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.

Design Sprints: Why Your Startup Needs One

The term “design sprint” seems to the buzzword of 2017 in the tech world. Everyone from startups to large corporations is talking about how to apply design thinking methodologies to validate ideas and move projects forward quickly. If you are like most people, you are probably thinking “what is a design sprint anyway?” Let’s unpack the hype and find out how this process can help you.

In it’s simplest form, a design sprint is the process of solving a problem by ensuring you have generated multiple ideas, considered each one carefully and prioritized your customer.

The process was inspired by IDEO’s Design Thinking philosophy and developed by Google Ventures (GV). IDEO, defined which steps were important for the design process to be successful and GV developed a five day routine to structure their implementation.

Recognizing the lack of accessible and affordable design talent for startups, the Accelerator Centre began running these sprints in 2017 through its Startup Studio program. Startup Studio sprints guide startups through a condensed, one day version of a GV Sprint to collaboratively develop solutions to marketing and design challenges.

Sprint processes don’t use any technology, but instead rely on the magic of sticky notes, markers, paper, whiteboards, conversation and most importantly quite space to reflect on ideas. A sprint rapidly brings entrepreneurs through cycle of generating ideas individually, sharing them with the team, and having constructive conversations to discover the most effective design solution. The combination of an entrepreneur’s passion for their product and customers and the designers expertise and creativity creates an environment where strategic solutions are developed to help the company better serve  future customers.

Our Startup Studio designers are students from the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus studying Global Business and Digital Arts and are led by experienced Accelerator Centre staff. The team’s wide range of skills in marketing, UX & UI design, video, entrepreneurship and branding prepare them to tackle the projects sent their way.

Book and sprint and let us help you solve your big marketing, design or brand challenges. 

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/

 

O2 Canada Helps BC Fire Fighters and Residents Breathe Safely Again

No doubt, you’ve heard about the current wild fire crisis in British Columbia. With an estimated 150 fires currently burning across the province and over 14,000 residents being evacuated, its a national news story that has touched lives across the county.  When Waterloo startup, O2 Canada, heard about the hundreds of rescuers and fire fighters risking their lives and thousands of residents suffering, they hopped on a flight to deliver 250 of their air filtration masks to those who needed them most.

Although the product was not scheduled to be released until August 26th, co-founders Peter Whitby and Rich Szasz knew that the fires would result in poor air quality and their innovative technology could help those left in the wake of the tragedy. Coordinating with the Canadian Red Cross, O2 Canada rushed their first run of masks to BC – before they even had time to complete the packaging. “We knew we could make a difference, but we needed to get masks out there ASAP,” Peter recalls. “The packaging wasn’t done yet so we simply packaged them in zipper bags with a few extra filters so we could get them out there quickly.”

Due to the smoke and debris, the air quality in areas surrounding the fires is poor. The haze makes it difficult to breathe, particularity for those with asthma or other health problems. The technology in O2 Canada’s mask uses an electrostatic filter to remove the pollution so the wearer can breath the air without suffering the ill effects. “We created this company to help people. We really wanted to focus on getting masks to those who need it most. When we decided to go, we didn’t really know what that would look like, but we knew we had to be there.” Peter says.

The company is documenting their trip to BC and sharing it on Facebook with the hopes to get their message out to as many people in the province as possible. In their third episode in the series, they share their visits with helicopter pilots, firefighters, and everyday people who have seen the effects the poor air quality has on their health. One woman, cried as she shared her story. “I’m low income. I can’t afford to get a respirator, and I don’t have the resources to have my medical {insurance} cover something like that. My kids go to daycare right across the way and I have to walk them to daycare everyday. Just going across the street and back, I am having asthma attacks,” she says.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Rich says. “Meeting those kids who have to walk to school in all that pollution. When that little girl goes outside, she just coughs. It breaks my heart.”

What’s next for O2 Canada

After they return to Waterloo, their work is not done. In addition to preparing for their planned global launch, O2 has used their trip to identify the next milestone on their roadmap.  “We need to get back to work,” Rich says. ‘We need to make a kids mask and get them shipped out here.”

O2 Canada is a resident startup at Accelerator Centre’s Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab in Kitchener Ontario.

 

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.

Big Science Out Of A Small Lab

Originally published in the Record
KITCHENER — In the lab at Rapid Novor, a molecular scientist lays bare the microscopic-building blocks of antibodies that are increasingly used in the fight against cancer, diagnostics and new medicines.

Rapid Novor, a startup that went through the Accelerator Centre in the David Johnston Research and Technology Park, is now based at 44 Gaukel St. in downtown Kitchener. Specializing in what’s called protein sequencing, the six-member team is among a small, but growing, number of biotech startups in the region.

The human body produces antibodies to fight diseases and infections. Antibodies are made of protein. And protein is made of amino-acids — the building blocks of human life.

