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DMZ welcomes Incubator Cohort 7 companies


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DMZ welcomes Incubator Cohort 7 companies

Our latest cohort is composed of exceptional startups that stood out among hundreds of promising applicants from around the world.

Some highlights of this cohort: 

  • 10 startups representing diverse verticals: EdTech, Fintech, HRTech, Social Impact, and more
  • Over 50% of Cohort 7 are woman-founded
  • The majority of startups operate as B2B SaaS companies
  • Our startups’ home bases span across the U.K., U.S. and Canada

For the next 18 months, startup founders will benefit from extensive support as they scale their products, ramp up customer acquisition, explore global expansion, gain access to cutting-edge resources and much more. Startups also benefit from continuous guidance with access to a world-class network of mentors, industry leaders, professional services, investors and legal advisors.  

Keep reading to learn more about the visionary startups leading the future of tech.


Aravenda provides a cloud-based consignment software solution for small businesses or enterprise users. Aravenda seamlessly integrates with Shopify and Clover to simplify workflows, eliminate common system errors and streamline inventory management while expanding the reach of consignment businesses globally. 

Loba is innovating health and wellness by modernizing traditional pill and supplement management through technology and the psychology of building healthy habits. By connecting a Loba device to WiFi, users can easily manage their pill and supplement schedule, set reminders, add new medications, track habits, and more.

Omnia focuses on the digital optimization of business operations such as supply chain management and e-learning solutions. By assessing a company’s current tech utilization, Omnia designs a custom optimization strategy to enhance workflow management and streamline operations across various industries. This company ensures its implementations drive significant value and ongoing support by prioritizing the understanding of client needs.

Quantibly is an innovative impact analytics platform revolutionizing data-driven decision-making in the social sector. With advanced AI and automation tools for data collection, analysis, and visualization, Quantibly empowers organizations in 82 countries to gain actionable insights into their financial and non-financial impacts.

Rescounts is an innovative, cost-effective platform that offers all-in-one event management services. The platform helps customers connect with various events in their area, and purchase tickets from anywhere. Rescounts also helps users keep track of their purchased event tickets and maintain a schedule of their upcoming events.  

SmartConcil is a platform that simplifies financial decisions based on Reconciliation automation. It proves security and real-time traceability over financial data, allowing finance teams to focus on what really matters.

Snoooz AI is an AI-powered Out-of-Office (OOO) assistant that can send personalized OOO responses, automate OOO tasks, route messages to backups and create coverage plans. This comprehensive tool simplifies your OOO management, handling everything efficiently.


Soundspace connects people with creative workspaces through a network of membership-based music networking, rehearsal, producing, and recording facilities. Memberships to Soundspace locations are available monthly, and artists book their time on their chosen location’s communal calendar. 

SuperCode is an app where kids learn to code by creating and playing interactive worlds together in live online events. Their focus is on exposing kids to key coding and problem-solving concepts in a way that is deeply fun and engaging motivating them to dig deeper and start to develop confidence in their skills.


Talin is the definitive automation solution for the staffing industry, integrating every essential application with scalable generative A.I. technology. The startup’s technology executes the most tedious staffing and recruiting workflows in minutes, acting as a co-pilot for placing candidates and signing new clients, all from a single platform.


Get to know more about our Fall ‘25 cohort of startups by visiting DMZ’s Current Startups page. Are you an early-stage tech founder interested in growing your business? Discover how DMZ’s Incubator can help here

Students, here’s how to turn your summer break into a business-building opportunity

A blueprint for student entrepreneurs: Lisa Huh’s success story with Basecamp

Summer isn’t just for relaxation and afternoons by the pool; for ambitious student entrepreneurs, it’s the perfect time to transform an idea into a business. 

However, understanding where to start can be daunting without the proper guidance. Programs like DMZ’s Basecamp provide student entrepreneurs with the roadmap, tools and skills to navigate this exciting journey.

But don’t take it from us. We sat down with Lisa Huh, a Basecamp alumni and Founder of PocketClass, to learn how Basecamp helped her business gain some serious momentum —like onboarding 40 new clients and awarding her a $5,000 grant prize.

Check out her key takeaways from the program for a taste of what you’ll learn at Basecamp this summer. 

Perfect your pitch.

“Storytelling isn’t just an art. It’s a strategic asset,” Lisa discovered during her stint at Basecamp. She learned to craft a compelling startup pitch that not only communicated the core of her business idea but did so in an engaging way. Perfecting your pitch allows you to effectively communicate with your audience what makes your product unique and how it solves a problem.

Lisa developed skills in building pitch decks, effectively presenting her business, and responding dynamically to questions—skills she believes are never taught in traditional classrooms.

Build a network. 

