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


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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. 

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

Introducing DMZ’s new cohort of Incubator startups

Out of hundreds of applications from around the world, we’ve hand-selected 13 tech startups to join us for the next 18 months.

Some highlights of this cohort include:

  • Representation from diverse verticals: FinTech, EnterpriseTech, GovTech, Smart Automation and more
  • More than 30% of companies are women-founded and over 30% Black-founded
  • AI-enabled technology comprises over half of this cohort
  • Startups from Peru, Nigeria, Iran, India, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada
  • A new selection process called Deep Dive sessions – where subject-matter experts undergo rigorous assessments with startup founders to evaluate each company’s focal areas, ensuring top-tier selection.

Throughout the program, startups will receive comprehensive support to execute their go-to-market strategy, acquire lighthouse customers, gain media exposure, explore global expansion, prepare for the next round of funding and much more. DMZ will be with them every step of the way, giving them hands-on coaching, access to our world-class community, professional services, business savings and more.  

Just when we thought we had seen the best of the best, our newest cohort has seriously raised the bar, leaving us in awe of their track records and potential. 

Keep reading and join us in extending a big DMZ welcome to Cohort 6!

Cleanster logo
On a mission to make quality cleaning services more accessible, Cleanster connects property managers and homeowners with professional cleaners. Their solution matches users with locally vetted service providers to clean their spaces at an affordable price and integrates with leading property management software for users to manage their property care operations.

Flowjin logo
Flowjin is an AI-powered tool that empowers content creators and businesses with the tools to drive social media growth. With Flowjin, users can easily identify high-performing content and quickly create customizable clips for social media, ensuring users maximize content and save time. logo is an intelligent SaaS platform that provides AI-powered virtual specialists to drive customer and employee success. Offering tailored solutions to clients, can be leveraged for customer success, employee engagement and partner success.

Hilo logo
HILO is at the forefront of revolutionizing Customer Experience (CX) in buildings with a one-stop, user-configured, personalized, and AI-enabled platform to improve and simplify people’s lives where they work and live. HILO empowers building operators to retain current tenants, attract new ones and streamline operations.

Loopify logo
Loopify360 is an all-in-one marketing and sales hub for small and medium-sized enterprises, offering a range of solutions and tools designed to find and retain customers. Their AI-powered marketing platform provides tailored solutions, delivering optimal return on investment.

PoliTraq logo
PoliTraQ combines stakeholder profiles, meeting notes and briefing materials into a single, all-in-one advocacy management system. Their solution helps public affairs professionals implement and manage advocacy campaigns, monitor legislation and track advocacy impact.

ReInvest Wealth logo
ReInvestWealth offers a cost-effective solution for small business accounting needs. Their professionally trained AI accountant provides daily bookkeeping and expert financial advice, addressing common pain points like slow processing and overlooked tax refunds. 

ShipVista logo
ShipVista streamlines multi-channel order management and fulfillment for online retailers. By offering real-time carrier rates, automated label printing, and integration with multiple carriers, it saves time and money while enhancing sales.

Sugar security logo
Sugar Security makes advanced cybersecurity testing easy and affordable for small to mid-sized businesses. Through their cloud-based software, Sugar Security empowers businesses to identify security vulnerabilities in their organizations through enhanced vulnerability scanning.

Syzl logo
Syzl is revolutionizing the food industry by transforming idle commercial kitchens into bustling hubs for culinary entrepreneurs. Their platform enables food makers to find compliant, safe and flexible workspaces and empowers kitchen owners to leverage unused stations to earn extra revenue. logo
VidBoard simplifies video production by creating AI-enabled avatar models. Their platform offers a cost-effective and scalable solution, eliminating the need for studio visits, multiple professionals, equipment and third-party costs.

Zagitas logo
Zagitas serves as a digital assistant in the office. Their solution automates manual business processes through the integration of AI, robotic process automation, chatbots and business intelligence technologies.

