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Startup Featured: Tandx

Edgar Salas, Tandx

Tandx was a participating startup in Batch#4 of The Accelerator; helping people build a good credit score.

Interview with Founder, Edgar Salas.

Tandx allows users to access credit and build it up, as well as manage their money.

1.     Tell us about yourselves.

I’m Edgar Salas and I am from the Jefé and Founder at Tandx.  I grew up in Mexico City and while I was in school I worked for multiple companies such as Santander Bank, EATON, DURR, Ronal Rims, and Siemens.

I immigrated to Canada ten years ago after the company I was working for sent me to study here. I was 23 years old, but I realized that I should start my own business because my background and previous training gave me the skills I needed. I started a cell phone repair business at the same time the iPhones came out. The demand was high and that helped the business and my clientele grow fast. At the same time, that business allowed me to expand my knowledge to excel in projects with other companies.

I came up with Tandx a year-and-a-half-ago after listening to my customers divulge their struggle to access credit to finance their winter vacations or new phone. Also, I discovered that many people live paycheck-to-paycheck without saving money or setting a financial goal.

2.     What problem have you solved? / How do you solve such a problem?

I discovered a company that was supposed to help people to fix their credit score, but when I looked at their business model I found that companies like these were taking advantage of their customers. They were signing up people on three years contracts with monthly payments and the promise that those payments would be reported to the credit bureau and getting 10 to 20% of their money back after three years. Yet, many people who used these services complained because they were not able to pay the three years, thus they never got their money back. I felt so bad for those people and that's when I put all my knowledge in accounting and economics, together and said to myself, I have the knowledge I have the means, I like the challenge, and I can create a system where people can get access to credit.  At the same time I can help them to build or rebuild their credit score.

We solve this problem by focusing on access to credit, better management of our users’ money, and help building or rebuilding their credit score. Our mobile app is based on an old p2p lending/banking system created for millions of people internationally that allows users to set a financial goal and achieve it by making small weekly payments.

3.     When did you notice this gap in the market?

A few years ago I personally experienced not having a credit score. Around that time I wanted to apply for credit to buy a car. However, I don't like debt so I used to pay for everything in cash; but the man at the dealership explained to me that no matter how much money I made per year, without credit history, they couldn't give me a loan even if I pay 50% deposit. Also, I was shocked when he also told me that there could be a guy with a good credit score and no job applying for a loan and he could have higher chances of receiving that loan. It worried me because I thought that it would take me forever to build a good credit.

5.     What has your experience been like with The Accelerator program?

I’ve gotten to meet very interesting entrepreneurs and other successful founders and learn from their mistakes. Not to mention all the Chinese food we ate during those dinners.

6.     What was the biggest lesson you learned throughout your experience with The Accelerator?

The Valhalla boot camp was one of my favourite parts of The Accelerator. There were many different lessons I learned during that boot camp.

7.     What has been a major accomplishment for you in 2018?

The release of our platform and the way our first users welcomed the product.

8.     What is next for you?

We want to bring more people on to our team. We seek people that share our values and want to make a difference in the way financing is being done today.

Startup Feature: Sidekick

Sidekick CEO, Doug MacKay.

Sidekick was a participating startup in Batch#4 of The Accelerator; connecting users to all the business information they need.

Interview with Founder and CEO, Doug Mackay.

Sidekick allows users to conveniently simplify the cloud procurement experience. It helps solve how and where people find and select business solutions within an industry.

1.     Tell us about yourself.

I’m Sidekick. It’s a company of one person. It started two years ago in my basement, along with a few cases of coffee.  

2.     What problem have you solved? / How do you solve such a problem?

I created Sidekick to solve two problems: finding software in an increasingly cluttered world and which local expertise is available that can help me make the software work for my business.  Sidekick solves these problems through big data web scraping and sorting algorithms to provide business people with a single pane of glass to source software solutions and expertise around the world. Each solution or company has their individualized detail pages and are geo-located for easy access. This enables businesses to discover new solutions and engage with those experts directly, through our platform.

3.     When did you notice this gap in the market?

I found as an IT leader that I could never keep up with the vast array of solutions available and had little awareness into local expertise. Previously I relied on Google or secondary research like Gartner, but it was all marketing and advertising. I experienced this inconvenience for years before I dreamt up Sidekick.

4.     What is your company culture?

Well, there’s a dog on the couch, the music playing and we’re enjoying the view from the basement. I like to think that we take chances and learn new things every day. We’re courageous, nimble and willing to take a chance.

5.     What has your experience been like with The Accelerator program?

My Accelerator experience has been great. I’ve learned how to pitch better, made close friends and met a fantastic mentor who’s helping me pivot my company.

6.     What was the biggest lesson you learned throughout your experience with The Accelerator?

The biggest lesson is TALK LOUDER! That was Pat Lor, from the last session. It was possibly the best, most riveting session so far.

