Startup Spotlight: The 2017 Women Founders Fund Recipients
Last month, in partnership with Startup Canada and Global Payments, we announced the four recipients of this year’s Women Founders Fund. The Fund provides women entrepreneurs with support to access growth opportunities, new markets, and to build competencies that enable immediate growth and expansion.
As our president and co-founder Davis Souaid said, “The sheer level of thoughtful and socially responsible innovation in this year’s pool of applicants has been beyond impressive. We reviewed many forward-thinking proposals centered around health, wellness, and the environment that it just further reinforces why supporting the startup ecosystem is so vital. I am inspired by these women and their passion for developing businesses and future technologies that will go on to shape our society for the better, both at the community level and beyond.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to take a deeper look at these inspirational entrepreneurs and their businesses.
Let’s kick things off with our 1st recipient, Jessica Ching, CEO and Co-Founder of Eve Medical.
Eve Medical, based in Toronto, is a medical company dedicated to improving women’s health. Their flagship product, the Eve Kit, is an at-home screening system for women to test for infertility and cervical cancer. The results are made accessible online for them to reference and pass on to any physician they wish.
Approximately one-third of Canadian women have never been screened for cervical cancer and on average, one woman succumbs to the disease every day. There are also thousands of women that suffer from non-fatal diseases and infertility due to sexually transmitted infections. Many women are uncomfortable with the traditional testing methods or are simply unable to access them.
Eve Kit allows women to test themselves - removing the discomfort of having a doctor performing the test. Because the test can be done anywhere, the need to travel or find time to complete it is also minimized. The kit is Health Canada approved and has been clinically validated.
2017 was a big year for Jessica and the Eve Medical team. On top of being the leading Women Founder Fund recipient, Eve Medical was a finalist in the Quest Award to End Cervical Cancer, and Jessica was named as one of Canada's Top 25 Women of Influence in 2017. Jessica told us “We’re grateful to be a recipient, which will help us launch our next product.” We expect big things from them for years to come!
Next up, our grand prize runner-up, Eloise Ambursley, CEO and Co-Founder of Billenial.
Billenial is a FinTech startup in Toronto that was founded just this year. They have set out to help Canadians deal with bad debt and manage their finances right from an app on their phones.
It’s hard to keep track of bills and recurring payments. In fact, Canadian are faced with over 2 billion dollars worth of household debt! This works out to about 170% of disposable income – up from 90% in 1990. There’s no question debt is a very real and pressing issue in our country.
The first Billenial product will make staying on top of your finances easy. By putting all your bills and bank information in one place, users will be able to save time and rest assured nothing is slipping under the radar.
Even though the company is still in its infant stage, they have already won $5,000 in startup funding from Sandbox by DMZ, are being incubated at You X Ventures (in addition to a $10,000 investment) and were the recipients of the $3,000 Women Founders Fund grant. Off to a great start is an understatement.
Andrea Palmer and her business Awake Labs are next on the docket.
Another Toronto based startup, Awake Labs is a technology company centered around helping those with brain and mental health disorders.
Mental health is the world’s leading cause of disability, depression alone affects over 300 million people worldwide. Simply put, it stops people from living a normal life - a problem the Awake Labs team deemed unexpectable.
The first product Awake Labs has rolled out, Reveal Stories, is a mobile application that enables users to share data that logs their mental health. It makes the connection between patients and their care teams faster and easier than ever. They are currently working on their second product, Reveal Band, a wearable that connects with Reveal Stories. The device will help users track anxiety in real time, helping them regulate symptoms.
Andrea can now add Women Founders Fund recipient to a growing list of accolades including the BCBusiness 30 Under 30, Startup Canada's Young Entrepreneur Award, Next 36 Outstanding Venture Award, and the Canadian Global Impact Competition.
Last and certainly not least, SportFitz CEO Diane Matyas.
Not even a year old and SportFitz is making waves in the sports health industry. Their wearable product Fitz is taking reporting on brain injuries to the places where the incidents most regularly occur.
According to Diane, 90% of concussions go unreported. This means that approximately 45 million concussions went unreported in the United States alone. There’s no question, concussions are an epidemic not only in sports but everywhere.
The Fitz is a device that can fit inside a helmet or stuck directly to the skin. It measures the movements of the head and brain in real time which in turn are displayed via an app. While wearing the Fitz, it will be impossible to miss a traumatic incident.
On top of founding SportFitz, Diane is the national best-selling author behind Performance: Your guide to personal & professional excellence, a frequent guest on TV and Radio across North America and the founder of International Women’s Day in the Waterloo Region.
Being a part of the Women Founders Fund for the past two years has been incredible. The sheer volume of inspirational entrepreneurs in our country is simply humbling. We expect great things from all the recipients thus far and can’t wait to see what 2018 holds!
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