Tabnex Wins $25K at Velocity Fund Finals and Turns Heads with New Recruitment Intelligence Platform

Tabnex is a real-time intelligence platform powered by AI which allows recruitment teams to work smarter and faster. They do this by programmatically integrating insights on candidates who have applied to job opportunities, in seconds, at every stage of the hiring process. Tabnex, which is currently in closed beta, integrates personalized data on candidates into your places of communication like your inbox. The platform is designed to be compatible with any email provider so that recruiters who receive emails and resumes from applicants, can get key information that is normally uncovered during an interview. They enrich information which is automatically organized through an elegant interface in the inbox, thus making their job easier in terms of analyzing data and categorizing types of applicants, jobs, and other data points that can in some cases take hours to organize manually.

The three co-founders, Marwan, Moe, and Muni all attended the University of Waterloo and started developing the software company out of Velocity Garage. What started as a job seeker solution, evolved into a product that instantly interprets, analyzes and collects pools of data that comes along with applying to jobs and selecting top candidates; resumes. The platform currently plugs into the user’s inbox and gathers all data pertaining to a job applicant, then analyzes and categorizes based on a pattern of data. More features that are currently being built will provide further insights, even predictive and personality-based insights, to make analyzing and hiring a seamless process.

The company recently won a $25K prize in the Velocity Fund Finals and received additional suport from support from NVIDIA’s AI Accelerator and raised $50K from Ontario Data Exchange as well as another $50K from IBM Innovation Incubator to put toward software development.

Going into the AC JumpStart has given the team additional funding and support to grow and scale the software. Although the company started less than a few months ago, they have already added a lead developer, data scientist and 2 junior developers to the team. With support from the AC, they have also established 10 beta customers with 2-3 users on preferred pricing, and developed what Muni affectionately describes to as the Customer-Centric Iteration Framework to continue building out the product with their customer in mind.

“Our time with the Accelerator Centre has been invaluable. Although it is an intense development time for the company, when we come up for air, we often reflect on how grateful we are to be in this tech environment, for the funding which has allowed us to hire the right talent and most of all for the mentorship.”

As the team moves forward, they are excited for the future in building out a suite of products and data APIs that integrates intelligence into AI Chatbots, leading recruitment software to sharing their solution on a greater scale to help businesses and recruitment teams who are competing for talent globally. To learn more about the team and the product, check out their recently launched website: http://tabnex.com/

 

Minister Chagger Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week at Accelerator Centre’s JumpStart SPARK Showcase

News Release

Participating startups demonstrated new technologies and made valuable business connections

November 14, 2017,  Waterloo, Ontario

Canadian entrepreneurs are crucial to Canada’s economic growth, and the Government of Canada is committed to helping innovative start-ups to reach their full potential. This was the message delivered today by the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Member of Parliament for Waterloo, during a keynote address at the Accelerator Centre’s AC JumpStart SPARK Showcase.

Held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, this annual event celebrates dedicated and hard-working entrepreneurs who have received support through the AC JumpStart program, a unique incubation and mentorship program that supports technology start-ups across southern Ontario. The Minister also announced that 22 companies will receive support through the seventh cohort of the AC JumpStart program.

During the event, entrepreneurs demonstrated their innovative technologies to industry leaders and potential investors. Three start-ups were selected to pitch their company to the audience, and 56 Game Studios was chosen as the winner.

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) invested $8 million, through the Investing in Business Innovation initiative, in support of the AC JumpStart program. The program is delivered by the Accelerator Centre, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. The Accelerator Centre expects to help a total of 180 high-potential businesses grow, creating approximately 700 new jobs.

Quotes

“Global Entrepreneurship Week is an excellent opportunity to highlight the amazing work being done by innovative Canadian entrepreneurs. This event is a fabulous demonstration of the impressive talent for which the Waterloo region has become known. Our Government is proud to support programs like the Accelerator Centre’s AC JumpStart program. It provides crucial mentorship and seed funding for early-stage technology companies to succeed and thrive. Today’s showcase demonstrates how, with the right support, bright and promising entrepreneurs can help grow the economy and create good middle class jobs.”

