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 its first Canadian investment by funding Alert Labs, underscores the value of the company’s technology in preventing costly insurance claims from home water damage – a problem that cost Canadian insurers $2.6 billion in 2015.

North American insurers are expected to shell out more than $100 billion to repair water damage in customers’ homes over the next five years, Casselman said.

Ruth Casselman, Alert Labs co-founder and VP of Operations

Ruth Casselman, Alert Labs co-founder and VP of Operations

Alert Labs’ easy-to-install monitoring devices, dubbed the Flowie and the Floodie, can be placed throughout a home to monitor water usage and any flooding. The devices use a cellular connection to relay alerts and other information to the homeowner’s phone.

The funding means significant growth for the company, co-founded by Casselman and George Tsintzouras, whose team excelled during a six-month stint in the Communitech Rev accelerator program last year. They took home the $100,000 top prize after pitching alongside five other high-potential Rev companies last November.

Casselman said she expects the current team of 18 (19 as of this Monday) to grow to 50 over the next 24 months, which will mean a move out of its already-cramped quarters in the Accelerator Centre’s hardware-focused facility 44 Gaukel St. in downtown Kitchener.

“As we ramp manufacturing and business operations, we’ll need to expand to a larger facility that’s ideally suited for a growing hardware company,” Casselman said. “We love the excitement and vibe of the Waterloo Region, so we are committed to building our operations here. Our product is 100-per-cent made in Canada, designed and manufactured here in Waterloo Region.”

Casselman said the support of the local tech community has been critical to Alert Labs’ ability to get to this point as quickly as it has.

“We believe we are one to two years ahead of where Alert Labs would have been if we had started our company anywhere else,” she said. “Being a part of the Communitech Rev program helped us refine our sales process, and being the winners of the $100,000 prize from the Rev Demo Day introduced us to new investors that we’re now engaged with.”

The company is also excited to be located in a community alongside other smart-cities companies such as Miovision, whose intersection monitoring technology helps cities manage road traffic and alleviate gridlock.

Miovision is spearheading development of Catalyst137, a 475,000-square-foot facility on Glasgow Street in Kitchener devoted to companies working on technology related to the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities. Catalyst137 is currently under development and is slated to open this year.

The centre will leave Waterloo Region well-positioned to compete in the $300-million Smart Cities Challenge announced by Finance Minister Bill Morneau as part of this year’s federal budget.

About The Author

Anthony Reinhart
Director, Editorial Strategy
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Anthony Reinhart is a veteran journalist who left the Globe and Mail to join Communitech in 2011. Tony has covered everything from crime, politics and courts to business, the arts and sports, and his writing has won numerous journalism awards. He is Communitech's Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer.