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Canadian female founders take on Silicon Valley with BDC and TCS

PALO ALTO, CA , March 4, 2020 /CNW/ - Over 72 hours, 16 female founders and others participated in six workshops, received mentorship from more than a dozen peers and experts, and collectively met more than 40 potential investors. These founders represented 12 Canadian tech companies who just returned to Canada after attending the 2020 Women in Tech Silicon Valley Program. This intensive three-day program is designed to help these promising women-led tech companies expand their network in Silicon Valley to accelerate their growth.  

"Initiatives like this are important in helping women-led companies in the tech industry gain the knowledge, tools and connections they need to succeed and become innovative leaders," said the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. "Our government is proud to advance these same goals with Canada's first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which provides funding and support to women so they can grow their businesses. Congratulations to the 12 companies that participated in the Women in Tech Silicon Valley Program. We look forward to celebrating your continued success."

The program, hosted by the Consulate General of Canada in Silicon Valley and BDC Capital's Women in Technology Venture Fund, ran from February 25 – 27, 2020. The agenda included workshops and expert panels, pitch coaching, forums with local peers to share best practices, direct introductions and one-on-one meetings with potential investors and strategic partners, as well as other networking opportunities.

"There is so much great tech talent in Canada right now and we want Silicon Valley to take notice," said Michelle Scarborough , Managing Partner, Strategic Investments and Women in Technology Venture Fund, BDC Capital. "Raising capital isn't easy and this in-market program provides practical advice to women tech leaders to help them stand out from the crowd and connect them with allies in the Valley for future fundraising opportunities."

Scarborough was one of the many investors, founders and advisors who led sessions or provided coaching during the program. Others included: Michelle Zatlyn , COO and Co-founder, CloudFlare, Erica Brescia , COO, GitHub, Sarah Nahm , Founder and CEO of Lever, Jonathan Lowenhar , Founder and Managing Partner, Enjoy the Work, Stewart Guenther , Managing Director, Viaduct Ventures, and many more.

Helen Kontozopoulos, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer at ODAIA, a Toronto -based start-up that helps organizations understand, predict and change customer journeys using AI, was one of the tech leaders who attended and she was thrilled with the hands-on program: "This program not only gave me practical advice, particularly around fundraising, but also facilitated so many great connections to partners on the ground in Silicon Valley that will be invaluable in the future. It was also great to meet and collaborate with other female founders facing similar challenges and opportunities."

The 12 tech companies that attended include:  

  • Coconut Software – powers human engagements in a digital world ( Saskatoon, SK )
  • conversationHEALTH – offers conversational AI solutions for the global life sciences industry ( Toronto, ON )
  • Kiite – delivers AI-enriched sales playbooks ( Waterloo, ON )
  • MetaOptima Technology Inc. – offers an AI-powered software platform for smart skin analytic solutions ( Vancouver, BC )
  • ehsAI (Moore & Gasperecz Global Inc) – is disrupting the Environmental, Health & Safety compliance market with their cloud-based Machine Learning product ( Vancouver, BC )
  • ODAIA – helps organizations understand, predict and change customer journeys using AI ( Toronto, ON )
  • Plum – uses AI to help companies unlock the human potential of their workforce ( Waterloo, ON )
  • ProcedureFlow – offers a reimagined knowledge base tailored for process and procedures ( Saint John, NB )
  • SalonScale Technology – provides innovative technology that promotes sustainable economic growth within the hair salon community ( Saskatoon, SK )
  • Sampler – facilitates data-driven product sampling for consumer brands ( Toronto, ON )
  • The Upside – provides a marketplace technology operating in the luxury resale space ( Calgary , AL)
  • Zii Technologies – a corporate travel platform that connects the dots ( Montreal , QU)

"I am truly excited and honoured to host this exceptional group of founders" said Consul General of Canada in San Francisco Rana Sarkar. "This is neither our first nor last Women in Tech initiative, but it should be our most impactful to-date. After lining up top-level programming including over 100 meetings with some of the world's top venture capitalists and other key players in Silicon Valley, I am confident that we will leave a lasting impression here in the Valley and strengthen the already-robust Canada-Silicon Valley pipeline."

BDC has made it a priority to support the growth and success of women entrepreneurs at every stage of their business, through access to financing and capital, advice and resources. The $200 million Women in Technology Venture Fund is dedicated to investing in women-led technology companies and is helping to build a robust ecosystem to support women in tech and in investment roles today and in the future. Find out more at bdc.ca/womenintech.

About the Trade Commissioner Service
As part of Global Affairs Canada, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) helps Canadian companies and organizations succeed globally. With trade offices across Canada and in 161 offices around the world, the TCS can provide Canadian businesses with on-the-ground intelligence, qualified contacts, partnership opportunities, and practical advice on foreign markets to help them make better, more timely and cost-effective decisions in order to achieve their goals abroad.

About BDC Capital
BDC Capital is the investment arm of BDC- Canada's only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. With over $3 billion under management, BDC Capital serves as a strategic partner to the country's most innovative firms. It offers a full spectrum of risk capital, from seed investments to transition capital, supporting Canadian entrepreneurs who wish to scale their businesses into global champions. Visit bdc.ca/capital.

SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada


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