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

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Tag Archives: incubator

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 dmz.to/Incubator to learn more and apply today. 

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 >

Your golden ticket to business success: customer relationships

As an early-stage founder, it’s all about your customers. Want to create a unique product? Looking to catalyze your startup? Ready to soar above the competition? Strong customer relationships are your golden ticket to business success.

Think customer values, needs, and wants. Is your product or service truly hitting the mark? There’s no one better to ask than your customers. Establishing relationships with users is a key competitive advantage — from real-time suggestions and feedback to brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing.

But it doesn’t stop there; the benefit goes both ways. Organizations working with early-stage startups get access to innovative products and services catered to their specific needs. Agile startups move fast, and recommendations are met swiftly.

It’s a win-win! 

We sat down with Leonard Ivey, Co-Founder of Softdrive (DMZ Incubator ‘23) and Michael Robinson, Chief Technology Officer at The Plus Group, to discover how they harness the power of relationships to drive business innovation and success.


Leonard, what inspired you to found Softdrive?


My professional career started in the architectural engineering construction industry (AEC). I held various roles at several companies within the AEC industry. 

There was a common theme at all of these organizations: the computer experience I had or the computer solutions I was given were not adequate for me to be productive in my day. Unfortunately, anytime I asked for a computer upgrade, IT responded with, ‘We don’t have the budget’ or ‘We’re stuck within a three-year provisioning cycle,’ leaving me unproductive and frustrated. This wasn’t IT’s fault, it was just the reality.

Alan Daniels [Softdrive’s Co-Founder] and I chatted about computer issues at our jobs and how we could improve the experience. We brainstormed and looked at the incumbents in the space but couldn’t find an adequate solution for the experience or price, so we built Softdrive in 2019.


Michael, what intrigued you about working with an early-stage startup? 


At The Plus Group, we enable staff to work from anywhere. A couple of years ago, we were looking into VDI [Virtual Desktop Infrastructure] software, previously called Remote Desktop. Over the years, I would test different VDIs, but I never found a solution where I could feel the difference. 

A year into the pandemic, Leonard approached us. We tested their software, and although it was very new, it was fast. 

They proposed a partnership where we would test their software and give feedback. Of course, there were kinks, but Softdrive always keeps improving. We’ve rolled out Softdrive to two architects, and now we’ve begun rolling it out to other companies in our portfolio. They love it.


Leonard, what are the benefits of working so closely with a customer? 


Our relationship has evolved to where The Plus Group directly influences and advises our roadmap. Michael is easy to chat with and the nicest individual, but he’s pretty no-bulls**t. Having a CTO as a resource that we can tap into who’s also your customer is awesome. It’s the best of both worlds. It’s very much a partnership.


Michael, how does working with tech startups drive innovation in your organization?


The Plus Group is one of the big three in architecture for residential design. We’re a forward-thinking company constantly pushing the boundaries of where we can take technology. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we transitioned everyone to virtual seamlessly within 12 hours. You should always try new things and position yourself to take on anything.

We had a problem with an architect who couldn’t open a large file. With Softdrive, we took the load time from 12 minutes to just 30 seconds. He told me it saved him time from working on the weekend. The savings are significant.

Being able to log in anywhere, do anything, and pick up right where you left off without having a physical computer is the future.

“At the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey,
your customers are everything.”
– Leonard Ivey, Co-Founder, Softdrive

Leonard, how do you grow and foster your customer relationships? 


At the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, your customers are everything. You have to learn from them and treat them as if they are royalty. Some things may give you pause and think, is this better for the organization, or is this just a customized feature that will only help them?

Besides that brief pause, you must listen and work with your customers. Otherwise, your organization will end up like any other enterprise product. 

Try to touch base with your customers frequently without annoying them. Have as many open channels of communication as possible — phone, text or slack channels — and always be sure to get back to them immediately. They are the lifeblood of your organization, treat them as such and give them the best possible experience.

Softdrive is a cloud pc software redefining the personal computer. They leverage the power of cloud computing and fast internet speed to stream a computer to any device. Check it out >

The Plus Group combines digital marketing with architectural design and real estate software to revolutionize the real estate industry. Learn more > 


Looking to access customers, capital and community?
 Discover how the DMZ can help you to uncover your golden ticket to business success.

Hear from Roadmunk’s Co-Founder & CEO, Latif Nanji, on his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit

Latif Nanji, Co-Founder and CEO of SaaS platform Roadmunk, connects the dots of his entrepreneurial journey at the DMZ’s Founder Dinner, uncovering his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit.

Founded in 2012, Roadmunk is product management software that solves how product innovators build and communicate their strategy. Roadmunk has an impressive track record, from being listed as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 and their acquisition by Tempo in 2021 to serving over 3,000+ customers, including Amazon, Visa, Nike, Adobe and Morgan Stanley, to name a few.

Latif’s history is also not one to miss. Before Roadmunk, he co-founded several companies, including Pokerspace, an online social network for poker players, and Pragmatic CEO, a Toronto meet-up group for tech entrepreneurs. He also spent five years as a Product Manager at Miovision, working on intelligent traffic infrastructure, where he developed his passion for helping product managers build the right things for customers. Latif enjoys biohacking, rock climbing, scuba diving and angel investing in his spare time.

Looking for inspiration to build the next big thing? Check out Latif’s insights on his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit from our latest DMZ Founder Dinner – an event series designed to bring DMZ’s community together for an evening of food, drinks and connections. ​​Watch Latif’s full founder talk below, or keep reading, to discover his top tips for being a successful entrepreneur and building an acquirable business.  

