Northern Ontario Angels partnered with Sudbury’s Innovation Mill 2017 PITCH Session on April 27, 2017. There were four companies pitching. Gripp (Sudbury), EventsWearables(Little Current), Heuristext (Sault Ste. Marie), The Yoak (Sudbury).
Photo: L-R – Peter Dal Bianco, NOA Consultant (Sudbury), Chris Winrow – NOA Chair, Kimberley Wahamaa, NOA Consultant (Sudbury/Timmins), Ian Kilgour, NOA Consultant (North Bay).
Northern Ontario Angels partnered with the Timmins Productivity & Innovation Centre (PIC) for a second year Private Pitch Session on April 6, 2017. There were three presenters. More details will follow about these companies shortly.
In his nearly 30 years as a volunteer firefighter in Timmins, Brian Nankervis has seen his share of tragedy — fatalities that destroy families and burned-out buildings among the most devastating. In each case, the same problem popped up time and again: access to water.
Now, Nankervis has invented a tool that gives firefighters faster, easier access to water while on the job.
The Handy Hydrant is a sturdy but pliable accordion-like tube that holds up to 2,000 gallons of water, depending on the model. It can be transported into awkward spaces that traditional firetrucks may have difficulty traversing and handled with minimal manpower — two issues that continue to plague volunteer fire departments across North America, Nankervis said.
“There used to be five or 10 people standing at the door to be a volunteer firefighter,” he said. “That doesn’t happen anymore.”
When the outcome of a fire can be determined by a matter of seconds, setting up firefighting equipment has to happen quickly and efficiently. The sooner a crew can start putting out a fire, the better the result.
It was this niggling thought that kept Nankervis brainstorming, until one day it hit him: a dog agility tunnel could provide the answer. He purchased his own dog tunnel, made a few modifications, and filled it with a garden hose in his driveway to try and prove his theory.
“It wasn’t perfect, but the concept was there,” Nankervis said.
Four years later, his product has received the backing of an investor through the Northern Ontario Angels program, and his product is ready to hit the market.
It comes in four sizes — 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 gallons — and can be easily hooked up to a pump and hose that then sprays out the water.
It’s designed primarily for rural and remote areas that don’t have municipal water hookup and source their water from lakes or streams. Rural neighbourhoods, First Nations, and cottage associations are among the communities Nankervis believes can benefit from his invention.
But its portability is also ideal for bush firefighters. Handy Hydrant weighs between 75 and 90 pounds and can be folded up into a backpack or hoisted onto the bed of a pickup truck.
Nankervis cautions the Handy Hydrant isn’t fully replacing the equipment that’s already out there, but can work in tandem with the pumper trucks and tanker trucks that take water from nearby lakes and streams before transferring it to the Handy Hydrant.
“It’s just another tool that we can adapt to what we’re using now,” Nankervis said. “But in most instances, this is probably a better way when you talk about manpower, and time, and setup, and the real estate.”
There are also commercial applications. In industries like construction, agriculture and mining, where water and its associated machinery are pricey commodities, the Handy Hydrant can be a welcome, less expensive alternative.
To start out, Nankervis is targetting rural areas throughout Ontario. With 460-plus volunteer fire stations in Ontario and more than 1,000 First Nations just in the James Bay basin, it provides a good starting market. After that, he plans to promote the Handy Hydrant across the country.
He’s already made contact with some distributors, and has been awarded a distributorship by the manufacturer of a pump that he will sell in conjunction with the Handy Hydrant.
“The ultimate goal is to have one of these tanks on every firetruck, which is a reasonable statement, because that’s what they’re doing now in mostly volunteer, smaller communities,” Nankervis said. “They have a water tank on every truck, if not two.”
He’s also applied for his international patent and next plans to roll out his product across the globe. Nankervis said Handy Hydrant may even find a use watering down winter roads connecting the rest of Ontario to Northern Indigenous communities.
