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Podcast advertising: Your startup’s next secret weapon


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Podcast advertising: Your startup’s next secret weapon

On Wednesdays, we startup.

To celebrate our women-identifying founders, we’ve put together ‘On Wednesdays, we startup’, a blog series dedicated to putting women founders center stage to acknowledge their work, complexities and wins!

We hope to push women-founder stories forward and share lessons learned and insights for other aspiring women entrepreneurs.

For this week’s feature, we handed the reins to Rand Abou Ras, the Founder and CEO of uCast and expert in startup development, to learn about podcast advertising and why more startups should be turning to the underrated advertising method.

Guest blog: By Rand Abou Ras, Founder and CEO of uCast

Podcast advertising is not new, but it has become increasingly popular as more people have turned to podcasts as their choice of media throughout the pandemic. I’m sure my fellow podcast junkies have heard a GoDaddy or Better Help ad once or twice while listening to their favourite series.

Podcast advertising is a great way for startups to get visibility. In this blog, I’ll share more about how podcast advertising works, why startups should consider leveraging it, and how uCast makes podcast advertising easy.
podcast station with imac headphones and microphone

Podcast advertising 101

There are a couple of different models to consider when exploring podcast advertising rates.

  • CPM (Cost Per Mille), the most common model, is a host-read ad that’s determined by the show’s number of listeners and their rate per 1000 listeners. A CPM campaign is shown to generate the highest conversion rate over time because of its direct ‘host-to-consumer’ approach.
  • CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) is an affiliate model that larger retail and consumer brands most commonly use. With CPAs, a podcaster is paid a commission for every sale they secure through the use of promo codes. While this may be seen as a ‘safer’ avenue, results show that CPA models lead to low conversions.
  • Hybrid is the ideal model for startups that are new to the space and are looking to experiment. The hybrid model consists of a CPM fee and commission for each secured sale. So, startups would be paying a fixed fee for the campaign, and commission on each conversion made by the host.
  • Programmatic advertising is a model that automates the buying and selling of online ads. This is the same model YouTube adopts for their ad campaigns. Ads are inserted into the podcast audio randomly for each individual listener based on their demographics.

Startups and podcast advertising

Podcast listenership is growing at a steady pace, and the pandemic has supercharged its growth. Podcast advertising is a great way to get your message in front of an audience who will actually listen. Today, 78% of podcast listeners approve of podcast sponsorships and 67% can accurately recall the brands featured.

Podcasting has created a community amongst consumers and offers a personalized experience, making it the ideal environment to target ads to your audience. Plus, it’s still in its infancy, which diminishes ad avoidance and competition. For startups, it’s one of the most cost-effective and best-converting forms of advertising. Other advantages include story-telling capabilities, cross-promotion opportunities, and high audience engagement.
two women sitting at a podcast table with a microphone and laptop with flowers in the background

Where uCast comes in

 uCast is a marketplace and ad management platform for podcasters and advertisers to launch ad campaigns quickly, safely, and accurately. Our mission is very straightforward; we aim to simplify how podcast advertising works today.

It should be easy for podcasts to sell ads, and it should be even easier for advertisers to find the right podcast to advertise on. We plan to be the go-to marketplace for podcasters and advertisers of any size and on any budget.

Our platform uses a matchmaking algorithm to connect the right advertiser to the right podcaster with the highest ROI potential. With the majority of existing solutions solely focused on maximizing revenue, uCast helps advertisers maximize ROI, and addresses common pain points for advertisers and podcasters like ghosting, lack of communication, ‘scammy’ behaviour, and trust.

We are redesigning the podcast advertising process. uCast is designed to instill trust, communication, and provide a ‘podcast-advert’ fit. We focus on matching campaigns with podcasts that will generate the highest ROIs based on numerous factors. Furthermore, we are investing in a rating system for podcasters and adverts to provide transparency for both parties.

Join uCast’s waitlist to access over 15,000 podcasts, and get your first two episodes for free by filling out this form.


You can also head over to our website to learn more, or reach out to Rand directly here.

Startup culture post-pandemic: What’s changed, and why we’re excited

Hear from founders at the DMZ and Entrepreneur First about how the pandemic influenced the startup world, and what the future of business and work looks like moving into our new post-pandemic norm

The pandemic transformed entrepreneurship and the professional work environment as we know it.

But now as restrictions lift and the world shifts into its “new normal”, we’re coming into a clearer vision for the future of work. That certainty brings a huge sigh of relief to many founders, and they’re excited to hit the ground running. Entrepreneurs, by nature, need to be able to connect in a physical presence – that’s ultimately how the world’s greatest innovations come to be.

Four founders at various stages of startup growth reflect on their experiences as entrepreneurs over the last couple of years and share why going back to the office is helping them grow and evolve their startups’ working styles.

three startup founders sitting at the DMZ in a meeting looking at a laptop

The pandemic spurred a wave of first-time entrepreneurs

A new study this past June revealed that one in five Canadian entrepreneurs started their business within the past year. Those who started their business during the pandemic did so due to reasons like having more spare time, financial pressures from the pandemic, and being laid off.

entrepreneur first logoThe desire to create impact through entrepreneurship rather than travel a more traditional career path resonated with Grigoriy Kimaev, a Ph.D. graduate. His interest in entrepreneurship piqued further when he heard about Entrepreneur First (EF), a talent investor that runs cohorts in six cities across the globe with a location in Toronto as of last year. 

Fast forward to this year, Grigoriy is now a Founder-in-Residence in EF’s second cohort, following through on his entrepreneurial ambitions.

Grigoriy credits his desire to build a business to the profound societal change brought on by the pandemic. “People and companies were far more eager for change during the height of the pandemic than in low-stress times… I felt I’d hate myself if I didn’t try to build a venture,” Grigoriy said. 

Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, Grigory was excited to embark on the entrepreneurial journey at EF with like-minded people who were equally ambitious and ready to build.

Back to environments that spark innovation and productivity

Those who became entrepreneurs during the pandemic had a unique experience. While many had more spare time to devote towards building a business, remote work and isolation had their disadvantages. For one, entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavour. But beyond that, building a startup in the early stages requires collaboration, networking, and access to mentors. 

Furthermore, it’s no easy feat for small teams to be productive in a virtual arrangement, especially when they’re new. Some aspects of running a business simply can’t be replicated in a remote setting. Building team spirit, forming peer-to-peer connections, and managing people in general can pose challenges when done virtually, and that’s why so many startups founders have eagerly awaited a return to normalcy. 

headshots of founders from entrepreneur first toronto
This year, MaRS became EF Toronto’s home. For Grigory, the atmosphere of the office has helped him feel recharged, being surrounded by enthusiastic and motivated fellow founders. Grigory describes it as a “spirit of innovation” that’s immediately felt after passing through EF’s doors. If you’ve got a great business idea and you’re ready to find a co-founder like Grigory, Entrepreneur First is currently accepting applications for their next cohort until December 12. 


Working IRL (in real life) with your team is essential when growing a company from the ground up

Like Entrepreneur First, the DMZ was eager to welcome founders back this fall after nearly a year and a half of being closed, and DMZ founders have also felt the immense benefits of being able to work on their startups, alongside their teams and other founders, in a physical presence.

Two Co-founders, Sarah Rennick and Cherry Xu, had been living three time zones apart when building and launching their company Alli during the pandemic, Sarah in Toronto and Cherry in Vancouver. Once the DMZ re-opened, Cherry hopped on a plane and made the trek across the country to finally be able to work with Sarah face-to-face.

“I wanted to work with Sarah in person and be able to meet the broader DMZ community,” explains Cherry. “It’s always exciting to meet others who are risking so much to pursue their passion.” 

Cherry adds that her move has helped productivity and having a sense of connection with others. “Working in the office is conducive to not only productivity, but it helps me mentally as well. Zoom can be draining and the human connection gets missed. Meetings are a lot more enjoyable in person.”

“Try as you might, organic conversations that happen in the office just don’t happen the same via scheduled calls!” Sarah adds.