Want to join the next cohort of changemakers? DMZ is now accepting applications for its March 2024 cohort. Apply




Beyond traditional therapy: new avenues for mental well-being

As we bid farewell to summer days, let’s keep in mind that the changing seasons can often bring a subtle shift in our emotions, making it all the more important to seek mental health support when needed.

In light of World Mental Health Day, DMZ wanted to shine a light on how the landscape of mental health care is evolving rapidly, thanks to innovative startups like Blue Guardian, Layla and OPTT Health.

These DMZ alumni are at the forefront of a transformative wave that’s reshaping the way we address mental well-being. Here’s what they shared with us about the future of mental well-being support.

Blue Guardian

As mental health technology evolves, how do you envision the future landscape of mental well-being support?

In the future, AI-driven systems will offer personalized, accessible, and continuous mental well-being support by analyzing individual mental health data, enabling early interventions, therapeutic conversations, and aiding clinicians in making faster, more accurate decisions for a broader population.

How does Blue Guardian’s emotional analysis identify potentially harmful language in communication on children’s devices?

Blue Guardian employs an innovative approach to safeguard children’s emotional well-being in their digital interactions. Its advanced AI algorithms are specifically designed to detect potential mental health cues and signs of emotional distress in their language. When concerning language is identified, Blue Guardian engages children through a chatbot interface, encouraging them to share their feelings and emotional state in a non-intrusive manner. The chatbot then compiles a report for mental health professionals, enabling early intervention and support, ultimately enhancing children’s emotional well-being in the digital age.

How does Blue Guardian empower parents to be more in tune with the mental health of their children?

A multifaceted support system; through real-time alerts, parents receive timely notifications when potentially concerning language or emotional distress is detected in their child’s digital interactions, allowing for immediate intervention. The system’s detailed reports offer a comprehensive overview of their child’s emotional state, enabling parents to identify patterns and areas of concern.



As mental health technology evolves, how do you envision the future landscape of mental well-being support? 

We envision a future of highly personalized and integrated healthcare, including mental health, using advanced platforms to improve accessibility, timeliness, and specialization. Data-driven technologies will provide valuable insights for personalized mental health journeys and treatment plans. Ethical AI may enhance backend operations and potentially augment mental health care, but concerns about efficacy and patient safety remain in this evolving field.

How does Layla ensure clients receive effective and personalized care from its therapists throughout their therapeutic journey?

Layla Care prioritizes client-centric mental health services by partnering with skilled, diverse therapists. Our therapists speak 27 languages, 35% are BIPOC, and 27% specialize in LGBTQ2S+ issues. With an average of 10 years of experience, they can cover up to 35 primary concerns. Our selection process ensures the highest standards, with only 25% of applicants accepted. Each client is assigned a dedicated Care Coordinator for support throughout their journey.

How does Layla’s approach to therapist-client matching foster a strong bond between clients and therapists, and what specific factors are taken into account during this process?

When matching clients with therapists, we consider clinical, logistical, and interpersonal fit. Interpersonal factors greatly impact therapy success, with over 70% relying on them. Many of our clients prefer matches based on personal identifiers like gender, language, race, disability, or LGBTQ2+ status.


OPTT, a presenting company at the 2022 OBIO Investment Summit, selected for Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab — OBIO - Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization

As mental health technology evolves, how do you envision the future landscape of mental well-being support? 

Current mental healthcare faces scalability issues due to a shortage of clinicians. While machines can’t replace human connection, technology can enhance clinicians’ abilities, offering curated content for patient self-learning and generating initial responses. Mental health technology can also help determine individual care needs, reducing wait times for less intensive resources and prioritizing care appropriately.

How does OPTT empower clinicians to deliver high-quality mental health care in a flexible and accessible manner?

OPTT offers two cutting-edge products for data-driven patient care. The first is structured CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) content that empowers patients to engage at their own pace, while clinicians provide personalized feedback on assignments. This approach enables clinicians to assist 3-4 patients per hour, significantly boosting their capacity.

The second product leverages AI/ML algorithms to evaluate patient mental status, predict care adherence with 70% accuracy (four weeks in advance) and suggest the most appropriate care path. These algorithms also highlight relevant patient work, allowing clinicians to review and modify feedback efficiently. As a result, clinicians can spend just 10-15 minutes per patient while upholding the highest standards of care quality.