– The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Member of Parliament for Waterloo

“The AC JumpStart program is an essential source of early-stage funding for start-ups across southern Ontario. The combination of this funding from FedDev Ontario with our mentor model gives early-stage companies a leg up in building their businesses and positively impacts our community. We are pleased to welcome Minister Chagger to the Accelerator Centre to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week and the success of these companies.”

– Paul Salvini, CEO, Accelerator Centre

Quick Facts

  • Established in 2006, the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo is an award-winning incubator, dedicated to building sustainable and globally competitive technology companies.
  • Each AC JumpStart recipient receives up to $30,000 in seed financing, one-of-a-kind mentorship and coaching from a team of in-house experts, as well as access to market research and connections to investors.
  • Cohort seven of the program is currently underway; applications for the eighth cohort will open in early 2018.
  • In 2013, the Accelerator Centre successfully piloted the AC JumpStart program with the help of a $945,000-investment through FedDev Ontario. The pilot assisted 30 start-up companies, which created 212 new jobs in the Waterloo region.
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week, taking place November 13–18, is the world’s largest celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation. Thousands of events and activities in over 130 countries will inspire people to engage in entrepreneurial activity and help them explore their potential to create start-up companies.

Associated Links

Contacts

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario
416-954-6652
fdo.mediarel-relmedias.fdo@canada.ca

Toll Free: 1-866-593-5505
Website: www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca
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The Accelerator Centre Announces Cohort 7 of their AC JumpStart Program

October 17, 2017

Waterloo Ontario – The Accelerator Centre is pleased to announce Cohort 7 of the AC JumpStart program. The program provides each recipient $30,000 in seed funding and $10,000 of mentorship.

Aalo
Avro Life Science
Babylon VR Inc
BigBridge Technologies Inc.
Brillio Tech Inc.
Cardio Square Inc.
Chameleon Hearing Protection
Elucid Labs Inc.
EPOCH
EquiApp
Glacierclean Technologies Inc.
IQ2Performance Inc.
Marlena Books Inc.
Monarch Collection Inc.
Pression Inc.
ReGrow Helmet Inc.
SiteVue Incorporated
Smart Cocoon
Studio 1 Labs
VivaSpire Inc.
Wherego Inc.
Zabu Inc.

Past AC JumpStart grant recipients

About AC JumpStart

AC JumpStart is funded by FedDev Ontario and delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.

The AC JumpStart program began in January 2015, with three cohorts of companies participating in the program in 2015, and two cohorts annually in subsequent years. Each cohort receives funding and mentorship over a 12-month period. Over the four year term, the program will support 180 companies.

About the Accelerator Centre

Our world-renowned, four phase accelerator program was developed based on our proven methods and best practices from accelerators and incubators around the world. The program, combined with our proven mentorship model, gives you the resources and guidance you need to grow all areas of your business, get your product to market faster, increase sales, and scale.

For more information visit www.acceleratorcentre.com.

About FedDev Ontario

FedDev Ontario delivers programs and services to help create, retain and grow businesses, cultivate partnerships and build strong communities. The Agency’s programming is designed to support a strong southern Ontario economy and position the region to compete globally.

For more information visit www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca.

###

For more information contact:
Tabatha Laverty
Community Manager
tlaverty@acceleratorcentre.com

Bridesmade: Empowering Women with a New Approach to the Bridesmaid Dress

Mallory Mckewen, like many young women, started noticing a big frustration when it came to wedding seasons and being a bridesmaid: dresses.

It is the pinnacle of the wedding, the aesthetic of the bride, groom and their respective wedding parties. However, when it comes to bridesmaid dresses, the challenge is the hassle of inevitable alterations and costs, not to mention the fact that oftentimes the dress is only worn once! Having that same (or similar) dress fit each bridesmaid properly so everyone feels and looks good is important, but it becomes a costly and tumultuous adventure for everyone involved.  Having gone through this frustration herself and with friends expressing the same thoughts, Mallory knew there had to be a way to make this easier and more cost-effective for women everywhere.

That is when the company, BridesMade was created.

