It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every single Canadian in one way or another. Within the first weeks of the pandemic emerging and intensifying in North America, the DMZ realized that our country could lean on its ecosystem of tech innovators for help in flattening the curve.
That’s why we launched #HackTheCurve – a platform that challenged teams to develop a solution that could alleviate some of the greatest difficulties being faced by front line workers, small businesses, and everyday Canadians as a consequence of COVID-19.
Despite a tight application deadline, we received more than 200 applications representing over 400 individual participants coast-to-coast. After a busy two weeks consisting of 11 expert workshops and virtual events, DMZ mentor check-ins, strategy meetings and around-the-clock prep for the final pitch, we are excited to announce that Evrlinx is our #HackTheCurve winner!
Evrlinx (formerly Infinite Supply) took home the $15,000 cash prize and $200,000 business services package. The team will also receive membership in the Biomedical Zone, in addition, to Entrepreneur-in-Residence support from the DMZ. Read our interview with the winning team below.
Thank you to our partners who made #HackTheCurve a success: Innisfil Accelerates (Financial Partner), Moneris (Payment Provider Partner), as well as several other contributing partners, including Logan Katz, Goodmans, Fasken, Involve Design, Founded, Heroku, Twilio, Hubspot, and AWS.
We asked the team some questions about their winning solution and the process they took to achieve success.
Tell us more about Evrlinx.
Evrlinx is an online B2B marketplace that connects buyers and suppliers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across Canada. Our goal is to ensure all our front-line workers in Canada have access to the PPE they need. With global supply chains becoming more unreliable, we created Evrlinx to strengthen our Canadian supply chains and help keep our frontline workers safe.
What issue related to COVID-19 was your team trying to address?
Our team is concerned with the lack of safe, cost-effective and certified PPE available for all types of frontline workers in Canada. Why are there perceived shortages? Why are frontline workers receiving low quality PPE? How many countries are blocking the export of PPE to Canada?
Briefly explain the process your team went through in two weeks to establish your business solution.
First, our team conducted a very comprehensive brainstorming session to discuss the pain points we were observing in the PPE market. We wanted to figure out what problems needed attention and broke the problems down into their pieces to get to the root cause of the problem. Once we established the problem we were trying to solve we became experts on the subject through comprehensive customer interviews, which gave us the information to build our first MVP and future app prototype.
Did your team take advantage of DMZ’s supports throughout the duration of #HackTheCurve?
Our goal was to attend every workshop, decipher what material was pertinent and see how we could apply the information to our business. Since there was too much to do, we used the divide and conquer approach. For each of the workshops, we sent one or two teammates to take notes while the others worked on our solution. As a group, we decided which elements we should implement.
Why do you think your team was able to succeed in this challenge?
We had amazing team dynamics and were motivated to see our solution out in the world. Every day we would meet virtually and work on making our business better.
Does your team have plans as to how you would like to use the money you’ve won?
We are investing the prize money back into Evrlinx. The funds will be allocated to platform development and business setup costs. We need Evrlinx to be out in the world.
Do you have any advice for other innovators who want to succeed in developing/pitching a new business for challenges like #HackTheCurve?
We have five key points:
- Cohesive and dedicated teams win challenges. Create an open environment with easy communication and guide your team to think beyond the challenge.
- As a team, early on, define the problem you would like to solve within the competition and stick with it! You will refine, iterate and pivot around the problem throughout the challenge.
- Work on your pitch/slides as you’re working not at the end. Pitch decks can help guide your thinking.
- Do your research! Talk to users, stakeholders and industry experts. Use the information to iterate.
- Practice and prepare for your pitch over and over again. Get feedback on every slide and be prepared for all possible questions.
Thanks again to everyone involved in making #HackTheCurve a success.
Questions? Email us at [email protected]
The DMZ is a leading business incubator for tech startups in Canada. They help startups build great businesses by connecting them with customers, capital, experts and a community of entrepreneurs and influencers.
The DMZ is a partner in StartUp Here Toronto.