Go team!

“One of the early things I instantiated in the business was a core value called ‘Start with empathy.’ It was a family-like core value, and I thought it was a great idea.

Eventually, I realized that the mentality I had was one of protectionism — a high empathy and high loyalty culture. There’s nothing wrong with these values, but as an investor, I want to know if you are going to make the hard decisions.

Sometimes the teams need to change their structure or formation, just like they do in a sports team, to get to the outcome. If you want to level up through the divisions in soccer, you are going to different players as you progress. It’s not that you can’t thank the players before, but the new ones have to come in.”

The secret to reliable hiring: homework

“There were a few key things we did to fix our ongoing issue of short-lived new hires:

  • Anyone who walked through our doors looking to be hired was assigned homework on neutral ground that had nothing to do with our company or product.
  • This homework was assigned in an open-ended exercise that allowed us to have a dialogue and observe how responsive a potential hire is, how they write emails and how they ask questions.
  • We invited team members from other departments to sit in on meetings and presentations to get a chance to spar with candidates and provide feedback. This was the single most important thing we did when hiring in the early stages of the business.“ 

Students don’t interview the teacher

“We had to hire a software architect in 2020. I interviewed him, and I thought he was great, but I didn’t think he was that impressive from a cultural perspective.

I had my two top senior engineers interview him, and they came back to me and said, ‘We don’t think he’s the right fit.’

My COO walks in, and he asks us what we were doing. I said, ‘We’re interviewing.’ He said, ‘No, you’re not; students don’t interview the teacher.’

It was a simple concept, but it felt like a hammer hitting me in the head. So, we brought in the VP of Platform at Ritual and two external CTOs, who gave him a test on how to scale Google Drive. They came back with a report and said, ‘If you don’t hire him, we will.’ 

This was a great lesson in making sure not just other people that feel like they’re more senior, but people that have experience in the domain that understand your business and your business needs, are part of that process.” 

The key to winning the valuation game is pacing

“The problem isn’t with raising a little bit more money; it’s when you get further down the valuation trap.

If you raise five, six, seven million bucks when you only need  $1m, your post-money is maybe between $30 to $35 million instead of $5-10m. That means in the next 24 to 36 months or less, you’re going to grow >$30 million in valuation. That’s where things get really complicated. Going incrementally at a reasonable pace is how I think the best startups function before they see some version of a breakout growth path.”

Hear from Roadmunk’s Co-Founder & CEO, Latif Nanji, on his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit

Want a front-row seat at the next DMZ Founder Dinner to hear from other inspiring founders? Apply now to join our next Incubator cohort at dmz.to/incubator.

 

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Hear from DMZ’s first-ever unicorn founder for his advice on building a billion-dollar company

Co-founder and CEO of brand interaction platform Ada, Mike Murchison, spilled the entrepreneurial tea at DMZ’s Founder Dinner earlier this month, sharing lessons learned from scaling the first-ever DMZ unicorn company the ground up.

Empowering brands to automate customer interactions, Ada brings a VIP experience to every customer and employee through its platform. Since 2018, Ada has increased its revenue by 764% and in 2021, raised its Series C at a valuation of $1.2B, officially achieving unicorn status.

The first in-person DMZ Founder Dinner since 2019, the events are designed to bring the larger DMZ founder community together for an evening of food, drinks and connections.

We thought we’d share some of Mike’s insights and how he built the first-ever DMZ unicorn company for other founders looking to build the next big thing. Watch his full founder talk below to learn more about Ada and Mike’s journey, or keep reading for a recap of the tips and learnings Mike shared with the audience during his talk.

Entrepreneurship is a deeply personal experience

“We in this room are all united by this shared dream of building something important, big and world-changing. The journey that we’re all on is a very, very unique one, but we’re all unified in that shared ambition.”

The value of improving your rate of learning

“I think the single most important thing I’ve learned over the course of this journey has been a deep inward focus on improving my own rate of learning.

I think that’s one of the things I so admire about the community here at the DMZ, is that we’re all committed to learning. We’re all highly curious people who are eager to learn new things.

I encourage you to ask yourself, ‘What is piquing my curiosity? What problem am I facing that may seem insurmountable that I may be able to learn something new from?'”

Founders have a responsibility to support one another

“We all have a responsibility as founders to support one another in our own growth. I encourage everyone making progress themselves to share it with others.

We’re not competing against one another, we’re supporting one another. We all win when a startup in our ecosystem succeeds.”

Mike Murchison talking with another guest. - DMZ Founder Dinner recap

Sometimes the easiest path IS the right path

“I was dealing with a hard problem and someone asked me, ‘What if it wasn’t hard? What if it was easy?’

I’ve grown up and trained myself into thinking I need to do the hardest things, and what I’ve learned in the course of building Ada is that sometimes the easiest path, where you’re feeling the pull, is actually the right path.”

Don’t take yourself too seriously

“Looking back, something I would’ve done differently is not taking myself so seriously.

I wasted a lot of energy thinking about what the ideal path was meant to look like. I wish – earlier on – I would’ve let go of my perception of the right path and been more excited about the path that was unfolding before me.”

DMZ card that says "Changing entrepreneurs' lives." - DMZ Founder Dinner recap

Want to have a front row seat at the next DMZ Founder Dinner to hear from other founders who have made it? Apply to our upcoming Incubator cohort kicking off this fall at dmz.to/incubator.