One founder who decided to adopt a hybrid work model is Leonard Ivey, Founder of Softdrive. “Our team sees value in both the remote and in-person working environments,” explains Leonard, who was eager to start working in the DMZ space on a regular basis upon its re-opening this fall. 

founders sitting at desk pods working in the DMZ
“The DMZ’s atmosphere lends to increased productivity in many ways for the team, and communication is a lot easier when you’re a small team in a startup that’s growing rapidly. But as we expand our team at Softdrive, we also want to enable remote work and empower our team with a flexible work model.”

Creating smart co-working solutions that work 

Nimbus Learning, Mero Technologies and SingleKey met during their time at the DMZ Incubator back in 2019. This past summer, the three companies made a decision to split co-working space as they came back to the office with their teams. William Liu, a Co-founder and the CEO of Nimbus Learning, shares how it’s been a game-changer in helping each startup thrive.

“Obviously, there are the cost benefits. Rent is quite a bit more affordable when you have three companies splitting the cost of the office space,” William explains. “Beyond that, I’ve seen growth happen amongst all employees of the three companies that share the space.” 

He also points out that working in the same space with other like-minded individuals promotes knowledge sharing. “Our teams – sales, client success, and marketing –  share ideas, processes, tools, and strategies with their counterparts at the other companies,” says William. He mentions that having late-night conversations with the founders of the other two companies has been tremendously helpful and an opportunity to share insights. 

four founders around a table talking at the dmz
“I think it’s a perfect setup for any startup that’s not quite ready to have their own dedicated space, but still wants a co-working space that’s cozier than something like a WeWork,” he adds.

At the end of the day, founders know that a certain kind of magic happens in a startup environment that can’t be experienced through a computer screen. 

The DMZ has welcomed founders back to the space, and we’re ecstatic to say the least. Truly, there’s nothing like watching our founders build connections, reach milestones, and hit new levels of success, especially in person. We’ve now introduced a hybrid model, giving founders the flexibility to access the DMZ’s programming both in person and virtually. 

If you’re a tech founder ready to validate your business model, raise your first round of funding, and scale your startup, learn how the DMZ Incubator can help.

If you’ve got a great business idea and you’re ready to find a co-founder, Entrepreneur First is the place to meet your match and hit the ground running. Don’t miss the chance to apply for Entrepreneur First Toronto’s third cohort. Applications are open until December 12, 2022. 

These social impact startups are changing the world for the better

Introducing the Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream and its inaugural cohort of startups

Social entrepreneurship has become a rapidly-growing approach to business, and for a good reason – social entrepreneurs are pioneers focused on tackling some of the world’s biggest societal issues. 

Together, Unilever Canada and the DMZ have launched the Black Innovation Program’s (BIP) Social Impact Stream: a 6-month business incubator program designed to support Black entrepreneurs with a social mission. The program allows entrepreneurs to tap into lucrative industry connections and growth resources to build on their existing solutions and ultimately drive impact in Canadian communities.

Over the course of the 6-month program, socially-driven organizations are equipped with the tools, mentorship and community needed to generate company growth while accelerating their ability to create meaningful change and contribute to their core mission.

Hear from the founders of companies in the inaugural cohort of the BIP Social Impact Stream on how they’re working to drive social impact, and what they’re hoping to achieve for their organizations over the course of the program.


B12Give creates a circular economy redistributing lost or wasted surplus food along the supply chain to food-insecure communities and support agencies across Canada. Tony Colley, the company’s Founder and CEO, explains that B12Give leverages a sustainable, tech-based solution to lower the overall cost of food waste, reduce GHG emissions, and reduce the overuse of our natural resources while feeding millions.

The company has big plans they’d like to accomplish over the next six months. According to Tony, the company hopes to scale the app across the GTA, expand its executive team, activate partners with locations in different markets, and secure an angel investor.


Detailing Knights provides an eco-friendly and waterless mobile auto detailing and car cleaning service. In terms of driving impact, Ryan Knight, CEO, explains the company’s purpose goes beyond just car detailing.

“What we are most proud of is our Youth Entrepreneurship training program, which empowers youth coming out of detention an opportunity to run their own detailing business while exploring various areas of entrepreneurship.”

Ryan explains that the company’s next objectives include creating a roadmap for a new product line and upskilling their current team. “Doing this helps us bring in support to fine-tune our operations in preparation for licensing our brand outside of Ontario, across Canada, and into the U.S.”


EduCare’s global mission is to improve graduation outcomes for students with disabilities through a tech-enabled platform that connects colleges/universities and health care providers. Fowzia Mahamed, the company’s Founder, explains that the company provides an opportunity for schools to improve graduation rates for students with disabilities. 

The company hopes to develop its knowledge base in building a go-to-market strategy, including a pilot for licensing the software as a service platform in collaboration with colleges/universities and community health centres.

Over the next six months, Educare aims to set up a pilot with two colleges and community health centres and to license a beta version of the EduCare software as a service platform.


eimhe is a wellness management platform for the workplace. Jefferson Roc, the company’s Founder, hopes to increase emotional intelligence amongst people and their communities.

“I applied to the BIP Social Impact Stream because I believe our concept can help solve challenges around mental illness and addiction. We want to fill the gaps in our go-to-market strategy and ensure we cover our blind spots.”

Jeffer explains that the company’s next milestones include bringing their MVP to market, conducting their first proof of concept and securing $150K in non-dilutive grant funding.


Jesina Studios works with refugee women in Toronto to design and develop handmade, customizable, and high-quality home decor and gifts.

“We believe this program will help us provide stable employment and professional development for refugee women who typically experience employment barriers in Canada,” explains Samantha Simunyu, one of Jesina Studios’s Co-founders.

The company hopes to refine its product offering, develop a go-to-market strategy and build meaningful relationships with other social innovators throughout the program. 


MakeRoom empowers marginalized and emerging artists with the resources to reach broader audiences and funding opportunities through various means, including projection installations.

Trevor Twells, the company’s CEO and Founder, explains that MakeRoom’s main mission is to provide funding and exposure for emerging BIPOC artists in particular.

The BIP Social Impact Stream will help the company scale up its regular operations to have more venue partners. The company aims to finalize its advertising revenue model, make industry connections to create advertising partnerships, and receive mentorship that will advise the founding team on how to reframe these partnerships and discover other monetization models.


OffTech aims to make high-quality education accessible to students in rural Canada in areas with no broadband connection. “We applied for the BIP Social Impact Stream because we believe the mentorship, connections, and tools we’ll receive from this program will offer valuable insights into the feasibility of our proposed solution.” says Ayman Abdulkadir, Co-founder of OffTech.

Over the next six months, OffTech hopes to validate its solution of making high-quality education accessible in rural Canada.


Outlit helps to educate the next generation of banking clients and ultimately aims to drive impact by helping new immigrants obtain financial freedom and a higher quality of life. Josh Earle, the company’s Founder & CEO,  explains that he applied to the BIP Social Impact Stream “to connect with, and learn from, like-minded entrepreneurs that are trying to represent the underrepresented collective of people.”

The company aims to fully launch its product, obtain over 250 users, and partner with nonprofits, schools, and financial institutions over the next six months.


Redeem Clothing Recycling is a for-profit company that provides a platform to donate used clothing items from the comfort of users’ homes.

Oghenemine Jarikre, the company’s Founder, diverts clothing waste in Canada and upcycles them into fashion accessories on the company’s platforms. Oghenemine hopes to increase human capacity, raise funding and improve donations through the program.

“I applied for the program to learn more about growing and running my startup. I believe the DMZ can provide the visibility my company needs, the right partnership, resources, and funding,” explains Oghenemine.



Reyts builds inclusive fintech solutions via a marketplace that allows users from minority communities to access and exchange underserviced currencies in a seamless and secure way.

Through the Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream, Reyts hopes to bring the application to life by tapping into more financial services that can bring much-needed change to the payments space for immigrant communities. 

According to Ayobami Macaulay, the company’s Co-Founder, Reyts aims to regularize its compliance stance in Canada, onboard a banking partner and a payment service provider, and onboard the company’s first 1000 users within the next six months of the program.


