JOLT Demo Fest (via MaRS Media)

June has certainly been a busy month for some of Canada’s leading startup accelerators, with JOLT at MaRS kicking things off with its Demo Fest on June 5th and Extreme Startups following with Demo Day on June 13th.

Two years ago we launched our Design-In-Residence (DiR) program in the Canadian ecosystem to provide early-stage startups with user experience design mentoring, education, and resources accessible through their formative stages. We’re proud to have worked closely with a few of the teams from both programs in the last cohorts.

JOLT’s Demo Fest held at Steam Whistle Brewing consisted of pitches from its cohort, followed by a “Creator’s Gallery” where both its past cohorts and other neighbourhood startups were able to set-up booths as a startup fair. A couple of the startups that we worked more closely with through DiR included:

  • Stylekick: Lets users find the right fit by taking advantage of what they already own, in order to help tackle the $6 billion dollar headache for retailers from returned products.
  • Singspiel: An online platform that supports popular instruments like guitar, violin, piano, and voice and aims to help its users get over their frustrations though personalized feedback.

Extreme Startup’s Demo Day took place at Berkeley Church and was hosted by Sarah Prevette, with a keynote presentation from Charles Hudson (a partner at SoftTech VC). Charles’ speech elaborated on his firm’s growing interest in startups north of the border and how a long chain of events led the firm to now having startups the likes of Vidyard and Top Hat in their portfolio. We explored design challenges through DiR with startups such as:

  • KOGE – Born out of a personal frustration, the Koge Vitamins team’s approach aims to personalize the vitamin purchasing process and deliver on its value proposition through a vertically integrated supply chain.
  • BRIKA – The fast-growing e-commerce startup is looking to provide the ideal curated online shopping destination with wares from talented and exclusive makers.

The events were a pretty impressive showing for Toronto’s growing startup ecosystem and are undoubtedly an important part of continuing to build a vibrant startup community for the city. We’re happy to have been able to make a contribution and are looking forward to continuing to do so through DiR.

Both JOLT and Extreme Startups are now accepting applications for their next cohorts, while Founder Fuel in Montreal also has their Demo Day fast-approaching during Startupfest 2013 in July. So, if you’re looking to be part of the excitement and the rapidly growing DNA of Canada’s innovation roadmap, I’d definitely suggest checking them out.