A New Approach to Bridesmaid Dresses

Mallory wanted to create a business that gives women the option to rent-a-dress, rather than buy the dress out-right. The biggest issue, especially for twenty-something women who are often involved in several weddings a year, is the cost. A dress typically costs $300- $400 dollars and more after alterations. On top of that, the dress is realistically only worn that one time. Mallory was determined to make the lives of twenty-something women easier and to fulfill her promise to customers, to keep the costs low.

But with all the different sizes and alterations required to make a dress fit just right… it still ended up being quite costly, and with the rental option, it meant future alterations once again. She knew there had to be another way. After a ton of research, tests, trial and error, and feedback, the company decided to make a pivot in the business model to offer a better solution to bridesmaids.

A New Approach: The Affordable and Adjustable Dress

This business model pivot meant taking a new, innovative approach to the current pricey bridesmaid industry. Mallory decided the only way to create a rentable, reusable and cost effective dress for bridesmaids, would mean creating an original line of adjustable dresses.

This change for the business was an uneasy but necessary one to make as Mallory recalls, “I was nervous, being that I don’t have a background in fashion – but from a finance and numbers perspective, I knew this was the answer to solve the current frustrations, so we decided to go all in with both feet.” That change lead to a system and a product line that not only works and helps customers from a cost standpoint, but delights bridal parties in how stress free and easy it is.

The company uses software which records all dress orders, measurements, colours, styles, costs, etc. They in turn use data to show women what dress styles and colours are recommended based on their sizes and requests. Once all the data is collected from the bridesmaids, the product is sent to production and delivered with ample time before the big day. Mallory explains the choice they give their clients,

“We give women the choice to rent or buy the dresses too. It is easy to rent and reuse, because the dresses are adjustable, keeping costs low for everyone involved. Some women opt to buy because with an adjustable dress, it can be used again and again for multiple occasions. Either way, we are happy because we created a system and product that helps women and makes their lives and those special occasions easier to plan for. Without that dress-stress, it leaves more space to genuinely enjoy their time and celebrate the occasion. That makes what we do worth it!”

When making that business model pivot, Mallory had to establish relationships with factories and manufacturers who could construct and make these dresses. During that time, she also brought on a partner to help scale the business, COO, Kaleah Baker of Calgary. A year ago, they had more demand than they could supply and knew that with the new idea for adjustable dresses, they were on to something big, but needed support. That is where the AC Jumpstart program came into the picture.

AC Jumpstart = Game Changer

Mallory recalls how BridesMade joined the program at the most optimal time. With the capital they were able to establish key manufacturer relationships, to create their first line of dresses, which allowed them to backfill orders, work more weddings and test out the product with ideal clients.

“The mentorship was so helpful. When we started this business, we never imagined that we would end up creating lines of dresses. To set up those types of key relationships with fashion experts, manufacturers and production companies who could make the dresses adjustable in the ways our data said was required, was something we learned how to do with the help of valuable mentorship. Before Jumpstart we had officially worked with one wedding party. Over the course of the last summer, we have now successfully serviced 50-60 weddings with 100% satisfaction in our customer feedback. It’s only up from here.”

Both capital and the invaluable mentorship empowered BridesMade to make the key partnerships to create the product and deliver exactly what their clients were asking for.

What is Next for BridesMade?

Moving forward, BridesMade is planning for the launch of a new collection of dresses this December.

Thus far, BridesMade has been working weddings primarily in Southern Ontario. In 2018, BridesMade is expanding to provide dresses to weddings all across Canada. They are continuing to build out their software, new dress lines and scaling up their capacity to service weddings across Canada and beyond. Mallory and her Co-Founder are overjoyed at the journey they have had thus far and are excited to move forward and continue on with the upwards momentum and growth.

Curiato Builds Biomedical Technology Solution for Wound Care Management

Co-Founder of Curiato, Moazam Khan, is in the business of helping healthcare institutions provide better care to their patients. Curiato’s mission is to help healthcare institutions who are dissatisfied with outdated, complex and manual ways of wound care management with innovative biomedical technology.

