Vancouver Tantalus Labs Pioneers Responsible Cannabis Cultivation

Tantalus Labs exists to advance the frontier of cannabis through Sungrown cultivation. We are a team of scientists, designers, and engineers committed to cultivating world-class cannabis products in technical greenhouses.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?
Tantalus was founded by a handful of agronomists with experience in tech-driven greenhouse production of forestry seedlings, tomatoes, and bedding plants. We might have a bit of cannabis experience thrown in there too. The technology experience we draw from focuses on environmental monitoring, control, and automation; spanning hardware and software to give the modern grower better tools to control their outcomes.

How are you being financed?
Tantalus Labs is a private company funded through venture capital and private equity.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?
Evolving and strictly regulated legislation and policy are the largest barriers to entry in the Canadian cannabis industry. Companies must embrace regulation and meet an unprecedented quality assurance standard to participate in this nascent market. The task of developing operational processes that exceed regulations is sophisticated, but the payoff is having a consistently documented and iterating set of best practices from which to evolve our business.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?
Vancouver has a small but strong pool of technical talent. Much of our recruiting to date has been through the network of our team members and via word-of-mouth.

Who is your biggest competition?
As with businesses in many other nascent industries, our biggest competition is not the other companies currently in this space, but rather the statistical rate of startup failure. It is a monumental task to build a successful business, and our focus is to set up the principles and processes that will carry Tantalus Labs to sustained growth.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in
revenues? In what markets?
The soon to be legal cannabis market in Canada is a multi-billion dollar industry. We are focused on creating the best cannabis products we can, and to share them with customers in ways that highlight our company values. If we can consistently provide products that surprise and delight our customers base, we will be able to increase our sales.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this
If there is a deep cause to why your business exists, beyond profit, you will be able to find the grit necessary to push through inevitable periods of struggle.

Montreal AmpMe, party in your pocket, raises $10m to date

AmpMe is the mobile app that allows users play music in perfect sync across multiple devices to create one powerful sound system.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?
AmpMe was launched in September 2015, and was founded by Martin-Luc Archambault. The idea came about a year earlier when Martin-Luc was at a friend’s new apartment celebrating her move. They wanted to listen to music, but she didn’t have her speakers unpacked. They ended up putting a phone into a plastic cup to amplify the sound. Martin-Luc decided that there had to be a better solution to the problem, and he spent a year investing his own money to create what would become AmpMe.

About Founder & CEO: Martin-Luc Archambault:
Martin-Luc Archambault is an accomplished serial entrepreneur with over 15 years of leadership experience in building technology companies.

At the age of 21, he created, CDT Inc., a web publishing & advertising company, and quickly grew it to profitability before selling it to Zango within three years

In addition to his role as entrepreneur and investor, Martin-Luc Archambault stars on the French Canadian version of the ABC hit show ‘Shark Tank’, known locally as ‘Dragon’s Den’ or ‘Dans l’œil du dragon’

Martin Luc Archambault
Martin Luc Archambault

How are you being financed?
AmpMe has raised $10 million USD from leading investors, Relay Ventures, Investissement Québec, Slaight Music, OMERS Ventures, Townsgate Media, Anges Québec Capital, Real Ventures.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?
When AmpMe first launched, one of our biggest obstacles was that some people had really poor speakers on their mobile device which degraded quality. Since then, we’ve launched on bluetooth speakers creating the ability for anyone to connect a quality speaker to any phone. Also, each new generation of iPhone and Android has better speakers than the one before. Like phone cameras, they will develop to a point where external speakers are less and less necessary for the average person.

Another obstacle is making sure our users have access to as many music sources as possible which is why we’re working hard to connect new music streaming services. We just launched on Spotify and there are more coming soon.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?
a) ask your current guys to tell you who they would die to work with (and try to hire them)
b) be present in those startup dev events and network
c) once you’ve found the guy make him an offer he can’t refuse: start with selling the vision and give him a big enough challenge (salary should be at least as good as competition but not most important thing)

Who is your biggest competition?
There are companies that offer the ability to sync multiple speakers together but they require the same hardware or don’t work across different operating platforms and are very expensive. AmpMe is the only solution to work across both Android and iOS and connect to any brand of Bluetooth speaker.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in
revenues? In what markets?
AmpMe is currently focused on building the best product possible and growing our user base, we expect to see revenue numbers in the next few years.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this
It’s risky to rely upon 3rd party APIs for your business. So it’s important that you establish great relationships with these partners and make them understand the benefit that you’re bringing to the equation. Sell them on the vision that it’s in their best interest to keep the relationship going in spite of any hiccups. Also, try not to put all your eggs in one API basket.