“One of the most considerable challenges student entrepreneurs face is understanding how to access the ecosystem,” Lisa explained. Understanding a network’s role in building a business was one of her biggest takeaways from the program.This network was vital for Lisa personally and professionally, helping her connect with mentors and peers who were instrumental even beyond her time at Basecamp. 

“Accessing the right ecosystem is crucial,” Lisa noted. Through Basecamp, she gained a foundational support system to grow her business. More importantly, it gave her a vibrant network of founders and experts who offered advice and honest insights.

This network was vital for Lisa personally and professionally, helping her connect with mentors and peers who were instrumental even beyond her time at Basecamp. 

Master mentorship. 

Engaging with entrepreneurs and mentors who’ve been in your shoes accelerates success,  and DMZ’s Basecamp connects student entrepreneurs with industry leaders.

Lisa connected with founders building similar marketplace businesses, gaining direct insights into overcoming her exact business challenges. “When I had issues with customer outreach, I could turn to mentors who had faced similar hurdles, and they offered me tangible advice on how to perfect my emails,” she shared. Plus, mentors who helped Lisa with nailing customer outreach played a pivotal role in introducing her to many of her clients today.

Students, don’t miss your chance. 

This year, we’ve decided to raise the bar and introduce Basecamp Sprint, a high-velocity 4-week program for university students to pitch at Collision 2024 and win a trip to New York City. 

We’ll then head into Basecamp Voyage, an 8-week deep-dive program for high school and university students emphasizing ideation, development, and a culminating pitch competition for $50,000 in grants. 

Ready to be catapulted into the tech world this summer? Learn more about  Basecamp Sprint and Voyage at and apply today. 

How DMZ’s startups are carving out unique paths in the field of AI

Nearly every day, the tech world serves us a new AI delicacy. Unlike the latest viral trends that flash before our eyes in what seems like a second, these AI treats don’t just come and go—they arrive, evolve, and continually leave us in awe of their capabilities.

AI is beyond a buzzword, it has real-life impact.

AI is rapidly changing the tech scene and evolving faster than we can sometimes keep track of. It’s not just a buzzword; it’s a powerful tool, promising to iron out wrinkles in processes and boost efficiency in the tools we use on a daily basis.
DMZ is home to a vast group of companies that are making their mark when it comes to revolutionizing the use of AI. Companies like Flowjin, Kaitongo,, and Loopify have become major driving forces behind modern technology. They’re not just changing the game, they’re inventing a whole new one.


Let’s start with Flowjin. Their AI tool acts as a personalized curator, transforming content into viral hits. Sheida Mirjahani, Co-founder and COO, highlighted how AI revolutionizes content creation, making workflows more efficient. “AI helps you ideate, write video scenarios, help with video editing, and suggest added effects like B-rolls, overall making editing content much easier,” explains Sheida. 

By cutting down editing time, and streamlining the content creation process, AI in this industry lets creators focus more on creativity. Flowjin effortlessly identifies top content segments, creating customizable clips, boosting engagement and broadening audience reach. It simplifies content creation, empowering users to produce digital content loved by social media algorithms.


Then there’s Kaitongo, an AI-powered client engagement platform helping client-facing professionals get tailored insights on how to grow their client and prospect relationships. 

“AI has powered solutions like Kaitongo to save countless hours on business development tasks like manual client outreach, thought leadership content, and discovering relevant market news to discuss with them,” says Sumathi Pundit, Founder and CEO of Kaitongo. The rapidly evolving field of AI is not static; instead of shying away from this uncertain terrain, Kaitongo chooses to embrace it and encourages other companies to do the same.

“One thing we can know for sure is that change is inevitable, and companies and organizations should actively pursue and adopt AI-driven solutions if they wish to remain relevant and competitive.”  Sumathi Pundit, Founder and CEO, Kaitongo

Moving from Kaitongo’s external engagement strategies, shifts the focus inward, using AI to streamline internal workflows and improve customer interactions.

We strive to deliver a human-like experience while strategically minimizing our use of generative AI, such as Gemini and ChatGPT,” says Iryna Andriushchenko Co-founder and CMO of, as she reveals the company’s aim is to provide a solution that is both economically and ecologically responsible.’s specialists support over 130 languages, streamlining communication and boosting efficiency. It’s clear that is taking advantage of all AI has to offer to improve customer and employee engagement across various industries.


On the horizon, we have Formaloo, a DMZ startup introducing an AI feature, Formaloo AI, to their thriving venture. This innovative leap includes AI-powered surveys designed to gather reliable and unbiased data from audiences, complemented by an AI-driven customer engagement platform for insightful analysis. “Formaloo AI is the next generation of the whole Formaloo platform,” says Farokh Shahabi, Co-Founder and CEO of

Additionally, Formaloo’s ‘No-code AI builder’ offers a user-friendly environment for creating and training AI agents using personal databases and spreadsheets. As they navigate this exciting new phase, Formaloo remains optimistic about the future of AI and its transformative potential.

