Since the summer of 2016, DMZ and BMO have forged a number of firsts in the Toronto tech community. BMO has been instrumental in bringing about innovation to DMZ startups through Fintech focused programs and as a founding sponsor of the DMZ Black Innovation Fellowship. BMO has helped DMZ accelerate countless startups as a thought leader in the startup ecosystem.
BMO and the DMZ created a program to foster innovation and growth with emerging Fintechs. Applicants from across Canada were invited to apply to the program, which included a four-month placement at the DMZ; an exclusive opportunity to pilot their technology with BMO; and introductions to venture capital groups interested in taking the startup to the next level. Six finalist teams pitched in a demo day for the top prize of $25,000, which was secured by a DMZ company, Zensurance. Other finalist teams were given the opportunity to launch strategic projects with BMO.
The DMZ partnered with BMO to search for Canada’s most innovative fintech companies that were ready for market exposure and looking to grow in size and revenue. The goal? To fuel the next generation of innovative financial services in just four months. Four finalists competed for first place by pitching their business ideas to BMO executives. Viviplan took home a prize of $65,000 for its pitch on automating high-end financial plans, which are fee-only and designed to make financial planning more affordable and accessible. Toronto-based Fortuna.ai, an artificial intelligence platform that automates business development, earned second place and a prize of $35,000.
The DMZ and BMO partnered for a two-day initiative that supported seven Canadian startups operating in the small business banking sector. On the first day, BMO employees and startups were invited to an exclusive thought leadership event to learn about industry trends and BMO partnership successes. This was followed by the opportunity for one-on-one deep dives with BMO experts on specific aspects of their business. On day two, the startups benefited from BMO and DMZ expert resources in Fintech and the BMO team was exposed to startup ideas through a demo day. Seven startups competed for cash prizes of $30,000. First place was secured by TAKU Labs, a cross-platform retail POS to help stores manage sales, inventory and online presence. Spiffy, helping businesses create more five-star experiences by engaging and educating teams on restaurant items, won second place, while third place was won by Remitr, a stress-free alternative to wire transfers for businesses with costs as low as a dollar.
DMZ joined forces with a community of Founding Partners, such as BMO, to develop the Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF). The first-of-its-kind fellowship program provides startups led by Black entrepreneurs with the strengthening support of a top university-based incubator network, as well as additional programming, mentorship, events, and connections to industry, capital and an alumni network, to support their success and growth. Going into its second year BIF has 9 startups currently being incubated in the program.
DMZ was pleased to host 100+ BMO employees, partners and leaders for an internal employee hackathon spanning over three days. DMZ worked with BMO to co-create the hackathon experience and breakout sessions for participants.