The Inaugural Class of Startup Next Food & Tech

The first ever Startup Next Food & Tech program is now halfway finished. Over 50 mentors are working with our 6 companies, including founders, investors and corporate executives.

While all of our sessions have been high energy, one highlight was a panel of CEOs from the Techstars Retail Accelerator, in partnership with Target. During the “ask me anything” style panel, advice on everything from how to get that first sale to how to engage mentors and get the most out of the program was covered. It was great to see the TS Retail teams already start to #givefirst. (It is worth pointing out that one of those CEOs, Francois Poirier of MakerBloks, is a Startup Next Montreal Alumni!)

Check out the Class:

Bizzy Coffee is the energy source, both mentally and physically, for the next generation of movers and shakers. Bizzy has become the #1 rated selling product in their category on Amazon and were recently accepted into HyVee chain-wide. They are now focused on raising a round of seed capital.

Termi Platform is a smart rodent prevention platform that helps the food industry protect vital food assets with sensor-enabled connected devices, and a data analytics platform that enables more effective & cheaper, DIY rodent prevention. Termi recently completed a new version of their trap with more advanced sensors and data collection capabilities. Termi is now moving focus to finding beta testers from the food & ag industry for their MVP.

Local Crate is a meal-kit delivery service focused on being locally responsible, while building the experience and true connection to real food that the market is craving! Local Crate recently hit capacity at their current facility, topping $35k in revenue after just 9 months in business. They are working towards a seed round which will be used to help fuel growth.

HerdDogg is a wearable device for improved accuracy of livestock traceability and biometrics. HerdDogg closed a research pilot with Oregon St. University and is a Startup Showcase finalist at the ECO SXSW. HerdDogg is prepping for fundraising and the launch of their new product.

Philia Foods creates handcrafted, all natural feta cheese spreads in four bold flavors; Rosemary & Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, Dill & Garlic and Habanero. Philia Foods has tripled their distribution points in the last 8 months, including a roll out to 50 NYC retailers. Phillia is looking for a strategic investor who will be able to advise & help scale the company.

Jonny Pops all-natural, frozen fruit and cream pops are like a smoothie-on-a-stick. Jonny Pops topped 6,000 retail locations and expanded their school lunch program to 8 states. Schools see a 15% increase to lunch participation when Jonny Pops are on the menu. Jonny Pops is looking to expand their network and meet with other founders that have scaled food companies quickly.

We look forward to continued progress, mentor engagement and the future success of our 6 companies!

land o lakes tech stars cohort #1


GradeSlam, a Techstars Startup Next Montreal Alumni, Raises $1.6M

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GradeSlam, a Techstars Startup Next Montreal alumni in the Education Technology field, has successfully raised a $1.6 Million Seed Round led by Birchmere Ventures

Founded by a former educator Philip Cutler, the Montreal-based EdTech startup GradeSlam is the online learning center that specializes in humanized adaptive learning for students K-12, and has facilitated over 350,000 tutoring sessions with students in over 80 countries. Their personalized educational support equips teachers and administrators with actionable insights on how students learn outside of the classroom.

The tutoring industry’s business model has always been to charge students by the hour for each session. But that model is flawed, according to Philip Cutler, CEO of GradeSlam: “Students shouldn’t pay for the hour,” he says. “They should pay to have access to these people whenever they need them.”

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Gradeslam is a startup graduated from Techstars Startup Next Montreal cohort. Other startups from the Montreal program include NavutLogrrMakerbloksNukernAsk-PamCrema AppRentHunt and many more.


At Techstars, we believe in the idea that no one is “too far along” for Techstars. Conversely, nothing is too early. Techstars has a program for every step of the entrepreneurial journey – from startup programs like Startup Digest, Startup Week, Startup Weekend and Startup Next to later stage offerings, including the accelerator program and venture capital for add-on funding.


Apply for Startup Next Cyber in Partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton in DC until September 11th

Startup Next is a 6-week pre-acceleration program for idea-stage startups, where founders get together once a week for a 3-hour session. By pairing founders with mentors, the program provides education, guidance and valuable connections to help startups on the next step of their entrepreneurial journey.

Startup Next Cyber in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton will allow startups to work directly with Booz Allen Hamilton mentors and executives.

The program will be lead by entrepreneur and investor Jason Chen of VentureScope, who is bringing along some of the best mentors in the DC startup ecosystem, including Mark Newberg, Director of Impact Strategies at Womble Carlyle.

