Spring has sprung: say hello to our 5 budding female founders

Last week we held our Compass North Selection Day to hand pick  the 5 women-led tech companies that would make up the official second cohort of our women in tech accelerator. This was no easy feat, the 10 companies pitching certainly made this a challenging decision for our team.

Compass North, a women in tech accelerator designed to support and accelerate women led businesses in the Kingston-Brockville-Belleville area, just recently saw its first cohort graduate in October of 2020. We’re looking forward to seeing all that the next cohort will accomplish!

In partnership with the amazing team at Queen’s University, we buckled up for a full day of pitches from the amazing founders in our pre-accelerator bootcamp and we’re happy to share the 5 companies that make up our next cohort of Compass North!

We asked these founders a few questions, let’s see what they had to say!

Kristina Stanley, CEO of Fictionary

What has your experience been like participating in the Compass North bootcamp over these last few weeks leading up to being officially selected for the program?

Running a successful business is easier when surrounded by brilliant mentors and advisors. The first few weeks in the Compass North bootcamp exposed me to experts in finance, banking, insurance, SaaS, and investing. In such a short time, I was able to speak with experts who gave solid advice on moving my business forward. The interaction with other female CEOs and tech leaders was an inspiration. Pitching your own company is always difficult, but the opportunity to present and receive feedback is invaluable — even if it’s stressful. 

What do you hope to gain from this program and what are your hopes for the next 6 months?

Working with a mentor every week will spark ideas and help me expand the B2B side of our business. Jennifer Batley, my mentor through the Compass North Program, says, “Growth and comfort never coexist.” So I guess I’m expecting some discomfort as we go through the process. I hope to learn and grow as a business leader, and I hope I contribute to the program in an engaging way that makes Compass North team driven to continue the program for other women. 

What hobbies or pastimes have gotten you through the last year of pandemic life?

Raising guide dog puppies for the blind gives me purpose every day. I currently have Sage, a 4 month old yellow lab, with us for the next 18 months to so. Sage is our fourth guide dog puppy. Being with a happy puppy, training her, and having her attend virtual meetings to practice relaxing while I work is a joy. Staying at home isn’t so bad with dogs in the house.

Rachel Kuzmich, Co-Founder of Locazoa

What has your experience been like participating in the Compass North bootcamp over these last few weeks leading up to being officially selected for the program?

From my very first conversation with the folks at L-SPARK I have felt encouraged and supported. I have been introduced to new ideas through a series of seminars – and I was introduced to new people including other founders in the food and farm realm, and experts like lawyers and accountants, and, most notably, I was connected with a mentor to help me prepare (and be successful in) my pitch. My experience with Compass North so far has been great, and I am excited to continue.

What do you hope to gain from this program and what are your hopes for the next 6 months?

Myself and my partner Cliff Coulter have been doing what we think is best to develop Locazoa, combining his skills in web development and my experiences in the food and farming realm. My hope for the next six months of Compass North is to establish processes, develop checks and balances, build new relationships, and generally to get a better understanding of the business landscape. As we plan for our first phase of expansion this year, I want to add more tools to our business toolkit to feel confident we are making the right growth choices now and into the future.

What hobbies or pastimes have gotten you through the last year of pandemic life?

Unsurprisingly, my pastimes have been food related! I have seriously levelled up my garden game and kitchen skills. I have garlic, chives, horseradish, and strawberries growing already,  another ten garden beds ready to go, and a whole bunch of pepper, tomato, eggplant, cabbage and other seeds started. In the kitchen I have been doing 52 weeks of cooking every week since last year. It’s been a great way to try new ingredients (Szechuan peppercorns), experiment with different cooking techniques (confit), try food from other cultures (Yemeni), and make new favourites (poke).

Ingrid Gayle, Founder of Girl Boss Chess

What has your experience been like participating in the Compass North Bootcamp over these last few weeks leading up to being officially selected for the program?

It has been a wonderful experience filled with support and insight. We came into this process with a focused need to scale via customizable CRM and improved process flow. As we have been introduced to this multitalented team, we feel closer to our ambitious goals. We are very confident in our brand and the ethos that drives it forward. 

What do you hope to gain from this program, and what are your hopes for the next 6 months?

We want to scale exponentially over the next 6 months; we will do this via improved systems and market expansion. We have goals to begin entry into three key markets, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States. This should drive us towards the 1000+ students we require to make Girl Boss Chess the largest educator of girls in the chess world. We also want to have contracts with 10+ girls schools by September 2021

What hobbies or pastimes have gotten you through the last year of pandemic life?

Initially, it was health and wellness; as the pandemic has progressed, we started this business. At the outset, it was through necessity, but soon afterwards, we realized we had a scaleable concept. Since then, it’s been quite a bit of all work and no play. We look forward to getting our systems into a place where we can open up some time for a few personal pursuits. 

Lisa Henderson, MAATO, CBCO Owner + Designer at House of Three

What has your experience been like participating in the Compass North bootcamp over these last few weeks leading up to being officially selected for the program? 

Already, I have learned so much.  Meeting with the legal and accounting team in particular was a huge help in getting us organized and protected.  All the courses and mentors have helped me gain valuable insight onto where to look to help continue to grow.

What do you hope to gain from this program and what are your hopes for the next 6 months? 

We are working on a project that will help us serve our customers needs more quickly and efficiently, and I can’t wait to see the final outcome!  Having the expertise of the mentors will help us keep the project on target.

What hobbies or pastimes have gotten you through the last year of pandemic life? 

This last year has definitely been different!  One major change has been starting a collection of local art (you don’t realize it’s a hobby until you have to hang them all up!) and trying to make more time for family.

Ana Valerie Mandri, Founder + CEO of Zamia Media

What has your experience been like participating in the Compass North bootcamp over these last few weeks leading up to being officially selected for the program?

It is a fantastic opportunity to know other women who inspired me and from whom I learn so much and the chance to receive the ongoing support of all the organizations and people within the program. From tax and legal advice to marketing and business strategies that are given by experts and beautiful people.

What do you hope to gain from this program and what are your hopes for the next 6 months?

I will build up my client base, consolidate the legal structure and sell my first trilingual online courses to NGOs worldwide. 

What hobbies or pastimes have gotten you through the last year of pandemic life?

Hiking … 100% nature lover here 🙂


If you’d like to be put in contact with any of these founders or companies, please reach out to L-SPARK’s Community + Events Manager, Natasha, at natasha@l-spark.com. We’d love to introduce you!

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