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Meet the DMZ’s Spring ‘22 startup cohort

Introducing the DMZ’s newest cohort: 11 tech startups that are disrupting the Canadian tech ecosystem 


The DMZ Incubator is a market validation and traction program that helps venture-backable pre-seed and seed-stage startups execute their go-to market strategy, acquire lighthouse customers, gain media exposure, explore global expansion, preparing for the next round of funding, and much, much more.

Out of hundreds of the high-calibre startup founders that applied from Canada and around the world, the DMZ hand-picked 11 tech companies to join a new 18-month cohort in the Incubator. 

This cohort has startups joining from Vancouver, Canada to Budapest, Hungary, across diverse industries like logistics, insurtech, fintech, proptech, and more.

Introducing our Spring ‘22 Incubator cohort:

 

AssetFlo is building the next generation of location products to help the supply chain increase visibility with a single device that works everywhere and eliminates costly infrastructure.

Baoba is creating street-smart insurances by combining location intelligence with technologies to create geo-triggered coverages. Baoba’s vision is to become the #1 global ecosystem orchestrator for on-demand insurance needs and the platform for connecting a fragmented market.

Carmodity partners with car dealerships to provide lease-financing to customers in a debt-free and interest-free model.


Cozii Technologies provides sustainable residential and commercial properties management services. Their flagship product Cozii Proptech allows residential landlords to manage their rental properties from anywhere in the world. 

Lightster is a mobile platform that enables tech startups to build instant user communities for input and co-creation, and rewards users for their time with exclusive access and cash.

Monosens helps industrial machine builders and maintenance providers predict which machines need maintenance or aftermarket services using IoT technology and AI.

Businesses, governments, and individuals share many important documents every day. myLaminin uses Blockchain to deliver security, convenience, and control to the document issuer, document holder, and third-party document verifiers.

Reyts is a marketplace that allows individuals to swap currencies seamlessly and securely.

SizeWize offers an AI-backed fit recommendations eCommerce app that ensures online shoppers can buy the right size online, providing reduced returns, increased conversion, increased AOV, targeted marketing and optimal supply chains. 



Getting a car is time-consuming and difficult. Related services like insurance and maintenance make it even worse.
ShiftRide offers flexible car subscriptions on their users’ own terms.

VRapeutic is an Ontario-based UNICEF Innovation Fund portfolio software house specializing in developing therapeutic and rehabilitation solutions, with a focus on virtual reality (VR) for learning and developmental challenges.

 

If you are an early-stage tech founder interested in joining the DMZ Incubator, check out more about the program details and selection criteria here.

Supporting moms and dads through the ups and downs of parenthood: How Alli Therapy is taking a parent-centric approach to mental health

On Wednesdays, we startup.

To celebrate our women-identifying founders, we’ve put together ‘On Wednesdays, we startup’, a blog series dedicated to putting women founders center stage to acknowledge their work, complexities and wins!

We hope to push women-founder stories forward and share lessons learned and insights for other aspiring women entrepreneurs.

This week, we sat down with the Co-Founders of Alli Therapy, Sarah Rennick and Cherry Xu, to learn more about Alli Therapy’s tailored mental health solutions for parents, and their thoughts on the massive growth in the mental health space. Plus, we had the chance to connect with one of their certified therapists, Michelle Winterburn, MSW, RSW, to unpack some of the biggest misconceptions about parenting therapy and more.

Alli Therapy is an online emotional and mental health tool to support families through the journey of parenthood, with more than 34 million parents in North America living with mental health issues their mission is to support moms and dads through all stages of parenthood.

Sarah Rennick, Co-Founder & CEO of Alli Therapy

Before founding Alli Therapy, Sarah founded Mama Mobile, an in-home wellness service company for moms and moms-to-be. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, Mama Mobile had to cease operations. Wanting to still support the community of parents Sarah had fostered, she reached out to her clientele to gain a better sense of what they felt parents alike needed help with.

“I reached out to the Mama Mobile community to gain a better understanding of what parents actually needed — to see what services or solutions would make their lives easier as they moved through parenthood, said Sarah.

This is how the idea for Alli Therapy came about. While the majority of digital mental health and therapy solutions out there provide great services that are highly needed, rarely do these solutions offer services designed specifically for parents.

“20% of mothers today have postpartum depression, and 57% of parents say parenting is a top source of anxiety,” said Cherry. “A lot of parents experience mental health problems, yet we only ever highlight the rosy side of parenthood. We want to destigmatize therapy for parents, and highlight that everyone has the same doubts when it comes to parenting.”

Cherry Xu, Co-Founder & CTO of Alli

Cherry was also working in the wellness space before founding Alli Therapy, and was introduced to Sarah while she was leading Mama Mobile. Recognizing the opportunity in service marketplaces and being a mental health advocate herself, Cherry pitched herself as a Co-Founder to Sarah, and the rest was history!
Alli Therapy provides an all-in-one solution for busy parents to connect with a therapist that best suits their needs. With the use of matching technology, users are connected with therapists that are not only a great fit for the user’s stage of parenthood, but also their personality.

“We provide all of our users with a free intro session to ensure they feel comfortable with their matched therapist, ” said Sarah. “You’d be surprised at how many people abandon therapy due to a lack of fit, and making sure our users felt good about their matched therapist was really important to us.”

