By GlobeNewswire – Press Releases

Toronto, May 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — DMZ at Toronto Metropolitan University held its fourth annual Black Innovation Summit, where 10 Black-led tech startups from across Canada had the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges for the chance to secure grant prizes to accelerate their growth. Designed to bring together the Black tech ecosystem and celebrate Black excellence, this year’s Black Innovation Summit theme addressed rapid tech advancements and global economic uncertainty, empowering attendees with the tools to navigate today’s startup landscape and build resilience in an ever-changing market.

As a full-day event, the Summit included three curated activities: a networking event that revealed DMZ’s inaugural Black Youth Entrepreneurship Award, roundtable discussions to share insights and foster connections among entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives, and a startup pitch competition exclusively for Black founders.

The pitch competition awarded $55,000 CAD in total grant prizes to the top three pitch finalists. Award winners included: 

  • Cleanster, a Montreal-based startup that connects property managers to top-rated cleaners, was named the first-place winner and took home $30,000 CAD.
  • Woveo, a Calgary-based digital credit union-like fintech platform that offers low-cost credit and helps users build credit, was named the second-place winner, taking home $15,000 CAD.
  • Outlit, an Ottawa-based startup that helps sales teams close deals by developing AI agents to accelerate contract reviews and shorten sales cycles, was named the third-place winner, taking home $5,000 CAD.

First-place winner Cleanster also received the esteemed People’s Choice Award at the Pitch Competition, awarded by Summit attendees, along with an additional $5,000 CAD prize.

“DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs and the Summit have opened up so many doors for Cleanster,” said Gloria Oppong, Co-Founder and CEO of Cleanster and first-place winner. “From the mentorship, the network, and the support to formulate your pitch, this community has helped me refine the business and how I can share it with the world.”

“This year’s theme, ‘Navigating Next,’ is more than just a topic for our Summit—it’s a call to action for the community. The startup and innovation ecosystem is known for having high highs and low lows, and at DMZ, we know that great companies are able to weather any storm,” said Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director of DMZ and CEO of DMZ Ventures. Our Black Innovation Summit is designed to honour Black excellence while also acting as a catalyst for fostering resilience and equipping our community with essential tools for success.”

The Black Innovation Summit also unveiled its inaugural Black Youth Entrepreneurship Award, designed to recognize the efforts of a young Black entrepreneur who demonstrates exceptional innovation, leadership, and community impact within Ontario. Taneesha Greaves, a content creator, social media specialist, and Founder of Greaves Media, was awarded the 2024 Black Youth Entrepreneurship Award and a $5,000 grant prize.

“One of the lessons you learn very early on with entrepreneurship is that you’re oftentimes in a race against capital,” said Taneesha Greaves, Founder of Greaves Media. “This award allows us to focus on the back end and build better systems for our clients.” 

The annual Black Innovation Summit serves as the marquee event for DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs (BIP), which were launched in 2019. A first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada, DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs were created to see more Black-led startups in the tech ecosystem and break the perpetual cycle of inequity. To date, DMZ has supported over 1,000 Black-identifying founders and has distributed $2.5 million CAD worth of grants and services. 

Black founders in DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs receive additional opportunities and specialized support like grant funding, mentorship opportunities, a peer network, exclusive events, and connections to investors dedicated to supporting Black-led innovation—on top of the standard programming all DMZ founders get.

Black founders looking for hands-on, tailored support to take their business to the next level can learn more about DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs at dmz.to/bip

  • Black entrepreneurs shine at DMZ’s Black Innovation Summit, securing $60,000 CAD in growth grants

Source: GlobeNewswire – Press Releases