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It’s time to elevate your social (impact) game

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It’s time to elevate your social (impact) game

On Wednesdays, we startup.

To celebrate our women-identifying founders, we’ve put together ‘On Wednesdays, we startup’, a blog series dedicated to positioning women founders centre 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.

For this week’s feature, we handed the reins to Kelly Emery, the Founder of Troop and expert in startup development, to speak to social impact and what startups can do to not only add it to their business models but also elevate their social impact game.

Guest blog: By Kelly Emery, Founder of Troop

When a company helps the community they work in, people take notice. From clients to customers and current employees to prospective talent, social impact initiatives make people feel good about being a part of an organization that does good.

It gives people that warm and fuzzy feeling.

I’m not going to BS you — when times are good, it’s easy to give back and when times are difficult, it’s not. However, when times are tough social impact initiatives are needed most and your employees and customers take notice of how your organization responds to pressing needs in society.

Turn towards social impact initiatives, not away

No doubt, you’ve heard the saying, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ During uncertain times, companies that choose to step up to help are the ones that are set apart. Businesses that engage in social impact initiatives are the type of purpose-driven organizations employees and customers want to align with, especially as we live in a post-pandemic world.

Oodles of research has been done on the topic and I’ve highlighted some in the Troop Guide to Social Impact. For example, studies have shown: 

  • Purpose-driven companies have 40% higher levels of talent retention than their competitors.
  • 88% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they can make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.
  • 66% of consumers would switch from a product they normally buy to a similar one by a purpose-driven company.

All this is to say — now is the time to ignite a social impact program, if your company doesn’t already have one, or double down on any current ones.

Make a greater impact with social impact

Amp up your organization’s impact by engaging your employees in new and interactive ways. Did you know that:

  •  78% of employees would work for a business if it sought their input into the charitable causes it supports
  • 80% of employees are likely to provide input into the organizations a business donates to if given the opportunity

Employees want to do good at work, and for SMBs looking to make this happen, it’s not always easy to know where to start. Enter Troop.

Troop is a technology-based solution that brings together businesses and their staff with local charities and non-profits. It gives your team a voice in how your company can best help your community with a plug-and-play solution that’s easy to implement and requires minimal ongoing management. 

So how does it work?

Each month your employees receive a curated list of vetted needs in the community and will pick the one that resonates with them most. Based on votes, Troop fulfills the selected need and provides a follow-up so they can see and feel the difference being made in the lives of the people they’ve helped.

Ready to elevate your social impact and do good with Troop? Download our Ultimate Guide to Social Impact, visit the Troop website, or connect with me via LinkedIn for more information.

Big picture thinking: How Worksimply was able to double down on a new market to serve more customers

The secret to business growth? Think 10 steps ahead – always.

Thinking about what the future of work looks like? The founder of Worksimply, Jaime Aoyagi, is your guy.

It goes without saying that the future has changed forever and remote work is here to stay. But what most employers may not realize is that the workplace of tomorrow isn’t just confined to an at-home office or central downtown location.

Aoyagi predicts that the future of work will take place in three main spaces: an at-home office, a central headquarters that’s typically located in a downtown core and an on-demand workspace that’s less than a 10-minute commute from the employee’s home.

Catching a new wave of opportunity and recognizing the transformational shift taking place in office settings, Aoyagi decided to grow Worksimply – a workplace platform – by doubling down in a new market to serve more customers.

We sat down with Aoyagi to learn more about Worksimply, and how he was able to shift markets by thinking bigger.

First, can you tell us more about what exactly is Worksimply?

“Worksimply’s solution is two-fold. For hybrid companies, we offer a workplace platform that makes office space more affordable and increases employees’ freedom. For co-working space operators, we offer software to manage end-to-end guest bookings for co-working spaces.

To put it into perspective, we help small businesses manage their own hybrid workforce by allowing their employees to book desks at their HQ and at co-working spaces all across North America,” said Aoyagi.

A cycle of various workspaces - How Worksimply was able to double down on a new market

What do you think is unique about Worksimply’s value proposition?

“Fostering an engaging work culture is crucial to creating a well-oiled, productive and happy team. At Worksimply, we understand how challenging this has been for remote and hybrid teams and are working to help them better manage their remote culture.

