University of Western Ontario: Western-founded startups vie for lucrative investment deals

A project that aims to help small- and medium-sized businesses make sense of their carbon reduction efforts is hoping for a $1.5-million infusion from angel investors at the upcoming Western Angels’ Demo Day, hosted by the Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship at Western.

Founded by Sanders Lazier, BA’11, and Kyri Vanguard, Carbonhound is a one-stop-shop to help companies simplify their carbon-footprint management process that bundles measurement, reduction, offset and marketing initiatives into one place.

“Our mission is to empower businesses to have a positive impact on climate change,” the company’s website stated.

Carbonhound offers their solution to companies wanting to adopt climate-positive initiatives but might find the marketplace to be confusing and overwhelming. It’s one of six companies pitching their business to a group of angel investors and venture capitalists for a chance to score significant funding to scale their start-ups.

Angels’ Demo Day is an investor event open to Western-founded companies looking for investors or partners to take their businesses to the next level. It brings together promising start-ups, experienced entrepreneurs, and Western’s community of investors and has helped several Western entrepreneurs secure a combined total of more than $4 million in private investments. Investment asks from startups during Angels’ Demo Day range from $500,000 to $1.5 million, and also include ‘in-kind’ proposals such as industry connections and mentorship.

This year’s Angels’ Demo Day will be held in Toronto on June 8. In addition to Carbonhound, other teams pitching their businesses to potential investors are: Chakra Nutrition; Innovia GEO; SPOT App; Uresta; and Vigilant AI.

Founded by Andy Ly, BA’20 and Justin Li, HBA’21, Chakra Nutrition makes bubble-tea-flavoured protein powder, with each serving containing 27g of protein, 121 calories, and only 1g of fat, sugar and carbohydrates. The idea for the business came to Ly and Li when they were looking for a way to combine their health and fitness goals with their love of bubble tea. With a pre-money valuation of $1.5 million, Chakra Nutrition hopes to raise $500,000 for hiring, marketing and further product development. Since launching the brand on social media, the company has sold out multiple rounds of product releases, gaining $30,000 in revenue.

Innovia GEO is asking for a $1-million investment to scale its environment-friendly, renewable geothermal HVAC systems, helping install zero-emission heating and cooling systems for buildings. Cofounded by Andrew Lee, MBA’14, and Jim Ilkay, Innovia GEO’s solution is based on repurposed techniques from the foundation construction industry that requires drilling into as little as 50 feet of soil to harness geothermal energy, a cost-effective alternative to the traditional process of drilling through more than 100 feet of soil. The investment ask will be used for growing Innovia GEO’s team, continuing research and development, and other supporting marketing, travel and administration expenses.

The gig economy has been a booming sector even before the pandemic hit. Following two years of lockdowns and work fluctuations, the gig economy is estimated to be worth more than $300 billion in North America alone. SPOT App aims to fill a gap in this new economy: helping employers find the right employees, and vice-versa. Powered by technology from Spotwork, SPOT App allows employers to post jobs, and jobseekers to find fast, flexible employment. Founders Darren Perlman, BA’07, and Daniel Copeland are hoping to raise $1 million to support SPOT App’s expansion to the U.S. market. SPOT App has already made nearly $3 million in revenue.

Based on a non-invasive, at-home solution developed by renowned Canadian urogynecologist Dr. Scott Farrell, Uresta helps address bladder leaks related to stress incontinence – a condition that affects one in three women. Canada’s only over-the-counter solution for this condition, Uresta is reusable, clinically proven and approved by both Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With more than $1 million already in revenue, founder Lauren Barker, HBA’14, is looking to raise $750,000.

Cofounded by Andrew Nichols, BA’95, John Craig, and an experienced group of retail industry insiders, professional accountants and big data experts, Vigilant AI helps businesses along the retail supply chain manage transactions. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze and quickly spot payment errors, and ensure every payment term, payment discount, and vendor email discussion is confirmed before a vendor is paid. Craig and Nichols aim to raise $1 million to grow the company’s research and development, and expand its platform’s capacity to handle anticipated increase in customer demand.

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