideas.

Meanwhile, Atlantic Canada has a lousy record at private-sector research and development. All four provinces rate a D-minus in the Conference Board of Canada’s report card on business enterprise R&D. That affects the productivity of the region and the ability to develop products that can find a global market.

The solution would be to develop mechanisms for private businesses to work with startups and student entrepreneurs. Given the huge proportion of the Maritime economy taken up by the public sector, it would be great for governments to get involved, as well.

This is not a new idea. One of the hallmarks of the modern economy is that many of the world’s largest and best companies want to work with startups because they view them as sources of innovation. Eigen Innovations of Fredericton this week placed third in the Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge, a global competition that helps the networking equipment giant Cisco build relationships with innovators.

Eigen Places Third at Cisco Event

And there are signs we’re making progress. Earlier this month, Louisbourg Seafoods and Startup Cape Breton jointly hosted an event called Tech Opportunities in Fisheries, the goal of which was to bring together a traditional industry and the tech community. The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation is doing more to spin startups out of established businesses.

But more needs to be done. First, startups need to join their chambers of commerce to become more prominent in the business community. There should be more events like the recent get-together in Sydney. And businesses and government should begin to assign senior people to spend time in startup hubs like Volta in Halifax or Planet Hatch in Fredericton.

The idea isn’t just to show up and be nice. It’s to discuss the problems facing the large institutions with the hope of working with the younger company to find a solution — a solution that could be sold to other organizations around the world.

Luckett, Jamieson Invest in TruLeaf

TruLeaf, the Truro-based indoor agriculture company, announced Wednesday that it has received new investment from two prominent businessmen and strengthened its executive team.

The company, which recently raised more than $1.7 million by crowdfunding in the U.S., issued a press release saying it received an undisclosed amount of funding from Martin Jamieson and Pete Luckett. Both will become advisers to the company and Jamieson will join TruLeaf’s board of directors.

The statement also said Jeff MacKinnon, an accountant who was most recently a Vice-President at Credit Union Atlantic, would become TruLeaf’s Vice President of Operations and Chief Financial Officer.

Operating out of indoor farms, TruLeaf grows nutritious plants under LED lights and produces food with a minimal environmental footprint. It is poised to announce a distribution agreement in January.

TruLeaf Raises $1.7M+ on AfFunder

The company has one farm in Bible Hill, N.S., and is planning its second in Central or Eastern Canada, the northeastern United States or California. It promises to be one of the largest vertical farms in North America.

“The new additions to TruLeaf really round out the team,” President and CEO Gregg Curwin said in a statement. “Each member brings to the table invaluable expertise in their field; Jeff with his extensive experience in strategy, finance and operations; Pete with his extensive knowledge of agriculture and cuisine; Martin with his substantial expertise in the food and nutrition industries.”

In an email, Curwin declined to provide details of the investments, nor to say how much in total the company raised from its recent crowdfunding campaign.

TruLeaf in September launched a campaign on San Francisco’s AgFunder, a crowdfunding site for agricultural and agriculture technology investment, with the goal of raising US$2.65 million (C$3.58 million). TruLeaf received at least US$1.28 million, which exceeded its minimum target and allowed the funding round to close with at least C$1.7 million.

The most well-known of the new additions to the TruLeaf team is Pete Luckett. He is best known as the founder of Pete’s Frootique and Luckett Vineyards, both staples in the Nova Scotia agriculture and business communities. He brings vast food retailing experience as well as his culinary expertise and energetic personality.

Jamieson has more than 30 years of experience in the global food industry. He was previously an Executive Vice President at Loblaw Companies, and President and Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Nutrition Canada.

Through its GoodLeaf Farms subsidiary, TruLeaf uses advanced vertical farming technology to produce ultra-fresh leafy greens 365 days a year. The company produces the greens in a clean and safe indoor environment that allows the company to eliminate the need for pesticides. The company is able to have the delicious leafy greens hand-packed, and on customers’ plates within hours of harvesting them, at peak freshness and nutrition levels.

“People love the taste of fresh food, especially when you can tell it’s been picked that day,” said Luckett in the statement. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been possible in Atlantic Canada, until now. With GoodLeaf Farms, people in Atlantic Canada will no longer have to wait up to a week for leafy greens to come from California.”  

Eigen Places 3rd at Cisco Event

Eigen CTO Scott Everett

Eigen CTO Scott Everett

Eigen Innovations is returning to Fredericton with a US$25,000 cash prize from placing third at the second annual Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge, but the money may be the least of the benefits.

The New Brunswick Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, startup was named one of six finalists last month in the pitching competition at the IoT World Forum in Dubai. On Tuesday, Eigen was named the third-place winner, and awarded the equivalent of C$33,900.

What’s important about claiming third place is that only the top three competitors in the event are officially given a long-term relationship with Cisco, the global maker of networking equipment and a huge proponent of the Internet of Things. The top three will have VIP access to industry, investment and business experts.

“This includes [access to] Cisco’s Innovation Centers and Cisco Investments team for potential business acceleration and joint go-to-market strategies,” Alex Goryachev, Cisco’s Director of Innovation Programs and Strategy, said in a blog Tuesday. “All this will help to turbo-charge their ventures and the IoT opportunity.”

McRock, NBIF in $3M RtTech Deal

Cisco believes the Internet of Things will become a $19 trillion market and it is focusing heavily on the segment. Last summer, it announced its US$250 million fund to back IoT innovations, and has made the growing segment a key part of its business strategy.

New Brunswick has already benefited from Cisco’s focus. Cisco Investments is a limited partner in McRock Capital’s McRock INFund, which this year led the $3 million funding round of RtTech Software of Moncton. The company is also the backer of the Cisco Chair for Big Data at the University of New Brunswick.

Eigen has developed algorithms that allow machines to respond automatically to messages from sensors – a classic Internet of Things, or IoT, application. It is one of 3,000 companies from more than 100 countries that entered Cisco’s Innovation Grand Challenge and was named a semi-finalist in October. Eigen was the only Canadian finalist.

In May, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation invested, $250,000 in Eigen Innovations, and the company said that investment would be part of a far larger funding round. There has been no announcement since then, but the First Angel Network now lists Eigen among its portfolio companies.

Showcasing The Region’s Startup Jobs

Today we’re wrapping up our first week of highlighting the jobs available on the Entrevestor Job Board, which is powered by Qimple.

Entrevestor and Qimple last month launched this job board, which helps to match job openings and candidates in the Atlantic Canadian tech and startup communities. Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.

We highlighted jobs in Moncton on Monday and Halifax on Tuesday. Today we’re featuring other locations in the region. Going forward, on each Monday, we will highlight the most recent job postings in our “Jobs of the Week” column.

We hope this proves beneficial for the community and helps our startups in their search for talent.

Check out our Job Postings in Halifax

Check out our Job Postings in Moncton

Here are our postings from the rest of the region:


Blue Spurs

Support Analyst

Blue Spurs is seeking exceptional technical support staff to join its Managed Service practice.  The individuals must share the company’s focus on outstanding client service and passion for technology.  As the first point of contact, the successful candidate will provide outstanding customer experiences while working with Blue Spurs’ technical teams to resolve support requests for clients. The support analyst is responsible for working with clients to solve problems and/or escalate to the technical teams to resolve issues in a timely and efficient manner. The company wants someone with one year of customer service experience.

Resson Aerospace Corp.

Software Developer

Resson, which has developed an automated system to improve agricultural yields, is looking for a developer whose skills include Java, JavaScript, JQuery, Java Swing, Angular JS, and Digital Image Processing, among others. The successful candidate will be responsible for all aspects of development, from rapid prototyping through to implementation, testing, and integration. In addition to being familiar with front-end and back-end development technologies (including Java and cross-platform mobile technologies), experience with image processing, machine learning, and/or high-performance computing is considered an asset.

Liverpool, NS


Demonstration Plant Operator

Cellufuel, which is producing synthetic renewable fuels from wood, is looking for operators to become key members of its team. They are responsible for ensuring that the company’s plant operates safely and effectively while striving to meet its operational and quality objectives. The responsibilities include operations management, quality management, troubleshooting and productivity and process improvement. Cellufuel is seeking someone with a post-secondary education, preferably in a skilled trade or technology degree or diploma. It would also like a minimum of five years’ experience in plant operations or maintenance.

Saint John


Sales Analysts

Spinzo has developed an online pricing platform that sports teams and venues use to sell more tickets through social sharing. The company is seeking two energetic sales analysts who will work with existing clients to increase their engagement with the Spinzo platform. They must also help clients create and close promotions on the platform and reach out to new prospective clients. The ideal candidate is keen to join a small but fast-paced startup and has experience working with at least one startup. Spinzo is looking for someone who can spend one to two days per week in Saint John or Fredericton and is able to join within two weeks.

