Wavefront helping startups tap into $1.2 trillion M2M market (via Business in Vancouver)

Accelerator does some acceleration of its own with expansion

By Nelson Bennett, Tues Feb 12, 2013

Power utilities around the world lose an estimate $200 billion annually to electricity theft and equipment failure.

That might explain the growth of Vancouver startup Awesense, which developed a mobile sensor that power companies can connect to power lines to identify power losses on their grids.

The company’s headcount has grown to 16 from two in 2009, and it has landed contracts with major power companies in Canada, the U.S. and South America.

RewardLoop, which developed a QR-code based customer reward system, has seen similar growth. It has also struck a major partnership deal with Epson, which will embed RewardLoop in its next generation of printers for point-of-sales systems, 85% of which use the Epson printer language. The printers will be able to calculate sales and rewards, which the customer can collect by scanning a QR printed on the receipt.

Awesense and RewardLoop are both alumni of an accelerator program at Wavefront, which is doing a bit of accelerating of its own.

The wireless accelerator recently took on additional floor space at Guinness Tower on West Hastings Street to accommodate an expansion to allow for more high-tech startups to participate in its programs, like BC Innovation Council’s venture accelerator.

The expansion opens up space for up to 175 entrepreneurs. Wavefront plans to graduate 50 startups over the next 30 months.

The venture accelerator program at Wavefront provides participants with office space, mentoring and access to a wireless lab for testing a range of hardware and software. It also helps participants access foreign markets and connects them with investors.

“What we got out of the program was a good path to commercialization,” said Awesense co-founder and CEO Mischa Steiner-Jovic, who spent a year in Wavefront’s accelerator program.

“We were well on our way to closing deals here in Canada, but we had nothing in the pipeline. We didn’t know how we were going to expand. We are [now] an international company and have product in Canada, the U.S., South America and Brazil [and] we’ll be in Europe.”

Because of Wavefront’s connections, investors take companies that have been referred to them by the organization seriously.

“When we phone a targeted investor and make an introduction, it’s treated differently than when that small company calls directly,” said Wavefront CEO James Maynard.

“It set us up for success,” said RewardLoop co-founder Nigel Malkin. “They made introductions that led to virtually all of our funding. They spend every waking hour trying to figure out how they can help us. We’ve raised over $1 million in financing.”

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