Solooble is a mobile app that helps users monitor their financial commitments in real-time to keep on track with saving goals and never miss another bill payment. Lemuel Barango, the company’s Co-founder, hopes to reduce financial anxiety among Canadians.

“I applied to Black Innovation Program to contribute to, and benefit from, a network of Black innovators trying to drive social impact,” Lemuel explains. The company’s business goal for the next six months is to increase its user base to 500 users.


The Urban Guide (TUG) is an app that offers semi-virtual games and self-guided city tours that strengthen the urban cultural connection. The SaaS product enables rapid learning using gamification and predictive self-guided walking tours to enhance the familiarity of new cities and reduce culture shock.

Peter Odle, Founder of TUG explains he hopes to broaden his business knowledge, obtain the tools necessary to validate TUG, and surround himself with a group of Black entrepreneurs who embody a success mindset.

The Urban Guide hopes to grow their international Black business network by 200%, secure 5 additional institutional customers, and enhance the app UX to facilitate easier onboarding and user accessibility within 5 seconds.


We Funded It provides Afro Canadians with financial and mentorship resources for educational and entrepreneurship development. “I want to gain access to the DMZ network and raise funding to drive my organization forward,” explains Diana White, the company’s Founder and President. “We also hope to apply for charity status with the Canadian government and develop a corporate sponsorship program.”

We Funded It drives social impact by making finance-free funding and tailored mentorship accessible to improve economic empowerment, mental health, and overall well-being in Canada’s Black community.

Welkom-U provides pre-arrival settlement services to drive retention and grow the population of newcomers using technology. Tosin Ajibola, the company’s Co-founder & CEO, explains that fertility decline and population out-migration have resulted in a rapidly aging population in Atlantic Canada.

“We are using our technology and resources to attract a younger demographic, facilitate and encourage retention, and ultimately aid population growth,” explains Tosin. “As a Black-identifying tech and social entrepreneur, I’m hoping to network and understand how BIPOC are fairing in metro cities, and learn how to incorporate my findings in emerging cities in Canada.”


Interested in learning more about the BIP Social Impact Stream and keeping up with these companies? Read more here.


Supporting moms and dads through the ups and downs of parenthood: How Alli Therapy is taking a parent-centric approach to mental health

On Wednesdays, we startup.

To celebrate our women-identifying founders, we’ve put together ‘On Wednesdays, we startup’, a blog series dedicated to putting women founders center stage to acknowledge their work, complexities and wins!

We hope to push women-founder stories forward and share lessons learned and insights for other aspiring women entrepreneurs.

This week, we sat down with the Co-Founders of Alli Therapy, Sarah Rennick and Cherry Xu, to learn more about Alli Therapy’s tailored mental health solutions for parents, and their thoughts on the massive growth in the mental health space. Plus, we had the chance to connect with one of their certified therapists, Michelle Winterburn, MSW, RSW, to unpack some of the biggest misconceptions about parenting therapy and more.

Alli Therapy is an online emotional and mental health tool to support families through the journey of parenthood, with more than 34 million parents in North America living with mental health issues their mission is to support moms and dads through all stages of parenthood.

Sarah Rennick, Co-Founder & CEO of Alli Therapy

Before founding Alli Therapy, Sarah founded Mama Mobile, an in-home wellness service company for moms and moms-to-be. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, Mama Mobile had to cease operations. Wanting to still support the community of parents Sarah had fostered, she reached out to her clientele to gain a better sense of what they felt parents alike needed help with.

“I reached out to the Mama Mobile community to gain a better understanding of what parents actually needed — to see what services or solutions would make their lives easier as they moved through parenthood, said Sarah.

This is how the idea for Alli Therapy came about. While the majority of digital mental health and therapy solutions out there provide great services that are highly needed, rarely do these solutions offer services designed specifically for parents.

“20% of mothers today have postpartum depression, and 57% of parents say parenting is a top source of anxiety,” said Cherry. “A lot of parents experience mental health problems, yet we only ever highlight the rosy side of parenthood. We want to destigmatize therapy for parents, and highlight that everyone has the same doubts when it comes to parenting.”

Cherry Xu, Co-Founder & CTO of Alli

Cherry was also working in the wellness space before founding Alli Therapy, and was introduced to Sarah while she was leading Mama Mobile. Recognizing the opportunity in service marketplaces and being a mental health advocate herself, Cherry pitched herself as a Co-Founder to Sarah, and the rest was history!
Alli Therapy provides an all-in-one solution for busy parents to connect with a therapist that best suits their needs. With the use of matching technology, users are connected with therapists that are not only a great fit for the user’s stage of parenthood, but also their personality.

“We provide all of our users with a free intro session to ensure they feel comfortable with their matched therapist, ” said Sarah. “You’d be surprised at how many people abandon therapy due to a lack of fit, and making sure our users felt good about their matched therapist was really important to us.”

“20% of mothers today have postpartum depression, and 57% of parents say parenting is a top source of anxiety,” said Cherry. “A lot of parents experience mental health problems, yet we only ever highlight the rosy side of parenthood. We want to destigmatize therapy for parents, and highlight that everyone has the same doubts when it comes to parenting.”

The mental health startup landscape is beginning to see a real shift as funding has reached a record $852 million USD globally in the first quarter of 2021, nearly twice the amount raised during the same period in 2020. Cherry attributed the industry’s momentum to the rise of mental health awareness.

“We’re seeing high profile celebrities speak up about their own experiences with mental health, and while we still have a ton of work to do, the stigma is slowly beginning to lift. People like Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex, and Simone Biles, the US olympic champion, are opening up about their experiences, and this sparks conversations around mental health, while also demonstrating that we all face our own challenges, and asking for help is okay.”

Sarah added that seeing TalkSpace, one of the largest providers of online and mobile therapy in the world, IPO earlier this year really solidified the need for mental health services and the opportunity for startups to innovate.

Alli Therapy prides itself on having therapists that actually speak parent. Users can find individual or couples’ support with therapists who specialize in all types of parenthood challenges.

Michelle Winterburn, MSW, RSW, Alli Therapist

Michelle Winterburn, one of Alli Therapy’s therapists, highlighted that stigma and financial restrictions are some of the biggest barriers when it comes to parents accessing mental health services.

“Many people think seeking therapy means they are a failure. Although we have come a long way in shifting the perception of mental health and wellness, the stigma persists.

Finances are always a consideration, especially with a new family. All Alli therapists are licenced and registered, making their fees reimbursable through most extended healthcare plans or as an eligible medical expense on taxes. Therapy may be more affordable than you think.”

Michelle believes Alli Therapy’s approach when it comes to helping parents is truly unique. She highlights three main pillars that differentiate their services from other mental health providers: specificity, accessibility, and affordability.

“The journey of parenthood comes with unique challenges at each milestone. Alli Therapy supports clients from pregnancy planning to empty nesters, which can be a 16-20 year journey. All of our therapists have a special interest in helping parents and have taken additional training in helping parents navigate parenthood related challenges.

It can be hard to find specialized clinics in rural areas. We make specialized therapy accessible to anyone, regardless of location. Further, getting out of the house takes a lot of logistics and planning for parents. Alli Therapy makes it easy for them to have sessions from the comfort of their own homes.

Lastly, Alli Therapy is committed to not leaving any parent behind. We don’t want anyone to not seek therapy due to budget constraints. To accommodate clients on parental leave who may not have insurance, we offer a sliding scale option to offer our services to those who cannot afford the full price.”

Michelle also stresses that seeking parenting therapy does not equate to failure. “This is a huge misconception in the space, but we are all interconnected, and sometimes we need to seek help as much as we are giving help.

As parents we are always giving. When the pandemic hit, we had to continue to give –  but without the support of others in the ways we once had. This takes a heavy toll on many of us, and having a safe space to talk about the highs and lows of parenting with a skilled, non-judgmental, therapeutic lens can make a huge difference for so many.”


Want to learn more about Alli Therapy’s personalized support for parents? Check out their website to learn more.


Alli Therapy is looking to fuel their growth to provide more parents with the services they need. Interested in teaming up with Alli to improve mental health support for parents? Reach out to Sarah Rennick and Cherry Xu!

