Category Archives: Innovation Factory

Lion’s Lair returns in 2014

lionslairHamilton, ON (March 19, 2014) – Innovation Factory and The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce announced today that they are accepting applications for the 2014 LiON’S LAIR competition.

Entrepreneurs interested in submitting a business plan for consideration are invited to a Pre-Submission Workshop on Wednesday, April 2 from 6pm-9pm (to register visit:

The online application deadline is April 30, 2014. Full event terms and conditions, application form and directions can be found at the LiON’S LAIR website at

The fourth annual LiON’S LAIR competition will provide 10 companies the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of top business experts, the “Lions,” to solicit over $100,000 in cash and professional resources.

Last years’ winners, RZR Skate Blades, Schopf Innovations (maker of The Wedgie), Trend Trunk and Walkbug, each took home a portion of the $152,000 prize, awarded by the Lions: Carmela Trombetta (RBC), Paul Lee-Chin (Manulife Securities), Mike Morreale (CFL Players’ Association), Tim Richard (Weever Apps), and Blair McKeil (McKeil Marine).

“Participating in the LiON’S LAIR competition was very beneficial to our business – it not only helped us develop an effective pitch, but offered exposure to the entire community,” stated Chris Verticchio, Owner & Director of Operations for RZR Skate Blades, the grand prize winner of the 2013 competition. “The ongoing support we’ve received since the competition has been phenomenal as well.”

The applications received will be evaluated by a panel of independent judges who will select 10 companies to advance and participate in training sessions throughout the summer. These sessions have been designed to help the finalists prepare their pitch to face the “Lions” in a television studio environment. Clips from the taping will be shown at the competition’s final gala event on October 2, 2014 at Carmen’s Banquet Centre, where the winners will be announced live onstage.

Last years’ final event attracted over 450 of Hamilton’s startup and small business supporters.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing this competition back again. Every year we see so many new startups all vying for a spot in top ten,” stated David Carter, Executive Director at Innovation Factory. “It is also amazing to see the entire community rally around the future success of these startups.”

Finalists that didn’t take home a portion of the prize package still found great value in the overall experience.

“From our participation in the last LiON’S LAIR, I would encourage any startup looking to develop their knowledge and their business to apply,” stated James Henry, co-founder of PainQuILT in the 2013 LiON’S LAIR. ”Even though we didn’t end up with a prize, the journey, with training and exposure to business leaders, was fantastic.”

About The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Representing over 1,000 businesses and institutions that employ more than 75,000 people in Hamilton, Ontario, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is the city’s 169 year-old voice of business and thought leader in commerce. In addition to helping provide solutions to the day-to-day challenges of its member businesses, the Hamilton Chamber provides leadership on city building initiatives that are designed to stimulate commerce and increase prosperity in the community.

About Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is the Regional Innovation Centre for Hamilton in the Ontario Network of Excellence, leveraging funding and support from all three levels of government and the city’s top private sector and institutional partners. Our goal is to stimulate economic activity in this city by helping Hamilton businesses embrace the principles of innovation.

B2B Sales Lessons from GetGlue

fraserdemocampLast week’s Sales Peer to Peer at the Innovation Factory in Hamilton featured Fraser Kelton, COO of New York-based GetGlue.

Fraser was in town to speak on the B2B sales lessons he’s learned at GetGlue, one of the pioneers in providing second screen experiences.

As a side note, TV guide app company i.TV recently announced the acquisition of GetGlue and their 4.5 million registered users for its second-screen and TV check-in service.

Here are some key takeaways from the presentation:

1) When It Comes to Startups, There Are 2 Types of People – Building and Sales

When you work for a startup you’re either doing one or the other – there’s no room for anyone else on the team. As we like to say at VA Partners, everyone is in sales for a new business.

2) Sell What You Have

At the beginning of the sales effort, because you don’t have results yet, you have to sell what you have. For GetGlue’s first close that meant the opportunity for a really great PR story for their client.

3) Make Your Customers Look Good By Helping Them Be Successful

This aligns very well with the lesson above. Following GetGlue’s first sale, their first customer’s decision maker was promoted in part because of her decision to go with GetGlue.

4) Leverage an Existing User Community Where Possible

For GetGlue they were able to leverage fans/users to help close new clients by having them relay their feelings on the solution

5) Mining Linkedin is a Top Meeting Generation Strategy

GetGlue used direct connections to find 2nd connections through Linkedin. The response rate and success rate was significantly better than with cold calling or cold emailing.