7.     What has been a major accomplishment for you in 2018?

My most major accomplishment was realizing that I didn’t really have a product yet. My mentor, Dave Nagy, helped identify that tiny little problem.

8.     What is next for you?

I’m actively working with a major Oil & Gas services company to help make my business pivot a success. This is my next thing. A pivot isn’t a tiny thing. It’s like remaking a car after you bought it. My hope is to have that agreement finalized before demo night. Otherwise, you’ll see me at Starbucks. Grande Latte? Just kidding. I have another product (a real product) up my sleeve, just cooking away.

Want to learn more? Go to www.sidekick.co or call 403-8603741.



Startup Feature: Craft Tapp

Craft Tapp was a participating startup in Batch #4 of The Accelerator, connecting local breweries to consumers.

INTERVIEW with Founder, Irshad Shariff

Craft Tapp uses a subscription and on-demand mobile application to connect users with local breweries for home-delivered craft beer.

Aamal Samji and Irshad Shariff.

Aamal Samji and Irshad Shariff.

1. Tell us about yourself

We’re Craft Tapp, a business-to-customer platform connecting local microbreweries directly to

consumers using our subscription and on-demand mobile application.

2. What problem does your company solve?

We have started to unify the fragmented beer market in Canada.

3. How do you solve such a problem?

By putting all locally owned microbreweries on a platform void of corporate branding and

marketing. Microbreweries now have the ability to control their products and price points to be

able to sell more of a variety as well as maintaining product integrity; all while increasing their

margins.

4. When did you notice this gap in the market?

We noticed this gap by being avid craft beer enthusiasts. We realized it was hard to get new

products, let alone fresh products at a reasonable price. Also, It was also difficult to stay up to

date with new breweries coming on board. Of these breweries, it was difficult to make a trip

down to certain parts of the city to try them out or try a limited edition beer.

5. What is your company culture?

Everyone was brought to this team because of their expertise. Our goal is to hear everyone’s

ideas because each person sees things differently. We embrace all sexes, ages, races, and

sexual orientations; meaning there’s a zero-tolerance policy for any harassment. Our vision is

aligned with one another in that we are always helping local businesses and we aim to taste

each new masterpiece from our partners as well. We want hungry and ambitious individuals

looking to make a positive impact for local business by helping them go up against corporate

brand. We are also looking to create an “up or out” culture. By bringing in ambitious people, we want to make sure they are feeling valued by driving more responsibility through a promotion after their first year or by having these individuals go on and create their own startups. We want people like this who are naturally motivated because it shows us that they will not settle and will constantly look for ways to improve.

6. What has your experience been like with the Accelerator program?

It has been a great experience! The Accelerator has been able to connect us with key

individuals to help us become better entrepreneurs. However, the relationship doesn't end there; we are able to reach out to these individuals and receive assistance with the growth of our company beyond The Accelerator’s program. Furthermore, we have been established in a competitive program, met salient investors and have become a part of the tight-knit community of Calgary-based entrepreneurs. This process facilitates our introduction to many individuals who would normally be almost impossible to meet.

7. What was the biggest lesson you learned throughout your experience with the

Accelerator?

All the networking events, pitches, and workshops have explained that a company should never go on autopilot just because it has become profitable. Occasionally, difficult decisions have to be made to increase revenue streams; such as, pivoting a company or discontinuing a part of the business. Additionally, investors look for revenue, profitability and scalability. After which, I realized one of my components of the business was not scalable and I had to terminate that part and focus on the scalable model. The most difficult part was letting it go but the direct contact from investors and the feedback really helped justify the strategic decision whereas otherwise I would be hindering my own growth. It was good to know that other entrepreneurs have faced similar obstacles and learned from their experiences.

8. What has been a major accomplishment for you in 2018?

A major accomplishment has been our revenue from customer subscriptions. This allows us to gauge the market needs for the service we are providing and prepare us for our next strategic developments.


9. What is next for Craft Tapp?

We are launching our on-demand services in Calgary very soon! We are also expanding our

subscription model in Ontario this December.


Want to learn more?

Visit our website https://crafttapp.ca for information and our social media handles or you can email us at info@crafttapp.ca



Startup Feature: MicroMech

MicroMech sends expert auto mechanics to your home or office - saving you time, money, and stress.

INTERVIEW with Co-Founders Jeff Ehmann and Richard Roseboom.

1. Tell us about yourselves.

We’re both passionate entrepreneurs and have run other companies in the past. We met through a mutual friend and hit it off immediately based on our shared viewpoint of using business as a tool to have a positive impact and influence on the world. From there, we started collaborating frequently and together built MicroMech to what it is today.

MICROMECH (2).jpg

Jeff Ehmann is a Prairie boy from Saskatchewan and a Civil Engineer (U of S), and founded two successful companies by the time he was 19. He moved to Calgary in 2014 to work as a Structural Engineer and came up with the early concept for MicroMech while working his 9-5 job.

