The first cohort of the Toronto arm of prestigious international accelerator program Techstars has announced its inaugural group of startups.
Out of 650 applications from more than 50 countries, Techstars chose 10 startups to participate in its intense three-month program based in downtown Toronto’s WeWork building. Four out of the 10 startups have founders from abroad, moving to Toronto from the Netherlands, Ukraine, China and the U.S.
Managing director Sunil Sharma said Techstars Toronto is unique in its ability to recruit international companies, thanks to Canada’s startup visa program. This means Techstars and its joint funding and investing partner, Real Ventures, is able to benefit from a wider talent pool, with Canada standing to reap the economic rewards of new fast-growing companies setting up shop within its borders.
“There are more companies outside Canada than there are inside Canada, and we’re looking for the best companies,” Sharma said. “It makes sense to look as broadly as you can.”
The 10 companies in Techstars Toronto’s inaugural cohort are:
Cinchy, a secure platform that allows users to link and reuse data across applications
Distributed ID, which helps businesses adapt to their customers’ changing behaviours, and prevent fraud using a private digital identity network
Elmy, which allows users to discover and book appointments with local beauty professionals
Flipd, which helps prevent users from being distracted by their phones while they’re trying to learn or focus
Flow.ai, a platform for creating chatbots and voice assistants
KitchenMate, a hardware product that automatically cooks meal kits for busy office workers
LumiereVR, which produces virtual reality films
Senso.ai, which makes artificial intelligence software for the real estate and mortgage industries
Tread.io, which makes software for securing, managing and financing construction equipment services
WISK, which makes beverage analytics software for restaurants, bars and hotels and aims to become the central source for the world’s liquor data
Sharma says he selected the companies primarily based on the strength of their founder teams. He also considered whether Techstars Toronto will be the best place to help them grow, based on its mentor network.
“Fundamentally, we look at the team and then we look for a fit,” Sharma says. The accelerator looks for “how we can help them and how coachable they are, how much we think they would benefit from being in a mentorship program like TechStars, how hard they plan to work.”