“In the next few years, our industry will change dramatically as creative platforms and startups find the best way to leverage AI to automate tasks and procedures for their customers.”- Farokh Shahabi Co-Founder and CEO

Let’s not forget about, a platform that revolutionizes video creation by integrating AI to serve as an actor, voice-over artist, and video editor. Transforming the digital content landscape, makes high-quality video creation more accessible while providing a user-friendly platform.

“Creating videos at scale used to take days or even months.. With AI and AI-enabled SaaS tools, the video industry is witnessing a reduction in time and cost, in creating videos at scale.”- Ashwin Madhavan, Co-founder & CEO

Along with AI’s exciting capacity, there are some challenges when developing the perfect team to build and implement these tools into company products and services. “The biggest challenge was finding the right talent to build AI tools. It took us more than 18 months to find the right fit of people who could contribute to vidBoard. We regularly conducted hackathons to find the right talent and gave them a say in the running of the business,” says Ashwin.


Leasey.AI is another rising startup reshaping property management by automating tasks and reducing vacancy times. Founder Carlos Leal emphasizes the company’s AI-driven capability to process extensive data rapidly: “One of the key ways Leasey.AI is leveraging AI technologies to reshape the industry is through its ability to rapidly churn through vast amounts of data in a matter of seconds.” This enables real-time insights for critical activities like tenant selection and portfolio optimization.


Last but not least, Loopify: the matchmaker of marketing and sales, bringing businesses and customers together with AI-powered precision. “Generative AI is being used in almost every part of marketing, making tasks from planning to content creation much easier and more automated,” says John Alimi, Co-founder and CEO of Loopify. “This means companies and marketers can do more with less, saving time and money.” 

Tailored for startups, small businesses and organizations with limited budgets, Loopify provides affordable marketing solutions through expert-led advertising platforms and social media design services.

Embracing the AI revolution.

DMZ startups are eagerly embracing the challenges and opportunities of integrating AI into their products, demonstrating the grit and innovative spirits that exist within our incubator.

“AI is making our marketing tools better, quicker, and more economical, which means businesses using our platform can reach their customers more effectively and affordably.”- John Alimi, Co-founder and CEO of Loopify

These DMZ startups aren’t just riding the AI wave, they’re carving their own path through the digital landscape. Whether it’s sales, CRM platforms, content creation, or just making life a little easier, these companies are setting the bar higher every day.


Inspired by these incredible startups making their mark in the tech industry? Click here to explore our current Incubator startups. 

Ready to embark on your journey to revolutionize the tech landscape? Apply to our Incubator and be a part of the next wave of tech innovation. 

Introducing DMZ’s 14 new Experts-in-Residence

In the heart of every startup’s journey at DMZ lies a secret weapon: our Experts-in-Residence (EiRs).

EiRs are more than just advisors; they act as an extension to our startup teams, working shoulder-to-shoulder with our founders to guide them through the intricacies of scaling their businesses. As experts in their field, they are each handpicked for their comprehensive knowledge and extensive business backgrounds.

We’re thrilled to announce the addition of 14 new EiRs to our esteemed roster. Each brings with them deep industry insights and a rich entrepreneurial background, further enriching our ecosystem and enhancing the support available to our startups.

Meet DMZ’s newest EiRs:

Check out the full roster of DMZ EiRs here.

Introducing Mentors

Recognizing that our EiRs provide essential strategic and long-term advice, we’ve seen the need for additional hands-on, tactical guidance to address the multifaceted needs of our startups.

This led us to introduce Mentors, volunteer-based positions, aimed at filling the gaps in our advisory services with their practical, “how-to” expertise, thereby ensuring a broader and more dynamic support system for our founders. 

This addition not only enriches our advisory capacity but also provides a flexible pathway for engaging with a diverse array of industry experts eager to guide founders.

Meet DMZ’s newest Mentors:

Levelling up through leadership

As we evolve our mentorship program, we’re also evolving our leadership structure to further this vision. Alex Thibault has excitingly stepped into the position of Chief EiR, steering our strategic direction in mentorship and founder support.

“We need more tech companies that will grow and become the titans of tomorrow. I want to help entrepreneurs as they try to become those titans.”- Alex Thibault, Chief EiR

Alex brings a wealth of experience in tech, capital markets, mobility, and more, offering crucial insights and expertise in M&A, operations, and finance. His success as a tech entrepreneur and investor, with ventures in fast-growing tech companies, supports DMZ’s mission to build the next generation of leading tech startups.

In the Chief EiR role, Alex will focus on enhancing our advisory strategy, nurturing the growth of our EiRs and Mentors, and fostering a culture of collaboration among advisors to increase our impact.

With these new additions and enhancements to our support network, we’re excited about the potential our revamped startup advisory framework holds in providing unparalleled support to our startups. 

Ready to scale your startup at DMZ and connect with our industry-leading experts? Apply for our Incubator today.


A year of growth: inside Chexy’s impact on rental payments

How a DMZ startup processed $30 million in rent and helped users earn $1 million in cashback and rewards. 

Rent is easily one of the heftiest expenses we all endure. Month after month, an eye-watering sum is removed from our bank accounts. 

In the past year, Canada has seen rent jump 10.5% on average, and Canada’s housing affordability crisis has left renters with no choice but to swallow costs. 

Canada is becoming a nation of renters, and Co-founder and CEO of DMZ startup Chexy, Liza Akhvledziani, decided to take matters into her own hands by giving Canadians something to show for their largest monthly expense.

“I had been a renter in Canada for way too long and was fed up with landlords asking for cheques and not being able to benefit from paying my largest expense on time every month,” said Liza Akhvledziani Co-Founder and CEO of Chexy. “So I thought, what the hell. If nobody else wants to try this — I will.” 

The first tenant-facing payments platform that allows renters to earn rewards and build credit on rent, Chexy has empowered Canadians to no longer look at rent as just another budget line but an opportunity to earn rewards and cashback.

And spoiler alert, people are loving it. In their first year, Chexy processed an outstanding $30 million in rent, and users earned an estimated $1 million in cashback and rewards.

Getting to where they are today hasn’t been a total walk in the park, Akhvledziani explains. “We’ve had our fair share of “oh shit” moments like any startup, but it’s incredible to see the true value we are delivering to our users,” said Akhvledziani

By empowering renters to pay via credit card, Chexy users can unlock credit card loyalty points, cashback and rewards faster. But don’t just take our word for it; here’s what a few Chexy users had to say. 

Chexy user Samir Patel has earned $600 in cashback in just five months by paying rent on the platform.

“Using Chexy has given me the financial freedom to buy extra things or cover my rent partially for a month.”


Since joining Chexy, Brayden Dobson has earned enough points to cover most of his vacations in Mexico, Spain, and Vancouver.

“I am saving 90% off the cost of flights compared to if I paid cash.”


After landing in Canada 5 years ago, Andrew Royal struggled to pay rent via e-transfers due to the maximum daily limits on his account. With Chexy, Andrew doesn’t stress about transfers and is racking up points for an upcoming trip.

“Being able to use my credit card has been a game changer. For the past year, I have been able to make payments on time, every month and get rewards — just for paying my rent.”


Chexy stayed true to its mission: to make rent payments easier and more rewarding for everyone involved. They saw how outdated rent payments were and decided to do something about it.

Looking ahead, Chexy plans to expand its offerings to offer rewards for additional household expenses and, eventually, empower tenants to become homeowners. “Rent is just the beginning; we plan to help users earn rewards on expenses like utilities, tenant insurance and wifi. But, beyond that, another major goal at Chexy is to help our tenants become homeowners with fewer hurdles at a better rate,” said Akhvledziani

With big plans for the future, Chexy is proving that startups can change the game, one rent check at a time.

For those eager to maximize rewards on their largest monthly expense, Chexy is awarding a sign-up bonus of up to $500 CAD that new users can put towards their first month of rent paid on the platform.

Those who are new to Chexy and sign up for an account between March 18 and March 31 will qualify to receive the bonus. Sign up at

Championing a future for women-led innovation to thrive

Get to know the influential minds behind DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit Steering Committee 

In honour of International Women’s Day, DMZ’s annual Women Innovation Summit is designed to empower and celebrate women in entrepreneurship and innovation. 

An action-packed event, the Summit will include roundtable discussions, our Women Innovation Pitch Competition for women-led startups to secure funding and the unveiling of DMZ’s Women of the Year award recipients. 

We know it takes a village to support women innovators. To bring this Summit to life, we brought together an influential group of leaders, executives and corporate partners to form our Steering Committee. Their role? Ensure a wide range of perspectives, experiences and ideas are considered to reduce bias, support an equitable review process and -— above all else — ensure the Summit reflects the diversity of women that fuels Canada’s innovation economy.

We wanted to give an insider’s look at the individuals behind the Committee to recognize them for the trailblazers that they are. 

Without further ado, please meet DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit Steering Committee: 

Janet Lin | Vice President, Lending and Payments Technology at Equitable Bank

A technology strategist with a passion for innovation, digital transformation, diversity and inclusion, Janet Lin is committed to creating human-centric experiences by leveraging technology. She brings over 20 years of experience in digital transformation, technology strategy, software development, customer engagement and AI transformation. She currently works at Equitable Bank, transforming retail and commercial lending businesses with customer-centric, agile decision-making principles enabled by cloud-native technology. 

