Category: Resource

Mindfulness in Business: Unlocking Peak Performance

Being present in a moment, and being aware, is easier said than done for anybody, let alone an entrepreneur juggling countless matters at a time. But in today’s business landscape, multitasking has been busted as a myth to success, and the ability to be present and mindful — to stay focused intentionally — has taken its place as an essential 21st-century skill that many are aspiring to conquer.

Mindfulness has been linked directly to significantly reducing stress levels, enhancing focus, thoughtfulness, decision-making abilities, and overall well-being. Can you imagine a founder and their team that prioritizes this pursuit? Now, that’s a winning team right there.

Today we discuss:

  • What does it really mean to be mindful
  • The power of mindfulness for an entrepreneur 
  • How do you pursue being mindful – as an entrepreneur
  • How to cultivate a culture of mindfulness within your organization

What Does it Really Mean to be Mindful

Mindfulness is a rather straightforward concept: it suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening. It’s the practice of being fully engaged in the moment, and aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. This involves a conscious direction of our awareness away from automatic, multitasking patterns of thought to a more focused state of mind.

Interestingly, it is believed that mindfulness is an inherent trait within every individual; it’s not something that needs to be created, but rather, something to be discovered and accessed. This is popularly carried out through various practices such as meditation, integrating mindfulness into daily activities like yoga or sports, or incorporating short pauses throughout everyday life.

The Power of Mindfulness for an Entrepreneur

Mindfulness transcends the common misconception of being a peripheral, ‘feel-good’ activity, to being a central driver of productivity and effective performance in the business realm.

  • Mindfulness and Productivity: Vish Chatterji, author of “The Business Casual Yogi,” articulates that mindfulness enhances focus and the ability to reclaim attention from distractions, thus boosting productivity. Studies support this, revealing that mindfulness diminishes multitasking behaviours, which are often mistakenly celebrated as effective but are, in reality, detrimental to sustained success.
  • Mindfulness and Agility: Mindfulness enhances an individual’s capacity to adapt to change and ambiguity, strengthening mental agility. This practice, as outlined by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson in their book Altered Traits, contributes to three major benefits: reducing stress responses, enhancing cognitive abilities, and improving focus. Specifically, mindfulness decreases gray-matter density in the amygdala, leading to a calmer and more open-minded approach, and boosts memory, and complex thinking abilities. By promoting a focused and clear mindset, mindfulness helps founders and organizations adapt their behaviours quickly, relax to reassess established attitudes, and maintain clarity amid overwhelming digital stimuli.
  • Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence: Mindfulness directly contributes to the development of emotional intelligence (EI), a key attribute for effective leadership. By improving focus and stress management, mindfulness lays the foundation for enhanced EI, enabling entrepreneurs to motivate better, manage conflict, and adapt to change.
  • Mindfulness and Negative Thinking:  By getting into the habit of focusing on the present, mindfulness allows entrepreneurs to avoid falling prey to destructive assumptions or “negative fantasies,” which can spiral into stress and anxiety.
  • Mindfulness and Workplace Communication: Active listening, a rare yet critical skill in business, is also significantly bolstered by mindfulness. It encourages a genuine connection in conversations, which enhances interpersonal relationships and improves overall communication efficacy within the organization.
  • Mindfulness and Burnout: The relentless pace of entrepreneurship often leads to burnout. Mindfulness serves as a preventive measure, pushing you to get regular mental breaks and develop a culture of sustained attention and self-awareness.

How to Pursue Being Mindful – as a Startup Entrepreneur

As we discussed earlier, mindfulness is a practice. You find it within you and then practice it on a regular basis to keep it ashore. As an entrepreneur, there are many – manageable- ways you can introduce mindful practices into your routine:

 1. Establish a Regular Meditation Practice

Begin with just a few minutes each day, ideally in the morning, to set a calm and centred tone for the day. Use guided meditations if you’re a beginner—many apps and online resources offer tailored meditations, particularly for focus, stress reduction, and leadership.

Arianna Huufington posing for a photos with a sleeping mask on her face


The co-founder of The Huffington Post, and CEO of Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington, has been a vocal proponent of mindfulness and wellness. After collapsing from sleep deprivation and exhaustion, she turned to mindfulness and sleep quality improvement with a routine that embraces meditation, a sacrosanct before-bed ritual, yoga, and Headspace – a popular mindfulness app.

 2. Implement Mindful Moments

Throughout the day, take short breaks (even just 30 seconds to a minute) to practice breathing exercises or simply to become aware of your senses. This helps in resetting your stress levels and refocusing your mind.

3. Engage in Mindful Leadership

Practice active listening, which involves fully concentrating on the speaker, understanding their message, responding thoughtfully, and remembering the discussion. This helps enhance communication and build trust within your team.

Salesforce founder giving a discussion


The CEO of Salesforce is a known advocate of mindfulness and meditation, which he credits for much of his success. Salesforce has designated mindfulness zones throughout its offices, and Benioff has been instrumental in promoting mindfulness as a corporate strategy.

4. Reflect Regularly

Set aside time each week to reflect on your goals, processes, and personal growth. Use this time to consider your mental and emotional states, acknowledging stressors and contemplating adjustments in your approach.

5. Balance Work and Life

Mindfulness extends beyond work. Ensure that you are taking time to enjoy life outside of the business. Engage in hobbies, spend time with loved ones, and disconnect from work to maintain overall well-being.

How to Cultivate a Culture of Mindfulness Within Your Organization

Integrating mindfulness into your work culture, like anything new being introduced at an organization, requires a comprehensive strategy. It involves getting the team on board, putting together tools, resources, maybe even infrastructure to allow it to bloom, and finally, systems and policies to ensure it stays rooted. 

Here’s how you can build mindfulness into your organization and bring about a more harmonious workplace functioning at peak performance:

1. Lead by Example

It all starts with you. Leaders should embody mindfulness principles by practicing them visibly. When leaders themselves practice mindfulness exercises, it encourages staff to take it seriously and to integrate these practices into their own routines.

2. Provide Training and Resources

Organize workshops and training sessions on mindfulness practices. Bringing in experts for seminars or subscribing to digital platforms that offer mindfulness training can provide accessible resources for your team. Target provides mindfulness meditation training through its “Meditating Merchants” network, this training is available to all employees across various company locations.

 3. Incorporate Mindfulness into Daily Routines

Introduce regular short mindfulness sessions during the workday. For example, start meetings with a minute of guided relaxation or breathing exercises to help centre attention and reduce stress.

4. Designate Mindfulness Spaces

Create a dedicated space for mindfulness practices within your workplace. This could be a quiet room or a shared area where employees can engage in daily mindfulness exercises, either individually or as a group. These areas should be respected as no-interruption zones, providing a physical space for relaxation and introspection.

Woman practicing mindfulness in a meditation room


General Mills offers weekly meditation sessions and yoga classes, and has a dedicated meditation room in every building on its campus. Salesforce also has “mindfulness zones” on each floor, where employees set their phones aside and take a quiet moment to promote clear thinking and innovation.

5. Encourage Mindful Communication

Promote an environment where mindful listening is practiced. This involves listening to understand, not to respond!

6. Develop Policies that Support Mindfulness

Implement policies that encourage regular breaks and discourage the culture of always being “on.” Encouraging employees to take time away from their desks and to avoid after-hours work emails helps reduce burnout. Recognize and reward behaviours that reflect mindfulness, like effective stress management, exemplary focus, and enhanced teamwork.

 7. Measure the Impact

Don’t forget to assess the effectiveness of mindfulness initiatives through surveys or feedback mechanisms. There isn’t just one answer to implementing mindfulness at your organization. Understanding how certain practices affect employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall well-being can help tailor more effective programs for the future.

Group of individuals meditating in a closed room


Since launching its Awake@Intel mindfulness program, Intel has seen significant benefits among participants. Their reports indicated a two-point reduction in stress and feelings of being overwhelmed and a three-point increase in happiness and well-being. Additionally, there was also a two-point improvement in creativity, focus, mental clarity, workplace relationships, and engagement in meetings and projects.

Mindfulness for a Truly Happy and Productive Team

Being a science-backed tool, mindfulness has proven itself to enhance productivity and leadership effectiveness, and as the business world continues to evolve rapidly, the ability to remain calm and adaptive is truly invaluable.

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

Aligning Profit With Purpose Through Impact Investing

Impact investing has emerged as a powerful and moving force in the global business landscape. It has provided investors with a unique opportunity to align their financial goals with values that drive positive social and environmental outcomes.

In this blog, we explore the concept of impact investing, its potential for financial returns, and how entrepreneurs can leverage this approach to create meaningful and sustainable impact.

What is Impact Investing?

Simply defined, Impact investing is an approach that aims to generate financial returns through positive social or environmental outcomes. It involves investing in companies, funds, or projects committed to creating positive change in areas such as poverty, environmental sustainability, and social justice, to name a few.

Let’s take an example of an opportunity to invest in a company that produces factory-made standard clothing versus investing in a startup that streamlines and organizes clothing made by village artisans in a quest to preserve their culture. 

The first venture would be a pretty simple business decision, whereas investing in the latter would mean taking into account the impact and outcome on the immediate society of working with a marginalized (or) economically challenged community of artisans. So, the goal isn’t just potential profit, it is positive change or impact plus potential profit.

Tying Financial Returns with Social and Environmental Impact

Impact investing as an approach has gained significant traction in recent years, with impact investing steadily becoming a recognized and legitimate investment practice. As of 2021, over 3,349 organizations are managing an estimated $1.164 trillion in impact investing assets under management (AUM) worldwide.

