VSW Recap: FoundersBoost Vancouver Demo Day

Five promising startups showcased the innovation behind their product and why they’re poised for success

Photo credit: Tyler Tong McDermott, program director of FoundersBoost

During Vancouver Startup Week (VSW), FoundersBoost, a global accelerator program for pre-seed stage startups, hosted its Vancouver demo day for their 2024 spring cohort. 

If you missed out, we caught up with the founders who demoed to bring you a recap on the innovation behind their product, how they differ from competitors, their customer acquisition strategy, any traction and milestones, and more.

Photo credit: Guita Yazdani

What’s your elevator pitch?

Here’s the problem: there are way too many campers and not enough campsites, which makes booking a campsite chaotic. 

Trying to snag a campsite is like getting Taylor Swift concert tickets. You’re up against inflated resale and booking platforms crashing from the stampede of eager campers, which makes the whole ordeal chaotic. 

The campsite booking market size globally is $60 billion, which is a fraction of what it could be if more campsites were available and tailored to the needs of campers.

Now enters Campertunity. Our modern website meets the demand of campers by connecting them to both unique private campsites and sought-after government park locations, all while generating thousands of dollars for our hosts. 

Think of us as Airbnb for camping — with a twist. You can book unique camping sites, and our subscription model offers last-minute cancellations at government parks, expanding your camping options.

How do you differ from your competitors?

As the first to bring camping to the shared economy in Canada, our unique value proposition focuses on the growing population segment that wants authentic experiences without giving up comfort or being too far from home. Campertunity’s innovation caters to this new demographic of campers and streamlines the booking process for added value to our target audience.

Campertunity is unique in that we offer campsites close to home yet immersed in nature's embrace. The platform offers all the essential booking features and the efficiency of instant alerts on available government park campsites. Campertunity offers all this and more on a single go-to website for all camping needs, planning, and bookings.

What’s your customer acquisition strategy?

We love partnerships. Our strongest and best acquisition strategy is partnering with like-minded and notable companies in the outdoor industry to tap into audiences beyond ours, while providing the most we can to our valued partners. 

We’ve had great success acquiring hosts and campers through our strong partnerships with the BC Camping and RV Coalition, CanaDream, and Go Canada, just to name a few. We’re also always looking to expand our partnerships.

What kind of traction have you achieved so far?

Our success is proven in our momentum, as we have successfully built and scaled a two-headed dragon, otherwise known as a double-sided marketplace.

We have a 597 per cent year-over-year average revenue growth with 44 per cent year-over-year average repeat bookings. Our return on investment in marketing in 2024 so far is 253 per cent. 

Our numbers continue to grow as we expand our website to add value to our target demographic. 

Can you share any key milestones or metrics?

I’m thrilled to say that as of last week, Campertunity is now in the global market. 

Our revenue model now integrates both commissions and subscriptions. Our new contract with the U.S. government has increased inventory to over 115,000 campsites. 

Our timing is perfect as we continue to expand on the global scene. 

What can people expect in the coming months?

An easy-to-use and fun website that continues to bring you Instagram-worthy campsites that are, as I like to say, close to home but far enough to see the stars. 

We continue to expand and bring new features so you can find exactly what you’re looking for in a campsite, including our trip planner and campsite cancellation tracking feature. 

Stay tuned as our next milestone is to add camping experiences on Campertunity. More than offering unique campsites, Campertunity already offers camping supplies. With camping experiences arriving soon, you can basque in winery tours, ziplines, horseback riding, and more. Did I mention we have a host that offers goat yoga?

Are you looking to raise capital? If so, what’s your ask and what will you use it for?

Yes. Campertunity is at an inflection point in this land-grab opportunity. 

Our traction is evident in our trends, learnings, and developments in marketing and user experience, which demonstrate our potential for high growth and financial sustainability. 

With the necessary funding, we can advance to the next stage and implement our insights — leading to even greater traction. 

For Campertunity to gain critical mass, we’re asking for $1 million in funding distributed as follows:

  • Staff and ops: 50 per cent

  • Marketing: 20 per cent

  • Business development: 20 per cent

  • Web development: 10 per cent

Nathan Ngai, founder of Arkhet

Photo credit: Nathan Ngai

What’s your elevator pitch?

Our generative prototyping tool empowers anyone to design complex software — enabling them to create fully interactive design prototypes without any design expertise. 

We target early-stage companies building their first product, addressing an $18 billion market need by helping them validate ideas with customers. 

In the past four months, we've engaged with over 100 customers, iterated through five prototypes, and are eight weeks into MVP development.  