Can you discuss the significance of continuous remote monitoring in maintaining and improving patients’ mental health over time, and how OPTT’s tool facilitate this process? 

When devising a long-term care plan, the primary consideration is enabling symptom monitoring outside of clinical settings, akin to how a glucometer aids diabetic patients. That is what we have been trying to do with our remote monitoring algorithms; to remotely monitor patients’ mental status and predict and prevent the next episode before it happens, adopting a proactive rather than a reactive approach. 

In crafting these solutions, user-friendliness is paramount. The most effective technologies are either entirely passive or require minimal effort from the user. This is why we’re integrating our natural language processing algorithm with other indicators, such as voice biomarkers and sleep and activity patterns gathered by devices like Fitbits. This amalgamation aids in comprehensive remote mental status evaluation. While our expertise lies in natural language processing algorithms, we actively collaborate with other tech innovators to enable us to integrate their advancements into our assessment tools, aiming for a holistic, remote understanding of a patient’s mental well-being.

We hope you’re as inspired as we are from seeing so many companies like Blue Guardian, Layla and OPTT Heath bringing tech and innovation to the field of mental health support. Keep up with how our other tech startups are solving unique challenges by subscribing to our TechTalk newsletter here.

Unlocking DMZ’s benefits, from a $10K entry grant and travel subsidies to free legal support

As a #1 ranked incubator globally, DMZ has a lot to offer, and we pride ourselves on not only talking the talk but also walking the walk. We support the most promising and high-impact tech entrepreneurs who have what it takes to scale their businesses. But don’t get it twisted; we know it takes two to tango.

That’s why startups that join DMZ’s Incubator receive world-class programming and services. To us, that means real, tangible support. 

To start, startups accepted into our Incubator program receive a $10,000 entry grant to help kick-start their journey with us. While we know $10,000 can help with product development, a targeted marketing campaign, training and development or new infrastructure, we can also appreciate that $10,000 is a drop in the bucket. 

Beyond DMZ’s entry grant, startups receive personalized support with customer acquisition and fundraising, unlimited 1 on 1 coaching sessions from our Experts-in-Residence, pro-bono professional services, exclusive pitch competitions, access to the Student Work Placement Program, grant research and writing, startup perks and discounts valued at over $1 million, help with SR&ED tax incentives, free financial plan model custom built by a CFO, free UX design support,  24/7 office space and full-service amenities… the list goes on and on. 

So, how do all these program perks support startups with expenses, and —more importantly — how have they empowered startups to level up? We thought you’d never ask. 

Here are just a few ways DMZ’s Incubator can help your startup’s bottom line. 

Explore new markets without breaking the bank.  

Building a thriving business requires startups to go global, and DMZ helps founders cover travel costs for opportunities abroad through Mitacs Entrepreneur International. We’re committed to inspiring our founders to explore untapped markets and have been thrilled to see founders delve into opportunities abroad.

SoftDrive (Incubator ‘22) received $15,000 to travel to London, New York City, Japan and San Francisco to tap into international markets, meet with VCs, secure customers and attend global conferences

Lightster (Incubator ‘23) received $5,000 to travel to London to attend Techspo London and successfully secured a sales-qualified lead.


Fuel your research and level up your product. 

Strengthen your startup’s innovation capabilities through the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship. As a Mitacs partner, DMZ supports founders with the program to harness cutting-edge research to commercialize new products and gain a competitive edge in the market.  

Charmy Pet (Incubator ‘22) received $9,000 to research the health benefits of traditional Chinese herbs for pets, which led to the successful commercialization of a new product line available in over 450 specialty pet stores across Canada today.


Access essential legal services from day one. 

DMZ’s Startup Legal Support gives founders fully subsidized in-house legal services. We know how crucial legal support is for early-stage founders, which is why startups who come to DMZ don’t need to worry about cutting corners and instead can have legal processes in place from the get-go. 