St. John’s


Director of Growth

HeyOrca, which is developing a platform to help marketers collaborate, is looking for a marketing maverick to head up its marketing efforts and the growth of its sales funnel. The successful candidate will be in charge of attracting site traffic, converting that traffic into new leads for the business, and nurturing those leads to close into customers. The successful candidate should have a one to 10 years of experience in a similar role.

Content and Client Success Manager

HeyOrca is looking for a prolific and talented content creator to write and produce various types of downloadable content and blog regularly, to expand the company’s digital footprint, awareness, subscribers, and leads. In addition to being a writer, the candidate must also be a relationship builder. The company wants candidates with one to five years of experience in a similar role. They should have a bachelor degree or equivalent work experience.

Full Stack Developer

HeyOrca is seeking a full stack developer to join a small development team, which is tasked with expanding and maintaining its web-based software. The job entails adding new features, improving existing ones and eliminating bugs. The successful candidate's role would include: actively participating in the Agile meetings, taking responsibility of stories and tasks, quality assurance and most importantly helping teammates. The company is looking for someone with one to five years of experience in a similar role.

Sentinel Alert

Full Stack Developer

The St. John’s startup, which is developing a mobile worker safety solution, is interested in working with experienced software developers or highly talented recent graduates who can quickly take an active role in our development team. The Full Stack Developer will be ultimately responsible for expanding and maintaining our web platform and improving our database architecture by working with the rest of the team. The company is looking for someone with a college degree in Computer Science and experience in developing JavaScript LAMP and PHP.

Other Locations

Manage Your Spend

Domain name sales

Manage Your Spend, which buys and sells domain sales, is looking for a part-time sales person to close deals by phone or Skype. The company wants a university graduate with some sales experience, but a background in domains is not necessary. The successful candidate must be a self-starter, and can be based anywhere.

Explaining the Buzz Around Velocity

About 500 students and faculty packed the Student Life Centre at the University of Waterloo last month and saw why their school is often called Canada’s MIT.

The space resembled a food court at any mall, but there was a rare buzz in the air Nov. 26 as 10 companies competed to grab a share of more than $100,000 in prize money being awarded that day by the Velocity Fund. Velocity is the university’s tech accelerator, and it has its own fund, which each year hands out a total of about $400,000 to the best startups working in the accelerator.

It’s difficult to find a university these days without programs that work with students to develop companies based on innovative technologies. It’s extremely encouraging.

But spending time in Waterloo, you’re smacked in the face by the realization that this institution is peerless in the volume and sophistication of its startups.

“The culture of the university has always been entrepreneurial,” said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity.

“It was founded by engineers that needed help and expertise to help grow their businesses.”

Communitech, Velocity Expanding

Because of its reputation for entrepreneurship and sciences, the university attracts students with a proficiency for these disciplines. Last week, I spoke with one young Atlantic Canadian considering a university to study English. She was leaning toward Waterloo because of the potential it offers in developing digital media companies.

And once students are in the university, they’re immersed in a culture that nurtures the development of advanced companies. Waterloo operates the world’s largest post-secondary co-op program, meaning students work in real-world jobs throughout their curriculum.

“The talent here is insane,” said Ted Livingston, CEO of Kik Interactive, who donated $1 million to the Velocity Fund as a 23-year-old.

“After four years in the co-op program, you know more about starting a company than most people.”

Velocity reinforces that knowledge by hosting regular “problem labs,” in which industry executives meet with students, discuss their problems and work with them to come up with innovative solutions. The result can be a new company that can meet the needs of a range of clients.

This is the real strength of the university. It produces a vast range of new companies addressing real problems of corporations and customers.

Consider some of the winners of the Velocity Fund finals, each receiving at least $25,000. Thalo is developing a revolutionary screen for mobile devices that can be read even in glaring daylight. Rather than a back-lit display, Thalo uses reflective technology to gather in surrounding light. Acorn Cryotech preserves the cells of youthful people as a resource to draw from for personalized medical therapy.

Velocity houses about 75 companies, mainly headed by Waterloo alumni and staffed with a heavy proportion of current students. It just announced an expansion in the new year, so it will have enough space for about 120 companies.

Kirkup doesn’t foresee any problems finding more companies affiliated with the university to take up the space.

“We have to press both ends of the pump at the same time. If we develop the means to create more startups, we have to have the space to house them.”

This Week’s Leading Jobs in Halifax

This week, we are kicking off our Jobs of the Week feature to highlight Atlantic Canadian tech and startup openings that have been posted on the Entrevestor Job Board, which is powered by Qimple.

Entrevestor and Qimple last month launched this job board, which helps to match job openings and candidates in the Atlantic Canadian tech and startup communities.

Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.

We highlighted jobs in Moncton on Monday, and today Halifax is in the spotlight. We’ll feature other locations Wednesday. Going forward, we will highlight the most recent job postings in our “Jobs of the Week” column each Monday.

We hope this proves beneficial for the community and helps our startups in their search for talent.

Jobs in Halifax:

Athletigen Technologies

Java Developer

As part of the product development and engineering team, the Java Developer will be expected to play a critical role in shaping Athletigen’s technology offering. This will involve participating in building a state of the art DNA analytics engine using different technologies such as Java, Hibernate, Spring AOP, Spring IoC, python, R, big data systems and REST services. Minimum Qualifications include in-depth knowledge of data structures and Java Collections including, Maps, Sets and Graph implementations. The candidate should have a very strong knowledge of Java Language including, inner, nested and anonymous classes, private constructors, final methods, overloading, and overriding.

BML Web Development and Communication

Intermediate Full Stack Developer (JavaScript+PHP)

BML, which is developing, a youth fundraising website, is looking for talented full stack developer to join its team. The candidate will have to construct, develop, code, debug and maintain web site applications. He or she will also have to define software design methodology for the development and implementation of internet-based applications to support all aspects of web site functionalities. The company is looking for someone with a minimum of three years of PHP web development experience and Javascript development.

Clean Simple

Software QA Lead

Clean Simple is looking for a talented Software QA lead to design and implement its Quality Assurance Program with the expressed objective of ensuring the best possible performance for both our Mobile and Web software. The successful candidate will be provided creative control over the design of the QA program with the mandate of thoroughly de-risking and refining products in development. He or she will collaborate with development and design teams to plan and execute testing across a variety of world-class applications on the newest web and mobile technologies. The company is looking for someone with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science or college degree in technology and three to five years of experience.

Dadavan Systems Ltd.

Front-End Developer

Working within the technical team on web-based projects, the Front End Developer’s main responsibility is to produce, modify and maintain web-based user interfaces. The successful candidate must also work closely with server-side developers to understand and use their server-side code to develop complex, interactive and database-driven websites. Dadavan is seeking a candidate with experience designing and implementing web applications that are part of larger, multi-tiered distributed applications that include server and database components and processes.


Lead UI Designer

Eyeread, which is developing an adaptive, scientific reading assessment tool for children, is looked for a UI Designer with two to four years of experience in a similar role. The successful candidate must have the following skills: PostCSS3, HTML5, Java Script, jQuery, Git, and AngularJS. It’s the bonus if the candidate has familiarity with Python/Django. The company is looking for someone who will collaborate, brainstorm, build, and execute games and features that children with low literacy skills, aged 5 to 10 years old, want and are able to use.

Senior Software Engineer

Eyeread is seeking a senior software engineer who wants to influence the future, who wants a job that is the starting point of what is possible. The position requires expertise in multiple technology platforms and languages. That means three or more years of object-oriented programming based development and mastery of at least one high level scripting language (Python or JS preferred). The candidate should also have two or more years of experience with Django, MySQL and working in a Linux environment. The company is looking for someone who has contributed to the open source community and experience working in an iterative or agile development environment.

QRA Corp

Full Stack Software Engineer

QRA develops software to help engineers build flawless products. The company is searching for an experienced software engineer with confidence and talent. It is seeking candidates with a minimum of three years of progressive web and client/server software development experience. A formal education in Computer Science or Engineering is a major asset.

STI Technologies Limited

SEO Specialist

STI’s SEO Specialist will work within the Product Management team and be responsible for managing STI’s digital campaign efforts both internally and those of its clients. The candidate must be certified in Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, and provide insights and best practices on implementing a DTC campaign, and what success looks like. Strong communication and teamwork skills are key, as this role requires frequent communication with all areas of the company, as well as various external stakeholders including clients and clients’ agencies. The SEO Specialist must have the ability to manage multiple clients, prioritize requests, and set expectations accordingly.

Vmo Solutions

Senior Software Developer

VMO is searching for a lead developer based in the Halifax area with three to five years of experience. The successful candidate should be a self-motivated and independent senior level developer who is current with modern web and cloud-based technologies. The position calls for programming for mission-critical real-time systems, transforming the way airlines operate today. On occasion, the developer will also be tasked with communicating with clients to address open issues with beta and production software. 

