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Hear from the DMZ’s first-ever unicorn founder for his advice on building a billion-dollar company

Event recap: The DMZ’s Founder Dinner

Co-founder and CEO of brand interaction platform Ada, Mike Murchison, spilled the entrepreneurial tea at the DMZ’s Founder Dinner earlier this month, sharing lessons learned from scaling the first-ever DMZ unicorn company the ground up.

Empowering brands to automate customer interactions, Ada brings a VIP experience to every customer and employee through its platform. Since 2018, Ada has increased its revenue by 764% and in 2021, raised its Series C at a valuation of $1.2B, officially achieving unicorn status.

The first in-person DMZ Founder Dinner since 2019, the events are designed to bring the larger DMZ founder community together for an evening of food, drinks and connections.

We thought we’d share some of Mike’s insights and how he built the first-ever DMZ unicorn company for other founders looking to build the next big thing. Watch his full founder talk below to learn more about Ada and Mike’s journey, or keep reading for a recap of the tips and learnings Mike shared with the audience during his talk.

Entrepreneurship is a deeply personal experience

“We in this room are all united by this shared dream of building something important, big and world-changing. The journey that we’re all on is a very, very unique one, but we’re all unified in that shared ambition.”

The value of improving your rate of learning

“I think the single most important thing I’ve learned over the course of this journey has been a deep inward focus on improving my own rate of learning.

I think that’s one of the things I so admire about the community here at the DMZ, is that we’re all committed to learning. We’re all highly curious people who are eager to learn new things.

I encourage you to ask yourself, ‘What is piquing my curiosity? What problem am I facing that may seem insurmountable that I may be able to learn something new from?'”

Founders have a responsibility to support one another

“We all have a responsibility as founders to support one another in our own growth. I encourage everyone making progress themselves to share it with others.

We’re not competing against one another, we’re supporting one another. We all win when a startup in our ecosystem succeeds.”

Mike Murchison talking with another guest. - DMZ Founder Dinner recap

Sometimes the easiest path IS the right path

“I was dealing with a hard problem and someone asked me, ‘What if it wasn’t hard? What if it was easy?’

I’ve grown up and trained myself into thinking I need to do the hardest things, and what I’ve learned in the course of building Ada is that sometimes the easiest path, where you’re feeling the pull, is actually the right path.”

Don’t take yourself too seriously

“Looking back, something I would’ve done differently is not taking myself so seriously.

I wasted a lot of energy thinking about what the ideal path was meant to look like. I wish – earlier on – I would’ve let go of my perception of the right path and been more excited about the path that was unfolding before me.”

DMZ card that says "Changing entrepreneurs' lives." - DMZ Founder Dinner recap

Want to have a front row seat at the next DMZ Founder Dinner to hear from other founders who have made it? Apply to our upcoming Incubator cohort kicking off this fall at dmz.to/incubator.

Meet the DMZ’s Spring ‘22 startup cohort

Introducing the DMZ’s newest cohort: 12 tech startups that are disrupting the Canadian tech ecosystem 


The DMZ Incubator is a market validation and traction program that helps venture-backable pre-seed and seed-stage startups execute their go-to market strategy, acquire lighthouse customers, gain media exposure, explore global expansion, preparing for the next round of funding, and much, much more.

Out of hundreds of the high-calibre startup founders that applied from Canada and around the world, the DMZ hand-picked 12 tech companies to join a new 18-month cohort in the Incubator. 

This cohort has startups joining from Vancouver, Canada to Budapest, Hungary, across diverse industries like logistics, insurtech, fintech, proptech, and more.

Introducing our Spring ‘22 Incubator cohort:

Airtasks helps architecture, engineering, and construction teams manage their daily activities more effectively and collaborate in a common data environment.

AssetFlo is building the next generation of location products to help the supply chain increase visibility with a single device that works everywhere and eliminates costly infrastructure.

Baoba is creating street-smart insurances by combining location intelligence with technologies to create geo-triggered coverages. Baoba’s vision is to become the #1 global ecosystem orchestrator for on-demand insurance needs and the platform for connecting a fragmented market.

Carmodity partners with car dealerships to provide lease-financing to customers in a debt-free and interest-free model.


Cozii Technologies provides sustainable residential and commercial properties management services. Their flagship product Cozii Proptech allows residential landlords to manage their rental properties from anywhere in the world. 

Lightster is a mobile platform that enables tech startups to build instant user communities for input and co-creation, and rewards users for their time with exclusive access and cash.

