Five of OneEleven’s early stage scaleups presented at the debut Standouts of OneEleven Showcase on Dec. 10.
Fable Tech Labs, Go Evo, Manzil, Verto and Diversio pitched their companies to a packed house of investors, founders and corporate leaders, including representatives of Deloitte, RBC, Crestcom, Omers Ventures, Oxford Properties, and the Canadian Trade Commission.
“I want OneEleven to be known as the place where you can find the most promising Toronto tech companies, products, talent and investment opportunities,” said Executive Director Siri Agrell. “These Showcases will be a regular opportunity for investors, partners and those interested in the Toronto tech ecosystem to see the amazing things being done by our portfolio members.”
The Standouts Showcase featured an expert panel that responded to the market opportunity of each company and offered one piece of advice for the next six months.
Laith Shukri and Graeme Millen of Silicon Valley Bank were joined by Serena Nguyen, National Operations and Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Microsoft, Golden Ventures’ Principal Jamie Rosenblatt, and Nouhaila Chelkhaoui, founder of Scale Without Borders.
“I want you to remember that you’ve achieved this traction (50K Nov MRR with $75K in capital) without raising,” Rosenblatt told Laura McGee, CEO of Diversio. “Think about that when people start throwing money at you.”
McGee’s overview of Diversio’s AI-enabled diversity and inclusion tools included a reference to a sexist joke made recently by the founder of Fisher Investments, which was immediately followed by $4-billion in capital walking out the door of his money management firm.
“There is no single thing in this day and age that can bring a company down faster than a diversity scandal,” said McGee, who also serves as Co-Chair of Canada’s Expert Panel on Women Entrepreneurs.
All five of the selected “Standouts” are focused on addressing complex challenges with untapped market opportunities.
Alwar Pillai, CEO of Fable, spoke about her company’s plan to unlock $240 billion in disposable income that is being left on the table because people living with disabilities cannot easily shop on-line.
“People have an assumption they’re making their products accessible,” Pillai said. “Until they see a person with a disability using their product.”
Pillai showed a video of Fable tester Sam Proulx trying unsuccessfully to buy shoes from Footlocker, through a screen reader. Fable employs people living with disabilities as UX testers to ensure digital sites and products are truly accessible.
GoEvo CEO Rob Cripps explained how his company’s software is helping Canadian municipalities manage their collective $1.2-trillion in infrastructure assets. GoEvo has already signed 100 Ontario municipalities as paying customers, countering the popular investor narrative that government sales cycles can stymie success.
Manzil CEO Mohamad Sawwaf told the audience that there will be 2.6 million Muslims in Canada by 2030 with $20-billion in spending power. But he noted that Muslims are dramatically underrepresented in the Canadian housing market, opening an opportunity for Halal financial products, including mortgages, credit cards, insurance, personal financing and student loans.
With Canada’s first Sharia compliant mortgage, Manzil already has $280-million in its waitlist pipeline.
And finally, Verto CEO Michael Miller pitched his solution to addressing the $765B in wasted North America health care spend through his integrated clinical data management system.
Each of the companies got advice on how to target and refine their pitches so that they can next-level their asks when approaching funding rounds and customer opportunities in their future.
Microsoft’s Nguyen praised the Standouts Showcase as a venue for retaining Canada’s burgeoning tech talent, giving ambitious founders access to investor and corporate feedback rather than seek it out in the United States.
“It creates a valuable space where you can get all the information — am I solving the right problem, is the problem I’m trying to articulate resonating with the people and is my solution making sense?” she said.
The next Standouts Showcase will be held at OneEleven on March 24, 2020.
Photo credit: Brian deRivera Simon, Tarsipix.