“20% of mothers today have postpartum depression, and 57% of parents say parenting is a top source of anxiety,” said Cherry. “A lot of parents experience mental health problems, yet we only ever highlight the rosy side of parenthood. We want to destigmatize therapy for parents, and highlight that everyone has the same doubts when it comes to parenting.”

The mental health startup landscape is beginning to see a real shift as funding has reached a record $852 million USD globally in the first quarter of 2021, nearly twice the amount raised during the same period in 2020. Cherry attributed the industry’s momentum to the rise of mental health awareness.

“We’re seeing high profile celebrities speak up about their own experiences with mental health, and while we still have a ton of work to do, the stigma is slowly beginning to lift. People like Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex, and Simone Biles, the US olympic champion, are opening up about their experiences, and this sparks conversations around mental health, while also demonstrating that we all face our own challenges, and asking for help is okay.”

Sarah added that seeing TalkSpace, one of the largest providers of online and mobile therapy in the world, IPO earlier this year really solidified the need for mental health services and the opportunity for startups to innovate.

Alli Therapy prides itself on having therapists that actually speak parent. Users can find individual or couples’ support with therapists who specialize in all types of parenthood challenges.

Michelle Winterburn, MSW, RSW, Alli Therapist

Michelle Winterburn, one of Alli Therapy’s therapists, highlighted that stigma and financial restrictions are some of the biggest barriers when it comes to parents accessing mental health services.

“Many people think seeking therapy means they are a failure. Although we have come a long way in shifting the perception of mental health and wellness, the stigma persists.

Finances are always a consideration, especially with a new family. All Alli therapists are licenced and registered, making their fees reimbursable through most extended healthcare plans or as an eligible medical expense on taxes. Therapy may be more affordable than you think.”

Michelle believes Alli Therapy’s approach when it comes to helping parents is truly unique. She highlights three main pillars that differentiate their services from other mental health providers: specificity, accessibility, and affordability.

“The journey of parenthood comes with unique challenges at each milestone. Alli Therapy supports clients from pregnancy planning to empty nesters, which can be a 16-20 year journey. All of our therapists have a special interest in helping parents and have taken additional training in helping parents navigate parenthood related challenges.

It can be hard to find specialized clinics in rural areas. We make specialized therapy accessible to anyone, regardless of location. Further, getting out of the house takes a lot of logistics and planning for parents. Alli Therapy makes it easy for them to have sessions from the comfort of their own homes.

Lastly, Alli Therapy is committed to not leaving any parent behind. We don’t want anyone to not seek therapy due to budget constraints. To accommodate clients on parental leave who may not have insurance, we offer a sliding scale option to offer our services to those who cannot afford the full price.”

Michelle also stresses that seeking parenting therapy does not equate to failure. “This is a huge misconception in the space, but we are all interconnected, and sometimes we need to seek help as much as we are giving help.

As parents we are always giving. When the pandemic hit, we had to continue to give –  but without the support of others in the ways we once had. This takes a heavy toll on many of us, and having a safe space to talk about the highs and lows of parenting with a skilled, non-judgmental, therapeutic lens can make a huge difference for so many.”

 

Want to learn more about Alli Therapy’s personalized support for parents? Check out their website to learn more.

 

Alli Therapy is looking to fuel their growth to provide more parents with the services they need. Interested in teaming up with Alli to improve mental health support for parents? Reach out to Sarah Rennick and Cherry Xu!

23 up-and-coming tech startups you’ll want to keep an eye on

Meet the DMZ’s newest Bootcamp cohort, 23 companies who are innovating across diverse industries


Our newest
Bootcamp cohort is in full swing. The DMZ is ecstatic to present 23 tech companies that have been hand-selected to join this cohort, from startups that produce smart bedsheets, to platforms that help businesses share data about their carbon footprint. For the next 6 weeks, the DMZ will help these founders validate their business idea, establish a minimum viable product, and build a roadmap for implementation to launch their startup.

Bootcamp founders participate in peer-to-peer sessions, founder roundtables, and expert-led workshops. They receive 80+ membership benefits valued at $470,000+, have one-on-one support from our Program Leads, and much more. Post-graduation, they will be on track to launch their startup within 3 months and generate revenue within 6, allowing them to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey!

The cohort has founders based in Canada, U.S., U.K., and Ukraine.

Keep an eye out for these startups who are making major waves in tech:

lightster image
Lightster
offers a mobile platform for customer interviews on-demand.  They enable Product Managers & Entrepreneurs (Creators) to talk to target customers (Lightsters) in 60 seconds, allowing anyone to earn $60 an hour by being their true self with no investment or skillsets required.

notion patch
Notion Patch is an ed-tech startup offering online XR exams. Identifying the need for online exam security and XR technology positions, Notion Patch offers customers to complete certified & approved exams online in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, or with a Smartphone AR App.

 

crowdparty
Crowd Party Inc.
is the Netflix for workplace games, allowing teams to build joyful connections remotely or in a hybrid working environment.

 

ballstreet image
BallStreet
is building a fractionalized stock market for trading sports cards on the blockchain. They enable card owners to earn royalties and buyers to invest in fractional ownership in the sports world’s most sought-after collectibles.

 

carbongraph
Carbon Graph is a communications platform for businesses to share data about the carbon footprint of their products. It is the first of its kind to enable complex, global supply chains to achieve carbon transparency and associated ROI.