When hiring, don’t compromise your hiring process just b/c you got a referral. Put everyone through the same system of checks and proper process to ensure quality hires. For example, would you buy a new car you’ve never test driven even though it’s pretty and fast?

Watch Video – AmpMe – The Most Portable Speaker System:


They are also hiring (and they promise if you get hired at AmpMe that they will send you on a nice, relaxing, all-inclusive vacation down South*. – iOS Developer, Business Intelligence Analyst, and Android Developer in Montreal if you are looking for a job:

Sofdesk, Montreal startup sales accelerator for solar power, raises $3m

Montreal based Sofdesk raised $3m from EnerTech Capital and BDC Venture Capital.

Sofdesk is the Number 1 sales accelerator for Solar Power, Roofing & Insurance. Its main products are Solargraf made for solar installation companies and Roofgraf for roofing companies.

Lennie Moreno is the founder and CEO of Sofdesk with over 8 years of experience in the solar industry. He first started as a salesman, switched to the solar installation business and finally ended up in the software world. Lennie was able to understand firsthand how solar is sold from first contact to system connection. An avid Muay Thai practitioner and hip-hop enthusiast, Lennie also inspires teens in difficult situations.

Watch Lennie talk about solar roofing made simple:

Toronto BlueCat Networks sold for $400-million

BlueCat Networks, a leading provider of Enterprise DNS, announced today it has agreed to be acquired by Madison Dearborn Partners, a leading private equity firm based in Chicago. Upon completion of the transaction, BlueCat’s management team will remain in place and retain a significant equity ownership position in the company.

BlueCat is The Enterprise DNS Company™. Company’s software enables the centralization and automation of DNS services and the ability to leverage valuable DNS data for significantly increased visibility, control and compliance. The largest global enterprises trust BlueCat to provide the foundation for transformational strategies such as cloud, virtualization and security. Company employs about 300 people in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for BlueCat,” said Michael Harris, CEO of BlueCat, “We have prioritized the needs of enterprise customers by taking a uniquely software-centric approach to our delivery model, and that strategy has propelled BlueCat to the forefront of the industry. MDP recognizes BlueCat’s valuable position within our customers’ infrastructure and our tremendous growth prospects. With the added resources and expertise of MDP, BlueCat will be strongly positioned to accelerate our growth.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with MDP as we embark on our next growth chapter,” said Michael Hyatt, BlueCat’s Co-founder, who is also retaining an equity ownership interest in the company. BlueCat has established itself as an integral partner to many of the world’s leading companies and, alongside MDP, will remain focused on delivering solutions to manage increasingly complex network infrastructure needs. In addition, we would like to thank our investors Trident Capital and Northleaf Capital Partners for believing in our vision and for their unwavering support and assistance in growing the company. They have been excellent partners.”

“BlueCat is a leader in a high-growth, in-demand sector of the global enterprise IT industry, and we look forward to partnering with Michael Harris and his talented management team to build upon the company’s momentum,” said Doug Grissom, a Managing Director at MDP and head of the firm’s Business and Government Services team. “Enterprises around the world are experiencing a growing need to adopt enterprise DNS solutions to manage the rapid increase in scale and complexity of their IT networks. We look forward to utilizing our expertise in high-growth technology companies to help BlueCat realize its growth prospects, while continuing to deliver critical solutions to customers.”

Andy Nulman & Parisa Foster combine predictive trivia with branded content at Montreal startup Play The Future

Play The Future is a mobile app where players can make predictions on a wide-range of trending topics: entertainment, politics, business, technology…even the weather. Brands can also participate through sponsored predictions, e.g. “How many glasses of wine will be served on VIA Rail trains during Thanksgiving?” Our philosophy is “Life’s a Game” and “If it can be measured, it can be played.” We have combined the appeal of trivia games with our inherent human need to know the future and an innovative advertising revenue model.

