From a startup that’s creating a new market with a platform to crowdfund events to a firm that wants to solve the problem of scheduling shift workers, entrepreneurs gave their best pitch to a room full of investors.
Consider the following problems: Sharing your photo memories trapped on your hard drive. Using that complicated Web-based software for your job. Organizing an event when you’re not sure how popular it will be. Scheduling shift workers. Eating healthy.
What do they have in common? They are each the crux of a new technology-based business in the second cohort of Extreme Startups. After three months of rapidly building out their products, meeting with mentors, and attracting early investors, five businesses were revealed at the accelerator’s demo day in Toronto today.
Opening the event, Extreme Startups managing director Sunil Sharma said the teams were shining examples of Canada’s bright tech industry.
“Canadians have great technology and have great products but don’t always sell it as well as they could,” he says. “We want to help them tell that story.”
They started telling it by looking back six months, to its first demo day.
Extreme Startups marched out some of its alumni to underline the success these startups might expect to have after demo day. As part of the ghosts of demo days past gallery, Jeff Lawrence, the CEO and founder of Granify took the stage.
Since his demo day pitch, Granify started trending on Angel List and eventually reached the number one spot worldwide. Investors started knocking on the door while their customer base grew. A big data solution that online retailers can plug in to their sites to more effectively upsell their customers, Granify now reaches more than 3 million shippers. All the while, Granify has been working on perfecting its product.
“We’re killing it, but we’re doing it as quietly as we absolutely can,” Lawrence says. “We’re days away from getting into Rambo mode, which means we’ll be loud and noisy and taking it to the masses.”
After the alumni wrapped up, it was time for the new crop of startups to give their pitches. Here’s who presented:
Presenter: Jayesh Parmar, CEO and co-founder
Web site: www.picatic.com
In a nutshell: Picatic is a crowd-funding and ticketing platform for the event management space. Picatic guarantees successful events by completely eliminating event organizers risk.
The beauty of the product is that even if an event gets cancelled, all the ticket holders are refunded automatically, Parmar says. That means the event organizer is no longer obligated to hold an event that isn’t going to get good attendance and won’t risk disappointing those who did buy in. “It saves your reputation from being tarnished.”
Picatic fills a space between the $18 billion event organizing market and $1.5 billion crowdfunding market, creating a new market, he says. Just launched about nine weeks ago, the business is already making money and has moved 6,000 tickets while taking in $290,000 revenue.
Picatic is looking to raise $1 million and has already locked in $450,000 of that so far. It is looking for partners as well as investors.
Presenter: Jeremy Potvin, founder and CEO
Web site: www.shifthub.com
In a nutshell: Shifthub streamlines your scheduling communications and tracks the cost of your employees in real-time with its SaaS platform. Shifthub stops late night phone calls, missed shifts and wasteful overstaffing.
After years of managing a string of retail stores and hearing managers constantly complain about the challenge of getting employees to work at the right time, Potvn thought there must be another way. That’s the idea that was the seed behind Shifthub, the mobile app and cloud solution that lets you take a picture of your work schedule posted on the wall and then turns it into an organized calendar on your smartphone.
“The employee is the most important part of the equation,” Potvin says. “When a server doesn’t show up to a 36 seat restaurant, you’re going to lose business that night.”
There are 4.4 million companies that have shift worker scheduling frustrations, creating a $70 billion industry, he says. The service will also have payroll integration with Wave Payroll.
Shifthub is looking to raise $700,000 and has raised $280.000 so far.
Presenter: Jonathan Carr-Harris, co-founder and CEO
Web site: http://www.ven.io/
In a nutshell: Venio is making healthy eating simple for anyone, anywhere. The app generates intelligent meal plans based on what you are trying to achieve.
By 2015, 82 per cent of the American population is projected to be overweight. But Venio wants to help prevent at least some of those Americans from getting soft with a mobile app that helps make smart and tasty nutrition choices for people.
The problem with eating healthy isn’t the lack of information, Carr-Harris says, but not having time to sort through it all and make sense of it. So this app serves up recipes, restaurants, and ingredients from its database directly to you when you need it. It also provides a Venio health score on any meal you eat.
“In the future, you’ll be able to buy all these items directly from your phone,” he says. “Imagine a world where every meal is scored by us. That’s the world we believe in.”
Venio has already reached 10,000 users and three out of 10 are daily active users. It is looking to raise $700,000 and has already locked in $420,000.
Presenter: Max Cameron, co-founder and CEO
Web site: www.kera.io
In a nutshell: Kera’s guided browsing platform increases conversion rates and decreases support costs for SaaS businesses. Seamlessly integrated, Kera enriches the end user experience by providing voice-guided tutorials directly onto live websites.
Calling itself a customer success platform, Kera offers businesses an answer to the question “What do we do after our marketing campaign?”
With a goal to increase revenue per customer and decrease churn, Kera gets users to actually use the software of the Web services they’ve signed up for. They do so with self-guided tutorials that are graphically and voice directed while the software is actually being used. It beats watching a webinar, Cameron says.
“Learning out of context is completely ineffective,” he says. “You don’t learn how to drive a car by reading a book.”
Kera’s already working with big clients like NetApp to help it train its employees on company-deployed software.
Presenter: Steve Cosmon, CEO and co-founder
Web site: www.shoeboxapp.com
In a nutshell: MyShoebox is a photo cloud that unifies your photo collection across all devices and platforms. With automatic backup and unlimited storage, all your memories are secured and accessible from anywhere.
Steve Cosmon felt like he had better access to the photos taken on disposable film cameras and stored in shoe boxes under his bed than the photos on his old smartphone. So he decided to do something about it with MyShoeBox. It’s free, unlimited photo backup that puts your entire photo collection in one Web-accessible place and lets only you access it.
“It’s way simpler than this problem has ever been solved before,” he says.
Launched just one month ago, it’s already been covered by 40 publications and top photography blogs. Users have uploaded 13.4 million photos, which is more than is stored in the U.S. Library of Congress and is also capturing more photos per user than Flickr or Facebook.
MyShoeBox plans to release an API to developers as well. It’s looking to raise $1.5 million.