Monosens helps industrial machine builders and maintenance providers predict which machines need maintenance or aftermarket services using IoT technology and AI.

Businesses, governments, and individuals share many important documents every day. myLaminin uses Blockchain to deliver security, convenience, and control to the document issuer, document holder, and third-party document verifiers.

Reyts is a marketplace that allows individuals to swap currencies seamlessly and securely.

SizeWize offers an AI-backed fit recommendations eCommerce app that ensures online shoppers can buy the right size online, providing reduced returns, increased conversion, increased AOV, targeted marketing and optimal supply chains. 



Getting a car is time-consuming and difficult. Related services like insurance and maintenance make it even worse.
ShiftRide offers flexible car subscriptions on their users’ own terms.

VRapeutic is an Ontario-based UNICEF Innovation Fund portfolio software house specializing in developing therapeutic and rehabilitation solutions, with a focus on virtual reality (VR) for learning and developmental challenges.

 

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

How to lure and hire top talent before your competitors do

Canada’s tech scene is on the rise.

Toronto, its largest city, is home to a booming artificial intelligence ecosystem. It also boasts an enviable research center that includes the country’s first technology supercluster and an entrepreneurial drive that’s second only to the U.S.

It also doesn’t hurt that Canada’s Global Strategy program helps fast track immigration for talented workers. The new law makes it one of the most liberal programs in the world. In as little as two weeks workers can get visas and working permits — making the talent search that much easier.

But, despite all this good news Canadian startups still have a difficult time finding tech leaders to help them grow. While the country has the right people on hand onboarding them isn’t always easy. That’s why recruitment strategies are playing a much bigger role than they ever have before.

Engaging with talent before they apply

For Dave Savory — co-founder of a startup called Riipen that connects young jobseekers with companies — finding the best talent quicker and more efficiently means shaking up how HR engages with talent. The old-school recruitment method that requires applicants to fill out page-by-page forms online just won’t do anymore. Engaging with emerging talent sooner through games, brain teasers or social media yields better results.

“Having a new entry point based on merit and skills instead of how many buzzwords you can fit in your cover letter is what you should look for. People are now trained on how to get passed automatic resume filters that companies set up,” he explains. “It ends up making more work for people at a company because they spend time interviewing people who may not be a great fit or miss out on really great people.”

Savory knows better than most about what companies look for in employees. Riipen, founded in 2013, works with 140 post-secondary schools and 7000 companies in North America to help students find work. His clients vary and include tech giants, like Microsoft, and food businesses, such as restaurant chain Joey Restaurants.

“It’s all about how good companies authentically engage with emerging talent,” he adds. “Companies know [young people] are an important demographic as older workers retire, so they need to find new ways to get their attention before their competitors do.”

Check out the weirdest interview questions Fortune 500 companies asked prospective employees last year, courtesy of GlassDoor.

Businesses suffer without HR innovation

Robert Sher — who works in San Francisco, a city with an unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent — put it best. “Flawed hiring processes” play a role in hiring and retaining the best people, which impacts a business’s bottom line.

“Companies that can’t find creative ways to find the employees they need can’t grow,” he explained. “Business leaders who can win the talent war (and it is a war) will be able to say yes to new business opportunities while their talent-strapped competition will have to walk away.”

Bryan Rusche, Soapbox’s marketing director, believes the hiring landscape has changed in recent years. While his company doesn’t directly work on recruitment processes, their platform allows employees to share ideas and feedback that can impact how companies attract new talent.

“The best strategy for attracting talent is having a reputation for being an amazing place to work,” he says. “The slickest recruitment strategy in the world isn’t going to work for you if your employees don’t back up your claims that you have something special,” he explains.

As times change, businesses will be forced to change their hiring policies as well.  They’ll increasingly need to rely on better ways (and platforms) to connect with talent if they want to succeed. “This will be the new normal in the next three to five years” says Savory. “Engaging talent through skill-based assessment or challenges will be the new starting point of the recruiting process.”

4 must-read books for every entrepreneur this summer

If you’re looking for a great read for your next commute, something to ease your time in between flights or just a book to unwind with you on your next summer vacation, these page turners are sure to inspire and entertain.