 

carjuggle
Car Juggle
is a platform where users can appraise, buy, sell, or lease a pre-owned vehicle, with the ability to determine fair market value, list or buy, and get instant offers from dealers, including international buyers.

 

swftr image
SWFTR
provides a platform to streamline the process of making critical deliveries with high reliability, transparency, and efficiency. Equipped with a technology-enabled platform and scalable network of delivery professionals, SWFTR offers clients a holistic critical logistics solution, allowing them to focus on their day-to-day operations.

 

dwella image
Dwella
is a prop-tech company aiming to democratize real estate investing. By leveraging the ethereum blockchain, Dwella is making fractional ownership possible and providing liquidity.

 

tailwind
Tailwind is an online guidance counselling platform that helps students make a successful transition into the first year of post-secondary school.

 

litespace image
Litespace
is a modern, hybrid, and remote workplace solution focused on optimizing efficiency and engagement in the workspace. Through AI, Litespaces enables efficient collaboration among employees based on their statuses, teams, roles, and their proximity to each other.

 

noxware
Noxware Ltd.
is a MedTech startup that produces smart bedsheets for remote health monitoring for seniors requiring telehealth services at home. Noxware’s bedsheets can detect different patterns of body movement, perform remote rehabilitation, and monitor cardiovascular abnormalities and sleep disorders.

 

gobazzinga image
GoBazzinga
is a blockchain-powered gamified social media platform that helps creators in developing faster monetization of sustainable revenue streams that allows them to continue doing what they love.

 

quanta vici image
Quanta Vici
is a smart wearable tech startup that was born to expand the spectrum of human senses and abilities through practical day-to-day smart wearable technologies. Their products include Smart Heated Wearables, a product line of gloves and socks that sense and maintain the exact temperature clients personally chose.

oo

Cartoonely is a marketplace that helps customers purchase custom art made by real artists. Cartoonely has sold custom portraits across 14 different countries within a year.

 

round
Round the Block
offers a mobile app that helps students find driving instructors easily. They also organize instructor schedules and handle daily marketing, enabling instructors to focus on teaching.

 

virtue image
Virtue
is a Chrome extension that empowers consumers to make a change by leveraging their buying decisions. Virtue activates when users shop online while seamlessly recommending 300+ Black-owned alternative businesses.

 

baa
Beauty N Brushes
is a social beauty booking web app connecting women and People of Colour to Black beauty professionals. It allows clients to explore the Black beauty looks they love and book the professionals responsible for those looks.

 

arrow
Simplicad
is building a SaaS-enabled marketplace that allows homeowners to order custom ironwork from all around the world.

 

snap write ai
SnapWrite AI
uses product images to generate product features and product descriptions for eCommerce companies. They provide tools for retailers, independent store owners, in-house marketing teams, and copywriters to structure a brand’s catalogue.

 

brainbot
Brainbot is a personalized concussion recovery app that gamifies recovery, focusing on tracking activities and symptoms and providing the clear guidance survivors seek. Their platform connects users virtually with licensed Occupational Therapists for enriched support. Shelley Vaisberg, Brainbot’s founder, is available for private consultation here.

 

granularity​​
Granularity helps businesses decide how much to order and how often with improved accuracy. Granularity infuses demand forecasting with AI and big data, using social media, macroeconomics, and more.

 

visionai
VisionAI Solutions
integrates data from wearables and medical devices and patient EMR (Electronic Medical Record) data to provide real-time data on homecare, retirement home, and long-term care clients.

carbongraph
Vicuna Corp
is an ed-tech startup that houses Scholaebot, a smart engine streamlining the creation, generation, editing, and management of mathematics content with minimal user input. Scholaebot consists of a base repository of mathematics template questions, and analyses and generates similar questions based on those templates.

 

If you are an early-stage tech founder and are interested in joining the DMZ Bootcamp, check out more about the program details and selection criteria here.

 

4 ways you can take your website copy from good to great

DMZ guest blog by: Karina Barker, DMZ EiR


As one of the DMZ’s tactical EiRs, I get the incredible job of working with founders to help them amp up their copywriting. Not only do I offer strategic advice around brand positioning, voice, content, etc., I also get to roll up my sleeves and
do the writing alongside the founders.

Over my time in this capacity, I’ve noticed several common questions emerge as startups work to articulate their value proposition. While their vision might be clear in their minds, crafting website copy that has customers sitting up and taking action can be more of a challenge.

With more than 16 years under my belt as a copywriter and communications specialist, I’ve written for every kind of organization, from government, to startups, to Fortune 500 companies. I’ve seen firsthand how small mistakes can limit your copy’s impact—and how some simple tweaks can make all the difference. Seriously!

Here are 4 tips you can use to take your website from good to great:

 

1. Nail your homepage headline and sub-headline

According to the Nielsen-Norman Group, users leave websites on average after about 10-20 seconds. That means you’ve got less than 10 seconds to make your value proposition clear and convince visitors to stay. 

Your homepage headline and sub-headline are the first things visitors will see when they land on your page. That means these are your best shot to convince a visitor to stay (and hopefully convert). 

One of the most common mistakes I see companies make is focusing their website on them

A common format you’ll see is: We offer [this service] by doing [this thing]. Or, similarly: At [company], we help [this type of person] do [this thing].

But the goal of your website isn’t to share information about you. The goal of your website is to attract and convert customers. And that means you need to turn the spotlight on your customer —and talk about them.

Take a look at this homepage headline from Wealthsimple. 


