Local Tech Startups Are Staying Ahead of the Game During Covid-19
The current pandemic has proven to be trying times for anyone, let alone startups just getting off the ground. However, thanks to an entrepreneur’s determination and the resources available in Peterborough and the Kawarthas like the Innovation Cluster, many local startups have brought positivity to their company, and their community.
Let’s take a look at how the region’s startups have pivoted towards the current landscape to stay successful.
Pilates on Demand
Owner and CEO: Jessica Dalliday
Pilates on Demand is an online subscription service that provides an abundance of workout videos. From meditation, prenatal to HIIT, anyone can find a healthy activity suited to them.
With her slogan, redefining what healthy looks like, Dalliday’s mission is to provide a platform that allows any person to find healthy exercises that work for them.
As an online subscription service, Dalliday’s startup falls into the services that can thrive during the pandemic, and it has. The opportunity may have fell into her lap, but Dalliday was quick to take action in order to make the most of the moment.
When social distancing began in the Peterborough area, Dalliday altered her marketing strategy. She increased her access to classes, offered a two-week free trial to everyone and two months free for front-line workers. This provided convenience to newcomers of online fitness who may have lost access to their gym, or wanted to try something new.
“We have had to close both of our reformer pilates studios due to COVID-19,” says Becky Sheehey of Sweat Happy Wellness in Lindsay and Peterborough, and instructor for POD. “This not only means our family’s business will be inoperable for an unknown amount of time, but we are leaving over 300 members without therapeutic exercise.”
By providing these online classes, Sheehey and the other POD instructors can continue to help their clients while isolating.
Dalliday was able to speak with the Innovation Specialists from the Innovation Cluster daily to make sure she stayed on the right track, from marketing to financials.
Just over a month since social distancing began, Dalliday says keeping up with business is one of her concerns, which is a great problem to have!
Founder: Jeremy Brooks
As an Archaeology Masters student at Trent University, Brooks was passionate about exploring sites worldwide. As a university student, he knew students like himself don’t have the opportunity to access such places. So, he created AVROD (Archaeological Virtual Reality Online Database). Through developing the platform within the Innovation Cluster’s VR & AR Zone and collaborating with Trent University, he already has two sites users can fully explore.
Since his product already provides educational learning, Brooks saw the opportunity to work with Trent’s Centre For Teaching & Learning and create a training tool for the university’s nursing program.
This platform will allow nursing students to access their education without having to be in a specific location, and promotes healthy guidelines, something that is very relevant as Covid-19 passes.
Founder and CEO : Joanne Ilaqua
Kawartha Lakes resident Joanne Ilaqua is the founder and CEO of Mamasoup, an app designed to provide mobile support to new moms. As everyone around the world gets used to being by themselves, Ilaqua is already specialized in helping mothers who may feel alone – which makes her app more valuable now than ever.
Ilaqua launched the app in 2018, after having 20 years of experience as a nurse, doula and Lamaze childbirth educator supporting new mothers. Ilaqua is just one of the Innovation Cluster clients based in the City of Kawartha Lakes leveraging the current COVID-19 situation to help the community through their company.
“Social distancing is hard for most of us, but the physical, emotional and financial toll of caring for children during a global pandemic is a bigger problem than ever for moms,” says Ilaqua.
Various studies have found stay-at-home mothers are more likely to experience worry and depression due to lack of interaction with others outside of family. With the current pandemic, these experiences are likely to increase. Mamasoup helps counter this by providing a mobile community of support.
Courses are also available on the platform. Due to the pandemic, many women are unable to get to their prenatal classes. Mamasoup is currently offering a 30% discount to their online course: Your C-Section: Before, During and After for the remainder of April 2020.
To encourage new users, Mamasoup is also running cash giveaway contests during March and April for women who download the Mamasoup app and create posts.
Make Stuff Move
Founder: Dan Kitchen
Dan Kitchen is another client that works out of the Cluster’s new Kawartha Lake’s incubator. Make Stuff Move creates educational kits called Servo Socks that help students learn to build projects using everyday materials, hardware and tools. It offers an opportunity for students to use real tools to develop hands-on skills in a variety of classrooms including STEM/STEAM, Art, Science, Woodshop, Robotics, Technology and Math.
As he grows his company, Kitchen catches attention in the area. In 2019 Servo Socks took home first place for the The Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) Innovation Awards in honour of Small Business Week.
While Kitchen was focusing on selling Servo Socks to the educational sector, Covid-19 threw a wrench in his plans.
As a natural innovator and with the assistance from the Cluster’s Innovation Specialists, Kitchen has pivoted to e-learning to keep his products relevant and support students to learn hands-on-skills.
Dan is also volunteering his time, 12,000 buttons worth, actually!
