Category: Techvibes

Pitch Directory: Words from a World Champion

This is the first installment of Pitch Directory; A four-part series presented in partnership with BDO VC Pitch Day. This series examines pitching from four different perspectives, exploring the definitive sources dedicated to understanding what it takes to successfully pitch a company or idea.


It’s difficult to truly encapsulate what a good pitch can mean for a company founder. Delivering a concise and engaging presentation can lead to any number of benefits: finding the perfect mentor, landing a spot in a coveted startup accelerator, securing funding, and even hiring the top talent that you need to see the vision come to life.

Harder still is trying to describe what makes a pitch “good.” For every example above, that pitch must be slightly tweaked to cater to the audience. Sometimes, however, the pitch is so good it wins with anyone within earshot. There is no absolute definition for a flawless pitch, and that’s what makes it one of the most fascinating and polarizing skills requ..

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Element AI Announces Cybersecurity Collaboration with National Bank of Canada

Element AI, a company that is notoriously secretive when it comes to disclosing clients and companies it works with, has announced a new partner.

The Montreal-based AI firm has unveiled a new collaboration with the National Bank of Canada (NBC) to bring AI-powered software to the bank’s Security Operations Centre (SOC). Security analysts at NBC will be able to better detect and respond to cybersecurity threats with this new collaboration, guided by Element AI’s machine learning technology.

Element AI will work with NBC to create real-time cybersecurity reports and alerts, allowing the SOC team to instantly address any problem that may arise. The new AI integration will also autonomously hunt for new threats to the system by analyzing data and creating a response workflow. A big chunk of this will be removing any potential false positives, a common problem with cybersecurity solutions—if the false positives can be addressed and removed, analysts can better focus on the real attacks an..

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Mojio Closes $52.9 Million Series B Round

The connected car industry is as successful as it has ever been, and now a Canadian leader in the industry is closing a huge round to advance the technology even further.

Mojio has announced the closing of a $52.9 million ($40 million USD) oversubscribed Series B round. This is the final close of a round that had several investors previously announced throughout 2018, including Bosch and Iris Capital. The round was led by Kensington Capital and joined by other investors including Assurant, T-Mobile, Amazon Alexa Fund, and Telus Ventures.

“These strategic investments underscore the close partnership we have with our investors and the confidence they have in our people, products and vision for an increasingly connected life,” said Kenny Hawk, CEO of Mojio. “With this additional funding, we’re able to accelerate our efforts to support the entire automotive ecosystem in delivering smarter, safer and more convenient car ownership experiences to the global driving community.”

Mojio create..

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Netflix Set to Open a Toronto Production Hub

A little over a month after writing about why a Toronto production hub would be an easy choice for Netflix, the streaming giant has announced plans to lease studio space in Canada’s largest city.

Netflix will lease close to 200,000 square feet of space spread across two separate studios—Cinepsace Studios, which will have four sound stages as well as offices and support space totalling 164,00 square feet, and Pinewood Toronto Studios, which will have four sound stages and adjacent office space totalling 84,580 square feet. Netflix estimates this move will create 1,850 jobs. As a comparison, this is roughly half the total soundstages Netflix has access to at their Hollywood Sunset Bronson headquarters.

“By putting the right conditions in place to attract jobs and opportunities to the province, our Government working for the People is sending a clear message that Ontario is open for business,” said Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Today’s announcement ..

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Element AI the Only Canadian Company to Land on 2019 AI 100

Despite Canada’s strong AI presence over the last few years, an annual ranking of the top companies in the sector boasts just one Canadian company.

The annual AI 100 published by CB insights has been released, and Montreal’s Element AI is the sole Canadian representative on the list. Over 3,000 companies were considered for this year’s list, and the top 100 were selected based on patent activity, investor profile, news sentiment analysis, market potential, team strength, and more.

The U.S. is by far the most well-represented country on the list, as 77 companies call the country home. China is second in terms of representation, followed by Israel and the U.K.

Element AI is one of Canada’s leading AI firms. They work with leading international companies to create AI solutions that address their problems, offering a solution those clients would not have been able to develop themselves. Element AI has worked with insurance giants, infrastructure organizations, and more. Led by CEO JF Ga..

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Funding Roundup: GradeSlam, Conavi Medical, MediaValet

This week saw funding across industries, from healthtech to education to B2B software. Here are some of the stories you may have missed:

GradeSlam

Montreal-based GradeSlam, an online tutoring software, has announced a new round of funding from the Google Assistant Investment Program, Birchmere Ventures, BDC Capital, Reach Capital, and Ages Quebec.

The platform is chat-based and aims to provide free, 24-hour tutoring and learning support for students. GradeSlam plans to use this financing to introduce a voice-based platform.

“Voice technology is the next-generation interface. After running countless focus groups, it became evident that students from a younger age were asking voice assistant for help with their homework,” says Philip Cutler, CEO of GradeSlam. “As leaders in personalized learning, it’s our responsibility to find new ways to leverage different technologies. Our experience in the education system allowed us to understand students’ needs and maximize our opportunities to..

