FounderFuel revealed the seven startups in its Fall 2014 cohort this evening at the Rialto Theatre in Montreal, the first under Sylvain Carle’s new reign as head of the accelerator.
Carle, the former Twitter employee, took over a program that had previously been led by Ian Jeffery. He was general manager for the program’s first five cohorts.
Carle expected a wild ride, and he told Techvibes he got it, particularly after 360 startups vied for eight spots. High expectations followed both the teams and those in charge of leading them through FounderFuel.
“What’s most interesting for me is really we may have a program but there’s no magic formula,” said Carle. “Each one is a bit different and everyone gets what they take from the program.”
Upon entering the program, Carle immediately changed up the funding structure. FounderFuel offered hardware startups $100,000 and non-hardware startups $50,000.
He told Techvibes that most of the teams presenting Tuesday evening already had firm products entering the program.
FlatBook came in with over a million in sales, while Mejuri had already won awards for its crowdsourced, online jewelry market. Carle’s minor goal was “telling them to get out of the house,” he said. “With Selective Few, for example, they work with fashion designers so I pushed them to get out and validate.”
His larger goal wasn’t so much to have the teams focus on raising capital, but rather making them fundable. “That, for us, that’s why the pitch is so important. If you understand your business, you can pitch it really well,” he said. Carle believes that this is central to being able to attract investment.
Here’s Techvibes’ top three picks from FounderFuel’s sixth cohort, along with explanations of the remaining teams.
1. Redtree Robotics – “Accelerating Robot Evolution”
With two Ph.D founders from the University of Guelph, Redtree created the world’s first full-stack invention of custom circuits or code.
“What these guys are doing is like science fiction. They’re building robotic stacks, hardware, software, a communication layer,” said Carle. “This, at scale, is revolutionary. It hasn’t existed before in the tech industry.”
2. Flatbook – “Hilton For Apartments”
Flatbook provides travelers the best authentic apartments and trustworthy hotel brands. They scaled their team from 4 to 14 employees over three months at FounderFuel, and are now preparing for a multi-city launch within a few months.
“I was impressed with the progress of FlatBook,” said Carle. “They’re demonstrating a new reality in accelerators. When we started in 2011 I was a mentor, and you’d get companies come in, finish their products and start to get out of the gate. FlatBook came in with a million in sales, so they started out really strong.”
3. Mejuri – “Authentic Jewelry. Infused With Style.”
Mejuri is a vertically integrated jewelry brand that transforms the global creativity of inspirational designers into unique collections for the aspirational woman. The crowdsourced marketplace for designers and buyers had already attracted investor attention in early 2013 when it won the International Startup Festival’s Elevator World Tour stop at the CN Tower in Toronto.
Founder Noura Sakkijha is a third-generation jeweler who is harnessing the power of the Internet to push faster product cycles of authentically designed jewelry
“Noura is applying some of the trends we see in fashion to jewelry while also coming up with fantastic designs sourced globally,” said Carle. “They have turnaround time that makes it possible for them to have new collections all the time, which is unheard of in jewelry.”
- Binder empowers high-growth companies to attract, identify, qualify, and hire the best entry-level talent.
- Brownie Points connects neighbourhood stores and helps them leverage their collective power to engage customers.
- Seamless Planet is bringing global distribution to the independent travel company.
- Selective Few is a digital marketplace powering the world’s elite independent fashion boutiques.