This number is still off from the $4.2 trillion that the United Nations estimated would be required to achieve its 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and attain Net Zero by 2050. However, the positive sign is that investment in impact projects is growing at a net CAGR of 18% year on year – the biggest jump coming from $502 billion in 2019 to $715 billion in 2020 – a 42.4% jump.

This growth is driven by a variety of factors, including increased awareness of environmental and social issues, a desire among investors to contribute to positive change, and the emergence of specialized financial products and metrics for measuring impact.

A healthy sample size of investors tracked by the Global Impact Investing Network indicated that the types of investors in the area of impact investing consisted of:

  • Development finance institutions
  • Investment managers
  • Foundations
  • Family offices
  • Endowments
  • Institutional investors

Measuring and Reporting for Effective and Efficient Impact Investing

One of the key challenges in impact investing is effectively measuring and reporting the impact of investments. To address this issue, a variety of impact measurement frameworks and tools have been developed, such as the Impact Management Project (IMP), the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These frameworks provide investors with a common language and set of metrics to assess the social and environmental impact of their investments.

Leading the way in innovative ways to measure and report on impact investing are Root Capital, the MacArthur Foundation, the Omidyar Network, Bridges Impact+, the World Economic Forum, and the Rockefeller Foundation. This work has produced several interesting metrics, including social return on investment (SROI).

In addition to these frameworks, impact investors are increasingly seeking to align their investments with the SDGs, which provide a comprehensive roadmap for addressing global challenges such as poverty, hunger, health, education, and climate change. By aligning their investments with the SDGs, investors can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future while generating competitive financial returns.

Take, for example, the Rise Fund. Started in 2016 with over $18 billion in assets under management (AUM), Rise has worked with Bridgespan – a global consulting firm for philanthropy and non-profits – to create the Metric Impact Multiple of Money (IMM). The IMM involves six steps to calculating the impact value of a project or investment:

  1. Assessment of the Relevance and Scale
  2. Identify Target Social or Environmental Outcomes
  3. Estimate the Economic Value of those outcomes to Society
  4. Adjust for Risks
  5. Estimate Terminal Value
  6. Calculate Social Return

Investors that Focus on Impact Investing

Impact investing has enabled the growth of numerous startups and innovative companies that are driving positive social and environmental change. There are the usual suspects, such as Tesla, which aims to harness renewable energy to power technology in the future, or Google, which has been carbon neutral since 2007 and aims to be run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. There is Apple has committed over $200 million in investments under their Racial Equity and Justice Initiatives, while Amazon has launched the Climate Pledge Fund, setting aside $2 billion for investments in the space of climate change.

There are also many investment companies that are leading the way in impact investing. LeapFrog Investments, recognized as a global leader in impact investing by ImpactAssets 50 for the 12th year running, has played a significant role in the evolution of the impact investing industry. With over $1 billion in AUM and 30+ years in the business of impact investing, LeapFrog’s goal is “to open the gates of capital markets to purpose-driven businesses that provide emerging consumers with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty.

Learn Capital, another VC focused on the goal to “back and build rapidly scaling tech-enabled companies that tackle the world’s biggest human-centred problems and help us all reach our full potential,” also has over $1 billion AUM. With a primary focus on education – the investments in this sector account for nearly 40% of Learn’s portfolio of 176 companies – the VC firm also focuses on the areas of finance, community, gaming and health.

Then there is the Founders Pledge, which, in 2023, achieved $502 million in new pledges, $186 million donated to the charitable sector, and a record $84 million to their high-impact recommendations. It boasts of members such as Micheal Acton Smith, founder of Calm, and Kathryn Minshew, Founder & CEO of Daily Muse Inc. Founders Pledge aims to harness the collective power of a community of high agency individuals consisting of C-suite level executives and founders, with a desire to steer the world towards an environmentally and socially positive future.

So, if you’re a startup seeking investors who prioritize both purpose and profit, now appears to be an opportune time.

Trends and Opportunities – The Future of Impact Investing

As we look into the future of impact investing, the trends and opportunities are vast, reflecting the ever-evolving landscape of global finance and the growing emphasis on sustainable and socially responsible investment strategies. Here are some key trends and opportunities in impact to keep an eye on:

  • Leveraging Technology for Enhanced Impact: The adoption of innovative technologies and digital platforms is revolutionizing the way investments are made in social enterprises, as well as improving the monitoring and tracking of their impact.
  • Investment in Climate Solutions: In response to pressing environmental challenges, climate solutions remain a top priority. According to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Investment report, approximately $2.8 trillion is projected to be invested globally in energy in 2023, with more than $1.7 trillion directed towards climate-friendly technologies—a significant increase of 24% in clean energy investments between 2021 and 2023.
  • Advancing Financial Inclusion: There is significant potential for impact investments to enhance financial inclusion, bridging the access gap to financial services in underserved communities. This trend is supported by the increase in global account ownership from 51% in 2011 to 76% in 2021, illustrating the growing importance of financial inclusion.
  • The Rise of Co-Investing: Co-investing, where impact and commercial investors join forces, will also continue to grow, allowing for the pooling of resources and expertise, resulting in investments that are both impactful and financially sustainable.
  • Opportunities in Emerging Markets: Impact investing is poised to make big contributions in emerging markets, especially in sectors like renewable energy, healthcare, and education, which are crucial for the transformation of these regions.

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

Cybersecurity Strategies for Emerging Startups

As the world accelerates toward the adoption of interconnected digital technology, ensuring the security of all people and organizations involved has become of paramount importance. 

Here are some astonishing real-world examples of cybersecurity breaches that are guaranteed to capture your attention – in 2021, using a single password, hackers infiltrated the Colonial Pipeline Company with a ransomware attack that caused fuel shortages across the U.S. In 2020, cybercriminals cloned the voice of a company director to initiate a $35 million bank transfer. More recently, in 2023, X (formerly Twitter) was targeted by a criminal hacker who leaked more than 220 million users’ email addresses.

Simply referred to as cybersecurity, protecting billions of individuals and millions of organizations in a constantly expanding digital landscape from an alarming rise in security threats, has become priority No. 1 globally. Estimates peg cybersecurity breaches and hacks at about 26,000 times per day

Worldwide cybercrime costs are estimated to hit $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, spiking global spending on cybersecurity products and services, which is predicted to reach $1.75 trillion cumulatively for the five years from 2021 to 2025.

In this article, we discuss:

  • The importance of paying attention to cybersecurity for startups
  • Types of cybersecurity attacks startups face
  • Best practices for cybersecurity at startups
  • Cybersecurity technology and threat detection tools
  • Employee training and awareness, and future-proofing cybersecurity strategies.

Understanding the Importance of the Cybersecurity Landscape

Cybersecurity has become increasingly important for startups as the digital landscape continues to grow. Startups face several unique challenges, primarily two of which are limited resources, and a lack of cybersecurity expertise. This makes startups more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. 

About 45% of SMBs consider their security measures ineffective, and 39% lack an incident response plan. The New York Times reports that ransomware attacks often lead to severe losses for small businesses, while major corporations might recover from a data breach due to established customer loyalty, startups are sometimes forced to shut down – in fact 60% of small businesses affected by hacking fail within six months.

Types of Cybersecurity Attacks That Startups Face

The various types of cybersecurity attacks that could potentially lead to data breaches or financial losses include, but are not restricted to:

Phishing, which are attacks that involve sending fraudulent emails to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. A study showed that 57% of organizations see weekly or daily phishing attempts.

Malware is malicious software designed to harm, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system. It can be introduced through email attachments, infected websites, or infected removable storage devices. 94% of malware is delivered by email.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts, or simply blocks, a user’s data and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. The average cost of a ransomware recovery is nearly $2 million.

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) Attacks involve intercepting communication between two parties to steal sensitive information or manipulate the data being transmitted. These occur on unsecured Wi-Fi networks or through compromised email accounts.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are targeted attacks that involve a hacker gaining unauthorized access to a network and remaining undetected for an extended period.

Best Practices for Startup Cybersecurity

Startups end up putting themselves in the line of fire because they are under pressure for rapid growth and expansion, thereby leading to increased deployment of and dependence on technology. This growth often comes at the cost of stringent technological guidelines, and internal compliance. This is particularly exaggerated in the case of the usage of third-party service providers where the startups have limited bandwidth to ensure their service providers are safe and secure against cyber threats. 

Expectedly, hackers target startups because they believe they have weaker security measures in place or are less likely to detect and respond to cyber-attacks. 

To protect their business, startups must prioritize cybersecurity and implement robust security measures to safeguard their data and systems. Some best practices include:

1. Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment for every device, software, or service being used. Startups can benefit from identifying potential vulnerabilities and developing a strategy – including internal guidelines – to address them.

2. Ensuring strong passwords and a 2FA (two-factor authentication) system is in place. Alarmingly, Over 24 billion passwords were exposed by hackers in 2022, and 64 percent of passwords only contain eight to 11 characters. Sure, remembering passwords can be a task, and it is easy to take the simpler route – pet’s name, date of birth, or favourite food. However, startups must emphasize the need for stronger passwords, and 2FA, to go along with resetting passwords en masse every once in a while.

3. Keeping software, devices, and systems up-to-date, to ensure they complement and meet global standards – security patches and features – for safety and cybersecurity.

4. Conduct regular training for employees on cybersecurity best practices, such as how to identify phishing emails, how to identify potential malware threats, and how to protect sensitive information, among others.

5. Regulating and implementing access controls, to ensure that employees only have access to the systems and information that are directly related to their job functions.

6. Ensuring regular backup of data to be able to bounce right back up in the case of a cyber-attack or data breach.

7. Developing an incident response plan of action in the event of a cyberattack. Astonishingly, more than 77 percent of organizations do not have an incident response plan.

In addition to the above, startups with sensitive data could also consider encrypting their data so that in the case of a data breach, hackers may not be able to “read” or “access” any of the data they stole.