Hack-a-thon Inspires the Creation of Curiato

Believe it or not, the focus on wound care management came after an experience attending a “Hack4Health” hack-a-thon in 2015. Moazam and co-founders Zied Etleb and Matthew Sefati were curious to understand the current challenges in the healthcare system and how they might use their skills in biomedical sciences and technology to help.

One healthcare issue in particular opened Moazam’s eyes when he had the opportunity to hear from many healthcare professionals and patients at the hack-a-thon. Something that came up over and over again was the issue of wound care management and bedsores. Bedsores — also called pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers — are injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Bedsores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone.

Patients with limited mobility end up laying for extended periods of time creating pressure on certain areas of the skin, resulting in bedsores which can be pretty detrimental to one’s overall state of health and costly to the medical institution as a whole.

Curiato made sure to spend their time properly understanding the issue from all angles so they could build a system-based solution which would alleviate healthcare professionals and assist them (rather than creating more work) which would tackle the very real problem that patient’s are experiencing. “Creating a band-aid solution is just not an option for us, this is something that affects a lot of lives and in some cases, when palliative care comes into play, it can make an immense difference in quality of life and comfort. This is something we take seriously and are determined to make a real difference in for health care institutions, care providers and patients.”

The Solution: The Ceylon System

The solution that Moazam, Zied and Matthew began building is called the Ceylon System. The Ceylon System is a combination of a smart biological mat and patient management interface that provides monitoring of biological factors of high acuity patients, aimed towards decreasing nurse fatigue, and simplifying communication between care staff and providers. Bridging the intersection of IoT and artificial intelligence, this intuitive system has a built in monitor that can sense when a patient is at risk of developing a bedsore and when a patient needs to be moved to avoid that from happening. The Curiato founders strongly believe that the interaction and interpretation with the data is more important than the data itself.

1 bedsore can mean more hospital costs, transfer of care, re-admittance to a long-term facility, etc which in the end costs medical institutions money, time and effort. To prevent 1 bedsore could make a big difference not only to the institution, but to the staff and the patient’s.

Once they had a better understanding of why bedsores form and how this problem occurs, through 8 months of research and 2 months of interviewing healthcare professionals, they were ready to begin producing the system.

Since joining the AC Jumpstart Program, the team at Curiato was able to make some big leaps forward. Moazam said the money and mentorship was instrumental in helping with product development costs, connecting with the right talent, networking, testing, forming a corporate structure, securing business relationships and partnerships and now preparing for two pilot programs in Waterloo and Toronto for 2018.

What’s Next?

Right now, the team is focused on growing the team and preparing for the pilot programs for 2018. They are looking for engineers, data scientists and a clinical advisor board. To learn more or talk directly to the team visit: http://curiato.com/

 

LIIV Builds a Privacy Oriented Social Network for Men in Developing and Socially Conservative Countries

Technology allows us to connect with other people at the touch of a button, all over the world. There are mobile apps today that allow us to easily connect with others, whether we want to strike up conversation, create meaningful friendship or meet a potential love interest. It has become so normative, that we may not even stop to consider that it isn’t as easy as “swiping right” in other parts of the world or more socially conservative communities. Furthermore, the fact that almost 80% of the world’s population still live in developing countries, drove the two founders to help effect change. Kirk and Chad, with cultural roots in Canada and the Caribbean respectfully, understand the challenges that individuals face in developing or more socially conservative countries, especially for those in the LGBTQA+ community.

Inspired by the limitations individuals face due to lack of control and privacy while trying to connect with others online, they decided to create a privacy oriented social network for men that gives users more control of the online chat and dating experience. The app was named LIIV in the hope that users worldwide would be inspired to live on their own terms. For many people, particularly gay men, in these developing or conservative countries being public about one’s sexuality may result in ostracization or even physical harm. LIIV provides a safer, more privacy oriented platform that allows users to express themselves and socialize with greater peace of mind.

What makes LIIV different

Many mainstream apps simply allow users to connect with each other without much focus on privacy and user control. Furthermore, they allow for integration with publicly shared information like Facebook, Instagram, or even the ability to share screenshot captures or messages from a chat conversation. LIIV’s unique suite of safety and privacy features include screenshot blocking, location faking, disappearing messages, unsend messages, app cloaking and more. Privacy is of the utmost importance and the founders Kirk and Chad have gone through great lengths to ensure that users feel comfortable and in control when using the app.