In addition, some of the program mentors from Booz Allen Hamilton will include Brian Green (VP, Cyber), Brad Stone (VP, Cyber Futures), Nyla Beth Gawel (Principal, IoT and Strategic Alliances) and Gregory Starkey (Principal, Cyber). 

The program will take place at Booz Allen Hamilton in DC from September 22nd through November 3rd, 2016. The deadline to apply is September 11th. Find out more information and apply here!

Announcing the Techstars Startup Next Montreal Class of 2016

We are thrilled to introduce the five tremendous companies that have finished the 3rd annual Startup Next program in Montreal! 

Startup Next is a “pre-accelerator” program that prepares companies for acceleration and/or seed investment by providing high quality mentorship and leveraging the global network of Techstars. A Demo Day was realized mid-June in New York to showcase Canadian companies in the NYC ecosystem.

Among the 20 cities running the program worldwide in four continents, Montreal is the #1 Startup Next city with the highest concentration of graduates at Techstars Accelerators! Over the last 9 months, four Montreal startups have joined Techstars Accelerator programs: TS Boston (NavutHeddoko), TS Barclays NYC (Logrr) and TS Target Minneapolis (Makerbloks). 

As usual, this year, Startup Next Montreal has received a vast number of applications from all around the world (Vancouver, Kiev, Bloomington, San Diego, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Montreal, etc). Without further ado, please join me in welcoming the 2016 Startup Next Montreal companies:

Nukern sets web hosting businesses on autopilot. Through Nukern’s unified SaaS experience, web hosts can deploy cloud hosting resources concurrently from providers like; DigitalOcean, AWS and VULTR. And with Nukern’s white label self-service portal, web hosts can resell these resources to clients and automate account provisioning and recurring billing. Nukern is currently setting web hosting businesses on autopilot in more than 45 different countries.

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Ask PAM is a cloud-based CRM for the hospitality industry that centralizes in one platform the day-to-day Concierge operations, providing a better customer experience. It is the only platform that is tracking and analyzing Concierge performances allowing them to better connect, manage and collaborate while optimizing the cost of customer service.
Ask PAM is currently operating in 15 cities worldwide (Montreal, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Dubai, Berlin, Accra and many others) with over 100 Concierges servicing 100k clients yearly.

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Crema is the new digital reward program and payment solution for coffee shops. We are providing Starbucks Coffee Technology to small independent Coffee Shops. The app gives the ability to prepay coffee plans redeemable at the best coffee shops in town.
Crema is available in Montreal, New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Berlin and Paris.

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Rent Hunt
RentHunt is an AI-powered messaging service that helps people find rental apartments. By specifying their search criteria, RentHunt provides renters with a curated and personalized set of listings. The service is currently available by SMS and on Facebook Messenger.

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Wealth Tab
WealthTab is modernizing the wealth management industry. Our modular platform offers solutions for client onboarding, portfolio analytics and portfolio visualization to help financial professionals deliver the best client experience. WealthTab is currently assisting over 50 professionals who collectively manage more than $2 Billion.

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Announcing the launch of Startup Next AppLink Mobility Edition, presented by Ford

Are you a startup looking to change the way the world moves? Here’s your big opportunity to show your idea on a global stage. We are partnering with Ford’s “Make it Driveable” AppLink Mobility challenge in Berlin in September.

Five winners of the challenge will be awarded a spot to participate in the Startup Next AppLink Mobility Edition, presented by Ford. Startup Next is a pre-acceleration program for a small group of idea stage startups. By pairing founders with mentors, the program provides valuable connections to get teams prepared to join an accelerator, raise a seed round or just continue their entrepreneurial journey.

Startup Next is a 6-week non-resident program where startups meet once a week for three hour sessions with workshop, pitch practice and mentor breakouts. The program is free of charge and no equity is taken.

Startup Next AppLink Mobility Edition kicks off this fall in Berlin. The six-week program consists of weekly 2-3 hour sessions with mentors designed to accelerate founders’ entrepreneurial journeys.

This is our second partnership with Ford, building on the success of Techstars Mobility, driven by Ford, our accelerator in Detroit.

Learn more about the challenge here.

Techstars Startup Next: Austin Summer ’16

Andy Keil is the Product Manager at Waldo Photos, Director of Techstars Startup Next in Austin, Community at ATX Built and Program Manager of Finish Up Weekend. He’s always up for coffee, drinks or tacos so don’t hesitate to reach out @alwaysunday.


