K-W receives tech funds

Early last week Kitchener-Waterloo MP Peter Braid announced that the government of Canada would be investing $4.4 million dollars into five of K-W’s most exciting and innovative businesses. The investments are being made through FedDev, an agency that was created in 2009 to respond to economic challenges in Ontario.

“This is just a significant investment by FedDev, in these very exciting, innovative, startup companies in Waterloo. These companies have high growth potential and have the seeds to become significant global players,” explained Braid.

“We’re supporting innovation because innovation is an important driver of economic growth and job creation,” he continued. Braid went on to illustrated just how rapidly Waterloo is developing by adding that in the past year Waterloo had an average of one start up created every single day.

“What makes Waterloo unique is that we have all the ingredients for successful centres of innovation. Those ingredients are two excellent post secondary [institutions] and the entrepreneurial spirit in Waterloo; we have mentorship centres like Communitech, and lastly we have a spirit of collaboration,” he added.

Douglas Lusted, the founder and president of Weston Expressions Inc., a company  and mentorship organization that functions to facilitate startup businesses, mentioned how this investment will aid local businesses.

“It’s amazing how far you can really go if you’re a start up with a little amount of money. I’m a hardware startup so I require a lot more capital, but even with the funds I’ve raised, that included no equity, were enough to build a prototype,” said Lusted.

Lusted himself has won similar awards and grants so far to help finance his startup.

Sweet Tooth Inc. is expecting to realize tremendous benefits and rapid development in the near future, as they are one of the five companies that received a share of the $4.4 million government investment.

The company serves to give electronic commerce developers and merchants the tools to provide unique and engaging points/rewards programs, in an effort to foster customer loyalty.

“We’ve got about 2,400 merchants around the world right now running our stuff, and the thing is that each loyalty program is branded towards them, which means that you might have even used Sweet tooth and not even known it,” explained Steve Deckert, the marketing manager & rewards specialist at Sweet Tooth.

One of the largest companies Sweet Tooth works with is Delta Airlines in the Philippines. Deckert added, however, that they do a lot of work with local businesses, such as Ren’s Pets, that has a branch out of Kitchener.

Acknowledging the benefit of the grant, Deckert said, “These [investments] are crucial. It is one of the reasons that Waterloo is the startup capital of the world. The reason why it helps us out is it allows us to be competitive, we don’t have to worry about taking talent out of Waterloo and going somewhere like Silicon Valley.”

“We’re not going to be known for RIM anymore, we’re going to be known as the startup hub,” concluded Deckert.


By Ravi Balakrishnan

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