No one said being an entrepreneur is easy, but with the right advice (and book) the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or aspiring business owner, there’s something you can learn from this reading list, which is complete with tips, lessons and facts from the most successful business owners in the world.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss


After spending years interviewing celebrities and successful entrepreneurs for his self-titled podcast, Tim Ferriss finally decided to write a candid (and at times somewhat provocative) book about it all. The self-help guide combines the best lessons, tips and advice and routines into an easily accessible read.

Some of the most prominent names included in this tell-it-like-it-is story include Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger and top investor Chris Sacca. Although, Ferriss is no slouch either: The well-known entrepreneur is an early-stage technology investor and advisor for Silicon Valley heavyweights, such as Uber, Facebook and Shopify.

Why you should read this book: What sets this book apart? It’s an all encompassing toolkit full of tricks, recommendations, strategies and philosophies from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Bonus: At 707 pages, it’s a nice, quick read. Get it on Amazon while you still can.

Unshakeable by Tony Robbins


By all measures, Tony Robbins didn’t have a very pleasant nor easy upbringing. An absent father and abusive mother meant the motivational speaker grew up in what he describes as a “chaotic” and “abusive” household.

Despite skipping college and, a couple of lost years spent working as a part-time janitor, he later went on to launch a successful self-help business and work as a coach, businessman and New York Times bestselling author.

His latest book called Unshakeable is a summary of interviews with 50 of the world’s most successful investors and full of great nuggets about what entrepreneurs should do when things go wrong. Fighting off bankruptcy? Not sure how to boost market share? Struggling to hold on to investment opportunities? Then this condensed read is for you.

Why you should read this book: Robbins knows his stuff. The NYT-bestselling author is the author of over six books and throughout his life has founded over a dozen companies. If you’re looking for ways to stay sane in the non-stop world of business or just hoping for lifestyle tips this it. Buy Unshakeable from Chapters-Indigo here.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk



A winning social media account is more than just developing high quality content, but also adapting it to several platforms and mobile devices. This book has some strong ideas that organizations must adapt as part of their social media strategy such as content placement, telling a cohesive story and focusing on benefits rather than selling. “It took thirty-eight years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television thirteen years to earn an audience that size. It took Instagram a year and a half,” Vaynerchuk says in his book. It also focuses on the importance of driving engagement with an audience and finding opportunities to build communities, which in turn, strengthens your brand. Buy it on Amazon here.

Why you should read this book: Skip all the ridiculous startup jargon and buzzwords and get straight to the point with Vaynerchuk’s fight-inspired tome. The venture capitalist — named to both Crain’s and Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list — knows what he’s talking about and has the insights necessary to take to turn any organization into a well-oiled, money-making machine. Find this must-read here.

Success never Smelled So Sweet by Lisa Price



From bankruptcy to successful entrepreneur, Lisa Price shares her story of how passion created “Carol’s Daughter,” a luxurious, all-natural line of bath and beauty products. With only $100 in cash, Lisa started following not only her heart, but her nose, as she started creating sweet scents that celebrities such as Jay-Z, Solange, Halle Berry and Mary J.Blige support and use religiously.

In the book, she walks the reader through her childhood with stories of her Trinidadian grandmother and a harsh school system where she was bullied. Her story is a reminder that success is attainable even when life throws many obstacles in the way. Currently, the company is valued at $27 million and was acquired by L’Oreal in 2014. From life advice to business tips, this is a light summer read with an extra dose of motivation. Regardless if it’s a morning commute or sunny day outside, this is your perfect summer-time read, grab it, here.

Why you should read this book: A good success story can be inspirational for anyone trying to find their path to success, especially when the author is now a multi-millionaire. As a young black woman in financial straits, Price’s story is encouraging and engaging as it reminds you to keep persevering. Get your hands on Price’s guide for success from Amazon.

Is your startup prepared for a PR crisis?

The startup world is no stranger to scandal.

Silicon Valley is riddled with the remains of startups and companies forced to close their doors after falling prey to scandal. This year a series of well-known companies have landed in hot water for everything ranging from sexual harassment allegations to discrimination claims.

So, why does this keep happening in tech? The answer is fairly simple: Fast-growing businesses are more likely to prioritize product over crisis communication plans since the former provides immediate returns. It’s kinda hard to showcase the benefits of a communication crisis plan when there’s no crisis on hand.

Fortunately, there are some easy things startups can do to get ahead of any potential problems. Here are three easy steps early-stage companies can follow courtesy of Erin Richards, a former public relations officer for CBC and founder of communications firm Hype PR.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

For startups on a shoestring budget, time is a valuable resource that’s always in short supply. It’s easy to see why some would rather spend time networking instead of creating an in-depth framework for future issues that, technically, may never arrive.