To date, Startup Legal Support has saved founders over $600,000 in legal fees, helping them with legal matters, including corporate cleanups, intellectual property, stock option plans, term sheet reviews, share sales, terms of use, privacy policies, service agreements, customer contracts and more.

SoftDrive (Incubator ‘22) was able to save over $35,000 in legal fees.

XpertVR (Incubator ‘22) was able to save over $28,000 in legal fees.

Leasey (Incubator ‘24) was able to save over $25,000 in legal fees.


Save on startup must-haves.

DMZ’s perks and benefits provide discounts and fully subsidized tools for founders to save money on the essentials. From founder mental health, AWS Credits, financial services and more, DMZ startups receive perks from 170+ service providers worth over $1 million in business savings. 

Sitemax (Incubator ‘25) received $25,000 in AWS credits, allowing them to re-allocate resources to hire a new Business Development Representative for their team.  

Kaitongo (Incubator ‘24) received $25,000 in AWS credits, allowing them to make product enhancements.

Take part in exclusive pitch competitions. 

DMZ Incubator startups have the opportunity to participate in exclusive startup pitch competitions for the chance to showcase their business and secure grant funding. DMZ handed out $65,000 in grant funding to Incubator startups this summer.  

Chexy (Incubator ‘24) received $50,000 in funding, which helped them improve customer experience and expand their landlord offerings. 

Formaloo (Incubator ‘24) received $15,000 in funding to support their continued expansion with the new release of Formaloo 3.0.

Subsidize your team’s wages. 

Members of DMZ’s Incubator program get access to the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program, which allows startups to subsidize student wages.

Lightster (Incubator ‘23) was able to subsidize $20,000 in wages, which covered 3 student placements, one of which did two terms. 

Want to learn more about how DMZ’s Incubator can help your startup through coaching, mentorship, programming and benefits? Head to to learn more and apply today. 

Italia360: Supporting first-generation and Italian student entrepreneurs

Congratulazioni to the first cohort of participants of DMZ’s Italia360 program; what a ride it’s been!

Italia360 is an 8-week part-time incubation program that helps first-generation and Italian heritage student entrepreneurs create innovative and disruptive businesses. The program taught students how to develop and market their ideas with the help of  mentors and provided them the opportunity to work with other young innovators.

Made possible by the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association Of Toronto (CIBPA), students had the opportunity to participate in exclusive workshops conducted by CIBPA mentors, engage with other leading startups and experts from across Canada, connect with Toronto Metropolitan University’s Zone Network and receive one-on-one coaching from DMZ experts. 

The excitement doesn’t end there. In addition to gaining entrepreneurial tools for success, the winning startup also received an all-inclusive 3-day trip to Italy to connect with their Italian roots and tour the local businesses of CIBPA.

DMZ was floored by the quality of startups from Italia360; a huge congratulations goes out to all participants.


Founded by Toronto Metropolitan’s very own Sofia Beraldo, Fuori is a trailblazing fashion brand committed to revolutionizing the activewear industry towards sustainability. Its approach centers on whole-garment knitting and the utilization of natural fibers, diverging from the prevalent reliance on synthetic plastics that dominate the market today.

With her trip to Italy, Sofia plans to explore the region of Prado, which is known as a textile hub responsible for 15% of all global textile recycling. During her visit, she hopes to establish partnerships that will enable her to send cherished and well-worn garments for recycling.

“I can’t say enough about Italia360. From the advisors we’ve met, the sessions that we’ve been able to take part in, the network of entrepreneurs who have the same aspirations — it’s all been incredibly rewarding,” said Sofia.  


Our panel of judges was so impressed with the caliber of startups, that they also decided to give an award to the runner-up.

Founded by Dmitry Baleshev, a BComm student at Ted Rogers School of Management, Junily works to guide students toward their ideal career path and match them with Canadian education institutions. 

“Italia360 has provided tremendous support, guiding us from ideation to the realization of our business model. Having mentors by our side was a great source of motivation,” said Dmitry.

