Connected Lab exits stealth, enters new home to build software for new hardware

Connected Lab, founded by former Xtreme Labs team, has exited stealth mode and moved to a new 10,000- square-feet office in downtown Toronto.

Connected Lab’s rapid growth from a small “software for the new hardware” shop founded by Mike Stern and Damian McCabe of MakeWorks and Xtreme Labs to a team of 50 people in just 16 months can be seen as a sign of the times. The rising popularity of hardware and connected devices, and the increasing number of interfaces from smartphones to wearables, smart cars, VR and AR, and the looming IoT leaves many brands confused about what to build and how. That’s the gap Connected Lab aims to tackle.

“The majority of us are from Xtreme Labs. We worked during the mobile revolution.”

“Our company exists to build great connected experiences for ambitious brands. Right now, we’re helping Timex build smartwatches. We’re working on smart TV apps and connected speaker system for a large electronics company in Shenzhen China, and other projects,” Stern, CEO of Connected Lab, told BetaKit.

“A lot of the people on this team come from Xtreme Labs, Apple, ThoughtWorks, but the majority of us are from Xtreme Labs,” said Stern. “We worked during the mobile revolution, really in the trenches, building some of the biggest software and mobile products of all time: we worked on Uber, Instagram, mobile banking apps for RBC and CIBC. We saw first-hand how mobile changed the way you built software: it changed the connectivity, the infrastructure, and the interface. Behind mobile, all these new platforms are emerging, and customers are really confused about what to build and how to build it. We started seeing big brands run into problems, building the wrong thing or building it the wrong way.”

Connected Lab

“We decided to get together as a team and help companies build better experiences for their customers. When you build a great connected experience, customers love it. Customer loyalty turns into a competitive advantage – we have seen that with Apple, Uber and Tesla. Any company that’s building software today needs to think about the connected experience.”

The focus on connected experiences reflects the rising tide of connected devices. According to a recent McKinsey report, there will be 30 billion connected devices by 2020. Meanwhile, if you ever bought anything “smart” and tried to set that thing up to work – you know even simple setup can be a challenge.

Connected Lab is global from outset with offices in Toronto and San Francisco, and aims to double its size to 100 people by next December, with a focus on strategic work and potentially build its own products.

“To date, I’ve done about 160,000 miles on Air Canada, and my co-founder Damian McCabe has made eight trips to China in the last few months,” said Stern. “We have plans to launch new offices soon, but for now, we’re looking to fill out the new office space here. Lots of opportunities exist to build new and exciting products.”


Elena Yunusov

Elena Yunusov works at the intersection of digital communications and experience design. She is known in Toronto’s startup community as a HoHoTO & Toronto Maker Faire co-organizer. She likes coffee, robots, and wearable tech.

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