Evrlinx announced as #HackTheCurve winner

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Monthly Archives: April 2020

Evrlinx announced as #HackTheCurve winner

Congrats to Everlinx for taking home the grand prize! 


It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every single Canadian in one way or another. Within the first weeks of the pandemic emerging and intensifying in North America, the DMZ realized that our country could lean on its ecosystem of tech innovators for help in flattening the curve.

That’s why we launched #HackTheCurve – a platform that challenged teams to develop a solution that could alleviate some of the greatest difficulties being faced by front line workers, small businesses, and everyday Canadians as a consequence of COVID-19. 

Despite a tight application deadline, we received more than 200 applications representing over 400 individual participants coast-to-coast. After a busy two weeks consisting of 11 expert workshops and virtual events, DMZ mentor check-ins, strategy meetings and around-the-clock prep for the final pitch, we are excited to announce that Evrlinx is our #HackTheCurve winner!

Evrlinx (formerly Infinite Supply) took home the $15,000 cash prize and $200,000 business services package. The team will also receive membership in the Biomedical Zone, in addition, to Entrepreneur-in-Residence support from the DMZ. Read our interview with the winning team below.

Thank you to our partners who made #HackTheCurve a success: Innisfil Accelerates (Financial Partner), Moneris (Payment Provider Partner), as well as several other contributing partners, including Logan Katz, Goodmans, Fasken, Involve Design, Founded, Heroku, Twilio, Hubspot, and AWS.

Evrlinx

We asked the team some questions about their winning solution and the process they took to achieve success.

Tell us more about Evrlinx.

Evrlinx is an online B2B marketplace that connects buyers and suppliers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across Canada. Our goal is to ensure all our front-line workers in Canada have access to the PPE they need. With global supply chains becoming more unreliable, we created Evrlinx to strengthen our Canadian supply chains and help keep our frontline workers safe. 

What issue related to COVID-19 was your team trying to address?

Our team is concerned with the lack of safe, cost-effective and certified PPE available for all types of frontline workers in Canada. Why are there perceived shortages? Why are frontline workers receiving low quality PPE? How many countries are blocking the export of PPE to Canada?

Briefly explain the process your team went through in two weeks to establish your business solution.

First, our team conducted a very comprehensive brainstorming session to discuss the pain points we were observing in the PPE market. We wanted to figure out what problems needed attention and broke the problems down into their pieces to get to the root cause of the problem. Once we established the problem we were trying to solve we became experts on the subject through comprehensive customer interviews, which gave us the information to build our first MVP and future app prototype.

Did your team take advantage of DMZ’s supports throughout the duration of #HackTheCurve? 

Our goal was to attend every workshop, decipher what material was pertinent and see how we could apply the information to our business. Since there was too much to do, we used the divide and conquer approach. For each of the workshops, we sent one or two teammates to take notes while the others worked on our solution. As a group, we decided which elements we should implement. 

Why do you think your team was able to succeed in this challenge?

We had amazing team dynamics and were motivated to see our solution out in the world. Every day we would meet virtually and work on making our business better.  

Does your team have plans as to how you would like to use the money you’ve won?

We are investing the prize money back into Evrlinx. The funds will be allocated to platform development and business setup costs. We need Evrlinx to be out in the world. 

Do you have any advice for other innovators who want to succeed in developing/pitching a new business for challenges like #HackTheCurve?

We have five key points:

  1. Cohesive and dedicated teams win challenges. Create an open environment with easy communication and guide your team to think beyond the challenge. 
  2. As a team, early on, define the problem you would like to solve within the competition and stick with it! You will refine, iterate and pivot around the problem throughout the challenge.  
  3. Work on your pitch/slides as you’re working not at the end. Pitch decks can help guide your thinking. 
  4. Do your research! Talk to users, stakeholders and industry experts. Use the information to iterate.  
  5. Practice and prepare for your pitch over and over again. Get feedback on every slide and be prepared for all possible questions. 

Questions for Evrlinx? Reach out to the team at hello@evrlinx.com and check out the website here


Thanks again to everyone involved in making #HackTheCurve a success. 