23 up-and-coming tech startups you’ll want to keep an eye on

Meet the DMZ’s newest Bootcamp cohort, 23 companies who are innovating across diverse industries

Our newest
Bootcamp cohort is in full swing. The DMZ is ecstatic to present 23 tech companies that have been hand-selected to join this cohort, from startups that produce smart bedsheets, to platforms that help businesses share data about their carbon footprint. For the next 6 weeks, the DMZ will help these founders validate their business idea, establish a minimum viable product, and build a roadmap for implementation to launch their startup.

Bootcamp founders participate in peer-to-peer sessions, founder roundtables, and expert-led workshops. They receive 80+ membership benefits valued at $470,000+, have one-on-one support from our Program Leads, and much more. Post-graduation, they will be on track to launch their startup within 3 months and generate revenue within 6, allowing them to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey!

The cohort has founders based in Canada, U.S., U.K., and Ukraine.

Keep an eye out for these startups who are making major waves in tech:

lightster image
offers a mobile platform for customer interviews on-demand.  They enable Product Managers & Entrepreneurs (Creators) to talk to target customers (Lightsters) in 60 seconds, allowing anyone to earn $60 an hour by being their true self with no investment or skillsets required.

notion patch
Notion Patch is an ed-tech startup offering online XR exams. Identifying the need for online exam security and XR technology positions, Notion Patch offers customers to complete certified & approved exams online in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, or with a Smartphone AR App.


Crowd Party Inc.
is the Netflix for workplace games, allowing teams to build joyful connections remotely or in a hybrid working environment.


ballstreet image
is building a fractionalized stock market for trading sports cards on the blockchain. They enable card owners to earn royalties and buyers to invest in fractional ownership in the sports world’s most sought-after collectibles.


Carbon Graph is a communications platform for businesses to share data about the carbon footprint of their products. It is the first of its kind to enable complex, global supply chains to achieve carbon transparency and associated ROI.


Car Juggle
is a platform where users can appraise, buy, sell, or lease a pre-owned vehicle, with the ability to determine fair market value, list or buy, and get instant offers from dealers, including international buyers.


swftr image
provides a platform to streamline the process of making critical deliveries with high reliability, transparency, and efficiency. Equipped with a technology-enabled platform and scalable network of delivery professionals, SWFTR offers clients a holistic critical logistics solution, allowing them to focus on their day-to-day operations.


dwella image
is a prop-tech company aiming to democratize real estate investing. By leveraging the ethereum blockchain, Dwella is making fractional ownership possible and providing liquidity.


Tailwind is an online guidance counselling platform that helps students make a successful transition into the first year of post-secondary school.


litespace image
is a modern, hybrid, and remote workplace solution focused on optimizing efficiency and engagement in the workspace. Through AI, Litespaces enables efficient collaboration among employees based on their statuses, teams, roles, and their proximity to each other.


Noxware Ltd.
is a MedTech startup that produces smart bedsheets for remote health monitoring for seniors requiring telehealth services at home. Noxware’s bedsheets can detect different patterns of body movement, perform remote rehabilitation, and monitor cardiovascular abnormalities and sleep disorders.


gobazzinga image
is a blockchain-powered gamified social media platform that helps creators in developing faster monetization of sustainable revenue streams that allows them to continue doing what they love.


quanta vici image
Quanta Vici
is a smart wearable tech startup that was born to expand the spectrum of human senses and abilities through practical day-to-day smart wearable technologies. Their products include Smart Heated Wearables, a product line of gloves and socks that sense and maintain the exact temperature clients personally chose.


Cartoonely is a marketplace that helps customers purchase custom art made by real artists. Cartoonely has sold custom portraits across 14 different countries within a year.


Round the Block
offers a mobile app that helps students find driving instructors easily. They also organize instructor schedules and handle daily marketing, enabling instructors to focus on teaching.


virtue image
is a Chrome extension that empowers consumers to make a change by leveraging their buying decisions. Virtue activates when users shop online while seamlessly recommending 300+ Black-owned alternative businesses.


Beauty N Brushes
is a social beauty booking web app connecting women and People of Colour to Black beauty professionals. It allows clients to explore the Black beauty looks they love and book the professionals responsible for those looks.


is building a SaaS-enabled marketplace that allows homeowners to order custom ironwork from all around the world.


snap write ai
SnapWrite AI
uses product images to generate product features and product descriptions for eCommerce companies. They provide tools for retailers, independent store owners, in-house marketing teams, and copywriters to structure a brand’s catalogue.


Brainbot is a personalized concussion recovery app that gamifies recovery, focusing on tracking activities and symptoms and providing the clear guidance survivors seek. Their platform connects users virtually with licensed Occupational Therapists for enriched support. Shelley Vaisberg, Brainbot’s founder, is available for private consultation here.


Granularity helps businesses decide how much to order and how often with improved accuracy. Granularity infuses demand forecasting with AI and big data, using social media, macroeconomics, and more.


VisionAI Solutions
integrates data from wearables and medical devices and patient EMR (Electronic Medical Record) data to provide real-time data on homecare, retirement home, and long-term care clients.

Vicuna Corp
is an ed-tech startup that houses Scholaebot, a smart engine streamlining the creation, generation, editing, and management of mathematics content with minimal user input. Scholaebot consists of a base repository of mathematics template questions, and analyses and generates similar questions based on those templates.


If you are an early-stage tech founder and are interested in joining the DMZ Bootcamp, check out more about the program details and selection criteria here.


Meet Senia Wang, the studentpreneur with a sustainable take on the pet industry

On Wednesdays, we startup.

To celebrate our women-identifying founders, we’ve put together ‘On Wednesdays, we startup’, a blog series dedicated to putting women founders centre stage to acknowledge their work, complexities and wins! 

We hope to push women founder stories forward and share lessons learned and insights for other aspiring women entrepreneurs.

We recently sat down with Senia Wang, the Co-Founder and COO of Charmy Pet, to learn more about the company and their commitment to creating ethically and sustainably sourced pet products, as well as Senia’s experience as a woman studentpreneur.

Charmy Pet is a pet nutrition platform and monthly subscription service built to address the importance of individualized diets for pets.

“I think the work we are doing at Charmy Pet can really change the pet food industry. Not only are we providing pet owners with products free from added preservatives, we are fully transparent with where our products are sourced, empowering pet owners to make informed decisions.” Their technology evaluates each pet’s nutritional needs based on breed, age, activity level, and more. Providing personalized pet food, Charmy Pet allows pet owners to track exactly where their ingredients are being sourced, and track their orders in real time. 

The need for real and sustainable products

“Research shows us that pets’ lives are shortened by about 20% today, compared to other centuries in history. This — in large part  — is due to their diets.” 

Senia explains that a lot of pet food today is extremely processed. A majority of manufacturers today use extrusion, a process that uses high heat to turn ingredients into kibble, which removes up to 40% of the ingredients nutrients. 

“At Charmy Pet we want to provide nutritious and sustainably sourced ingredients for pet owners. We believe that long and healthy lives for pets begin with their diets.”  

Supporting Canadian farmers, Charmy Pet sources a majority of its meat from across Alberta and Ontario and is an official partner of Ocean Wise Seafood, meaning its seafood is certified sustainably sourced.

Wanting to be as transparent with their customers as possible, Charmy Pet has incorporated a QR code onto the packaging of their products, allowing customers to quickly access a list of ingredients and details on how and where the protein was sourced.

“Our team consists of environmentalists, and we wanted to create products we could be proud of. The pet food industry has not stepped up when it comes to providing nutritious and ethical products pet owners can feel proud about giving to their furry friends — we knew it was important to adapt to the environmentally-conscious consumer.”

“The pet food industry has not stepped up when it comes to providing nutritious and ethical products pet owners can feel proud about giving to their furry friends — we knew it was important to adapt to the environmentally conscious consumer.”

The realities of being a woman founder

Senia highlights that women founders typically have more responsibilities to juggle and face various external pressures in comparison to their male counterparts. 