More than just an app for social good, the founders have identified proven monetization strategies for their business, already in use in the industry at large. These include premium subscriptions, advertising, e-commerce, licensing of key features to noncompeting firms via API packages, as well as the white labeling of the app for different use cases / industries that experience similar privacy and security concerns (law and medicine among them).

Building of the App

Kirk and Chad knew that they wanted to build the app in Canada for a few reasons. They wanted to become a part of the tech ecosystem in Kitchener-Waterloo, wanted to leverage the resources, talent and community here and they wanted to build the best app possible with developers of various cultural backgrounds and perspectives. Recently, and with the assistance of the Accelerator Centre, Kirk received permanent residence through the Canadian Government’s Startup Visa Program, so the team could continue to grow in Canada. They mostly bootstrapped the building of the app, and were able to secure funding with the AC Jumpstart program and hire local developers to help them build a secure, private and intuitive app experience for their users.

How AC Jumpstart Helped

LIIV went from conception to a developed app within the span of 10 months. Chad remarks, “AC Jumpstart allowed us the funds to secure talent and resources to build our app and quickly. We worked very hard with our team to make this happen and now we are proud to see LIIV in the app store, with users from areas such as: the Caribbean, Middle East, Asia and Canada. The vast majority of our users thus far have downloaded the app organically and we are receiving positive feedback. We are excited and motivated to take that feedback and continue development of an app that is truly helping the LGBTQA+ community.”

 

The LIIV team is very passionate about their cause to create technology that allows men to connect with other men safely and securely, regardless of beliefs, geographic location, values, community, etc. “No one should ever feel shamed or sheltered from making meaningful connection with others- we want to enable and empower men in developing and socially conservative areas”.

LIIV has also teamed up with a local Non-Profit called, Rainbow Railroad to giveback and collaborate on this project. The goal is to spread awareness, increase visibility and use the tech platform for good, and the Rainbow Railroad partnership has given mutual, invaluable collaboration in that respect. LIIV hopes to connect with other non-profits and passionate communities as they grow to spread the word and giveback.

“AC Jumpstart truly gave us the ability to build the interface of the app with which our users connect on. Looking at development, design and operating costs to build a robust app with the security/ privacy functionalities required, makes it a lengthy engagement without proper resources, team members and skill sets to build it. AC Jumpstart expedited everything with both monetary value, valuable networks of developers/coders for hire, the mentors who helped us and much more. We now have a team of four, our app is in the app store, we are getting great reviews and feedback and new users everyday.”

What is Next?

The LIIV team is now looking to secure seed funding to continue working with Canadian talent to develop new features, to build the highly sought after IOS version of the app and to expand their presence into Central, South and East Asia for interested users. Meanwhile they are appreciative of the progress made so far, they understand that the journey has only just begun, and are buoyed by the opportunity to positively impact the lives of tens of millions of men worldwide.

AC JumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Laurier, and the University of Waterloo.

Penta Medical Changes the Healthcare Game with Wearable Technology, Helios

Alexa Roeper is the driving force behind an innovative medical science product called Penta Medical. She has a background in biomedical science, is an avid horseback rider, and an athlete. It was a personal injury after horseback riding that inspired her to look into alternative healing methods, which ultimately led to the creation of her company.

Alexa experienced an injury years ago that was predicted to take her months to recover. Being an active and motivated (or self proclaimed, impatient) athlete ready to jump back in, she began thinking of all the other people that must experience this frustration with limited options available to expedite the healing process. That is when Alexa began exploring ideas to help not only herself heal faster, but others as well. The result was a serious fascination with the science of infrared therapies and how to innovate and build on that existing service to offer a more convenient, fast and mobile way to help those with muscular and or skeletal injuries heal faster.

 

 

Wearable Medical Technology! How Does It Work?

As a business owner, athlete and young professional, Alexa understands how busy life can be, to the point where it can interfere with getting proper healthcare, especially after experiencing sport related injuries. Many athletes, both amateur and professional, can experience lingering effects from previous injuries, so Penta developed a wearable product called Helios.