The inaugural cohort of Italia360 has every reason to feel accomplished for their dedicated efforts this summer. Embodying the true Italian spirit, wishing Buon Viaggio (safe travels) to Sofia! 

Looking to join similar DMZ programming in 2024? Subscribe to our TechTalk newsletter and stay informed on program applications here. Until then, we invite you to check out DMZ Masterclass to master your business skills at


Basecamp 2023: Unveiling this year’s winners

And just like that, DMZ’s favourite time of the year has come and gone. Seeing a new group of talented young entrepreneurs complete DMZ’s Basecamp program is always inspiring.

Basecamp serves as a nurturing space for innovation, allowing up-and-coming entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into reality. After witnessing the growth of this cohort, we are confident that the future of innovation is bright and in capable hands.

Basecamp serves as an 8-week tech incubation program for students to unlock their potential, and collaborate alongside other youth innovators, industry experts and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Participating teams had the opportunity to pitch their startups to a panel of judges for the chance to take home one of six grants worth $5,000 to put towards taking their business to the next level.

DMZ was honoured to sit down with the winners to learn how the Basecamp program fast-tracked their startup’s trajectory.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, ClearCardio, pose with their $5000 cheque

Clear Cardio

Clear Cardio is an affordable, accurate, wearable machine that instantly detects heart issues. Before starting Basecamp, the pair had no experience in the startup ecosystem. Basecamp provided them with the tools to nurture ClearCardio from concept to reality.

“[Basecamp] is the perfect way to get into the startup world, especially if you’re high school students like us, as the program is a beginner’s guide to everything business-related you need to kick start your journey, ” said Nima Vasigh, Co-Founder of Clear Cardio.

The PilotASD team poses with their $5000 cheque


Founded by two Toronto Metropolitan University students, PilotASD is a platform that simplifies finding tailored resources to make the future more accessible for autistic youth. Given their computer science background and experience with product development, the pair partook in Basecamp to better understand entrepreneurship and how to start a business.

“Basecamp set us up to thrive in Toronto’s entrepreneurship scene, and we’re delighted to be a part of it. We’re excited to see the journey ahead with PilotASD and where our future will take us, ” explained Cindy Fang, Co-Founder of PilotASD.

A group of students from startup NearMe pose with their $5000 cheque


After years of isolation during the pandemic, three students came together to tackle the loneliness epidemic. NearMe is an innovative app that uses geolocation to connect post-secondary students based on interests and promotes in-person interactions. Looking back at their experiences in Basecamp, the trio found that the program served as a launching pad, equipping them with skills to tackle pitching, marketing and finances.

“The connections we made with Basecamp mentors gave us strategic insights on how we can elevate our startup. They helped us navigate topics that we aren’t necessarily getting taught in school,” said Rayan Ahmad, Co-Founder of NearMe.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Aidify, pose with their $5000 cheque


This sibling duo is fighting for student success and academic integrity. Aidify is a typing analytics tool to help teachers detect plagiarism and assess student effort. Aidify highlighted how the mentors stood out as a remarkably influential part of the program. They were able to absorb startup fundamentals and found themselves inspired by their success.

“Starting a business was never a serious option we considered for our futures, but that’s changed now that we know the ins and outs of running a business. Basecamp has given us a ton of confidence knowing that it’s a real possibility for us,” said Charlie To, Co-Founder of Aidify.

PocketClass smiles upon receiving a $5000 cheque


PocketClass is a platform for extracurriculars that simplifies the interaction between parents and instructors through their integrated search, scheduling and payment features. CEO and Founder Lisa Huh plans to join DMZ Masterclass workshops to continue elevating her business.

“Basecamp is the go-to program for early-stage and aspiring founders. It acts as your compass in the unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, with resources, mentorship and a supportive community for your journey from idea to success,” explained CEO and Founder of PocketClass, Lisa Huh.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Capable, pose with their $5000 cheque


Although she didn’t reach the final pitching round, Jazel Dela Paz was selected by her fellow Basecamp peers as the lucky recipient of the Peer Choice Award. Her startup, Capable, aims to make adulthood easy by helping young adults confidently prepare, manage and navigate the responsibilities of adulthood stress-free.