Tech, and Threat Detection Tools for Startups

The good news is that as digital technology continues to climb the peak of innovation, cybersecurity has become a hotbed of startup activity itself. However, before highlighting some of the recent successes in the space, here are some tools listed for startups to protect themselves from threats to their cybersecurity.

A Next-generation firewall (NGFW) is essential for securing a network by filtering traffic, blocking malicious activity, and providing control over network access.

An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is a software or hardware solution that monitors a network for malicious activity and alerts the administrator when a potential threat is detected.

Antivirus Software, most commonly known, is designed to detect, prevent, and remove malware from a computer system.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts a user’s internet connection and hides their IP address, providing an additional layer of security when accessing the internet.

A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software that collects and analyzes security-related data from various sources to provide real-time analysis of security alerts.

An Endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution that monitors devices connected to a network, providing detailed information about their activity and enabling a quick response to potential threats.

Resources for Employee Training and Awareness for CyberSecurity at Startups

Employee training and awareness are critical components of a robust cybersecurity strategy. An article by Verizon highlighted that 74% of breaches involved a human element in 2023. Furthermore, this training becomes critical, especially when startups may not have the monetary resources to shield themselves with high-level technology – both hardware and software. Effective training can be the first line of defence against potential cybersecurity threats for startups. 

Startups should leverage various resources to educate their employees on cybersecurity best practices. Some examples are:

Online training courses: There are numerous online training courses available that provide comprehensive cybersecurity training for employees. Popular online platforms such as Udemy or Coursera – which have ties with Google – have great introductory courses.

Subscribing to cybersecurity newsletters: Cybersecurity awareness newsletters can provide employees with regular updates on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Here is a great list to get started on some of the top cybersecurity newsletters.

Phishing simulations and gamification: Phishing simulations can help employees identify and report phishing emails and improve their overall cybersecurity awareness. A recent McAfee Winning the Game report revealed that 77% of senior managers agree their organization’s cybersecurity would be much safer if they implemented more gamification.

Cybersecurity conferences and webinars: While some may be too high level for the average employee to attend, startups would benefit from sending their employees to a conference that could train them or bring them up to speed with the latest in cybersecurity measures providing employees with valuable insights into the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices.

Future-Proofing Cybersecurity Strategies for Startups

Startups should be future-proofing their business from day one, instead of it being an after-thought. Businesses would benefit from either hiring internally or outsourcing cybersecurity to stay informed about emerging threats. In addition to creating an internal policy, it is critical to factor in a regular review and, if required, to update cybersecurity policies.

It would also help startups, even with an internal team, to engage with cybersecurity experts whose business it is to know exactly what is happening in the world of cybersecurity.

And finally, depending on the nature of the type of business the startup is in, it is advisable not to skimp on investments in cybersecurity. It is advised, depending on the tech stack and the nature of the business, that startups should account for between 5-15% of their total budget for cybersecurity.

To conclude, cybersecurity is a critical aspect of any startup’s success in today’s digital world. It should be par for the course for startups to understand the cybersecurity landscape, implement best practices, leverage tech and threat detection tools, educate their employees, and future-proof their cybersecurity strategies to protect their businesses from cyber-attacks. By prioritizing cybersecurity, startups can safeguard their data and systems, protect their customers, and maintain a strong reputation in the market.

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

The FoodTech Revolution in Canada

From kitchens to dinner tables, technology is orchestrating a gastronomic revolution unlike any other. Tech is being used to transform food processing techniques, enhance food safety standards, optimize production efficiency, and much more across the industry.

This trajectory of the global food tech industry can be attributed to the increasing adoption of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation. 

Additionally, the proliferation of online platforms has also further facilitated greater accessibility to fresh and innovative food products, fuelling new demands and consumption trends in the market.
According to a recent analysis, the global food tech market is expected to reach USD 342.52 Billion by 2027.

The Food Tech Industry in Canada

In 2022, Canada’s food and beverage processing industry emerged as the nation’s leading manufacturing sector, boasting a production value of $156.5 billion, representing 18.2% of total manufacturing sales and contributing 1.7% to the national GDP. 

This industry, which employs 300,000 Canadians, plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy by supplying approximately 70% of all processed food and beverage products available domestically and serving as the primary purchaser of agricultural output. 

The food tech sector in Canada is experiencing a renaissance much like the rest of the globe, characterized by a wave of innovation, investment, and sustainability initiatives. Dana McCauley, Chief Experience Officer at the Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN), aptly describes this era as a “golden age of food science and technology.” 

Most recently in February 2024, 8 Canadian food tech startups received a collective $1.9 million in project funding from the CFIN FoodTech Next program. Here’s a snapshot of some key highlights:

Packaged fish slice with a tag that states 'better best before'


1. Freshr Sustainable Technologies (previously known as Impactful Health R&D), based in Nova Scotia, secured US$100,000 to develop sustainable active packaging, starting with fresh fish, to reduce food waste. The funding will aid in building and testing a pilot line for continuous film coating. This innovation extends food shelf life, minimizing losses during transportation.

2. CarbonGraph Inc., headquartered in Ontario, received US$96,358 to enhance its sustainability platform for automating environmental footprint assessments of food products. The funding will support the development of new functionality to capture supply chain data, enabling high-quality assessments and providing consumers insight into their dietary choices’ environmental impact.

3. Cibotica Inc., located in British Columbia, secured US$90,741 to develop a food-safe version of a universal dispensing mechanism, optimizing their robotic salad and bowl makeline for increased productivity and efficiency in food service environments.

4. Freshline, also based in British Columbia, obtained US$83,908 to enhance its B2B e-commerce platform for food distributors and retailers. The funding will improve core functionality and streamline manual tasks, potentially revolutionizing the industry.

5. New School Foods Inc., headquartered in Ontario, received US$80,526 to advance their proprietary food scaffolding technology for whole-cut meat alternatives, starting with a plant-based salmon fillet. The funding will be used to create equipment that enhances the product to closely resemble traditional salmon.

6. ABCO Industries Inc., situated in Nova Scotia, secured US$64,926 to develop a new blancher for thermal vegetable blanching, using advanced steam delivery and digitized controls for enhanced sustainability and efficiency in the blanching process.

Startup Opportunities in FoodTech in Canada:

Skip the Dishes employee packing a food delivery order


1. The Rise of Food Deliveries:

The Online Food Delivery market in Canada is poised for substantial growth and is projected to demonstrate an annual growth rate of 7.91% through 2028, reaching US$19.78 billion. The Grocery Delivery market is also set to expand, with a revenue growth of 15.7% in 2025. 

With an average revenue per user (ARPU) of US$0.54k in 2024 and an expected 22.4 million users in the Meal Delivery market by 2028, Canada’s online food delivery sector is driven by convenience demand and the surging popularity of food delivery apps.

SkipTheDishes, a homegrown success story, exemplifies the potential and impact of food delivery startups in catering to evolving consumer preferences and lifestyle choices. Once a modest startup with a handful of restaurant partners, it now has partnerships with over 14,000 restaurants across 115 markets nationwide. Founded in 2012 by brothers Chris and Josh Simair in Saskatoon, the company saw exponential growth and was then acquired by the U.K.-based Just Eat Global Group in 2016, achieving 264% year-on-year growth and earning recognition as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast-50 award winners. With strategic expansions into new markets and innovative technology enhancements, SkipTheDishes is busy empowering both consumers and restaurateurs alike.

2. Smart Cooking Appliances:

The demand for smart appliances in Canadian households is on the rise, driven by a growing emphasis on sustainability, technological innovation, and changing lifestyle preferences. 

Modern consumers prioritize convenience, efficiency, and cutting-edge features in their kitchen appliances, spurring the popularity of smart devices controllable via mobile apps. There’s also a notable shift towards energy-efficient appliances as consumers seek to reduce utility bills and environmental impact. This trend aligns with the growing preference for a healthier lifestyle, fueling demand for appliances such as air fryers, steam ovens, and juicers that facilitate nutritious cooking. 

Urban hubs like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal stand out as key markets for smart cooking appliance startups, benefiting from increased housing projects, disposable incomes, and higher consumer demand for kitchen innovations.

3. Artificial Intelligence in Food Tech:

Canadian startups are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to revolutionize dietary analysis and personalized nutrition recommendations. 

RxFood Corp. located in Ontario is leveraging AI technology to analyze photos of meals captured by users over a three-day period. Their AI-powered system assesses food content, portion sizes, and calculates validated diet quality scores. The next phase of the project aims to automate the interpretation and food recommendations by incorporating user information such as age, location, gender, and dietary restrictions. 

Cronometer Software Inc from British Columbia is integrating AI technology into its mobile and web app to replace its Food Suggestion feature. This AI-powered alternative will provide personalized food recommendations based on individual user needs, assisting users in meeting their specific daily calorie and nutrient targets. Recommendations will be tailored based on factors such as recently logged foods, selected filters (e.g., high protein, vegetarian), meal categories (e.g., lunch), and dietary exclusions (e.g., gluten and peanuts). This project aims to enhance user satisfaction and nutritional outcomes, showcasing advancements in personalized nutrition through AI technology.

4. Plant-based Alternatives

Plant-based protein and related food tech is a top priority for Canada, as it features as one of the Global Innovation Clusters. Protein Industries Canada was created to position Canada as a global source of high-quality plant protein and plant-based co-products. This non-profit organization funds, collaborates with, and catalyzes transformation in the agriculture and food production sector. They provide entrepreneurs with access to markets, customers, and partnerships that amplify their expertise and innovations. 

With Canada’s unique advantage in producing high-protein crops like canola and pulses, coupled with access to global markets, plant-based food tech entrepreneurs have a compelling opportunity to contribute to Canada’s leadership in the global plant-based products industry.

