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Collision 2024 Highlights – Altitude Accelerator

originally published: 2024-07-02 09:48:51

Collision is North-America’s fastest growing technology conference with hundreds of partners, startups, and notable figures. Running over three days, June 17-20 in Toronto, the conference drew some 40,000 attendees from across the spheres of tech, business and media, including more than 1,600 startups and 700 investors. 

Last week, Altitude Accelerator attended Collision2024 and had the opportunity to interview several clients to learn more about their business journeys. Throughout the three days, we had the privilege of interviewing our clients to gain insight into how they’ve impacted their industries and where they are today. One of the biggest topics this year was the latest phenomenon in Generative AI and how it is impacting business and the tech industry. Since many of our clients work within the cleantech industry, we wanted to know more about how our clients plan to use AI to create a more efficient and sustainable future. Here are some of the companies we met, doing amazing things! 

A Heart2Help 

We also spoke with Brian Coleman and his company, A Heart2Help. In the winter of 2022, Brian Coleman found himself reflecting deeply on the essence of giving. With a 33-year career in healthcare, Brian was no stranger to empathy and compassion. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had created a sense of isolation, prompting him to seek ways to connect and help those in need. Brian’s idea for A Heart to Help stemmed from a personal desire to give back. Despite actively seeking volunteer opportunities, his busy schedule made it difficult to find the right fit.  

I just thought, what if there was a way to connect people if there was some sort of app that a person could post a need? People could see it, and if people knew what the need was, who had it, and where it was, they would step in and help. That’s pretty much where Heart2Help started.” 

This realization led him to create a platform where people could easily connect with those in need. The concept was simple, yet powerful: a mobile app where individuals could post their needs and others could offer help, whether it was a home-cooked meal, toys for children, or simply someone to speak to.  

A Heart to Help launched with a soft rollout, quickly gaining 5,000 downloads on both the Apple and Google stores. One of the first impactful stories involved a gentleman in Pakistan who was quadriplegic for 35 years and desperately needed an electric wheelchair. Despite his academic achievements and tutoring work, he couldn’t afford the wheelchair, but through A Heart2Help, Brian was able to arrange for the delivery of an electric wheelchair, transforming this man’s life.  

Despite Coleman’s struggle of using his own personal funding to grow the company, light was shed on Heart2Help with recent partnerships with Olive Press, an organization that supports families in crisis, and Food on Foot, which aids the homeless. Together, they look to continue their joint efforts in making charitable work more accessible to everyone.  


Altitude also had the opportunity to speak to Duxe Murthi of AssetFlo, a leading developer of mobile IoT solutions for monitoring the precise location and condition of assets, inventory and equipment.  

AssetFlo was established to address a significant challenge in the supply chain and logistics industry: the lack of real-time visibility of assets. Duxe explains that operations managers need to know the precise location of every component—cages, racks, equipment, forklifts, and more—to ensure efficient operations. AssetFlo’s mobile IoT solutions are designed to provide this visibility, enabling better management and tracking of assets. 

In the crowded space of asset tracking, AssetFlo distinguishes itself with its advanced technology. While many solutions offer some degree of accuracy, AssetFlo excels in providing commercially viable solutions for mass asset tracking. The company uses generative machine learning to deliver precise, two-meter accuracy on asset locations, whether in a warehouse or on the road. This real-time visibility is a game-changer for operations managers who need to track thousands of assets simultaneously.  

Duke also comments on Altitude Accelerator’s hand in AssetFlo’s success, praising the mentorship and support from Geoff Simonett and the Altitude team, which have been instrumental in navigating the challenges of a startup. 

“We’ve benefited a lot from the mentorship initially from Geoff Simonett and I think that took us through the level of perseverance. a startup requires the endurance that a startup requires and with the ecosystem of investors, fine tuning the pitches, and the mentorship it’s been, it’s been brilliant.” 

Neptune Nanotechnologies 

We were also excited to interview Aaron Guan, a visionary entrepreneur recognized in Forbes 30 Under 30 and CEO of Neptune Nanotechnologies, a cleantech company pioneering the development of novel nanomaterials derived from organic fishing waste. 

