Photo Credit: Phil Froklage for Communitech

By Trish Crompton

It was this time last year that Sarah Murphy, CEO of Sentinel Alert, anxiously anticipated acceptance into the Fierce Founders program, which was then known as the Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp.

Murphy, who founded the company that uses sensor-based software to keep industrial sites safe, went on to take home first place at the October pitch competition, and raised a seed investment round just a few months later in January.

As applications were being assessed for this year’s program, Murphy and her team, which has grown from four to seven, spent the week at the Communitech Hub with Deloitte Canada’s d {} Lab team.

Deloitte Canada, a partner on Communitech's women in tech initiatives, believes change “starts at a grassroots level, one team at a time, as we help them grow and develop more future women in tech leaders in society,” said Jeff Bowman, Partner at Deloitte.

Aside from being the lead financial sponsor of the bootcamp, Deloitte has also taken a hands-on approach to supporting the winners.

“When we reflect on Communitech, it’s a lot about being active members in the ecosystem and generally giving back and participating in it,” said Bowman, “and we thought what better way than giving some of our time to help the winner out.”

This time with the d {} team also gave the Sentinel team a chance to come together for the first time.

“We all work remotely, and so to actually be able to come here to Communitech and work in the d {} Lab is an awesome experience,” said Murphy. “And one of our newest hire’s first week at the company is at Communitech – he’s loving it.”

Most of the Sentinel Alert team hail from Newfoundland, where its headquarters is in St. John’s, and another team member is based in the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Murphy lives in Nova Scotia, but is looking to move to Ontario.

Aside from increasing the size of her team, Murphy has been spent the last four months scaling the product, which has garnered interest from larger customers than initially targeted.

“We have clients coming to us and asking us to work them, which is crazy, but that is a big win when people are actually soliciting your product and what you’re doing,” she said.

Scaling also means Sentinel is now faced with a data problem: “We now we have all this data and we’re like, ‘What do we do with it?’,” Murphy said.

It’s that question that brought Murphy and the team to spend the week at the d {} Lab.

“They have got some great data minds,” she said, adding that, “being able to work with them is really cool, because it doubles our capacity on [the data] front.”

The whole team put in some long hours this week, but time went by almost unnoticed as “everyone [was] really plugged into the energy.”

“They couldn't get over how talented some of the co-op students from d {} are and it’s really cool to see them work side-by-side with new people, and everyone is blown away by the focus and all the hustle here.”

By following the Google design sprint process led by Norm Malloch, the lab’s activator, the team discovered they needed to address more than just what to do with the data, but also how they are collecting it.

“[We have a] bunch of prototypes to show clients on Monday morning, different use cases of the data that they can tie back to their safety metrics and operational metrics,” Murphy said.

The Sentinel Alert team has also implemented changes to advance their application, and have discovered they can collect sensor data at a lower frequency and it’s still accurate.

“Not only are we going to get this project out of it, but we will take away the methods and processes and then use them as a team day-to-day,” she said.

The week has created alignment and a unified language for the Sentinel Alert team as they disperse across three provinces.

“I was so adamant to have our team retreat here, at Communitech, because some of that hustle and energy is just so much greater here than it is out east. And we know that and I love coming here to get that recharge,” Murphy said.

A lot has changed since Murphy took the stage last October and accepted her oversized cheque, but the lessons still resonate.

“I’m definitely still drawing on all the materials and sharing them with people,” she said, after recently giving half of the program binder to a friend who is just starting a venture.

Murphy notes that she still struggles to find the “dream angel;” that is, a female full-stack developer.

“I notice that when we are getting applicants that men will, even if they’re mid-level, present themselves as senior and some of the most kick-ass women don’t feel that confidence that they’re senior,” she said.

Lack of confidence in abilities is definitely a factor for women, but Murphy believes programs like Fierce Founders will help more women to pursue tech entrepreneurship.

“I have had 10 people call and email me about the program, from all the media coverage that we got last year, and I just tell everyone to do it.”

[Source]

Communitech is a partner of Startup HERE Toronto.  This article originally appeared on their site.