How do you differ from your competitors?

We believe traditional text-to-UI methods provide a poor experience and often result in inaccurate outputs. 

Instead, we allow our customers to build their prompts visually — making the process faster and more precise. 

By creating wireframes, our customers can easily transform these into fully functional prototypes.

What’s your customer acquisition strategy?

We are hand-picking our initial customers through networking events, LinkedIn outreach, and referrals to ensure a perfect fit. 

By engaging only with those who truly love our product and have urgent needs we can address, we gain valuable insights and ensure we are solving the right problems.

What kind of traction have you achieved so far?

So far, we have over 100 customer discovery calls, five design prototypes, eight weeks into MVP development, and a few pre-orders.

What can people expect in the coming months?

We will conduct a closed beta with 20-30 customers to ensure they have the best experience and to identify and resolve any major UX issues before our official launch. After launching, we’ll gradually onboard customers who are the right fit from our waitlist.

Are you looking to raise capital? If so, what’s your ask and what will you use it for?

We're seeking $1 million in pre-seed funding from investors or angels with expertise in the UX design tool space. 

This investment will enable us to build our “1,000 true fans,” accelerate customer and product development, and achieve profitability within 18 months.

Photo credit: Aleem Fazal

What’s your elevator pitch?

Daycare is expensive, arduous, and inconvenient. There aren’t enough licensed facilities, and unlicensed spaces are hard to trust. 

At BabysDayOut, we help people like stay-at-home parents tap into the real estate in their homes and empower them to easily set up and market a daycare — while creating a trusted marketplace for parents to easily find affordable and convenient care.

How do you differ from your competitors?

We focus exclusively on childcare and specialize in two things: helping everyday people set up daycares in their homes and creating a trusted space where parents can find childcare.

What’s your customer acquisition strategy?

Our strategy is two-prong:

  • We’ll tap into the parent market through new parent groups, social media, and connecting with other daycares. Parent communities are strong, and our research shows they will value this service.

  • While existing caregivers will enjoy our platform's support, we will also help boost the other side of the marketplace by supporting everyday people in setting up daycares in their homes.

What kind of traction have you achieved so far?

We won Techstars Vancouver in January and kept the team together to pursue this.

Our website is live, showing a 25 per cent conversion rate to our waitlist, and the beta is coming out later this summer.

Anyone interested in accessing daycare or setting up a daycare can go to our website, and join our waitlists to be the first parents and caregivers to benefit from our services.

Can you share any key milestones or metrics?

  • January 2024: Won first place at Techstars Vancouver.

  • May 2024: Website and waitlist went live. Website to waitlist conversion is 25 per cent.

  • June 2024: Participated in FoundersBoost and pitched the product during Vancouver Startup Week.

What can people expect in the coming months?

This summer, our caregiver onboarding program will launch. Next, our beta will launch for the first 15-20 parents.

Are you looking to raise capital? If so, what’s your ask and what will you use it for?

We’re bootstrapping right now and are holding off on a capital raise. 

Our research has shown that we need to be very careful with who we let into our cap table. However, we’re exploring potential grants to help accelerate this project.

We will likely be doing a capital raise later this fall for marketing, accelerated caregiver onboarding, and additional software developers.

Sajas Ahmed, co-founder of Ressure

Photo credit: Sajas Ahmed

What’s your elevator pitch? 

Ressure empowers innovative hardware and manufacturing companies to bring better products to market, faster.

How do you differ from your competitors?

We enable our customers to develop products that achieve “design for excellence” faster.

We bring insights from various teams — including sales, marketing, engineering, and manufacturing — into one 3D collaborative platform during the hardware development journey. 

Current tools for collaboration are not designed for the intricate conversations required to develop hardware products. 

Our platform is a single “system of engagement” to have detailed engineering collaboration, make holistic business decisions, and complete projects two times faster.

What’s your customer acquisition strategy?

Our multi-faceted customer acquisition strategy focuses on targeted outreach and strong relationship building:

  • Market research: We begin by identifying our ideal customer profiles and understanding their needs, challenges, and behaviours through market research and data analysis.

  • Segmented campaigns: We create tailored marketing campaigns for different customer segments to ensure our messaging resonates with their specific needs and interests.

  • Social media: We leverage platforms like LinkedIn and industry-specific forums to engage with our audience, share valuable content, and participate in relevant discussions.

  • Email marketing: We use personalized email campaigns to nurture leads and provide insights.

What kind of traction have you achieved so far?

