Venn Innovation, a New Brunswick startup hub, has added a pair of ideation-stage software companies to its Venn Garage incubator via one of its open pitch events. Judges chose Oz Health and DYOFOX from a field of largely immigrant-led businesses.

Of the five startups that took part in the most recent pitch competition on Oct. 21 and 22, four had immigrant founders, Venn spokesperson Nandhini Venkateswaran told Entrevestor in an email. 

Beginning last year and so-far held online because of COVID-19, the Open Pitch Competitions require entrepreneurs to submit a five-minute video pitch and answer 10 minutes of questions from the judges, who included Venn staff and Garage alumni. Companies from across New Brunswick are allowed to apply, with the top candidates being chosen to pitch.

Venn Garage, which uses a rolling enrolment model instead of the more common cohort system, is currently host to 20 companies — 22 counting Oz Health and DYOFOX.

“We continue to see more startups solving real-world problems, but what stood out in this virtual pitch event is the increase in newcomer entrepreneurs,” said Venn’s Program Manager for Startup Services, Alicia Grayeb, in a press release.

“New Brunswick is becoming a place where highly skilled and innovative newcomers feel comfortable to take the big leap into entrepreneurship, and we are committed to supporting them.”

Based in Moncton and led by Founder Frances LeBlanc, Oz Health is developing an e-learning platform to help users manage chronic medical conditions, including by letting them set goals and receive reminders to behave in healthy ways.

In July, online startup incubator Propel also announced that Oz had joined its Vision and Validation program, which is a new training program for the founders of very early stage companies.

Meanwhile, Dieppe, NB-based DYOFOX and Founder Anthony Ilunga are developing facial recognition and object detection software for use with security cameras.

The company, formally Viclys Systems, is targeting small businesses as its beachhead market. Its software is meant to recognize visitors to a business who have been there previously, for applications such as preventing repeat visits by shoplifters. It will also aim to track the locations of any weapons brought into the business.

Created in 2014, Venn Garage aims to help New Brunswick entrepreneurs validate their ideas, acquire early adopters, gain initial funding and prepare for other accelerators.

Intake usually occurs on a rolling basis, with companies initially remaining for a year and extending their residencies by six months if their performance merits it. Grayeb said in an email last year that the creation of the Open Pitch Competition was inspired by increased demand for access to the incubator.

Venn Garage companies can also access up to $50,000 of in-kind services. In a press release, Venn said these include “access to securely Canadian-hosted tools and resources, international mentorship, world class training, networking opportunities as well as connectivity to the regional, national, and international markets.”

Companies do not have to relinquish equity in exchange for the backing, which includes access to private cloud storage and secure video-calling.