The Program
Startup Next is a “pre-accelerator” program that was recently acquired by Techstars. The program prepares companies for acceleration and/or seed investment by providing high quality mentorship and leveraging the global network of Techstars.

Since November, we’ve been talking with founders around Austin to determine whether the Next program would be filling a void or just adding to the noise. We started to observe a few patterns:

  • In the early stages, founders are often heads down building product and either overlook the importance of mentorship or don’t have easy access to mentors who can have a substantial impact on direction.
  • There’s a gap in education and support between the early formation of a company and being accepted into an accelerator.

That’s why we’re excited for Austin to be the 20th city to launch a Startup Next program. The first cohort gets underway on June 8 and culminates with Demo Day on July 27 at Galvanize. We hope you’re as excited as we are.

Meet the Companies
We reviewed over 40 applications for the first program and here are the teams…

Dojour is a self-service tool for creating and following event calendars.


Human Planet
Human Planet provides businesses and their customers the tools to ensure a personalized experience with every visit.


OnePay is your personal bill payment concierge service that improves your financial health, while saving you time and money.

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Ponos provides fully-automated, smart hydroponic systems you monitor and control with an easy-to-use app.

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Uplift Memorials
Uplift Memorials is the easiest way for anyone who has ever lost a loved one to discover, compare and book unique and meaningful life celebrations and lasting memorials.

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The Mentors
Startup Next wouldn’t be possible without these the mentors who are willing to donate their time and energy to helping these companies.

Gavin Gillis, Keith Casey, Niek Smit, Ryan Joy, John Kestner, Stu Smith, Amos Schwartzfarb, Sam Kapila, Ashley Hathaway, Joel Bush, David Lemphers, Evan Michner, Damon Clinkscales, Evan Baehr, Gregg Cochran, Moyo Oyelola.

Want to help?
Here’s how you can help the teams or get involved with the Startup Next program itself:

Join us at Demo Day
Each company will highlight the problem(s) they’re solving and the progress they’ve made during Demo Day on July 27 at Galvanize. Join us.

Sharing this post (and the companies) with those who may be interested is a small gesture that goes a long way.

This is going to going to be a lot of fun.

Thanks for your support!


This post was originally published on Medium.

Applications Open for Startup Next Food & Tech, presented by Land O’Lakes

Earlier this year, Techstars launched a partnership with Land O’Lakes focused on food and tech. Applications are now open for Startup Next Food and Tech, presented by Land O’Lakes in Minneapolis, MN!

With a strong desire to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Twin Cities, the Land O’Lakes partnership with Techstars Startup Next will galvanize the best startups and provide them with mentorship, partnership, and executive access to help them along their entrepreneurial journey.

From farming to dairy and consumer products, the Twin Cities have a long history of success in food. This program is an exciting opportunity to leverage this expertise and ensure food and ag tech entrepreneurs play a serious role in the burgeoning startup scene.

Techstars will work closely with Land O’Lakes executives to recruit startups working anywhere in the farm-to-fork food chain. Examples include innovative consumer products, traceability tools, distribution, supply chain efficiency, safety, food processing and logistics innovation.

Solutions for the dairy industry – from dairy farmers to dairy transportation, processing and products – will be of particular interest. Startups working to solve problems related to food and technology in the retail, foodservice, industrial or other channels are also invited to apply.

Entrepreneurs will gain hands-on mentorship and education during the program, culminating in a Demo Day event. Land O’Lakes will provide expertise and mentorship to program participants along with other leaders from the Minneapolis startup ecosystem.

An informational session will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7 from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m., in Minneapolis. Those interested in applying for the program are invited to attend and learn more. Event details and registration are here.

In addition to the in-person event, interested entrepreneurs also can join us for an online informational session on Thursday, June 16, at 3 pm CDT. Registration for the June 16 session can be found here.

Application deadline is June 30, 2016.


Startups interested in applying to Startup Next Food and Tech, presented by Land O’Lakes can apply here.

Applications Open for Startup Next, Cyber Security Edition presented by Booz Allen Hamilton

Techstars launched a partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton in early 2016 focused on cyber security startups. After our successful Startup Weekend cyber security edition event in the new innovation center, applications for the second Techstars program are open!

Startup Next, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton, will bring together teams from within Booz Allen Hamilton and the top D.C.-based cyber security startups.

Startup Next is a Techstars program that helps startups grow by providing high quality mentorship, a proven curriculum, and access to a global network of investors, mentors, and founders. The six-week program consists of weekly 2-3 hour sessions, which means founders are able to continue building their product, while receiving top quality mentorship and getting access to the global network of Startup Next.

