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JNF’s TechShuk showcases local startup ingenuity

The Lions’ Den is JNF Future’s live pitch competition for emerging entrepreneurs. (Benh Lieu Song photo)

The entrepreneurs behind five promising Montreal-based startups will make their pitches before a panel of prominent local business people, in a competition modelled after CBC’s long-running Dragons’ Den reality show that’s being organized by JNF Future.

The competition, in which contestants will vie for up to $500,000 in investment money, is part of TechShuk, an exhibition and networking event that brings together early-stage business people with corporate sponsors and venture capitalists. It will take place on Jan. 27 at EVO (777 Robert Bourassa St.) in Montreal.

A fundraising VIP cocktail starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by the “demo pit” and finally the Lions’ Den competition.

The five competitors are:

  • Hush Blankets (Aaron Spivak, Lior Ohayon), which produces weighted blankets that are said to induce relaxation and promote sleep;
  • Blaise Transit (Justin Hunt, Ben Hudson), an on-demand bus service app that allows users to input ride requests that are used to generates optimal bus routes, to which transit agencies can direct underused buses;
  • Spotfinity (Marc Chriqui), an app that claims to be a one-stop source for consumer events and venues;
  • BizBiz Share (Michael Khazzam, Elliot Daigneault), an online platform where small and medium-sized businesses can rent out their dormant business equipment and machinery to other nearby businesses; and
  • My Zeppi (Eitan Lavie, Zohar Karni, Yoni Mandel, Assaf Tamir), which helps caregivers keep in touch with their older family members through a “self-flying video call mini-blimp,” which is intended to eliminate the difficulties older people may have with technology, while providing them with what feels like a real visit.

The eight “lions” are: Mitch Garber, chairman of Cirque du Soleil and Invest in Canada, who was a “dragon” on Radio-Canada’s French-language equivalent of Dragons’ Den; Anne-Marie Boucher, co-founder of BCF Business Law; Jonathan Goodman, co-founder and CEO of Knight Therapeutics Inc.; Jeff Hart, founder and managing partner of Victoria Park Mediaspas; Debra Margles, president of Michael Kors Canada; Clarissa Desjardins, CEO of Clementia Pharmaceuticals Canada; Nick Bakish, a principal at Group RMC; and Inbar Haham, co-founder and managing partner of INcapital Ventures.

Audience members will also get to cast their vote for the best of the five startups. In addition to funding, the winner will receive a “mentorship package” that includes professional services and media exposure.

The exhibition beforehand is an opportunity for companies to set up information booths or demonstrate their products and services, and maybe find new clients or even interested venture capitalists.

Proceeds from the evening will help equip the labs at the Arava Research and Development Centre in Arava, Israel. Established in 1986 mainly for agricultural research, in recent years, the centre has expanded into the fields of molecular biology, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and ecology. Today, it employs over 30 professional workers.

The centre’s latest interest is developing plant-based drugs for different types of cancer and neurological diseases.

JNF Future is a young leadership group for those between 25 and 45, which organizes various programs in Montreal and missions to Israel.


For tickets, visit jnftechshuk.ca, or contact Phil Frai at 514-934-0313 ext. 233, or [email protected]