While a lot of companies today are working in a predominantly remote environment, we know that face-to-face interaction is still important. We know that it’s not about a desk, it’s about collaborating with your teammates.

This is exactly why we’ve rolled out features that allow teams to encourage their staff to meet in-person by allowing them to see who is working from where and when. But we didn’t stop there, we also offer services that help employers go above and beyond when it comes to maintaining a great office culture for remote employees – like providing snacks, drinks and workshops.”

This pandemic had a major impact on how Canadians work and use office space. How does Worksimply help companies in today’s current climate of needing flexible hybrid office space?

“The pandemic completely changed the way the world works. Pre-pandemic, the standard was for companies to have one designated desk per employee. Fast forward to today, a lot of companies have gone fully remote while others have embraced a hybrid model.

Now this presents a unique situation. A hybrid model can look very different from company to company, but nonetheless, the office will still play a huge role in how people work.

Moving forward, I think work will take place in three main areas: the home, the central office and finally flexible office spaces close to home,” explained Aoyagi.

This is exactly where Worksimply comes in. Worksimply is helping SMEs not only manage but also support their hybrid workforce by allowing their employees to book office space close to their home or their central office.

Jaime, you saw a new opportunity in the market and decided to double down on it to grow your business. What led you in making this decision?

“The pandemic obviously played a large role in why we decided to double down in a new market. We knew that companies would need on-demand workspace to accommodate their staff with flexible options,” Aoyagi explained.

Thinking 10 steps ahead, Jaime realized that there was a perfect opportunity for him to extend his customer base. “Since we already had space operators and co-working spaces on the Worksimply platform, we quickly recognized we’d be able to serve a new market – SMEs – that would need access to the space operators we were already serving flexible on-demand bookings.

“We sell software-as-a-service to space operators, and today our demand is twofold – on one hand, it’s businesses looking to book space for their employees, and on the other, it’s workspace operators looking for easy-to-use software they can integrate into their operations.”

Groundbreaking ideas are hardly ever lightbulb moments, but rather the result of developing and improving over time. After you made the decision to build in a new direction, what did the process look like?

“Once we realized the toll the pandemic was beginning to take on the world’s workforce and the new wave of opportunity it was creating, we started developing the software for space operators to implement.

As more and more space operators began to use our services, we were simultaneously creating a supply for hybrid-working organizations to choose flexible office space,” explained Aoyagi.

How did the DMZ support you throughout the process?

“Throughout the process, I was able to lean on the DMZ for mentorship and guidance.

As questions came up, I was able to turn to my Program Lead, Mohi Sanisel, who was able to help me navigate through the different challenges that presented themselves.

The DMZ was also able to introduce Worksimply to our first customer leveraging their new model.”

What would you say to other startup founders who are looking to iterate on their core strategy?

“Put your product out there as soon as possible and put your assumptions to test.”

Curious to learn more about what Jaime Aoyagi thinks about the future of work? Check out his recent LinkedIn article here. Looking to provide flexible office space for your time? Head over to Worksimply’s website to learn more.

Meet 13 up-and-coming tech startups in the DMZ’s Bootcamp

Introducing a new cohort of Bootcamp companies who are hitting above their weight across a diverse range of industries

Our newest Bootcamp cohort is in full swing, and we are thrilled to present the 13 tech companies that we have hand-selected to take their businesses to the next level. For the next six 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.

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

We are delighted to share that our new cohort of startups have a global reach, with startups across Canada, the United States, Brazil, Estonia and Africa.

So, without further ado, please welcome our incoming cohort of cutting-edge companies:

Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups
BestAuction

Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: bestauction

BestAuction is a digital platform designed for individuals and SMBs to manage the procurement process and initiate digital cross-collaboration.

Troop Impact

Woman Founders stream
Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: troopTroop Impact is a social impact tech platform for SMBs that allows businesses to meet the social responsibility demands of employees and customers by voting monthly on where their company’s social impact dollars will be allocated.

TechFusion

Black Innovation Program stream
TechFusion is an accessible digital banking platform for credit unions, cooperatives and savings groups, targeted toward the unbanked and underserved in Africa.