As much as it might make sense to avoid all things PR related Richards believes it’s a bad idea. To combat any possible negative publicity entrepreneurs should invest in creating a strong brand before missteps occur in order to develop a trove of goodwill that can be leveraged to diffuse bad situations and grow the business.

“Most people don’t understand that public perception is a huge part of a brand narrative and story, and if those elements aren’t figured out, the media relations strategy is likely to fall flat.”

Creating long-lasting buzz isn’t an easy task, but entrepreneurs hoping to generate a positive public perception must focus their efforts on giving back to their community on a regular basis. This includes having team members volunteer to speak at conferences or community events to build good will. Local nonprofits and community organizations are always looking for guests to help teach and knowledgable experts are always in demand

Constantly Monitor Your Brand

Keeping tabs on how your brand grows and changes over time isn’t easy. It requires a lot of hard work, tons of follow-up and a keen eye that can easily differentiate between spam and important data, which is likely why most companies hire outside firms to perform this task.

Finding problems before they mushroom into bigger ones is an effective way to manage communication tragedies.

Companies need to be proactive and constantly be diligent. If they can’t afford to hire an outside team to monitor their brand they should make sure an individual is tasked with doing basic searches all the time.  Simply enlist someone on their team to monitor social media and online channels for news.

“They should have someone on the team allocated to the role of social and traditional media monitoring to ensure they are on top of any potential brand related issues that may arise,” Richards adds. “They could also look into having an independent consultant develop a PR plan and strategy that they could attempt to execute internally.”

Here are a few social media companies that startups can use to help find out if they’re being discussed online:

Twitter: Companies can use Twitter’s advanced search buttons to look for specific sentences, names and dates.

Facebook: It can be a little trickier for startups to find mentions of their brand on Facebook since many users take advantage of the social media company’s privacy settings.

Google: Getting alerts about when and if your company is mentioned online can be as simple as setting up a Google account. This platform doesn’t include social media platforms but does extend to blogs, news and websites.

Teach Your Team How to Interact With the Brand

For good or bad, founders are the de facto representative for their company. A startup can rise and fall based on the actions of a founding team member or staff. Teaching startup teams how to interact with customers online is vital, even when their “off the clock” or on their down time.

They need to remain professional at all times since now-a-days one embarrassing moment is merely a screengrab or email forward away from becoming PR nightmare.

“Once you become an entrepreneur, you become synonymous with your brand. Entrepreneurs should seek out mentors in the industry to help them network, grow and evolve and also look into how public figures they admire conduct themselves in public and in the media. Of course, there are also the obvious ones such as, watching the alcohol intake at professional events and avoiding weighing in publicly on potentially contentious issues.”

 

How Knix Wear founder shipped a million undies around the world

When Joanna Griffiths decided to quit her job at the ripe, ol’ age of 28 she never thought her split decision would one day lead her to launch Knix Wear , a Toronto-based lingerie startup, let alone net her over $2 million in sales, she admits.

But that’s exactly what it did and four years after starting the company on the floor of her living room she’s now shipping her high-tech, leak-proof underwear to women across the globe—everywhere from South Africa, to the U.S. and Afghanistan.

While her garments have garnered powerful praise from influencers since its 2012 launch—Metro News Canada, the Wall Street Journal  and New York Times, to name a few—Griffiths’ entrepreneurial journey is far less sexy, she confesses. The now thirtysomething encountered her fair share of problems during the startup’s early years and worked non-stop to get the business off the ground.

“It was scary,” she explains. “Being an entrepreneur is like a series of trade-offs, you’re always evaluating resources versus reward. The more prepared you can be for that type of lifestyle, the more you can think it through and know what your life will look like. I worked 24 hours a day and never stopped.”

The entrepreneur’s startup story is groundbreaking simply because through it she managed to create an apparel category that had never existed: leak-proof garments. Knix Wear was one of the first to market underwear to women who suffer from incontinence (light leaks), with company offerings later growing to include activewear clothing and period-proof panties for teens and adults.

A look at the breakthrough product that pushed Knix Wear into the limelight:

Her secret to success lies partially in capitalizing on the needs of what she felt was an underserved community. “I remember talking to women, who had kids, that would pick up Depends underwear because it was the closest thing they could find at the store and that resonated with me.”

