Techstars Toronto celebrates 100 direct investments as an accelerator

people collaborate over a computer at a Global Partnership event for Techstars
The organization is also welcoming an even mix of Canadian and international companies to its 2023 class.

Techstars Toronto announced what it called a significant milestone in its pivotal role in advancing Canada’s tech industry: Its 100th direct investment.

This moment “showcases our dedication to fostering innovation in Canada and in emerging markets,” said Sunil Sharma, managing director of Techstars Toronto, which was founded six years ago. “Moreover, we are lifetime partners to these founders, with skin in the game.”

“We are lifetime partners to these founders, with skin in the game.”
Sunil Sharma,

Sharma said Techstars receives an “astonishing” number of applicants, with only a one to two percent acceptance rate into its accelerator program.

Last year, Techstars was cited as one of Canada’s most active foreign-based investors, according to data from a Silicon Valley Bank Stake of the Markets report. That report noted the Toronto branch of Techstars had already made more than 50 investments by that time.

However, also in 2022, the makeup of Techstars’ cohort raised some interesting questions, such as whether the Toronto tech community got what it expected from the accelerator. At that time, the entire cohort was made up of non-Canadian companies.

Techstars Toronto’s fifth cohort included 12 companies from around the world, including Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Ghana, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.

The international makeup of the cohort attracted both interest but also criticism at the time. Techstars’ most recent cohort is evenly divided between Canadian and international companies.

Techstars Toronto launched in partnership with Montréal-based Real Ventures as a co-funder. That partnership has since concluded, and the accelerator is now supported by Techstars’ $150-million USD global fund. When the partnership with Real Ventures was announced, John Stokes, general partner of Real Ventures, told the Financial Post that a “more intense, three-month, classic accelerator program” didn’t exist in the region at the time, adding that Techstars would fill that gap in the ecosystem.

RELATED: Techstars Toronto’s all-international cohort prompts discussion on role of city-based accelerators

And when Sharma came in to lead the program in 2017, he said the program would have a “truly global thesis, in large part predicated around Canada’s progressive and open immigration programs that support the growth and mobility of entrepreneurs and startups, no matter their country of origin.”

Techstars is holding its upcoming Demo Days Oct. 4 and 5, with an opportunity to meet the founders graduating from the Summer 2023 Cohort. In total, Techstars has made 236 direct investments into Canadian companies across all its programs (not just its accelerator), and claims to be at the top of Canada’s most active investors.

Applications to the next class of Techstars Toronto are now open and entrepreneurs can apply on the Techstars site.

Here is a list of companies in Techstars Toronto Summer 2023 class:

Canadian companies

Omnee (Saskatoon): Bridging homeownership and AI-infused technology, Omnee empowers homeowners to understand and take care of their homes.

Hover Drone Delivery (Toronto): Transforming last-mile delivery with autonomous drone delivery.

Fairly AI (Waterloo): Building the compliance layer for AI.

Weaver & Loom (Toronto): Empowering designers and retailers with innovative technology to craft bespoke luxury rugs, through bypassing the supply chain. Create, build, and deliver just-in-time handmade area rugs, improving artisans’ lives along the way.

Better Basics (Vancouver): Better Basics designs self-care and cleaning essentials that are better for people + the planet.

ENGAIZ (Mississauga): An integrated cyber risk intelligence, risk assessment and compliance platform to help organizations mitigate digital risks and build trust.

Unified (Toronto): One API to integrate them all.

Aview (Hamilton): Enabling content creators and brands to monetize their content globally.

Asepha (Toronto): Enabling clinicians to make faster-informed decisions by navigating through 35 million documents within seconds.

APX Lending (Toronto): A new standard of compliance, safety and security in digital asset backed lending.

Payfi (Moncton and Mississauga): Helping International Students Access Affordable Housing.

International companies

CatalyzU (South Africa): CatalyzU vets, trains, & places Africa’s leading talent at global startups.

Admitly (India): Simplifies college admissions for international students, guides them towards optimal economic opportunities, encourages diversity in partner institutions, and revitalizes enrolments in academic programs.

Starbem (Brazil): Democratizing global mental health services, from its origins in Brazil during COVID to supporting Canadian immigrants with accessible telehealth psychological support.

Leadfy (Brazil): Leadfy automates online ads management, driving more and better leads to sellers.

Brysk (India): Brysk’s AI-based autonomous checkout technology paves the way for the future of retail with effortless implementation of cashierless shopping.

MPOST (Kenya): MPost empowers individuals in the developing world with virtual addresses, by using mobile numbers as official addresses for KYC, insurance, banking, and eCommerce, thereby building a digital infrastructure for seamless access and exchange.

Seso (Ghana): Leveraging advanced technology and deep industry knowledge, Seso Global introduces trust and transparency to the African Real Estate market.

Ladder (Ghana): AI-powered wealth management for people and businesses providing personalized financial advisory and accountancy services. (Nigeria): Helping African immigrants in the Diaspora access seamless financial services.

Oval (Nigeria): Finance OS for growing businesses.

Hulugram (Ethiopia): Enabling social engagement for over 30 million internet users in Ethiopia via a chat-based platform.

Cutstruct (Nigeria): A building material marketplace, driving efficiency and transparency in construction.

Image courtesy of Techstars

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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