In an effort to help fast-track the commercialization of early-stage Canadian companies and grow the tech ecosystem in Western Canada, Boast Capital recently announced a partnership with Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley to launch Plug and Play Accelerator Canada.
The first initiative of this partnership is Startup Camp, where technology startups are offered US$25,000 in funding plus access to world-class mentors and investors in both Silicon Valley and Calgary.
As a soft launch for the program, which starts late fall in Calgary, Alberta, Boast Capital put out a call for applications for Plug and Play’s summer Startup Camp in Silicon Valley. After reviewing an overwhelming number of applications from all over Canada, the following two Canadian Startups have been selected to join thirteen other companies from United States and Europe:
1. Pinerly is a marketing automation platform for Pinterest. Founders Rick Kats and Vlad Barshai were working on another startup where they were using Pinterest for marketing. Despite the spike in traffic Pinterest gave them, they were unable to see exactly where the traffic was coming from and how to optimize it for conversions.
Sensing an opportunity, Rick and Vlad soon put up a landing page to see if there was any interest and within a week received 36,000 signups for their beta. Since their launch this spring, Pinerly has over 60,000 users on the wait list and 12,000 users in beta.
“Startup Camp will open doors and give us access to mentors and investors we wouldn’t otherwise have,” says Vlad Barshai, Cofounder, Pinerly. “This will allow us to focus on our product and build things customers will love… easier, better, faster.”
2. Willet is a social marketing automation tool that helps retailers convert social browsers into shoppers. Retailers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on acquiring and managing fans, but are not as successful at translating that into sales, which is a billion-dollar problem Willet is helping solve.
Willet has a partnership with Shopify, the largest hosted ecommerce platform and is working with over 3,000 retailers including noted companies like L’Oreal Canada.
“You can’t be a high-tech Internet startup in Canada and not have a presence in Silicon Valley,” says Fraser Harris, Founder of Willet Inc. “Startup Camp is the perfect venue for us to get connected with world-class experts, mentors and funders. The opportunity to pitch our business to the leading investors in our space on Demo Day makes it even more compelling.”
Startup Camp will conclude with the Startup Camp Expo, a demo day where the companies will pitch to the venture capital and angel investor community in Silicon Valley.
“This partnership with Plug and Play has generated interest from startups and investors from all over Canada,” said Alex Popa, partner at Boast Capital and Plug and Play Accelerator Canada. “Our mission is to help build the tech ecosystem in Calgary, by not only building local talent, but also attracting talent from out of the province. We hope in the near future the Oil and Gas investor community in Calgary will start taking a serious look at tech.”