As buzz intensifies about the Handy Hydrant’s benefits, Nankervis remains humble about his budding success.
He plans to maintain his local suppliers and keep the manufacturing in the North — a response to the support and help he’s received from people across Northern Ontario. Most of all, he wants his product to help people
“Six, seven years ago, I remember a poor, pregnant mother with three kids running around, and it was a windy, hot, humid day, and her house was going up,” he said. “My God, when you’re there beside them, you really feel for them, and you bust your guts to help them out.”
Northern Ontario Angels (NOA); a not for profit corporation that facilitates business deals between entrepreneurs and accredited angel investors, ranks 1st in Canada for the number of investments closed in 2015, it announced today. With 139 total deals completed, NOA has now achieved $50 million in investment capital flowed to Northern entrepreneurs. The National Angel Capital Organization’s (NACO) 2015 Report on Angel Investing Activity in Canada looked at 32 angel investment organizations across the country and reveals that angels in Northern Ontario contributed more investment capital into regional entrepreneurs and businesses than any other similar network in Canada. “$50 million signifies an enormous amount of investment capital flowed into our Northern Ontario economy by private investors;” says NOA Executive Director, Mary Long-Irwin. “NOA is proud to be the number one angel network in Canada but most importantly, we are proud of the increasing economic capacity, opportunities and impact that angel investing is bringing to the region. Today, investments are being made in diverse sectors from technology and manufacturing to real estate and entertainment. Almost all of the $50 million comes from local investors, directed to local entrepreneurs, to build local businesses across the North.” Also reported today were some of the results generated by $50 million in investment capital. Key socio-economic impacts are: • 139 investment deals closed totaling $50 million • 1,324 full time equivalent positions created • 378 full time equivalent positions maintained • A total of $91 million in management and staff salaries generated. Northern Ontario Angels is supported by various community partners across Northern Ontario and is funded with support from FedNor. “We encourage innovators, entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses to get in touch with our organization. For those seeking additional capital or business mentorship to take their business to the next level, we have a network of angels ready to help,” says Long-Irwin.
Original Press Release
On Thursday, May 26, the first ever “RBC-NOA SSM Bear Pit” pitch event was held in Sault Ste. Marie at the Delta Waterfront Hotel.
The event, similar to Dragon’s Den on television, was a pilot event which invited local technology startup companies to pitch their products and/or services to local angel investors as well as business, finance and community partners.
Four local companies pitched their businesses at the Bear Pit on May 26, including: Digital Grounds Inc. (Gentroo), Heuristext Inc., North Origin Games Inc., and Veracity Asset Management Group Inc.
Each company was selected based on their unique business ventures, business development achievements to date, and ability to execute on plans for future growth and business expansion. All four companies were established in Sault Ste. Marie and are clients of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre.
“We were pleased to be invited to participate in the recent Bear Pit event,” said Graham Nelson, Veracity CEO. “It was a unique opportunity to introduce our company and present our business plan to a key group of local investors.”
RBC Royal Bank and Northern Ontario Angels (NOA), a northern based organization that helps entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, were primary sponsors of the event, in partnership with Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), FedNor, Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation – Millworks, and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
“These home-grown companies have made tremendous strides towards becoming significant contributors to the future prosperity Sault Ste. Marie and the Northern Ontario economy,” said Gerry Bugyra, Business Development Manager, Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. “At the Innovation Centre, we work directly with over 70 new companies that have the potential to create new jobs in the Sault and generate wealth in the community; we are so proud of these four and the many other exceptional clients we get to work with.”
Over 65 guests attended the event and feedback has been very positive.
“The Sault Ste. Marie Bear Pit event outcome was a great success with a strong investor, funding partner and local business turn-out. Several local NOA Investors expressed interest in future ‘one on one’ meetings with the business presenters,” says Mary Long-Irwin, Executive Director NOA. “We will continue to promote, help grow and support Northern Ontario businesses.”
