Traction Health CEO Anthony King has a vision to expand his company and attract needed investor dollars.
The Toronto-based business provides wearable technology that communicates biometric data in real-time, aimed initially to help emergency response and health care. But King said he needed more expertise and funding, which is why he joined a new business accelerator initiative called Accelerate Newmarket, kickstarted by local company Treefrog.
"York is where technology is at," King said, adding he has got much more value out of the program than previous ones in which he has participated. “Having been through a number of them, even halfway through the program, there's already been more value delivered in three weeks with Treefrog than there was in six months (with a previous program)."
Treefrog launched the accelerator program this month. Partnering with the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce and York University, it is providing 25 tech startup founders across 17 companies with classes to hone business skills. It also offers local business connections through the chamber and some MBA training through York's Schulich School of Business.
The plan is to have 100 people through the program over the next year.
Treefrog CEO Sean Stephens said while Newmarket has organizations to help businesses incubate and scale up, there is a gap in helping new businesses expand after the start-up phase.
"They don't have the skills to run a business yet. They don't have all the pieces," he said. "You have to get them in the community and get them propped up."
The program will also connect participants with investors such as the York Angels, an organization of local entrepreneurs who invest in new businesses. Stephens said they plan to have the first group pitch to investors worth a combined $1 billion during the six-week program.
Stephens said about half of the first cohort are from Newmarket. He said he hopes this program could help get Newmarket recognized as a key part of a wider business area, stretching down into the GTA, Waterloo and Niagara.
"We're forgotten and ignored," Stephens said. "I'm going to change that."
To achieve this, Stephens is also planning to attract international businesses into the program starting next year. He is seeking $25,000 annual funding from the Town of Newmarket to help achieve that, pitching to the Newmarket economic development advisory committee June 22. He said they plan to bring in businesses that are already profitable in places such as Hong Kong and South Africa, and help them transition to Canada.
“International businesses tend to think of Newmarket as part of Toronto,” Stephens said. “By bringing them to the Newmarket community, we’re connecting enough dots.”
Newmarket council has not yet discussed the concept. But municipal economic development officer Chris Kallio said the international component should lead to jobs.
“If we can get this international program up and running successfully, I think we’re going to see some really strong job creation out of it," Kallio said.
King said he hopes to use the connections from the program to get $300,000 in investments by the end of September. After that, he plans to garner another $2.8 million before next May.
He said Treefrog has tailored the program well for its participants, providing expertise companies like his need.
“They’re using technology to help technology companies build technology,” he said.