“It’s easy to get distracted from others’ expectations of us. While we have seen some change, I do think women with ambitious career goals are still undervalued and are not taken as seriously as men. 

Our performance as women is valued according to different parameters than males, across different areas of life, and it’s important for the ecosystem to eliminate these biases. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what stage of life you’re at, if you have a business idea that you think will serve a purpose, just do it. ”

She encourages all aspiring women innovators to dive right in.

“There is never going to be a perfect time to start a business, so just start however you can. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from doing what you want.”

Juggling school and a growing business

When not working on Charmy Pet, Senia is busy with her undergraduate degree. A 3rd year student at Ryerson University, Senia is studying Hospitality and Tourism Management.

When it comes to balancing school life and Charmy Pet, Senia underscores the importance of organization and having a solid Co-Founder. 

“I have a strong relationship with my Co-Founder, Zach Sheng. We are both supportive, and keep each other accountable when it comes to both school and Charmy Pet. 

We’re strong in different areas. He takes on more of the business development, whereas I lead marketing and customer acquisition. Having a Co-Founder whose skills are complementary to yours is vital, and ensures our time is being used efficiently.”

Want to learn more about Charmy Pet’s products? Head over to their website here.


Save 30% on your first order and get free shipping with code CharmyFirstBox.


Make sure to follow the DMZ on Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram to follow our ‘On Wednesdays we startup’ women founder series.


To learn more about the Women Founders Programs, visit

Get to know the winners of our inaugural Black Innovation Summit

Investing in the growth of rising Black-led tech startups

11 Black-led Bootcamp companies, 1 day of pitching, and $49,000 CAD of total funding awarded!

This summer, the DMZ hosted its inaugural Black Innovation Summit, bringing together the next generation of rising tech startups led by Black founders! 

Equitable access to funding has been a longstanding issue in the innovation ecosystem. The Black Innovation Summit was designed to put capital directly into the hands of Black founders to help them take their startups to the next level. 

Not only did the Black Innovation Summit award DMZ Bootcamp companies funding, it also put a spotlight on the importance of supporting the Black entrepreneurial community, and investing in the growth of an inclusive tech ecosystem.

So, how did the Black Innovation Summit work?

The DMZ brought together select Black alumni founders from the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp to deliver startup pitches to a panel of esteemed judges. With a grand first place prize of $20,000 CAD at stake, founders laid it all out on the line to wow the panel with their innovative solutions. 

Who came out on top?

Our founders did not make it easy for the judges, as all the startups delivered compelling pitches. From edtech, femtech, real estate, HR, fintech and more, we saw an array of innovative solutions and products that have the potential to make a real impact in their respective industry. Congratulations to all of the participants and winners!

1st place: Tunde Omotoye, Co-Founder of HumanSquad won $20,000 CAD in funding.

2nd place: Eyra Abraham, Founder of Lisnen won $10,000 CAD in funding.

3rd place: Michael Collins, Founder and CEO of Periculum won $5,000 CAD in funding. 

We connected with the top 3 winning founders to learn more about their startup, how the funding will help them, and their experience with the Black Innovation Programs at the DMZ!

HumanSquad – Tunde Omotoye

Tell us about HumanSquad.

HumanSquad helps people navigate their immigration journey and career path by connecting immigrants to licensed immigration consultants in Canada. The current Canadian immigration landscape for prospective immigrants includes traditional players, and complex and overwhelming processes which are expensive. 

At HumanSquad, we digitize the immigration process, making it simple and affordable.

Could you shed some light on your entrepreneurial journey? What brought you to where you are today? 

Our CEO and Co-Founder Tunde Omotoye provides informal immigration and human resource advisory support to over a quarter of a million followers seeking to move, settle, and grow their career in Canada. 

Tunde’s requests to have one-on-one advisory sessions concerning Canadian immigration evolved into HumanSquad. The reputation Tunde has garnered over the years has lent reliability and credibility to the HumanSquad model.

What was going through your mind when you found out you won first place at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit?

A lot, actually. It was unbelievable! We had practiced multiple times before the D-Day, so we were glad that our efforts weren’t wasted.

What impact did the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp have on your startup’s trajectory? 

Coming into the DMZ’s Bootcamp, we had launched our prototype and were already seeing traction. So our expectations for the program, beyond validating our solution, were to upskill the team and redefine our go-to market strategy across sales, marketing, and tech to optimize our reach. 

Before joining the Black Innovation Bootcamp, we didn’t understand concepts like ‘user journey’ or ‘OKRs’. Now, we understand customer profiling and engagement, and key client-related key performance indicators to look out for that can impact our bottom line and boost our topline.

Do you have plans on how you would like to use the money you’ve won? How will it help support your startup?

Our current tech infrastructure needs to be upgraded, so a significant portion of the grant is going to that. We are currently expanding our distributed tech team to work both on the front-end and back-end of our portal. 

We’re also looking to invest in our marketing efforts, as we haven’t launched any aggressive paid marketing initiatives since we launched over a year ago. We are planning to test run some initiatives in our playbook to grow our customer engagement.

What message do you want to share with fellow Black entrepreneurs who are trying to build their own companies?

It’s important to connect with people already in the entrepreneurship space to understand their journey. We need to debunk the myth that entrepreneurship is a solitary journey. Entrepreneurs offer different services and sell different products, and there’s nothing wrong with learning from one another’s insights. 

Of course – products differ, but entrepreneurship is by and large quite agnostic and there is so much a founder can learn from other founders. Following closely on the heels of that, I’d say to own your journey, take every entrepreneurial adventure as a learning experience, and allow yourself to evolve and learn through it all.


Lisnen – Eyra Abraham

Tell us a little bit about Lisnen.

Lisnen focuses on everyday safety and convenience challenges for the Deaf and hard of hearing. Fire alarms, sirens, yells, cries, door knocks, and bells are sounds that expect attention. 

Yet, for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, not knowing can be a risk. Lisnen is solving the lack of access and inequalities of using only sound to communicate critical information for people with hearing loss.

What brought you to where you are today? 

I started Lisnen to address a personal pain point that I was experiencing as someone with hearing loss. I had slept through a fire alarm in my condo after taking off my hearing aids to sleep. I hadn’t realized what had happened until a couple of days later when a notice in my inbox notified tenants of the situation.

It was a wake-up call – people living with disabilities do not have equal access to the same safety standards in establishments and residential areas. After buying and trying different products, I was waiting for someone to create a solution that worked. Finally, it dawned on me that maybe I should be the one.

What was going through your mind when you found out you won second place at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit?

After hearing so many great pitches and founders with amazing businesses, I was very surprised, yet incredibly grateful.

I hadn’t pitched in a while, and I wanted to deliver my pitch to improve on it and practise. I was ready to congratulate the winners and head back to work! 

When I won, I realized that we are blessed to be in the company of so many Black founders who are pushing forward to make changes for our community.

What impact did the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp have on your startup’s trajectory? 

The Black Innovation Bootcamp allowed me to see the successes and the possibilities within the entrepreneurial community. This was empowering, and gave me an extra bit of confidence with my work.  

Also, the support network of founders has been impactful. There is a lot of diverse expertise that I can tap into to assist my business.  

Do you have plans for how you would like to use the money you’ve won? How will it help support your startup?

The funding will support our app development as we continue to build our machine learning algorithm to support people with hearing loss and our corporate partners.

What message do you want to share with fellow Black entrepreneurs who are trying to build their own companies?

Nothing in our past can prepare us to reach our next level of success. So persevere and stay patient. Continue to grow and learn, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable as you reach new heights!

Lisnen is engaging with people in the hearing loss community and welcomes anyone with hearing loss to join their community of app testers. Head over to their website to sign up and co-create their community!


Periculum – Michael Collins

Tell us a little bit about Periculum.

Periculum is a top provider of data analytics and credit assessment services specifically targeted to underserved markets. We work with financial institutions and lenders to digitize their solutions, including credit scoring and loan underwriting. Additionally, we provide data analytic solutions to give them an edge in the crowded marketplace.

Could you shed some light on your entrepreneurial journey? What brought you to where you are today? 

