Feature

Six N.B. Women Leading Kickass Startups

There are so many incredible women doing amazing things in New Brunswick.

Whether it’s in politics, in their communities or in business, women are working hard every day to make New Brunswick a great and prosperous place to live.

RELATED: Six New Brunswick Businesswomen You Should Know

Yet even in 2019, women worldwide are still facing many challenges, one of them being sexism in businesses. That’s especially true in the world of startups and venture capital.

RELATED: The Power (and Challenges) of Atlantic Canada’s Women Tech Founders

So this year for International Women’s Day, we decided to take a look at some of the successful and promising startups in the province led by brilliant women.

Here are just a few:

Bethany Deshpande, SomaDetect 

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Deshpande is the co-founder and CEO of SomaDetect, a company that has created an in-line sensor that measures key indicators of dairy-quality from cows at every milking. This allows farmers to find out if there are any issues or deficiencies with the milk early on, which could indicate that a cow is sick.

Though the company is just over two years old, it has already accomplished so much. This includes recently being shortlisted for the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Awards; being selected to attend the prestigious Pearse Lyons Accelerator in Dublin and being selected to SheEO as one of the top 8 Canadian Ventures. Oh, and Dairy Farmers of America have decided to invest in the company. We can only expect more great things to come.

Natasha O’Brien, Co-Founder and COO of WellTrack 

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O’Brien, along with her co-founder Darren Piercey, has created a platform that helps people, particularly post-secondary students, take control of their mental health. WellTrack offers interactive self-help therapy and is used by the likes of Boston College, Georgia State University, University of California Santa Cruz, and Memorial University, among others. Its newest customers include the University of Alberta and Purdue University Counseling and Psychological Services.

In response to demand, the company recently launched an individual paid version of WellTrack that is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.  They also hired more staff to work for their development team to keep pace with the growth of the mobile app. Mental health is such an important topic and WellTrack is helping bring treatment right into people’s hands.

Jen Leger, co-founder of Quber

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Leger took her struggles of saving money and turned it into a growing fin-tech startup. Quber offers a mobile app that helps users save by helping them focus on their short-term goals. It takes the old-fashioned concept of a piggy bank and saving jar, and brings it into the digital age.

The company is approaching its one-year anniversary and is working diligently on plans to take the platform even further. Quber recently introduced cashback to their users from local merchants and major brands to help them save money while they enjoy what they shop for. Looking forward, they are looking to add relevant financial and investment products to the platform so users have the option to cover different life stages. They are also working on a French version of the app as well as a Quber for kids. Saving money is a struggle for many. It’s cool to see a New Brunswick-based app that’s making it easier for people across Canada.

Natasha Dhayagude, co-founder and CEO of Chinova Bioworks

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Dhayagude co-founded the Fredericton-based Chinova Bioworks just over two years ago. The company developed a unique preservative using an ingredient called chitosan that’s extracted from mushrooms. Not only does it protect food and beverages from microorganisms including bacteria, yeast and mould, but the preservative is also easy to use and doesn’t affect the taste, colour, odour or feel of the food or drink.

Chinova’s work has gotten attention in the food and agritech industry. It recently raised $2.5-million seed investment round, including from major European and American investors. Now, it’s focused on product development, scaling up production capacity and sales. Two products focused on dairy and sauce application are set to be launched in the coming months. Dhayagude and her team are also working with small and medium-sized business, as well as multinational food and beverage producers who want to switch and reformulate their ingredients to natural, healthy, clean-label solutions which Chinova offers.

Jill Green, CEO of Green Imaging Technologies

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Green is the director and CEO of Fredericton-based Green Imaging Technologies (GIT), which she founded with her husband Derrick in 2006 after returning to Fredericton from Cleveland, Ohio. The company provides nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) products and services to the upstream oil and gas sector around the world. Their company has become successful enough that in 2014, it began giving out dividends. Over the years, GIT, which employs 12 people, has become a globally-recognized expert in laboratory NMR measurements on rock cores. It specializes in NMR measurements for unconventional reservoirs.

Green herself has collected many accolades, according to this Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum article. The engineer was named one of the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Business Magazine in 2017. Her story was also included in a book titled Women of Innovation published by the institute. She continues to support young women in STEM through talks at events like the WinSETT leadership program and the CanWIT Innovation Forum. A UNB graduate and Board Director of the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Green and her company continue to support innovation in the province, particularly through annual contributions to the Natural Science & Engineering Research Council at UNB, among others.

Christel Seeberger, founder of Sensory Friendly Solutions

(Image: Stephen MacGillivray Photography & Video/Submitted)

Seeberger launched Sensory Friendly Solutions shortly after she was diagnosed with mild-moderate hearing loss. Her company helps businesses, organizations, venues and events become more sensory-friendly. It’s also developing an app that will help people find places, businesses, and events that are sensory-friendly or have sensory-friendly options or times.

Seeberger said she’s had significant support from Propel’s Incite program, the Pond Deshpande Centre, BioNB and the Community Business Development Corporation. She also received backing from Economic Development Greater Saint John, most recently as part of its Smart and Connected Cities Innovation Challenge.

This week, the company was named one of five finalists in New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru 2019, and will compete against the other finalist companies for cash investments and professional services from sponsors. For that, she’ll be pitching on Dragon’s Den in Toronto. Check out Sensory Friendly’s Solutions viewer’s choice video on the CBC next week!