SensaioTech

Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: SensaiotechSensaioTech is an end-to-end fire risk assessment solution that is able to monitor and predict when and where a wildfire will occur using artificial intelligence.

Paysync

Black Innovations Programs stream
PaySync is a financial technology services company developing financial solutions for employee wellbeing and productivity.

Gander

Black Innovation Program stream
Gander is a B2B, subscription-based, AR and 3D modelling API plug-in service designed to allow customers to virtually interact with products on e-commerce sites.

ZewalletZewallet

Zewallet allows customers to scan a QR code to tip, split and pay a bill at the end of their meals, benefitting both customer experiences and merchants in cost and time efficiency and in increased revenue.

ZaNiheza

Woman Founders stream and Black Innovation Programs stream
Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: Za NihezaZaNiheza is a dual booking software and travel marketplace that empowers verified operators to list and sell quality experiences online to travellers.

Sleekscore

Black Innovation Program stream
Sleekscore is a financial technology company that seeks to assist those who are either unfamiliar with credit or inadequately served by traditional financial products to build and improve their credit scores while getting into the habit of saving money.

Scooli

Black Innovation Program stream
Scooli is a one-stop-shop digital solution for educators that minimizes the time teachers and administrators spend on redundant administrative tasks.

Frenzy Brands

Frenzy Brands

Woman Founders stream
Frenzy Brands extends a child’s understanding of the stock market, business and investing with a focus on learning through play.

LeaderTree

Black Innovation Program stream
LeaderTree is a single integrated platform that enables effective leaders,

teams, collaboration and results through assessments, training, coaching and tools to understand strengths, needs, tendencies and preferences.

DataCalculus

Woman Founders stream
Data CalculusDataCalculus is an automated software that acts like a personal computer but for the purpose of advanced data analytics and machine learning for the mass market.

 

If you are an early-stage tech founder and are interested in joining the DMZ Bootcamp alongside amazing peers like these, check out more about the program and its selection criteria here. Our next cohort kicks off September 2022!

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.

 

Meet 25 up-and-coming tech startups in the DMZ’s Bootcamp

Introducing a new cohort of Bootcamp companies who are making waves across diverse industries 

Our newest Bootcamp cohort is in full swing, and we are ecstatic to present the 25 tech companies that we have hand-selected to help grow. 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.

Our Bootcamp founders get the chance to participate in peer-to-peer sessions, founder roundtables and expert-led workshops, 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!

We are thrilled to share that our new cohort has a global reach, with startups based across 8 different countries: Canada, Italy, Nigeria, U.S., Iran, Pakistan, Korea, and England. 

What are we waiting for? Meet the 25 startups in our summer Bootcamp cohort:


afrilearn image
Afrilearn is an education technology corporation leveraging seasoned teachers, animators and developers to deliver affordable, world-class education for Africans anywhere.
Glo3DInc

Glo3D offers a simplified mobile and web app for any eCommerce platforms to create, share and embed interactive, multimedia 2D and 3D product photos to their online stores.

 

PaydApp is Canada’s first financial app dedicated to post-secondary education. Payd leverages natural spending habits of current, former, and future students to help them pay off their student debt with ease, limiting financial stress and hardship. 


Websona connects students with campus involvement opportunities and fellow students. It allows users to connect with each other instantly by scanning their digital profile QR Code and filters extra-curricular events for users through tags.

 

Diatron Health is a health tech startup that is revolutionizing how chronic conditions can be prevented, managed and diagnosed by leveraging on the power of behavioural science, mobile computing, artificial intelligence and data science.


Stabl
is the first digital health platform with integration capabilities that enables physiotherapists providing virtual care to track and quantify a patient’s biomechanics using laptop cameras. Physios can diagnose a patient, create treatment plans, and monitor their improvements through reassessments, providing a more effective and transparent approach to virtual physiotherapy.

 

Ationlab is a lifestyle-design company that pursues social missions supporting sustainable, independent life in contemporary society. Their recently launched self-care app, Prickly, provides support to single-person households. They are also working on a portable UVC sterilizer and a mobile dumbbell using EMS technology.


TimeoutIQ Tech is an AI-powered solution that helps parents manage their kids’ recreational screen time and keeps their minds sharp with a personalized interactive K-8 education curriculum focused on Science, Math, Geography, Computer Science and English.