I was born and raised in Nigeria, where I spent the first 18 years of my life. I came to Canada on my 19th birthday to go to school at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, British Columbia. I ended up transferring to Thompson University in Kamloops. 

After school, I worked for BMO and CIBC, where I was first made aware of the problem Periculum is working on now – ‘thin files’.  ‘Thin files’ refer to individuals and businesses that do not have access to loans or other financial services because they have little or no credit history. 

About 1 in 15 people in North America are underserved by the financial services industry, but in the African market it’s 1 in 3 people. This led me to start Periculum to help people and businesses in Africa access financial and lending services. 

What was going through your mind when you found out you won third place at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit? 

At first, I didn’t really register the announcement because I was not expecting it!

There were some fantastic founders building great companies, so I did not expect to make it in the top three. When they announced Periculum as third, I was shocked, excited, and honoured! 

What impact did the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp have on your startup’s trajectory?

Boy, where do I start…the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp is one of the best programs I have ever attended…period! 

The lessons I learned from the great program mentors literally took Periculum to the next level. We didn’t have a very clear business strategy when we started, but the program helped us define our strategy and execute on it. I cannot say enough about this program!

Do you have plans on how you would like to use the money you’ve won? How will it help support your startup? 

The money will help us acquire more server space, which will allow us to onboard more customers and grow our revenue.

What message do you want to share with fellow Black entrepreneurs who are trying to build their own companies? 

Starting a company under normal circumstances is very hard, but doing it as a Black founder is even harder. Programs like the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp makes the black entrepreneurship journey easier.

I am very proud and honoured to be a part of the inaugural Black Innovation Summit, and I hope other institutions follow the DMZ’s lead in establishing programs like this because the more we get our Black community involved in entrepreneurship, the better our communities and world will be. The future is bright!

Periculum just launched a $500K pre-seed round, and have already raised over half of it! The round will help them expand their reach and offerings in the Nigerian and West African markets.

We’re now accepting applications for the DMZ’s Bootcamp fall cohort. Make your way to to apply today. 

For more information on the DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs, click

Demystifying menopause: How Womaneze is helping women navigate menopause and regain control

On Wednesdays, we startup.

To celebrate our women-identifying founders, we’ve put together ‘On Wednesdays, we startup’, a blog series dedicated to putting women founders center stage to acknowledge their work, complexities and wins! 

We hope to push women-founder stories forward and share lessons learned and insights for other aspiring women entrepreneurs. 

This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with Salma El-Yassir and Marijana Novakovic, the Co-Founders of Womaneze, to learn more about their startup, how they’re helping women navigate menopause, and their hopes for the future of the femtech industry. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves, and how you founded Womaneze?

We are two women who have crossed the threshold of 60! We both went through menopause and had difficulties with it, but at the time, there was very little information and support available for women. 

As a result of hormonal changes, we had both been battling the extra pounds that come with menopause. We met for the first time through an online forum for managing weight. Eventually, we became good friends, travelling to visit each other with our families in our respective home countries!

We had hundreds of conversations about our experiences battling the physical, psychological and social onslaught of menopause without any tangible support – all while holding down jobs and raising our families. 

Despite being well-informed on health matters, we both felt blind-sided by menopause – the topic of menopause isn’t openly spoken about, making it a taboo topic in women’s health. It is only referred to with a witty smirk or an embarrassing silence, even though it affects every single woman alive.

That’s when we decided to team up and found Womaneze, a platform that we would have only dreamed of when going through menopause. 

Marijana is a lawyer and an ex-banker, and Salma worked in both healthcare and development. We decided to leave our respective jobs to work for ourselves and create a company that reflected what we stood for.

Supporting women through menopause was something that we both cared deeply about, and we knew it was time to take the leap and make a positive change. 

As our next step, we both pursued postgraduate education. Salma has a Master of Public Health and a Master’s of Public Administration, the latter from Harvard, and Marijana has a Master of Laws specializing in EU Law, and HR. We each held senior management positions in our respective fields, and are trained and certified coaches, which is very helpful in creating safe spaces for women to interact and share their own experiences of menopause. Our skills are complementary, which allows us to focus on our strengths and be supportive of one another. 

What exactly is the Womaneze platform, and what is it trying to accomplish?

Womaneze helps women navigate menopause and regain control naturally. It’s a platform that aims to normalize the experience of menopause by bringing the subject out into the open, so women do not have to suffer in silence and feel alone. 

We’re proud to say our community has over 44,000 women who engage with us and with each other on a daily basis. 

Womaneze takes a scientific, but non-medical approach, to menopause. We focus on how a woman can help herself, and others around her, to better understand menopause by using holistic strategies that have been proven by science. 

Of course, there are women who require medical assistance during menopause, but for the majority, it is a natural (yet challenging) transition. We help women understand what is going on in their bodies, what to expect, and how to reduce the negative effects of hormonal changes.

We are creating a space where women can speak openly about their own experiences, and find information and support. We support women through normalization, information and communication. We do this by: 

  • Shedding light on the 47+ symptoms of menopause. Most women are surprised to learn that their symptoms are menopause-related, or that perimenopause can begin in your early 40’s.
  • Allowing them to express their doubts, fears, and worries. Often overlooked compared to the physical effects, there are psychological effects caused by changing hormones. When women are surrounded by others in the same boat, they feel empowered to share stories and strategies that help them cope. 
  • Making research accessible. We highlight natural ways for women to help themselves by curating research.  
  • Helping with hot flashes through tech. We have developed an app that focuses on helping women find natural ways of dealing with hot flashes. 70-80% of women going through menopause will experience hot flashes and in some cases, they can be debilitating.

We help women understand what is going on in their bodies, what to expect, and how to reduce the negative effects of hormonal changes.

What have been your top lessons learned since starting Womaneze? 

  1. The importance of clear communication between founders. A good working relationship among founders is the basic building block of a successful startup. Learning to manage differences of opinion (often strong ones) in a productive manner is very important.
  2. Finding a co-founder with complementary skills. No one can be the best at everything. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is key, as is leveraging the strengths of others. Knowing when it’s best to get out of the way and letting others do what they do best is essential.  
  3. Don’t be wedded to a single idea. Continuously collect data and adjust as you go along. Data and metrics help illuminate the way and avoid costly mistakes.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks and learning from them!
  5. Being an entrepreneur can be very tough. There is so much to learn and juggle. Make sure to manage your own doubts and fears and keep your head above water!

The femtech space has certainly been growing, as there has been a boom of new products and services developed to support women’s health. However, only 5% of femtech startups address menopause. Why do you think this is the case?

One of the main reasons is the lack of funding and investment, as women-founded startups receive far less funding than male-founded ones. In 2020, women-founded startups received 2.3% of all VC funding.

The ecosystem has an age bias that tends to favour younger founders, who are often less likely to be interested in menopause. People often have an image of what a founder looks like — a 20-something male and who only survives on ramen and works 24/7. 

Women entrepreneurs who are more likely to be interested in the menopause space are less likely to fit the false pretences of what founders ‘should’ look like. 

The consumer technology revolution has only really taken off in the past couple of decades, with the use of smartphones becoming almost ubiquitous. The generation of women used to managing their health and tracking their data is only now beginning to enter perimenopause and explore solutions to help manage their health. 

Today, there are a plethora of period and fertility tracking apps in comparison to menopause apps. This trend is beginning to shift as more tech-savvy women begin to enter the menopause transition. 

There is also the undeniable — the taboo nature of the subject. Like fertility issues (another taboo subject until recently), menopause is an aspect of being a woman. Historically, society has placed a large emphasis on the fertility of women. Menopause announces the end of fertility and this can be difficult, leaving many women feeling invisible.

For all the progress that society has made in the gender equality arena, this remains an issue that needs to be addressed, and many startups are beginning to do so. Menopause is not sexy; men often cringe when it comes up, and younger women often feel that it is irrelevant to them, as it is a ways away.

People often have an image of what a founder looks like — a 20-something male and who only survives on ramen and works 24/7.  Women entrepreneurs who are more likely to be interested in the menopause space are less likely to fit the false pretences of what founders ‘should’ look like.

