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Meet the DMZ’s Spring ‘22 startup cohort

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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.

CanHack’s impact: Inspiring Canada’s next generation of cybersecurity experts

6,156 students, 400+ highschools, $31,000 in cash prizes and counting.


Cybersecurity competition for high school students
In 2018, we teamed up with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to foster the next generation of cybersecurity experts by launching CanHack. A competition for high school students, we’ve created meaningful learning opportunities for students across Canada looking to sink their teeth into cybersecurity. 

Throughout the cybersecurity challenge, students get the chance to tackle real cybersecurity challenges, learn critical computer security skills, work with experts in the field, explore an in-demand field and win cash prizes. 

As we all know, cybersecurity matters more now than ever before. We leaned on technology to keep us going through the pandemic – both personally and for business – and have become increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks as a result.

Ensuring a cybersafe future is crucial, and it starts with investing in a future workforce that understands the fundamentals of cybersecurity and privacy.

Young Black students coding - cybersecurity competition for high school students

Together, the DMZ and RBC have ignited an interest in cybersecurity for high school students across Canada at a critical stage in their education. We’re committed to helping students dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity to empower the future of the cybersecurity workforce. 

To mark our fourth CanHack competition, we decided to take a walk down memory lane to highlight CanHack’s achievements to date.

CanHack’s impact over the years 

Since its launch 5 years ago, CanHack has already:Supported 6,156 high school students that have made up 1,567 teams from 400+ highschools and community organizations. Administered 24 workshops with inspiring cybersecurity leaders for students to get hands-on training and support. Supported 1,016 women-identifying participants, empowering them to lead the way in tech. Given out over $31,000 in prize money to Canadian students and schools
Thanks to RBC’s committed support, CanHack plans to reach even more students this year, helping them to dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity. Registrations for CanHack 2022 have officially launched and the competition will run from March 15th to March 29th.

For high school students looking to gain knowledge in cybersecurity and computer science and explore the career possibilities in the growing sectors, click here for more information and register today!

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!

These young innovators are redefining what it means to be studentpreneurs

Meet the DMZ’s Basecamp winners

From student to startup founder, the DMZ’s student incubation program, Basecamp, helps young entrepreneurs create tech solutions to growing social and economic gaps in society.

Over the course of the summer, 22 student-led startups had the opportunity to develop and market their business idea, receive one-on-one industry mentoring, and attend expert-led workshops to gain a better understanding of the Canadian tech ecosystem. 

Bringing their innovative business ideas to life, it was another successful summer for the books! 

From edtech, artificial intelligence to cryptocurrency solutions, participating companies were anything but juvenile. 

Today’s students are digital natives. With more resources and tools available than ever before, there is a new wave of studentpreneurs who are punching well above their weight and developing unique solutions to a handful of society’s biggest challenges. 

Wrapping up the 8-week program, participating teams had the opportunity to pitch their startup ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to take home one of five grants — designed to help startups launch into the next phase of their growth — of up to $5,000 CAD.

So, who were the top winning teams of the DMZ’s Basecamp, and how are they redefining what it means to be studentpreneurs? 
mindful minutes image
After learning that only 8% of people who set goals actually achieve them, Dev, Urvush and Adisha knew there had to be a better way for people to stay accountable and accomplish their goals.

Dev Parekh

Mindful Minutes is a personal development platform that helps individuals achieve their short and long-term goals by leveraging community and group accountability.

“The Basecamp program provided us with a lot more goodies than we had expected! Over the course of just 2 months, we were able to gain valuable startup knowledge, incredible mentors and a community of like-minded motivated entrepreneurs!

The program has definitely enhanced the way we run our business, and connected us with important people and necessary resources needed to succeed.” The team plans to use their winnings for marketing, referral programs, incorporating their business, and research and development.

Urvish Patel

As leaders of a personal development startup, the team at Mindful Minutes truly understands the importance of a balanced lifestyle. 

“While taking care of your business, remember to take care of yourself. While there may be certain weeks that you need to put in the extra hours and effort to make something happen, always remember that burnout is real and can happen to anyone. Learn how to pace yourself!”

While running your own startup has a lot of perks — like being able to work at your own pace, and being your own boss — Mindful Minutes highlights that working for a startup requires a lot of commitment and grit.

