At Elevate Toronto’s inaugural technology festival, three budding social entrepreneurs pitched their enterprise idea to a packed audience at the Sony Centre to win $20,000 in funding.
Each founder was flanked by two notable angel investors and entrepreneurs—including current and former Dragons’ Den judges—to support their pitch. But it was the audience that was given the power to decide which company would take home the cash prize. At the end of each pitch, the angels asked the founders strategic questions to make their venture outshine the competition before opening up the voting.
After the results flooded in real-time, the winner of the $20,000 was Rumie who earned 37.4 per cent of the vote. Awake Labs was narrowly in second with 34.6 per cent and AccessNow in third with 28 per cent.
Teriq Fancy left his finance job on Wall Street to launch his non-profit Rumie. He was flanked by BlueCat co-founder Michael Hyatt and Kiva CEO Julie Hanna to pitch his digital education initiative. Rumie provides free tablet devices to children in underserved communities. The tablets are powered with LearnCloud, an online repository of high-quality, free educational resources that come in many languages. Rumie is currently being used by thousands of young students in 20 countries around the world.
Awake Labs CEO Andrea Palmer was paired with Round13 Capital’s Bruce Croxon and Adil Dhalla, the executive director of Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation. Palmer’s Awake Labs is behind Reveal: an AI health platform that measures anxiety in real time for people with autism.
The platform can be used to log behavior while a wearable wristband device tracks indicators of anxiety—helping healthcare professionals gain better insights into the lives of the one in 68 people who have an autism spectrum disorder.
Maayan Ziv launched AccessNow to create a global roadmap for accessibility through crowdsourcing. She was joined by Clearbanc co-founder Michele Romanow and Quickplay CEO Wayne Purboo on the stage.
Living with Muscular Dystrophy, Ziv uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. She told the audience that not knowing what buildings are accessible presents real barriers for the four million people who rely on accessibility features to get inside and get around. Ziv said she wants AccessNow to be apart of the larger mission to change the conversation about accessibility.
Elevate Toronto’s three-day technology festival is on now until September 14.