Menopause support has been identified as the next game-changer in the global femtech industry. As new startups look to enter the space, what do you hope for the industry to achieve at large?

We hope that the voices of the 1 billion women in menopause are heard. 

We hope new startups in the space call out the organizations and industries that need to step up and pay more attention to older women. 

The needs of women in menopause change — their skin changes, their hair changes, even the way perfume smells on their skin changes. The beauty and clothing industries need to pay more attention to this demographic, and cater their services and products to better suit their needs. 

More importantly, the workplace needs to accommodate women who are in the different stages of menopause. Women often have to leave their jobs because of the overwhelming nature of certain symptoms. There is a huge opportunity for HR policies to adapt and support their women staff, similarly to providing maternity and paternity leave. 

A supported employee is a happier and more productive one.

We’d like to see more women in menopausal transition come out from the shadows and demand better products and services that cater to their particular needs. The way menopause is discussed and managed needs to change completely. 

Femtech founders have faced challenges in fundraising, as a majority of VC investors are men. Apart from market opportunity, why should more investors look into supporting femtech, and products and solutions that support women going through menopause?

Market opportunity and return on investment (ROI) are the primary reasons that investors decide to invest. However, there are more and more investors who are beginning to define ROI by more than just profit, but social good.

Every investor, regardless of gender, has a vested interest in bettering the lives and health of women. They have daughters, sisters, friends and mothers. Women account for half of the population, and addressing women’s health improves the diversification of investor portfolios.  

What advice would you give to founders looking to break into the femtech space?

We think it is very important for founders to really understand the niche that they are addressing. Listening to what women want and are really looking for is essential. 

Younger women have a different attitude towards their health and what they expect. They are more vocal about what they need and are beginning to reject societal norms that have been created by advertisers and society. 

They are demanding a different approach, which incorporates a less prescriptive attitude, and validates their unedited experiences with their own bodies.  

Femtech should be less about the tech and more about the needs of women. Although tech is ‘sexy’ we must remember that it’s an enabler to solve an issue, not the solution itself. It’s important for people on the tech side to be fully immersed in understanding the problem. We found that having a female CTO was crucial, as the work was also relevant to her and she genuinely cared about it.

Founders looking to break into femtech should make sure their team is reflective of the women they are looking to support. At the very least, the startup should have women as close advisors. Experiencing the issue firsthand leads to a deeper understanding and, therefore, a better product.

Femtech should be less about the tech and more about the needs of women. Although tech is ‘sexy’ we must remember that it’s an enabler to solve an issue, not the solution itself.

Are there any women founders that you both look up to for inspiration? 

We admire courageous and forward-thinking entrepreneurs such as:

  • Sarah Blakely, the Founder and CEO of Spanx, for her tenacity and unwillingness to listen to the nay-sayers, and for making Spanx a huge success.
  • Nadia Boujarwah, the Co-Founder and CEO of Dia&Co, for her tenacity and belief in her vision that led her to create a successful company with over 145 employees. She saw a need for fashionable and fun oversized clothing, and she went out and created it. She had to speak to around 100 investors before she could get investors to see her vision. 
  • Rochelle Weitzner, the CEO of Pause, a well-aging company creating skincare products for women in menopause. We love her concept of well-aging rather than anti-aging. 
  • Sonsoles Gonzalez, the CEO and Founder of Better Not Younger, a company creating hair care products for menopausal women.

What’s in store for Womeneze? 

Womaneze is in the process of launching its first premium features for the Hot Flash Help app as well as launching a space for women to find products that help with menopause.We have a list of premium features that we will be introducing in the next few months. Women will be able to specify what issues they want to track, and export data in a format that helps them address their hot flashes with their health provider. 

We will also be including a feature where women are matched with other women to create support groups based on issues they are experiencing in menopause, interests, or geographical location.

Womaneze will be offering a 60% discount for premium features until mid-September 2021. Head over to their website to learn more. 

Make sure to follow the DMZ on
Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram to follow our ‘On Wednesdays we startup’ women founder series. 

To learn more about the Women Founders Programs, visit

Meet 25 up-and-coming tech startups in the DMZ’s Bootcamp

Introducing a new cohort of Bootcamp companies who are making waves across diverse industries 

Our newest Bootcamp cohort is in full swing, and we are ecstatic to present the 25 tech companies that we have hand-selected to help grow. For the next 6 weeks, the DMZ will help these founders validate their business idea, establish a minimum viable product and build a roadmap for implementation to launch their startup.

Our Bootcamp founders get the chance to participate in peer-to-peer sessions, founder roundtables and expert-led workshops, receive 80+ membership benefits valued at $470,000+, have one-on-one support from our Program Leads, and much more. Post-graduation, they will be on track to launch their startup within 3 months and generate revenue within 6, allowing them to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey!

We are thrilled to share that our new cohort has a global reach, with startups based across 8 different countries: Canada, Italy, Nigeria, U.S., Iran, Pakistan, Korea, and England. 

What are we waiting for? Meet the 25 startups in our summer Bootcamp cohort:

afrilearn image
Afrilearn is an education technology corporation leveraging seasoned teachers, animators and developers to deliver affordable, world-class education for Africans anywhere.

Glo3D offers a simplified mobile and web app for any eCommerce platforms to create, share and embed interactive, multimedia 2D and 3D product photos to their online stores.


PaydApp is Canada’s first financial app dedicated to post-secondary education. Payd leverages natural spending habits of current, former, and future students to help them pay off their student debt with ease, limiting financial stress and hardship. 

Websona connects students with campus involvement opportunities and fellow students. It allows users to connect with each other instantly by scanning their digital profile QR Code and filters extra-curricular events for users through tags.


Diatron Health is a health tech startup that is revolutionizing how chronic conditions can be prevented, managed and diagnosed by leveraging on the power of behavioural science, mobile computing, artificial intelligence and data science.

is the first digital health platform with integration capabilities that enables physiotherapists providing virtual care to track and quantify a patient’s biomechanics using laptop cameras. Physios can diagnose a patient, create treatment plans, and monitor their improvements through reassessments, providing a more effective and transparent approach to virtual physiotherapy.


Ationlab is a lifestyle-design company that pursues social missions supporting sustainable, independent life in contemporary society. Their recently launched self-care app, Prickly, provides support to single-person households. They are also working on a portable UVC sterilizer and a mobile dumbbell using EMS technology.

TimeoutIQ Tech is an AI-powered solution that helps parents manage their kids’ recreational screen time and keeps their minds sharp with a personalized interactive K-8 education curriculum focused on Science, Math, Geography, Computer Science and English.


Visto is automating the immigration process to help people navigate the immigration journey at a fraction of the price. The immigration process can be extremely expensive, confusing and stressful, and Visto’s software solution was designed to empower  immigrants to go through the process on their own.


SCYiBL is a 6 step neuro-scientific process that helps individuals work through trauma. The app guides users to rewire their own brain using an innovative, scientifically-proven process that harnesses brain plasticity to help individuals overcome negative life events and thrive.


Lobbea is a private social network for apartment buildings that helps its residents communicate through a shared feed wall, as well as buy, sell, lend, and borrow items, create events, and send messages to their neighbours.


Djamgatech Corp builds multilingual and platform independent high tech education and certification mobile applications. Their objective is to have a global reach and help professionals and students prepare for their technical certification directly from their mobile phone.


iReal is the first Real-Estate-Data-Platform-as-a-Service with made-to-measure AI and NLP, capturing each organization’s ‘secret sauce’ to help them become the real estate company their clients expect.

Podium Team is a vertically integrated social media platform that connects, engages, and supports the athlete-fan community by empowering users to own and control their content and monetization.


PHYSICo is an application for companies to proactively identify and reduce burnout in their employees. Users send physical and custom challenges to each other and earn points for completing challenges. 

IMC Business Architecture has developed a mobile app-based banking solution that helps users build a budget using behavioural economic tools, as well as receive access to small credit for credit repair and savings tools for planning.


Curismart is a marketplace platform that allows healthcare professionals to only shop from verified sellers globally. This marketplace offers everything used in a healthcare facility from bin liners, materials, supplies, devices or capital equipment.


