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Saint John Entrepreneurs find success at StartupFest

A local contingent of Saint John entrepreneurs has just returned from a trip to Montreal where they were hoping to drum up more buzz and cash for their start-up businesses.

Last Wednesday, James Stewart from EhEye, Derek Chaisson from Night Puck Technology, Amanda Hanson of Simply Stylish and Jason Basker and Tony Mustafa from Fishy Bill joined 50 other entrepreneurs from Atlantic Canada on a bus, dubbed the “East Coast Caravan”, and headed to StartupFest.

The 3-day event brings together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and start-up founders from around the world to give start-up entrepreneurs a chance to get valuable advice and investment opportunities.  They were able to vie for more than $500,000 in prizes or in-kind services in eight different competitions.

James Stewart was successful getting some of that prize money. His artificial intelligence company EhEye tied with Waste Robotics, a robotic recycling software company for the Grandmother’s Pitch Prize.

The entrepreneurs pitched their start-up before the panel of women, who have successfully picked winning start-ups in the past. According to the StartupFest website, in 2012, the savvy women picked Onavo, which went on to be acquired by Facebook for $150 million dollars.

The prize means EhEye will get legal services from Montreal’s Fasken and the opportunity to be part of a 3-month program and funding through Montreal’s Founder Fuel, a network of startup veterans, angel investors, venture capitalists and experts.

“We’re over the moon with the Grandmother’s Pitch Prize. Of all the competitions, this one is the favourite, these are not your everyday grandmothers! They’ve validated us with one of the most valuable prizes of the entire event which includes getting to work with FounderFuel,” says Stewart.

The Taskforce Fredericton Startup Network helped sponsor the trip with several companies and partners including Opportunities New Brunswick, Youth Entrepreneurship, CBDC, Enterprise Saint John, Ignite Fredericton and Planet Hatch.

Enterprise Saint John’s Entrepreneur Development Officer, Dakota Lutes, says support from a large network of organizations and mentors across the province are important to the success of EhEye and other New Brunswick start-ups.

“I’m very happy for James and his team. They’ve been working very hard on product development over the last month. I’m happy they’ve been recognized for that hard work. EhEye will benefit greatly from the support it receives from Founder Fuel, “says Lutes.

Rachel Clarke from Community Business Development Corporations (CBDC) says the event was the perfect place to highlight the innovators we have in Atlantic Canada.

“We wanted to put East Coast start-ups on the map. We have amazing startups, so we wanted to showcase the incredible talent the East Coast has to offer, ” says Clarke.

James Stewart agrees and says he’d like to see that talent nurtured further.

“We’re all proud to be East Coast Entrepreneurs. I’d like to see more collaboration across our incubators/accelerators, cities and provinces. The East Coast Caravan just smashed all those barriers,” says Stewart.