Helios delivers infrared therapy, a widely adopted method used at physiotherapy clinics, to the areas of injury or pain. The current prototype, operates much like an adjustable armband, that can be worn directly on the injured area, which then helps accelerate patients’ recovery. Helios is a way to effortlessly treat injuries and pain management from the comfort of your home (or anywhere you find yourself in a day). It is light, mobile and therefore patients can go about their day, and while doing so, “speed healing”, on their terms and within their schedule. Alexa shares, “Our goal with this technology is to make healthcare easily accessible and mobile, like many of our lives in this digital, fast paced world.”

How Did They Do It?

Alexa and co-founder Daniel Choi have been working hard and over the last year have accomplished a great deal. Penta, which got it’s start in the Velocity Science Program has also been a part of the Fierce Founders program, has pitched and secured 250K in investments, and is a part of the Accelerator Centre’s AC Jumpstart program.

Penta’s AC Jumpstart Experience

We asked Alexa what she and her team got out of the AC Jumpstart experience and this is what she had to share,

“AC Jumpstart has been instrumental in our company’s growth. Through funding and resources we were able to build the prototype of our wearable tech, Helios with a digital app which allows for health and injury-healing tracking. I love the transparency with which the AC communicates with each of their AC Jumpstart clients. We are all a big family and know exactly what to expect of the experience.

Additionally, the mentorship has been so helpful. Each mentor truly cares about you and your company’s growth. I love how each of them have gone above and beyond to help us on our journey. We were able to secure funding, set up speaking engagements and get some valuable press including a story in the Globe and Mail, all thanks to their help and guidance. I love this program, can’t say enough about that, haha!”

Penta is currently teaming up with various sports teams and a couple clinics in the Kitchener-Waterloo region to test out the new wearable product/app Helios, track the progress and experiences multiple patients have with various injuries to continue improving and building wearable products that help to heal those on the go!

Penta’s mission is to change the future of healthcare, one wearable at a time!

AC JumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Laurier, and the University of Waterloo.

Chillwall Launches Events Discovery Platform Worldwide to Reconnect the Digitally Isolated

Michael Campanelli, co-founder and visionary behind Chillwall, the “world’s event network” was inspired to create a platform that encourages people, specifically, millennials to reconnect in real space, effortlessly.

Millennials are the most connected generation, however, research reveals that they are paradoxically the most isolated. All those connections, friends and likes online are great, but we are still experiencing disconnect and are not as fulfilled without meaningful, face-to-face socialization and connection. Michael believes that technology can be used to bring us back to each other, and Chillwall was created to do just that,

“Technology, as powerful and wonderful as it is, has also isolated many people. We want to see the power of technology used to bring people back together. So we built a tool that will aid in an effortless connection in the real world. We view ourselves as the social butler, helping users discover local events near them they never new to search for in two clicks or less, anywhere in the world.”

How does Chillwall work?

Chillwall is a personal Machine Learning Discovery network that enables individuals to search for local events based on interests, type and location. The platform is powered by an advanced learning recommendation algorithm which learns what a user’s specific preferences are over time and starts to recommend events for them wherever they are searching from in the world. All activity and searches are private to each user unless, for example, they decide to invite a friend to go to an event or share what event they plan to attend. Users can share those interests with friends, calendar it and find their way to the event using GPS — all in two clicks.

Michael explains, “today’s online society craves simplicity and our mentality is less is more, so we have made the user interface and experience simple and easy to use, in two clicks or less.”
It is perfect for young working professionals who want to meet people, those who just moved to a new city, travelers, and the list goes on!

Michael and the Chillwall team received the AC JumpStart grant this year, and with the help of funding and mentorship, Chillwall was able to advance from a beta program with 2000+ cities to choose from, to a full, global launch which happened just last week (July 2017).

Michael explained how the funding, mentorship, validation and growth that came out of the AC Jumpstart Program allowed the team to build out the platform. The team is thrilled to see young people get a lot of value out of it, and the feedback inspires them to keep making it better and better.