“Basecamp allowed me to expand my network, introducing me to a strong network of startups and mentors. Their support, motivation and accountability were invaluable, especially during critical moments when I needed it the most,” said Founder of Capable, Jazel Dela Paz.

These students and their startups are shining examples of the innovation that spurs when passion, hard work, and support intersect. As we draw the curtains on yet another exciting Basecamp chapter, we’re confident these startups will make their mark in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for years.

Cheers to their success and a summer filled with learning, growth and success!

Looking to join Basecamp in 2024? Subscribe to our TechTalk newsletter and stay informed on program applications here. Until then, we invite you to check out DMZ Masterclass to master your business skills at

Rewiring co-creation: Learn how to become customer-obsessed 

We had the pleasure of chatting with Pat Sathiensamrit, the Founder of Lightster, to learn more about the startup, its global mentality and carefully crafted process that helps companies become customer-obsessed. 

Keep reading to learn more about Lightster, and Pat’s top tips for how companies can become customer-obsessed and build better products.

Can you tell us about Lightster and its mission?

Empowering companies to create better products for their target users, Lightster (Fall ’23) is a platform that connects tech companies with their intended customers to help guide their product development in 60 seconds. These 60 seconds represent our impressive ‘time to insight’ capability, eliminating the need for weeks of waiting to obtain actionable feedback. Our platform empowers companies to swiftly gather essential information, enabling them to make informed decisions and optimize their products quickly.

We aim to increase collaboration between companies and users while benefiting both parties. The benefits are twofold. Customers who sign up can share their insights while earning rewards, and companies create a direct channel of communication with their target audience to refine their products through surveys, chat messages and live conversations.

Despite being an early-stage startup, you’ve already set up shop with multiple partners worldwide. How has your experience been working across global markets?

By exploring new markets worldwide, Lightster has opened up untapped customer segments that allow us to unlock new avenues for growth. This has been made possible by securing strategic partnerships with organizations in countries like Brazil, Jamaica and Switzerland. Our partners have opened doors for us by providing us with connections, market exposure, and, most importantly, insights on the problems that tech companies globally face in their mission to become customer-obsessed. 

Given we work with startups and partners across the globe, we’ve found timezone differences can be both a benefit and a challenge. With our co-founder working remotely from Asia, we understand that finding meeting times that work for all parties can be difficult, but operating in different time zones can often give us additional time to complete deliverables. 

When one office closes, another one opens up, which allows work to be completed around the clock globally. With teams located across different time zones, we have the advantage of having our offices open around the clock. This enables us to promptly address any issues that may arise when our customers are asleep, ensuring efficient resolution and minimizing any potential delays. By having all hands on deck, we’ve made things happen even faster than before. 

For any founder who’s hesitant to open up to new markets, I’d encourage them to go for it. We’ve expanded our reach significantly by working with trusted global partners. Startups might be pleasantly surprised to discover how many companies are eager to tap into the North American market, actively seeking partnerships in the region to unlock new opportunities and expand their reach.

How exactly do you work with your clients? What is your solution offering them?

Lightster empowers companies to connect with their users, by allowing them to create instant communities of their target users based on who is available to provide input on their product while it’s being built. Companies connect directly with their target audiences to involve them in the co-creation process of products that were built for them.

Our clients get to connect with their users directly, providing them with an opportunity to voice their genuine opinions. We’re proud to enable companies like Nobul, Ecowiser,, Referral Candy, and incubators that support startups like DMZ to become customer-obsessed and build their best products yet on Lightster.

Lightster has grown its user base to almost 7,000+ users. What does this reach mean for your companies, and what’s next?

A more extensive user base translates to better success for our clients as they can connect to a broader set of target audiences faster. Companies that join Lightster instantly match with more users who fit their criteria and target audience.

Companies on Lightster will soon have more ways to connect with their users through a pre-launch product ‘feed’ where they can invite their users and potential users to join and co-create the product as it’s being built.

Could you share your top 3 tips for how companies can better serve their customers? 

