Skip to Main Content
The Review

International founders dish their first impressions of Toronto’s tech ecosystem

Founders

Tag Archives: medtech

International founders dish their first impressions of Toronto’s tech ecosystem

A group of Lithuanian startup founders get real about their preconceived ideas and first impressions of Canada and Toronto’s startup ecosystem during their week-long visit to the DMZ

Last month, 4 rising tech startups from Lithuania embarked on a one-week soft landing program to Toronto called the Canadian Connection Program. In partnership with Pace Global Advantage and the DMZ, the program supported entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in exploring the North American market and gave participants the opportunity to tap into a wider network of investors, customers, corporates, founders and talent.

The Lithuanian visit to the DMZ’s headquarters was productive for the startups – participants took advantage of various workshops and curated one-on-ones with the DMZ’s Program Leads, Experts-in-Residence (EiRs) and Alumni-in-Residence (AiRs). The Lithuanian entrepreneurs walked out of the experience with a greater understanding of the North American ecosystem and its players.

Lithuania blog - DMZ team and visitors mingling

On their final day of the program, we had a chance to sit down with the founders and ask them about their thoughts on the program and first impressions of Toronto’s startup ecosystem. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Toronto is very well-positioned in the North American market.

“I have learned a lot about the close connections between the EU and this city’s ecosystem, especially for medical startups. Toronto is well-positioned in the North American market, which is important because we need to reach the largest user base possible. There’s a great support system here for startups and there are great connections to cities like Boston and New York, which are just a short hop away.” – Urte Steikuniene, Feetsee

“The ecosystem here is booming and attracts people from all around the world to relocate their businesses from other continents.” – Simonas Stankus, Unbalanced

“We are considering North America as our primary market. Through the program, we have realized how little we actually knew about Canada. By being here, we see the ecosystem in Toronto is really vibrant, and a lot of professionals and potential employers are living here. The access to the talent, capital and markets is much higher than you’d expect. It changed my concerns about Canada being the same as the U.S. in terms of work-life balance. It’s much more convenient for entrepreneurs considering relocation here compared to the United States. Being in Toronto was a perception-changing experience because we were too trusting of the assumptions we had developed.” – Vytenis Pakènas, IsLucid

2. There is value in the city’s multiculturalism

“I am very impressed with the diversity and openness that I see in Toronto. I’ve only been here for one week, but I feel like you’re at home almost everywhere you go. The diversity is very inspiring and all-encompassing.” – Urte Steikuniene, Feetsee

“I was especially taken aback by the fact that I have met other medical doctors like myself who have made successful startups here in Toronto. I’ve met other professionals as well who turned to entrepreneurship. That’s not something you see often. My favourite thing about Canada is that everyone is from everywhere. There’s this feeling of being away from home but also at home at the same time. A real melting pot of people and cultures, which is something that contributes to its unique atmosphere.” – Justinas Balčiūnas

3. The DMZ community provides startups with everything they need to grow.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the DMZ. I got in touch with healthcare providers, venture capital funds, and angel investors, and got to know the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Toronto which is booming, energetic and inspiring. Not only am I leaving this program with an excellent portfolio of contacts, but I also leave enriched by hearing other success stories of startups that have entered this environment and have done well. I feel like I’ve learned a lot.” – Urte Steikuniene, Feetsee

“My experience in this program has been great! I partook in incredibly useful workshops and met such great people. Now, I have a much better understanding of what Canada is and what ecosystem it has.” – Simonas Stankus, Unbalanced

“When you enter a new market, it’s important to have the right support system of people who can tell you the truth. We received the right recommendations and connections within the context we needed to make the experience meaningful and actionable. I was touched because the team wasn’t too focused on revenue and speed, but more on care and guidance/growth. When you’re coming in from overseas, you’re being brought into a desert with people you don’t know. But the DMZ is helping turn that desert into a sweet forest with the right connections and resources needed to succeed.” – Vytenis Pakènas, IsLucid

Lithuania Blog - Founder Simonas Stankus pitching

The cohort of participating companies included:

Lithuania blog - isLucid logo
IsLucid
is a productivity hack that specializes in machine learning through transcription. The service transcribes verbal communication in meetings and automatically assigns tasks to employees, eliminating the need to take meeting minutes and ultimately saving time.