Image: Wealthsimple

They don’t say “We help you do money right.” 

Instead the headline is direct and it implies “I’m going to do money right (with Wealthsimple’s help).” That subtle shift makes the reader see themselves in the headline.

The subheading then goes on to clearly articulate the actual “thing” that Wealthsimple offers (“powerful financial tools”) and the action-packed benefits that the customer can expect to derive (“grow and manage your money”).

While Wealthsimple makes it look easy, this kind of copy can take time and work (not to mention testing). If you don’t know where to start, a great first step is “voice of customer” research. Interview your customers, survey your product testers, read your online for views and search for the words your target audience uses to talk about benefits. This gives you a foundation to begin crafting and testing your headlines.

 

2. Don’t underestimate the power of social proof

Social proof is a powerful form of persuasion. When you include social proof in your webcopy, you tap into one of humanity’s deepest desires: to belong. 

We all put a lot of value on what we see people we trust doing and supporting. When we’re trying to decide between all the different options out there, we look to see what other people are doing. In fact, 91% of consumers read reviews before making a purchasing decision.  

If you’ve ever wondered why brands are willing to pay influencers big bucks for endorsements, this is it.

Here are some ideas for how to include social proof for businesses, even if you’re just getting started:

  • List any awards or prizes that your business has received
  • Share press/media/interviews covering your company
  • Run a social media campaign (and offer incentives) to encourage users to rate or review your product 
  • Request reviews or testimonials from existing customers
  • Create case studies based on real-life clients—or if you haven’t worked with any clients yet, craft use case studies that use a character that customers will identify with. (Note: always be clear if a study is based on a hypothetical rather than real world client.)
  • Share logos of high-profile clients that you’ve worked with
  • Share the number of users you’ve reached or clients you’ve served

Certain types of social proof will be worth more to certain audiences. Think about what can do to move the needle the most, and work towards collecting and presenting that type of social proof.

 

3. Keep your calls-to-action consistent

A call-to-action (CTA) is the moment when all of the work you’ve put into the rest of your copy gets put to the test. The CTA is where you encourage visitors to take your desired action. 

In order to craft a successful CTA you need to: 

  • Know what you want a visitor to do. Sign up for a free trial? Subscribe to your newsletter? Book a call with your sales team? 
  • Make it stand out. Pick the right spot, colour, visuals to draw visitor’s eyes to your CTA.
  • Be direct. CTAs are usually imperatives that begin with an action word. “Sign Up Now,” “Learn More,” “Start Your Free Trial.” Your CTA is not the place to get too wordy. 
  • Offer incentives. Make it easy for visitors to say yes by adding a line or two below your CTA: reassure visitors (e.g. cancel any time) or offer a desirable incentive (e.g. 10% of your first order)
  • Create urgency. Make visitors take action while they’re on your site. Use time words (e.g. sign up now, grab your instant download) to create a sense of urgency or signal time constraints (e.g. limited time offer)

But one of the most common mistakes I see is a lack of consistency in your CTA copy. If you want visitors to follow through, your CTA must be crystal clear–and repeated over and over. 

You can’t possibly miss Hubspot’s CTA. Not only is it in bright orange, it’s repeated word-for-word in their header and navigation bar. Even though their CTA is a little on the longer side, you know exactly what you’re supposed to do next (“Start free or get a demo”):


Image: Hubspot

In essence, when crafting your CTA, ask: What should the user do, and why? Your CTA should work in tandem with the rest of your webcopy to drive that message home. Inconsistent messaging (or multiple, competing CTAs in close proximity) can confuse your target audience or, worse, make them lose trust in your business. 


4. Boost interest with a unique brand voice

Once you’ve nailed the technical copywriting pieces, you can take your website (and your brand) to the next level by honing your brand voice. 

While it can seem daunting, developing your brand voice doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Reflect your audience. Go back to customer profiles and reflect on the voice used by your ideal clients. Is your target audience young and sassy or mature and sophisticated? 
  • Name three characteristics of your ideal brand voice. Authoritative? Trustworthy? Quirky? Cool? Passionate? Informative? Pick three attributes that capture the essence of your business. 
  • Define the dos and don’ts of your brand voice. Once you have your three characteristics, you can get more detailed on how this translates to your copy. For example, if you pick “trustworthy” as one of your attributes, your dos and don’ts may include: 
    • Do: use honesty, direct language, be transparent, share mistakes, follow-through
    • Don’t: push the hard sell, use jargon, over promise, trash talk competitors

As you grow, you can build out your brand voice into a document to share with anyone who is handling communications for your business. And remember, as you grow and change, your brand voice may develop too. 

If you need help with your copywriting, I’d love to chat! Learn more about how DMZ’s EiRs can support your business here

Ashu and Andrew met in DMZ’s first Sandbox cohort in 2018. Now, they’re revolutionizing the mortgage industry.

Ashu and Andrew's headshots

Andrew Wells (Pinch, CEO and Founder, pictured left) and Ashu Syal (Pinch, Director of Product, pictured right) met in the DMZ’s first-ever Sandbox cohort in 2018.

Andrew was an enthusiastic new DMZ founder and Ashu was a newly hired DMZ Program Lead. This duo is now working together at Pinch Financial (Pinch), a DMZ startup that is utilizing AI to revolutionize the mortgage application process. Pinch is a digital platform that makes applying for a mortgage fast, easy, and secure. The platform connects people directly with lenders, taking brokers out of the equation to empower users to make their own decisions. Pinch’s blog makes real-estate insider knowledge accessible for everyone.