 


Visto is automating the immigration process to help people navigate the immigration journey at a fraction of the price. The immigration process can be extremely expensive, confusing and stressful, and Visto’s software solution was designed to empower  immigrants to go through the process on their own.

 

SCYiBL is a 6 step neuro-scientific process that helps individuals work through trauma. The app guides users to rewire their own brain using an innovative, scientifically-proven process that harnesses brain plasticity to help individuals overcome negative life events and thrive.

 


Lobbea is a private social network for apartment buildings that helps its residents communicate through a shared feed wall, as well as buy, sell, lend, and borrow items, create events, and send messages to their neighbours.

 


Djamgatech Corp builds multilingual and platform independent high tech education and certification mobile applications. Their objective is to have a global reach and help professionals and students prepare for their technical certification directly from their mobile phone.

 

iReal is the first Real-Estate-Data-Platform-as-a-Service with made-to-measure AI and NLP, capturing each organization’s ‘secret sauce’ to help them become the real estate company their clients expect.

Podium Team is a vertically integrated social media platform that connects, engages, and supports the athlete-fan community by empowering users to own and control their content and monetization.

 

PHYSICo is an application for companies to proactively identify and reduce burnout in their employees. Users send physical and custom challenges to each other and earn points for completing challenges. 

IMC Business Architecture has developed a mobile app-based banking solution that helps users build a budget using behavioural economic tools, as well as receive access to small credit for credit repair and savings tools for planning.

 

Curismart is a marketplace platform that allows healthcare professionals to only shop from verified sellers globally. This marketplace offers everything used in a healthcare facility from bin liners, materials, supplies, devices or capital equipment.

 

Pandos is an online platform that enables remote collaboration and teamwork in post-secondary programs. Students can use the platform to form and manage teams, while instructors can create teams based on criteria and assign tasks.

 

Voiceform is an online tool that gives you the ability to create surveys that can be answered with voice. It provides a convenient way to scale your research without losing the important contextual insights you would get from interviews.

 

Hutsy Financial is a Canadian digital bank committed to offering a fee-free prepaid VISA debit card with up to 30% cash back at select retailers, accompanied by an application that enables clients to track their spending and have access to early payroll.

 

Revitalizing Fitness is developing Toronto’s preeminent network of fitness and health spaces, both virtual and brick and mortar, by partnering with community gyms to develop and elevate the customer and trainer experience.

 

Bloc of Estate uses an intuitive gesture-based interface where users can share their home preferences. With that data, machine learning will automatically rank listings inferred from inputs so users waste less time going through listings.

 

Adam Wa Mishmish  is an educational cartoon created for children to learn and love the Arabic language. Catered to children aged 0 to 5, all episodes are music based for Arabic learning. Each episode focuses on a different subject, ranging from alphabets, numbers, musical instruments, animals, and more.

Blox is focused on developing supply chain technology to help clients save costs and increase visibility to their supply chain.

 


Tilaus
 helps small Canadian accounting firms to confidently implement changing professional requirements in a cost-effective, efficient and secure manner.  The cloud-based platform allows partners and sole practitioners in accounting firms to access and store client information in real-time, reducing the need for servers and outdated information.

 

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

Applications are now being accepted for the October 2021 cohort. Apply here today!

From a family roofing business to $10M CAD in seed funding

How a 3rd generation roofer is disrupting the roofing market

For years, roofing has been seen as a traditional industry, relying on skills passed on from one generation to another. After working in the space for nearly 12 years, Richard Nelson, Founder and CEO of RoofR, saw an opportunity to introduce an innovative solution to modernize and digitize the field.

RoofR’s software allows roofers to measure any roof from anywhere with near pinpoint accuracy through aerial imagery and creates polished proposals that help seal the deal. Their tools help roofers streamline their workflow, helping both homeowners and contractors.

We caught up with Richard to learn more about how their company has evolved over the years, their recent raise, and what they have in store for the future.  

For years, roofing has been seen as a great trade in the construction industry, but not necessarily an industry that adopts new tech solutions. As a third-generation roofer by trade, could you tell us a bit about what led you to found RoofR?

