Founder Institute demo day showcases fifth cohort of the Montreal pre-seed accelerator

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Last Wednesday, Founder Institute’s Montreal branch held a demo day for its fifth cohort. After a little over four months in the accelerator, all eight startups pitched their businesses to a crowd of 150 people.

“It shows how well the Founder Institute is doing when an investor like [Kosic] is willing to come to see our grads.”

This year’s demo day had an exciting twist; Loyal VC, a global early-stage tech venture capital fund based in Toronto was not only present but made a surprising commitment of investing $10,000 CAD in up to three companies. Michael Kosic, founding partner of Loyal, followed through with this promise and invested in Calixa and Croogloo, which took first and second place at this year’s showcase, respectively.

“It shows how well the Founder Institute is doing when an investor like [Kosic] is willing to come to see our grads, whom just a few months ago only had an idea, and invest in two of them on the spot,” said François Poirier, co-director of Founder Institute’s (FI’s) Montreal branch.

The Montreal chapter is five years old and was brought to the city by LP Maurice, CEO and co-founder of Busbud, and Sergio Escobar, managing director of FI Montreal and CEO and partner at early-stage fund BCF Ventures. Maurice and Escobar were part of the panel of judges who determined the event’s winners alongside Rebecca Croll, director of content at Startupfest.

RELATED: Founder Institute launches pre-seed startup accelerator in Halifax

While the judges were deliberating, the audience enjoyed a few words of wisdom from an FI Montreal alumni, Marc Boscher, CEO and co-founder of Unito, which recently raised a 10.5 million CAD series A. “The startup is just one part of you – you are not the startup,” said Boscher. “And when the business is not growing as fast as you wish it were, you, as an entrepreneur, are still growing at light speed.”

“We believe in people,” added Escobar. “The first criteria is people. People, people, people. That’s why we take so long to select these entrepreneurs to make sure we’re working with the right people. Once we select the right people, we start thinking about the business.”

Graduating companies included:

  • Calixa (1st place) – Calixa has developed AI-powered visual fashion discovery web services that allow for customized shopping experiences.
  • Croogloo (2nd place) – With film and TV production software Croogloo is designed to streamline workflows and reconcile data across disparate systems.
  • Darkmatter – Darkmatter has developed what it called a new framework to streamline back-end software development, focused on the era of cloud computing. It aims to provide a seamless experience for SaaS development teams.
  • The Green Stop – Developed water refill stations for outdoor spaces, in order to reduce plastic pollution.
  • LinguAI – LinguAI has created an AI-powered solution that helps detect childhood speech and language disorders by analyzing children’s speech samples.
  • MoveMate – A marketplace connecting movers with customers moving to a new home.
  • Proveit (3rd place) – Proveit’s platform ranks household products based on their sustainability. it is available to online shoppers through a free browser extension.
  • Rinse – Rinse has developed an app that connects active people with a place to shower and change after their bike ride, run or outdoor activity.

The application period for the next FI Montreal cohort is now open.

The Waterloo chapter of FI also recently hosted its demo day on January 29. The event showcased 11 startups, which included seven female founders and nine immigrant founders from India, China, Pakistan, Poland, Egypt, and Palestine. A full list of participating startups can be found here.

Applications for the upcoming Waterloo FI Spring 2020 program are also currently open.


Gabrielle Drouin

Gabrielle Drouin has completed a master’s degree in Literature specializing in Quebec’s contemporary dramaturgy at the University of Montreal. She worked as a journalist in Toronto, covering the news of its Franco-Ontarian community, and has been reporting on the Montreal startup tech ecosystem since 2016. She is currently the Communications advisor and community relations at HEC Montreal's entrepreneurship hub.

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