GSEA Seeks Student Entrepreneurs

The organizers of the first Atlantic Canadian version of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards are looking for entries from undergrads in the region who run their own businesses.

Organized by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the GSEA program is designed to help undergraduate students who own and operate businesses to promote their companies and value proposition by competing with other business owners.

The organizers are looking for students from across Atlantic Canada to enter by filling out this form by Dec. 11. The participants will have an opportunity to present their companies at an event at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax on Jan. 21. The winner will receive a paid trip to Toronto in February to compete at nationals. The Canadian winner will head to the global competition in Bangkok in May to vie for $50,000 in cash and prizes.

The Entrepreneurs' Organization was founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs. With more than 10,000 members in 48 countries throughout the world, it enables business owners to learn from each other to experience greater business success while forming strong professional and personal relationships.

CarbonCure’s New Ready-Mix Product

Robert Niven: A green solution for the design community.

Robert Niven: A green solution for the design community.

CarbonCure Technologies will enter the ready-mixed concrete market due to its recent partnership with Vulcan Materials Company, the largest U.S. producer of construction aggregates and a major producer of construction materials.

Five to 10 percent of all carbon emissions come from the concrete industry. CarbonCure, based in Dartmouth, attempts to reduce this percentage by converting carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate, which permanently bonds the calcium in concrete with the carbon. The carbon dioxide now no longer exists, so it can’t escape into the atmosphere and pollute it.

Ready-mixed concrete is the concrete that isn’t manufactured by a machine in a factory, but produced in a truck, and then immediately poured fresh on site. Now that Vulcan, located in Virginia, near Washington, D.C., has partnered with CarbonCure for its ready-mixed concrete, America’s capital city is the first metropolitan market to have access to the company’s sustainable concrete. CarbonCure, which has been working on a ready-mixed product for several years, announced the partnership last month.

“CarbonCure is the concrete industry’s gateway to the green design community,” Rob Niven, Founder and CEO of CarbonCure, said in a press release. “The launch of the CarbonCure Ready Mixed Technology enables concrete producers to provide a solution that meets the demands of the design community for sustainable building products.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Superior Block Corporation, a New York concrete masonry manufacturer, already began working toward this goal by offering its customers the option of using CarbonCure’s concrete masonry units.

CarbonCure Raises $3 Million

In One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City, in which Mayor de Blasio announced his goal to cut the city’s carbon emissions, there was a lot of talk about resilience—not just emotionally, as the report refers to victims of Hurricane Sandy, but also in the city’s buildings.

“We think we fit in well there,” CarbonCure Sustainability Manager Scott Biggar said. “We’re using materials that will last a long time, but also using materials that are smarter and more efficient than they used to be.”

CarbonCure focuses much of its efforts on engineering and R&D, employing several top concrete chemists. In collaboration with Sean Monkman, Niven thought of the idea to create CarbonCure after he completed his research for his Master of Chemistry at McGill University.

CarbonCure wants to hire talent from Nova Scotia. It often hosts science students for their coop terms or MBA students for their work placement programs.

“A lot of investment in a lot of the talent available,” Biggar said. “Halifax has a lot of universities, and a lot of people to pull from.”

CarbonCure's licensing system is customized to each customer, based on the volume of concrete that it produces. CarbonCure provides its physical technology, as well as marketing services to help partners gain traction in the green building market.

In his last three funding rounds, Niven raised a total of $8 million, from funders like BDC Capital and Pangea Ventures. CarbonCure’s last funding round took place this past spring, when Niven raised $3 million.

CarbonCure received modest funding for a cleantech startup, but Biggar said that the company is on its way to profitability. After his final funding round, Niven said he hopes the company will be profitable by the end of 2016.



This Week’s Leading Jobs in Moncton

Today, for the first time, we will post Jobs of the Week, to highlight Atlantic Canadian tech and startup openings that have been posted on the Entrevestor Job Board, which is powered by Qimple.

Entrevestor and Qimple last month launched this job board, which helps to match job openings and candidates in the Atlantic Canadian tech and startup communities.

Until Jan. 31, you can post job openings on the site for only $25 each.

This week we’re going to highlight all the jobs on our site to get this weekly feature going. We’ll highlight jobs in Moncton today, Halifax on Tuesday and other locations on Wednesday. Going forward, we will highlight the most recent job posting in out “Jobs of the Week” column each Monday.

We hope this proves beneficial for the community and helps our startups in their search for talent.

Jobs in Moncton:

Atlantic Cell Phone Repair

Customer Service and Sales Representative

The leading repair service for mobile devices in New Brunswick is looking for a customer service representative. The responsibilities include providing customer service at the counter and over the phone. The successful candidate will show initiative and be eager to learn. He or she must achieve and maintain daily targets. The company is searching for a bilingual person with a bachelor degree in computer science and a knowledge of cell phones and mobile devices.

Cell Phone Technician

The company is looking for a technician who is a fast learner, self-motivated and also is an independent worker. The successful candidate must have the ability to work under pressure and willingness to work evenings and weekends. The responsibilities include conducting extensive test before and after repairs, accurately documenting repairs and part information in work orders, and monitoring parts inventory.

Gogii Games

Manager of Business Intelligence (Gaming Industry)

Gogii Games is searching for a “Manager of Business Intelligence”, who will be responsible for the management of its core BI team of Data Analysts and Business Analysts to design, build, test, optimize, and monetize Gogii’s growing portfolio of Free to Play games.  The analysts will combine their analytical, strategic, and financial skill sets to develop, implement, test, and analyze the hypotheses that will drive player conversion and ongoing user monetization. The successful candidate will be a master of quantitative investigation across our entire product line, drawing insight from the data we collect and turning it into actionable hypotheses for our Executive Producers and Product Managers to leverage in-game.

Data Analyst (Gaming Industry)

Gogii Games Corp is hiring a ‘Free to Play Game Data Analyst’ to support its development and ongoing support of games in the Mobile Free-to-Play marketplace. The analyst will combine their analytical, strategic, and financial skill sets to develop, implement, test, and analyze the hypotheses that will drive player conversion and ongoing user monetization. As a Data Analyst, the successful candidate will combine their strategic and analytical skill sets to develop, test, and analyze hypotheses that will have a far-reaching impact on the success of the company and its Free to Play products.

Business Analyst (Gaming Industry)

Gogii Games Corp is hiring a Business Analyst to support its development and ongoing management of games in the Mobile Free-to-Play marketplace.  The business analyst will combine their analytical, financial, and marketing skill sets to develop, implement, test, and analyze the hypotheses that will drive player conversion and ongoing user monetization with new products and new game features. As a business analyst, the successful candidate will combine their analytical, financial, and marketing skill sets to forecast trends and test business hypotheses based in player data to maximize ROI, opportunities for user monetization, and optimize features for the company’s Free to Play products.


Web Developer

Qimple is looking for an intermediate level Web Developer with a thirst for professional and personal growth that needs to quenched.  The company is looking for a college or university graduate with five or more years in a similar role. Qimple expects the candidate to be highly proficient in PHP, CodeIgniter, CSS/HTML, jQuery, MySQL and Git. It is also helpful if the candidate has experience in responsive web design, LESS/SASS, coding interactive visual displays (like an analytics dashboard), API development and publishing, Apache sOLR, Machine Learning and Photoshop.

Sales Development Representative

Qimple is looking for a Sales Development Representative to join its amazing team.  The candidate’s strategic sales experience and expertise are crucial to client acquisition and relationship-building. Qimple takes a people-first approach to sales. The company wants someone who makes a real effort to not only bring in clients, but also to engage them, and get them feeling excited about how simple, fun, and cost-effective hiring with Qimple is.  The candidate should have one to three years of sales experience, particularly in SaaS/SMB markets.

User Acquisition Manager

Qimple is looking for a User Acquisition Manager to join its amazing team. A User Acquisition Manager at Qimple should have managed online marketing campaigns before, yet should possess the ability to execute and experiment independently on customer acquisition campaigns. This position is a vital cross-functional role on a tight-knit team which requires an adaptable strategic marketer who can combine online marketing campaign experience with tactical expertise. The candidate should have three years or more of performing campaign management, demand generation, and/or growth hacking preferably in the B2B and SaaS space.

RtTech Sales Agent

Lead Gen Sales Agent

RtTech is looking for a lead gen sales agent looking for bigger and better and willing to work to get there. Based in Moncton and reporting to the Inside Sales Manager, the successful candidate will play a vital part in the growth of the company by generating leads for the sales team. He or she will serve as the initial inside contact for the customer and identify opportunities and actively promoting the features and benefits offered by the company. The agent must research new customer leads and convert potential leads to viable prospects. RtTech is looking for someone with a minimum of one to two years sales experience, preferably in B2B or tech environment.