We sat down with Andrew and Ashu to learn more about Pinch and the journey that led them to develop the partnership of a lifetime. 

Pinch company logoWhy did you start Pinch?

Andrew: I had just graduated and was working at a bank as an account manager. I hated it. I saw first-hand how awful and inaccessible mortgage applications are, the process is a disservice to hard-working people. I knew there had to be a better way, so I started Pinch.

Broker’s wages have gone up by 400% in the past 12-15 years, but the everyday person’s income has not. I’m not saying all brokers are bad, but the system is broken. I started Pinch to shine a light on the toxicity of the whole process.

Pinch advertisingCan you tell me more about Pinch’s time at the DMZ?

Andrew: We joined the DMZ’s Sandbox program in 2018 with two staff members. Ashu was our Programs Lead and together we created Pinch’s first prototype, raised our first seed round, developed our MVP and then graduated to the Incubator program. We demoed at the 2019 Collision Conference in Toronto (Pinch team pictured on the left with Collision Conference’s Pinch feature TTC ad) and that really sparked important investor relationships at major banks.

We hired our first engineer, then two more engineers and then a designer, currently half of our current staff came directly from relationships we made while part of the DMZ community.

No one has ever done what Pinch is doing. The DMZ understood the gravity of that and gave us all the space, knowledge, and resources we needed to build our business, the right way.

Banking and real estate are both highly regulated industries. How did Pinch break in?

Andrew: It’s true, the mortgage process has not changed since 1997…This makes pitching new tech to banks uniquely hard. Our EiRs (Entrepreneurs in Residence) taught us how to find the right bank executives, stakeholders, and investors and speak their language… we needed that insider knowledge available to founders at the DMZ to successfully break in.

Andrew, what led you to approach Ashu to join your team full time?

Andrew: Everything was going well, but there was this disconnect growing among our marketing, financial and tech development teams. We needed someone who spoke each of our languages and could bring us together. Our best work always happened at the DMZ with Ashu. We knew he was our guy. 

Ashu, why did you want to join the Pinch team?

Ashu: My wife and I had just started applying for a house when Andrew approached me. It took us more than a month to get a mortgage. We went to open houses and people were outbidding us before we even walked through the door. The whole process felt impossible. It was so stressful. I have a lot of empathy for what mortgage applicants go through.

Pinch is creating new startup practices and utilizing old ones where necessary. They are setting people-centred standards not just for the homeownership industry, but for how we build technology in general. Pinch’s mission really aligns with my own values, I’m really excited to be here.

Team working togetherWhat’s next for Pinch?

Andrew: We are launching our product in a new and big way, with big bank partners. It is going to change the way people approach homeownership. It is a fundamental shift in how someone can get a property.

This (buying a house) can be the most important decision of someone’s life. Our team does not take that lightly. I started Pinch to make sure buying a house was accessible and secure for people. That human-centred mission will continue to always drive every decision we make. 

Whether our company is successful in 10 years or not…what we have done is pushed bank executives and mortgage brokers to truly grapple with this topic for the first time ever, and we are really proud of that.

Team chatting over coffeeAshu, what are you most looking forward to in the future?

Ashu: I wouldn’t be where I am today without the right people telling me to stop building my ideas in a basement and come into an incubator space… Making sure that pathway is open to others, particularly for those who historically have a hard time coming into this industry will always be important to me, will forever excite me, especially because of my time at the DMZ. 

DMZ startups like Pinch not only get the tailored support they need to become world-leading businesses but get access to the DMZ’s thriving talent pool of driven industry innovators. 

Learn more about DMZ Sandbox here.

Five scientifically proven ways to be more productive

It’s all too easy to get distracted or lose focus, especially when you’re an entrepreneur and juggling day-to-day responsibilities, client requests and company obligations.

Here are some of the best tips for tech entrepreneurs, backed by science, to help you get more done with what little time you have.

Take a break every 90 minutes

 

Having a hard time staying focused? A few mid-day breaks sprinkled throughout the day might actually help. While it may seem counterintuitive to step away from your desk when you’re in the middle of a big project a 2011 study from the University of Illinois found it may be the best thing you can do for yourself and your coworkers. So called ‘mental interruptions’ throughout the day can not only help startup employees who spend most of their days at a desk avoid burnout and also boost long-term productivity. Next time you’re feeling exhausted instead of that extra shot of espresso just take a simple 15-minute break instead and you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll get done.

Divvy up large tasks into smaller tasks

 

You know that satisfying feeling you get when you finally cross something off your to-do list? Well, you’ll be able to do more of that and actually see better results if you make sure to follow this golden rule.In 2014 American psychologists from Pennsylvania University discovered that cutting up huge projects into bite-sized tasks helps large teams finish their work faster and as a result rewards our brain’s pleasure centre, which in return pushes employees to do better work throughout the day. An added bonus: Completing smaller tasks also provides an easy way for team members to feel like they’re making progress and achieving a notable goal.

Skip the multitasking

 

The ability to multitask is often viewed as a desirable trait that most entrepreneurs take great pride in. However, what most don’t know is that working on more than one task at a time actually lowers overall work quality since brains aren’t designed for “heavy-duty” multitasking over an extended amount of time.Noted psychologist Robert Rogers found that on average it took individuals twice as long to complete tasks to a satisfactory level when multitasking compared to when they focused on one task at a time.