Richard Nelson working as a roofer at the beginning of his career.

“The first time I was on a roof, I was 12 years old. Roofing was our family business: my grandfather was a roofer, my uncle was a roofer, and my dad was a roofer. I was a part of the family business for nearly 12 years and then took a job with one of the largest roofing contractors in Toronto. I soon realized how broken and archaic the roofing industry was, and knew I needed to do something to fix it. 

So I decided to quit my job, sell my house, and put everything I had into RoofR. Together, with my partner and CTO Kevin Redman, we decided it was time to disrupt the industry. 

What I realized as a roofing contractor and salesman was just how many inefficiencies existed. Consumers did not have a way to find good roofers, and there was a lack of tools available for roofers to streamline their workflow digitally.

This sparked the vision of creating an end to end roofing platform that helps both homeowners and roofing contractors — a software as a service (SaaS) for roofers.”


“This sparked the vision of creating an end to end roofing platform that helps both homeowners and roofing contractors — a software as a service (SaaS) for roofers.”

How would you describe the experience of introducing a new tech platform to a market that may be hesitant to change? How did you break into the industry?

“I come from a family of roofers, and even some of my family members were a bit skeptical of the idea. Traditionally, the construction industry was not tech-enabled, but ultimately I understood the pain points that these roofers were going through, living it myself.”

Richard knew that if he could build a really powerful, but simple software for roofers to utilize, he could make a big difference in the industry. 

“As we began to roll out SaaS features, specifically the measurement tool that allows roofers to measure through satellite, there was certainly some push back from roofers who typically use a tape measure.”

Rather than driving to a client’s house to take measurements, go back to the office, and then return with a final quote, roofers can enter an address in their system and have a complete roof measurement within minutes that auto-calculates material quantities and creates a professional proposal a customer can e-sign. 

“Once we explained to roofers the benefits and the value that we add, that skepticism was pushed aside and they were willing to adopt.”

When the pandemic hit, going digital was inevitable for roofers. This presented an opportunity for RoofR to really solidify its position in the space. Roofers needed to be able to provide quotes and proposals to homeowners digitally, so they had no other choice than to look for reliable solutions they could trust in order to keep their clients safe. Roofr was the solution.

Could you explain to us exactly how the RoofR platform works?

“We enable roofers to measure any roof, from their desk, or in the field, in under two minutes with near pinpoint accuracy through our aerial imagery software. Roofers can then take those measurements and auto populate proposals that can be sent to their customers for e-signature.”

From measurement, to proposal, to a signed contract, RoofR has created a sales toolbox for roofers — automating the entire process under one platform. 

It was recently announced that RoofR secured $4.25 million USD in funding, bringing your new total amount raised to $8.25 million. What does this new round of funding mean for the company, and do you have any specific plans?

Kevin Redman CTO, and Richard Nelson CEO of RoofR.

“We are obsessed with providing a world class customer experience. We go above and beyond with every single customer, even if it doesn’t necessarily scale. With this investment, we plan to build out our sales, customer success, support, and engineering teams to help drive this world-class experience.

What impact did the DMZ have on RoofR’s trajectory?

I was not able to get a meeting with a venture capitalist (VC) before my time at the DMZ. Within two weeks of being part of the program, I had a handful of meetings with VCs that were able to help me refine my pitch. 

Our time at the DMZ helped set us up for our Y Combinator interview. I was able to connect to other founders that had also gone through the YC interview process, and had mock interviews to get hands-on investor practice. I credit a lot of us getting into Y Combinator to the DMZ.”

Moreover, the DMZ was able to help RoofR expand its network and gave the startup a sense of community. “Whenever I needed help, I could walk into the DMZ’s common space and find someone knowledgeable to ask questions, or reach out via email. It was a sense of community that I really loved. And I needed it at that time, because being a solo entrepreneur can be wildly lonely.”


“Whenever I needed help, I could walk into the DMZ’s common space and find someone knowledgeable to ask questions, or reach out via email. It was a sense of community that I really loved. And I needed it at that time, because being a solo entrepreneur can be wildly lonely.”

As an Alumni-in-Residence at the DMZ, what has been your favourite part about mentoring other startups?

