The inaugural Elevate Women + Pitch Prize at the Elevate Festival went to Kara LeBlanc from Medreddie. LeBlanc won the $450,000 cash investment to grow and expand her Waterloo, Ont.-based startup. Medreddie’s AI-powered platform provides insights into the healthcare supply chain, improving patient outcomes and health system performance, according to the startup.
The investment is made up of funds from angel investors from The Firehood and the Women+ Investor Incubator, Forum Ventures, and BDC Capital’s Thrive Lab. The announcement was made on the Elevate Main Stage: Women+ in Tech Day in front of a crowd from Canada’s startup and investor community.
Elevate Women+ is designed to champion women in tech, with a focus on women-identified and gender-diverse founders and investors.
Claudette McGowan and Danielle Graham, co-founders of The Firehood, and Lisa Zarzeczny, CEO of Elevate, announced the award.
After hearing pitches from over 30 founders who participated in the inaugural Women+ Entrepreneur Incubator program, the investors shortlisted 10 finalists vying for the grand prize of $100,000. The final 10 were then given the opportunity to engage in deep-dive conversations with the investors on site at Elevate.
After those deep dives, Medreddie was awarded the $450,000 investment prize.
Two additional prizes were awarded to Elevate Women+ founders. A $60,000 cash investment prize was awarded to Stephanie Curcio from NLPatent from Firehood Angels, and a $40,000 investment was awarded to Jenn Harper from Cheekbone Beauty from Firehood Angels Missanabie Cree, Virtual Gurus founder Bobbie Racette, Taheera Fidaali, and Vanessa Mahan. Equivesto Canada, which supported the founders and angels throughout the Elevate Women+ Program, is completing the syndicates.
Elevate Women+ is designed to champion women in tech, with a focus on women-identified and gender-diverse founders and investors. The WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative is a two-year program that seeks to strengthen and build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women.
Elevate is a Canadian non-profit that says it unites the world’s innovators to solve society’s greatest challenges. Through its annual Elevate Festival and diversity-driven programs for startup founders, the organization spotlights Canadian innovation while bringing about meaningful change at home and on the global stage.
On a mission to increase the participation, leadership, and prosperity of Canadian women in technology, The Firehood was founded in 2021. It is a national community of executive and entrepreneurial women in technology. The Firehood offers women professional development, networking, mentorship, jobs, and funding opportunities.
In August, The Firehood and Elevate unveiled the 37 startups participating in the first cohort of its joint incubator for women entrepreneurs, the Women+ Entrepreneur Incubator. According to Elevate, the eight-week program is designed to increase Canadian women entrepreneurs’ access to venture capital funding. It offers a variety of workshops, one-on-one mentorship, advisory services, and connections with investors.
As part of that deal, Elevate and The Firehood secured $2.3 million from the Government of Canada in June to launch two eight-week workshops with a focus on entrepreneurship, as well as a separate program for investing called the Women+ Investor Incubator.
Image courtesy of Elevate