Meet five success stories of Entrepreneur First—the global talent investors breaking ground in Canada

Meet five success stories of Entrepreneur First—the global talent investors breaking ground in Canada

Applications for the next Toronto cohort are open until August 14

Entrepreneur First, located at MaRS Discovery District

As Canada’s world-class tech sector continues to grow, rivalling Silicon Valley as a centre for innovation and entrepreneurial leadership, Entrepreneur First (EF) is helping turn the country’s vast talent pool into future founders. 

Since its Canadian launch in 2020, EF’s six-month Toronto-based program has created over 25 venture-backed companies by connecting individuals with its global network of advisors, investors and, most importantly, the co-founders of their dreams. 

For those who believe their company has the potential for great success, choosing the right co-founder will become the most significant financial decision of their lives. By hand-selecting applicants for their skills, ideas and potential, EF’s cohort of founders are able to trial these co-founder relationships and test ideas at a rapid pace and in a supported environment—bypassing the challenges of a conventional route to startup. 

Having built a portfolio of companies with a combined value of more than $10 billion and raising a $158 million Series C round from a global alliance of the world’s top in tech including Patrick and John Collison (Stripe) and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn)—EF has cemented its integrity as a top-choice when it comes to finding a co-founder and building a company from scratch. But don’t just take our word for it, explore some of EF’s top Canadian startups to get a better idea of how this unique program can be the catalyst for your startup journey.

CEO Jenny Lemieux, previously at Cerebri AI (left) and CTO Jonathan Binas, previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at Mila

Vivid Machines
Co-founders Jenny Lemieux and Jonathan Binas joined forces to launch a startup that has revolutionized the fruit supply chain by digitizing on-farm fruit production. Using a novel spectral sensor and real-time computer vision, Vivid Machines is able to automate an understanding of the quantity and quality of fruit to manage growth and predict yield and provide means for early diagnosis of pests, diseases, and nutrient deficiencies.

“With my background in agriculture and growing up on a farm, along with Jonathan’s experience at Mila building brain-inspired hardware to advance the state of the art in deep learning, we have this unique advantage to build a global company impacting all farmers,” says Lemieux. 

CTO Anwar Jeffrey, previously at Bonfire (left) and CEO Masha Krol, previously at Element AI

Labelled a ‘superpower for customer success teams,’ Glowstick, from co-founders Anwar Jeffrey and Masha Krol, provides customer success insights on the platform. Using AI, it surfaces leading indicators of growth opportunities and retention risks in customer conversations faster than CSMs would manually.

“Anwar and I are based in different cities and would probably have never met if it wasn’t for EF,” says Krol. “We met during the inaugural Toronto cohort and, based on our shared values, have since attracted top AI talent and secured world-class investors including the notable Professor Yoshua Bengio.” 

CEO Ryan Watkins, previously at FleetOps (left) and CTO Charles Ashby-Lepore, previously at Mnubo (AspenTech)

Despite changing market conditions, Metacommerce co-founders Ryan Watkins and Charles Ashby-Lepore were able to connect over their shared optimism for the future of web3 and the ownership economy. Their all-in-one app-based platform provides a suite of powerful no-code tools that give anyone the ability to easily launch and manage their own NFT experiences.

“We launched our initial private beta in October and saw hundreds of creators enter our community looking to utilize our platform to design, create and sell NFTs, deploy efficient smart contracts, and track collectors without the need to hire a developer,” shared Watkins. “Together, we’ve since been able to break through walls on our mission to help digital communities grow better.”

Co-founders Tony Qu, previously at Jaza Energy (left) and Rishabh Varshney, previously at Lake Finance

This global marketplace for carbon financing, co-founded by Rishabh Varshney, Tony Qu and Malcolm Cameron, provides working capital to farmers, landowners and project developers to align corporate buyers in reducing and removing emissions.

“I had recently sold my last venture and was looking to build again,” says Varshney. “I joined EF to find a co-founder who was an expert in technical logistics, and not only did I get that but the program also helped me grow my team.” 

CTO Sean Kortschot, previously a PhD in Machine Learning and Applied Psychology at University of Toronto (left) and CEO Sam Davaiu, previously at Statflo

With their team of developers and distinguished advisors like Adam Grant, co-founders Sean Kortschot and Sam Daviau have launched UpBeing, which measures emotion using behavioural data to improve the human experience. By automating how you measure, understand and improve your habits, the platform helps users take the necessary steps to improve their moods and overall mental health. 

“Not only did I find my co-founder, a world-class expert in applied psychology and machine learning at Entrepreneur First, but the program was a pivotal catalyst to UpBeing’s oversubscribed pre-seed round led by f7 Ventures from the Bay area by ex-Facebook execs,” says Daviau. 

EF spends thousands of hours assessing and vetting for the best talent across six global sites, including Toronto—a North American first. 

Think you’ve got what it takes to rank among Canada’s top calibre of talent? Applications for Entrepreneur First’s next cohort are open until August 14.

To learn more about the program and apply today, visit