6) Keep Tweaking Your Sales Pitch Until You Find One That Repeatedly Works Well

When GetGlue started, the team wasn’t sure whether their story would resonate with prospects. They tried different slide decks in meetings and continuously evaluated the results until they settled on the best story, one that worked time and time again.

7) Always Deepen Your Relationships

GetGlue would start with new clients through one specific area of their business, usually around a particular show. They would then methodically go through the account, referencing past work, until they had all the business within an account.

8) Integrate Into Your Customers Regular Processes

By providing analytics and interfacing with many parts of their customers’ businesses, the GetGlue solution became fundamental to measuring the success of many broadcasts.

9) Momentum is the Oxygen for Startups

It’s important to remember to always continue moving forward, even in small steps when you need to, to make your business successful.

10) Make Sure That Onboarding is Very Easy for End Users

It can be expensive and time consuming to sign new users or customers. If they abandon soon after you get them signed up, all of your sales and marketing effort is wasted in the blink of an eye.

If you live or work in the Hamilton area, please join us for the next Sales Peer to Peer at the Innovation Factory on February 5th, 2014.  If you’re looking for other B2B sales strategies to help your startup grow, check out our white paper on building a startup sales team.

Interview with John Hartnett about new cofounder dating event

Check out the following interview with John Hartnett (@John_Hartnett_) over at Innovation Factory (@itbeginswithIF) where he talks about the new cofounder dating event taking place this Thursday.


johnTell me about yourself.

I am a born and raised Hamiltonian, former McMaster Varsity football player and Economics BA now doing a coop term at Innovation Factory as part of my MBA candidacy at McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business. I decided to pursue a coop at Innovation Factory because since taking Economic Development in my undergrad, I have had a great passion for promoting Hamilton to the business world. We are a proud city that is located in a pivot point for travel and delivery from the U.S. to Toronto but for one reason or another Hamilton has not seen the booming success I believe should be a natural progression for such a promising location. In my opinion this city is on the brink of mass growth but I want to see it grow in an ideal fashion, from the center outward. We have already seen so much change in the past few years but it is not enough, it is time for Hamilton to be recognized for its technical abilities and events like the Cofounder Dating are channels to push that development.


What’s your favourite thing about working with startup companies in Hamilton?

I really enjoy the variety of ideas and applications the start up community in the Hamilton brings to the table. We see a vast array of innovations ranging from tech, social and health science fields and the city hosts both the resources and location to be able to bring these innovations into realization. Being a ‘Steel City’ that now has more jobs in health sciences than any other field there is a lot of change going on and embracing these changes has lead to positive growth within the city. People who see the start ups at our events and workshops are often blown away, easily becoming interested in learning more about them while offering connections and encouragement.


How did you get the idea for this event?

After noticing that while many start ups come to the Innovation Factory with a great, unique idea, and an understanding of either their target customer and business model, or their product capabilities, many are in need of a missing piece. Often small start-up companies will have people with the business skills while lacking a programmer, or all the software skills necessary to create a product but no one who knows how to approach the market effectively. After seeing this issue arise time after time, and hearing about the success of the start up weekends and cofounder dating sessions all over North America, my manager Tammy Hwang and I discussed the idea of hosting a less formal, introductory opportunity for people interested in finding a cofounder in the Hamilton area specifically.


What is this Thursday night’s co-founder dating event all about?

This event is all about introductions and connecting on a personal level, the business/software expertise are a given based on our screening process, leaving plenty of time and room to find a cofounder who fits in with your team on a more personal level. To allow this natural fit we will start with networking over snacks and refreshments, move into a structured round robin where all start ups and anyone else who wants to get a chance to introduce themselves very briefly with a time cap of about 3 minutes. During this time anyone interested in meeting that person can signal interest and he/she will be put on a list to be sent contact information of the speaker following the event (that way there is no risk of missing your chance to connect due to shyness or networking hogs). Finally, we will conclude with about an hour or so of casual networking and we may or may not head over to a pub to get to know one another over a beer or two!




What sorts of companies will be their pitching? Can you tell us anything about the types of ideas / problems they are working on?

We have a variety of companies looking for a new cofounder coming to the dating event. I am not able to publicly share all of their ideas but there are innovations in the health services area for improved treatment, social gaming, modifying restaurant systems through technology, advanced manufacturing products, and several other innovations that are very different from the above, and one another. They’re definitely all worth checking out, and no further commitment beyond attending Thursday is necessary!