Janet was inspired to join the Committee to promote, recognize and create innovation opportunities for women in Canada. 

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Dear women entrepreneurs in technology and innovation, equip yourself with thorough preparation. The path ahead may present challenges, resilience is your friend on this journey. Stay determined, and focused and don’t give up your dreams!”

Magnolia Perron | Indigenous Women and Youth Program Manager at the
National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association 

An advocate for entrepreneurship and economic development for Indigenous communities, Magnolia Perron has worked with various Indigenous non-profits, including the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and the First Nations Information Governance Centre, where she has led advocacy, research and program development. Today, she oversees programs dedicated to Indigenous women and youth at the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association. Magnolia is from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and is a proud member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

Magnolia was inspired to join the Committee because of her deep-rooted commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion. She believes that diverse perspectives lead to better innovation and is keen to contribute to an initiative where women can thrive, network and find support for their endeavours. 

How does she envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation? 

“The Summit has the potential to break down barriers, promote equality, and ultimately contribute to a future where women play an integral role in shaping the landscape of technology and innovation. It’s a catalyst, and by showcasing successful women leaders and entrepreneurs, we can inspire the next generation to pursue careers in the industry.”

Peter Bowie | Independent Director, Former CEO of Deloitte China and
DMZ Advisory Council Member

Peter Bowie is an Independent Director of Magna International and a DMZ Advisory Council member. He is a celebrated industry leader with a diverse background in corporate governance, leadership, and advisory roles. He has held prominent positions in organizations such as Uranium One, Deloitte Canada, and Deloitte China, where he served as CEO and Senior Partner. With a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, Peter is also an investor and advisor in early-stage startup companies. 

Peter was inspired to join the Committee because he’s passionate about encouraging and supporting women entrepreneurs in their journey to success. He believes initiatives like the Summit will enhance opportunities for women in the tech ecosystem. 

How does he envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation?  

“I hope that the Women Innovation Summit, along with other DMZ initiatives dedicated to women entrepreneurs, fosters a culture where women feel empowered to pursue their dreams and where the broader community recognizes the importance of supporting their endeavours in the tech ecosystem.”

Megan Munro | Digital Commerce Strategic Initiatives Lead at

A high-velocity strategic decision-maker who brings 20+ years of experience in digital initiatives, Megan Munro is a dynamic leader who has managed winning teams in fashion, telecoms, sports and entertainment, airlines and banking. Today, she oversees digital commerce strategic initiatives at Scotiabank, where she champions a collaborative and data-driven approach to deliver inspired solutions. 

Megan was inspired to join the Committee because she’s passionate about supporting initiatives that promote, encourage and enable equity in innovation. She believes the Summit embodies this passion and is committed to recognizing standout, inspirational women driving innovation and change.

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Go for it. Have confidence in your skill set (there is no one like you!), stay curious with a lifelong learning mindset, advocate for yourself and assemble your hype squad with a trusted mentor and people who will cheer you on.”

Jennifer Chiang | Business Development: Canada Lead for Accelerators, Incubators & Seed VCs at
Amazon Web Services

A serial founder, a former soldier in the Canadian Army Reserves and an active mentor and advisor, Jennifer Chiang is a pioneer in influencer marketing, founding a technology that powers the top Fortune 500 brands and reaches over 98M consumers worldwide. She currently works at AWS Startups and continues to share her legacy and mentorship with early-stage founders and partners. 

Jennifer was inspired to join the Committee because she’s committed to giving back to the community, a value her mentor Bonnie Foley Wong instilled in her. 

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Strive to always be on the edge of the miraculous.”

Moshe Mikanovsky | Product Director at RootQuotient

Moshe Mikanovsky, a product management leader with a background in engineering, applies a lean, iterative approach to developing products that exceed users’ expectations. At RootQuotient, he supports companies of all sizes, from startups to corporates, build digital products. An entrepreneur at heart, Moshe founded Products for Good, a social initiative for aspiring product managers to learn the craft while building products to help humanity. 

A proud father of three daughters, Moshe is an advocate for women’s empowerment and women in tech. His personal experiences as a father have fueled his dedication to supporting his daughters in finding their career paths. This led him to join the Committee to ensure the ecosystem nurtures and promotes women’s advancement in technology and beyond. 

How does he envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation? 

“One of the most important things we can do as an ecosystem is profile success stories to inspire other women and young girls. Having a national spotlight and funding up for grabs for women-led startups can support women founders tremendously, but above all else, being connected to a community like DMZ’s can work wonders.”

Mark your calendars. DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit takes place on March 7, 2024. Head to to learn more about the Summit and how to get involved. 