Pandos is an online platform that enables remote collaboration and teamwork in post-secondary programs. Students can use the platform to form and manage teams, while instructors can create teams based on criteria and assign tasks.


Voiceform is an online tool that gives you the ability to create surveys that can be answered with voice. It provides a convenient way to scale your research without losing the important contextual insights you would get from interviews.


Hutsy Financial is a Canadian digital bank committed to offering a fee-free prepaid VISA debit card with up to 30% cash back at select retailers, accompanied by an application that enables clients to track their spending and have access to early payroll.


Revitalizing Fitness is developing Toronto’s preeminent network of fitness and health spaces, both virtual and brick and mortar, by partnering with community gyms to develop and elevate the customer and trainer experience.


Bloc of Estate uses an intuitive gesture-based interface where users can share their home preferences. With that data, machine learning will automatically rank listings inferred from inputs so users waste less time going through listings.


Adam Wa Mishmish  is an educational cartoon created for children to learn and love the Arabic language. Catered to children aged 0 to 5, all episodes are music based for Arabic learning. Each episode focuses on a different subject, ranging from alphabets, numbers, musical instruments, animals, and more.

Blox is focused on developing supply chain technology to help clients save costs and increase visibility to their supply chain.


 helps small Canadian accounting firms to confidently implement changing professional requirements in a cost-effective, efficient and secure manner.  The cloud-based platform allows partners and sole practitioners in accounting firms to access and store client information in real-time, reducing the need for servers and outdated information.


If you are an early-stage tech founder and are interested in joining the DMZ Bootcamp, then check out more about the program details and selection criteria here

Applications are now being accepted for the October 2021 cohort. Apply here today!

From a family roofing business to $10M CAD in seed funding

How a 3rd generation roofer is disrupting the roofing market

For years, roofing has been seen as a traditional industry, relying on skills passed on from one generation to another. After working in the space for nearly 12 years, Richard Nelson, Founder and CEO of RoofR, saw an opportunity to introduce an innovative solution to modernize and digitize the field.

RoofR’s software allows roofers to measure any roof from anywhere with near pinpoint accuracy through aerial imagery and creates polished proposals that help seal the deal. Their tools help roofers streamline their workflow, helping both homeowners and contractors.

We caught up with Richard to learn more about how their company has evolved over the years, their recent raise, and what they have in store for the future.  

For years, roofing has been seen as a great trade in the construction industry, but not necessarily an industry that adopts new tech solutions. As a third-generation roofer by trade, could you tell us a bit about what led you to found RoofR?

Richard Nelson working as a roofer at the beginning of his career.

“The first time I was on a roof, I was 12 years old. Roofing was our family business: my grandfather was a roofer, my uncle was a roofer, and my dad was a roofer. I was a part of the family business for nearly 12 years and then took a job with one of the largest roofing contractors in Toronto. I soon realized how broken and archaic the roofing industry was, and knew I needed to do something to fix it. 

So I decided to quit my job, sell my house, and put everything I had into RoofR. Together, with my partner and CTO Kevin Redman, we decided it was time to disrupt the industry. 

What I realized as a roofing contractor and salesman was just how many inefficiencies existed. Consumers did not have a way to find good roofers, and there was a lack of tools available for roofers to streamline their workflow digitally.

This sparked the vision of creating an end to end roofing platform that helps both homeowners and roofing contractors — a software as a service (SaaS) for roofers.”

“This sparked the vision of creating an end to end roofing platform that helps both homeowners and roofing contractors — a software as a service (SaaS) for roofers.”

How would you describe the experience of introducing a new tech platform to a market that may be hesitant to change? How did you break into the industry?

“I come from a family of roofers, and even some of my family members were a bit skeptical of the idea. Traditionally, the construction industry was not tech-enabled, but ultimately I understood the pain points that these roofers were going through, living it myself.”

Richard knew that if he could build a really powerful, but simple software for roofers to utilize, he could make a big difference in the industry. 

“As we began to roll out SaaS features, specifically the measurement tool that allows roofers to measure through satellite, there was certainly some push back from roofers who typically use a tape measure.”

Rather than driving to a client’s house to take measurements, go back to the office, and then return with a final quote, roofers can enter an address in their system and have a complete roof measurement within minutes that auto-calculates material quantities and creates a professional proposal a customer can e-sign. 

“Once we explained to roofers the benefits and the value that we add, that skepticism was pushed aside and they were willing to adopt.”

When the pandemic hit, going digital was inevitable for roofers. This presented an opportunity for RoofR to really solidify its position in the space. Roofers needed to be able to provide quotes and proposals to homeowners digitally, so they had no other choice than to look for reliable solutions they could trust in order to keep their clients safe. Roofr was the solution.

Could you explain to us exactly how the RoofR platform works?

“We enable roofers to measure any roof, from their desk, or in the field, in under two minutes with near pinpoint accuracy through our aerial imagery software. Roofers can then take those measurements and auto populate proposals that can be sent to their customers for e-signature.”

From measurement, to proposal, to a signed contract, RoofR has created a sales toolbox for roofers — automating the entire process under one platform. 

It was recently announced that RoofR secured $4.25 million USD in funding, bringing your new total amount raised to $8.25 million. What does this new round of funding mean for the company, and do you have any specific plans?

Kevin Redman CTO, and Richard Nelson CEO of RoofR.

“We are obsessed with providing a world class customer experience. We go above and beyond with every single customer, even if it doesn’t necessarily scale. With this investment, we plan to build out our sales, customer success, support, and engineering teams to help drive this world-class experience.

What impact did the DMZ have on RoofR’s trajectory?

I was not able to get a meeting with a venture capitalist (VC) before my time at the DMZ. Within two weeks of being part of the program, I had a handful of meetings with VCs that were able to help me refine my pitch. 

Our time at the DMZ helped set us up for our Y Combinator interview. I was able to connect to other founders that had also gone through the YC interview process, and had mock interviews to get hands-on investor practice. I credit a lot of us getting into Y Combinator to the DMZ.”

Moreover, the DMZ was able to help RoofR expand its network and gave the startup a sense of community. “Whenever I needed help, I could walk into the DMZ’s common space and find someone knowledgeable to ask questions, or reach out via email. It was a sense of community that I really loved. And I needed it at that time, because being a solo entrepreneur can be wildly lonely.”

“Whenever I needed help, I could walk into the DMZ’s common space and find someone knowledgeable to ask questions, or reach out via email. It was a sense of community that I really loved. And I needed it at that time, because being a solo entrepreneur can be wildly lonely.”

As an Alumni-in-Residence at the DMZ, what has been your favourite part about mentoring other startups?

“I get a lot of joy out of being an Alumni-in-Residence. I love giving back and helping founders with advice and insights to help them avoid the same mistakes that I’ve made. Being exposed to all the other innovative startups and business models that are being leveraged is also very captivating.”

Richard played a part in helping DMZ alumni company Turing Labs get into the Y-Combinator as well, which he described as “an incredible moment that allowed him to give back to the community.” 

What advice would you give to a fellow founder who is looking to raise funds for their startup?

“When you do get a chance to meet with an investor, make sure you know your numbers. This is a mistake that will affect your credibility. Investors will likely ask you about your growth rates, unit economics and number of active users…etc, so make sure you are prepared.

Focus on telling a story. Rather than just reading off of slides, paint the bigger picture. Remember that as a seed stage company they are often investing in you rather than the company. Sell yourself – why are you the best person to build this multibillion dollar company? Can you pivot if need be? Make sure to really craft the narrative around the size of the opportunity, why now is the time, and why you’re the best person to do this.”

“Remember that as a seed stage company they are often investing in you rather than the company. Sell yourself – why are you the best person to build this multibillion dollar company? Can you pivot if need be? Make sure to really craft the narrative around the size of the opportunity, why now is the time, and why you’re the best person to do this.”

Are you also obsessed with providing world-class customer experiences? RoofR is growing rapidly and has a wide-range of positions available including, sales, product, engineering, finance, and customer success. Head over to to learn more! 

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