STORY UPDATE!  Permission Click made the top 5 Most Promising Startups and will be pitching for the win tomorrow, Oct. 3, 2014. Stay tuned!

Manitoba-made technology startups, Advolve Media and Permission Click are in Quebec City to compete for the title of Canada’s Most Promising Startup. They were selected among only 15 startups from across Canada to pitch at the National Angel Summit.

“Win or lose, the competition provides these emerging startups with invaluable exposure to many of the country’s top angel investors,” said Jan Lederman, president, Innovate Manitoba. Only five of the 15 startups invited to attend will be shortlisted to pitch to over 200 investors, venture capitalists and industry leaders for the grand prize title.

permission clickPermission Click is a cloud-based application that enables schools to build digital permission slips, which are sent electronically to parents to be approved. Any associated fees can also be collected and returned to the school through their online process.

advolve_logo_3005_292Advolve is a custom displays company that offers brand advertising through its proprietary Mirage Mirrors that are placed in high-traffic venues, such as restaurants, bars, sports stadiums and airports. They focus on customer engagement and analytics.

Innovate Manitoba submitted the Advolve and Permission Click nominations. Lederman said that while it’s always difficult to choose which startups to nominate, the timing is right for both considering where they are at in terms of innovation and growth.

“Advolve and Permission Click are excellent examples of the work we do to support entrepreneurs and startups. They have scalable business models with fast-growth potential,” said Lederman. “This competition is precisely the type of opportunity they need to help them raise the risk capital that can fully support this growth.”

Hard work, dedication, and TIMING

The nomination was a welcome surprise for both company’s CEO’s.


Scott MacAulay (left) and Chris Johnson – celebrating their 2nd place finish at Venture’Challenge 2014

“We’ve been completely focused on signing up new schools so this opportunity wouldn’t have even been on our radar if it weren’t for Innovate Manitoba,” said Chris Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Permission Click. “We’re just finishing up raising our first round of seed capital investment, but any additional funding we can acquire will help speed up our growth.”

Johnson indicates that Permission Click already has thousands of users and expects to make a major announcement of how the company is accelerating growth into new markets in the coming months. Other co-founders include Kevin Buckner, a chartered accountant, and Scott MacAulay, an entrepreneurship educator at Red River College.


Bryce North (Venture’Challenge Alumni) working the room at Venture’Challenge 2014

Bryce North, CEO and co-founder of Advolve was also thrilled to receive the nomination. “We’re on the cusp of breaking out into larger markets as well as ramping up our operations and scalability. This opportunity to get in front of qualified investors comes at the right time.”

North views Winnipeg as Advolve’s test market but plans to keep headquarters here. He said, “This is such a great community for innovators and entrepreneurs.” He attributes much of this to the work of Innovate Manitoba. Advolve’s management team includes North and partners Kris Luinenburg, who is also a co-founder and COO, and Dave Noel, CTO.

Innovate Manitoba Innovation Heroes

Both companies are alumni of Innovate Manitoba’s startup programs including Pitch’Day, Launch’Pad – Startup Skills Bootcamp and Venture’Challenge.

Permission Click recently finished second at Innovate Manitoba’s Venture’Challenge, taking home over $20,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

Advolve Media came through Innovate Manitoba’s startup cycle in 2012-2013, winning Best Technology Pitch at Pitch’Day and finishing just outside the money at Venture’Challenge 2013. They also recently took top spot at the Winnipeg stop of Fundica’s Roadshow, which earned North an expense-paid trip to pitch to investors in Silicon Valley this month.

Both CEOs recommend Innovate Manitoba’s programs to other entrepreneurs and startups looking to rapidly grow their businesses.

First big wins

When asked about their greatest milestones so far, North replies, “Everything that’s happened!” He adds that signing Winnipeg’s Investor’s Group Field as one of Advolve’s first vendors was definitely a high point. Many more are in the cue to support sales objectives.

Johnson shares, “For us the most memorable milestone was the day we started watching permission slips being signed for our first school. The next day we had a handful of emails from the school and parents saying how cool they thought it was!” The accomplishment of securing great first-round investors was also big. “We’ve been able to sign on invested advisors. These are people that are more than financial investors. They are passionate about what we’re doing and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves to help.”

The National Angel Summit is on now until October 3 with the pitch competition taking place on October 2. Watch for updates in our next eNews or check our Twitter feed @InnovateMB.

The Summit and Pitch Competition are hosted by the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) of which Innovate Manitoba is a member.

Visit our YouTube channel to watch the Advolve and Permission Click Pitch’Day videos.

For entrepreneurs looking to make their next step or established businesses looking to launch a new business idea, Innovate Manitoba’s next opportunity is Pitch’Day, which takes place on Nov. 12, 2014 – registration to compete is now open here.


Read Martin Cash’s article in the Winnipeg Free Press