Questions? Email us at dmz@ryerson.ca

DMZ extending a hand to OneEleven based businesses  

Like you, we were saddened to hear yesterday’s news regarding OneEleven’s closure. 

OneEleven has always been a close partner of the DMZ. As an organization, OneEleven helped pave the way for many great startups in this country, and their closure represents a significant loss to Canada’s tech ecosystem.

The DMZ’s priority is to support made in Canada startups. Although this is a challenging time for incubator and accelerator programs, we want to reaffirm to our community that the DMZ is here to stay.

We understand this is a pivotal time for many startups and we’re committed to providing founders from OneEleven with uninterrupted support. So, here’s what we’re doing starting today:

  • Without any need to apply, founders can receive three complimentary mentorship sessions covering any area of business needed from our esteemed entrepreneurs-in-residence and DMZ staff 
  • Should you decide to apply to the DMZ, your application will be expedited
  • If accepted, we will waive fees for the next two months and provide access to all DMZ services. This includes coaching, capital, customers, community and of course, space once offices open back up

Learn more about our program from our founders here. And to learn more about what this could mean for your business, please reach out to Rob from our team. 

We thank OneEleven for all they have done to champion Toronto’s startup community. We hope the team at OneEleven looks back at the great impact they have made in bringing our city’s talent to the global stage.

Sincerely,

Abdullah

From student to startup founder: See how these young entrepreneurs launched a company in eight weeks

Again in 2020, selected high school and university students from across Canada and the U.S. will get the opportunity to bring their innovative business ideas to life with the help of expert training, mentorship, and the potential to win up to $15,000 in grant money.

Read below to learn how students can apply, and for examples of past DMZ Basecamp companies who have achieved considerable success.

SmartCane

At just 15 years old, Riya Karumanchi joined Basecamp and developed SmartCane, a technology that was born out of her combined passion for helping people and her knowledge in machine learning.

SmartCane is a technologically-enhanced version of the common white cane typically used by those who are visually impaired. Riya’s motivation to develop this solution came when she realized the original white cane was never updated to take advantage of newer technologies. The SmartCane device leverages GPS integration, object detection, location sharing and an emergency button, giving users more independence and safety. Additionally, features like optic detection, wetness sensors, audio feedback and computer vision help to describe a person’s surroundings.

Since graduating Basecamp, Riya has gained over $70,000 in funding and assistance from some of the world’s top companies such as Microsoft and Google. She is a DMZ Fellow and an Innovator at The Knowledge Society and is recognized as one of the Top 20 Teen Entrepreneurs Worldwide, among many other awards and accolades.

Vimto


Hamza Khan, Founder and Business Development Lead of software company Vimto, saw a gap in the market to help foreign startups scale internationally to contest in new markets. He realized that while so many startups around the world are creating great products and services, not all companies know how to effectively sell. Vimto’s platform acts as a company’s own Digital Growth Consultant, providing the tools and knowledge base to extend all channels’ growth and business development.

Through Hamza’s own knowledge in marketing and entrepreneurship, and with the help of the DMZ Startup Certified program and Ryerson Global Innovation Challenge, Vimto was founded. Since graduating from Startup Certified, Vimto has grown to a team of five and Hamza has travelled to several countries for research and development purposes, including Turkey, India, UAE and Germany. To date, the team has raised $30,000 from bootstrapping and grants and has seen $1,500 in monthly recurring revenue.

In Hamza’s experience, the best part of Basecamp and similar programs are the connections you make along the way – social capital is one of the most valuable resources you will get from a program like this.


Basecamp 2020 applications open

This year, Basecamp is going virtual, making the program accessible to any high school or university student in Canada and the United States. 

The usual program fee will be waived for all Canadian students, coast-to-coast!

If you’re a student and ready to do big things in the world of entrepreneurship, the DMZ wants you. Learn more about Basecamp and apply now: dmz.to/basecamp

Ashu and Andrew met in DMZ’s first Sandbox cohort in 2018. Now, they’re revolutionizing the mortgage industry.

Ashu and Andrew's headshots

Andrew Wells (Pinch, CEO and Founder, pictured left) and Ashu Syal (Pinch, Director of Product, pictured right) met in the DMZ’s first-ever Sandbox cohort in 2018.