Neptune Nanotechnologies specializes in developing chitin nanocrystals from the shells of crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. These nanocrystals possess remarkable properties—stronger than steel, lighter than plastic, and fully sustainable. 

Neptune Nanotechnologies’ innovations extend across various industries. One of the most exciting applications is in the packaging sector. Traditional paper packaging faces challenges such as lack of strength, water resistance, and flammability. By integrating chitin nanocrystals, Neptune transforms ordinary paper into a material that is stronger, more water-resistant, and non-flammable, offering a sustainable alternative to plastics. 

Beyond packaging, chitin nanocrystals have transformative potential in advanced composite materials used in aerospace and wind power industries. These materials benefit from increased strength, reduced weight, and the elimination of harmful chemical additives, contributing to both performance and sustainability. 

From a supply perspective, as long as we keep eating seafood, there’s going to be plenty of supply. We have an endlessly renewable source and we’re repurposing that waste into advanced technology that in turn solves problems in plastics, packaging, and composite materials.” 

Neptune’s innovations contribute to reducing life cycle CO2 emissions by enabling weight reduction in packaging and other materials. The biocompatibility and biodegradability of chitin nanocrystals ensure that they are safe and environmentally friendly, creating a complete sustainability cycle from source to end of life. 

Biofect Innovations 

Altitude spoke with Christian Della Santos, the CEO and co-founder of Biofect Innovations which has become another successful business in the cleantech industry in recent years. Biofect Innovations is a Toronto-based startup harnessing the power of microbes to revolutionize the production of high-value molecules and ingredients. At the Collision Conference, Christian shared the inspiring journey and groundbreaking work of Biofect Innovations. 

Christian explained that Biofect’s technology works like a “3D printer for biomolecules,” eliminating the need for traditional agriculture to obtain natural ingredients. This innovative approach has profound sustainability benefits. For instance, instead of relying on traditional methods that require significant natural resources and result in substantial pollution, Biofect uses engineered microbes to produce the same compounds more efficiently and sustainably. 

One of Biofect Innovations’ groundbreaking products is Brasin, a protein found in a West African fruit called Oubli. This protein is 2,000 times sweeter than sugar, offering a natural and sustainable alternative to traditional sweeteners. Growing Oubli fruit on a large scale is not feasible due to environmental constraints. However, Biofect has successfully engineered microbes to produce Brasin in the lab, demonstrating the effectiveness of their microbial platform. 

Christian’s journey from scientist to entrepreneur has been transformative. He emphasized the importance of pragmatism and the need to quickly validate ideas in the business world. Unlike academic research, where the focus is often on publishing papers, entrepreneurship requires a relentless pursuit of truth and practicality. 

We’ve really taken a close look at being pragmatic with our approach. If something’s not working, you move on to the next one as fast as you can because time is your most valuable asset. You get to maximize.” 

Looking further ahead, Biofect envisions extending its microbial platform to produce a wide range of natural products. Their goal is to provide sustainable alternatives to traditional agriculture, meeting the increasing demand for environmentally friendly products without compromising quality or availability. 

Pallet Valo 

Altitude spoke with Mujir Muneeruddin, a multifaceted professional with a dynamic blend of expertise in law, entrepreneurship, and corporate strategy, through his work with Pallet Valo LP. His inspiration for developing a clean tech manufacturing facility stemmed from his entrepreneurial mindset and a desire to create exponential value for society. Owning 500 acres of industrial land near the US border, he envisioned a transformative project that would not only leverage his diverse skill set but also contribute to environmental sustainability. 

“Everything I do outside of my practice, I see as part of my business portfolio,” Muneeruddin explained. His goal was to create something greater than the sum of its parts, driven by the belief that entrepreneurs should strive to change the world in meaningful ways. 

