June 27th was another major milestone for Co.Labs as we hosted the first Co.Launch Cohort Finale outdoors at the beautiful Innovation Place Galleria Bowl - with thanks to PFM Capital and Saskatchewan Polytechnic for sponsoring the evening. The program, a joint venture between Innovation Saskatchewan and Co.Labs, was designed to fuel the growth of early-stage tech startups in Saskatchewan and take entrepreneurs from idea to market. The 3-month program had over 23 applications for its inaugural cohort and accepted 10 ventures which were ran through rigorous market validation, hyper-targeted seminars, and mentorship sessions led by industry experts.
Four startups were able to validate their market and prove product-market-fit in time for the Finale Event, where they were required to pitch outdoors to an audience of 400+ people and four prestigious judges for two prizes: $15,000 cash and a trip to San Francisco to meet investors. The judging panel included Neal Dempsey (Managing General Partner, Bay Partners), Tom Williams (Angel Investor), Michelle Zatlyn (Co-Founder and COO, Cloudflare), and Trent McConaghy (Founder, Ocean Protocol). The four startups gave it their all, but in the end only 2 of the 4 walked away with a prize.
Female Founder Rises to the Top
SalonScale, a software solution aimed at accurately measuring a salon's material inputs in the hair colouring process, was determined by the judges to be the winner and therefore awarded all $15,000 of the cash prize made possible by Innovation Enterprise at the University of Saskatchewan.
“I want to show women that you can be in tech. I just want someone who is looking at me right now to say 'if she can do this, I can do it too'… I’m going to make you guys proud and change the way Saskatchewan looks at technology”
The Trip of a Lifetime
Offstreet, a platform that enables lot managers and small businesses to effectively enforce customer parking to drive revenues, walked away with a trip to San Francisco. The trip is made possible by the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Association (SREDA) and will give Offstreet an opportunity to meet potential investors and Canadian expats living and working in Bay Area.
"Co.Launch was instrumental in helping Offstreet build the foundation of a successful startup. We’re super excited to head to SF and get a taste of the big leagues!"
"The model for Co.Launch has never been attempted before in Canada by any such tech hub as we forced startups to go and talk to customers in the first 30 days of the program, and if a company didn’t complete this task they did not move on. What we found was that in the first 30 days of the program 9 out of 10 startups ‘pivoted’ meaning that they changed the direction of their company or their product as a result of speaking with potential customers. This proves the model and means that entrepreneurs in our program are building things that the market actually wants" - Jordan Dutchak, Executive Director, Co.Labs
Co.Labs Executive Director, Jordan Dutchak, also took this opportunity to announce some of the major milestones that the organization has had in the last few months including:
Western Economic Diversification Canada has provided Co.Labs with $1,165,150 of funding over three years in order to grow the organizations programming and increase the total number of entrepreneurs it assists;
Since launching in October of 2017, startups in the Co.Labs program have attracted over $5,000,000 in private investment;
In its first 15 months of operations, the tech hub has successfully incubated 49 startups, facilitated more than 600 mentorship hours, and hosted over 80 community events.
Corporate Innovation and Startup Growth
Last but certainly not least, Co.Labs used the event as a platform to announce one of its biggest endeavors yet, the launch of a new Scaleup & Corporate Accelerator Program that will double its current physical footprint. The program will do two things:
Scaleups - The program will take companies that graduate out of Co.Labs and help them scale their teams, grow their revenues, and raise investment from venture capital firms
Corporates - The program will help corporate partners from both the private and public sector build their own "corporate startups" who will co-locate with Co.Labs scaleups and in turn help them stay competitive in rapidly changing markets
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