“I get a lot of joy out of being an Alumni-in-Residence. I love giving back and helping founders with advice and insights to help them avoid the same mistakes that I’ve made. Being exposed to all the other innovative startups and business models that are being leveraged is also very captivating.”

Richard played a part in helping DMZ alumni company Turing Labs get into the Y-Combinator as well, which he described as “an incredible moment that allowed him to give back to the community.” 

What advice would you give to a fellow founder who is looking to raise funds for their startup?

“When you do get a chance to meet with an investor, make sure you know your numbers. This is a mistake that will affect your credibility. Investors will likely ask you about your growth rates, unit economics and number of active users…etc, so make sure you are prepared.

Focus on telling a story. Rather than just reading off of slides, paint the bigger picture. Remember that as a seed stage company they are often investing in you rather than the company. Sell yourself – why are you the best person to build this multibillion dollar company? Can you pivot if need be? Make sure to really craft the narrative around the size of the opportunity, why now is the time, and why you’re the best person to do this.”

“Remember that as a seed stage company they are often investing in you rather than the company. Sell yourself – why are you the best person to build this multibillion dollar company? Can you pivot if need be? Make sure to really craft the narrative around the size of the opportunity, why now is the time, and why you’re the best person to do this.”

Are you also obsessed with providing world-class customer experiences? RoofR is growing rapidly and has a wide-range of positions available including, sales, product, engineering, finance, and customer success. Head over to jobs.lever.co/Roof to learn more! 

How mental health looks in 2021: For companies, customers & founders

In light of Mental Health Week, the DMZ sat down with mental health startup founders for an inside scoop on how their companies are addressing mental health.


This week is
Mental Health Week in Canada (May 3-9, 2021), and this year’s focus is to #GetReal about how you feel. That means the Canadian Mental Health Association is calling on us to express how we feel…“name it, don’t numb it”.

As you probably don’t need reminding, the past year has been a time of much anxiety and isolation. Almost everyone is feeling some level of worry, loneliness, sadness, anger, exhaustion and (as identified by this viral article in the New York Times) languish

Having a wide variety of emotions is human. Feeling and naming our emotions – even the uncomfortable ones – is part of good mental health.

To contribute to this week’s dialogue, we sat down with founders from two of our startups to talk mental health. In conversation is Mohsen Omrani, CEO & President of OPTT Inc., along with Alli’s Sarah Rennick, CEO & Co-Founder, and Cherry Xu, CTO & Co-Founder.

Here’s what they had to say:

Q: How is your company tackling mental health?

Sarah Rennick, CEO & Co-Founder of Alli

Sarah: Alli is our way of helping parents prioritize themselves – and become happier and more confident in the process. We do this by helping parents find support from licensed therapists who specialize in their current stage of parenthood. 

Our matching algorithm uses a 3-minute questionnaire completed by the parent to dive into their challenges and goals, and we use that to match them with the most compatible therapist. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we would add that it also takes the right support team.  

Mohsen: OPTT is a virtual mental health platform targeted at healthcare organizations. Our goal is to help increase their care capacity and personnel efficiency by 4x. Instead of providing care to a limited number of patients, our vision is to develop clinically-validated, scalable solutions that allow clinicians to deliver high-quality mental health care to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

We recently announced a new partnership with Curatio to create a one-stop app with trusted news, community support and professional health care services. We are looking to expand this partnership by bringing a group of health care providers who are focused on mental health or chronic conditions, such as diabetes. We’re also now actively looking for local and federal entities to pilot the app with their members.

 

Q: How has the pandemic affected your work in the mental health space?

Mohsen Omrani, CEO & President of OPTT Inc.

Mohsen: For us at OPTT, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a turning point. We recognized, early on, that this challenge would create a silent mental health pandemic, which may only worsen in scope and severity in the months to come if left unchecked. To make matters worse, our current health system is strained and unable to meet demands. We saw an urgent need to develop innovative approaches to expand the capacity of mental health care delivery.

Already established as a virtual mental health platform, we teamed up with our clinical partner to develop and validate a new care plan that directly addresses mental health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our commercial partners have already achieved exciting results. The program has shown to reduce both anxiety and depression symptoms of employees by 40% in just the first five weeks of the nine-week program.