Adisha Shankar

“Contrary to what some people may think, founding your own startup can easily require more from an individual than a 9-5 grind. Nonetheless, it is definitely a rewarding experience to witness the growth of Mindful Minutes.”

Mindful Minutes plans to establish a referral program to help them scale, and are developing their platform. They hope to reach a couple hundred members by year end to start making an impact on their users’ personal development.

Keep up with Mindful Minutes on Instagram!

“While taking care of your business, remember to take care of yourself. While there may be certain weeks that you need to put in the extra hours and effort to make something happen, always remember that burnout is real and can happen to anyone. Learn how to pace yourself!”

site scope image

Andy Xu

SiteScope provides AI and computer vision applications for safety and automation in the construction industry. They offer two solutions: hardhat detection and traffic control automation.

“As first-time entrepreneurs, our team has grown significantly throughout the Basecamp program.

We really enjoyed the legal, incorporation and leadership workshops. Our Basecamp mentor throughout the program was perfect — she answered all our questions, and played a critical role in SiteScope’s pitch deck development. We couldn’t have done it without Ingrid Polini and the entire DMZ team!”

Tom Pruyn

SiteScope plans to use their winnings to develop a hardware prototype.

While the Basecamp program wraps up with a demo day, SiteScope encourages all future participants not to treat the program like a competition. 

“As students, we can get pretty competitive, but networking and sharing advice with the entire cohort made the experience so much more rewarding. Take the opportunity to learn and share your knowledge with others.”

Vraj Patel

While many believe studentpreneurs live and breathe for ‘grind culture’, SiteScope emphasized that their fellow founders genuinely cared about their product and embraced work-life balance.

 

“As students, we can get pretty competitive, but networking and sharing advice with the entire cohort made the experience so much more rewarding. Take the opportunity to learn and share your knowledge with others.”

skilly iamge
Skilly is an ed-tech company that makes learning and teaching more accessible for people around the world. Their app allows individuals to trade skills for skills they want to learn — all for free.

Luke Galati

“Our Basecamp experience was amazing! 

The DMZ’s Basecamp helped us foster an understanding of the business principles within the tech world, and we’ll be able to apply these learnings in our future!

We were surrounded by talented students who were hungry to grow their businesses, and learn from the DMZ team and the Entrepreneurs in Residence. Our mentor, Ayodele Pompey, was such a positive influence, and inspired us to be the best professionals that we can be.”

Skilly plans to use their winnings to develop their MVP. With their user experience and user interface designs for their app underway, their next step is to build the product and then launch. 

Ayesha Azad

Skilly encourages other inspiring studentpreneurs to start their ventures as soon as they can.

“Find people who can support your vision, and build with like-minded people who want to achieve the same goal. Keep progressing, however you can. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll reach your goal.”

While juggling school and a startup can be challenging, Skilly believes that studentpreneurs don’t need to choose between their education and business. 

“We believe that it’s possible to be ambitious and change the world, while still fulfilling the goal of getting your degree and graduating with your peers.”

Skilly is looking to hire a Chief Technology Officer to help bring their product to life. They also look forward to continuing their growth as a company with the DMZ Basecamp Fellowship.

“Find people who can support your vision, and build with like-minded people who want to achieve the same goal. Keep progressing, however you can. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll reach your goal.”

Designed exclusively for fashion professionals, RESERVE is a B2B marketplace that features retailers and independent designers for commercial designer rentals. A stylist’s best friend, RESERVE saves time, money, and stress by providing an online directory of designer items available for rent and delivering apparel directly to fashion shoots.

Omar Abul Ata

“As a solo founder with a non-technical retail background, Basecamp was an integral part of my journey. 

From learning about fundraising cycles to understanding the mechanics of how a startup is run, Basecamp has allowed me to progress myself and my confidence as an entrepreneur.” 

RESERVE plans to use the winnings to secure their website domain and social media handles. Omar also hopes to use the funding for their launch campaign’s digital marketing, which includes partnerships with micro-influencers, retailers and independent designers.

Omar highlights there are only so many hours in a day to get work done, and encourages other studentpreneurs to readjust their priorities if the hustle comes at the cost of mental and physical health. “Treat the process like a marathon, not a sprint.” 