Digital Marketing Specialist

Selectbidder is hiring an experienced and talented digital marketing specialist to develop and execute its content marketing and marketing automation programs. The specialist must manage all phases of client marketing activities including: planning, developing, launching, monitoring and reporting on campaign performance; ensuring all projects are completed on time and within budget. They must work comfortably across various media channels such as websites, social media platforms, email marketing services, inbound marketing platforms, etc.

Java Developer

Selectbidder is looking for Java Programmers with various combinations of experience with software architecture, design and development to join our growing team and help build an industry leader. The company is seeking for a passionate java server-side developer who can work in a tightly-knit agile team environment. The winning candidate must design, develop, and deploy highly scalable, highly available, secure applications using agile methodologies and provide leadership and creativity in helping develop next generation products.

Weisenburger: A Corporate Psychologist

Christian Weisenburger

Christian Weisenburger

As Joni Mitchell sang, ‘you don’t know what you got till it’s gone’. In Christian Weisenburger’s case, it wasn’t until he was on the brink of changing career and moving to Europe that he realized that, after all, he wanted to stay in Halifax and practice law.

Many would be surprised to learn that Weisenburger, who is well-known for his love of Halifax and for his legal work in Nova Scotia’s startup community, almost quit law and the province.

He initially gained his law degree from the University of Alberta, but became jaded working at a national business law firm in Calgary where he grew up.

So, he moved to Halifax, where his mother was raised, and gained his MBA from Dalhousie University in 2006.  

“I’d gained my MBA and my Level Two exam for the Chartered Financial Analyst Designation. I’d decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer and was looking into working in finance in Europe,” he said.

“Then it hit me how much I loved Halifax and that I did like law…I’d only been supposed to be in Halifax for a few years but it had become a lifelong thing.

“I love the openness of Halifax, the different communities, the fact people know your name. Like Goldilocks, Halifax is just right.”

So, Weisenburger put down roots and started his eponymously named business in 2009. Initially called Beyond the Box Law, the company focuses on startups, commercial law, financing, taxation and intellectual property.

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These days, most of Weisenburger’s time is spent working as in-house counsel for three local companies that focus on green technology and healthcare.

CarbonCure Technologies retrofits concrete plants with a technology that recycles waste carbon dioxide to make greener concrete products. TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture uses multi-level vertical farming to create indoor farms, and Densitas Inc develops digital mammography products.

“I feel good to be contributing to companies of value,” Weisenburger said. “These are visionaries, good people. They inspire me.

“Halifax tends to attract that type of person. The universities are full of bright-eyed people looking to make change, and Halifax has something of the internationalism of a port city. These things pull people from other regions.

“In a small place like Halifax, those that succeed are the ones that are driven and self-reliant, the ones that move quickly to get things done before their funds expire.”

Weisenburger operates on a fixed fee basis rather than by charging hourly fees, which he says allows him to play a larger role with his clients.

“One client calls me their corporate psychologist,” he said. “I can play Devil’s advocate. I enjoy acting as a sounding board.”

Although he runs a one-man business, Weisenburgerr avoids loneliness by working in public spaces and biking around the city.

As well as his clients, he has a network of contacts that he can consult and refer work to when something arises that is not one of his specialties.

“I’m not a patent lawyer,” he said. “I do licensing. I have relationships with others that create a virtual firm. If I don’t have an expertise, I can find it.”

He said it’s inspiring to see how much the regional startup community has grown over the last few years.

“I’m excited about how much is going on,” he said.

“I’m drawn to startups. I love the urgency and the team work. Entrepreneurs take risks. They calculate and understand risk. They know how to get things done. I like that. I like the thrill of it.”


Knowledgehook Nears New Funding

Knowledgehook co-founders Arthur Lui, left, Travis Ratnam and James Francis.

Knowledgehook co-founders Arthur Lui, left, Travis Ratnam and James Francis.

As it begins its tenure in the Communitech’s Rev accelerator, educational technology company Knowledgehook is preparing to close a $200,000 strategic investment from a major European corporation.

The funding and the entry into Rev are the latest steps forward for the two-year-old Waterloo-based company, which uses technology to help teach children math and make the lessons more effective.

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The four founders -- Travis Ratnam, Lambo Jayapalan, James Francis and Arthur Lui – started the company with the goal of producing technology that would make teens want to do math. They perceived that education would be enhanced through gamification because students would want to join in and have fun while learning.

“There is a paradox that as students get older the ability for adults to influence them goes down,” Francis, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, said in an interview. “We actually leverage peer networks and show students what their peers were doing. We wanted to make it very visible and make it the norm. I guess you could call it social mechanics.”

The origins of the company date back a few years when Ratnam and Jayapalan, both of whom have Sri Lankan lineage, began to work together of a range of humanitarian projects. But they wanted to do something bigger, more sustainable.

The son of a math tutor, Ratnam was struck by his own breakthrough in math as a high school student and they began to focus on a project that would help kids enjoy learning math.

“If we could use technology to engage students and use technology to enhance activity among the students, would that improve student outcomes?” asked Francis. “We felt that gamification had a role.”

The quartet set out to try.

They launched the minimum viable product of their first game, called HomeWork, in 2013 and they soon got the attention of the Toronto Catholic Schoolboard.

HomeWork allows teachers to assign studies that students can work on individually. It has built-in gamification and support functions that excite and motivate students to try and move their learning forward.

In September, the company launched a second product, GameShow.It employs the Ontario math curriculum in a game that all students in a class can play on any mobile device, phone or computer. It poses problems for the students, and the combination of fun and competition means students are drawn into the game because their peers are playing it.

It now covers curriculum from Grades 3 to 10.

As well as encouraging students to delve into their math lessons, the system collects and analyses data so the teacher can assess where problems are developing, both with individuals and the group as a whole.

With funding from angel investors, including a $100,000 investment from Boston Scientific Co-Founder John Abele, Knoweldgehook has been able to sell its products to several Ontario school boards. It is now in talks with a further 12 boards.

As it developed, the company entered the Waterloo Accelerator Centre, which nurtures its clients over a period of years. And now it is in the six-month Rev program.

Francis said the company has expansion plans and hopes to move beyond Ontario, but its focus will continue to be math in the near term rather than other subjects.

“As John Abele told us, ‘Get repeat customers before you scale,’” said Francis. “We’ve always taken that approach.”

Startup Canada Hails Aboriginals, Gillis

Paul Martin: Entrepreneurship is in the Aboriginal DNA

Paul Martin: Entrepreneurship is in the Aboriginal DNA

The Startup Canada Awards ceremony at the CN Tower on Tuesday focused foursquare on the country’s future, paying special attention to the potential of the native community and on one young entrepreneur, 17-year-old Alex Gillis of Halifax.

The Canadian entrepreneurial organization presented awards in eight categories, and Atlantic Canada came away with two of them – Gillis for young entrepreneur of the year, and RtTech Software of Moncton for Innovator of the year.

Read our Report on the Atlantic Canadian Awards

Startup Canada also presented a lifetime achievement award to former Prime Minister Paul Martin, the founder of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative and the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship Fund, which invests in Aboriginal business.

Interviewed on stage by columnist Rick Spence, Martin congratulated Startup Canada for uniting and promoting the startup community in just four years. Entrepreneurship will clearly determine Canada’s economic future, he said.

And this is one reason, he said, that the country has to recognize and promote entrepreneurship by native people. He said entrepreneurship is rich in aboriginal culture. And given Canada’s aging population, the country must recognize that the fastest growing segment of its population is the aboriginal community.

“Entrepreneurship is part-and-parcel of the Aboriginal DNA,” Martin said in an earlier interview with Startup Canada. “The first industry in this country after European contact was the fur trade. The fur trade was built by First Nations and Métis entrepreneurs. There is a huge number of Aboriginal entrepreneurs in Canada today; it’s just not big enough. We wanted to do whatever we could do to encourage it.”

Martin is also fighting to improve aboriginal education through his educational initiative, which is working to improve curriculum and funding for aboriginal schools.

He called on Startup Canada to create a category for next year’s awards for native entrepreneurs.

Martin delivered his speech with his customary charm and wit. When he left the stage his first gesture was to shake hands with Gillis. “We’re actually the same age,” he joked.

Gillis had drawn attention throughout the evening because he represents the future of entrepreneurship in the country. Several speakers mentioned how impressed they were with the teen’s success in business. Gillis and his co-founder Aristides Milios have launched Bitness, which helps small business owners improve efficiency. It uses devices called beacons to track where, when and how long customers are in a store. This allows the store owner to understand the store’s peak hours, allowing for better staffing decisions.

It’s worth noting that in the first two years of the awards, five Atlantic Canadians have claimed national awards and three of them have fallen under the theme of youth and education. It highlights the region’s success in nurturing young talent. As well as Gillis’ award this year, Startup Canada in 2014 recognized the University of New Brunswick and Mary Kilfoil of Dalhousie University.