Startups innovating in the field of cyber security to level the playing field against new and emerging cybercrime tactics are recommended to apply for this pre-accelerator program, along with companies that are creating game-changing technologies in the field of cyber security.

According to Forbes, the cyber security market is expected to grow from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020. From banking and connected cars to mobile health, tremendous growth in cyber security is inevitable.

“Most people are starting to realize that there are only two different types of companies in the world: those that have been breached and know it and those that have been breached and don’t know it. Therefore, prevention is not sufficient and you’re going to have to invest in detection because you’re going to want to know what system has been breached as fast as humanly possible so that you can contain and remediate.”   -Ted Schlein, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

These startups will leave the six week program with a wealth of information and new connections to help them take the next step in their entrepreneurial journey. Booz Allen Hamilton will provide cyber security-related expertise and mentorship throughout the program. Startups will expand their network by meeting new contacts that will help their startup grow and learn how to accept feedback in important areas such as communication, technical abilities and leadership skills.

Deadline for applications is September 4, 2016.

Startups interested in applying to Startup Next Cyber Security, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton can apply here.

Montreal-based MakerBloks Hits Crowdfunding Goal in Two Days! Wants to Rethink How Kids Learn Electronics

MakerBloks A Montreal startup that wants to teach children about electronics is seeing strong success on Kickstarter, reaching its $25,000 goal on the second day of its crowdfunding campaign. MakerBloks are colourful blocks that allow children to create real electric circuits. A Kickstarter campaign to fund their creation launched on Tuesday morning, raising over $20,000 within 24-hours and reaching its goal on Wednesday afternoon. Francois Poirier, the CEO and creator of MakerBloks says he got the idea while working as a product designer. Clients would come to him with little more than a circuit board and his job was to make the products look good and be easy to use, but he says, “I actually had no idea what they had in their hand, the [printed circuit board] itself was a mystery to me.” Poirier says his then-seven-year-old niece was developing a strong interest in science and technology at the same time so he thought it would be fun for the two of them to learn about electronics together.

“I looked at all the different ways to do it, software, books, DVDs and toys,” he says, but nothing fit. When it comes to toys, he says, “they are all bad, they are all using outdated technology.” He says the toys on the market might make sense to engineers but they don’t make sense to a six-year-old. Having worked as a consultant for Mega Brands, he thought about creating an educational tool that involved bright plastic blocks.

One of the MakerBloks kits being launched as part of the Kickstarter campaign also includes a augmented reality feature – a mirror that attaches to an iPad’s camera and allows children to solve puzzles in a virtual game using their real-world blocks. It’s another thing that Poirier says sets MakerBloks apart from other electronics kits on the market. “They don’t use what the kids are using,” he says. “I thought it was important to adapt to the kids of today.” Still, Poirier says MakerBloks won’t be going entirely virtual. “For me it’s really important to always have the hardware piece, the blocks,” he says. “Because if they are more interested in electronics when they are 10, 12-years-old and they actually want to pick up a soldering iron and build real circuits, it’s always going to be a physical world.” As part of the Kickstarter campaign, MakerBloks is offering several different kits as individual perks, that will help guide future developments from the company. “I think the Kickstarter campaign will actually give us a really good idea of what our audience wants,” Poirier says. That’s a big part of why he decided to launch his product through a crowdfunding campaign. “Gaining visibility and validating the product is the major reason we’re doing the Kickstarter, for sure the funding will help but it’s not the main goal,” he says. “Dollars are the best feedback you can get.” While delivering the MakerBloks on time and living up to the promises made in the Kickstarter campaign is Poirier’s main goal right now, he’s also got his eye on the future. He wants MakerBloks to be the flagship product of a company that’s focused on science, technology, engineering and math learning for kids.

Makerbloks Awards
Makerbloks Press Coverage

Originally posted in TechVibes Canada

Montreal-based Makerbloks Wins 2015 Silicon Valley CrowdPitch Competition!



Congratulations to Francois Poirier of MakerBloks, the winner of the 16th Founder Showcase CrowdPitch CompetitionMakerbloks creates small, reactive building blocks that allow anyone to learn and build electronic circuits without any technical background. The company took first place at the Montreal TechCrunch Pitch-Off, which led to them attending TechCrunch Disrupt in New York to showcase their new product.


François Poirier is a graduate of Silicon Valley Founder Institute as well as Google-backed Startup Next program in Montreal, Canada.

Originally posted on