Vancouver Startup LemonStand takes on Shopify / Magento with easy to build ecommerce

LemonStand is a refreshingly customizable cloud based eCommerce platform that helps web developers, agencies and fast growing brands create beautiful online stores that stand out from the crowd and sell more.

Features an infinitely flexible storefront design engine, including the ability to check out on your own domain and completely customize the checkout process. Comes with built in analytics, robust catalog management with unlimited options and variants, advanced discounts engine, digital product selling, subscriptions and much more. A full featured content management system (CMS) and blog is built-in to enable advanced and integrated content marketing from a single platform And there are no transaction fees or penalties for using your payment processor of choice.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Danny Halarewich is founder and CEO. Previous to LemonStand, Danny ran a web agency where he lead design, development and marketing projects for companies such as Telltale Games, Yahoo! and MasterCard. LemonStand is also lead by CTO Bruce Alderson, who has over 20 years of software development and management experience, and VP Growth Ross Paul, who has over 20 years of technology, sales, marketing and general management experience.

How are you being financed?

LemonStand has raised seed funding from BDC Capital, as well as several Silicon Valley-based angel investors.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

With less than 10% of retail purchases made online, there is still a massive shift ahead. Technology solutions that make it easier and preferable for consumers and businesses to purchase a much wider variety of products online without needing to see them “in the flesh” so to speak is both the obstacle and opportunity for LemonStand.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We’re culture-driven and have tried to build a team that is passionate about what we do, so word of mouth and referrals from our own team is where this starts. We also source candidates through AngelList, and we have a pretty sweet careers page which gives prospective team members a good sense of our culture before applying. Beyond that, we’re looking for people with passion, and curiosity. So far it’s worked out pretty well!

Who is your biggest competition?

There are a lot of legacy server based eCommerce platforms out there, but far fewer cloud-based solutions, which is where the market is going. Of the cloud platforms, most are focused on either very small businesses selling online for lifestyle or testing out a business idea, or very large enterprise retailers. We’re laser focused on the large underserved group of fast growing small and midsized retailers in between, and don’t really see much focus on this group from other cloud platforms. Most LemonStand customers are modernizing from aging and high-maintenance server platforms like Magento, Miva, WooCommerce and/or launching new innovative subscription based businesses and unable to find another cloud platform with the same level of flexibility.

A lemony water break on a warm August afternoon. #LemonStand #startuplife #lemonyfresh

A photo posted by LemonStand (@lemonstand) on

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

LemonStand has been growing very quickly. We’re rapidly adding new functionality based on customer feedback to continue to improve and differentiate our platform. The majority of our customers come from the more developed, English speaking countries (USA, Canada, UK & Ireland, Australia/New Zealand, etc.) but we’ve also had some success in other markets.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.

We’ve learned that building an eCommerce platform is about more than just a product. It’s about building and growing an ecosystem of connected, complementary solutions and partners who can help our customers accomplish their business goals. For online retailers, that is to grow revenue and profits. The bigger our ecosystem gets the more valuable it is to our customers and the more quickly they can grow. And of course, the success of our customers helps us grow even faster.

Website: lemonstand.com

Canadians Must Be able to Access High-Speed Internet, CRTC rules

CRTC wants Canadians to have access to an unlimited data plan option and speeds of at least 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today declared that broadband access Internet service is now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians. The CRTC is also setting ambitious new speed targets and creating a new fund that will invest up to $750 million over and above existing government programs.

High quality and reliable digital connectivity is essential for the quality of life of Canadians and Canada’s economic prosperity.” – said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO, CRTC

Vancouver-based OpenMedia, a pro-internet organization, described the decision as “truly historic.”

Toronto startup Askuity turning complex retail data to grow sales

Askuity works with leading retail brands to turn complex point of sale data into profitable insights and greater business results. By combining automated point of sale data collection with powerful analytics and mobile technology, the Askuity analytics platform uncovers data-driven insights to help brands grow sales, improve margins and strengthen retailer relationships.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?
The company was founded by Eric Green and Neal Sherman. Eric, Askuity’s CEO, was formerly co-founder and president of a high-growth CPG company that sold innovative products to retailers across North America. It was through this experience that he realized the impact that retail analytics could have on his business, which ultimately ignited the idea behind the Askuity platform. Neal, Askuity’s COO, is the technical half of the Askuity founding team, responsible for turning Askuity’s vision into product reality. He has held leadership roles in both sales and product management at a number of successful technology companies spanning Cloud, Analytics and Mobile solutions.