Saint John investor and mentor Gerry Pond also took the stage Tuesday to present the Senior Entrepreneur Award to Tom Fash of Edmonton. Pond said he liked the idea of “One old fart giving another old fart an award.”

Canada Loses Ground in Innovation

Jacquelyn Thayer Scott: 'We're still in trouble.'

Jacquelyn Thayer Scott: 'We're still in trouble.'

Having spent decades promoting innovation in the economy of Canada and its eastern provinces, Jacquelyn Thayer Scott is frustrated that the country is actually regressing compared with its peers.

Scott is the Past President and professor of organization management at Cape Breton University, and will step down this month as the Chair of Innovacorp. And for several years she has been the lone Atlantic Canadian representative on the Science, Technology and Innovation Council, a federal body that monitors Canada’s standing in these fields.

The council just released its biennial report, which assesses innovation in developed countries, and the Canadian results aren’t pretty.

“My main takeaway is we’re still in trouble,” said Scott in an interview to mark the release of the report. “There just hasn’t been a lot of movement, especially in the business sector in the past 15 or 20 years.”

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The report says business R&D spending as a percentage of GDP dropped by $1 billion between 2007 and 2014. We were 18th in the world in that category in 2006 but fell to 26th in 2013.

The report said Canada has some real “star power” in higher education research with 98 researchers named in the top 1 percent in their fields. But funding for academic research as a percentage of GDP has been stagnant while other countries have increased spending. So Canada’s ranking in higher education spending as a percentage of GDP has fallen from third in 2006 to eighth in 2013.

“Despite ongoing efforts to improve Canada’s lagging business innovation performance, it has continued to deteriorate,” concluded the report. “Canada has fallen further behind its global competitors on key performance indicators, reflected most tellingly in private-sector investment in research and development.”

Scott said Canadian businesses simply have to invest more in R&D and produce more innovative products. She added there is a need for more pro-active incentives for R&D; the largest program for innovation, the Canada Revenue Agency’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development, or SRED, program, rewards companies with tax credits only after they have made an R&D expenditure. Scott said it’s not an effective way to support companies that “have to move quickly or lose.”

Canada, she said, suffers from one of two problems: either commodity price are high and policy-makers feel the economy can thrive without innovation; or the Canadian dollar is weak and the country’s exports rise because we can compete on price.

Both these situations detract from the need to diversify the economy and produce products that can capture a global customer base.

Though the report does not provide provincial or regional breakdowns, Scott said Atlantic Canada is doing better than before though it is hindered by its small corporate sector. The report highlights that startups and small businesses are one of the bright spots in the Canadian innovation landscape, and Scott sees these young companies as one of the strengths on the east coast. The four provinces have to continue to improve their cooperation to ensure it continues to grow. 

“It’s a bit of an uphill battle but any lessons we learn in Canada have to be learned even more in Atlantic Canada,” she said. “We really have to have a collaborative, integrated policy and we can’t be fighting among ourselves.” 

Rogers Buys Halifax’s IAI

Rogers Communications said Tuesday it has bought Halifax-based Internetworking Atlantic Inc. for an undisclosed price to gain a data centre and provide enhanced tech solutions to its Atlantic Canada clients.

The Toronto communications company said the acquisition enables it to offer greater local expertise to private and public sector clients in cloud computing, data centre services, fibre networking and professional service.

Founded in 2002 by President Bruce MacDougall, Internetworking employs 25 people and will continue to operate in Halifax under its current management.

"In today's digital economy, businesses of all sizes and industries are relying on technology to achieve business outcomes," Nitin Kawale, President, Enterprise Business Unit, Rogers Communications, said in a statement. "The expertise IAI provides in data centre services, cloud solutions and fibre networking will benefit businesses from large to small. This local expertise and service combined with our national network and business capabilities will provide customers with the solutions they need to drive growth."

The deal is the second M&A transaction by a Halifax tech company is a month as Courion of Atlanta said last month it had bought SecureReset, a making of client validation software.

The IAI acquisition will bring Rogers the following assets:

• A Halifax-based data centre, which will be Rogers’ 16th in Canada. The Halifax centre provides secure and certified colocation and storage needs to clients across the region.

• Virtual and Hosted Services, which Rogers said are unparalleled in the region.

• Professional services, included a team of professionals who allow customers to outsource their IT and networking needs and provide around-the-clock management and monitoring of services.

• And fibre Infrastructure.

"The additional local expertise that our new employees bring to our team in Atlantic Canada will continue to drive regional growth," said Ken Marshall, Rogers Vice President of EBU Sales. "This strategic investment is key to supporting our growing client base, particularly in the large and medium business sectors."

Densitas Gets Approval for Canada, EU

Weeks after announcing a $250,000 equity investment, Halifax-based Densitas has received regulatory clearance in the European Union and Canada to sell its first product, DM-Density.

When the company revealed its $250,000 funding from Innovacorp in October, it said it would use the money to finance the launch of DM-Density, which enhances breast screening by assessing the density of the breast being examined. Breast density is a key determinant in a patient’s risk of contracting breast cancer, so Densitas helps doctors understand a patient’s risk profile.

“It’s exciting to have DM-Density entering markets with such great potential for sales,” said CEO Mohamed Abdolell in a statement Tuesday. “Our products will address the real clinical challenges in the mammography enterprise, focusing on key value pathways that lead to improved care for women.”

Innovacorp Invests $250K in Densitas

While attending the annual Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago, Abdolell said the product had received the CE Mark from the European Commission and a medical device license from Health Canada. Plans are also underway to secure regulatory clearance for DM-Density in the United States.

Radiologists use DM-Density when reviewing a woman’s mammogram to assess breast density. Accurately assessing breast density is an important part of the mammography process, as dense breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, and the dense breast tissue makes it challenging to differentiate it from cancer on the X-ray image.

DM-Density is the first of a series of mammography imaging products that are currently in various stages of development by Densitas.

The company’s website details a few of the coming iterations – DM-Dose, a radiation dose-reporting solution for mammography; DM-Analytics, which processes the vast amount of data generated by mammography; DM-Workflow, which is a mammography workflow solution; and DM-Research, which helps to process digital mammograms used in research.

In May, Densitas received certification from the International Standards Organization, or ISO, which means customers in international markets are assured that Densitas products meet national standards throughout their lifespan.

SkySquirrel Preps New Product for 2016

Richard Van der Put, right, poses with Co-Founder Stephane Sogne in the early days of SkySquirrel.

Richard Van der Put, right, poses with Co-Founder Stephane Sogne in the early days of SkySquirrel.

SkySquirrel, the Halifax startup that uses drones to improve yields in vineyards, is gearing up to launch a new product in 2016 that will help attack a persistent problem in the European wine industry.

SkySquirrel’s drones survey and collect data on vineyards, detecting diseases in the early stages and helping farmers better nurture their crops.

While several drone companies have developed agricultural products, SkySquirrel has focused on the $85-billion global wine market and is winning clients around the world.

The company has booked $150,000 in sales this year with customers in four continents and is zeroing in on a $1-million round of investment, which it hopes to close in January.

“We not only sell hardware but we develop a relationship with our clients,” said CEO Richard van der Put in an interview.

“We help to train them and we work with them to solve the specific problems in their vineyards.”

He said vineyard owners use SkySquirrel’s data analytics to scout for diseases and understand how to improve growing conditions.

RtTech, LeadSift, SkySquirrel in CIX

The company is focused on releasing its next generation of technology in time for the 2016 growing season. In particular, it is working on technology to combat flavescence doree, a disease plaguing southern European vineyards. There is no cure for the disease, which prevents plants from producing grapes; once it occurs, the farmer has no choice but to destroy the vine before it spreads.

SkySquirrel’s current Aqweo drones are mounted with multi-spectral cameras supplied by a commercial provider. The next generation will feature a camera developed by SkySquirrel that is sensitive enough to detect changes in leaf colour when flavescence doree is in its early stages. That should help to prevent the spread of the disease.

The company has already produced two prototypes.

SkySquirrel’s early success won it a selection this year to the Canadian Innovation Exchange CIX Top 20, which annually recognizes some of the leading innovative companies in the country. SkySquirrel joined RtTech Software of Moncton and LeadSift of Halifax in the Atlantic Canadian contingent this year.

SkySquirrel began in Inverness County three years ago with the goal of establishing a business around drones. Van der Put and co-founders Tim Stekkinger and Stephane Sogne originally worked on a search and rescue application before moving to agriculture and then narrowing in on wine producers.

Last year, as they moved the company to Hammonds Plains in suburban Halifax, the team launched its Aqweo drone and struck partnerships with several international companies, including the Napa County, Calif., data company VineView, which has been collecting information on vineyards for decades.

Van der Put said SkySquirrel’s focus on the wine industry allows for great expansion because wine is such a high-margin business. It is working with a few vineyards, he said, that could produce $1 million in revenue for SkySquirrel each year.

