Author: Anthony Reinhart

Sweet Tooth becomes Smile as customer-rewards firm takes flight

Whoever said a smile costs nothing probably hasn’t spent eight years working to build a startup into a scale-up company. Mike Rossi, who has done exactly that, can tell you a lot about the costly lessons he’s learned along the way. But, as CEO of the customer-rewards software company formerly known as Sweet Tooth – which relaunched today as Smile.io – Rossi and his 40-member team have even more cause to celebrate what those lessons have produced. With annual recurring revenue tracking towards US$10 million next year, a fast-growing customer base and an expansive new office nearing completion, the...

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Tech Roundup for April 2017

Photo: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in conversation with Vidyard CEO Michael Litt (Communitech photo: Phil Froklage) Softwood, software and selling Canada abroad A month after his government’s budget won praise from Canada’s tech community, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Waterloo Region to reiterate his commitment to supporting this country’s innovators in taking on the world. In a free-wheeling chat at Vidyard with CEO Michael Litt, Trudeau vowed to back Canadian business abroad “whether it’s softwood or software,” a reference to the recent wave of protectionist talk coming from south of the border. Citing the interconnectedness of the Canadian and American economies, Trudeau also vowed to support returning expats and immigrant entrepreneurs who choose to build tech companies in Canada. The PM’s local appearance followed by one day a visit from Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who said Canada will stay on course in its efforts to attract skilled tech talent from other countries. And, on the same day as the Trudeau visit, Governor General David Johnston visited Communitech to discuss his new book, co-authored with OpenText Chair Tom Jenkins, about Canada’s long history of innovation. In its latest budget, the Ontario government also announced significant investments in innovation, including, among other measures, $50 million for artificial intelligence, $130 million for 5G wireless technology, $20 million for quantum computing, $75 million for advanced computing and $80 million for autonomous vehicle technology. While all of these efforts were aimed at raising...

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Cognitive Systems ships first units of motion-detecting Aura device

Less than a year and a half after announcing itself to the world, Cognitive Systems Corp. – a Waterloo startup stacked with wireless veterans – has started shipping its first product: a home protection system that reads the wireless signals in your house to detect unexpected movement. The system, called Aura, made a splash at its unveiling at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, where Cognitive began taking pre-orders at US$399. It consists of two pieces of hardware – a hub and a sensor – which plug into the wall and can be set...

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Alert Labs set to grow on investment from Intact Ventures

Alert Labs, a Waterloo Region startup whose home-protection technology detects water leaks and other potential problems, has landed an investment from the venture arm of Intact Financial Corporation, Canada’s largest property insurer. The investment, announced today, is part of a seed round in which BDC Capital, Garage Capital, Hedgewood Inc. and several angels are also taking part. Dollar figures were not disclosed, but discussions are ongoing with other investors as Alert Labs gears up to expand into the U.S. market, Ruth Casselman, the company’s co-founder and Vice-President of Operations, said today. The involvement of Intact Ventures, which is making...

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Indigo Fair builds 'Amazon for local retail' in Waterloo Region and California

It started with an umbrella. A really, really good umbrella. It was 2010, and the umbrella – a marvel of weather-beating engineering, made by a New Zealand company called Blunt – had found its way into the hands of a guy named Max Rhodes. So impressed was the young American business consultant that he made it his mission to bring the Blunt umbrella to select shops in the United States. And that’s when the often-ugly realities of local retail began to rain down. Rhodes and his business partner quickly learned how cumbersome and costly it can be to get...

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