“I just put out a box of 12,000 buttons for a group called Canada Sews which is a Facebook group of over 5,600 members across Canada (that’s 1/5 of what they have requested),” says Kitchen. “To date, over 60,000 buttons have been donated!” Read more about this initiative HERE.
Founder and CEO: Brooke Hammer
Brooke Hammer started Chimp Treats while she was a student at Trent University in 2016. An all fruit frozen dessert that has the same consistency as ice cream, but is completely healthy.
Hammer’s Nicecream product is currently sold coast to coast in retailers such as Whole Foods Market, Loblaws and Healthy Planet. The product was developed using an innovative manufacturing process that allowed the company to create Nicecream, the fruit-only frozen dessert on a large, commercial scale.
As success followed the company, they were ready to launch their exciting new product, Fruitful Smoothies – a healthy, sustainably-packaged and shelf-stable smoothie sold exclusively online and delivered directly to the consumer.
Chimp Treats planned to launch the new product months ahead of time for April 2, but for any company, challenges rise no matter how much is planned ahead. Social distancing hit about two weeks prior, and the company had to question whether to launch. With a great team led by a determined female founder, they moved forward.
The new innovative product, Fruitful Smoothies, which is manufactured in the region and sustainably-packaged launched on April 2 and is now sold exclusively online and delivered directly to the consumer by the Chimp Treats team. Deciding to focus with a soft launch, the team is selling the products initially in Ontario and offered free delivery within 20km of Peterborough. By altering their launch, the team is helping people in isolation or practicing social distancing and alleviating the normal shipping charges.
Another initiative they took on is to donate products to Kawartha Food Share during COVID-19.
“As a small business owner, it is important to me that I give back to my community wherever possible,” says Brooke Hammer, Founder and CEO of Chimp Treats. “We will do everything we can to help our community during this trying time. Not delaying our launch allows us to get this great product into the market and it allows our small business to keep running and for my team to keep working.”
We are excited to announce that we have partnered with @Kaw_FoodShare for donation pick-up! 🚛 We wanted to take this opportunity to help give back to our amazing community that has supported us so much. 💛 Our first round of Peterborough deliveries will be THIS Thursday. #ptbo pic.twitter.com/PNBzr1ujlO
— Chimp Treats (@chimptreats) April 7, 2020
In other feel good news. . .
Jordan Ahee, Founder of Biosphere GPS.
“I am a hobbyist woodworker, so I had a very small collection of PPE in my garage that was still in their original packaging (one N95 mask, industrial goggles, a pack of nylon gloves, and a fully-enclosed body suit typically used by professional painters so it blocks out aerosols), so I donated them to PRHC,” says Ahee.
Danielle Sage (MSc, RP) Director of Client Care, Counselling Connection
Counselling Connection provides accessible counselling/psychotherapy services by offering daytime to evening appointments in person and over the phone. As well, they offer a range of webinars and seminars on topics like stress management. In this current climate, Sage says they have changed their connection options to stay accessible.
“Counselling Connection has changed to virtual sessions to make our services accessible to the public through this hard time,” says Sage. “We are also in the process of putting together a webinar where individuals can learn coping strategies that promote self-care and wellness to help them get through COVID while connecting with and learning from others in the community.”
Graeme Barrie, Founder of Netmechanics
Cyber security can be complicated. Graeme Barrie is focused on simplifying it. Netmechanics is an ecosystem of knowledge, support and tools that help people secure their business. During the past couple months of Covid-19, Graeme has hosted a free cyber security workshop for the community through the Innovation Cluster and also opened the platform’s Cyber Awareness Training for free as business owners and employees work from home.
“I’m going to be adding template policies for download that businesses can put in place quickly to help secure their organizations and I’m going to be adding a quick assessment tool for SMBs to use to gauge their security practices to hopefully get them to use the free tools to secure their organizations,” says Barrie.
Barrie was recently featured in MyKawartha for his work.
Rojit Sorokhaibam, Founder of IDHUBS
IDHUBS is a Lindsay-based startup with a global impact vision. IDHUBS has been working to be the source of Global Digital Identity by providing a unique integrated SAAS collaboration ecosystem platform that is delivered through a white-label portal and custom iOS and Android App for various organizations.
IDHUBS also offers a fully functional B2B and B2C Community eMarketplace. Business owners can do their business easily, securely, and efficiently with multiple payment gateway options and can take advantage of their target customers, who are already connected and verified.
IDHUBS has been adopted by various organizations in the Ontario Region. Taking advantage of the IDHUBS platform solution, a community-focused eMarketplace named www.IDHubsMart.com has been launched to serve the communities of Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough. Since the platform is able to manage any given community or a region, we invite any like-minded community to take advantage of the new platform. The platform will be managed and maintained by the IDHUBS team based in Lindsay. IDHUBS also encourages business owners to be a part of this platform. Those interested can learn more HERE.