Five founders carted off very big cheques worth a total of $125,000 at the standing-room-only Volta Cohort pitching competition in Halifax on Wednesday night.

In its fifth pitching event, the Volta Cohort invested $25,000 in each of five companies, meaning it has now channeled a total of $650,000 into 26 startups based in Atlantic Canada. Volta, the Halifax startup hub, organizes the event twice each year to help early-stage companies that need their first equity investment to help them reach the market.

“Injecting early stage startups with a small investment, and pairing it with mentorship and support early on has provided a tremendous boost to our regional ecosystem by helping companies get to a venture path more quickly,” said Volta Director of Strategic Projects Meghann Coleman in a statement. “The talent, passion and diversity of the ideas displayed were quite impressive, and we look forward to helping the founders and their teams as they continue to grow.”

Fourteen companies pitched at the event Wednesday, including at least one representative from each Atlantic Canadian province and Cape Breton.

The five winners on Wednesday night were:

Bloxo Inc. (Halifax) – Bloxo is a mobile and web-based platform that simplifies the process of organizing and participating in sports, by connecting organizers, players and facilities. The company addresses the difficulty of finding and booking a sports facility, and then finding players to join in and help pay for it. Its app allows people to book a field, organize a game, and get players to pay electronically before the game even starts. It has signed up 1,000 early adopters who have played 250 games and is in talks with more sports organizations.

Bursity Inc. (Halifax) – is developing a web platform that helps post-secondary students pay their tuition by finding and applying for financial awards in a few easy steps. In an age of mounting student debt, it says there are $45 billion of financial awards in North America, much of which goes unclaimed each year. Bursity’s platform uses one universal form to connect students to funding opportunities. It now has 2 million opportunities listed on its site and wants to add more. The company has already enlisted 126 users who are willing to pay to use the platform to access educational funding programs. 

Electric Owl Solutions Ltd. (Halifax) – Electric Owl is developing subscription-based software solutions for home gardeners to give them the knowledge to grow their own food. Some 46 million homes grow food and spend $20 billion a year, wasting about one-quarter of it. Electric Owl has an app that tells them what they need to know to grow food properly and uses artificial intelligence to tell gardeners what to do before problems happen.

RIDDL (Fredericton) – RIDDL provides proprietary data to impact investors to guide better investment decisions. CEO Jenelle Sobey said impact investors have problems assessing the performance of social ventures. The goal is to build the world’s largest databank of social performance metrics. The company was the runner up in New Brunswick’s Breakthru competition earlier this year.

Sparrow Acoustics (Halifax) – Sparrow Acoustics is making it possible for healthcare professionals to triage a cardiac patient in less than 10 minutes using only software and an electronic stethoscope. The company combines a decade of auscultation research with computer visualization, proprietary acoustic algorithms, and artificial intelligence. Sparrow Acoustics aims to allow a family doctor to diagnose a condition in 10 minutes, rather than the current practice of being referred to cardiologists, which can be strung out for as long as six months.

Volta Cohort holds pitching sessions twice a year and provides winners with space at Volta and access to a board of mentors comprising CEOs and founders of Volta’s resident and alumni companies. Companies outside Halifax receive support through partner organizations in other Atlantic Canadian cities.


Disclosure: Volta is a client of Entrevestor.