Although studentpreneurs may sometimes look like they have everything figured out, Omar underscores the importance of resilience and how every day is an opportunity to learn something new and overcome challenges. While some days will be better than others, a startup’s ability to learn and overcome adversity is far more telling than its solution alone. 

“Being in a startup is like being in the middle of a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert — it’s total chaos. However, that is also the beauty of it, as an entrepreneur you have to learn to trust the process.”

RESERVE looks forward to completing their MVP, and their beta launch to onboard their first batch of rentees and renters. By late November, RESERVE plans to have a soft launch exclusively for Toronto.

Keep up with RESERVE on Instagram!

“Being in a startup is like being in the middle of a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert — it’s total chaos. However, that is also the beauty of it, as an entrepreneur you have to learn to trust the process.”

Are you an inspiring studentpreneur looking for support to help build your business idea? Follow the DMZ on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with all of our student programming!

More than just a buzzword: Taking a “people-centred” approach to business has huge benefits

Having a values-driven mission and people-centred business design can make all the difference for your bottom line – it’s how successful organizations attract great talent and develop iconic products and services.


Just a few short years ago, Sampler’s Founder and CEO, Marie Chevrier Schwartz, was a part of the DMZ where she received mentorship, business support and the connections her sprouting startup needed through what was formerly Ryerson Futures Inc. (now DMZ Ventures). Building on this foundation, Sampler went on to disrupt the traditional product sampling industry and is now recognized as the leading direct-to-consumer sampling platform.

Charlotte Crawford, a former DMZ team member who now works for Sampler, explains what both organizations share in common that make them exceptional places to develop and grow professionally. We sat down with Charlotte, Content Marketing Specialist at Sampler, and Kelly Stewart, VP of Marketing at Sampler, to learn more about Charlotte’s journey at the DMZ, how she launched her career at Sampler and how Sampler prioritizes a values-driven approach to tech and its team.

Could you tell us a little more about your journey to the DMZ?

Charlotte: “I completed my 4-month internship for my Masters in Professional Communication at Ryerson University at the DMZ. 

When I started my Masters, I knew very little about the tech and startup space, but had a growing interest in the field. What really solidified my interest in tech was my media relations professor, Dr. Gregory Levey, who is a DMZ alum, previous CEO of Figure 1 and current CEO of Robinson Huntly, Ltd. It was through his class I was able to conceptualize the pivotal role communications professionals play in the technology and startup space. Once I expressed to him that I was interested in tech, he let me know the DMZ was the place to be.

I remember some of my peers asking me why I was putting in so much effort for an internship during the peak of our school work. I knew the right internship could really go a long way for my future – and I was absolutely correct. My time at the DMZ was not only the highlight of my Masters but also the reason I’m now working for one of Canada’s top growing startups (Canadian Business and Globe and Mail).” 

“I’ll never forget walking into the DMZ and seeing ‘equity over everything’ in neon lights above the door. The culture at the DMZ really made me feel valued, supported and challenged.” 

How was your time working at the DMZ?


Charlotte: “Above all else, the DMZ showed me what I deserve from a workplace. I’ll never forget walking into the DMZ and seeing ‘equity over everything’ in neon lights above the door. The culture at the DMZ really made me feel valued, supported and challenged. 

Throughout my time at the DMZ, I got to sit down with and interview founders and members of the DMZ community. It made me see, firsthand, that it was the people behind the tech that made places like the DMZ and Sampler special. 

I learned that stories of innovation are made relatable and exciting not just through a tech product, but rather the vision, missteps and story behind it. This realization gave me a heightened awareness of the importance in taking a people-centred approach to marketing, content and communications. 

I succinctly describe this approach now as, ‘don’t just tell users how great your product is – show them what it’s like to be on your team.’ This has become my north star for my career.”

How did your time at the DMZ launch you into working full time at Sampler? What attracted you to joining the Sampler team?  

Charlotte: “Before my first meeting with Abdullah Snobar, DMZ’s Executive Director, I was reading up on different DMZ startups. In my research, I found a DMZ podcast episode that featured Sampler’s CEO, Marie Chevrier Schwartz. It was apparent to me how strong Sampler’s value proposition was, but what really got me excited was what Marie had to say about her values in leadership, organizational culture and entrepreneurship. 