  1. Involve them in the co-creation process. As soon as your idea sparks, founders should seek user input. Stats have shown that early involvement increases customer loyalty.
  2. When looking for customer feedback, ask open-ended questions and focus on past behaviours and events instead of asking “what if” questions. This approach produces richer responses allowing you to pinpoint and improve on real, proven challenges, rather than hypothetical scenarios. 
  3. Utilize the vast array of potential users on Lightster by experimenting with different types of representative behaviours and characteristics. You might be surprised; what you discover could lead to your next big idea.

Head over to Lightster’s website to learn more about how they are creating customer-obsessed companies. Want to learn more about how you can help Lightster on its journey? Reach out to their team at

Introducing DMZ’s new cohort of Incubator startups

DMZ is thrilled to unveil its latest Incubator cohort of startups. Of nearly two hundred applications submitted from around the world, we’ve chosen the top six ventures joining us for the next 18 months and will graduate as the Incubator Fall 2024 cohort.

These founders hail from a range of industries, including health tech, moving and logistics, insurtech and AI, but are all driven by the same common goal — wanting to grow and scale their businesses.   

Our newest cohort will receive comprehensive support to execute their go-to-market strategy, acquire lighthouse customers, gain media exposure, explore global expansion, prepare for the next round of funding and much more. 

This competitive program is for venture-backable pre-seed and seed-stage startups with a full-time founder, early traction and proven product-market fit.

Scroll to learn more about how these high-impact startups are pioneering new innovative solutions. 

Introducing our Fall ‘24 Incubator cohort:


Approva is an all-in-one home loan solution that makes the home loan process simpler and faster by providing users with the best deal on their mortgages in real time.

Compass is a holistic mental health platform that provides users with personalized mental health resources based on their unique needs, wants and identities.


MoveMate provides on-demand moving services that aim to disrupt and integrate the archaic and fragmented moving and delivery ecosystem by building a more comprehensive, connected and tech-driven moving and delivery marketplace.


Robbie Restoration Technologies partners with insurance companies to save on unnecessary claim costs in water-related property and casualty claims. By providing data-driven analytic insights, adjusters and claims departments can be in complete control of the water restoration process.


Sensaiotech is an end-to-end fire risk assessment solution. Using AI-embedded devices and cutting-edge transmission technologies, their solution monitors and predicts where and when a wildfire will occur and flags at-risk areas up to 5 days earlier.

Vaultt is a collaborative information management and communications platform that uses a B2B SaaS model and multi-channel approach for family caregivers. Vault helps patients, families and caregivers securely organize, store and share vital information within their circle of care.


Get to know more about our Spring ’24 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

Meet Marcelo Noronha: The brain behind Mr. Turing’s AI business assistant

Meet Marcelo Noronha, the unstoppable force and brain behind Mr. Turing, an AI (artificial intelligence) business assistant revolutionizing how companies work with their data. In an increasingly AI-driven world, Mr. Turing is a true game-changer, providing companies with a powerful tool to unlock the full potential of their internal data to save time, knowledge and money. 

Like Alan Turing, the trailblazing mathematician and computer scientist who laid the foundation for modern computing and artificial intelligence by cracking the German Enigma code during World War II, Noronha is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with AI.

What sets Mr. Turing apart from the competition is its unique ability to manage all of a company’s information in one place. With its innovative Alan technology, Mr. Turing helps companies process, interpret, and manage the knowledge generated from their internal data more effectively than ever before.

So, who is the mastermind behind Mr. Turing, and what inspired him to create it? We sat down with Noronha to discover his inspiration, the unique benefits of their AI-powered business assistant, Alan, and the measures they have put in place to safeguard sensitive information. If you’re interested in the intersection of entrepreneurship and AI, read on to uncover Noronha’s insights and discover the next big thing in business technology. 

What inspired you to build Mr.Turing? 

As a tech entrepreneur for 20+ years, all the companies I worked for used image processing for document management. However, every company had a gap in delivering value to its customers; we would process the documents but only deliver 20% of the value from all the information contained within them. This always bothered me because it was a lot of work for very little delivery. At the time, the technologies weren’t ready to process, interpret, and generate knowledge. When I came across the AI technique of Language Processing, I realized that this was where I could change the game.”