Andrew was an enthusiastic new DMZ founder and Ashu was a newly hired DMZ Program Lead. This duo is now working together at Pinch Financial (Pinch), a DMZ startup that is utilizing AI to revolutionize the mortgage application process. Pinch is a digital platform that makes applying for a mortgage fast, easy, and secure. The platform connects people directly with lenders, taking brokers out of the equation to empower users to make their own decisions. Pinch’s blog makes real-estate insider knowledge accessible for everyone.

We sat down with Andrew and Ashu to learn more about Pinch and the journey that led them to develop the partnership of a lifetime. 

Pinch company logoWhy did you start Pinch?

Andrew: I had just graduated and was working at a bank as an account manager. I hated it. I saw first-hand how awful and inaccessible mortgage applications are, the process is a disservice to hard-working people. I knew there had to be a better way, so I started Pinch.

Broker’s wages have gone up by 400% in the past 12-15 years, but the everyday person’s income has not. I’m not saying all brokers are bad, but the system is broken. I started Pinch to shine a light on the toxicity of the whole process.

Pinch advertisingCan you tell me more about Pinch’s time at the DMZ?

Andrew: We joined the DMZ’s Sandbox program in 2018 with two staff members. Ashu was our Programs Lead and together we created Pinch’s first prototype, raised our first seed round, developed our MVP and then graduated to the Incubator program. We demoed at the 2019 Collision Conference in Toronto (Pinch team pictured on the left with Collision Conference’s Pinch feature TTC ad) and that really sparked important investor relationships at major banks.

We hired our first engineer, then two more engineers and then a designer, currently half of our current staff came directly from relationships we made while part of the DMZ community.

No one has ever done what Pinch is doing. The DMZ understood the gravity of that and gave us all the space, knowledge, and resources we needed to build our business, the right way.

Banking and real estate are both highly regulated industries. How did Pinch break in?

Andrew: It’s true, the mortgage process has not changed since 1997…This makes pitching new tech to banks uniquely hard. Our EiRs (Entrepreneurs in Residence) taught us how to find the right bank executives, stakeholders, and investors and speak their language… we needed that insider knowledge available to founders at the DMZ to successfully break in.

Andrew, what led you to approach Ashu to join your team full time?

Andrew: Everything was going well, but there was this disconnect growing among our marketing, financial and tech development teams. We needed someone who spoke each of our languages and could bring us together. Our best work always happened at the DMZ with Ashu. We knew he was our guy. 

Ashu, why did you want to join the Pinch team?

Ashu: My wife and I had just started applying for a house when Andrew approached me. It took us more than a month to get a mortgage. We went to open houses and people were outbidding us before we even walked through the door. The whole process felt impossible. It was so stressful. I have a lot of empathy for what mortgage applicants go through.

Pinch is creating new startup practices and utilizing old ones where necessary. They are setting people-centred standards not just for the homeownership industry, but for how we build technology in general. Pinch’s mission really aligns with my own values, I’m really excited to be here.

Team working togetherWhat’s next for Pinch?

Andrew: We are launching our product in a new and big way, with big bank partners. It is going to change the way people approach homeownership. It is a fundamental shift in how someone can get a property.

This (buying a house) can be the most important decision of someone’s life. Our team does not take that lightly. I started Pinch to make sure buying a house was accessible and secure for people. That human-centred mission will continue to always drive every decision we make. 

Whether our company is successful in 10 years or not…what we have done is pushed bank executives and mortgage brokers to truly grapple with this topic for the first time ever, and we are really proud of that.

Team chatting over coffeeAshu, what are you most looking forward to in the future?

Ashu: I wouldn’t be where I am today without the right people telling me to stop building my ideas in a basement and come into an incubator space… Making sure that pathway is open to others, particularly for those who historically have a hard time coming into this industry will always be important to me, will forever excite me, especially because of my time at the DMZ. 

DMZ startups like Pinch not only get the tailored support they need to become world-leading businesses but get access to the DMZ’s thriving talent pool of driven industry innovators. 

Learn more about DMZ Sandbox here.