“As we learned more about our markets, we learned that agriculture is not one market. We decided it was clear that the growers wanted not just a measuring tool but a solution that immediately solved their problems.”

GrowthWorks Adapts to New Reality

Adopting a strategy to maintain its fund without fresh investment, GrowthWorks Atlantic has borrowed $1.5 million to cover operating costs and adopted a plan to distribute funds to its shareholders over time.

The Halifax-based venture capital fundy has made the announcements in the past two months in its latest moves to adapt to changes in its regulatory environment brought in the last two years.

GrowthWorks has not raised money in a couple of years and it is now focused on managing its existing portfolio of companies.

“The fund itself is not in wind-down mode but it’s not in growth mode,” said Peter Clark, who was named CEO earlier this year. “Now that we’re not raising money, we’re working with our existing portfolio. We’re looking to harvest a few winners within the portfolio and distribute the proceeds to shareholders.” 

Clark said the company is hoping to cash in on these companies either through outright exits, or by being bought out by new investors. And he stressed his team will take the time to realize the best return possible.

Venture NL Invests $300K in Sequence

GrowthWorks Atlantic began life as a labour-sponsored fund – a VC fund sponsored by labour unions under federal legislation. However, the previous government scrapped the legislation under which the labour-sponsored funds operated, meaning the funds that were still around had difficulty raising more money. During the recent federal campaign, the Liberals raised the possibility of resurrecting the program, but there has been little mention of it since the election.

On Oct. 1, GrowthWorks Atlantic said it would borrow $1.5 million from three Canadian financial institutions for three years for operating capital. This came after the fund revised its management agreement to reduce costs.

The statement announcing the loan said the lenders would receive a percentage of any assets that are liquidated, and that the fund must maintain a net asset value of 10 times the amount owing. The NAV at the time was $23 million.

On Nov. 20, GrowthWorks Atlantic released another statement saying its board had approved a “pro rate redemption policy”. It states that as the fund receives money from exiting companies, its shareholders will receive a portion of the proceeds in proportion to their holding in the GrowthWorks Atlantic fund.

At the heart of the strategy at GrowthWorks Atlantic is the portfolio of companies. It’s a varied bunch of startups, but it does include some of the region’s true stars, such as Smart Skin Technologies and IntroHive, both of Fredericton. The fund’s past investments have ranged from home runs like Halifax’s STI Technologies and DHX Media, both of which were successful exits, to Origin Biomed of Halifax, which filed for creditor protection earlier this year.

Smart Skin Aims to Raise $6M-$8M

As of the summer of 2014, GrowthWorks Atlantic’s largest holdings based on the fair value of its investments were in the following companies: Azorus Inc., Halifax; Virtual Marine Technology Inc., St. John’s; Origin Biomed; ClearRisk Inc., St. John’s; Enovex Technology Ltd., Saint John; Impath Networks Canada Corporation, Halifax; and Lymbix Inc., Moncton.

Meanwhile, GrowthWorks has branched out in the last year as its Pelorus Venture Capital subsidiary has taken on the management of the Venture Newfoundland and Labrador fund, a new fund backed by the provincial government, BDC Capital and private individuals.

“We’re really happy with it,” said Clark. “We’d like to see that model extend beyond Newfoundland into the other provinces in Atlantic Canada and elsewhere.” 

DMZ, UK Group Hosting Competition

The DMZ at Ryerson University is looking for startups in Kitchener-Waterloo interested in applying for the Next Big Idea Contest, which the university is organizing in partnership with Innovation Birmingham in the U.K.

The contest is open to startups in Ontario and the Greater Birmingham area. Organizers say they would like to get the word out in Kitchener-Waterloo so some of the region’s tech entrepreneurs will apply for the competition.

The winners will spend two weeks abroad in the sister incubation centre, so the Ontario winner will travel to Innovation Birmingham and the British winner to the DMZ. It will allow the companies to scale up internationally, meeting with expert advisers and scope out ways to expand their businesses on a global scale.

Interested applicants must complete this form by Dec. 18.

“We are very excited to launch this contest with Innovation Birmingham, giving young innovators an opportunity to make valuable connections world-wide and expand their businesses on a global scale,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy in a statement.

The DMZ – which stands for Digital Media Zone – is the university’s tech incubator, situated in the heart of downtown Toronto. Since April 2010, it has accelerated 219 startups, which have raised more than $120 million in funding.

The facility signed a memorandum of understanding with Innovation Birmingham earlier this year to increase the global opportunities for the clients of both groups.

Based in the former steel-making hub northwest of London, the Innovation Birmingham Campus is home to 130 companies, specializing in such areas as coding, software, digital gaming and low carbon technologies. Birmingham itself is home to 34,000 private companies, including 700 international companies, which have helped to make it the fastest-growing city in the U.K.

“When visiting Toronto’s DMZ, it was evident how similar the ethos, community and outputs were to the Innovation Birmingham Campus,” said David Hardman, the CEO of Innovation Birmingham. “The launch of this contest is the first step in what we believe will be a very productive collaboration, benefiting early stage tech businesses.”

Donovan Wins EY’s Canadian Award

Michael Donovan

Michael Donovan

Michael Donovan, Executive Chairman of Halifax- and Toronto-based DHX Media Ltd., has been named Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year by the global consultancy EY.

EY said in a statement that Donovan, who heads a global film and television company specializing in children's entertainment, was chosen as the Canadian winner for his industry foresight and relentless belief in the demand for good-quality entertainment content.

"Michael Donovan had a vision, and jumped into family entertainment content with both feet," said Colleen McMorrow, EY partner and National Entrepreneur of the Year Program Director. "But his success is no stroke of luck. He has proven himself as a diligent and persistent businessman, first in producing and distributing shows around the world and then in strategically growing DHX Media to become the world's largest independent library of children and family content." 

Donovan began in the early 1980s, when he teamed up with his brother, Paul, to found Salter Street Films, a Halifax-based production company. Having produced such series as CODCO, Made in Canada, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and winning an Academy Award for Bowling for Columbine, Donovan eventually started what would become DHX Media Ltd, which went public in 2006.

Donovan will represent Canada in Monaco next June when EY recognizes entrepreneurs from 50 countries around the world and selects the World Entrepreneur of the Year.

The presentation of the award on Wednesday capped off the Entrepreneur of the Year program, which comprised competitions in five regions, 183 finalists and  51 award winners. EY said the 183 finalists employ more than 46,000 people in Canada and have combined revenues of over $12 billion.

Another Atlantic Canadian who was recognized at the event was Alex MacLean, the head of East Coast Lifestyle of Halifax, who received a Special Citation for Marketing Excellence.

“In 2013, Alex started East Coast Lifestyle, a unique clothing brand focused on Atlantic Canadian pride, in his entrepreneurship class at Acadia University,” said EY in a statement. “Since that first initiative to sell 30 hoodies, the company has exploded internationally, with over 500,000 units sold in 55 countries.”


4 Startups Tap Velocity Fund

The winners, judges and organizers. (Photo from Velocity)

The winners, judges and organizers. (Photo from Velocity)

The Velocity Fund has handed four more companies at least $25,000 each to help with their development.

As it does each school term, Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s accelerator, donated money to the best companies in its accelerator program, which is populated with students and grads from the university and their business partners.

The Velocity Fund was largely inspired by Ted Livingston, the Founder and CEO of chat provider Kik, who four years ago donated US$1 million to the fund when he was just 23. It now hands out about $400,000 a year to help develop startups affiliated with the university.

Read About All 10 Finalists

The finals were held hours after Velocity announced an ambitious expansion plan, which will make it the largest incubator in North America that doesn't take equity stakes in its clients. The $25,000 winners announced on Thursday in the 14th finals  were:

Thalo – This company is developing a revolutionary screen for mobile devices that can be read even in glaring daylight. The screen, which should be ready for smart watches next year, also extends battery life. Rather than a back-lit display, Thalo uses reflective technology to gather in surrounding light. “We’re re-imaging the pixel from the ground up,” said Founder Ryan Marchewka. As the top hardware company in the competition, Thalo won an additional $10,000.

Acorn Cryotech -- Acorn Cryotech preserves the cells of youthful people today as a resource to draw from for personalized medical therapy in the future. This provides a bank of youthful cells, for use in growing new immune-compatible organs, genetic therapies able to revert damage, and mutations that accumulate with age.

HealthIM -- HealthIM is developing an online system that improves the efficiency of police departments encountering mentally ill people. The Toronto Police Department, for example, deals with 20,000 mentally ill people a year, and each takes hours to process. HealthIM, which is already being used by two police departments, improves communications between police in the field and hospitals, so the patient can be diagnosed while they’re being transported.  

Sweat Free Apparel – This company has designed a three-ply pad that fits in the armpit of an undershirt, preventing sweat stains from ruining clothes. The company is now testing the product.