Cherry: That’s a great question. The truth is, the idea for Alli actually arose during the pandemic. We had been running our startup, Mama Mobile, which is a service that helps busy moms in the GTA and Ottawa get in-home massage therapy services, and with all of the lockdowns, we knew we needed to find different ways to support our communities. 

We did what any founder-at-heart does and we conducted 100 customer calls to talk with moms about what they needed most! What we heard was a resounding call for more mental health support. From there, Alli was born.

 

Cherry Xu, CTO & Co-Founder of Alli

Q: Have your customers’ needs changed with the pandemic?

Cherry: We’ve seen our customers’ needs change with the pandemic. In particular, we’ve seen parents struggle with added responsibilities and fewer breaks. With less time for themselves, it’s also been challenging for parents to find therapists that they can connect with and that truly focus on their life stage. 

Many parents put their own needs on the back burner – if this was true before COVID-19, it’s even more evident now. That’s why we’re trying to make it easier for parents to get matched with the right therapist.

Mohsen: Yes, definitely. Many telemedicine companies that previously didn’t have mental health services have since added our product to their offerings. Plus, with increasing demands for care, our customers have looked to us to provide additional capacity and support.

As a result, our partnerships and sales have accelerated and the number of patients using our platform has tripled.

 

Q: What advice would you give to startup founders to help protect their mental wellbeing?

Sarah: This is such an important question. One stigma that I’d like to disrupt is the mindset that you only need mental health support when you’re in crisis. So many of us wait until we hit that breaking point to reach out to a therapist. 

I recognized, a while back, that it’s incredibly important to give my mental health regular TLC. Entrepreneurs are constantly on the line between burnout and the next big win, and we need to find ways to recharge. Of course this is easier said than done, but I try to stay accountable by making time for bi-weekly therapy appointments. These have been a good chance to learn more about myself. 

I’ve also been learning how to better protect my energy, and what works (for me) to recharge it. I feel like it’s a process of continually sharpening my communication skills so I can name my emotions and ask for what I need, while also working to understand the world around me a little better. It’s not easy, but I think these are things we don’t talk about enough as entrepreneurs.

Mohsen: These are all great points that Sarah makes. Adding to that, I think it’s important for startup founders to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s so important to pace ourselves and remember to take care of ourselves – every day, every month, every year. 

And most importantly, when the pressure is too high for one person, it’s important to find a good support person to talk to. There is zero shame in asking for help.


Do you need mental health support?

If you’re struggling with your mental health, know that you’re not alone. 

A great resource you can check out is confidential video counselling offered by DMZ alumni Inkblot Therapy. Inkblot’s services are completely free to many members of the DMZ community. This includes staff, their families, Incubator program startups, alumni and their families.

If you want to join the conversation on mental health and #GetReal about how you feel, head over to our social media accounts where we’ll be continuing the dialogue.

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.

Is Canada the next global leader in tech? Yes.

Some of today’s biggest game-changing startups call Canada home these days. This includes local high-growth companies  like Shopify, WattPad and Element A.I., which secured an eye-watering $135 million investment earlier this year.Even America’s top tech companies have pivoted north in recent years; lured by Canada’s thriving tech scene.Google, Uber and Microsoft have launched new satellite offices this year, while Amazon — the godfather of e-commerce — is considering Toronto for its new North American headquarters.

Canada on the world stage

 
These new developments may come as a surprise to some, but it really shouldn’t. Canada has one of the most liberal immigration policies in the world and some of the top tech incubators — which churn our new talent and companies every day — are located in the city. However, Toronto’s greatest strength lies in its talent base. Tech innovators attracted by our world-class institutions that include Google’s artificial intelligence lab and million-dollar Vector Institute bring with them investors and venture capitalists that help transform the city.

Of course, Canada’s quickly maturing tech landscape can be confusing. Enter: The DMZ. The startup incubator’s new podcast entitled BusinessCast powered by the DMZ tackles the latest in tech news and innovation.

The first episode in the series investigates Canada’s winning tech streak. Chartered accountant and host Robert Gold chats with DMZ Executive Director Abdullah Snobar about the state of tech entrepreneurship and, more importantly, why the world should care about Canadian startups.Make sure to check out our BusinessCast podcasts here.