5. Sustainability in FoodTech:

Sustainability lies at the heart of the food tech industry, with a growing emphasis on food safety, traceability, and waste reduction. Technologies such as blockchain are revolutionizing supply chain transparency, while the surge in plant-based foods reflects a broader shift toward ethical and environmentally-conscious consumption habits. 

For example, Toronto-based ‘food rescue’ startup Flashfood is tackling food waste by connecting grocery stores with consumers through an app. The app offers discounted surplus food nearing its expiration date, helping to reduce food waste while offering consumers affordable options.

The Future of FoodTech:

FlashFood banner and cell phone showcasing the platform


Looking ahead, the future of food tech holds immense promise, with innovations poised to reshape the way we produce, distribute, and consume food. Food traceability, AI, plant-based meat alternatives, and smart kitchen technologies are just a few areas expected to drive significant advancements, fostering sustainability, efficiency, and consumer well-being. 

Deeply intertwined with food tech are also Agri-tech advancements, which you can read more about here, where we talk about precision farming, CEA, agricultural biotechnology, and more!

Want to Start a Food Tech Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

Toronto’s Startup Success Stories: Exploring the Unicorns and Exits That Put the City on the Map

Toronto has one of the largest startup ecosystems in Canada and North America with some of the world’s most well-known startups located here. Shopify, Wattapad, FreshBooks, WealthSimple, Clearco, and Cohere, among countless others, all started their journey in Toronto.

Canada’s Unicorn Explosion

In the past few years, Canada’s technology sector has experienced a remarkable rise in the number of startups reaching unicorn status, with valuations surpassing $1 billion. Canada now proudly features more than 20 enterprises that have crossed this milestone, a symbol of the evolution and maturity of Canada’s startup ecosystem. 

Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without government backing, a significant infusion of international investments, increased engagement from corporate ventures, and a thriving community of early-stage Canadian investors. 

In this blog, we’ll dive into the world of Toronto’s unicorn companies, tracing their unique paths to success and highlighting some of the city’s most notable exits!

Toronto’s Unicorns and How They Got There:

Toronto has many unicorns to its name. Let’s explore some of these success stories:

  1. Wealthsimple:
Wealthsimple logo and phone

Wealthsimple, founded in 2014, revolutionized the Canadian financial services industry with its accessible, simple online investing and financial management platform. Its commitment to making investing easy for everyone, regardless of wealth or financial knowledge, quickly attracted a broad audience. 
In May 2021, Wealthsimple achieved unicorn status following a $610 million CAD funding round, valuing the company at about $4 billion CAD.

2. Clearco (formerly Clearbanc):

Clearco logo

Clearco, launched in 2015 by Michele Romanow and Andrew D’Souza, aimed to disrupt traditional venture capital with its unique revenue-share model for funding entrepreneurs. By providing non-dilutive capital for digital ads in exchange for a percentage of revenue, Clearco offered a novel solution for startups looking to grow without giving up equity. 
In July 2021, the company proudly announced it had reached unicorn status after raising $215 million in new funding, valuing the company at almost 2 billion.

3. Ada:

Ada logo

Ada, a leading Canadian tech company known for its innovative customer service automation platform, achieved unicorn status in May 2021. This milestone was reached following a funding round that raised $130 million USD, valuing the company at $1.2 billion USD. Ada’s success in automating customer interactions through AI-driven chatbots transformed customer service models for companies worldwide.

4. Figment

Figment logo with computer screen showing the application

Figment, a Toronto-based blockchain infrastructure and services provider, has made a significant impact in the rapidly evolving world of decentralized technologies. Founded in 2018, Figment has positioned itself as a key player in the blockchain ecosystem, offering a comprehensive suite of services that include staking, node infrastructure, and developer tools designed to support the growth and adoption of blockchain networks.
In December 2021, after securing $110 million in Series C funding, the company achieved a valuation of $1.4 billion, officially earning its unicorn status.

5. 1Password:

1password logo

1Password, emerged as a pivotal force in the cybersecurity realm, offering a sophisticated solution to manage passwords and secure online information. Since its inception in 2005, 1Password has grown from a simple idea to enhance online security into a global leader in password management. 
By consistently introducing features that address the evolving challenges of digital security, 1Password has stayed ahead in the competitive tech landscape. This dedication culminated in a landmark achievement in July 2021, when 1Password secured $100 million in a funding round led by Accel, propelling its valuation to $2 billion and marking its ascension to unicorn status.

Exit Strategies: Mega Acquisitions and IPOs

In the world of startups, achieving unicorn status is huge, but the journey doesn’t end there. Strategic exit strategies, like mega acquisitions and Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), often define the next phase of a company’s evolution. These pivotal moments tend to secure a startup’s legacy. Let’s delve into some of Toronto’s most notable exits:

  1. Wave Financial:
Founders of Wave Financial sitting on a couch


One of Toronto’s biggest success stories is Wave Financial, a leading financial planning platform for small business owners, which was acquired by H&R Block, a global tax preparation company, for $537 million CAD. Announced in June of 2019, this acquisition aligned with H&R Block’s strategic goals to expand into new growth areas and the small business market, enhancing its offerings with Wave’s suite of accounting, invoicing, payroll, and payment solutions. 

Wave Financial, founded in 2009 in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood, had grown substantially, serving over four million customers globally. The company, which had previously raised around $77 million USD through various funding rounds, made notable acquisitions and launched features to expand its service offerings.

2. Wattpad:

Wattpad logo in front of a wall of books


Originating as a unique platform for readers and writers to publish, share, and interact with stories across various genres, Wattpad was founded in 2006. Its innovative approach to storytelling quickly garnered a massive global community.

In 2021, the company was acquired by Naver, the South Korean internet conglomerate and parent company of the digital comics platform Webtoon, in a deal worth over $600 million.

This cash and stock transaction combined Wattpad’s vast user base of over 90 million, including 5 million writers, with Webtoon’s 72 million monthly active users, enhancing its global storytelling reach. Wattpad had already seen around 1,500 of its stories published or adapted for TV and film at the time, and the acquisition opened up access to Naver-owned digital and entertainment platforms. 

Under the agreement, Wattpad continued to operate from Toronto, led by its co-founders CEO Allen Lau and Chief Strategy Officer Ivan Yuen.

3. Ecobee:

Ecobee thermostat


Although not a unicorn yet (but certainly on it’s way there) Ecobee, known for its smart thermostats and headquartered in Toronto, was acquired by Generac Holdings in 2021. The deal was valued at approximately $770 million USD and made Ecobee a subsidiary of the generator giant. 

Ecobee was established in 2007, and has grown beyond thermostats to include a voice-controlled home security camera system. Despite the competitive smart thermostat market, with rivals like Google’s Nest and Amazon, Ecobee was able to maintain its edge through compatibility with various smart home platforms. 

This move also marked Generac’s expansion into residential energy technology, aiming to integrate Ecobee’s technologies with its energy solutions to enhance home energy efficiency and support grid operators.

Toronto’s Future as a Startup Hub

Toronto’s ascent as a startup hub is no accident. The city thrives on a dynamic ecosystem underpinned by a solid economy, governmental support, a wide variety of industries, and a comprehensive network of accelerators, incubators, and coworking spaces designed to nurture startups. This environment, coupled with Toronto’s reputation as one of the world’s most livable and diverse cities, draws talent from across the globe, enhancing its competitive edge. Moreover, its success in securing investments and a dedicated focus on cultivating tech talent solidify Toronto’s position as a pivotal force in the international startup arena.

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

Navigating Intellectual Property in Canada: A Guide for Startups to Protect and Monetize Their Innovations

Did you know Airbnb has 1686 patents to its name? Coke has protected it’s recipe as a trade secret for more than 130 years! And Apple’s design patent covers the iPhone’s iconic shape, design features, including its two-tone aluminium back, home button layout, earpiece, mute, and volume controls. 

In today’s innovation-driven economy, intellectual property (IP) is the key to success for startups. Identifying and protecting your IP as a startup helps to safeguard your unique creations, makes you more investment-friendly, and unlocks a wealth of opportunities for business growth through licensing, sales, strategic partnerships, and more. 

In this guide we discuss the different types of IPs, startups that have excelled in their IP strategy, and steps and considerations for Canadian startups looking into IP protection and management.

What is the Meaning of Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creation of products, artistic or literary works, inventions, and logos that are legally protected. They are intangible assets, preventing unauthorized use, distribution, or sale. 

Maximilian Yam, an associate at BDC Capital, emphasizes that an idea alone does not qualify as IP, it must be expressed in a form that can be legally protected. Owners of IP have exclusive rights to control how their asset is utilized, meaning it cannot be sold, used, or distributed without their consent.

Main Types of Intellectual Property in Canada

Each type of IP is designed to protect different aspects of creativity and innovation, offering various pathways for businesses and individuals to safeguard and monetize their efforts.

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Patents

Patents grant the inventor exclusive rights to prevent others from making, using, or selling their invention for up to 20 years in the country or region where the patent is granted.

The invention must be:

  • New: first in the world
  • Useful: solves a problem
  • Non-obvious: to a person skilled in the relevant field

Examples of what you can patent in Canada include, products, processes, machines, chemical compositions, and improvements or new uses of any of these.
However, not all inventions are patentable in Canada, one such example is surgical methods or new animal breeds. Read more on the Canadian Government guide to patents here.

2. Trademarks

Trademarks protect letters, words, symbols, designs, tastes, textures, moving images, modes of packaging, holograms, sounds, scents, 3-dimensional shapes or colours (or a combination of these) that distinguish goods and services in the market, effectively representing a brand’s identity and reputation. 