For entrepreneurs living in today’s techy world where time often equates to cold, hard cash this can be the deciding factor between what makes or breaks a company. Rogers suggests entrepreneurs instead assign time limits for certain tasks so they can concentrate on completing projects to the best of their ability whenever possible.

Turn off pop-up notifications

 

There’s nothing more distracting than battling a series of non-stop notifications when at work. Whether it’s email pop ups, Slack messages or IM pings, these types of digital interruptions can easily disrupt and distract even the most dedicated workers.A study from Florida State University suggests that notification and text messages can be just as distracting than phone calls for workers and those around them. One of the easiest things to do is to simply turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ features during working hours or assign a member of your team to handle these types of on-the-go requests.

Skip email and converse in person

 

The amount of time wasted on email threads can be infuriating. Sometimes it can take minutes (if not hours) for workers and colleagues to respond to simple questions, which wastes time and often impedes other important tasks.One practical way to avoid this is to prioritize conversing in person or over the phone about important issues. A story published in the Harvard Business Review found that emails often resulted in more wasted time than phone calls or emails. Next time you have an important question about a sale or client, try getting up and visiting your colleague at his or her desk or picking up the phone instead of emailing them.

Is Rewordly the savior content creators have been searching for?

Traditional news publishers are fighting an uphill battle these days.

A 24-hour news cycle, online social media platforms that regurgitate free news and a decline in advertising rates have created a hurricane of hurt for the news industry, but today’s biggest companies refuse to go down without a fight.

Media companies – like Toronto Life and Now Magazine – are looking for new ways to make money and turning to tech startups for a helping hand.

Enter: Rewordly, a Toronto-based tech startup. The company has created an AI-powered product called Readefined that lets publishers better gauge how readers engage with online stories, determine how much content users read in real-time and what multimedia aspects of a story people actually like via behaviour tracking software. These important metrics are the cornerstone for any publisher since it helps not only attract high quality sponsors but new advertising partners.

“We have a vision to truly transform– and help –  the publishing world,” says Mario Vasilescu, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We’ve won some awards and are in discussions with Canada’s top four publishers and associations from around the world. It’s still early days, having just launched.”

A closer look at Readefined

 

Here’s how the platform works: A user signs up at Readefined and installs the company’s tracking software or downloads the official WordPress plugin.
Afterward the software starts interpreting patterns for every person that visits a publisher’s page and can even make AI-based suggestions about what writers can do to improve their content before they publish future stories.

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The company is currently in beta and working towards a mid-August launch, but for now publishers with views under 500,000 per month can sign up to use its software for only $19 per month. Companies with more readers are charged on a per view basis.

For Vasilescu, his company’s product is a way for newspapers – and content creators of all kinds – to truly understand what readers want in the digital age. No more guessing and conjecture.

Of course, the startup’s team has never worked for a newspaper, but they understand the difficulties legacy newspapers can face. Adapting to a changing industry is something Rewordly is all too familiar with. The company has undergone several pivots since it launched in 2012.

“We’ve had a winding journey. The initial product took shape while working at a management consulting company in Paris. It was really shaped by seeing how inefficiently content was managed internally and externally,” explains Vasilescu.

“As naive first-time founders, we initially built a single product that – with the benefit of hindsight – we now see was attempting to solve all of the world’s content-related issues in one behemoth of a platform. People got really excited about it, but would be totally overwhelmed using so we went back to the drawing board and created this.”

How are publishers adapting?

 

For most publishers, it’s the company’s machine learning software – which gets smarter over time as it processes different reading behaviour and content – that could provide the most return. Keeping readers online longer, more engaged and even being able to predict what will work best is crucial.

And a focus on superior engagement data couldn’t come at a better time. Online advertising is now under attack. Over $7 billion in click fraud is reported every year. Meanwhile, over 50 per cent of online users are using adblocking software and a little over one-third of traffic is fake, according to a Wall Street Journal story.

“Now is the time,” Vasilescu adds. “We’re ready to change how the publishing world works for the better. We’re excited to see what comes next.”

The startup lessons today’s top shows can teach you

Whether it’s a killer queen bent on reclaiming her ancestral throne or complex villains wrestling with their humanity, there’s a lesson for every entrepreneur in this year’s crop of popular TV shows. These programs are more than just entertaining; they provide inspirational examples (and in some cases cautionary tales) that will make any dealmaker, founder or mogul-in-the-making a better businessperson.

Here’s a look at the best fictional shows on right now and how they can help startups up their game before it’s too late. (Warning this post may contain tv spoilers).

Game of Thrones

Lesson: Find allies with similar goals

via GIPHY

It’s hard to imagine how a show about a medieval (yet magical) world inhabited by dragons and the undead could provide any real value for entrepreneurs at first glance, but the HBO show has a lot to offer.

Exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen, one of the main characters, is on a mission to reclaim her throne, which often pits her (and her army) against assassins, city uprisings and family betrayal. Her closest friends help her navigate dangers at every turn and without them it’s all too clear that this inexperienced warrior would surely have died long ago.

Like Targaryen, entrepreneurs should seek out experienced allies who can help guide, advise and nurture their ambitions. Forging alliances with the right people (and investors) is an important part of turning an idea into a million-dollar product.