Second chance hiring: A win-win strategy for startups and talent

Startups, here’s how you can fill talent gaps and foster inclusivity in the workplace with Spotwork

In the startup ecosystem, we can all unanimously nod our heads to one truth: there’s just not enough talent to go around. 

Finding talent is fundamental to startup growth, yet many startups are missing out on qualified talent without realizing it. A staffing marketplace and workforce management solution, DMZ Innisfil startup Spotwork connects companies to reliable and qualified talent. By helping startups think outside the box, Spotwork can help your company champion diversity and inclusion while filling crucial talent gaps.  

Due to workplace bias, individuals who are justice-involved have historically been an underserved talent pool. However, criminal records can often result from petty offences and are not always an accurate reflection of a candidate’s ability to deliver. This can include traffic violations, disorderly conduct and narcotics — all non-violent crimes that were done without the intention to harm a person or property. 

Today, many Canadian companies remain unwilling to hire people with a record, even if they have the skills and qualifications for the position. The result? We’re overlooking roughly four million Canadians who have a record.

We sat down with the Co-Founders of Spotwork, Darren Perlman and Daniel Copeland, to learn more about how they provide second chances, how startups can tap into overlooked talent pools and the benefits of seeking out these candidates. Here’s what they had to say:

Let’s address the stigma around hiring people who are justice-involved. What biases and misconceptions exist, and why are they harmful to companies and talent?

“The prejudices that arise from hiring justice-involved individuals typically stem from misconceptions linking their past actions to current behaviour. This is harmful to not only the company but the applicant as well, as it undermines their potential for rehabilitation and growth. 

By embracing better hiring practices that are more inclusive to a diverse audience, companies can unlock a hidden pool of skilled individuals seeking a second chance.” 

Tell me about the moment that made you realize the need for Spotwork. What inspired you to create a platform?

“We noticed how our previous employers faced significant difficulties recruiting and managing a large workforce. Additionally, we saw a lack of support for marginalized Canadians to find meaningful work opportunities. This led us to create a solution that provides employers with a labour pool that fills in-demand frontline jobs.” 

How does Spotwork differentiate itself from traditional hiring solutions, and what inspired you to focus on connecting businesses with talent who have a history with the law?

“Unlike traditional staffing methods, which are usually biased, expensive and time-consuming, Spotwork is a cost-effective solution with cutting-edge technology and a streamlined hiring process. Our platform facilitates seamless matchmaking between skilled individuals and businesses. 

We offer a wide range of employment options, understanding the importance of flexibility in building a tailored workforce. Unlike agencies specializing in specific roles, our platform accommodates workers from diverse industries, career stages and skill levels to ensure a strong fit for the talent and business.”

For startups that may be on the fence about giving individuals a second chance, what would you say to them?

“These individuals bring unique perspectives, resilience and a strong desire for redemption to the workplace. Providing such employment opportunities fosters inclusivity, demonstrates corporate responsibility, supports rehabilitation and, above all else, creates a positive societal impact.”

Startups should consider expanding their horizons by hiring justice-involved individuals — it offers a chance for talent diversification, social impact and breaking the cycle of reoffending.” 

What steps are taken to ensure a fair and inclusive hiring process on Spotwork? And how can a startup use Spotwork to start the hiring process?

“Our platform has been designed with fairness and impartiality in mind. It utilizes algorithms that select the best candidates for job opportunities without bias. 

When using Spotwork as a startup, the hiring process is simple. All you need to do is create a company profile, and in just a few easy steps, you can post various job openings and view a vast pool of potential candidates to join you in your success.”

What’s the broader impact Spotwork envisions when fostering diversity and inclusion within the workforce? How do you see this benefiting startups and talent in the long run?

“Spotwork has a vision of creating a world where everyone has an equal opportunity in the workforce, regardless of race, age, gender identity or background. By promoting diverse and inclusive workplace environments, startups and talent benefit as it expands talent pools, guarantees equal opportunities, and demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity, ultimately attracting top talent.”

Any success stories you’d like to point to?

“2nd Time Around Tires operates one of the largest winter tire operations in Etobicoke and has successfully employed six workers through Spotwork’s Second Chances Program. 

Despite initial skepticism, hiring manager Rob Altbaum praised Spotwork for the effectiveness of its program and the quality of its workers, who showed genuine enthusiasm and commitment to their roles. He noted, ‘The workers who were coming out wanted to be there. This was more than just a job for them — it was an opportunity to establish a career.’”

Ready to transform your startup’s workforce and champion inclusivity? Click here to explore Spotwork today and connect with their diverse community of dedicated and talented workers.


