Six scaling businesses, within a diverse cross-section of regional sectors, got the chance to pitch in front of a group of seasoned investors, industry experts, and members of the Regional Alliance Windsor-Essex (RAWE) for a top prize of $20,000, the largest ever in the program’s 5-year history.
The scaleups are part of the fifth cohort to graduate from the award-winning ScaleUP Tech Accelerator program launched by WETechAlliance and generously powered in 2021 by Libro Credit Union, and Invest WindsorEssex, with support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southwestern Ontario.
“Helping new businesses gain a foothold in the market and providing a framework for existing businesses to pivot and adapt is music to this economic developers’ ears,” said Stephen MacKenzie, President and CEO at Invest WindsorEssex. “A large portion of economic growth comes from creating an environment that accelerates a business’ ability to change and evolve. As our region emerges as a global hub for automobility activity, it’s important that programs like this exist to help fuel that evolution.”
In the last two years, the focus for this program has been from a “Scale(Back)UP” perspective. With the global economy still emerging from the burden of the pandemic, applicants to the program were motivated to reinvent themselves to tackle new economic realities. They were encouraged to approach the program as an opportunity and license to think differently, attempting new approaches to growth.
“We know that being immersed in that type of environment can lead to some pretty amazing results, with over 151 employed with ScaleUP Alumni companies across Southwestern Ontario,” said Lori Atkinson, Regional Manager (Windsor-Essex) at Libro Credit Union. “A program like ScaleUP creates a safe space to talk about failure, make mistakes, and learn together. Libro is proud to support the compounding impact this program has had on our region in the 5 years since its launch.”
The four-month accelerator program provides one-on-one mentoring, cohort sessions, and access to provincial, national and global networks of programs and mentors valued at over $15,000. Highlights of this year’s program included private cohort sessions with billion dollar founders like Levi Cooperman of Canadian unicorn, FreshBooks, which helped to illuminate the path to funding and investment.
The fifth graduating class of Scale(Back)UP includes the following companies:
Experts in the electrification of vehicles, this automobility startup recently opened a new location in the region and will be one of the leading partners on developing software system’s for the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association’s (APMA) fully Canadian-made electric vehicle, Project Arrow. ettractive.com
TDL was founded by Yong Li and has two major product lines. 1) Creating custom made orthotics and sandals under the brand name “OLT Footcare” using 3D scan technology and Additive Manufacturing. 2) The design and sale of additive manufacturing accessories and innovations designed to expand the capabilities of 3D print technology both for consumers and industry alike. www.oltfoot.com www.printdry.com
The first vertical urban farm store in Canada located in the heart of Canada’s greenhouse cluster in Kingsville, ON. The company was founded by Carina Biacchi and her partner and Agronomist, Alvaro Fernandes, who believe above all else the farm fresh, local food, should be accessible and easily available to all. www.ortaliza.ca
DuroByte is a veteran provider of innovative electronic design, build, and manufacturing solutions, designed to maximize performance in various settings and industries. With over 100 years of combined industry experience, the company’s strength lies in its ability to provide a comprehensive blend of superior technology and customized product designs to boost performance, functionality, and productivity. www.durobyte.com
The Castlebreck team considers themselves “Knights of collaboration.” Established in 1995, they have worked with hundreds of businesses on their own journeys of digitization. Now focused on the launch of their own software solution, CastleBlocks, an in-house developed platform designed to deliver rapid database-driven web applications and widgets, with minimal time to implementation. www.castlebreck.com
TaaS is a new concept, and in the space of seniors fitness, StrongerU has emerged as the only fully virtual platform to deliver a “Training as a Service” model. StrongerU trains the trainers on senior exercise and recreation techniques that are being recognized around the globe as the new standard in eldercare. www.strongeruseniorfitness.com
While the program content evolves annually based on the needs of the cohort, this year’s tools were designed to help the participants imagine what’s next for their businesses and prepare them for the challenges they may face in the future.
“The key is to strike a balance between encouraging activity that builds momentum in the here and now, while also delivering resources and skills upgrades that will help in the future,” said Adam Castle, Director of Venture Services at WETechAlliance. “Four months goes by in the blink of an eye and, even though the program is designed to be fast-paced, we want to help contribute to the longevity and sustainable growth of these businesses far beyond their graduation from ScaleUP.
In addition to the formal program, WETechAlliance partnered with RAWE member organizations, the Government of Ontario, SOAR Innovation, the Windsor Essex Capital Angel Network (WECAN), and its investors to host the pitch competition.
This year keynote speakers for the virtual event included two-time Canadian Olympian Segun Makinde as well as the multi-award-winning Canadian CEO and Founder of AquaMobile and MarketBox, Diana Goodwin.
Following a virtual “Dragons’ Den” style pitch that measured the cohort company’s growth over the course of the program, the winner of the top prize was Ettractive.
Applications for the sixth cohort will open in summer 2022.
To learn more about the ScaleUP Tech Accelerator program visit www-wetech-alliance.com/scaleup.