CTA and SOSA recently concluded the 2023 Retail Tech Program, a 5-week accelerator program tailored for Canadian startups looking to enter the U.S. market. Seven carefully selected startup teams were offered high-level insights and guidance over the course of four weeks of virtual training before immersing themselves in the New York City market, during a fifth week at SOSA’s New York offices.
Established in 2013, the CTA is run by the Trade Commissioner Service to help high-potential, high-growth Canadian companies pursue business opportunities globally. The CTA supports companies from cleantech, life sciences, digital health, and ICT industries in 15 global tech hubs across North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
The 2023 Retail Tech Program showcased a diverse cohort of innovative Canadian startups, each contributing a unique perspective to the dynamic Retail Tech sector.
- Calico: Revolutionizing fashion procurement and production, Calico automates manual tasks and activates new product lines. The company now offers a comprehensive sourcing marketplace.
- Gravvity: Gravvity AI offers a gamified swipe-to-shop e-commerce platform designed to enhance customer engagement and conversion. The startup has already securedh notable partnerships with major corporations like Disney and Meta.
- LocketGo: LocketGo is building one of the largest agnostic smart locker networks in North America, centralizing parcel deliveries through smart locker hubs. LocketGo’s solution enables CO2 emission reduction, and the company is actively fundraising and is looking for new U.S. clients.
- Powered by People: Powered by People is a stalwart advocate for sustainably-focused makers, seamlessly connecting them to international markets through its B2B tech platform. Having raised their 8M USD Series A earlier this year, PBP’s network now encompasses 700 sustainable makers spanning more than 70 nations.
- Pronti: Pronti is an AI Outfit generator boasting over 1M downloads. Users shop by viewing AI-generated outfits, blending pieces from their wardrobes with purchasable items. The company boasts over 1M downloads.
- StylePhotos: Offering eCommerce brands a comprehensive studio outsourcing solution, focused on establishing a U.S. presence. Their advanced studios, paired with software tailored for virtual photoshoots, streamline the entire production process for retailers.
- Synode: Synode is a cloud-based platform empowering companies to repurpose CAD data into intuitive, visual, and interactive 3D and XR technical documentation, making the process as straightforward as using PowerPoint for 3D.
Find out more about the startups in the full dealbook
From the virtual phase to the in-market immersion in New York City, the accelerator program was marked by insightful group workshops, 1:1 sessions, roundtables, panels, and a Demo Day. The program started with four weeks of virtual training, featuring crucial group sessions delving into topics such as B2B enterprise sales, US GTM strategy, marketing tools, and more. Each startup was matched with a US-based lead mentor, providing essential guidance to help refine their strategies in alignment with the demands of the U.S. market. These mentors also helped facilitate the formation of valuable connections that would drive meaningful business engagements.
In the program's fifth week, participants transitioned from virtual training to hands-on experiences in the heart of New York City, at SOSA's New York office. Guided by expert mentors, they learned from investors, industry experts and startup coaches on essential topics including Innovation Trends in Retail, e-Commerce Sales Strategies, Crafting the Perfect Pitch, and even legal topics such as Immigration Law, Tax Accounting and Setting up a US Entity. They've also dedicated time to business meetings that were generated during the virtual phase of the program.
The Demo Day in New York was a resounding success, with the seven startups from the Retail Tech Program attracting over 60 attendees, mainly investors, corporates, and even a delegate of graduate students from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
The connections forged throughout the program led to promising follow-up discussions between participating startups and potential investors, clients, strategic partners, and future US employees.
As the program came to an end, participants enthusiastically shared their testimonials, emphasizing the practical tools and actionable insights they gained. Their feedback underscores the tangible impact of SOSA's startup programs, highlighting the wealth of expertise offered by the industry leaders they met in the program.
"What a week! Filled with meetings with startups, US partners, investors, and tech leaders. It was an honor and a true privilege to be in New York City with the Canadian Technology Accelerators, SOSA, and 6 other incredible Canadian startups that are shaking things up in the RetailTech sector. I'm still processing all the incredible discussions and ideas exchanged throughout the week. I had the opportunity to listen to inspiring tech leaders who shared some of the invaluable lessons they have learned over the past decades."
- Taki Eddine Alimat, Co-founder and CEO at Synode
The 2023 Retail Tech Program Bootcamp showcased how SOSA's expertise perfectly aligns with the aspirations of startups, paving a clear path for global expansion:
- Strategic Workshops: Startups delved into specialized workshops, receiving strategic insights for scaling, refining market approaches, and optimizing operational efficiency.
- Personalized Mentorship: Each startup enjoyed tailored mentorship sessions, connecting with industry leaders and the SOSA research team to gain valuable insights on GTM strategy, market validation and retail trends in the US.
- Demo Day: In the in-person New York program, the startups pitched to a room full of investors, corporates, startup mentors and partners, and fashion industry professionals, giving the startup founders a platform to launch their products in NY and establish their market presence.
- Speed Dating with Investors: At SOSA’s NY office, the startup founders sat down with 4 early-stage investors. Organized in a speed dating format, the investor-startup pairings facilitated market validation and potential fundraising opportunities.
- Network Expansion: The program facilitated meaningful connections, offering startups access to potential clients, investors, and corporate partners within SOSA's expansive network.
SOSA stands as the ultimate landing pad in NYC, granting alumni access not only to vibrant offices in New York for a full year post-program but also providing dedicated support from SOSA's experienced team and access to a dynamic network. This comprehensive ecosystem propels startups toward U.S. market success.
Alumni are also integrated into Savvy, SOSA's groundbreaking innovation management platform. Being indexed on Savvy offers startups unparalleled visibility and access, unlocking opportunities for collaboration, partnerships, and potential engagements with corporate and government innovation teams.
SOSA's "Unique Position":
Throughout this accelerator program, SOSA not only showcased its prowess in building startup success stories but also its role as a valuable partner for governments aiming to expand their startup ecosystems globally. Leveraging extensive experience, SOSA has executed 40 diverse programs, ranging from two-day boot camps to 6-month accelerator programs, collaborating with governments worldwide and propelling local startups into the U.S. and global markets.
SOSA's accelerator programs hold a unique advantage: a deep engagement with over 100 global corporations and leading investors (VCs and CVCs), allowing tailored guidance and practical tools that align perfectly with corporate and investor expectations. Additionally, it grants unparalleled access to facilitate meaningful introductions.