Richard Roseboom is a Calgary native who took a unique approach to education - by founding his own successful marketing/cloud software firm. Through this, he gained experience working across many industries and was on board for leaving the creative side for something more scalable when MicroMech came along.

2. What problem have you solved?

We founded MicroMech to solve current problems in the auto service industry – namely the low trust in the industry, the inconvenience of servicing your vehicle, and the high costs related to services. We’re also tackling ethical issues by improving the work environments for our mechanics; this is in response to the mistreatment of mechanics in shops due to high pressure and shop politics. Long-term developments include a significant opportunity to solve industry problems related to vehicle data collection and the remote diagnostics of vehicle issues. We’re excited to roll out our next product (hush-hush) to help solve these issues in 2019.

3. How do you solve that problem?

We created MicroMech to employ technology-enabled services to send expert, licensed auto mechanics directly to you to service your car from your home or office. Mobile mechanics help our customers save time and eradicate the headache of getting their vehicles to and from a shop.

We’re also able to build more trusting relationships with our customers by providing a detailed, fixed-price quote - before they book. We take the approach of educating our customers rather than simply trying to upsell them. We also provide competitive rates on our services and work with some of the highest trained mechanics based on our business model and mobile service locations.

4. When did you notice this gap in the market?

In 2014, shortly after moving to Calgary, Jeff had to receive an out of province inspection on his Corolla. This required three trips to a local shop with the inconvenience of juggling his schedule and a family member’s to get rides back and forth. The hassle of this auto service experience impacted multiple people; Jeff knew there had to be a better alternative for auto service and began working to find that solution.

5. What is your company culture?

We have a fun, team-focused and results-driven culture that empowers individuals with the freedom to step up, take ownership, and get the job done right. Our team is pretty much our family.

6. What has your experience been like with The Accelerator program?

We’ve really enjoyed being a part of The Accelerator. The program has helped us to make some significant connections with investors and mentors, which has been valuable for our business. It’s also incredible to get to interact with other local entrepreneurs to support them and be part of their journey.

7. What was the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your experience with The Accelerator?

Through the Accelerator, we’ve continued to see how much can be learnt from collaborating with other founders and startups, even if they have nothing to do with our industry. Collaboration has always been valuable for us.

8. What has been a major accomplishment for you in 2018?

In 2018, we’re nearing our first $1,000,000 in revenue generation. That's been a pretty nice accomplishment for us as it validates what we are doing. We’ve also been able to take the top spot as the highest rated on-demand mechanic service in Canada; further validating that customers love what MicroMech is doing.

9. What is next for you?

We plan on continuing to really refine our marketing and operational systems to be able to handle rapid growth and are looking forward to a big year ahead. We’re also excited to release our next product - MicroMech Connect - a connected car device, to further advance our service in 2019.

Want to learn more? Visit us at www.micromech.net and get our social media links or call us at 1-844-285-0055.

Support MicroMech and other local tech startups at The Accelerator Demo Day: Batch #4

Buy Tickets Now



PwC Canada’s Vision to Reality Awards

 
PwC Canada V2R
 

Vision to Reality (#V2R) is back and ready to celebrate Canada’s forward-thinking organizations! Our friends over at PwC Canada hold the same values we do in regards to recognizing innovative organizations that disrupt the status-quo and they do so by recognizing them in the following four categories:

  1. The Visionary: An emerging startup with funds ranging from $0-$50M

  2. The Builder: A mid-marketing organization that breaks through in new ways with funds ranging from $50M-$1B

  3. The Reinventor: A large enterprise that is innovative in business methods with funds ranging from $1B+

  4. The Accelerator: A public sector organization that propels new ideas and companies forward

Since our program focuses on local start-ups, we like seeing that Builders and Reinventors have a channel to be awarded for their efforts. The recognition of each category is salient, as these individuals and businesses are a part of the driving force towards a better future. We want to bring business back to the minds of people who encounter the same situations as we do every day. We’re talking about those ‘rebels’ who fund an idea that disrupts the ordinary. The V2R awards assist in building a community of forward-thinkers and innovators while exposing them to the marketplace as one of the top 20 finalists and four winners of #V2R. As a local Accelerator, we thrive on competition, innovative minds, and future possibilities.

We know that change isn’t easy. But that’s exactly what Alberta’s economy is doing. We see it in the new startups popping up, and the new deals happening right here in our province (read PwC’s InvestAB report here). That is why we believe these awards are so important. Plus, it gives us a reason to join PwC and our fellow Canadians to celebrate exceptional ideas.

Applications for the 2019 awards are now open! Go to  https://www.pwc.com/ca/en/vision-to-reality.html before the deadline on December 21, 2018 and start your application today.

We can’t wait to see where your innovation takes you!

Once you have applied and you are waiting on the results, come join us at The Accelerator Batch #4 Demo Day on November 26th!