Tell us how your AI-powered business assistant (Alan) works.

Imagine needing information across different types of media: documents, videos, audio, websites, meeting minutes, and other sources. Now, imagine all of this scattered across multiple platforms within a company. How would you access and leverage it to improve your business processes? It would be practically an endless search, wouldn’t you agree?

This is the challenge we addressed with Alan, a tool that can manage and generate knowledge for companies, integrate with any system and process any type of media. After processing, interpreting and integrating where the information is, Alan is ready to respond naturally to the needs of those looking for information. And the best part of all of this is that this knowledge is secure within the company, so they can make informed decisions on how to use it.

How does Alan differ from other data management solutions on the market?

Our differential is the ability to manage all knowledge produced by company teams in a single platform, Alan. We can make connections between meeting videos, emails, projects, dialogues, and communication platforms.

With the increasing focus on data privacy and security, how do you ensure that Alan adheres to data protection standards? What measures have you put in place to safeguard sensitive information?

At Mr. Turing, we place great emphasis on data privacy and security. To ensure that we comply with data protection standards, we have implemented a range of measures to safeguard sensitive information. These include encryption, regular security audits, access controls, and user authentication. We are committed to staying up-to-date with evolving data privacy regulations and continuously improving our security practices to protect our users’ data.

How have you leveraged natural language processing to develop Alan? Can you walk us through your approach to training?

We utilized natural language processing (NLP) techniques and cutting-edge AI models to create Alan. Our methodology for training and refining the model involves several stages:

  • Data collection: We obtain a diverse set of data from multiple sources, including text, audio, and video content, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of a company’s information;
  • Data preprocessing: The collected data is cleaned and preprocessed to eliminate irrelevant or redundant information; 
  • Model training: The preprocessed data is employed to train our NLP models, with a focus on comprehending context, semantics, and relationships between different pieces of information; 
  • Fine-tuning: The trained models are refined using reinforcement learning techniques, which enable Alan to enhance its performance by adapting to the specific needs and preferences of each client; 
  • Evaluation and feedback: Alan’s performance is continually assessed against predefined benchmarks, and any insights gleaned from user feedback are utilized to further improve the model.

With the recent advances in natural language processing and conversational AI, how do you see your assistant evolving? Are there any new features or functionalities you’re excited to roll out?

The recent advancements brought by OpenAI with ChatGPT have given Mr. Turing the missing piece of the puzzle. We expected this to come around mid-2025, and it has been accelerated, which is great news!

We believe that we operate at the process layer of companies, with the capability of integrating, processing, and interpreting all the information that flows within them. With this, we can more precisely control what the conversational part of GPT models can synthesize without attempting to fabricate any information from non-existent data.

How do you balance the need for automation and efficiency with the importance of maintaining human oversight and control over data management processes?

Finding a middle ground between the need for automation and efficiency and the importance of maintaining human oversight and control is crucial. 

This can entail utilizing automation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to boost the efficiency of data management processes while also keeping a check on human oversight and control to ensure the accuracy and quality of the managed data. 

Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure that data management processes are well-documented and that policies and procedures are adhered to consistently to uphold data integrity and regulatory compliance.

Can you discuss future plans or goals, such as expanding into new industries or integrating new technologies?

We plan to expand into new industries such as healthcare, finance, law, and education. To remain at the forefront of AI and NLP technologies, we are enhancing collaboration features, developing advanced personalization features, and incorporating environmentally-friendly strategies into our operations and product offerings.

What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur in the AI space?

No matter the industry, the first step is to assemble a strong team with a common purpose. Then, it’s important to understand that building AI applications requires time, effort, and a great deal of persistence. Success cannot be guaranteed simply by utilizing AI technology, and it’s crucial to be ready to adjust and improve your ideas as you progress, given the rapidly evolving nature of the field.

Ready to save your business time and money with Mr. Turing? Click here to discover more >

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