There will be a bit of a homecoming Tuesday in Moncton as Propel ICT holds its latest Demo Day in the area where it held its first.
At its sixth Demo Day, 12 companies that have gone through the regional tech accelerator’s programs will make presentations to a roomful of spectators. The pitching begins at the Capitol Theatre at 6:30 p.m. For those who can't make it in person, Startup Kitchen will stream the event here.
The last time Propel held a Demo Day in the Moncton area was in June 2012, at the end of the first cohort of the program then known as Launch36. It was a remarkable day for several reasons.
Then-executive director Trevor MacAusland had been telling people his new accelerator would graduate 36 companies in three years, and there was no shortage of skeptics. That 10 companies presented lent credibility to his claims. It turned out MacAusland would graduate 49 in the allotted time.
It was notable one of the presenters was LeadSift, a Halifax social media analytics company. That its founders had driven to Moncton and back regularly through the winter also validated the notion Propel could be a regional mentoring program. That, at the time, seemed more far-fetched than the 36-company target.
There had never been graduation from a tech accelerator in the region before so no one knew what to expect. But the event was sold out and people turned out from across the Maritimes, with a few investors coming from outside the region.
Propel has more than validated its model, though we can be a bit more measured in our assessment of the first cohort of companies. About half have continued to grow and attract a broad range of clients, many from outside the region. By my count, three are no longer in business and one has moved away.
LeadSift, for example, recently announced venture capital investment from OMERS Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. Select Bidder of Moncton recently launched its latest product, a platform for dealer auctions of cars.
And Propel itself? The most recent cohort included programs in Fredericton, Moncton, Halifax and St. John’s. Discussions are underway to bring Sydney and Charlottetown into the fold.
The six most advanced companies went through the Build Cohort, which focuses on scaling a business. These companies will be eligible for $250,000 to $400,000 in funding, another sign Propel has evolved.
All Build grads will be considered for a $150,000 convertible note from BDC Capital. Those from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia can land $100,000 in funding from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and Innovacorp, respectively. HeyOrca!, the lone Build company from Newfoundland and Labrador, is eligible for $250,000 in funding from Venture Newfoundland and Labrador.
One of the companies is Xiplinx, a Saint John and Fredericton firm that helps food and beverage producers improve production efficiency. What’s special about Xiplinx is it went through the Launch36 program in the first cohort, and was one of the presenters at the first Demo Day.
Disclaimer: Propel ICT is a client of Entrevestor.