Montreal-based startup accelerator FounderFuel is ready to graduate their third full cohort of web-based companies on Thursday night to a packed house.
Demo Day is the bi-annual showcase for the 12-week intensive program, rivaling only Techstars NYC in it’s popularity. About 800 people are expected to show up to the sold-out event at Monument National in Montreal’s Ville-Marie district.
“We’re very excited to launch these companies. They have made spectacular progress, some having gained impressive traction with millions of visitors a month,” said Ian Jeffrey, General Manager of FounderFuel. "It’s extremely rewarding for us to kick start teams that show an unprecedented capacity to execute when they have the right resources at their disposal.”
According to Jeffrey, “several hundred” teams applied for the eight spots in this year's cohort.
Jeff Dungen came into program via Montreal and San Francisco as CEO of reelyActive. They’re a cloud-based platform that locates and connects things using active radio frequency identification. He said that graduating from FounderFuel is akin to joining an exclusive club frequented by investors, mentors and talent.
“For a company building hardware like reelyActive, that helps break down barriers and preconceived notions,” he explained. “But first and foremost, FounderFuel helped us to understand and explain our business, and certainly to pitch.”
Just down the hall from reelyActive in historic Notman House where FounderFuel calls home is My Customizer. The retailer customization tool business is ready for demo day after three months of intensive preparation.
“It’s like an approval stamp of our last 12 weeks of work and its also a huge showroom with big opportunity,” said cofounder Christian Painchaud. “To fuel and sustain our growth we need investment and that’s what demo day represents: the starting blocks for that new phase.”
To date, 60% of FounderFuel companies have raised follow-on funding within a few months of graduation for a combined total of over $6.5 million.
All eight teams originating from Buenos Aires to Chicago are in the running for a prestigious Business Development Bank of Canada convertible note worth $150,000. A selection committee comprised of the BDC and FounderFuel will pick one team that is “Venture-Ready."
Jeffrey cites a common misconception that the program is like a University course, saying that FounderFuel is different.
While it still encompasses learning and the exchange of ideas, it’s not the same experience for every unique team who may be in different stages of their life cycle. Instead the program provides a varied base of mentors who can help early-stage or seed round companies.
“It’s about helping the startup build a business faster with better resources,” he noted.
80% of the program is spent building the businesses while 20% is spent learning from different mentors and support resources.
The first month of FounderFuel is spent analyzing the company and helping it align in the direction of opportunities while the final month is focused on fund-raising. This includes what kind of round the companies are going to raise, how they are going to attract investors and what they’re going to do with the money.
The third cohort consists of these eight businesses:
• InfoActive, Give life to data: InfoActive makes it easy to turn dynamic data into interactive graphics.
• International Gaming League, Elevate Your Game: the amateur destination for competitive gaming.
• Fastgrab, Food Pickup Perfected: The Fastgrab app and POS are powering the next evolution in food pickup.
• LISTN, Socially Driven Music: #LISTN is an iPhone app that lets people share and connect through music.
• MyCustomizer, Empowering the Customization Revolution: empowers brands and their retailers to offer unique customization experiences with a ready-to-use SaaS platform.
• Openera, Automated Filing for Everyone: automatically organizes email and cloud files to meet corporate compliance requirements and allow the right people to find files fast.
• reelyActive, Log in to life: reelyActive connects THINGS to the cloud
• Urbita, I love this place!: a community that lets people share the love and passion they have for places that matter to them.