Orange is the New Black

Lesson: Do your due diligence

via GIPHY

While betrayal, sleepless nights and poor diets perfectly sum up the day-to-day lives of the fictional characters on this Netflix show it could also easily describe the lifestyle of many early-stage entrepreneurs and acts as an important lesson for new startups hoping to find success.

The award-winning Orange is The New Black tells the story of inmates at Litchfield — a minimum-security, women-only prison — who must deal with everything from food strikes to abusive guards.

The show’s protagonist Piper Chapman is sentenced to jail for criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges early in the series and throughout her sentence learns, the hard way, how important it is to do her due diligence when picking friends and allies in jail. For instance, her failure to properly vet friends resulted in one later stealing her money from a short-lived prison panty business in season four and later time in solitary confinement. Entrepreneurs should look to Piper Chapman when bringing on new talent. It doesn’t hurt to make sure your staff are trustworthy and the people you partner with are worthy of your time.

Glow

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself

via GIPHY

When you’re an entrepreneur and things don’t go your way it’s all too easy to end up wallowing in self-doubt. Failure, at any stage, is a gut-wrenching pill to swallow. Founders in need of inspiration about what to do if their company flounders should look no further than Glow, a fictional series about 1980’s female wrestlers in the U.S.

In the show failed actress Ruth Wilder decides to reinvent her career by taking on a role in a low-budget, traveling wrestling show. While wrestling isn’t exactly what she had in mind when she left her small town it turns out to be her biggest break thus far and finally gives her the success she craves. Like Wilder, entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to pivot their business and use the skills they already have in their arsenal to start again.

Silicon Valley

Lesson: Always remain professional

via GIPHY

In an industry that’s consumed with power, prestige, and pride it’s easy to forget that one wrong move can throw an entire company into chaos. HBO’s Emmy-nominated Silicon Valley showcases just how complicated the startup world – and the individuals who work in it — can be. Egos can easily get in the way of success and threaten future opportunities.

The unforgettable Erlich Bachman is the perfect example of someone with an oversized personality that lands himself, and the company he represents, in hot water. His crude remarks and frequent off-the-cuff observations have alienated not just his coworkers at times but potential investors too. It’s too difficult to truly discern how successful Pied Piper — the company he works for — could have been if Bachman had been a little nicer in his dealings with investors and workers, but in a town where who you know is just as important as what you know it’s obvious it couldn’t have hurt the company’s chances either.

Westworld

Lesson: Keep employees happy and engaged

via GIPHY

Employees are the lifeblood of any company and Westworld knows that better than most. For most startups, it would be difficult to create, sell and promote any product without great staff, but for Westworld it would be almost impossible.

In this fantasy show about a futuristic amusement park where wealthy tourists can shoot, kill and otherwise abuse humanoid robots that act out western-influenced situations, employees represent more than just tools. They’re robotic staff who are the main attraction, keepers of the park and entertainment all rolled into one, which is why it came as no surprise to fans that they later revolted and attacked their creators.

When the park’s poorly treated robots go on a murderous rampage at the end of the series it’s an accurate, although unrealistic, representation of how a company call fall apart when its team aren’t treated fairly.

The top 6 apps entrepreneurs need to improve productivity

Staying productive isn’t easy. Especially when so many of us are bombarded with a steady stream of notifications, breaking news and emails every day. Is it really any surprise that overall productivity is on steady decline these days?

It can be difficult for even the most dedicated worker to stay on track in the face of so many distractions, but for entrepreneurs — who are expected to juggle multiple responsibilities alongside financial pressures and few resources — staying productive can be an almost hellish task.

If you’re looking for ways to combat distractions and improve your work efficiency, here’s a list of the most popular (and little known) apps that will change how you work for the better.

Awesome Screenshot

For developers and designers, it can be hard keeping track of the minute changes that seem to crop up on a daily basis. Projects that require group input often involve sending blueprints or mockups to group members that can end up clogging up inboxes or, in some cases, being ignored entirely.

Awesome Screenshot has found a way to get around that problem using its unique software that lets individuals snap a picture of a project that colleagues can then use to add comments, edits and even blur out sensitive information. These images are saved to an external database, saving crucial email data and giving internal team members or clients a chance to review documents at their leisure.
Where to get it: Find it online and Google Play

Streak

This fairly new plugin may not be widely known, but is definitely an app designed with entrepreneurs in mind. The platform turns your Gmail account into a powerful tool that lets any team member process sales, track product development and group customers into custom boxes to make it easier to contact and analyze.

Its free email templates and in-depth reporting function make it a great system for startups with limited funds.
Where to get it: Find it on the Apple store and Google PlayMove — daily activity reminder

Taking the time to maintain physical health is important. While most apps concentrate on ways to better manage our time, it’s been proven that physical activity can not only increase productivity, but provide long-term mental health benefits.

One of the easiest ways for entrepreneurs glued to their computers to fit in some daily exercise is to take walks. The iPhone app will remind you to take regular, active breaks throughout the day and record your progress over time. It also plays double duty as a gym buddy that features over 300 fitness exercises and the ability to create your own custom circuit training.

For Android users, an app called ‘Move It’ offers up many of the same features listed above with the added option to sync it with Google Fit to provide better step data and calorie counting.
Where to get it: Move: Find it on the Apple store and online. Move it: Google Play store

Have you ever had a great, life-altering idea pop into your head, but forget it because you didn’t have some way to write it down?
Well, Evernote may be able to help fix this annoying problem. The free platform helps users work smarter by letting them create customized to-do lists, upload notes from their mobile device, which can be shared with other users, and even craft personalized audio checklists.
Where to get it: It’s available via the Apple store, Google Play Store and online.