A trademark protects your brand across Canada, and they are renewable every 10 years in Canada. Read more on the Canadian Government guide to trademarks here.

3. Copyrights

Copyrights provide exclusive rights to creators of original works that exist in a fixed material form (written, recorded) like books, music, and art, allowing for the reproduction, performance, and creation of their creations provided the conditions set out in section 5 of the Copyright Act have been met. 

These rights aim to encourage the creation and sharing of art and knowledge while protecting creators’ interests.

Examples of what you can copyright include, books, pamphlets, computer programs, software and other works consisting of text, motion picture films, plays, screenplays and scripts, musical compositions with or without words, paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures, and more. Read more on the Canadian Government guide to copyright here.

4. Industrial Design

Industrial designs protect the unique visual appearance of a product, like its shape, pattern, or overall look. 

In Canada, registering an industrial design gives you exclusive rights to it for up to 10 years. The design must be original and registered within a year of its first publication. This registration only covers how the design looks, not how it works or is made. Read more on the Canadian Government guide to Industrial Design here.

5. Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets cover confidential business information, methods, or practices that offer a competitive edge due to their secrecy. While a very powerful tool, trade secrets might not be suitable for all forms of IP, especially if the secret can be recreated by competitors easily. 

Examples of what is considered a trade secret is, a method, a technique, a process, research and analysis data, a formula, a recipe, a device, an instrument, etc.

Trade secrets are typically used to keep valuable business information secret before getting a patent or other formal IP protection, or to safeguard innovations that are not covered by any other IP rights. Read more about Trade Secrets.

Examples of Notable IP-Focused startups

Airbnb: Airbnb has an extensive patent portfolio, including 1,686 global patents with over 61% active ones. This collection of patents stem from 762 unique patent families, underscoring Airbnb’s commitment to research and development, particularly in its primary R&D centres in the United States, United Kingdom, and South Korea.

Graph showing the airbnb patent portfolio patent filing trend


Most recently, a notable patent application by Airbnb involved a “cross-listed property matching” system, designed to detect if a property is listed on multiple vacation rental platforms. This system utilizes image comparison and machine learning to identify similarities across listings, even when images or descriptive details vary, to manage and optimize its property inventory, fees, and marketing strategies effectively. This technology will mitigate scams and ensure the uniqueness of listings on Airbnb’s platform.

Spotify: The world’s largest music streaming service, founded in Sweden – Spotify has dedicated a lot of resources to research and development, pioneering advancements in streaming technology, recommendation engines, and user interface design. To safeguard these innovations, Spotify regularly registers numerous patents, currently maintaining 614 active patents.

Most recently, in 2023, Spotify secured a patent for a feature that allows users to create and share digital mixtapes. This new functionality lets users compile a selection of media from Spotify’s catalogue and personalize it with their own voice messages or audio for intros and transitions.

InteraXon: Representing Canadian innovation, Muse develops groundbreaking neurotechnology. This Toronto-based tech company, has introduced Muse, a smart headband designed to serve as a personal meditation coach. Incorporating advanced EEG sensors, Muse tracks brain activity and delivers real-time feedback through audio cues to enhance meditation practices.

AI image of a person with eyes closed listening to music


The company’s innovative approach is deeply integrated with its IP strategy. They actively utilize insights from existing patents to inspire new ideas and continual improvements. This focus on IP not only helped attract initial investment but also supported the ongoing development and commercialization of its technology, laying a foundation for future patents. InteraXon has built a culture around IP, engaging both technical and business teams in the protection process and combining various forms of IP rights to fortify its portfolio.

Determining Your Company’s Intellectual Property

If you’re finding it difficult to figure out what parts of your business product, service, design, process, or work can be considered IP, try an IP audit which can help in identifying the various forms of IP within your startup.

Steps That Startups Can Take to Secure Their Intellectual Property

Safeguarding your IP does not necessarily mean heavy legal fees, if you’re on a tight budget you can still protect your IP effectively by focusing on simple strategies.

  • Brand Protection: For building brand recognition, be sure to use your brand logo, with your selected symbol and colour palette consistently across platforms and collaterals, accruing common-law trademark rights over time. However opting for Registered trademarks is a better idea as it offers broader protection across regions.
  • Patent Awareness: Patents, as we’ve explored earlier are vital especially for startups reliant on unique technology. But the cost of obtaining a patent can be high and even the waiting period could be long. But in the meantime, avoid actions that could prevent future patent protection, such as public disclosure of an invention without a non-disclosure agreement. Luckily, in North America, there’s a one-year grace period for disclosures by the inventor.
  • Copyright Notice: Copyright protection for your work is actually automatic upon creation and can be easily safeguarded by a simple © symbol, the year, and the creator’s name. This is considered a direct notification to any viewer of your rights.
  • Ownership: One of the most important aspects of protecting your IP is the million dollar question – who owns the IP? Ownership of all IPs should be clearly documented, especially with employees and contractors. Ensure your agreements with employees or any third party contractors retains the company’s rights to its creations. Here’s a format you can refer to.

4 Ways That Startups Can Monetize Their Intellectual Property

Now that you know how to identify your IP and safeguard, let’s talk about monetizing them. There are several strategies you can employ to maximize your IP’s value and generate revenue. Here’s an introduction to some effective ways to monetize your IP:

  1. Licensing and Franchising: This involves allowing another party to use your IP in return for payment. Licensing can cover various aspects, from manufacturing to distribution, allowing the licensee or franchisee to handle these operations. It’s a way to spread your brand and products with less direct involvement in the day-to-day operations. A classic example is McDonald’s franchising model. McDonald’s licenses its brand, business model, and other IP to franchisees who operate their own restaurants under the McDonald’s name. The franchisees pay McDonald’s for the use of its IP, including trademarks and proprietary business practices, in exchange for operational support and the right to sell McDonald’s products.

2. Assigning (Selling the IP): If you’re considering a pivot in your business direction or looking to exit a particular innovation field, selling your IP might be a viable option. This entails transferring your IP rights to another entity in exchange for a lump sum, offering a direct financial benefit from your intellectual endeavours. Back in 2011, Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion to enhance the Android ecosystem. By bolstering Google’s patent portfolio through this purchase the company’s intent was to better safeguard Android against what he described as anti-competitive threats from other major players in the industry.

3. IP Collateralization: Using your IP as collateral to secure loans is another method gaining popularity. This approach can be more accessible and less complex than other monetization strategies, like securitization​​.

4. Spin-out Opportunities: Creating a new company around a particular piece of IP to exploit its potential can attract new investment and brand new pathways for your company’s growth. Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, is an example of a company continuously creating spin-outs to maximize the potential of its IP. Alphabet has spun out several companies, such as Waymo for autonomous vehicles and Verily in the life sciences sector, allowing these entities to focus on specific technologies and markets.

Whether you choose to license or franchise your IP, or outright sell it, finally, the key is to strategically align the choice with your business goals and the specific characteristics of your IP. 

The Future of Intellectual Property: What You Need to Know

The dynamic nature of technology, coupled with changing legal frameworks, will continue to evolve how IP is managed and protected. Here’s a glimpse into key IP trends that may affect your startup:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI’s rapid advancement has been raising significant questions about the ownership of machine-generated creations. As AI technologies become more creative and autonomous, distinguishing between human and AI creativity is becoming increasingly complex. Entrepreneurs will need to prepare to navigate these complexities in the very near future.

2. Digital Age Trademarks: The digital marketplace has transformed trademark considerations. The shift towards online business activities emphasizes the importance of non-traditional trademarks, such as domain names, hashtags, or even virtual goods. This evolution demands more vigilance on the part of startup founders in monitoring and disputing trademark infringements online.

3. Data Protection vs. Open Innovation: As governments worldwide tighten data protection regulations, startups must balance the need for data security with the collaborative spirit of open innovation, much like Tesla’s Open-Source Patent Pledge. But this requires a nuanced approach, and we’ll need to talk about it much more as a community.

4. Indigenous IP Framework: Recognizing and protecting the IP rights of Indigenous communities is becoming a priority in Canada and beyond. Entrepreneurs must be aware of the unique considerations and legal frameworks surrounding Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions. This involves engaging with these communities respectfully and ensuring their IP is protected through appropriate legal mechanisms.

5. International Trade Agreements: The global nature of IP rights is underscored by international trade agreements, such as the CPTPP and CUSMA. These agreements can significantly impact how IP is managed across borders, affecting everything from patent filings to trademark registrations.

As we look towards the future, it’s clear that the IP landscape is evolving in response to technological advancements and societal shifts. Entrepreneurs must stay informed and adaptable, leveraging these trends to protect and maximize the value of their IP assets.

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

A Look into the Future of Connected Living

Often, when faced with the question of how many devices a person is connected to, we think, of mobile devices, tabs or more recently VR headsets. But think about how many devices you’re actually connected to – cars, speakers, household electronic appliances, TVs, home security devices, security cameras, and door locks, to name a few. They’ve all long become a surprisingly mundane part of our lives. In an almost blink-and-miss way, we’ve already become rather comfortable in the ‘Connected Living’ era without realizing it. And the business world is sitting upright, taking notice of this. 

Connected living refers to a lifestyle that integrates technology into daily life to enhance convenience, efficiency, and personalization. It encompasses a wide range of applications like smart homes, wearable devices, connected cars, and smart cities. Connected living uses the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, data analytics & Artificial Intelligence, presenting entrepreneurs an opportunity to be part of a growing story that is the world of connected living.
According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the smart home market alone is already estimated to be US$ 120 billion by the end of 2024. That number will rise more than three times, by 2029 to touch US$ 370 billion. Bouquet those homes into cities, says MarketsAndMarkets and the world is looking at a 1 trillion dollar market before this century turns 30. To put that into perspective, the global pharmaceutical medicine market in 2023 was estimated to be US$1.6 trillion.

