Ottawa-based App8 wins $100K pitchfest at TiECon Canada 2019

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App8 founder Elias Hage (centre-left) stands with TiECon Canada organizer Bharat Rudra (left), Gill Group managing partner Parm Gill (centre-right) and Joshua Smith, partner at Welch LLP, after winning the TiECon Canada 2019 pitchfest. (Photo by Craig Lord)

Restaurant tech developer App8 took home a sizable pitchfest prize after beating out four other promising Ottawa startups Friday at TiECon Canada.

Named one of Techopia’s startups to watch earlier in the year, App8 helps diners quickly pay their bill without having to wait on a server to take their payment. In addition to annoying customers trying to get on their way, checkout delays can hurt a restaurant’s bottom line by leading to poor table turnover, Hage explained.

He said App8 has so far signed up 65 Ottawa-based restaurants and 4,500 users to its platform, which lets customers pay from their smartphones.

Hage’s pitchfest victory earns App8 a chance at $100,000 in funding from a group of investors in the room at TiECon. The investment, conditional on due diligence and agreement of terms, comes with an additional $50,000 of in-kind services from sponsor companies at the annual entrepreneurship conference.

Friday’s runner-up – but the crowd favourite based on an audience vote – was Welbi CEO Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau. She spoke about the administrative burdens facing senior care facilities, and how the drain on attendants’ time and resources negatively impacts residents – a situation she herself experienced with her grandfather.

Welbi’s platform looks to digitize the largely paper-based operations of these care facilities, providing better data to caretakers and reducing barriers in the administrative process. Welbi, which is set to deploy in 265 care homes this year and hopes to hit 500 in 2020, can track critical data on residents’ health such as whether an individual has been isolated in their room for too long.

Placing third overall was BluWave-ai CEO Devashish Paul. He pitched his company’s artificial intelligence platform that uses IoT technology to help energy utilities such as Hydro Ottawa to more efficiently allot electricity.

The company already landed $2.43 million from the feds’ Sustainable Development Technology Canada fund earlier this year. Paul told the TiECon crowd that the firm is booking $800,000 in revenues so far in 2019, thanks to customers in Canada and abroad – including a project to manage the energy grid of Mumbai.

Coming fourth was Christian Baldwin, co-founder of Spectra Plasmonics, a new startup looking to deliver a critical service to fight opioid abuse. Baldwin explained earlier in the day that there’s a gap in the detection technologies used to identify the presence of dangerous drugs such as fentanyl: front-line workers either need to go through the time-intensive process of checking samples at a lab or use simple test strips in the field that don’t provide adequately precise information.

Spectra Plasmonics is partnering with Anton Paar, a laboratory instruments and technology firm, to augment the company’s existing spectrometer with a single-use material that can provide immediate, lab-quality results for chemical detection.

Baldwin said that he knew the company was on the right track after piloting the technology with a front-line care worker fighting the opioid epidemic in Kingston.

“When I saw her face light up, I knew we were working on applications that matter,” he told the crowd.

In fifth place was Vaultt founder Audrey Bond. Though she sported crutches and a cast on her left leg from a recent fall, Bond got off to a rapid start in the morning’s pitchfest explaining why families are struggling to securely organize their information.

Her platform, Vaultt, is looking to be the go-to platform for tracking critical information such as children’s vaccination records or an ailing parent’s health care needs. She also highlighted key data from her company’s market research: 70 per cent of families are willing to pay money for a solution that makes them better organized and keeps their information secure.