We’ve performed over 30 customer interviews and are in the process of getting letters of intent from two beachhead customers. These interviews enabled us to define our product, go-to-market, and narrative.

Can you share any key milestones or metrics?

We’ve increased top-of-funnel customer engagement by 200 per cent, and developed our full product prototype to present to potential customers for feedback.

What can people expect in the coming months?

We will be launching our MVP.

Are you looking to raise capital? If so, what’s your ask and what will you use it for?

We’re looking to raise USD $500K for software development and marketing.

Photo credit: Izzie O’Hara

What’s your elevator pitch?

Hannah HR makes HR support easy. 

If you're tired of wading through piles of documents and files, say hello to Hannah HR — your 24/7 virtual HR copilot — that makes accessing critical information a breeze. 

Hannah ensures efficiency and compliance with just a click, from employment standards to policies and contracts.

No more endless searching through handbooks or contracts. Hannah provides expert-trained answers instantly — empowering your team to make informed decisions quickly and confidently.

With cutting-edge AI, a customized knowledge base, real-time assistance, and seamless scalability, Hannah saves your internal teams 3-5 hours per week. It also keeps you compliant with the latest regulations and empowers employees with easy self-service capabilities.

Transform your workplace experience with Hannah HR: the smart, efficient, and always-on solution for all your HR needs.

How do you differ from your competitors?

Our product is backed by over 10 years of outsourced HR consulting data from BLANKSLATE Partners, an HR consulting firm, and trained by HR experts.

We do have some competition, most notably VigilHR; however, from our research and understanding, they’re focused on U.S. employers in “at-will states” and not customizable for company handbooks and SOPs.

Our beachhead is Canada, where the employment environment is much more complex. From there, we will focus on Commonwealth countries and then Europe, where employment environments are similarly complex.

We're also integrating the ability for our clients to include their own SOP’s contract and handbooks, so Hannah will be unique for each company that uses her.

What’s your customer acquisition strategy?

Initially, we will pilot our product with BLANKSLATE’s existing clients, and fortunately, we have a number of willing test clients. 

From there, we will leverage our networks and unique position within the tech space in Canada and the U.S. and BLANKSLATE’s extensive customer database. 

Once we start rolling, we plan on positioning Hannah at the forefront of our target market’s minds by:

  • Content marketing: Creating valuable content — blog posts, whitepapers, case studies — to attract and educate potential customers.

  • SEO and SEM: Optimizing our website for search engines and running targeted ads to increase visibility.

  • Social media marketing: Utilizing platforms like LinkedIn — where a lot of BLANKSLATE’s current clients can be found — to engage with our audience and promote our product.

  • Email marketing: Developing targeted email campaigns to nurture leads and convert prospects.

  • Webinars and demos: Hosting webinars and live demos to educate the target market on the importance and relevance of HR policies and keep clients up-to-date on any changes in the existing employment requirements.

  • Partnerships and alliances: Forming strategic partnerships with industry associations, HR consultancies, and with HR information and applicant tracking systems.

What kind of traction have you achieved so far?

We’ve developed our proof of concept, made over 100 customer discovery calls, and are in the process of refining our product market fit. 

Five companies have already willingly offered to be our beta testers, and we’re confident that the number will increase.

We expect to have our MVP ready for launch by the end of the summer. We will roll out an early version to BLANKSLATE’s previous clients, offering an early adopters rate.

Can you share any key milestones or metrics?

  • December 2023: Our now CTO and co-founder, Mark Allen, acknowledged that Hannah HR wasn’t another crazy idea and agreed to help me build the product. He’s tolerated many of my crazy ideas in the past, so I knew when he said this was the one, we were onto something.

  • Feb 2024: The proof of concept was built.

  • April 2024: Hannah was accepted into the FoundersBoost and Mosaic programs.

  • May 2024: Our first employee joined the team.

  • June 2024: We pitched Hannah HR for the first time at Vancouver Startup Week. 

What can people expect in the coming months?

By the end of the summer, we will have our MVP in the wild. That means we will have data and traction. Both put us in a better position when it comes to raising and growing.

Are you looking to raise capital? If so, what’s your ask and what will you use it for?

We’re currently self-funded and are fortunate enough to be in a position to do that, so we aren't right now. 

However, we will be raising money in the fall. Hopefully, by then, we will have traction, and investors will see that we put our own money where our mouth was first. We’re mindful that we want the right partners, not just any partners.

We’ll be looking to raise $500K and use it primarily for sales and marketing efforts. We’ve been told that our space will be an “arms race,” and to win that, we have to move fast. To move fast, you need money.

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