It’s been a few weeks since HYPERDRIVE launched, so we decided to ask our first cohort of companies what they think of the program so far.

Here’s what they told us:

Company: Will Pwn 4 Food

Key people: Ivan Lukianchuk

Hometown: Waterloo, Ont.

What we’re building: “Will Pwn 4 Food is gaming for money. We let gamers play fast-action 3D games right in their browser for actual cash and prizes.”

Early impressions of HYPERDRIVE: “It’s awesome. Like, literally, we’re going way, way faster now. The mentors are really helping; we got introduced to a mentor at one event, reconnected at a dinner and now he’s giving us a ton of help. He’s coming in for three hours on Thursday to help, so he’s dedicated. And, being able to have the whole team in one place has really helped as well, because we’re mostly a virtual team. So, the extra boost allowed me to fly in people. There’s the pressure to keep going every week, the weekly goals, the mentorship, all the EIRs – we’re just getting a crap-ton more done, and it’s more directed, and we have a hard goal to focus on, to try and raise that next round.”

Company: LoyaltyMonkey (formerly StampMee)

Key people: York Hua, Raymond Chan

Hometown: Toronto, Ont.

What we’re building: “We are building a customizable digital loyalty program that is convenient and intuitive for both customers and vendors. The value proposition for vendors is the business analytics data, as well as real-time marketing opportunities.”

Early impressions of HYPERDRIVE:

York Hua: “It’s amazing. We’ve met a lot of people, made a lot of networks and got introductions to stores that we never would have if we weren’t in the program.”

Company: SimplicityVMS

Key people: Gerry Bleau, Jeff Nugent

Hometown: Toronto, Ont.

What we’re building: “SimplicityVMS is a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform that automates and centralizes the process of hiring, engaging and administering contract and temporary workers. It helps clients reduce costs, and reduce contract employment and tax-law risk.”

Early impressions of HYPERDRIVE:

Gerry Bleau: “It’s exceeded all my expectations. I had an expectation that there would be a lot of people, heads down, writing code, and really what this program does is prepare any level of company for the next level of success or growth. My second observation is the outstanding talent that’s here; the ability to network, and for almost any problem that you might have, there’s somebody here who’s been there, done that and whose brains we can tap. The third part of that is their corresponding networks; if they don’t know somebody, they know somebody who does. Between the advisers and the mentors and the executives-in-residence, there’s such a wealth of knowledge and experience that it’s mind-boggling, quite frankly. Also, the HYPERDRIVE staff have been absolutely great to work with. I struggled looking for an apartment to live here; they’ve helped with that. They just help you get settled. They remove all the obstacles to getting the job done, between Steve Currie and Kory and Chelsea, the three of them are terrific. They’re always available and they’re problem-solvers, which is great for us.”

Jeff Nugent: “Ditto, and the energy, and how smart the other individuals in the various companies are; the sharing of ideas, the collaboration, the varying levels of expertise. We may have a little bit more business experience, but they have some technical experience, someone else has mobile experience, someone has gamification experience. So, if you kind of bring everybody together and start talking about their different expertise and/or different tools they’ve used in either development of the product or in their sales and marketing, it’s been amazing, and helps us all accelerate to the next level.”

Company: BuildCircle

Key people: Dan Heitbohmer, Brian McLachlin

Hometown: Stratford, Ont.

What we’re building: “We’re building a software application that documents and streamlines communication between general contractors and their many subcontractors on specific projects. The construction industry is dominated by fragmented and inefficient paper-driven and digital processes. By automating distribution of project documents, BuildCircle removes 60 to 80 per cent of the administrative work general contractors now face when sending thousands of emails and faxes to subcontractors, which saves time, money and aggravation for all parties.”

Early impressions of HYPERDRIVE:

Dan Heitbohmer: “It’s been fantastic. Coming from Stratford, a place that’s just starting up and is a Smart Seven community, we were kind of a big fish in a small pond there. Coming out here and actually seeing all these people and interacting with them is a real eye-opener. They’re really professional and really focused on getting results, tuning the product into the market, and making it not only an investable product, but a sustainable product from a business perspective. That’s important; it’s not just flipping a company, it’s building a company, building a culture, building market share and building strong, solid financials. And, being in the first cohort, it’s surprisingly well-organized.”

Company: Killer Giveaways

Key people: Adeel Vanthaliwala, Abdul Munda

Hometown: Mississauga

What we’re building: “We pool small businesses together so they can afford expensive giveaway prizes at one-tenth of the cost, and use that to incentivize their customers, just like big businesses do. This generates growth in the companies’ social media exposure and lead generation in a very cost-effective way.”

Early impressions of HYPERDRIVE:

Adeel Vanthaliwala: “My expectations have been far exceeded. The last two weeks have been phenomenal; I was not expecting things to be this good; everywhere from how involved all the different groups are at Communitech, to the involvement of the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, to the so many amazing mentors and EIRs, and the fact that we’ve had so much exposure to them already. To summarize, it’s been phenomenal, and the last two weeks have just blown me away.”

Company: Coachd

Key people: Ronen Benin, Colton Hathaway, Ryan Wilson

Hometown: London, Ont.

What we’re building: “We’re building the mobile app that lets sports fans be coached through workouts by professional athletes.”

Early impressions of HYPERDRIVE:

Ronen Benin: “It’s very helpful in every sense of the word. The mentorship has been very accessible and very beneficial. They’ve opened a lot of doors to clients. The Communitech Hub has been very welcoming. I was a little spoiled; I did The Next 36 program, so I had a lot of exposure, but the reason we applied is that we actually knew that we were going to get this kind of stuff. We were expecting this, and our expectations have at least been met, and in many cases, exceeded. We knew that we were going to get mentorship; that’s the main reason we came here, but the quality of the mentorship has been superb, and much more accessible than we thought it would be.”

Company: 8146861 Canada Corp.

Key people: Brett Shellhammer, Eric Apps

Hometown: Waterloo and Toronto, Ont.

What we’re building: “We’re currently in stealth mode, building a software-as-a-service-based solution targeting what we see as the emerging ‘social business’ (‘sobiz’) space. We see this area as comparable to the Web 2.0 trends in the mid-2000s, and we’re trying to tap into the next generation of social apps.”

Early impressions of HYPERDRIVE:

Eric Apps: “We think the program is awesome. The concept of HYPERDRIVE is to help companies accelerate their path to market. Kitchener-Waterloo is the perfect place for this for us because there is a strong entrepreneurial culture, an ethic based on a good combination of collaboration and competitiveness across hundreds of companies, a dynamic culture, a huge knowledge base and a healthy dose of drive to do new things and make your mark. We’re hoping to do the program proud as successful grads, and we think it will be a magnet for entrepreneurs from elsewhere looking for a great place to locate and grow. The other teams have been great and we wish them all the best.”