I specifically remember Marie discussing how she worked every day for no one else but her employees and investors. She was also asked how she felt about Amazon entering the sampling space and she answered with such confidence because of her belief in her team. 

After listening to the podcast, I told myself that if a job ever popped up at Sampler, I would apply. During my first meeting with Abdullah, he asked me what my favourite startup was. I said Sampler based on how Marie had inspired me during the podcast. I then saw a content marketing position open up at Sampler after I had graduated – it all really felt meant to be.”

An entire team fosters its work culture – what do you think is most important in this process?

Charlotte: “The pandemic has shown us the importance of fostering a values-driven work culture. The companies who have taken direct action to support their employees are the ones who will have great success in the next normal. 

To develop a great team culture, you must commit to living your values every day. It goes further than putting values on your website. It’s fostering a collective understanding of how specific values translate into action on a daily basis.

What really showed the DMZ was living their values was the team’s direct support of community members like myself in achieving their goals. 

I truly had a team of DMZ colleagues cheering me on and directly working with me at every stage of my job search, long after my DMZ internship ended. Nouhaila Chelkhaoui, DMZ’s Women Founders Programs Manager, referred me for my current role at Sampler. Nouhaila, along with Ahmed Saleh, Emily Collins, and Rob Macken all helped me make connections, prepare for interviews, review writing assessments, and find the right knowledge resources.  

“To develop a great team culture, you must commit to living your values every day. It goes further than putting values on your website. It’s fostering a collective understanding of how specific values translate into action on a daily basis.”

Could you tell us a little bit more about your role at Sampler? How did your time at the DMZ prepare you for it?

Charlotte: “This is an exciting time to join Sampler as they have seen so much growth this year as the pandemic expedited the shift to digital strategies for consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. In my role, I develop organizational storytelling and thought leadership content that positions Sampler as a leader in the product sampling space.

Before I started my Masters, I remember hearing someone in the field say that good communications professionals are the linchpin to organizational success. I understood this idea in theory, but I saw it come to life by watching Natasha Campagna and Ahmed Saleh at the DMZ. They drove organizational alignment, remained so in tune with the broader ecosystem, and were amazing team motivators. Their work highlighted what made the DMZ special.

My time at the DMZ, along with completing my Master’s thesis on Big Tech’s facial recognition technology communications, solidified in me a commitment to take a more innovative approach to communications – an approach that moves beyond standard practice to speak directly to the lived everyday realities of target audiences. These experiences will guide my work at Sampler and beyond.” 

One of Sampler’s proudest achievements is having built a people-centred and values-driven workplace. We know in tech this is not always the industry standard. How do some of Sampler’s values like “ownership, balance, growth and inclusion” translate into daily activities for you and your team?

Kelly: “Weaving our values into everything that we do is truly at the core of our business. To us, you can’t have one without the other. Sampler has a Values Committee that works incredibly hard to ensure we’re living these values both internally and externally, from speaking out on causes that are important to us, to identifying ways that the company can foster work/life balance. They hold the entire business accountable to stay true to who we are, and it’s been such an invaluable piece of who Sampler is.

When it comes to ownership, Sampler has always fostered an entrepreneurial culture around each and every team member’s role. Our staff are experts in their specialties, and we give them the support to grow. Investing in people benefits everyone.

Inclusion is an extremely important value to us and something we continuously work hard to achieve. Recently, Sampler has made the decision to take a step forward in better representing non-binary consumers in the CPG space. Sampler has worked non-binary options into our platform and is actively working with brands to include non-binary consumers into the targeting on all of their sampling programs. 

When it comes to balance, our People Operations team sends out monthly company-wide surveys to get a pulse check on how the team is feeling. It’s created a safe space for everyone in the company to share how they’re feeling. From those results, we’ve launched flex hours, introduced permanent 4.5 day work weeks, and encouraged mid-day breaks. When we get any feedback around stress or burnout we take it extremely seriously and act quickly, which has helped our team trust that their voices are always heard and supported.”

“When you’re able to find talented people who really believe in your mission, the impact on the business is magical.”

Has prioritizing a values-driven workplace translated to your business performance? If so, how? What should early-stage startups think about when building their teams?

