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Roundup for June 2023 – Communitech

Breakfasts are back!

Communitech Breakfasts are back and just as popular as ever! The first breakfast event since the pandemic brought more than 80 members of the Waterloo Region tech community to the Communitech Hub on June 28 for a hot brekkie, some great networking and a chance to hear from two stellar founders.

ApplyBoard founder Martin Basiri unveiled his new startup, Passage (check out the Tech News story here), and shared how the Waterloo Region tech community helped support him along the way. 

As well, Friendlier co-founder Kayli Dale shared her insights into the eco-positive world of reusable takeout-food containers. She also talked about the company’s recent $2.3-million raise

We look forward to seeing you on Sept. 13 at our next Communitech Breakfast Series: Eggs and Bacon with Tom Jenkins. Check our events listing page for updates. 

Women of impact

Waterloo-based Profound Impact closed its first round of financing with over CDN$2.2 million in seed funding – most of it coming from women investors, including many first-time women angel investors. 

The money raised so far is part of a total $3-million round the company plans to close in August 2023.

Profound Impact – helps academic and industry researchers quickly find the right funding for their projects – plans to use the funding to increase its machine-learning and artificial-intelligence teams and to expand into the U.S. 

Fierce Founders

Communitech is accepting applications to the third cohort of its popular Fierce Founders Uplift program.

The Uplift program offers support to women and non-binary founders from equity-deserving groups with their early stage businesses. Since its launch three years ago, 20 founders have completed the Uplift program.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST July 12, 2023.

Eco Edtech

Serial entrepreneur Jeremy Hedges has launched a new Kitchener-based startup to help students learn about climate change through educational technology kits.

Hedges’ latest company, Forward Education, produces “climate action kits” that enable students to build prototypes of actual technology solutions being used today to address challenges to the environment.

The startup is a spinoff of InkSmith, an education-technology company that Hedges founded in 2016. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hedges used his 3-D printing know-how to provide plastic face shields to health-care workers. He then started a PPE business called The Canadian Shield that scaled to more than $80 million in sales in just 18 months.

Hall of Famers

 The Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame honoured six new members, all from the tech community.

The latest inductees include serial entrepreneur Joseph Fung and the five co-founders of Sandvine Inc. – Marc Morin, Brad Siim, Tom Donnelly, Dave Caputo and Don Bowman.

The Hall of Fame initiative, sponsored by Junior Achievement of South Western Ontario, recognizes local entrepreneurs for their vision, leadership and mentoring contributions to the community.

Tech corridor

The Waterloo-Toronto corridor is the largest innovation hub in Canada and one of the biggest in North America, according to the latest Global Startup Ecosystem Report from Startup Genome.

“The region is rapidly growing and attracting both tech giants and innovative new startups,” the report says.

 In an interview with the Waterloo Region Record, Communitech CEO Chris Albinson said Canada remains a great place to invest but we need more Canadians investing in Canadian companies.

“What I’m worried about is the majority of the investment coming into our companies is not Canadian,” he told The Record. “Fifty-three per cent of the shares sold last year went to non-Canadians.”

Olympic inspiration

Olympic silver-medal winner Cathy Priestner visited Communitech in June to talk about Own the Podium, a data-driven approach to supporting Canadian athletes that Priestner and husband Todd Allinger developed leading up to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Priestner was a champion speedskater who competed for Canada in two Winter Olympics. She earned silver in the 500-metre event at the 1976 games in Innsbruk, Austria, and was chosen to carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies.

In her wide-ranging talks, Priestner spoke about the value of setting ambitious goals and the hard work and perseverance needed to achieve them.

Delighting customers

Business should aim to “delight” their customers, says columnist Melanie Baker. Whether it’s after-dinner chocolate or sparkling water on tap, it’s often the unexpected little touches that consumers remember most.

In another piece, Baker encourages to “check the reviews” – whether you’re booking a holiday resort or getting into a business arrangement with a new partner.

Other news

This edition of the Roundup compiled by Kevin Crowley.

Sign up to receive the Roundup each month by visiting communitech.ca/technews and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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