Five startups each won $25,000 worth of investment in a remote version of the Volta Cohort pitching competition on Wednesday night.
The winners were chosen from a field of about 30 initial applicants, 15 of whom were selected to give three-minute presentations to a panel of judges from the public and private sectors. In addition to the money, the final five will receive access to mentorship and office space.
Halifax-based Startup hub Volta holds a Cohort competition once every six months. The investment dollars are from a fund co-founded by Volta, venture capital Crown corporation Innovacorp, federal funding agency BDC Capital and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
“Companies selected to participate in the Volta Cohort program continue to outperform when it comes to job creation, rapid growth, and raising venture capital investments,” said Volta COO and interim CEO Martha Casey in a press release. “Their impact and ambition – especially in uncertain times such as this – remind us of the importance of remaining agile in order to persevere.”
The five winning companies were:
Arman Izadi – CEO
SmartMed is creating automated scheduling software for companies that employ shift workers. The program matches employees with shifts based on their location, availability, required equipment and other customizable metrics. It can also conform to strict regulatory regimes, such as those that govern airline pilots. Izadi said his product is more comprehensive and easier to use than competing services.
Habit Forming Technologies, Halifax
Darren Steeves – CEO
Habit Forming Technologies is building JackHabbit—an app that uses machine learning and gamification to “nudge” users into behaviors aimed at improving their physical and mental health. It will offer real-world rewards and in-app payoffs to encourage university students, among others, to cultivate beneficial habits, such as sleeping more and healthier eating. Steeves said the company will make money by partnering with larger organizations, which will then distribute JackHabbit.
Kute Lab, St. John’s
Selena Mehrani – Founder
Kute Lab is designing a smartphone app that allows shoppers to scan the barcode on a cosmetic product and receive feedback about the ingredients. Users can personalize the app by adding information about their preferences and skin health. Initial revenue will come from a freemium subscription model, and Mehrani plans to eventually sell user data to cosmetics companies. She said she will leverage the Volta money to secure additional investment, as well as completing the product development.
Rahul Anand – Founder
KorrAI is creating artificial intelligence software to analyze drilling samples and other mining exploration data. The goal is to help mining companies make more consistent and faster decisions about where they are likely to find ore deposits. Most “geoscientific data” is currently analyzed by humans—a time-consuming and inconsistent process. Anand said KorrAI will be a cheaper and faster option. He plans to use the $25,000 to field test the technology.
VMOpro Inc., River Ryan, NS
Matthew Gillis – CEO
VMOpro combines “smart” physiotherapy balls and a smartphone app to help rehabilitation patients do their exercises at home. Physical therapists can also track users’ progress via a web portal. Gillis said that the system is ready to be tested by people waiting for hip and knee replacements. He plans to use the Volta investment to fund research and development.
Disclosure: Volta is a client of Entrevestor.