If you’re inspired to follow in Spotwork’s footsteps, check out how DMZ can support your business to the next level. Incubator applications for the March 2024 cohort are now open. Apply here

Paving a new era for startup legal support: DMZ’s IP Clinic unveiled

Coming from a tech startup incubator, we get it — the entrepreneurial journey is a rollercoaster ride, and legal potholes can be deal-breakers. That’s why DMZ’s Startup Legal Support (SLS) team and Toronto Metropolitan University’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law have worked together to launch a new Intellectual Property (IP) Clinic, a game-changer in the dynamic world of startup legal support.

As a company grows, so do the legal challenges.

Despite the fact that 70% of businesses earn enough revenue to surpass eligibility for free legal aid, most still grapple with affording the substantial costs of hiring a lawyer. DMZ emerges as a pivotal solution for these startups, acting as their legal compass. In doing so, DMZ not only helps startups maintain their competitiveness but also contributes to making legal services more accessible.

Through the generous support of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), Lincoln Alexander School of Law and DMZ have collaborated to introduce the IP Clinic, a new initiative aimed at providing startups supported by Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) with comprehensive legal services. Nicholas Hill, Head of Startup Legal Support and Legal Advisor, spearheads these services with the support of three TMU law students, Ikra Saeed, Isabella Spiliakos and Shany Raitsin, who work under his supervision.

Intellectual Property isn’t a luxury, but a strategic necessity for startups.

As a strong proponent of the DMZ’s IP Clinic, Dr. Sari Graben, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies, notes that the Clinic plays a vital role in advancing the competitiveness of Canada’s startup ecosystem. “Our grant and innovative idea to launch IP legal services for startups aligns seamlessly with Lincoln Alexander Law’s vision to enable lawyers to tackle novel challenges in an increasingly innovation-based economy.”

The IP Clinic will enhance the accessibility of legal resources and knowledge to over 500 entrepreneurs within Toronto Metropolitan University’s Zone Learning Network. To date, the Clinic has been instrumental in servicing over 70+ startups, producing over 200 deliverables. “This IP Clinic marks a crucial step forward in our mission to empower startups with the legal knowledge they need to thrive,” says Nicholas Hill. “We’re excited about the positive impact this will have on our entrepreneurial community.”

As DMZ’s SLS opens up this new avenue of legal support, we have seen just how coveted IP services really are. Moreover, the IP Clinic’s value doesn’t just stop at startups.

We’re exposing law students to real-life case studies.

Beyond providing startups with essential legal assistance, we’re helping students navigate the legal ins and outs of the startup world. These students don’t stand on the sidelines, they’re gaining first-hand exposure to complex legal documentation and practical experience from Intellectual Property assignments to brand protection.

To sum it up, introducing IP legal services like those provided by DMZ sparks groundbreaking transformation, propelling the overall growth and success of these innovative ventures, and elevating their competitiveness to compete on the world stage. The collaboration of legal experts, aspiring law professionals and startups creates a recipe for entrepreneurial success in Canada’s startup ecosystem.

To learn more about DMZ’s legal support for startups, visit

Unlocking success: 4 tips from Black women tech leaders

Insightful lessons on financial planning, personal empowerment, purpose-driven leadership and a hustler mindset.

In collaboration with
Black Women Talk Tech, DMZ held an evening designed to highlight the success of Black women in tech by bringing together the ecosystem to spark conversations on how to empower founders best. 

Black Women Talk Tech provides Black women with a platform to voice ideas and access support. Today, it’s become the largest gathering of Black women tech entrepreneurs, inspiring countless others to follow in their footsteps and make their mark in the tech industry. DMZ was thrilled to partner with them for their debut event in Canada.

Here’s a breakdown of the event’s key takeaways for Black women in tech navigating the ecosystem:

  • Plan for financial readiness
  • Harness your personal experiences
  • Identify your north star and go for it
  • Develop a hustler mindset

Our esteemed panel featured a lineup of accomplished individuals:

Here’s what they had to say.

Plan for financial readiness

When it comes to entrepreneurship, financial readiness is everything. Giselle Melo, Founder and General Partner of
MATR Ventures, encourages entrepreneurs to get a head start on financial planning. From understanding your runway to knowing when the optimal time is to seek funding, meticulous planning and financial readiness enabled Melo to launch MATR Ventures in 2021.

By following her lead and having a strong grasp of your finances and where you head as an entrepreneur, you’ll be positioned to turn your dreams into a reality when the timing is right.

Harness your personal experiences

Having established her name in the pharmaceutical industry, Brenda Ahenkorah, the Founder and CEO of
My Well Self, was disappointed to see the lack of support and resources available during her own personal health challenges. After conducting extensive research herself, Brenda realized that she needed to take matters into her own hands and launched My Well Self.

Brenda’s success with My Well Self is a testament to leveraging our personal stories as sources of innovation and motivation to fuel our entrepreneurial pursuits.