Why should software developers come out to this event? What’s in it for them?

This is their opportunity to be part of a success story from the grass levels! Having said that, it was very important to the organizers of this Cofounder Dating event to ensure that the applicants are high quality start ups that have clarified, prior to registration, that they are willing to offer up equity, cash, or some other substantial return to a cofounder. Furthermore, most of the companies attending are in direct need of a software developer to create or improve their software or application. Of those companies, we have selected start ups that have a unique offering to the market in order to guarantee anyone who is brought on to a team some minimal chance of success following the event with their new found team.


How can they register to attend the event?

Anyone interested in applying can email me at with a brief summary of their qualifications. This process ensures that the business and software registrants are also qualified in the same matter that the start ups looking for a cofounder were screened. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time at this event. Our goal is to foster growth and success by pairing ideal start ups with new cofounders that have great potential.

Thanks for the heads up, but this event isn’t for me…

Can’t make it? Don’t like the idea of a networking event? Feel free to contact me anyway! Innovation Factory is always looking to meet Hamilton’s young professionals and software guru’s. Come in and meet our team, join our mailing list or request a contact in the case that a certain idea or entrepreneur ever comes by! We’re ready to believe (in) you!


batmanoskeeweeweeHamilton Tiger-Cats. Great football team… or the greatest football team?

Oskie Wee Wee, Oskie Waa Waa, Holy Mackinaw, Tigers … Eat ‘em RAW!!

As I said, I was born and raised in Hamilton, that means I have had front row seats to many of the major secrets that the Hamilton community has to offer, including the pride and love for our beloved Hamilton Tiger Cats. I remember the Ron Lancaster era as if it was yesterday. The heartbreaking grey cup loss of ’98 followed by our last Grey Cup win of ’99 with arguably the best Tigercat squads of all time! What a team that was, featuring the likes of Danny McManus, Darren Flutie, Ozzy Osbaldiston, Joe Montford, Morreale, Rob Hitchcock, Akins, Ronald Williams and Amerson… Wow nostalgia overload… Now we are all set to take back the Grey Cup again this year with Burris at the helm. After years of struggling our secondary is flying around making some big hits and our offense is ready to bring some noise against the Argos this weekend. And in case anyone supporting Toronto is reading this, get ready for Sunday, you’re about to realize that NOBODY BLOWS LIKE THE ARRRRRRGOS!!!

Sold out Hacking Health Cafe energizes healthtech community


Hacking Health (@hackinghealthca) started off last year in Montreal in an effort to connect developers and designers with healthcare professionals at a hackathon event in order to reduce the risk for healthcare innovations to develop solutions to healthcare problems. If that sounds a bit familiar, it’s probably because we have an event in Hamilton called AppsForHealth (@AppsForHealth) that recognized the same opportunity to connect developers, designers and healthcare professionals! The Hacking Health hackathon that took place in Montreal was so successful that cities like Toronto and Vancouver have now held Hacking Health events, and Hacking Health Cafe events have started up in cities all over to connect local healthtech communities:

Cafes are informal meetups to discuss and debate digital health in your city. Hacking Health Cafés are where people and ideas mingle.

Cafes were started by a local team in Montreal who wanted a space where people could easily and frequently discover ideas and people in digital health. The first few cafes in Montreal and Toronto filled up within hours of announcing the event so we realized there was a strong demand for a means to connect innovators interested in healthcare.

Cafes are an easy way for organizers and participants to foster a dynamic community. Cafes increase the surface area and diffusion of that reaction between different disciplines, which is the core mission at Hacking Health. If there isn’t one in your area, become a leader and let us help you organize one.

If you are looking to see what is happening locally or want to meet the talent you’re missing to make your vision a reality, find a Hacking Health Cafe near you.




The first ever Hamilton Hacking Health Cafe took place last night at McMaster Innovation Park. The event was sponsored by Innovation FactoryHamilton Economic Development and the McMaster eHealth graduate program, and the speakers at the event were Dr. Michael Pray (@drmpray) and Duane Bender (@duane_bender).

Dr. Pray is a family doctor, electronic medical record user since 1998, associate lead physician for IT at the Hamilton Family Health Team, and Peer to Peer Leader for Ontario MD. Dr. Pray talked about his role as a family doctor and gave an outline of who’s who in the local system. He presented a brief outline of an example with a clinical problem (telederm referrals), the way thing are set up now, and an example of how new technologies (i.e. smartphones) can make this process easier.