Lithuania blog - Feetsee logo
Feetsee
is a FDA-registered product that uses its advanced algorithmic technology, with 95% accuracy, to monitor and measure changes in diabetes patients’ feet. It stores this information in its mobile and desktop software that relays messages to the patient’s care team and physician via alerts.

Lithuania blog - InBalance logo
InBalance
produces electric vehicle charging stations. Their product focuses on energy efficiency and helps fulfill the increased demand for electric vehicle charging without requiring any changes to the current power grid infrastructure, ensuring the sustainable growth of a community-based public charging network.

Lithuania blog - Ligence logo
Ligence
employs machine learning algorithms and deep-learning technology to determine functional and structural aspects of a person’s heart through ultrasound images. Their current focus is reducing human error in detection and diagnosis and improving their measurement accuracy.

Want to act on the Toronto FOMO and get involved? Founders looking for international expansion support can learn more about the DMZ’s global offices at dmz.to/global, and partners interested in developing a soft-landing program in Toronto at the DMZ can reach out at dmz@ryerson.ca.

Meet the healthtech startup bringing medical imaging into the future

Harsh Nayyar always knew he wanted to create something that could change the world.

Little did the former Google engineer know that a sprained ankle would one day inspire him, and his brother-slash-co-founder Rishi Nayyar, to build a digital health platform that would revolutionize how medical imaging records are shared in Ontario.

The entrepreneur’s journey all started back in 2013 when he injured himself while working in Silicon Valley. After seeing his doctor, he was forced to hobble back and forth between the centre — where his x-ray scans were taken — and his physician’s office. The outdated process was the only way he could share the CD given to him that contained images his doctor needed It was a frustrating experience.

“I knew there had to be a better way,” he explained. “For someone like me, it’s not that big of an issue but if you think about chronically ill people who need to go back-and-forth to get their images, it’s a lot because some specialists won’t even see [patients] without their images.”

Enter: PocketHealth

 
all_devices_dmz

How it works

 
The duo’s platform, launched in 2016, acts like a high-tech DropBox. It can seamlessly connect to any medical imaging centre’s system and automatically upload patient’s records. The data is then stored online for easy-access anytime, anywhere. The platform links two medical systems — the institutions that perform scans and the doctors that use them — in a way that wasn’t possible before.

The technological breakthrough has changed things not only for patients but for the professionals who use them. Patients no longer have to travel between different offices for their records and can easily share them with other specialists. Meanwhile, medical professionals can access their patient’s images directly from their clinic’s electronic medical record systems.  It’s a  massive improvement over booting up a CD for every patient.

“Historically in healthcare, it’s been very difficult for disparate systems to speak to one another,” Rishi explains.

“That’s how solutions like CDs became the common language between, for example, a hospital imaging department and a patient’s orthopaedic surgeon. Knowing that we focused on building that same interoperability into PocketHealth. The end result is a flexible platform that can pull data from an imaging centre and send it to any authenticated patient, who can then share with any caregiver they wish,” he adds.
phone_array_combined_text

Changing the industry

 
PocketHealth couldn’t come at a better time. Healthcare costs in Canada are on the rise. Technology that eliminates medical delays could free up public funds or even save lives by helping doctors diagnose patients faster.

Since starting, PocketHealth has signed thousands of patients, integrated with nearly 100 imaging centers and partnered with institutions, like St. Michael’s Hospital.

“We were in a position before where we wanted to build something and make an impact,” says Harsh. “We started [PocketHealth] by just looking at how the medical imaging space works in Canada and went from there.”

In a little under a year and a half, the startup has grown tremendously. From a pilot project in a single clinic to seeing thousands of medical images added to their platform every day. Both brothers credit their hard work and experience from previous jobs for the company’s rapid success.

Rishi, who worked for Citigroup’s corporate and investment banking division, learned how to turn their idea into a sustainable company. Harsh’s former position at video and imaging software firm Agawi, before it was acquired by Google, gave him the technical skills to create the platform.

Next steps

 
The Nayyar brothers are keen to see where the business goes next but most excited about how they’re helping patients. “We see PocketHealth today as the first step towards a reality where patients are empowered to access their entire health record and become truly informed advocates for their own care,” adds Rishi.

.@PocketHealth is putting health advocacy back into the hands of patients