Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis Institute has announced the 10 participants in its second-ever Scale-Up Program, a group of startups that help sales teams, event organizers, and companies of all sizes with their digital transformation efforts.

Unlike last year’s inaugural program, in which all participants happened to be based in eastern Canada (most of them in southern Ontario or Montreal), the 10 startups selected for this year’s program are from across the country, with companies based in Vancouver, Calgary, and Saskatoon in addition to Montreal and Toronto.

As before, the startups will receive personalized mentorship and working sessions with experts who have scaled globally competitive enterprises, with the institute, which is run by Laurier’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, covering all costs.

In a Sept. 13 statement, Lazaridis Institute managing director Kim Morouney said the organization was deeply impressed with “the depth of talent, the passion and the ambition of these 10 Canadian companies.”

“All have the potential to be global leaders in their industries,” Morouney said in the statement. “We’re looking forward to working with them over the next year — and beyond — to help them overcome their barriers to scale.”

The 10 companies in the program’s second cohort are:

  • Agendize Solutions (Montreal, Que.): An appointment booking and customer relationship management (CRM) app with click-to-call and live chat features aimed at helping sales teams give their clients clearer outcomes, while reducing sales turnover and increasing channel revenue.
  • Bus.com (Montreal, Que.): A bus rental platform aimed at event producers, companies, and teams.
  • Dream Payments (Toronto, Ont.): A digital payments platform that allows businesses of all sizes to easily accept Interac Debit Cards, contactless, chip, PIN credit cards, and cash.
  • Flytographer (Victoria, B.C.): You’ve heard of wedding photographers – Flytographer wants to help you book one for your next vacation.
  • 7shifts (Saskatoon, Sask.): Employee scheduling software for restaurants.
  • Showpass (Calgary, Alta.): A digital platform that event organizers can use to sell tickets, manage staff, and book venues, and which prospective concertgoers can use to look up shows in their city.
  • Spring Loaded Technology (Dartmouth, N.S.): Manufacturers of a bionic knee brace designed to make work and exercise easier for those with joint problems.
  • Terramera (Vancouver, B.C.): Developers of plant-based products designed to replace the chemical pesticides used by the agriculture and pest control industries.
  • Unata (Toronto, Ont.): An all-in-one digital platform that streamlines grocery shopping by offering centralized access to online ordering, loyalty points, coupons, and list planning – and gives grocers a new channel they can use to reach customers directly.
  • Vendasta (Saskatoon, Sask.): A platform for selling digital solutions to small businesses.

Frequently cited as the key barrier preventing Canada’s tech industry from matching Silicon Valley’s, scaling a technology company presents several challenges in the Great White North that simply aren’t present down south. Among the Lazaridis Institute’s list, cited by the organization as the reason for its existence: recruiting experienced senior talent, accessing capital, and moving into global markets.

Each of the companies selected for the 2017/2018 Scale-Up Program are at pivotal stages in their growth trajectories, with participants selected based on a competitive selection process that included submitting detailed applications, meeting with a panel of Canadian and American venture capitalists, and third-party analysis provided by Bytown Consulting, which helped the panel create a shortlist of applicants that were invited to take part in video interviews. The 10 companies were chosen based on the interviews.

According to the Lazaridis Institute, participants in the program’s first year experienced “significant” growth in revenue, improved process efficiency, and advanced their sales and marketing, operations, product and talent management, finance, leadership, and pitch-delivering capabilities.

The next Lazaridis Scale-Up Program begins on Oct. 19 in Toronto, with program weekends scheduled to bring participants to Ottawa, Vancouver, New York, and Palo Alto, Calif. as well. You can find out more about the program here.

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