Although her crowdfunding skills haven’t hurt her company’s overall success either. Since the company’s launch Knix Wear’s team has launched three online campaigns that have exceeded their crowdfunding goals. Her most recent campaign featured the company’s eight-in-one bra and raised more than $1 million on Kickstarter; the largest amount for any fashion project.

Despite her success, she’s quick to warn entrepreneurs about the perils of raising capital online.

“What I’ve seen happen is an expectation amongst entrepreneurs that if you put your product up it will sell like crazy. They underestimate the work it takes,” she says. “It’s probably the hardest work you’ll do in a 30-day period in your life.”

For instance weeks before the company’s latest campaign launched she and her team worked tirelessly to promote the company’s products, line up orders and respond to customers around the world within tight time frames.

In fact, if possible, she suggests new entrepreneurs avoid crowdfunding altogether until they have the capacity to fill large orders on demand. “We’ve learned the hard way from our early campaigns,” she says. “We had this amazing pre-market sales and momentum, but then spent the next nine months just trying to catch up and fill orders. People have to think long and hard about it. It’s not easy as everyone thinks it is.”

While the startup landscape has changed drastically since she launched her business, Griffiths is proud that her team has remained in the city she was born. Toronto entrepreneurs shouldn’t be too quick to leave the city behind these days, she adds. For anyone hoping to mimic her rise to the top she believes flying across the border is a must, but relocating isn’t necessary anymore and encourages entrepreneurs to explore options at home.

“There’s really nice growing and robust ecosystem that’s emerging [in Toronto]. There was definitely a time one-to-two years ago where we thought we had to move to the U.S. because I was getting that feedback from potential investors and now I’m not hearing that as much.”

Life lessons: Confessions from an entrepreneur who sold his startup

Life after an acquisition can be complicated.

For most founders, the possibility of landing a big exit is a good thing. It usually means a decent amount of cash and, in most cases, the chance to stick around as an employee or consultant long after the contract ink has dried.

While some end up missing the hustle and bustle of entrepreneurship, many find that working at a big company—after years of living the startup life—gives them time to regroup and tap into resources they could only have dreamed of when they were going at it alone.

No matter the outcome, the decision to sell a company can be an intensely personal and a difficult one to make. Robleh Jama, DMZ alumni and founder of Toronto-based app studio Tiny Hearts, knows the process all too well. The entrepreneur’s startup was purchased by Shopify in 2016.

After the buyout he and a few of his colleagues stayed on to join Shopify’s special project department where they now make experimental apps for new audiences. At the time of Tiny Hearts’ acquisition, Jama’s small, yet thriving, company had nine full-time employees and three part-time associates.

Before Shopify approached him about a potential acquisition he had never really considered selling the business. “It wasn’t really an idea I thought about,” he says.

His plan was to always grow with the company long into the future but as time went on, he noticed that scaling it would take more resources than his team had at their disposal. Shopify—an Ottawa-based company with offices in Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo and San Francisco—had connections around the globe to push his ideas to the next level.

“The acquisition was very organic,” he said. “[Shopify and Tiny Hearts] started off as a working relationship first and then grew from there. It was the best way to do it.”

Not everyone will find themselves in the same situation as Jama, but there’s nonetheless a few crucial things entrepreneurs should understand before taking an all-out company buyout, he explains.

Here’s his advice for entrepreneurs considering an exit and what they should know before signing on the dotted line.

Get your company ready by doing good work



A big payoff should never be the end goal for any entrepreneur, but if you’re looking to partner with or be acquired by another company you should make sure to create something of value on a regular basis, he says.

“It all starts with and ends with producing great work,” he explains. “You’ve got to think what value does a company want or look for. It’s better to think about it that way instead of reverse engineering an acquisition. That won’t work,” he explains.

At Tiny Hearts, creating great products meant making sure his company always stayed on top of new trends in the mobile industry and applied them whenever possible to upcoming projects. It also helped Jama, he admits, that he was personally invested in learning as much as he could about mobile-based applications in his free time.

Another piece of advice? Make sure to network with as many people in your industry as you can and stay grateful. “We met people at the DMZ that are still friends of mine to this very day and connected me with other people in the field.”

Wait for the right partner



Just because a company makes an offer doesn’t mean you have to take it, he explains.

Jama and his team worked with Shopify on several projects beforehand and were well acquainted with the company’s products and, more importantly, how they could help each other elevate the work they were already creating.