Identify your north star and go for it

As the Executive Director and Venture Partner of
League of Innovators and Venture Partner of Capital M Ventures, Melissa Allen’s lesson stems from her own experience that led her to transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. As a financial advisor, she noticed that her clients — who were women of colour — faced steeper financial challenges than their counterparts. Recognizing that those who thrived often had side hustles, Melissa saw an opportunity for impact, which motivated her to step into entrepreneurship.

For Allen, her driving force comes from a desire to influence positive change and ensure equitable representation at decision-making tables. She emphasized the importance of having a guiding north star to turn to when the journey gets tough, and obstacles are thrown your way. 

Develop a hustler mindset

Ehizogie Agbonlahor, the Founder and CEO of
Anutio, shed light on the importance of developing a hustler mindset. A mindset that can be broken down as unwavering determination and relentless resourcefulness, Ehizogie identified a gap in career guidance tools and decided to develop Anutio. 

Embracing a hustler mindset involves resourcefully leveraging all available means, as demonstrated in her case by tapping into the expertise of her brother’s AI skills to build the platform and by doing everything she possibly could to get her first 500 sign-ups.

Ehizogie teaches us a very important lesson here — avoid waiting around for opportunities; instead, actively seek and create them. 

Feeling inspired? Embark on your entrepreneurial journey with DMZ. Our Black Innovation Programs equip Black founders with the tools, resources and community to succeed. Learn more at and apply today.


Year in Review: DMZ Wrapped 2023

The stats are in! Let’s take a look at our feats this past year.

This year truly soared to unprecedented heights, from supporting more than a hundred dynamic startups here at our HQ to helping international founders making groundbreaking strides in innovation and global expansion.

Raise a glass with us as we toast to the incredible accomplishments and milestones that defined our community’s success in 2023.

We’ve always been at the forefront of supporting startups, and this year was no exception. Throughout 2023, we proudly supported an array of startups spanning diverse industries. From PropTech, Automation SaaS, Supply Chain and Logistics to FinTech and Cybersecurity, we’ve had the privilege of nurturing the growth of businesses driving impact across many unique verticals.

Among many exciting announcements in 2023, we were proud to become UBI Global’s official research and selection partner this year and revealed the top-ranking incubators and accelerators worldwide on stage at the World Incubation Summit in Belgium.

Our year in review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Collision 2023. Marking the start of Collision week, DMZ’s Insiders Event showcased top startup pitches and awarded $65,000 in funding to the winning founders.

The event included an esteemed audience of industry leaders and saw David Walmsley, Globe and Mail’s Editor-in-Chief, deliver a memorable keynote speech.

If you’ve been keeping up with us this year, you’ll know that DMZ marked 2023 as the year of the camel startup. DMZ’s prominent presence at Collision featured a 7-foot camel, a stage with partner and founder panels, global showcases, a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition and more, and prize giveaways over the three-day conference.

Our commitment to empowering international startups reached new horizons through global partnerships, such as DMZ’s collaboration with the Japan External Trade Organization’s (JETRO) Global Acceleration Hub, marking a significant milestone as its first Canadian partner.

This year fueled collaborations with both existing and new partners that packed a heavy punch for the startup innovation landscape. 2023 saw us join forces with 25 new partners and continue great work with existing partners, including Amex Canada, Scotiabank, Desjardins, and Groundbreak Ventures.

With over 860 student entrepreneurs supported and a whopping 1,294 individuals attending Masterclasses, we’ve unlocked a new level of potential for the next generation of tech pioneers.

Embracing diversity in our programs has always been a cornerstone of our efforts, and this year we’re proud to share that 20% of our Incubator companies were founded by Black entrepreneurs and 24% by women.

Hot off the press! DMZ and our startups were talked about… a lot.
Our startups shone brightly, garnering an astounding 35,400 media impressions over the year!

There was never a dull moment at DMZ’s bustling entrepreneurial hub. With 7,000+ visitors over the year, our team hosted 123 groups for tours and 127 events at our HQ in Toronto.

Coffees were flowing year-round, with 8,685 cups served this year, igniting our creative sparks while our startups and staff worked hard. But that’s not to say we didn’t also play hard – 1,926 ping pong matches were held in our games room.

Our staff also embarked on our own entrepreneurial endeavours this year, 3D printing a total of 1,129 camel structures.

What a year! 2023 was an opportunity for DMZ to recalibrate – to hone in on evolving our programs and operations – and we’ve made significant progress in this direction. Now, on the brink of our 14th birthday this upcoming year, there’s a whole lot more to look forward to. Stay tuned for another promising year ahead.

Want to play a role in contributing to DMZ’s 2024 stats and milestones? Discover DMZ and our programming here. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest tech news, updates, and special offers.

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