How are you being financed?
Askuity has conducted two funding rounds; one in 2014 and one in 2016.

Office

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?
The biggest obstacle for Askuity is challenging the status quo. Many retail brands have failed to adopt modern technology to make better use of their data and gain greater insight into their retail business. As companies continue to realize how important data is to their continued success, we expect that these brands will move away from the status quo of Microsoft Excel and canned reports, transitioning to modern solutions such as Askuity.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?
Great developers are not easy to find in this market. We tend to find our most talented developers through referrals, and place an emphasis on sourcing development hires through our existing development team’s network.

Who is your biggest competition?
Askuity has reinvented the point of sale analytics market. As a result, we don’t have many competitors that offer a truly competitive product offering that spans desktop and mobile. Most often we find ourselves displacing expensive data visualization/reporting software that does not specialize in handling retail data. Askuity is a compelling alternative to these types of generic solutions, as our platform is purpose-built for brands and manufacturers selling their products into major retailers.

Founders

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?
Askuity has been growing rapidly and steadily, with new brands signing onto our platform every week. By continuing to listen to the needs of our customers and adding new functionality to improve and differentiate our platform, we are confident that we will continue to expand our footprint in the retail industry. While Askuity is actively focusing on the North American market at the moment, we see great potential in scaling our sales and marketing efforts internationally in the near future.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.
As we’ve gone to market, we’ve identified that the market is broken out into two distinct groups: old school and new school. Some brands have not yet embraced data as a growth strategy, relying on old school ways of managing their business. These brands often require more education and assistance as they are still learning how data can be used to improve their business, resulting in a longer and more complex sales cycle. On the other hand we work with some brands that already understand the value of harnessing data, but are often limited by traditional reporting solutions that fail to meet their needs. When dealing with these brands, the sales process is rather straightforward, allowing us to focus on the benefits of the Askuity platform while ensuring that our solution addresses their specific pain points and key business objectives.

Website: https://www.askuity.com/

Toronto / Mexico City Startup Vetelia provides electrical vehicles to get around

Vetelia is dedicated to the design, development, and commercialization of electric vehicles as a convenient, effective mobility solution for companies, institutions and consumers.

Our dream: “To make electric transportation a reality for every consumer”

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

We are three co founders: Emilio Sosa, Juan Pablo García and Eduardo Fajardo. Our multidisciplinary founder team is our key of success because we believe that great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of the best people.
Our team is conformed from the designer of the first two electric cars together with Toyota and Johnson Controls to an expert of production lines of the automotive plastic industry and with the head of the production control of Chrysler of Mexico.

How are you being financed?

Sales and venture capital.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

Definitely the market is very close to combustion / gasoline products and they are still afraid of electric vehicles because of the cost and range of them.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We have a special program with universities to develop and hire our human capital.

Who is your biggest competition?

Stromer and Daymak

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

From the time when we started the company we become as one of the largest producers of light electric vehicles in Latin America, leading the Mexican market, experiencing a 200% of growth per year, now we are focus on our expansion to North América.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.
As an Entrepreneur you are going to be exposed to a lot of “No” as an answer and you need to learn how to manage those “negative” answer and transform it into a positive thing to work harder to achieve “YES” as answers. Like Thomas Alba Edison said: I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Website: http://www.vetelia.com/

Toronto startup Akira provides access to a doctor from your cell phone

Akira is a doctor in your pocket – we provide instant, on-demand access to Canadian doctors & nurses through our mobile app. You can get help with troubling symptoms, renew prescriptions, get specialist referrals – all without having to leave home or work.

Long-term, we’re on a mission to bring high-quality healthcare to all of humanity. We plan to do that by building “Akira”, a smart medical assistant that can help healthcare providers around the world make better decisions. Think of it like an Iron Man suit for medical professionals.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

The three founders are:

Dustin Walper (CEO) – Previously co-founded Myplanet, a technology company with 75 employees & $10MM in revenue that builds web and mobile products for Fortune 100 companies (Apple, Cisco, New Balance, etc.)