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BlackBerry, Canadian Government Invest $350 Million for Connected Cars

In the same week that Canada placed 12 out of 25 when it comes to automated vehicle readiness, a massive new investment has been announced for a Canadian company to develop autonomous technology.

BlackBerry has announced a total $350 million investment in autonomous innovation, with $40 million coming from the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund and the other $310.5 million coming from BlackBerry themselves. This new funding will allow BlackBerry to create 800 new jobs over the next 10 years and maintain 300 existing ones.

The investment is actually going into BlackBerry QNX, a unit of BlackBerry dedicated to developing secure software for a wide range of connected vehicles. The Waterloo-based BlackBerry has been working with leading brands recently through their QNX unit to establish partnerships in the connected car market. In late 2017, they partnered with Qualcomm to work on virtual cockpit controllers, telematics like eCall and Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything technolog..

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Sidewalk Labs’ Plans for Toronto Development Beyond Quayside

One of the most ambitious technology and construction projects Canada has ever seen is reportedly even more grandiose then first imagined.

The Google-owned Sidewalk Labs announced their futuristic neighbourhood project Quayside in late 2017, and now a new report from the Toronto Star reveals details that this is only the first step of a plan to build infrastructure in Toronto’s Port Lands and collect revenue along the way. Sidewalk Labs wants to develop the land with underground infrastructure and a light rail and in turn be “entitled to…a share in the uptick in land value on the entire geography,” according to an internal report.

The Port Lands is the largest undeveloped piece of land in a major North American city, which means it is a massive opportunity for both the city as well as outside contractors to take advantage of. Ground broke this past November on a government-funded $2.5 billion flood protection project for the area, which would also bring in walking paths, public parks..

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North Announces New Updates and Hits the Road with Focals

The latest in smart glasses technology is hitting the road to bring the product to as many new customers as possible.

North has announced a tour to bring their product Focals to new consumers, starting with a stop in Seattle from February 19 to 22, and then moving on to San Francisco and an undisclosed location in the Valley at either the end of February or the first week of March. The pop-up location will allow the public to try the Focals on and experience what the smart glasses have to offer. A spokesperson for North has said appointments for Seattle are already filling up.

The Waterloo-based North has a very detailed process to purchase a pair of Focals. Consumers must undergo a guided fitting process that was originally only available in the company’s Brooklyn and Toronto showrooms—hence the pop-up tour bringing the technology to more potential customers. It involves a dozen cameras taking shape of a wearer’s head, then sitting down with an optician to finalize the fit. There we..

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Wattpad Secures New Content Deal in South Korea

Over the last few years, Wattpad has made major strides to evolve from their beginnings as a storytelling medium to become a full-fledged entertainment powerhouse.

The latest move for the Toronto-based company is an expansion into the South Korean market through a new partnership with Huayi Brothers. The talent company is one of the largest in the country, and this new deal will secure the agency as Wattpad’s exclusive entertainment partner in the region.

“Wattpad’s model is the future of entertainment, using technology to find great storytellers and bring them to an international audience,” said, Jay Ji, CEO of Huayi Brothers Korea. “In an era of entertainment abundance, working with Wattpad means access to the most important things in the industry: a data-backed approach to development, and powerful, proven stories that audiences have already fall in love with.”

This is not the first deal of this kind for Wattpad. In fact, partnerships like this are becoming quite common. Wattpad ..

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Alberta Announces $100 Million Investment for AI

Move over Toronto and Montreal, another AI capital may soon emerge in Canada.

The Government of Alberta has announced a five-year $100 million investment to bring more AI companies to the province. This funding will build out Alberta’s fledgling AI industry by supporting both Alberta Innovates, a corporation that develops high-tech solutions with AI, nanotechnology, and omics to address concerns in health, the environment, and food; and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), an organization comprised of leading AI researchers, much like Toronto’s Vector or Montreal’s Mila.

“Innovation is a critical tool for competitiveness in nearly every sector of the economy, including energy,” said Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta. “By investing in technology and the talent that powers it, we are ensuring Alberta continues to be a world leader in clean, efficient energy production and that our economy is more resilient and diversified for the future.”

The investment will create 6,000..

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Canada Slips in Global Ranks for Automated Vehicle Readiness

Despite all of the recent pushes in Canada for automated driving and the amount of research being done in the country, it may not be enough to truly prepare consumers for the full realization of the technology.

The recently-released Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index is an annual ranking put together by KPMG that measures 25 countries on how well they can adopt technologies surrounding self-driving cars. Canada dropped from seventh in 2018 to twelfth place this year, while the Netherlands took the top spot, followed by Singapore and Norway.

“Canada’s main strengths on AVs are the high quality of its existing workforce, its status as an attractive and open destination for skilled immigrants and strong leadership from different levels of government that see the potential benefits,” according to Colin Earp, the national transport lead for KPMG in Canada.

The main criteria for the rankings is split into four different pillars. First is policy and legislation, which includes topics like..

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