The project aims to allocate between 250 and 300 acres for the EV battery plant, positioning it as a key player in North America’s clean tech landscape. This initiative aligns with Ontario’s status as a clean tech hub, benefiting from government incentives and a population that values environmental sustainability. 

Muneeruddin’s experience extends beyond real estate and clean tech. As a seasoned corporate and securities lawyer, he has guided numerous startups and high-growth businesses. His key advice for these ventures is to embrace change and pivot strategically: “In tech, the one constant is change,” he emphasized, advising startups to leverage their existing strengths while reimagining their approach to stay relevant and competitive. 

Muneeruddin also stresses the importance of being “deal ready” early in the process. Startups should anticipate future transactions, whether it’s an IPO, a Series A funding round, or an exit, and prepare accordingly. “You never know when an opportunity will present itself,” Muneeruddin warned, highlighting the need for meticulous planning and readiness. 

He believes in the power of mentorship and advisory support for startups. Engaging experienced advisors early can provide invaluable insights and prevent common pitfalls. “Successful entrepreneurs understand they didn’t achieve success alone,” he stated, encouraging startups to seek guidance and learn from the experiences of others. 

The Story Architect 

Altitude spoke with Kevin Smith from The Story Architect to discuss the art of storytelling in crafting a successful brand and business as a startup. With a rich background that includes a successful stint at Dell and a passion for guiding founders, Kevin has become a trusted advisor for many emerging businesses. When asked about the challenges of finding a target market, he stated:  

“I find that sometimes startup founders are overly broad in who they’re targeting and not necessarily overly specific. They might say our customers are men from 30 to 50 or that they’re tech enthusiasts and it’s not enough to describe who the customer is. The more focused that a customer persona and profile can be built, the more efficient a company’s marketing can be.” 

Kevin’s approach is methodical and rooted in deep understanding of the customer journey. He emphasizes the importance of specificity in customer personas and the need for a clear, segmented marketing strategy. His analogy of a failing fridge perfectly illustrates the different types of buyer journeys: 

  1. Fast Lane Journey: Immediate need for a solution, requiring urgent decision-making. 
  1. Slow Lane Journey: Gradual recognition of the need, allowing time for detailed evaluation. 
  1. Sidewalk Journey: Unawareness of the problem, necessitating education and awareness efforts. 

Kevin uses these insights to help startups reverse-engineer their marketing efforts, ensuring that every step aligns with the customer’s decision-making process. He also stresses the importance of a progressive persuasive pyramid, where messaging is crafted to grab attention in 7 seconds, expand interest in 30 seconds, and fully engage the customer over a few minutes. 

Through workshops and one-on-one sessions, Kevin guides startups in focusing on detailed characteristics to tailor products and marketing strategies, understanding the buyer’s journey and selecting appropriate marketing channels, and creating engaging messages that capture attention and build interest progressively. 

Looking Back 

We at Altitude Accelerator were incredibly honored to attend this year’s Collision Conference and interview dozens of impactful figures in the business world. Learning more about our clients and their stories made the journey all worthwhile, shining a light on their many efforts to grow their businesses and change the world with unique visions and ideas. We hope that everyone that attended Toronto’s last Collision Conference and a great time and we look forward to what’s in store next year! 

ABOUT: Massimo Bozzo is an interactive media writer with Altitude Accelerator, a non-profit innovation hub and business incubator which provides programs to help founders grow and scale. Massimo is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto Mississauga in Professional Writing and Communication where he has written and published several works through various campus publications.   

Altitude Accelerator
Altitude Accelerator is a not-for-profit innovation hub and business incubator for Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon, and other communities in Southern Ontario. Altitude Accelerators’ focus is to be a dynamic catalyst for tech companies. We help our companies grow faster and stronger. Our strength is our proven ability to foster growth for companies in Advanced Manufacturing, Internet of Things, Hardware & Software, Cleantech and Life Sciences. Our team consists of more than 100 expert advisors, industry, academic, government partners. The team helps companies in Advanced Manufacturing, Internet of Things, Hardware & Software, Cleantech and Life Sciences to commercialize their products and get them to market faster.

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