Dr. Taha Bandukwala (Chief Medical Officer) – Entrepreneurial radiologist with several startups under his belt, including the e-consultation platform Consult Conduit. Taha and Dustin met when they were 16 at nerd camp (Shad Valley).

Matt Zukowski (CTO) – Trained in cognitive science & AI, formerly the lead architect at AdTech company AdParlor. Matt is the one who keeps Taha and Dustin grounded in technical reality.

Our goal was to build a company that was ambitious in all areas – clinically, technologically, and as a business.

How are you being financed?

We’ve mostly raised from super-smart angels thus far, like Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke and Dragon’s Den personality Harley Finkelstein. We’re currently wrapping up a seed round that we will be announcing in early 2017.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

Our biggest obstacle lies in changing behaviour – the delivery of healthcare has functioned in a very similar way for almost 100 years. We need to help people understand exactly what role digital health should play in their lives (and conversely, where it’s not the right tool).

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

Our two biggest secrets: work on something that people really care about, and pick a technology stack that good developers want to work in. The former is really helpful because having a clear, meaningful mission attracts people who are tired of the meaningless hype that can sometimes pervade the tech industry. From a tech stack perspective, we have lots of interesting problems to work on – we have native iOS and Android apps, a complex React web app used by our doctors, a Ruby back-end, and lots of different analytics platforms that need to work together. We’ve built a strong engineering culture and have a get-shit-done bias that I think is unusual in the healthcare space.

Interestingly, our engineers work on software that directly impacts peoples’ lives. There’s no greater satisfaction than hearing a patient talk about the impact we’ve had and knowing that your code made it possible.

Who is your biggest competition?

We compete with business as usual. Most people, particularly most Canadians, have never experienced what services like Akira can offer. So their default behaviour is to continue going to walk-in clinics or googling their symptoms. Education is one of the most important facets of how we market our service – people want to know what they can and can’t use Akira for, whether it’s appropriate for their kids, etc.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

We’ll surpass a million dollars in revenue in 2017. We’re focusing right now on the Canadian market, since we think it’s essentially a blue ocean, but our long-term goals will take us into other parts of the world like Asia or South America. We think we can get to $100MM in revenue in Canada alone given the sheer scale and scope of the healthcare industry.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.

Charge for your service/product as quickly as possible. We gave away too much for free early on and missed a valuable opportunity to debug our business model – as soon as we turned on payments, we realized that a bunch of our assumptions were wrong and we had to scramble to fix things. Realizing that 6 months earlier would have saved us a tremendous amount of headache.

Website: www.akira.md

Amazon picks Montreal Quebec instead of Ontario for their hosting operations due to cheaper hydro rates

Amazon picked province of Quebec to open their Canadian data centres near Montreal. “We picked the Montreal Quebec area that we did because of the hydro power,” said Teresa Carlson, vice-president of public sector with Amazon Web Services.

Average price for business customers in Montreal Quebec were just around 5.17 cents (IN ¢/KWH) while in Toronto Ontario it is around 9 cents (almost double the price) while in New York City it is around 17 cents. Montreal is not the cheapest though – in cities across Canada such as Calgary and Winnipeg prices are around 4.5 cents respectively. But cities like Winnipeg lack IT tech talent which can be readily available in Montreal or Toronto.

Below you can see a table from 2014 comparing rates in Canada (prices have changed slightly over the last few years though):

Amazon did not reveal how many people will be hired at the Montreal-area data centres. Citing customers’ security, the company has been famously secretive about its data centre location. Spokespeople have simply described them as “a big investment.”

Patrick Brown, leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party, was quick to jump on the news as more evidence that the province’s electricity prices are making it less competitive for big business investments and could hamper its opportunities when it comes to high-tech.

Toronto Cyclica raises $2.4M for drug discovery using computer simulation

The company intends to use the funds to scale its sales and marketing efforts, and expand innovation through continued product development.

Led by Naheed Kurji, President and CEO, Cyclica offers a novel predictive analytics platform that enables the development of hypothetical, pre-clinical, clinical, or FDA-approved drugs. The company’s solution offers insight and analysis into a small molecule’s effect, in order to augment drug discovery pipelines and advance assets to-bedside. It currently features PROBEx (proteome-docking), SWITCHx (ligand effect prediction) & DIVEx (systems biology & drug-protein interactomes), and evaluates and compares small molecules to predict how each will interact with the human body (i.e human proteome).

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