The Bear Pit event was created to help raise the profile of exceptional startup companies in Sault Ste. Marie, and allow them the opportunity to network and share their products and services with the local business and investment community.
By presenting their business pitches to these individuals, they are provided with an alternate option for funding to grow their business, beyond grants and personal investment.
“We at RBC are inspired by the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that defines Northern Ontario,” shared Bill Bray, RBC Commercial Financial Services Vice President. “Through our active support of the Bear Pit, we are honored to rally around our dynamic business community while providing these companies with the tools and advice to thrive and prosper.”
Based on attendee and presenter feedback, Bear Pit organizers are encouraged that there is an appetite for this type of event in Sault Ste. Marie.
As a result, NOA has determined that the Bear Pit event will continue in the future in some capacity, and is hopeful that there can be greater community engagement and new business participation.
Consideration must be made in respect of legal and confidential matters for new businesses owners, who often conduct pitches and engage investors in a confidential manner to protect the intellectual property rights of their business and proprietary information.
Investors, such as members of the Northern Ontario Angels, may also wish to remain anonymous.
Timmins and regional based business recently felt the spread of angels’ wings that have been sweeping across Northern Ontario. On April 7th, the Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) partnered with Northern Ontario Angels (NOA) turning Northern College’s Quill Lounge into their very own Dragons’ Den. Other Northern Ontarian cities have held such pitch events in the past but this was the first of its kind for Timmins. Making the most of it, the pitches were recorded, courtesy of Near North Video Productions, for almost 350 investors to view. Another first as far as pitch sessions go.
During the event, three Timmins and regional based companies, Millson Forestry Service, Rheault Distillery and a new venture, spent the evening networking with other companies including sponsoring companies, TPS Group of Companies (www.tpsgroup.ca) and White Industrial Products (www.whiteindustrialproducts.com), and pitching their products and/or services to the angel investors.
NOA gathers investors with northern innovative companies who need alternate funding routes to start or grow their business in a positive environment through networking and pitch events. “Playing the role of mentors, investors and agents, we attract, support and invest in the growth of innovative companies with the potential of having global significance,” says Mary Long-Irwin, Executive Director of NOA, “as well as keep those companies here and contributing to the future economy of Northern Ontario.”
Pitch events are not only an opportunities for companies to gain traction and grow globally, but they hold a greater significance to the economic growth. “Not only do they help to advance the smaller businesses, these events have been known to assist in the creation of jobs and increase the development of dynamic innovative economies,” says Kimberley Wahamaa, NOA Consultant.
“The Productivity and Innovation Centre wants businesses to take advantage of the services they offer as well as offer other opportunities that support their knowledge and scale them to accomplish their goals, increase capital and have the option to grow and succeed,” says Fred Gibbons, Chair of Timmins Economic Development Corporation.
PIC is part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), and is supported by FedNor, NOHFC, Timmins Economic Development Corporation, NEOnet, and other partners. For more information on the Productivity & Innovation Centre (PIC) and its initiatives please contact Ana Blouin, Project Development Manager, email@example.com or 705-269-1354.
NOA, Northern Ontario’s premiere organization for entrepreneurs and angel investors, is also part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), and is supported by the Government of Canada, FedNor, The Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario, and other partners. For more information about Northern Ontario Angels (NOA) please contact Mary Long-Irwin, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-344-4440.
Costarter, a program run by the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre, is looking at accelerating five start-up businesses that have prototypes, a proof-of-concept, or a demo that want to grow in to a global business. The program is focused on teams of two to three early-stage entrepreneurs and is driven by experienced mentors and entrepreneurs. Costarter will invest $15,000 into the selected teams and provide office space, hands-on support and access to mentors, investors and potential customers. Teams will work with the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre towards demo day: a final investor presentation and the beginning of life as a company working to change the world. Interested start-ups can apply at http://www.costarter.ca/