Waterloo Incubator Hyperdrive Unveils Second Cohort Of Startups, Tackling Everything From ESL To Medical Imaging

Communitech Hyperdrive, a newer Waterloo-based incubator program that graduated its first cohort of startups last year, today unveiled the second class of companies that will be able to take advantage of its more than $30 million in available funding and network of entrepreneurs and mentors. The list includes some standouts who have already made a bit of a name for themselves, as well as companies tackling specialized problems and niche markets.

Here’s a rundown of the incoming Hyperdrive participants, who will each be getting an initial $40,000 investment from the program in exchange for 6.4 percent equity, with the option of a $15,000 loan on the table.

GroupNotes – We’ve covered them before, and for good reason. GroupNotes won the Global Startup Weekend Battle with its collaborative note-taking tool, which allows users to annotate pages on the web together, an extremely useful product for education and enterprise markets, and likely even for general users, too. Hyperdrive should help them build the product from something created over a weekend into a full-featured release.

CreamHR – An online recruiting tool that is designed to shake up the recruiting agent world. It’s a web-based employee assessment tool, which is designed to narrow the gap between resumes and on-the-job performance  The science behind the platform comes from a University of Toronto professor, so it’s clearly not just some fly-by-night operation.

Oikoi – The real estate market is badly in need of disruption, even with startups like 42floors making decent inroads in some areas. Oikoi is a match-making platform to help connect landlords, tenants and property managers, which is designed to connect parties based on fit and relevancy, rather than just throwing ads out there like you would on Craigslist.

The Dandy Co. – This is a model we’ve seen before, but no one has really nailed it yet. Dandy Co. is a crowd-sourced app development platform, essentially a Quirky for apps. I’m still skeptical that something like this can work in practice, especially with a profit-sharing model that makes everyone who has contributed feel justly rewarded, but maybe Dandy can prove me wrong.

Well Read – This is a news aggregator and delivery platform that tracks user behavior to surface the most relevant content. It’s an egg that a lot of people are looking to crack, of course, including Flipboard and many more, but Well Read has a cross-platform approach and an ultimate goal that would involve even less direct input from a user in creating their content library than most.

The Open Doors Network – This is essentially an online brain for your home. It’s a service that provides homeowners with emails and notifications when they have regularly scheduled maintenance tasks to check out, complete with suggestions about how to go about doing it and recommendations for service providers. Sounds handy if it can avoid being spammy and mostly a channel for ads.

PumpUp – A fitness coach that uses answers provided by users to a brief questionnaire to suggest a fitness routine. It changes the routine depending on user progress, and basically hopes to replace an $80 per hour personal trainer with an app for your smartphone. The dynamic target-setting is where this app could really shine, depending on how smart it can get.

BeanEvo  – Web-based app that takes over accounts payable and automates the process. It’s something every business needs, but the startup has yet to reveal how exactly their product is better than the competition, so we’ll have to wait and see how BeanEvo beats FreshBooks and others already out there.

ViewsIQ – One of the more specialized products in the new Hyperdrive cohort. This company has created a way through which lab samples are digitized, making them viewable by pathologists anywhere. It’s available to anyone with a standard microscope, and could make the global medical community a lot smaller if it works well.

Inception Mobile – Yet another multi-platform development tool, but one that claims to be “friction free,” enabling cross-platform development without any code rewrites whatsoever. I’m always a little skeptical of any tool that purports to be able to delivery a top quality product to multiple platforms without requiring any native development for each, but we’ll see what Inception provides that others don’t.

ESL Explorer – Another quite specialized product, ESL Explorer is an online community, catalog and comparison tool build around ratings and reviews for English language learning. There’s a big market for this kind of product in certain regions, especially Toronto and the surrounding area. The service is active and already pretty well populated, and localized for Korea, Japan and Spain as well as English-speaking countries. It also offers deals and discounts for schools and classes.

In addition to the initial funding, all these startups will participate in a 3-month sprint aimed at developing customers and validating their respective markets. They’ll also get up to two years of mentor guidance, in-kind legal, accounting and PR services, and eligibility for a $150,000 convertible note and a potentially $500,000 investment from a leading Canadian VC down the road. Hyperdrive generally looks for companies that already have a revenue model in place, but this list includes a number of companies at various stages in their development, so it’ll be interesting to see how each grows from here.