He also knew how he would personally fit into its company culture as an employee. A fact that he says founders shouldn’t be too quick to overlook. “I knew what they were like. I don’t think I could work at a company that wasn’t Shopify. I was looking to level up and learn to build products at scale and they were the ones that could do it.”

Not to mention that he’s also happy with the work he’s doing. Any role you or your team take on post-acquisition should be discussed in detail before any contracts are signed, he explains.

“Working at Shopify is like a honeymoon that doesn’t end because the team I work with is autonomous and doing what we used to do at Tiny Hearts—pumping out mobile products. We’ve been given the resources to do what we’re most passionate about so we can just focus on creating  innovative and experimental products.”

Seek out legal help ahead of time


There’s no shame in asking for help, especially if it involves money. Exits can mean a host of new problems, which can sometimes include doling out money or company shares to employees and should be taken seriously.

The best thing for companies to do is find someone who can help lay everything out in black and white and take emotions out of the picture, he says. “Find someone you trust and go from there.”

Last, but not least: Do your homework



Jama and Shopify executives made sure the buyout process went slowly. It took almost a year between initial talks to a contract signing.

“The idea was floated, casually, when we started working together, but we didn’t want to rush into. We said let’s continue to work together to see how it goes. After we worked with the team on an app called Frenzy we realized that Shopify was what Tiny Hearts could become if it were on steroids and were on board.”

Luckily over the years Shopify had acquired several local companies before Tiny Hearts, which made the process that much easier for Jama and his team. “Shopify had done this a handful of times of times so they made the process super smooth from the conversation to getting the deal done to transitioning, but we made sure to talk to people [clients, staff, industry professionals].”

How the DMZ is helping Toronto startups crack the U.S. market

For Canadian entrepreneur Ami Shah finding a space in New York City to call home while she networked with local business leaders and pounded the pavement in town was never really an option. Sky-high office fees, a weak loonie and the city’s competitive rental market meant finding something long-term was almost impossible.

When she and her team would travel to Silicon Alley they would have no choice but to work out of crowded coffee shops. In most cases hopping from one table to another in an effort to find a working outlet or in some cases just huddling around a computer, often with luggage in tow, trying to broker deals or hold conference calls.

“It was a nightmare,” the successful co-founder of education software company Peekapak explains. “I was always moving between coffee shops; buying just enough coffee so I could use their Wi-Fi. Have you ever had to rely on a coffee shop to livestream a meeting while someone in the background blends coffee or yells on the phone beside you? It’s not good.”

In the past, a lack of office space was a headache-inducing barrier for Canadian entrepreneurs, like Shah, looking to put down roots in the U. S. or dip their toe in an international market close to home. But all that will soon change. As part of a collaboration between the DMZ and Primary, a New York-based coworking office, entrepreneurs affiliated with the DMZ accelerator or its network of partners across the country will get 10 desks on site to use in NYC anytime, free of charge.

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Companies that apply and chosen to take part in the program will get access to desks at Primary’s 25,000 square foot facility in lower Manhattan and a combination of wellness and startup services, like free fitness classes, tickets to weekly in-house events, private offices and concierge services. DMZ startups will get up to four free months and non-DMZ companies up to 30 days.

Such a collaboration will open up huge doors for Canadians in the booming city and give entrepreneurs a chance to make vital connections with local talent, broaden their investor pool and, more importantly, meet future clients.

For a successful entrepreneur like Shah, this space’s real value lies in its strategic location and it’s not hard to see why. The city is already home to several venture capital firms—attracted by the city’s booming tech industry—and headquarters for educational companies like Scholastic and Pearson, an education and publishing company.

The DMZ news also couldn’t come at a more fortuitous time for her. Peekapak left the DMZ in June for a brand new office in Toronto’s west end and earlier this year was invited to attend an influential meet-and-greet in New York City with the city’s local tech influencers. Cementing any relationships she’s made at the event will take time and a dedicated place where she can bring potential clients will help.

The upside of having a DMZ-branded office in New York isn’t lost on Addo Smajic, co-founder of Reportin either. He plans to take advantage of the Primary’s offerings later this summer.

In fact, the entrepreneur, who counts Microsoft and Google as startup supporters, is already well acquainted with how important the New York scene can be for a startup’s prospects. He’s made valuable connections during his time in the U.S., met investors that back his products and even managed to finagle his way into getting his very own 2-1-2 area code.

 “You have to put in the work to be an entrepreneur, but you also have to be in the right spot as well,” he says. “This, the DMZ, will put you in the right spot.”