There about 20 common types of amino acids. Rapid Novor has combined its software with the latest in laboratory equipment and, after investing a million dollars to open the lab, it can quickly determine which amino acids make up an antibody. Just as importantly, it discovers the order, or sequence, of those amino acids, which are long, chain-shaped molecules.

That information is used to make drugs, diagnose diseases and treat cancer, said Zac McDonald, a molecular scientist and biochemist at Rapid Novor.

“That’s why the interest in it is so high because there is a lot of potential for using antibodies in cancer treatment,” said McDonald.

The antibodies can direct drugs to the right targets or block certain pathways associated with cancer.

“It is a huge, multibillion market,” said McDonald, who emigrated from South Africa in April to join the startup in downtown Kitchener.

The lab where McDonald works is the first of its kind in this region, and among the few anywhere that has the equipment for what is called next-generation-protein sequencing.

Traditionally, that would take up to two months to do Rapid Novor can do in one week. It is because of the latest equipment in mass spectrometry lab coupled with the algorithm developed by one of the startup’s co-founders — Dr. Bah Ma, the president and chief scientist at Rapid Novor. Ma is also a professor at the University of Waterloo.
Gene sequencing is not new. Using a sample of saliva, there are companies that sequence the genes in your DNA to see what diseases or conditions you are likely to develop during your lifetime, or where your ancestors are from. That’s called genomics.

Protein molecules are made up of long chains of amino acids. Identifying the different parts of that chain, and the correct order of those parts, is called proteomics. Rapid Novor has the first proteomics-grade lab in this region.

It April 2015 Ma, a professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, was ready to commercialize his algorithms that automated a key part of this scientific field. The sophisticated machines analyze the protein samples, identifying the amino acids and producing huge amounts of information.

In the past it would take a scientist up to two months to sort all of that information. Ma’s algorithm does that automatically and quickly. Rapid Novor can have results for clients, which include big and small pharmaceutical companies, in three weeks. For a special fee it can be done in as little as one week.

In the past year, it has completed the protein sequence for 120 antibodies.

Mingjie Xie, a co-founder and chief executive officer, said there are tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pieces that make up a protein sequence. The antibody samples that arrive in the lab are in a solution and, at 200 micrograms, are invisible.

After adding enzymes, shaking, spinning and heating a sample, the antibody is broken into its different parts, and ready for analysis in a mass spectrometer machine. That information, coupled with the startup’s algorithms, puts this small lab at the cutting edge.

“This technology is fairly new,” said Xie. “To be able to use it in commercial settings, this is very new service.”

SSIMWAVE Focuses on Viewer Experience and Delivers a New Gold Standard in Video Monitoring and Optimization for Broadcasters

We’ve all tried to watch our favourite movie, TV series, or live event and become frustrated by the video or sound quality, the placement of ads, or the loading speed. For viewers, the experience is annoying, disappointing, and probably results in them giving up and moving on to another source of video, but, for broadcasters, studios, and video delivery services, it could mean lost revenue.

That’s where SSIMWAVE comes in. For the first time in history, the company provides the media and entertainment industry with a solution based on real-time viewer intelligence to deliver the ultimate viewer experience – from the camera to the screen. The technology starts with the most accurate and complete video quality measure ever built. By accurately modeling and measuring human viewers’ quality-of-experience (QoE), video broadcasters can take full advantage of digital efficiencies to architect encoding and stream optimization to meet or exceed consumer expectations.

SSIMWAVE’s end-to-end products are in market with leading broadcasters, production studios, and telecom companies and they are delivering real results. SSIMWAVE software allows these companies to utilize viewer intelligence data to accurately predict viewer experience and create a consistent and common reference point for video quality – something the industry has never seen before. That means companies can eliminate the trial and error process when it comes to testing infrastructure and delivery methods and can ensure a consistent viewer experience regardless of what device or platform the video is being delivered on.  The result is that viewers get the best possible experience and broadcasters can create efficiencies and make guarantees to content producers and consumers on the quality of the viewer experience for any screen anywhere.

The company, founded by University of Waterloo professor Zhou Wang and PhDs Abdul Rehman and Kai Zeng, is the result of 25 years of research and development. Impressively, the technology is built on SSIMPLUS, the next generation algorithm based on Professor Wang’s breakthrough structural similarity (SSIM) algorithm that won an Engineering Emmy Award last year for its impact to the TV industry over the last decade and which has resulted in almost 40,000 academic citations – far more than any other work in the space.

In 2013, the University of Waterloo provided the SSIMWAVE team with funding to get their project off the ground. That injection of capital helped them build the product. Once they were ready to begin selling into the market Gary Brock, Director of Strategic Initiatives, introduced the SSIMWAVE team to the Accelerator Centre (AC).