Duane Bender is currently a faculty member and the Principal Investigator for the MEDIC Centre and Applied Research program at Mohawk College which focuses on the application of information and communications technologies to healthcare (“eHealth” and “mhealth”). MEDIC is a centre of excellence in the promotion, use, and testing of international healthcare information standards to achieve healthcare system interoperability as well as incorporating the use of mobile technology into healthcare.




The event was yet another success for the local community! There were about 50-60 attendees total, with a healthy mix of healthcare professionals and software developers. People stayed long after the talks were over to get to know one another. I know at least one healthcare professional with an idea was able to connect with a few developers that night that may be able to help them build the solution.




The best part from my perspective was hearing that Hacking Health is going to keep doing events in Hamilton. Another Hacking Health Cafe is being planned for January 2014, and a full blown Hacking Health Hackathon is being planned for May 2014. You can join their mailing list to be notified when these events are announced.

And that’s not all for upcoming healthtech events. MacGDA (@MacGDA1) is hosting a talk on The Gamification of Medicine & Education – Insights into Psychology on Tuesday November 5th. The AppsForHealth conference that has been hosted at Mohawk College for the last 3 years will also be back for a 4th edition in 2014.



Events that more regularly bringing together and catalyse the local healthtech community are a great sign of things to come for an area long-suspected to be a potential strength for Hamilton. Also, a big hats off to David Kemper (@dkemper) and Erin O’Neil (@erinlauraoneil) for stepping up and organizing this event for the community (Erin’s also the chapter lead for Ladies Learning Code in Hamilton too).

Check out some more pictures from Hamilton’s first ever Hacking Health Cafe:











TrendTrunk the people’s choice at Lion’s Lair 2013

Lion’s Lair 2013 took place at Carmen’s (@CarmensInc) last night and like the last two iterations it was the biggest celebration of entrepreneurism in Hamilton all year. The competition pits 10 diverse companies against one another for $150,000 in cash and services. The contestants pitch their business to a panel of local “lions” in a manner similar to Dragon’s Den. The lions then decide how to distribute the $150,000 in cash and services amongst the ten finalists.

The last 2 years involved 3 winners, this year it was extended to 4. Lion’s Lair concludes with a dinner / gala event at Carmen’s where the community gathers to hear the pitches and feedback from the lions (in videos produced by Mindy Tweedle).

This year’s first and second place winners were RZR Skate Blades and Wedgie. Check out the CBC Hamilton and Hamilton Spectator coverage, as well as the interviews with the winners on Bill Kelly’s AM900 show:



seanThe third place winner was TrendTrunk (@TrendTrunk), a platform for buying, selling or donating fashionable clothing & accessories. TrendTrunk is a DemoCamp-alumnus founded by Sean Snyder (@TrendTrunkCEO). The company was spun off from Sean’s gift card swapping website Swapopolis:

The idea for Trend Trunk came when he noticed that the majority of cards being bought and sold on Swapopolis were in the fashion and dining categories. Snyder said he saw the opportunity to let members sell not just gift cards, but clothing and accessories.

It’s been receiving high praise ever since. In fact, TrendTrunk won a new category of award at Lion’s Lair: The People’s Choice award. Using a Weever Apps created mobile poll the audience in attendance that night voted for TrendTrunk to take home the award. I thought the people’s choice award was a great new addition to the Lion’s Lair formula!




Finally this year there was 4th winner at Lion’s Lair, Walkbug (@Walkbug), the winners of Startup Weekend Hamilton 3! I’ll admit I was kinda biased and extra happy to see Walkbug win, in addition to being a Startup Weekend alumnus several people on the team are close to me and I know they’ve been working hard all summer to get this far. Walkbug recently released an early version of their app for iOS and Android, an awesome accomplishment considering the team only met each other for the first time a few months ago. I’m sure the Walkbug team would love to hear your feedback on their app, so if you’d like to help them out give it a whirl and let them know what you think using the apps feedback button.


Get your LiON’S LAIR tickets before October 3rd!

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Factory have come together again to present the third annual LiON’S LAIR, a celebration of entrepreneurship in Hamilton that will provide local start-ups with much needed professional resources and offer broad exposure to the community.

