Three startups with ties to the Toronto-Waterloo Region tech corridor are among the first cohort of 10 companies selected for a boost from Scale-Up, a new initiative by the Lazaridis Institute designed to help made-in-Canada technology companies scale in the global marketplace.
Waterloo-based Dozr and Oculys, and Toronto- and Waterloo-based Tulip Retail, along with seven other firms, will be matched with experts and mentors from Silicon Valley who will offer personal experience in scaling up world-class, competitive enterprises.
“All signs point to this having really huge value for us,” said Dozr co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Erin Stephenson.
Dozr is an online marketplace for heavy equipment sharing in construction and agriculture. It helps business owners to earn revenue from idle equipment and lets contractors rent high-quality, insured equipment at lower rates.
Oculys, founded in 2011, consolidates data for hospitals and health-care facilities, allowing them to access and address emergency room wait-times and operating room bottlenecks on any mobile device.
And Tulip Retail helps salespeople quickly access customer information, product information and stock status via a phone or tablet.
The companies – all of them at a key point in their growth trajectories – were chosen after a year-long search conducted by a panel of experts consisting of venture capitalists and leading Canadian and American technology executives. More than 100 applications were considered.
“The quality of technology companies in Canada is extraordinary, and that was reflected in the many compelling applications we received,” said Carlo Chiarello, CEO of the Lazaridis Institute.
“We can’t wait to start working with the 10 firms we’ve chosen for our first year,” said Chiarello. “We’re confident that members of this cohort will take their places among the next generation of globally recognized Canadian companies.”
The Lazaridis Institute is based in the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Waterloo’s Wilfrid Laurier University. The Scale-Up initiative was designed to address the difficulties many Canadian startups face in making the leap from early success to international competitiveness.
A recent survey from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) found that only one in 1,000 Canadian small businesses grew beyond the 100-employee mark in 2013, a 40-per-cent drop from 2001. Last year just four Canadian technology companies went to IPO, despite a vibrant startup scene.
“Our collective challenge is to continue to keep more companies growing in Canada by helping them as they transition into the scale-up phase,” said Chiarello.
The Scale-Up program will begin in Toronto on Nov. 3, with sessions in the following months in Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Silicon Valley. CEOs and founders of the participating firms will engage with experts on topics like talent management, design thinking, global markets, managing risk and funding growth.
For Dozr, the help comes at an important inflection point in their growth.
“Dozr is just embarking on our launch into the U.S. market, so having access to some really strong mentors that have grown companies globally and scaled up in a similar space is going to be really valuable to us at what is a critical juncture,” said Stephenson.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Dozr co-founder and CEO Kevin Forestell.
“We were pretty excited (when we heard we were selected),” said Forestell. “It’s a great opportunity to work with great mentors and other really great companies.”
The 10 selected firms hail from Montreal, Halifax, Waterloo, Toronto, Chatham and Ottawa. They have innovative, made-in-Canada technologies that solve critical problems, from optimizing complex system development, to creating better customer experiences, to cybersecurity, to name just a few.
The companies are:
QRA Corp (Halifax)
The Better Software Company (Ottawa)
Tulip Retail (Toronto)