“We want to bring people back together, and make it easy for anyone, anywhere, to connect and know there are always interesting, meaningful things for them to do, with old and new friends.”

After the launch last week, Michael and the team are excited to move forward with expanding the platform with new features, guest bloggers and much more! The platform is currently available on web and IOS. https://chillwall.com/

ACJumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Laurier, and the University of Waterloo.

A Startup’s Journey: One-on-One with Ruth Casselman from Alert Labs

As you come up the stairs of 44 Gaukel Street to the Accelerator Centre’s Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab and head down the main hall to the back of the building, you’ll find the office of Alert Labs. Now utilizing two suites for office space and another room for testing, they are one of the fastest growing companies in the Accelerator Program and are on track to becoming one of the next big tech companies in the Waterloo Region.

The Product

Alert Labs builds cellular based sensors that help protect homeowners and businesses from water damage by sending them alerts about leaks, floods, and abnormal water use. They also track use by the minute to help customers conserve water and save money. Their Flowie water sensor straps on to existing water meters and analyzes water use, highlights costs and compares consumption versus averages. It also sends alerts via email, text or an app about running left running, temperature, humidity and power outages. Their Floodie companion sensor can installed anywhere in a home where water could cause damage. It sends instant flood alerts when it comes in to contact with water.

They are selling their devices to a variety of different groups, including homeowners, landlords, property managers, restoration companies, insurance companies and municipalities. Alert Labs has partnered with the City of Guelph to offer residents an instant rebate on a Flowie water sensor kit, as part of the city’s water efficiency strategy. They recently announced that Intact Ventures, a division of Intact Financial Corporation, is a strategic investor in the company.

 

How they got started

In early 2015, founders Ruth Casselman, George, Tsintzouras, and Kevin Wright found themselves ready to begin their own venture. “The timing just came along…it was the right time for us to go out on our own,” Ruth recalls. The trio came to the table with more than 30 years of experience working in high technology. Ruth had just recently left BlackBerry, and Kevin and George had come from Christie Digital.

They considered a number of ideas, but they kept coming back to home utilities monitoring. All three founders are property managers and water usage was something that they all struggled with. On one occasion, a renter called George while he was travelling in China to tell him that a leak had turned into a full-blown flood. They looked for tools they could use to try and prevent this but what was available was complicated to install and was simply too expensive to warrant doing at their properties. That’s when they decided to create their own solution and Alert Labs was born.

Once they decided it was time to move out of their home office, they found the Accelerator Program. For Alert Labs, there were a number of reasons to join the program, but at the core of their decision was the mentorship. “We are very lucky to live in a community where there’s a lot of support for [starting a tech company],” Ruth says.

“Access to experienced business professionals who could guide us and advise us can take weeks and weeks out of a process.”

In additional to the mentorship and resources available through the Accelerator Program, Alert Labs also received the AC JumpStart grant that provided them with $30,000 in seed capital and an additional $10,000 in mentorship. “The $30,000 we received felt like all the money in the world… it allowed us to do what we needed to do.”

Alert Labs began working out of the ACs Reactor facility, but it quickly became clear that there were challenges with building their hardware company in the space. “The Reactor space is a very lovely finished office space with carpets and desks that they don’t like burn holes in from soldering irons… the AC folks realized that maybe that space wasn’t ideal for us or for hardware companies.” As the plans for Alert Labs’ devices started becoming real physical products, they needed a space where they would be able to do the “messy” work required.

This situation was confirmation for the Accelerator Centre there was a need for a space and specialized resources for hardware and IoT companies. Working in partnership with the City of Kitchener and ArtsBuild Ontario, the AC opened the Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab with Alert Labs at its first tenant.

“The space at Gaukel was absolutely what we needed. We love being in downtown Kitchener, there is a great tech vibe down here. Specifically, this space has the mix between Arts and Tech, which is something that when you’re really immersed in the technology world, you sometimes forget that there’s other folks with different focuses and having that mix right here in our building is a very vibrant and motivating environment.”

