|Kik, the mobile messaging company whose global user base has passed 200 million, topped April’s news with reports that it was exploring a possible sale or strategic partnerships. The company also launched an in-chat browser for its popular app.
Health, fitness and sports
HockeyTech announced it is moving to Waterloo to team up with UW on further developing a new hardware-and-software system to track and analyseevery facet of Canada’s most iconic sport.
A couple of local fitness apps are also gaining traction – OneSet, which started in the University of Waterloo Velocity Garage, launched its ‘Vine for fitness’app to a warm reception from users. It follows in the footsteps of PumpUp, another Velocity alum whose mobile fitness community now counts more than two million users.
On the hardware side, UW mechatronics engineering grad Rami Alhamad has cracked the professional sports market with his PUSH band, an app-enabled wearable that helps athletes track progress and prevent injuries.
Vitameter, meanwhile, took home $35,000 from the Velocity Fund Finals, including the $10,000 hardware prize, for its device that measures vitamin levels in blood.
From hockey to happiness, there’s seemingly nothing that can’t be measured. The team at Canadian Business decided to test Plasticity Labs’ platform, which helps companies gather data to improve employee culture and happiness scores.
Happiness was certainly on the mind of startup veteran Carol Leaman when Google came calling to acquire PostRank, the small Waterloo analytics firm she led, in 2011. In her case, it meant turning down an offer to stay with Google in favour of the chance to take over and grow Axonify, which uses gamification to deliver employee training.
Blitzen, whose B2B web app enables users to build online forms, synchronize data across cloud apps and automate workflows quickly and simply, was named by Business Insider as one of the fastest-growing B2B startups still flying under the radar.
They are also one of 10 companies in the first cohort of Rev, Communitech’s new sales accelerator, which earned an early nod from Pat Riley of the Global Accelerator Network during a visit to the Communitech Hub. Rev initially raised questions for accepting companies that had already attended top accelerators such as Y Combinator, but its focus on sales, not product, provides the answer.
Indeed, strong community support can make all the difference to fragile early-stage companies. By that measure, Waterloo Region is the richest startup ecosystem Singularity University’s Salim Ismail has ever seen, but its entrepreneurs need to be bolder if they want to change the world.
While we can always use more of it, bold thinking is not a new concept in Waterloo Region, as the University of Waterloo’s Ken McLaughlin will explore in his next book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship are in the Waterloo Genome. The Waterloo Region Record examined similar themes in a package of stories about the evolution of local manufacturing.
One of the region’s stalwart tech manufacturers, space hardware producer COM DEV, is undergoing its own evolution, as spinout firm exactEarth chases big-data opportunities on the high seas using compact satellites that track marine traffic.
The management of online traffic, meanwhile, continues to reap rewards for publicly traded Sandvine, which reported its 10th consecutive quarter of profitability and revenue growth. Macleans featured Sandvine for its emphasis on providing services that enhance its broadband network management products.
Services have also been a key focus for BlackBerry CEO John Chen as he refocuses the smartphone pioneer on key business and government segments. Acquisitions, particularly in the field of security, are part of Chen’s plan for BlackBerry, which posted a modest quarterly profit.
In other enterprise news, professional services firm Deloitte unveiled its new innovation space at the Communitech Hub, joining a growing list of large companies that have docked with the region’s startup ecosystem over the past two years.