Earlier in the day, 10 teams pitched in the Velocity Fund $5,000 competition. Three teams walked away with $5,000 prizes: Finuvo with Best Pitch, BioFlex Implant with Most Innovative product, and Hash with People’s Choice.

Probing our Behaviour Around Money

Stephanie Holmes-Winton

Stephanie Holmes-Winton

A Nova Scotian who focuses on making individuals aware of their behaviour around money has received a boost after being recognized by a group that works to promote female entrepreneurs.

The SheEO movement’s Radical Generosity initiative helps finance and support women-led ventures in Canada.

Stephanie Holmes-Winton, CEO of Dartmouth company The Money Finder, has been named a national finalist in the Radical Generosity program.

The Money Finder teaches a process called cash flow planning that shows financial advisers how to help clients manage their finances in human terms.

“Our process takes into account the fact that people are human and not robots or computers,” Holmes-Winton said.

“Humans have behavioural triggers. There are things we do that we don’t understand and things we do out of fear, like chasing a fixed-rate mortgage and ignoring other debt.

“The fixed rates can cost us when we don’t look at the whole picture, but they make us feel safe.”

Local Women Support She-EO Fund

She said her company has developed techniques and software that allow advisers to show their clients how to change their behaviour enough to meet short-term goals so they have money left to save.

Holmes-Winton initially tried to teach these techniques directly but found clients needed an adviser to keep them to their cash flow plan and pick them up when they lapsed.

She said she believes hers is the only financial program of this type that focuses on behaviour. Others more commonly focus on products, math, taxation and law.

Born in Halifax, Holmes-Winton began her career at 22 as a financial adviser. She soon realized many of her clients overspent and did not know where their money went.

She found that asking them to track their spending was counter-productive because it caused a sense of shame that was a bad motivator. Also, it’s hard for tracking to be completely accurate.

So she invented a formula that takes into account income, age, debt and other variables to create spending guidelines. It is at the core of the certified cash flow specialist designation.

“I was a financial adviser for 10 years,” she said.

“I was talking to clients and I was asking them, ‘Why do I get the feeling that I think your future is more important than you do? I feel I’m fighting you to get you to save. … Why is that?’

“They said, ‘Listen, can you tell us where the heck our money is going and then tell us how to save in a way that is not torture?’”

Holmes-Winton is the author of two books on spending and debt, and has her own CTV segment, Money Matters.

She began her company alone in late 2011, honed it for two years and now employs 13 full-time staff, with several hirings underway. The Money Finder team works from the Halifax region, Cape Breton, New Brunswick, Alberta and Ontario.

The certified cash flow specialist designation was launched two years ago and has trained over 360 advisers. So far, the company operates only in Canada, with plans to expand into the United States in 2018.

Holmes-Winton is one of two area finalists in the Radical Generosity initiative. The other is Halifax-based Health QR CEO Patti Ryan.

Health QR Celebrates Launch

The Radical Generosity initiative invites 1,000 women to contribute $1,000 each to help finance and support women-led ventures across Canada. Of the 29 finalists, 10 will be chosen to share the $1 million. They meet to divide the money among themselves with two rules: they can’t give it all to one person, and they can’t divide it evenly.

“SheEO is huge for us,” Holmes-Winton said. “Our No. 1 struggle is finding funding. … This recognition will allow us to grow faster and help more people.”

Communitech, Velocity Expanding

Communitech and Velocity have announced expansion plans under which they will take up the space being vacated by Google in the Lang Tannery and support more startups and high-growth companies.

Communitech, Kitchener-Waterloo’s multifaceted support organization for tech companies, and Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s accelerator, announced they expansion and a new partnership between Communitech and Google in a statement on Thursday.

The upshot is both these Kitchener-Waterloo-based organizations will support more companies.  This additional space will provide Communitech with a total of 80,000 square feet, and will allow the University to double the space allocated for Velocity, with a total of 36,000 square feet or enough room for up to 120 startups.

"The added space will allow us to help accelerate the growth of high-potential companies, while making more room for startups and our corporate innovation partners," said Communitech CEO Iain Klugman in the statement. "This gives us the foundation on which to help build 15 new $100-million companies in the Toronto-Waterloo Region corridor over the next 10 years."

Read our Report on the Women's Bootcamp

The statement said the expansion is being carried out in partnership with Google and the Government of Ontario. Google will soon leave its space in the Tannery to move into new offices in the nearby Breithaupt Block, which will house as many as 500 employees.

The expanded workspace and resources mean Velocity will become the largest startup incubator in North America that does not take equity stakes in its clients. Velocity's space will include a wet lab for startups conducting science research, a dedicated workshop for assembling hardware prototypes, and expanded facilities for startup mentorship.

"Startup companies emerging from the University of Waterloo's entrepreneurship programs are fuelling the growth of the Waterloo Region innovation ecosystem," said University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur. "The expanded facilities will allow our Velocity program's software, hardware, and life-sciences startups, currently housed in separate buildings, to grow as a community under one roof, and share insights through peer mentorship."

Communitech and Google have also entered a new three-year agreement to strengthen the Google for Entrepreneurs program, and provide more resources to Communitech's Women in Technology initiatives. Communitech has already run four six-month Google for Entrepreneurs cohorts, providing working space, mentorship and access to Google products to 16 startups. The program will now be augmented with better access to experts at Google Canada and technology-specific experts in Google locations around the world.

The Women in Technology program includes a peer-to-peer group, bi-annual networking events, a mentorship program, and has run two successful Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamps. This agreement will provide additional resources to develop further programming.

"We're really excited to extend our support for high calibre tech companies in the Toronto -Waterloo Region corridor through the Google for Entrepreneurs program," said Steven Woods, Google's Senior Director of Engineering in Canada. "With this newly expanded partnership, we look forward to working with the next generation of startups and tech visionaries within this incredibly talented community."

Equals6 Founders Sell SecureReset

Andy Osburn

Andy Osburn

Atlanta’s Courion, which helps identify users online, has paid an undisclosed price to buy Halifax’s SecureReset, which has developed two products for simplifying user passwords and authentication.

SecureReset was owned by the entrepreneurial duo of CEO Andy Osburn and chief technical officer Mark Boyle, better known as the founders of Equals6, a career-focused social network for students. Osburn said they have joined Courion and are planning for Equals6 to move on under new management.

Courion refers to itself as a market leader in “identity governance and administration,” meaning its technology helps large organizations authenticate the identity of online customers with as little annoyance as possible. It has offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and its clients include many of the world’s largest enterprises and organizations.

It bought SecureReset because Boyle and Osburn have developed technology that makes it easier to authenticate a customer’s identity or to allow them to change passwords.

“With this acquisition, we will be able to include SecureReset’s innovative products immediately into our PasswordCourier product, which will give us the opportunity to provide more valuable services to our customer base,” said Courion CEO David Earhart in a statement.

“This acquisition will give us the ability to expand our offerings in (our) market and will be paramount in our bold plans for the future of Courion.”

Equals6 Unveils its Mentorship Platform

In an interview, Osburn declined to discuss details of the deal but said he and Boyle are looking forward to joining the larger team at Courion.

For the last few years, Osburn has been the face of Equals6, which allows university students to connect with one another and potential employers. The site passed the 100,000-user mark about a year ago.

Osburn and Boyle have quietly been working on SecureReset, and Osburn has been saying that business is the one growing revenues more quickly.

SecureReset allows secure, automated resets, improving the security and ease with which clients can change their passwords. Its QuickFactor division bypasses the password and PIN altogether and can authenticate users through fingerprints or voice biometrics. Courion plans to roll out these products through its suite of applications.

“It’s an area where there’s been a lot of demand, and we’ve developed some nice products around it,” said Osburn.

He said he and Boyle will continue to work in Halifax, and there is the potential they will grow their team in the city. Courion only announced the acquisition this month, and development plans have yet to be worked out.

Meanwhile, they are in discussions with a few parties about the future of Equals6. The product has had its greatest success with its mentorship platform launched earlier this year, and they would like to see it continue.

“We are stepping back from it, and we are looking at a number of things,” said Osburn. “We are hoping to have an announcement soon.”

A Case for Founder Thought Leadership

Whether you’re seeking funding or looking for customers, founder thought leadership is often an untapped tactic for growing your startup. Here’s how to get started painlessly.

Marketing yourself as an authority (or better yet, an influencer) using thought leadership helps grow your startup — whether that’s getting funding, customers, press coverage, talent, or strategic partnerships.

Investors, customers, media, talent — the list goes on — don’t just look at your company anymore. The line between founder and company is disappearing fast: today, the founder is the company and the company is the founder. And if you’re CEO, the line is even blurrier.

Think about the correlation between views of your personal LinkedIn profile and certain key activities: fundraising, media coverage, networking, hiring, partnership negotiations, influencer outreach, conferences, applications, landing high-profile customers. Chances are it is very high, probably closing in on 95 percent or more.