In 2015, they joined the Accelerator Program and immediately began utilizing the mentorship available to them. “Both Kevin Hood and Kevin Elop were very helpful to us, ” CEO and Co-founder Abdul Rehman recalls. “When we started, we were engineers. We had no business experience. Working with the mentors gave us the confidence to grow our business knowing that whatever challenges we ran into, someone at the AC would be there to help us put the pieces of the puzzle together. They gave us the confidence to be successful.”

In June of this year, SSIMWAVE relocated to a new office space to accommodate their rapidly growing staff, including the addition of an experienced executive team including Dianne Mercer for sales, Saj Jamal for marketing and Steve McCartney as President to oversee business development, operations and strategic growth. The AC’s flexible programming means that even though they are no longer located at the AC facility, they can continue to utilize the mentorship until they graduate from the program. “One of our biggest priorities now is building our team up to be ready to grow and scale rapidly,” Abdul says. “Now, the mentors can advise not only our founding team, but our new staff members as well to help them excel in their own roles.”

Over the next few years, SSIMWAVE is expected to continue to grow rapidly and become the international, gold standard for measuring video quality. “We look forward to seeing SSIMWAVE in the credits of every movie or TV series made,” Abdul says. “We’re actively putting the pieces in place and we are ready.”

Engineers for Hope Bring Clean Water and Sanitation Facilities to Underprivileged Communities

20 million people in Bangladesh drink from contaminated water sources and 2.5 billion people around the world do not have access to sanitation facilities. What began as a student group, comprised of six University of Waterloo students, has turned into a social innovation powerhouse that promises to bring clean water and proper sanitation facilities to those people.

In June of this year, the Accelerator Centre welcomed, Engineers for Hope (EFH) to our headquarters facility in Waterloo so they could continue combining their passion for helping others with their technical skills to improve lives around the world.

Starting with their first project in Khuskshia, Bangladesh in late 2016, EFH works to install hand pumps that deliver water to under served communities and establish infrastructure that supports proper sanitation facilities.

EFH completed its first project in Khukshia, Bangladesh between September 2016 to December 2016, where the organization installed eight hand pumps in order to give the rural village’s residents access to clean water.

CEO and Co-founder Nirbhay Singh started the organization with co-founders Rumman Rahman, Adnan Abu Atiya, Tariq Hasan, Shihab Saadeldeen, and Youssef Zaki after witnessing the impact of poverty and lack of access to clean water in India as a child. “We want work together for the betterment of these people,” Nirbhay explains. “This feeling is better than having a job,” Rumman adds. “It’s the satisfaction that you can make a difference. Now that we have a platform to do so, we want to take full advantage of it.”


While at the Accelerator Centre, EFH is accessing mentorship and expertise from the in-house mentor team as well as specialist in the not-for-profit space to help them plan and execute on future projects. “It’s been really great in terms of connecting with people, networking , and getting mentorship,” said Nirbhay. “They know what they are doing and they are experts in providing guidance.”

In addition to bringing clean water and sanitation infrastructure, EFH is focused on sustainability. “We want to make sure that whatever we do in the rural community, it’s sustainable,” said Nirbhay. “Our infrastructure is built by locals and maintained by locals.”

EFH is currently planning for their next project, also located in India. The project is estimated to begin later in 2017.

For more information on EFH visit:
http://www.engineersforhope.com/

Turn Your Brand Stories Into Sales

We’ve covered the importance of brand development for startups and the role of storytelling in connecting with potential customers. Now we are going to turn it around and talk content marketing – how to turn your stories into sales.

The term “content” covers a lot of bases. It can be anything from a blog post, an ebook, a video, a case study, the list goes on and on. Developing a content strategy means figuring out how to deliver just the right amount of content to your prospective customers in just the right place, at just the right time.

For today’s consumers, with high expectation and short attention spans, getting content right is critical part building a business.

We sat down with Milestone Integrated Marketing Partner, Stacy Barr to learn how he feels about content marketing and how he recommends his client implement content into their overall strategy.

Clinton: How important do you feel is content generation for a business?

Stacy: Crucial. We live in a world of click bait, top 5 lists and such.  We are consuming content on an ongoing basis. Our appetite for content is increasing but the depth of the level which we want to engage with each piece of content is decreasing. No one wants to read a twenty-page white paper. What we are focusing on right now is a lot of content generation that is focused on quick two minute, three minute, four minute reads.  You get the story, you get the idea and then you’re out.

The days of twenty page white papers, fifteen page brochures and just shoving it down people’s throat at the start of their purchase journey or when they are just getting interested, are not only dead, they should have been dead a long time ago.

Clinton: Let’s talk about that.  In a digital journey it is probably not a good idea to try to bank on someone just reading your white paper and becoming a qualified lead, interested in your brand or your product.  So should startups design their content strategy and change what they deliver along the sales journey.