The Future

Now, after more than a year of working out of the space, Alert Labs has hit some major milestones. They have grown to a team of 18 with plans to grow to 25 before the end of the year. They have brought two products to market with more coming in the next six months. “We try to recognize all of the milestones, even if they’re small because as a startup, a lot of things are very hard. The first time we sent out a large shipment as a team, that was a big deal and we had champagne that day.”

Alert Labs launched its first devices in February and now has Flowie and Floodie sensors deployed across Canada and the US and they are on track to become one of the AC’s grads and will join the likes of Miovision, Ecopia, KiK, and Clearpath Robotics on the Grad wall at ACHQ.

“When we started as a tiny little company of three people two and a half years ago, we looked at that wall in the Accelerator Centre and we looked at all the logos up there and thought ‘someday we could be on that wall’ and it really seemed like an imaginary thing. Having the recognition by an organization like the Accelerator Centre that’s saying you’ve done a good job is like the gold star.”

For more information on Alert Labs, check out their website at alertlabs.com or message them at hello@alertlabs.com. If you’re interested in learning more about the Accelerator Centre’s Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab or want information on the joining AC contact info@acceleratorcentre.com

ACORN Cryotech Take Their Dream to JLABS with the Help of AC JumpStart

ACORN Cryotech co-founder, Steven ten Holder, spent his childhood as a self described introvert. As a teen, he found himself deeply interested in the literature and research of the great bio-scientists of our time and was fascinated with the science behind human life and how we die. His early interests inspired him to start ACORN Cryotech and dedicate his life to studying and creating new ways to preserve, sustain, and help improve human life.

ACORN, an at home cryopreservation service, is the first of its kind. The service has created an easy, non-invasive kit to help people freeze and preserve their young, healthy cells, which can then be utilized in life and healthspan extending technologies.

Gene therapies, organ regeneration, and stem-cell technology are predicted to completely change the future of healthcare and the ACORN team is proud to be leading the way in both the development of those technologies and the future of a cell-based, health conscious society.

So why cryotech?

As a genetic engineering student at the University of Waterloo, Steven knew the value of cell preservation and wanted to figure out the best methods for doing so. Much the way blood banks store and preserve blood cell donations by freezing them before transfusions, Steven had the idea of testing this preservation method with other cell samples such as urine, cheek, and hair cells. He was excited to test his theory of preserving other cells at different temperatures and for different periods of time, however, he wasn’t able to complete the project with the resources he had access to but he knew this was an experiment he wanted to try going forward. Eventually, Steven was able to get his hands on the right equipment to test cryopreservation (a cell freezing process typically −80 °C using solid carbon dioxide or −196 °C using liquid nitrogen). This allowed him the ability to discover that other types of cells can in fact be frozen, preserved, and utilized for health research and other life extending technologies that are under development and resulted in to the development of ACORN and his dedication to the genetic cryopreservation of human cells to improve and extend human life.

 

Today, ACORN Cryotech resides at Velocity and has secured funding and support from investors and science partners as well as from  YC Fellowship, Communitech, Creative Destruction Lab. In 2016, ACORN also received a $30,000 grant and $10,000 in mentorship through AC JumpStart.

In addition to the funding, Steven was blown away by the value of the mentorship:

“As a science-based company, I went into those mentorship meetings open-minded, but not really understanding how marketing could help us as we developed prototypes and did our research – but I admit, it changed everything. Learning about sales and marketing and how to reframe our approach helped us to source materials, equipment, build our prototype, reach out to folks, get investors  and continue to elevate our entire business. The mentors have experience and are willing to work with your specific business to unveil how they can best guide and help us. It has been such a pleasure working with them, and we are grateful.”

After completing the AC JumpStart program the Acorn team were able to build a prototype, get a group of beta-testers, secured valuable investments, and are bringing on new staff, making  them a team of five. They are now preparing for a move to Toronto to work out of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation space called JLABS.

Although they are headed to Toronto, one thing is clear, their hearts will always be in the Waterloo tech ecosystem “Without this region and programs like AC JumpStart,” Steven reflects “my dream wouldn’t have happened, and our company would not be where it is today – simple as that.”

Stay tuned for more on Acorn as they prepare for the product launch in 2018.

AC JumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College,  Laurier, and the University of Waterloo.

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