Photo: Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig (far left) and council colleagues look on as SeeHorse founder Peter Mankowski demonstrates the wearable device he has developed for the equestrian market.

If Cambridge city council had wanted to pass any important motions Wednesday, they could have done it at the new office of SeeHorse.

Mayor Doug Craig and no fewer than four councillors turned out to celebrate the arrival of the equestrian-wearable startup, which has taken out space in the old Hespeler Furniture Co. building on Milling Road.

“You’ve got a quorum of council here right now,” Craig said in welcoming SeeHorse to Cambridge. “We could pass anything on the spot.”

SeeHorse's new office is inside the old Hespeler Furniture Co. building. (Communitech photo: Anthony Reinhart)

SeeHorse’s new office is inside the old Hespeler Furniture Co. building. (Communitech photo: Anthony Reinhart)

The big show of support was no accident: Cambridge, long known as a manufacturing town, is looking to get in on the Waterloo Region startup surge, most of which has been concentrated in downtown Kitchener and Waterloo.

With renovation-ready brick-and-beam spaces such as the old furniture factory, bargain rents and ready access to Highway 401, the city hopes the arrival of SeeHorse marks the start of a new era of economic diversification.

For his part, SeeHorse founder Peter Mankowski also sees a new beginning, two years after he launched and incubated his company at Kitchener’s Communitech Hub, the epicentre of the region’s startup community, housed in the similarly industrial former Lang Tannery. The company is about to embark on a growth phase as it ships its first units and looks to close a $2.5 million seed investment round this summer.

“We are two weeks away from distributing 500 SeeHorses worldwide,” Mankowski said, adding that the devices will go to early customers in 12 countries who can provide crucial feedback to help inform future refinements. “This is a soft launch. We’d like to make sure our product is in tune with what our customers want.”

Mankowski, a former hardware engineer at BlackBerry, singled out Communitech and Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre for the early support and mentorship they provided.

Once the company’s seed round closes, he hopes to add more than 20 employees to his current roster of 12, about half of whom work in Toronto. The company is also planning to open a sales office in Palm Beach, Fla., to be closer to many of its early customers.

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.