Stacy B:  The great thing about content is that it applies differently to different levels of the purchase chain. For example, If I just met you, I would never start telling you my most intimate details of who I am. I’d start at a high level. It’s the same as if you are trying to sell something to somebody.  At the top level of that purchase funnel, tell stories, give them that sixty second pitch. If they are interested take them on a journey, start feeding them specific content that matches their interest.  When I’m ready to purchase, the content you are going to give me is going to be different from when you’re just trying to get my interest, because my engagement with you as a brand is going to be totally different.

Also, if you are a young brand and you’re trying to get traction you don’t always have to create your own content but you can utilize existing content to go back and communicate your point of view. You can comment in an interesting, engaging way which starts to create conversations.  

Clinton: If I am a startup founder and I want to utilize existing content  or create my own, what’s most important

Stacy: I think personality is a key part of it. Look at Elon Musk, so, some of his ideas are absolutely, completely out there but he has a personality, he has an approach.  He’s trying to change the world and it makes him interesting. The last thing anybody in the world wants is a young startup, creating another white paper, another webinar, another boring approach, right?  Intrigue me, interest me, take your story and put a spin on it.  

Clinton B: That’s great. How about measuring success. I think a lot of start-ups spend a whole lot of time on gaining twitter followers but they’re not going into a sales funnel, they’re not becoming advocates or ambassadors. What’s the value in that?

Stacy B:  Nothing, right?  We have a lot of our clients who have in previous years focused on exactly that, those metrics of success; this idea that simply having followers on twitter or Facebook is a metric of success. But is it? With new algorithms, your followers may not even see your posts – especially on social platforms where advertising is their key revenue generator.

The problem is that even with SEO hopefully getting someone to your website.  You only get one chance to make a first impression. You’d better make sure it’s good, because that person has taken the time and energy and you could be a qualified lead or a qualified prospect.

I worked with a brand that had hundreds of thousands of followers and their sales were tanking.  Their followers only joined the social media channel to get a coupon. After that they didn’t care, so they were deaf to the message They didn’t even see it.  They joined to grab a coupon, they haven’t engaged with you since  

Clinton B: So, it comes down to your engagement?

Stacy:  Absolutely. An engagement for purpose.  At the end of the day we are all in business to promote our product or our service, so at the end of the day if you are not leading your followers  towards a sale, or an ongoing relationship that leads to continued sales, it’s probably a wasted opportunity.

Tech and The Arts at 44 Gaukel

When we opened our Hardware and Advanced Manufacturing Lab almost a year ago, we wanted to build a place where the Arts, technology, and broader community could come together and support each other. Expanding our operations into the Kitchener downtown core allowed us to have a deeper impact in the Waterloo Region beyond supporting tech startups and companies. Being located in the core of downtown comes with unique opportunities to work with organizations that strive to improve the everyday well-being of youth and underprivileged groups and we’ve welcomed the opportunity to expand our impact on the community through the programs in the building.

One of the core mandates when opening the facility was to create an Arts and Tech collision space. Partnering with ArtsBuild Ontario meant that the floor would be inhabited not only by hardware and IoT startups, but also arts organizations and freelancers. ArtsBuild Ontario also facilitates a rehearsal space, which has seen more than 700 booked hours since we opened our doors officially in the September of 2016.

Along with the internal Arts & Culture community within the building, we’ve also connected with the larger Arts community in the Waterloo Region. We partnered with ArtShine/Arts4All, a local organization that provides Arts programs to groups that might not normally be able to afford them, to create a brand-new gallery space in the building. The O Gallery @ 44, opened on May 25th, 2017 with more than 150 pieces of art from students, refugees, and freelance artists. The gallery opening was an incredible success and brought hundreds of people through the space to showcase the work being done here by both the arts and technology communities.


In addition to the partnerships we’ve formed with the arts community, the Accelerator Centre has also developed a strong connection with the charity organizations House of Friendship and Junior Achievers. The House of Friendship held their February team meeting in the Lounge at Gaukel and then had a full tour of the space where they were able to learn more about both the technologies being developed here and the arts community. Some of the AC companies even have begun discussions with the House of Friendship to help volunteer at some of their summer camps and events. Junior Achievers will be holding their summer camps at the facility in July and August and working with resident company InkSmith.

Expanding our operations into the Kitchener downtown core has allowed us to have a deeper impact in the Waterloo Region beyond supporting tech startups and companies. At 44 Gaukel, we’ve taken the opportunity to better support hardware, IoT and advanced manufacturing startups, and used it to connect with the Arts, as well as work with local charities and NGOs. If you’re interested in learning more about the organizations we mentioned or to donate to their causes, please check out their websites:

ArtShine/Arts4All

House of Friendship

Junior Achievers

As well, if you’d like to know more about how to rent the rehearsal or classroom space, check out Space Finder Waterloo Region or contact Eilidh Fisher at eilidh@artsbuildontario.com.

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