Kelly: “Absolutely—without a doubt. When you’re able to find talented people who really believe in your mission, the impact on the business is magical. People can feel how deeply we care for them and their careers, and it shows in the work that they do.

For early-stage startups building their teams, it’s so important to create a safe space to let team members know their voice matters. It’s easy to be too close to the business to really see where you might not be showing up for your team. Step back and see what the day-to-day experience is like for every single person at your company. It can really help to keep your perspective grounded and avoid seeing your culture through rose-coloured glasses. Never ever be afraid of feedback, no matter what stage or level you’re at in your career.”

What is Sampler up to today? 

Sampler has announced their newest tool within their product sampling dashboard, consumer sentiment analysis, which allows brand partners to quickly identify key trends in consumer feedback, effectively segment their audience and plan personalized remarketing campaigns. Check it out here

Want to learn more about the DMZ support that helped pave the way to Sampler’s Success? Click here for more information on our Incubator program.

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. 

Fujitsu Canada: Corporate innovation through collaboration

For years, companies looking to boost their bottom line would all too often rely on buying out their competition. It became trendy for big-name firms to acquire emerging startups in an effort to grow their market share.

Today, all of that is changing. The days of blockbuster acquisitions are on the decline. In a world where established companies face competition not only from Fortune 500 rivals, but from early-stage startups, purchasing the newest innovation at every turn isn’t enough.

So, what should large corporations do to stay ahead? Focusing on collaboration is key. It allows both startups and established businesses to leverage their best assets to thrive in today’s cutthroat business landscape. Startups bring with them new technologies and ideas that more-resource heavy corporations can then use to accelerate innovation. A practice that Fujitsu Canada has perfected over the years.

Collaborate to innovate

 
The company is certainly no stranger when it comes to innovation. Fujitsu is one of the oldest IT companies in the world, having undergone numerous breakthrough transformations over the years.

These days, Fujitsu invests about $3 billion annually in research and development, but behind the scenes the company is also solidifying partnerships with top startups around the globe.

“We understand that no one company, including Fujitsu, exclusively owns innovation across this broad range of industries,” explains Craig Smith, vice president of Fujitsu Canada. “It makes great business sense for us to collaborate with startups where we can jointly explore new markets and grow in existing ones.”

These types of partnerships can be incredibly beneficial. A 2016 study by Boston-based nonprofit MassChallenge and software company Imaginatik found corporate-startup partnerships were important tools for finding new talent, among many other things. Working with “scrappy young firms” the report said was “mission critical” to a business’ success.

Tech opportunities in Canada

 
The Canadian startup landscape is ripe and ready for the type of big partnerships that are often found south of the border. Fujitsu Canada knows this and is taking an active approach when it comes to finding the best Canadian startups.

Fujitsu’s current list of collaborations extends from coast to coast and around the world, including the company’s worldwide network of innovation labs and its Canadian Student Innovation System program, where more than 600,000 students, educators, and administrators work together to improve learning outcomes. The company’s relationship with the DMZ’s Innovation Immersion program also allows it to meet dozens of high-potential tech companies eager to showcase how their market-ready technology can help Fujitsu’s products.

“We view engaging with the startup community in Canada as an exciting and complementary innovation channel,” Smith explains about the company’s startup relationships. “The Canadian tech startup community is burgeoning, with venture capital more than tripling in the last six years.”

The future of tech

 
At the end of the day, new technology is making it easier and cheaper to do things that were once thought impossible. Like the Wright brothers — who gave birth to modern-day flight — or Drs. Watson and Crick — who uncovered the structure of DNA — amazing things happen through collaboration. Partnerships between big companies and small startups will become increasingly important in the near future and change life as we know it today. For Smith, how companies accelerate innovation in their business and the entrepreneurs they co-create with will help influence the Canadian tech scene.

“The ability to innovate is crucial. Technology is transforming innovation – it isn’t necessarily making it better but it is making it quicker, cheaper and easier. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in digital co-creation, as businesses continue to transform to stay competitive in this quickly changing industry,” Smith adds. “… Digital transformation is becoming increasingly a core element to societal and economic stability and in order to thrive, businesses will need to accelerate the pace at which they bring technology and new ideas together.”