Yet many see their personal brand as a nice-to-have. But whether or not you choose to actively build your brand, it’s still evaluated.

One of the easiest ways to shape your brand is through founder thought leadership. Better yet, the input is often disproportionately small compared to the pay-off. 

Getting started doesn’t require a lot of money, commitment, or time. You don’t need to be an “expert,” and it’s almost impossible to start too early or too late.

So what do I mean by founder thought leadership?

Creating and distributing content (written, spoken, audio, video) in your own name, rather than your company’s, in order to build authority, credibility, and trustworthiness. 

While company thought leadership is great at establishing trust and credibility with customers, founder thought leadership is better at building authority with all stakeholders. 

Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, is a great example of founder thought leadership. So is Mattermark’s CEO, Danielle Morrill.

There is a reason why Time’s Person of the Year is coming up on its 90th anniversary (and has consistently been one of the magazine’s best-selling issues every year). It’s a big deal for any CEO to be featured… even for the Zuckerbergs or Bezos of the world.

No, not everyone is going to be Richard Branson or Elon Musk. In fact, most won’t end up building that

kind of reputation, but that’s ok. You don’t need to achieve visionary status to help close a round of funding or nail down that strategic partnership. You just need to build some authority within your niche. Sometimes this only takes a few high-quality pieces.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to make thought leadership a priority. Of course, the more you put in, the greater the benefit. But unlike many things, you don’t necessarily need to put in a lot to get a great payoff.

Think about it from an investor’s point of view. One of the things they want to know is that you’re the right person to build this company. So give them tangible evidence (beyond pitching and meetings) to show it. Well-thought-out pieces demonstrating not only your understanding of your space, but also your vision for its future, can go a long way.

Many thought leaders aren’t necessarily experts, yet they have become authoritative. How? They share their expertise. And so can you. You don’t need to be an “expert” — at least by the traditional definition — to have expertise.

Topics Every Founder Can Leverage To Become Thought Leaders.

#1.  Your unique expertise in… you.

That is to say, you are uniquely qualified to share expertise in how you build your company, your vision for the future of your market, and how you view the problem you’re tackling.

#2. Customer development.

This data is a goldmine. Analyze it. Share your analysis. Of course, be careful and only publish analyses you’re fine with your current or any future competitors seeing, as customer data is your ultimate competitive advantage.

Look at Price Intelligently (who also make the free SaaS metrics tool ProfitWell). While this is done on the company’s blog, this type of general analysis is great.

#3. Your wisdom.

•             Share your take on prevailing ideas / theories. Take the recent coverage of WealthSimple’s re-brand. Current startup wisdom says to invest only in marketing you can measure, but WealthSimple bet on branding.

•             Introduce concepts / frameworks from other fields.

•             Comment on relevant trends and news. This is a great idea for two reasons: 1) It’s an especially good way to build authority; and 2) Even if you don’t yet know exactly what market you’ll ultimately serve, you can still do this.

•             Predict trends in business, entrepreneurship, or better yet, your industry or market.


Let’s take commenting on relevant news. Shopify made headlines a few weeks ago with the release of Sello, a consumer app enabling everyone to become sellers with only a few clicks. You could comment on:

i.              How this could affect buy / sell models like VarageSale

ii.             The micro selling trend

iii.            How it could potentially disrupt big players like eBay or Kijiji.

Yes, Desired End-Result Matters.

While founder thought leadership is an all-around growth accelerant, if there is a result you’re particularly interested in achieving (often this is fundraising), then focus on the best content for that audience.

For instance, if fundraising is the goal, you’ll probably want your thought leadership to persuade investors that you are the right person to build this business in this market. So try creating content that showcases your knowledge of your market and your insights into the future of your industry.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to get early-adopters, try content focused on the problem / pain you’re addressing. If you’re B2B, be educational and informative. If you’re B2C, try being inspirational or entertaining.

My Favorite Medium For Starting Founder Thought Leadership Is…

LinkedIn Pulse.

•             It’s free

•             It doesn’t require maintenance or commitment

•             It has built-in distribution (bonus: you’re hopefully also building a large, influential LinkedIn network)

•             It’s the #1 place stakeholders (investors, press, talent, strategic partners, etc) will likely go to find information on you

8 Other Recommended Ways To Start Establishing Your Thought Leadership:

1.            Answer questions on Q&A sites like Quora, Reddit, etc.

2.            Use a service like HARO to respond to queries from journalists.

3.            Publish on Medium.

4.            Submit guest posts / contributor pieces to relevant blogs / media outlets.

5.            Create presentations. Post on Slideshare.

6.            Submit yourself as a guest to podcasts.

7.            Start blogging on your own domain (i.e.

8.            Speak publically. Build up to keynotes. You could already have some great Slideshares (#5) that need some narration.

Getting Started Is Painless (Well, Relatively)

Yes it’s an investment. And time is scarce. But remember this investment is cheap, highly liquid (i.e. no commitment), and has a high potential ROI: one high-quality piece could make the difference in closing a round, getting that partner, or securing that press piece. There aren’t too many investments like that.

If you want to get started, test the waters with LinkedIn Pulse. If you want to take it up a level, try blogging on your own domain and sharing via Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, etc. Attempt to get featured in a few media pieces à la HARO. Work your way up to the big leagues of conference keynotes. And the emphasis is always on quality, never quantity.

 Ashley Greene is a business strategist and graduate of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. She is the founder of Instratify.

Volta Searching for CEO

Volta, the Halifax startup hub, is looking for a new Chief Executive Officer.

Jevon MacDonald, the founder and board member of the facility, said this week that Volta is searching for someone who can oversee the daily operations of the organization and work with the board on determining strategy.

For more than a year, the two-year-old organization has been headed by Melody Pardoe, who is Executive Director. Aside from the day-to-day operations, she oversaw Volta’s move last summer from Spring Garden Road to its current location on two floors in the Maritime Centre.

“Volta is growing,” said MacDonald. “We’ve been around for over two years, and we need to expand our team to keep up with our momentum. This new CEO position is an expansion to our executive team, not a replacement.”

MacDonald said the new CEO will work closely with Pardoe on Volta’s long-term goals. These will include supporting entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada and establishing a permanent home for Volta which can support the next 10 years of growth in the ecosystem.

“These long-term plans mean that now is the time to expand our senior leadership,” said MacDonald.

“Melody is an irreplaceable part of our team. She continues to do spectacular work for both Volta and the Atlantic Canadian technology community. We're proud to have her and the feedback on her work to date has been beyond glowing.”

Volta is looking for a CEO candidate with 5 to 10 years’ experience in a similar role, preferably in the tech sector. The applicant should be familiar with the startup world and be able to attract and work with a range of partners.

The opening at Volta means there are now three positions open for the top executive at arguably the leading startup support organizations in Atlantic Canada. Propel ICT, the regional accelerator, is looking for a CEO, and PlanetHatch, the startup and entrepreneurship hub in Fredericton, also has an opening for a new chief. 

Klugman Wins Startup Canada Award

Iain Klugman

Iain Klugman

Iain Klugman, the CEO of Communitech, has been awarded the 2015 Startup Canada Award for Entrepreneur Promotion.

Klugman is the driving force behind an organization that is not so much an accelerator as a diversified ecosystem all founded around a single facility. The Communitech Hub in Kitchener is the centre of a vast range of programs and facilities that drive the development of startups and high-growth companies.

"[We are a] community of engaged and creative entrepreneurs who are working hard – and often, collaboratively – to solve real and relevant problems quickly, across all industries," Klugman told Startup Canada.

Ottawa-based Startup Canada named Klugman and the other winners on Tuesday. Startup Canada has drawn the national awards from a group of regional winners, who were honoured at ceremonies across the country. The national winners will be presented their awards at a reception at the CN Tower in Toronto on Tuesday evening.

The other winners of the Startup Canada Awards are:

The Adam Chowaniec Lifetime Achievement Award -- The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, founder of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) and the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship (CAPE) Fund;

Entrepreneur of the Year Award -- Natalie Dakers, the President and CEO of Accel-Rx of Vancouver, a health sciences accelerator;

Entrepreneur Promotion Award -- Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech, an accelerator complex based in Kitchener;

Entrepreneurship Support -- Victory Square Labs, a Vancouver-based venture builder that supports start-ups in the web, mobile, gaming and film spaces;

Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Alex Gillis, CEO of Halifax-based;

Award for International Trade -- Medicine Hat-based Weddingstar, a designer, manufacturer, distributor and e-commerce seller of wedding related products;

Senior Entrepreneur Award -- Tom Fath, the President of The Fath Group of Edmonton, which has six operating companies under its umbrella, including O’Hanlon Paving;

Award for Innovation – RtTech Software of Moncton, an Industrial Internet of Things company;

Award for Sustainable Development -- Entomo Farms of Campbellford, Ont., a pioneer in the production and processing of insect and insect powder for human consumption.

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