Phil Donne (former CEO of Campbell’s Soup and Kellogg’s Canada) calls it:

“A breakthrough brand engagement tool that addresses the splintering of attention, the proliferation of ad-blockers and the wholesale rejection of push marketing”

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?
Play The Future was launched in January 2016 by a team of co-founders including Andy Nulman and Parisa Foster. Andy is a successful entertainment and media veteran, having co-founded Just For Laughs and Airborne Mobile, a mobile content provider which sold in 2005 for $110 million. Parisa has extensive experience in mobile apps, having worked in the field for over a decade and having held the role of VP Marketing & Business Development at Budge Studios.

How are you being financed?
Play The Future is backed by venture capital firms and angel investors.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?
We have to make the branded predictions as entertaining and relevant as the original content (e.g. predicting box office stats or the total hits in a hockey game). Our editorial team’s strength is in transforming the brand’s marketing message into a fun a prediction game and our players have come to enjoy them as much, as sometimes more, than the non-branded content. That said, perhaps the biggest obstacle is bringing more brands to the table and show them the depth of engagement we provide.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?
We were lucky that an A+ developer (Van Du Tran), whom Parisa had worked with previously, was fascinated by the project and wanted to come on board immediately. Anyone we hire should already be a fan of the app.

Who is your biggest competition?
There isn’t really anyone doing “exactly” what we’re doing. The biggest competition for us is the market of casual games and apps that take up consumers’ time.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?
Our primary revenue stream is having brands pay every time a player engages with their content on the PTF app. We launched in Canada in 2016 and just launched in the US in February 2017. It’s all about getting as many brands on-board and rolling out internationally.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.
It’s better to have 50 people that LOVE your product vs. 1000 that think it’s just OK. We’re seeing incredible engagement and retention for a mobile app, so we know we built a sticky product and the next step is to increase awareness

Watch Andy Nulman explains the concept to Breakfast Television in this video:

Toronto RoadMunk, roadmapping software, raised $2m Canadian

RoadMunk raised $1.5m USD today to further grow their software product.

This round was financed by Golden Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures and Garage Capital.

Roadmunk Inc. provides visual roadmap software for product management. It offers Roadmunk, an online software solution for creating sprint, project, release, technology, business, and consulting roadmaps. Roadmunk Inc. was founded in 2013 and is based in Toronto, Canada.

In case you are looking for a job – they are hiring: Email Marketing Manager, Quality Analyst, Web Application Developer at their downtown Toronto office.

Toronto Top Hat taking learning to the next level, raises $30m Cdn to date

Top Hat’s interactive, cloud-based teaching platform enables professors to engage students inside and outside the classroom with compelling content, tools and activities. Today, Top Hat is used at three-quarters of the top 1,000 colleges and universities in North America, including Indiana University, the Ohio State University, California State University and Michigan State University.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Top Hat was co-founded by Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini in 2009. Both have engineering backgrounds from the University of Waterloo.

How are you being financed?

We have venture capital funding, and most recently we raised $22.5M USD Series C financing.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

Top Hat was the first BYOD classroom engagement platform in higher education and now millions of students use the platform. Our next step is to disrupt the $10B U.S. textbook industry. In November, we launched an online content marketplace where professors can create course materials and sell it around the world. It’s a revolutionary model for textbooks: the idea is to cut out the publisher and let professors sell directly to students and each other.

Top Hat has proven to increase engagement and participation by recognizing that the way students learn and interact has profoundly changed. Our one challenge is to help professors and schools to innovate and evolve the way they’re teaching in large format classrooms.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We have a few ways that we recruit great talent. The first is by creating a great internal culture that’s transparent and focused on growth and development.

We’re also very active in the Toronto startup community. We participate in numerous events every year like TechVibes Techfest, Startup Open House and the MARS Toronto Startup Job Fair. We also host our own events: we recently we held a standing-room-only open house at SPiN Toronto.

Who is your biggest competition?

We have our eyes on the traditional textbook publishers. The current model is broken and we’re looking to disrupt the industry just as Uber and Airbnb disrupted the cab and hotel industries.

Video – How Top Hat works