Emerging Trends in Connected Living – Where Innovation Will Thrive

Starting with the obvious- smart homes, individuals and families continue to seek ways to make their lives simpler through automation. From microwaves to cook food while watching TV, right down to ACs that can be turned on on your way home, or refrigerators that can order groceries when they run out, homes are getting increasingly smarter by the day.

Just last year the Canadian government, for instance, inked a deal with Ericsson committing nearly UD$350 million towards the development of advanced 5G, 6G, AI, cloud RAN, and core network research over the next five years. This quantum and pace of investment, primarily seeking to proliferate the ease of availability of faster internet speeds, will only serve to hasten connected living.

From smart homes leveraging IoT and AI to intelligent energy management systems, some of the emerging trends in the domain of connected living are:

Smart Home Devices with IoT and AI

Finger pressing a smart home thermostat


The integration of IoT and AI technologies is revolutionizing the smart home market, enabling devices to communicate, track and analyze data, and make intelligent decisions autonomously. A report by Grand View Research suggests that the global IoT in smart home market size is expected to reach $540 billion by 2030 – a CAGR of just over 27% – driven by increasing demand for connected devices and home automation solutions.

Enhanced convenience and increased comfort, efficient energy usage and savings, and improved safety and security are just some of the topline benefits for those seeking to live a more connected life.

Google Nest, for example, claims its UK customers can save between 8.4 to 16.5% of their heating bills. Americans too, in another example, can shed off some of the US$ 130 billion they spend on wasted energy. Canadian Ecobee’s smart thermostats claim they can help you save up to 26% on your annual heating and cooling costs with their ability to program heating schedules, adjust comfort settings to reduce energy consumption when the home is unoccupied, and SmartSensors that adjust the temperature based on room occupancy.

Augmented Reality in Connected Living

Hands holding a phone showing a chair in their living room


Virtual visualization of the world, especially since the 2020 pandemic, has become a hotbed of innovation and investment. By the end of 2023, there were an estimated 1.4 billion AR device users globally. 61% of consumers preferred retailers that used AR – like the IKEA Place App that uses augmented reality to overlay products into their living room to see how they fit. Spending on AR is only going up from here, as it is expected to surpass US$ 50 billion by 2026.

Smart Building Automation

computer model of smart condo buildings


An extension of the smart homes phenomenon, buildings – both commercial and residential – and gated communities, are leaning heavily towards smart solutions. They seek to solve the same problems and tweak the same efficiencies as that of homes. Better communal security, collection, and collation of data for better decision-making, and greener and cleaner consumption of non-renewable energy are some of the areas of focus for smart buildings.

The global market for smart buildings is expected to cross over US$120 billion by 2026.

Intelligent Energy Management Systems (IEMS)

Intelligent energy refers to the use of advanced technologies, data analytics, and automation to optimize energy production, distribution, and consumption in a more efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective manner. Technology that classifies itself under intelligent energy includes, but is not restricted to smart power grids, energy monitoring and analytics, efficient response systems for demand and supply, enhanced energy storage and deployment, distributed energy resources (DERs), and building automation systems.

Undoubtedly a critical pillar of connected living, intelligent energy management is a direct cousin of the clean and green future of the globe. With over 40% of the world’s emissions coming from CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions arising directly from electricity consumption by individual and commercial consumers, energy management is the lowest-hanging fruit for connected living solutions. Experts believe that up to 20% of that energy can easily be saved with smarter energy management systems.

Estimated to be valued at US$36.2 billion in 2020, the global energy management systems market size is projected to reach $161.9 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 16.2% from 2021 to 2030.

The Future of Connected Living in Canada

Very few countries promote a balanced life like Canada does. With its globally renowned healthcare system, its robust welfare system, its ecosystem for innovation in tech and emphasis on quality of life, Canada is already the chosen destination for millions across the world to make Canada their home. This also, then, makes it home to some unique challenges, such as an aging population, or the need to efficiently deliver healthcare.

Understandably, then Canada has emerged as a hub for innovation in connected living with homegrown startups making waves in the global market.

  • Ecobee, a Toronto-based company whose flagship product, the Ecobee SmartThermostat, revolutionized the smart thermostat market was acquired for a whopping US$770 million in 2021 by US-based Generac Holdings. Founded in 2007, and having raised US$200 million throughout business operations, the smart thermostat – a competitor to the Google Nest – combined smart sensors, voice control, and machine learning algorithms to deliver energy-saving features and an intuitive user experience.
  • Nanoleaf, a lighting company founded in 2012 and headquartered in Toronto secured US$2.9 million in funding from the Canadian government in 2016. Known for its innovative modular lighting panels, Nanoleaf’s products seamlessly integrate with popular smart home platforms like Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa, offering users endless possibilities for customizable lighting solutions.
  • The international connected living industry is taking notice of Canadian companies as well, attracting global recognition and collaboration. Vancouver-based Mojio which specializes in connected mobility- including connecting vehicles and transportation – is collaborating with US-based smart-home solutions provider Skybell to jointly develop a telematics solution to be deployed in both companies’ solutions. Mojio has raised over US$ 80 million over its lifetime, in the hope to tap into and build a business in the connected vehicles industry, estimated to be valued at US$750 billion by 2030.
  • Ottawa-based Aetonix is making strides to envelop the healthcare system, helping automate it to manage our health better. In a full circle of sorts, right from birth to school, university to work, family to friends, and everything in between, companies are seeking entrepreneurial opportunities to keep us connected. And with the industry quickly moving toward that magical US$1 trillion number, we will see a host of technological innovations taking us into a future of connected living.

The Implications of Connected Living for Businesses: Opportunities and Challenges

The implications of connected living for businesses are multifaceted, presenting a landscape filled with both exciting opportunities and formidable challenges. 

Let’s start with the opportunities:

  • Enhanced Customer Engagement: Through connected devices and platforms, businesses have the opportunity to engage with their customers in real time, which means personalized experiences and services will open up a direct line of communication that can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Operational Efficiency: From automated inventory management to energy-saving solutions in offices, connected living technologies can help reduce costs and enhance productivity at manufacturing facilities, office buildings, and more.
  • Data-Driven Insights: The vast amount of data generated by connected devices can unlock a treasure chest of unparalleled insights into consumer behaviour, preferences, and trends. This data can go on to inform product development, marketing strategies, and customer service improvements.

Now for the challenges:

  • Security and Privacy Concerns: As businesses collect and analyze more consumer data, they are bound to face increased scrutiny regarding how they protect this information. Ensuring data security and privacy is paramount, requiring robust cybersecurity measures and transparent data handling practices.
  • Technical Integration and Compatibility: Developing products and services that seamlessly integrate with existing connected living ecosystems can be challenging. Ensuring compatibility across different platforms and devices requires significant investment in research and development.
  • Regulatory Compliance: The connected living space is subject to evolving regulations aimed at protecting consumers and ensuring fair competition. Businesses must navigate these regulations, which can vary significantly depending on the markets they plan to target.
  • Market Saturation and Differentiation: As more companies enter the connected living space, standing out in a crowded market becomes increasingly difficult. Businesses need to differentiate their offerings through unique features, superior quality, or exceptional customer service to gain a competitive edge.

Why Canada for Connected Living Startups

Fortunately, startups based in Canada are well-equipped to tackle these challenges directly, thanks to the country’s exceptionally robust and supportive ecosystem.

  • Canada is the 4th largest hub for cybersecurity in the world, the main cybersecurity hubs within Ontario are Toronto, Waterloo, Brampton, and Ottawa. Most recently, Brampton is home to the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst, a national centre for innovation and collaboration in cybersecurity.
  • Ontario is North America’s second-largest tech cluster; which means there is never any dearth of tech talent to build the best-in-class products. In fact, 48% of Canada’s IT professionals reside here. The Toronto-Waterloo corridor specifically has an impressive tech ecosystem, with 16 universities and colleges, 15,000 tech companies, and 5,200 startups. The abundance of tech workers in this region is known to be nearly equivalent to that of New York City. At its current growth rates, the corridor is set to surpass New York City in tech workforce numbers within the next few years.
  • The Canadian Government understands the benefits of a future involving connected living, this can be seen from the many initiatives that propel this movement further. Their Smart Buildings Initiative is a prime example, spearheaded by Public Services and Procurement Canada. It aims to implement advanced data analytics to monitor and control the mechanical, heating, cooling, and lighting systems in federal buildings. This initiative seeks to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and diagnose and rectify inefficiencies in real time. We also have the Smart Cities Challenge, a pan-Canadian competition open to all municipalities, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) to empower communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology. Winners are awarded up to $50 million to leverage technology to improve life in their cities. And the Energy Innovation Program, which is calling for proposals aimed at advancing technology, market, and regulatory innovations to expand pilot projects to full grid deployments. This initiative will help improve grid reliability, resiliency, and flexibility, enhance energy affordability, support greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, and create favourable market conditions for scaling innovations.

Other Information and Links for Further Reading:

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

Catalyzing Change: Transformative Funding Resources for Women-led Startups

It’s time to celebrate the spirit and unwavering tenacity of women entrepreneurs in the business landscape. On this Women’s Day, we honour the visionaries and change-makers who have fearlessly set out on their entrepreneurial journeys, defying odds and breaking barriers along the way. 

At the Toronto Business Development Centre, we are committed to fostering innovation and growth, irrespective of gender, and we couldn’t be prouder to showcase the invaluable resources and funding opportunities available for women entrepreneurs in Canada.

Government Resources for Women in Entrepreneurship:

We invite you to explore the boundless opportunities and untapped potential that await you in the world of government funding and grants specifically designed for women entrepreneurs in Canada. These grants and funding opportunities provide unique support to women in entrepreneurship and are here to help you succeed.  