Asana 

Asana is the swiss army knife of online management tools. This oddly named application helps you manage tasks, oversee work projects from shared dashboards and track conversations all in one place.

It also allows you to collaborate with team members, assign tasks and schedule due dates so colleagues know exactly what to do and when to do it. Track progress on shared projects and chat about updates with other members all in one place so you can finally ditch those never-ending email chains for good.
Where to get it: Get Asana by going on the web, from the App store & Google Play Store.

Expensify (tracking expenses)

Keeping track of your employees’ financial statements and your receipts can be headache inducing, but Expensify wants to be the antidote to your money woes.

The app’s algorithms not only analyze company expenses in real-time to combat fraud,but also detect which items need an extra pair of eyeballs, such as managerial approval, if the purchase is sensitive in nature or exceeds set company limits. Expensify’s SmartScan features allow users to take pictures of receipts while on the road that are then automatically uploaded and saved indefinitely.

The best part is that it can be integrated with financial products offered by firms like QuickBooks (small business accounting platform), Zenefits (HR management software) and Xero (a data management software company).
Where to get it: Find it online, the iTunes store or Google’s app store.  

4 must-read books for every entrepreneur this summer

If you’re looking for a great read for your next commute, something to ease your time in between flights or just a book to unwind with you on your next summer vacation, these page turners are sure to inspire and entertain.

No one said being an entrepreneur is easy, but with the right advice (and book) the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or aspiring business owner, there’s something you can learn from this reading list, which is complete with tips, lessons and facts from the most successful business owners in the world.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss


After spending years interviewing celebrities and successful entrepreneurs for his self-titled podcast, Tim Ferriss finally decided to write a candid (and at times somewhat provocative) book about it all. The self-help guide combines the best lessons, tips and advice and routines into an easily accessible read.

Some of the most prominent names included in this tell-it-like-it-is story include Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger and top investor Chris Sacca. Although, Ferriss is no slouch either: The well-known entrepreneur is an early-stage technology investor and advisor for Silicon Valley heavyweights, such as Uber, Facebook and Shopify.

Why you should read this book: What sets this book apart? It’s an all encompassing toolkit full of tricks, recommendations, strategies and philosophies from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Bonus: At 707 pages, it’s a nice, quick read. Get it on Amazon while you still can.

Unshakeable by Tony Robbins


By all measures, Tony Robbins didn’t have a very pleasant nor easy upbringing. An absent father and abusive mother meant the motivational speaker grew up in what he describes as a “chaotic” and “abusive” household.

Despite skipping college and, a couple of lost years spent working as a part-time janitor, he later went on to launch a successful self-help business and work as a coach, businessman and New York Times bestselling author.

His latest book called Unshakeable is a summary of interviews with 50 of the world’s most successful investors and full of great nuggets about what entrepreneurs should do when things go wrong. Fighting off bankruptcy? Not sure how to boost market share? Struggling to hold on to investment opportunities? Then this condensed read is for you.

Why you should read this book: Robbins knows his stuff. The NYT-bestselling author is the author of over six books and throughout his life has founded over a dozen companies. If you’re looking for ways to stay sane in the non-stop world of business or just hoping for lifestyle tips this it. Buy Unshakeable from Chapters-Indigo here.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk



A winning social media account is more than just developing high quality content, but also adapting it to several platforms and mobile devices. This book has some strong ideas that organizations must adapt as part of their social media strategy such as content placement, telling a cohesive story and focusing on benefits rather than selling. “It took thirty-eight years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television thirteen years to earn an audience that size. It took Instagram a year and a half,” Vaynerchuk says in his book. It also focuses on the importance of driving engagement with an audience and finding opportunities to build communities, which in turn, strengthens your brand. Buy it on Amazon here.

Why you should read this book: Skip all the ridiculous startup jargon and buzzwords and get straight to the point with Vaynerchuk’s fight-inspired tome. The venture capitalist — named to both Crain’s and Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list — knows what he’s talking about and has the insights necessary to take to turn any organization into a well-oiled, money-making machine. Find this must-read here.

Success never Smelled So Sweet by Lisa Price



From bankruptcy to successful entrepreneur, Lisa Price shares her story of how passion created “Carol’s Daughter,” a luxurious, all-natural line of bath and beauty products. With only $100 in cash, Lisa started following not only her heart, but her nose, as she started creating sweet scents that celebrities such as Jay-Z, Solange, Halle Berry and Mary J.Blige support and use religiously.

In the book, she walks the reader through her childhood with stories of her Trinidadian grandmother and a harsh school system where she was bullied. Her story is a reminder that success is attainable even when life throws many obstacles in the way. Currently, the company is valued at $27 million and was acquired by L’Oreal in 2014. From life advice to business tips, this is a light summer read with an extra dose of motivation. Regardless if it’s a morning commute or sunny day outside, this is your perfect summer-time read, grab it, here.

Why you should read this book: A good success story can be inspirational for anyone trying to find their path to success, especially when the author is now a multi-millionaire. As a young black woman in financial straits, Price’s story is encouraging and engaging as it reminds you to keep persevering. Get your hands on Price’s guide for success from Amazon.

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