Join us at the LiON’S LAIR gala on October 10, 2013, for an exciting event as ten Hamilton companies pitch their ideas to a panel of top Hamilton business experts in an attempt to solicit over $100,000 in cash and resources.




Innovation Night SHOWDOWN: Another IF Success Story!

Originally posted on


showdownYes, another success story from our own #HamOnt Innovation Factory and I’m so so pleased to have attended this big Innovation Night SHOWDOWN Pitch Contest just this past Wednesday evening!

So, what is a “Pitch Contest?” you might ask…and it’s really just what it says. Past winners and nominees from within the Innovation Night events held all year, get a two minute timed presentation to pitch their company to a crowd of more than 300 and they do it with style and drive!

Talk about an event where you can see startup founders at their best…this event is always well attended and I learned that there was a sizeable waiting list past the 300 registered attendants too! Looks like we all appreciate passion, eh!

Ably MC’d by our own Innovation Factory ED, Dave Carter….the night went smoothly and showed (at least to me) a real sense of community and involvement in our startup eco-system….it was a perfect pitch contest and much of that goes to Emily Kinread the IF Marketing Manager too! #Kudos Emily…job well done…so, the list of the startups was as follows….


As you can see there were 13 startups pitches to listen to….and then everyone who attended got to place their own single vote for the startup pitch that they felt was the best….and that was done over a 15 minute period. It was fun to see the startup founders “work” the crowd by answering questions about their startups and try to cajole or persuade voters to vote for them!

At the end of that voting, the two finalists were announced…and it was Marie Pavone of MenusOnly and Ethan Do of OverAir who took the stage and each got a final “skill testing” question from our MC, Dave Carter.

I thought each answered their queries well enough and then via a final show of hands, the winner was announced, and it was Ethan Do of OverAir. #Kudos Ethan for a great pitch – and yes, to Marie too….both startups are great ideas awaiting implementation and I know both will be true #HamOnt success stories too! And yes, if this sounds a bit familiar, our Innovation Factory ran the same event last year, and you can read about that one here!

Innovation Factory Lunch ‘n Learn – From Rocket Science to Software

fehranPlease join iF on Tuesday May 28, 2013 for an informative and free lunch and networking opportunity presented by KPMG, as Ferhan Bulca presents: From Rocket Science to Software: Startup Stories From a Seasoned Intrapreneur.

What is the similarity between developing a commercial laser communications system for a satellite constellation and building a cloud business for an IT company? The Answer: amazing learning opportunities. Ferhan will share what he learned from two multi-year, multi-million dollar, multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-many-things development projects.

Each iF Lunch ‘n Learn also features Factory FiVE: a 5-minute presentation by an iF client to show you what our innovators are up to! This month’s Factory FiVE features Green Pixel.
Join us in our new Innovation Destination after our Lunch ‘n Learn for further discussion and dessert!

Be sure not to miss out on this informative and fun session! Register today!

Please forward this to all of the innovators you know. Tickets are limited – Register today!

About Ferhan Bulca
An independent consultant in business strategy and innovation, Ferhan has gained extensive experience by leading international multi-million dollar product and service development initiatives for Canadian innovation leader companies in aerospace, life sciences, information technology, among others. He has more than 15 years of experience in strategy, global research & development, partnerships, mergers & acquisitions, commercialization of business lines. Collectively, Ferhan secured a total of over $30M budgets from boards and managed these budgets to create businesses. He captured three new and previously unserved markets that resulted in a total of $15M+/year revenue.

In addition, he is the creator and lead instructor of Business Innovation Certificate program and the co-creator of New Product Development and Commercialization Workshop, both offered at University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

About Green Pixel
Green Pixel ( is Rich Halliday and Joe Pendon, a tag-team of game-loving individuals who just happen to have the skills and passion to create their own games! To date they’ve released two Flash games and an iOS game and currently have several projects in our production queue. Together, their goal is to make and share games that they would play and enjoy themselves!

About Innovation Factory
Innovation Factory ( is a not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centre, located in Hamilton, ON committed to connecting and enabling active collaboration between the city’s communities of science, business, government, academia and finance to accelerate the innovation process and amplify the economic and social impact of key new ideas and discoveries. Funded by the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE), we are focused on strengthening the next generation of wealth and jobs generators.

About KPMG
KPMG International’s ( member firms have 140,000 accounting professionals, including more than 7,900 partners, in 146 countries. Their clients include business corporations, governments, and public sector agencies and not-for-profit organizations.



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