Check out these Government resources below to see how they can propel your venture to new heights.

This article provides valuable information about funding opportunities specifically targeted towards diverse business owners.

The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is a part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy initiated by the Government of Canada to support women entrepreneurs in accessing tools and financing for success.

The EquiVision website provides easily comparable data on representation rates and pay gaps of federally regulated private-sector employers in Canada. It offers data on four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act, including women.

Funding for Women Entrepreneurs

Get ready to soar in your business because we’ve compiled a list of funding resources to help you grow your company. In today’s dynamic entrepreneurial landscape, it’s crucial to access the right resources to turn your visionary ideas into reality. Fortunately, there is no shortage of support for women in entrepreneurship, with a multitude of funding resources available to fuel your growth and success. As a leading champion of entrepreneurship, we are committed to supporting women entrepreneurs by providing access to these funding resources and empowering them to break barriers and shatter glass ceilings. Together, let’s harness the immense potential that lies within and revolutionize the business landscape.

Discover these funding opportunities for women in entrepreneurship:

BDC offers support for women entrepreneurs looking for financing advice, support, and resources.

The Women Entrepreneur Fund is a business expansion grant that supports women-led companies execute a growth strategy.

DELIA provides loans of up to $15,000 to qualifying female entrepreneurs for business start-up, stabilization or expansion.

The city of Richmond Hill offers entrepreneur support and funding for Women entrepreneurs.

Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

We have curated a wealth of resources specifically designed to empower and uplift women in the world of business. Canada offers a myriad of resources tailored to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs, and TBDC is at the forefront of connecting these dynamic individuals with the tools they need to thrive. Join us as we unveil a comprehensive guide to the resources available, propelling women entrepreneurs toward success and impact in the business realm.

Check out the multitude of resources available for women entrepreneurs below.

The Startup Women program offers various resources and opportunities throughout the year, including webinars, industry-specific advisory circles, and meetings with Startup Women leaders.

TD Bank provides advice, as well as guidance to the right connections, tools and resources for women entrepreneurs.

The Forum is a registered charity that is dedicated to providing resources and support for women in business and entrepreneurship.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is committed to helping women grow in their businesses and reach success.

The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub provides data, resources, and events for women in entrepreneurship.

Southern Ontario Women Entrepreneur Initiative is Funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and supports the development of francophone and bilingual women’s entrepreneurial skills.

Lioness Magazine is a publication designed to offer news and resources to women entrepreneurs.

This guide provides links and resources from the Government of Canada for women entrepreneurs.

Congratulations to all the amazing women out there who are pursuing their dreams of entrepreneurship! There are many resources available to help you overcome the unique challenges that women face in the business world. From government support to funding opportunities, the world is yours for the taking. TBDC is here to help you every step of the way and to foster growth and innovation in the industry. Together, we can build a brighter future for all women entrepreneurs.

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

Best Practices for Testing and Validating Your Startup Concept

Having a brilliant business idea is just the starting point of a long entrepreneurial journey. Every day, businesses face a myriad of challenges – marketing hurdles, legal complications, technological glitches, or financial constraints. However, interestingly, 34% of businesses find their downfall because of a completely different, albeit, fundamental reason – lack of product-market fit. If what you’re selling is not what the market wants, legal, marketing, tech, or finances may not be able to save you. 

But the silver lining for all the entrepreneurs reading this is, that there is, in fact, a proactive strategy to counter this: testing and validating your product-market fit. In this guide, we’ll explore the most effective methods to test and validate your business ideas, ensuring you’re on the right path to success.

What is Product-Market Fit?

Product-market fit is a critical concept in the startup world. Achieving product-market fit means you’ve identified a market gap and filled it effectively with your product. It’s the sweet spot where what you offer aligns perfectly with what your target customers need and are willing to pay for.

What Does it Mean to Validate Your Startup Concept?

Validating your startup concept is a practice that involves strategic steps to ascertain whether your business idea is viable and desirable in the market. This process includes assessing the demand for your product, understanding your target audience, and ensuring that your business model is sustainable. It’s all about gathering evidence to support the assumption that your product will sell in the market you aim to enter.

5 Steps to Validate Your Startup

Whether you are at the ideation stage or further along in your business development, one thing is for sure – as of now your future business success is based on assumptions, that convince of your offering. But in the validation process, you get to confirm whether your customers agree too – making your assumption a cold, hard fact. 

There are various methods to do this, but approaching it in a strategic manner in the following sequence can help you collect the most reliable data.

Step 1: Write out Your Hypothesis

The foundation of your startup validation process begins with articulating a clear hypothesis. This hypothesis should succinctly outline the following:

  1. What problem is your business solving?
  2. Who are you solving this problem for?
  3. Why would they pay for your solution over existing solutions?

Writing this out forces you to refine your idea and sets a clear benchmark against which you can measure your subsequent findings. It also guides your research and validation efforts, ensuring they are focused and relevant to your business goals.

Step 2: Market Analysis with Secondary and Primary Data

In order to start testing your business hypothesis, conducting a thorough market analysis is pivotal. This format of research can be conducted in the form of primary or secondary research. Generally secondary research is where you tap into data that already exists relevant to your industry, product or service. Primary data collection involves collecting information first-hand specific to your purpose. 

Use a combination of both data types to understand market trends, customer behaviour, and the competitive landscape as closely as possible. By correctly carrying out this exercise, you can sharpen your value proposition even further.

Great sources of secondary market research can include:

  • Industry Reports: These reports, often compiled by market research firms, provide comprehensive insights into specific industries. Examples include data on market size, growth trends, key players, and future outlook. Gartner, Forrester, and Nielsen are trusted market research firms.
  • Government Publications and Statistics: Governments often publish detailed reports and statistics on economic conditions, demographic data, and industry-specific information. To find data on Canada, deep dive into Statistics Canada, the official website of the National Statistics Office of Canada, and the Canadian Official Website that gives out key information from the Statistics Canada data and showcases them by industry. This is an excellent place to start if you want a quick summary or snapshot of GDP, Industry Trends, and Trade data.
  • Academic Journals and Papers: Universities and academic institutions frequently conduct in-depth research on various industries and markets. Follow Academic journals like the University of Toronto Press, or the University of Waterloo’s Library to access cutting-edge insights and analysis, often backed by rigorous methodologies.
  • Trade and Business Publications: Trade magazines and business newspapers offer up-to-date news, interviews, and analysis on market trends, industry challenges, and corporate strategies as well. Titles like Forbes, and Bloomberg Businessweek, are useful for global insights, for Canada-specific insights, you can bookmark:  BDC, Fintech Times, Healthcan, Canadian Manufacturing, Canadian Food Business, and many more.
  • Financial Reports and Company Filings: Publicly traded companies are required to file detailed financial reports. These documents, including annual reports and 10-K filings, can provide insights into a company’s performance, strategy, and market position.
  • Market Research Databases: Online databases like Statista, IBISWorld, and Mintel offer a wealth of data on various markets and industries, including consumer behaviour, market forecasts, and industry trends.
  • Social Media and Online Forums: Analysing conversations and trends on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and industry-specific online forums can offer real-time insights into consumer opinions and emerging trends.
  • Consulting Firm Publications: Many consulting firms publish their research and insights on a variety of industries. Firms like McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Deloitte offer reports and whitepapers that can be extremely useful.

Methods of primary research include:

  • Interviews and Surveys: Engaging directly with potential customers through interviews. This approach allows you to gain first-hand insights into the needs, preferences, and pain points of your target audience. Conducting surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews provides qualitative data that can validate or challenge your initial assumptions. This feedback is invaluable in refining your product features, pricing, and overall go-to-market strategy. It ensures that the development of your product is customer-centric, increasing the likelihood of its market acceptance and success.

Step 3: Building an MVP

By this stage, you would have already gathered enough data from multiple sources to build out a prototype or develop a minimum viable product (MVP). This step is the most hands-on method for validating your startup.

An MVP requires you to create at least a basic version of your product that is functional enough to be tested by real users.

For example: Dropbox’s MVP was a simple video demonstration of its file-syncing software. Before building the full product, the founder, Drew Houston, created a video showing how Dropbox would work. This video attracted so much interest and validated the demand for such a product. 

Airbnb’s MVP was a basic website that the founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, created to rent out air mattresses in their apartment during a design conference in San Francisco. This simple idea of providing affordable short-term lodging options evolved into what it is today. 

The initial version of Facebook was a very basic social networking site exclusively for Harvard students. Mark Zuckerberg launched “Thefacebook” (as it was originally called) to connect Harvard students. Its popularity quickly spread to other universities, prompting a more developed version of the site.

Along with putting out the MVP, it is also very important to define and track the right metrics. Based on your business model you can keep a close eye on metrics like:

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): The average cost of acquiring a customer
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU): The average revenue received from each customer
  • Lifetime Value (LTV): Total revenue a business can expect from a single customer throughout their relationship
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measure customer loyalty and satisfaction by asking customers how likely they are to recommend the company to others
  • Inventory Turnover: For retail or product-based businesses, this measures how often inventory is sold and replaced over a certain period
  • Website Traffic and Conversion Rate: For online businesses, tracking the number of visitors to your site and the percentage of visitors who take a desired action (like making a purchase) is key

This step is very important for collecting brutally practical insights into how your product is used and perceived in real-world scenarios. Through this you can get privy to, identifying usability issues, understanding honest customer satisfaction, and gauging the product’s overall appeal.

Step 4: Pilot Programs or Beta Testing

Once your MVP has been further improved upon, the next strategic step for validation before a full-scale launch is a pilot program or beta testing. You can choose to introduce your product to a select group of users to gather rich, actionable data. This stage is essential for identifying any technical or operational issues, understanding user engagement, and refining the overall user experience. Beta testing also helps in building a base of early adopters who can become advocates for your product. 

