Vancouver’s GrowLab Selects Five Startups

by Jordan Richardson on August 16, 2011

Back in the dot-com bubble, the startup meant everything. These high-growth companies were to be the future of the world of business and technology. Venture capital opportunities provided fuel for the fire, but many startups failed even with funding. Success stories, like Google’s, may be rare, but the notion of the startup is still going strong – even with a scarcity of venture capital.

Vancouver’s GrowLab markets itself as a company that “accelerates startups.”

On Monday, GrowLab selected five startups from a pool of 300 applicants to be the first to get support. The “winning teams” will join GrowLab’s inaugural class and will receive between $20,000 and $25,000 in funding along with access to seasoned industry veterans and three months of free office space in Vancouver. At the end of the three month period, the teams will be able to receive up to $150,000 in follow-up funding from the Business Development Bank of Canada.

The teams, in exchange for GrowLab’s support, give the accelerator a small amount of equity as well as their commitment to the program’s duration.

The winning teams include Matygo, a cloud-based education platform; Shape Collage, a program that automates photo collages; Placeling, a travel review service; SunnyTrail, an analytics program; and Ecquire, an email plugin.

GrowLab has as its backers a pretty good selection of venture capital firms, including BlackBerry Partners Fund, iNovia Capital, Rho Ventures, and Yale Venture Partners. Investors like Chris Albinson and Mike Edwards have also made investments.

GrowLab claims to be able to offer considerable funding once the program is complete, something that sets them apart from other accelerator firms in the country.

If Canada’s startups are to stand a chance on an increasingly competitive world stage, these sorts of classes from the likes of GrowLab have to happen. The state of venture capital already threatens to lead to stagnation in Canada’s tech and telecom sectors. Add other components, like the “sell-out culture” of the nation’s tech giants, and you’ve got a perfect storm for mediocrity. With GrowLab in the picture, things are getting a little brighter.

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