Google, even as a behemoth tech company, is still very well known for its extensive use of beta testing. Products like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Docs were all released as beta versions to a limited audience initially. This approach allowed Google to gather user feedback and make improvements before a wider release. Gmail, for instance, was in beta testing for five years, continually evolving based on user input.

Similarly, before Spotify became a global streaming giant, it ran a beta program in its early stages. This program was essential for testing their music streaming service with a limited audience in Europe, which helped them refine the user experience and fix bugs before launching more broadly.

Slack, the popular messaging platform for teams, initially started as an internal communication tool for a small gaming company. It was then rolled out as a beta to other organizations to test its functionality and usability in a real-world business environment.

Step 5: Financial Viability Assessment

Finally, assessing the financial viability of your startup is the ultimate test of the validation process. After confirming your hypothesis with data, an MVP, and a beta test, you should have in front of you a working business model, including cost structures, revenue streams, pricing strategies, and break-even analysis. 

This analysis ensures that your startup is not only desirable to customers but also financially sustainable in the long term. In the famous words of Kevin O’Leary, if your business isn’t making money, it’s a hobby, not a business. 

This assessment should include projections of sales, expenses, cash flow, and profitability. A detailed financial analysis of potential financial risks and opportunities, best practices to maintain financial health and attract investors. By understanding all of these economic aspects, you can easily make informed decisions on funding, scaling, and managing the financial growth of your startup.

Step 6: Art of the pivot

The key to enduring success is the capacity to stay agile and pivot. Through your pursuit of validation – what if you don’t actually find what you’re looking for? 

Did you know that Twitter originally started as Odeo, a platform focused on audio podcasting, before transforming into the social networking giant it is today? Similarly, Slack’s journey began with the development of a game named Glitch, which eventually pivoted into the widely-used enterprise messaging application we know now.

There are many types of pivots to deeply consider if it comes to this. You can pivot on your product, your market, or even your customer. The final call, of course, comes from you – the founder. What does your data, your customer, and your gut tell you?

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

The Future of Virtual Reality in Business | 2024 Trends

For over two decades, Virtual Reality (VR) has lingered on the fringes of technology and consumer experience, often seen as a futuristic concept rather than an accessible tool. Initially, its adoption faced numerous barriers, including high costs, limited content, and bulky hardware. However, recent years have marked a significant shift in this landscape. The once-prohibitive barriers have dramatically decreased, releases like the Meta Quest 3 and Meta Quest Pro, alongside the debut of Apple’s flagship VR device show off more versatile, powerful, and lighter devices at better price points.

Organizations like NASA, the military, banks, retail giants like Walmart, hospitals, and automobile companies, have already inducted VR into their operations for simulations and training. 

This increased rate of adoption has influenced the global Virtual Reality (VR) market, projections indicate an expansion from under $12 billion in 2022 to over $22 billion by 2025. In this article, we explore how VR will affect businesses and their consumer experiences, and how you as a startup founder can make the most of the opportunities that come with it.

Unleashing the Immersive Potential of VR: 3 Futuristic VR Trends That Are Already Here

VR integration into daily life and business operations continues to reshape industries in ways that were once imagined only in science fiction. Here are 3 of the latest VR business trends that promise to level up the meaning of immersive experiences in 2024:

  1. Social VR

The evolution of Virtual Reality (VR) is – ironically- increasingly emphasizing social interaction, and social VR platforms are at the forefront of this solution, offering shared environments where users can interact in real time. These platforms allow you to host a variety of group activities, including parties, concerts, multiplayer gaming, and even meetings. Platforms like Microsoft Mesh offer advanced 3D environments that simulate in-person workshops, meetings, and conferences.

Source: Microsoft Mesh

User’s virtual embodiments can participate with true eye contact and spatialized sound for natural communication cues. Team members can even jointly view and alter 3D models, brainstorm on virtual whiteboards, and deliver presentations & pitches as their customized avatars.

2. Multi-Sensory VR

While headset-mounted screens and speakers offer visual and auditory immersion, the development of haptic gloves is a game-changer for tactile interaction in VR. These gloves can simulate sensations of weight and pressure, creating a convincing experience of handling real objects. Haptx is one of many companies manufacturing gloves for the enterprise metaverse.


Additionally, innovations are also being made in olfactory technology, where devices could emit scented vapours to propel realism in virtual environments. Full-body suits have been added to the mix as well, with companies like TeslaSuit already shipping out physical suits that provide haptic feedback and capture motion and biometrics.

3. Immersive Shopping

Virtual stores and virtual product trials will continue to make their way to retail as we move into 2024. We can expect more sophisticated mixed-reality retail experiences, integrating the convenience of online shopping with the tangible feel of in-store experiences. Lowe’s Home Improvement allowed its customers to virtually design their dream spaces using a Marxent-powered app and an Oculus Rift headset.

Source: Forbes

Companies like Obsess are already busy creating virtual stores with immersive e-commerce experiences for brands, using 3D technology. Corona, Coach, Fendi, Charlotte Tilbury, Crocs, Dyson, and more have already successfully launched virtual stores.

Beyond Entertainment: VR for Education and Training

VR has largely been connected to gaming and entertainment up till now, but based on the 2024 trends, it is clear that VR has greatly proved its mettle in applications across training and education as well. A 2022 survey by PWC revealed that VR training enhances learning efficiency and confidence among trainees. Specifically, individuals training through VR absorbed knowledge 4 times faster than traditional classroom learners and showed a 275% increase in confidence in applying their learned skills in real-world scenarios.

VR technology is also breaking down traditional barriers in learning by transporting classrooms to different eras or planets, thereby making subjects like history, geography, and science more engaging and comprehensible.

There’s an anticipated growth in platforms that will enable smaller organizations to adopt this trend. Here are some real-world, extremely impressive examples of how VR has been embraced for education and training purposes:

  • Surgical Training for Doctors: Osso VR allows medical professionals to practice complex surgical procedures in a safe, virtual environment. It’s used worldwide by top hospitals and medical schools to help surgeons rehearse surgeries, reduce errors, and improve patient outcomes.


  • Military Training with STRIVR: The U.S. military uses STRIVR’s VR platform to simulate realistic combat scenarios. This helps soldiers develop strategic thinking, teamwork, and decision-making skills in a risk-free environment.
  • Aviation Training at Boeing’s Virtual Reality Lab: Boeing offers pilots an immersive experience in realistic flight conditions using state-of-the-art flight simulators, improving pilots’ skills and reducing the risk of real-life accidents.
  • Firefighting Training with FLAIM Trainer: This system enables firefighters to practice extinguishing fires and navigating smoke-filled environments in a controlled, virtual setting.
  • Science Education: VR is used to teach complex scientific concepts in an interactive way. Students can, for example, walk through a human heart or explore the inner workings of a cell. The Stanford Virtual Heart is one such application that helps students learn about heart defects in a 3D environment.
  • Language Learning: VR applications like MondlyVR offer immersive language learning experiences, allowing students to practice speaking a new language in a virtual setting that mimics real-life conversations.
  • Astronomy and Space Exploration: Applications like Titans of Space take students on a tour of the solar system and beyond, providing an immersive experience of space that is impossible to replicate in a traditional classroom.

Building Trust and Authentic Connections Using VR

As technology continues its journey towards ‘virtual,’ the importance of building trust and authentic connections with customers has become even more urgent for businesses. VR can in fact be leveraged to foster communication, collaboration, and empathy in various settings. Here are some examples of how businesses can make the most of VR to establish better relationships with their stakeholders:

  • Brand Engagement and Storytelling: VR offers a unique platform for immersive brand storytelling and engagement. Companies can create virtual experiences that narrate their brand’s history, values, and vision, allowing customers to engage with the brand narrative in a deeply personal and memorable way. For example, a cosmetic brand might use VR to take customers on a journey through the natural environments that inspire their products, enhancing brand loyalty through a shared experience of the brand’s core values and commitment to sustainability.
  • Customer Service and Support: VR can be used to provide interactive customer service. For example, in the tech industry, customer service representatives might guide customers through troubleshooting or setup processes in a virtual environment, making the process clearer and more engaging.
  • Training and Development: VR is an effective tool for empathy training, conflict resolution, and leadership development. By immersing individuals in scenarios from different perspectives, VR can cultivate understanding and empathy toward customers and other stakeholders.

Emerging Startup Opportunities in VR

Industries across the board, such as automobile, education, medicine, military, and more, are in need of VR solutions. The applications of VR are as far as the mind can imagine, making the opportunities that much more vast. From hardware to software, content, to user experience design, the scope for innovation is immense.

  • Hardware: There’s a growing demand for more ergonomic and user-friendly VR headsets and accessories.
  • Software: There’s an opportunity for the creation of customized VR applications tailored to specific industry needs. For example, in education, this might involve developing interactive and immersive learning modules for various subjects. In medicine, it could mean creating detailed surgical simulations for training purposes.
  • Content creation: This is another area ripe for growth. There’s a need for a vast array of VR content, ranging from entertainment and gaming to educational and training materials. This opens up opportunities for filmmakers, game developers, educational content creators, and storytellers to explore new dimensions of creativity and engagement.
  • UI/UX: Furthermore, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design in VR are crucial areas that require attention. As VR environments become more complex, the need for intuitive and user-friendly design becomes paramount.
  • VR Integration: Lastly, with the growing interest in the metaverse, the integration of VR with other technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and IoT presents exciting new frontiers. This could lead to the development of more interactive and intelligent virtual environments, potentially transforming further how we work, learn, and interact.

Want to Start a VR Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

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