Client Update: iApotheca on Next Gen Den!


Spark Centre client, iApotheca recently appeared on an episode of CBC’s Next Gen Den, which is Dragons’ Den for an online world. Shorter and made for mobile, Next Gen Den is a launching pad for young entrepreneurs, pitching startups and early-stage businesses to the next generation of Dragons. We talked to Spencer Turbitt, CEO & Co-Founder of iApotheca Healthcare to talk about his experience pitching his pharmacy software solution to the Dragon’s.

Tell us about iApotheca.
iApotheca Healthcare is software for pharmacies and nursing homes. Right now it comes in three different sections of modules. The first is a Compliance Tool which helps reduce the risk pharmacies have in keeping and following all procedures and policies that the different regulatory boards in Canada put it place for them. It digitalizes these policies and procedures and it allows managers and owners of the pharmacies to see reports of who has and hasn’t confirmed that they have read new policies online. This tool also allows you to share the information across many pharmacy locations. The second is Incident Tracking which allows you to create different categories of incidents such as a delivery or dispensing. The module can track these incidents on a monthly basis or a yearly basis and reduce them over time. It has shown to reduce incidents by approximately 50% through a series of tests. The Incident Tracking module also digitalizes the process of narcotic drug destruction. The third module is iApotheca Workflow Module which monitors things like delivery orders and medication changes for med pouches and blister packs. We also offer an accounting suite for pharmacies which will eliminate the pharmacies having to use a separate interface.

Why did you start iApotheca?
We started iApotheca because we were working on different software solutions for businesses and quickly realized we couldn’t compete with the big guys like Salesforce and NetSuite. We decided to focus on a specific area that we knew. One of our partners and myself both have had family that was in pharmacy so we had a lot of information and background on it. Also, with all of the baby boomers continuing to retire over the next few years, the Government is putting more and more pressure on pharmacies by reducing drug costs which makes the pharmacies work hard for every dollar. They don’t necessarily have the money to fund big software programs like a larger chain would. We wanted to give independent pharmacies the ability to have the same or even better software available to them.

How did you get on Next Gen Den?   
We applied to be on Dragon’s Den a year ago for a different idea and concept that we had. After applying online, we were called to do an interview in front of producers. We pitched to a producer who loved our idea and said he would recommend us for the Dragon’s Den student special and was very confident that we had a great chance of appearing on the show. After that, we unfortunately didn’t hear back. Fast forward to this year and we received a call from the Next Gen Den producers who were going through some old material and thought we would be great for the show as the new dragons were making riskier deals with newer companies.  We told them that the original idea was a previous concept and that we are doing something new now that’s getting traction. After pitching the idea of iApotheca Healthcare, they thought it would be perfect for the show and invited us to film an episode.

Tell me about your experience appearing on Next Gen Den?
When we arrived, they had everyone gather in one room outside of the studio with the other companies who are pitching. Everyone is assigned a producer who is there to keep you informed of what’s going to happen, what to do and what to expect. About 15-20 minutes before your pitch, they take you to hair and make-up. Then from there they take you to film a clip of a few words about the company which ends up being a teaser before your pitch airs. When you walk in, you start speaking right away. A lot of people ask how many takes you have to do your pitch and you only do have one chance. If you make a fool of yourself or make your business look badly, they’re going to use that because its funny and its for television. We were in there for over 20 minutes but they of course edit it down to fit it into the episode. We pitched for about 3 minutes and then a demo of the software and then the dragons ask questions.

Did you get a deal?
You can watch the clip at the following link to see the outcome! (second half of clip)

What happens now? What’s the future for iApotheca?
There’s a due diligence process and we have to negotiate on some things with the Dragon’s. We aren’t sure what direction it’s going to go in the future but the great news is that we have a lot more traction for iApotheca now after appearing on the show. We’re about to go into a number of pharmacies and also have interest from large organizations with a large number of pharmacies who are interested in bringing iApotheca Healthcare on board so I’m looking forward to seeing where we are six months from now.

How do you think Spark Centre has helped you along the way?
The #1 way they have helped was their facilitation of the Ignite Durham competition. They taught us how to pitch and how to get up in front of an audience. We made it to the second round so we were able to do our three minute pitch in front of a larger audience of almost 200 people. One of the most important things was learning about the different areas of a pitch; the revenue, the monetization model, the features, problems, solution, everything was a huge help. Before Ignite, I didn’t have any experience pitching to potential investors and it was a huge help for appearing on Dragon’s Den and other investor pitches that we have done since. Learning that from the Spark Centre made it very easy and in a matter of a couple hours, I had a pitch ready for our appearance on the Den!

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs who want to appear on Next Gen Den or Dragon’s Den?
The #1 advice I would give is know your numbers! If they’re not simple enough for the Dragon’s to understand what your revenue will be or if things don’t add up, they won’t spend the time trying to make them add up. If you don’t lay everything out clearly, they’re not going to be interested. You have to make it make sense!

To learn more about iApotheca Healthcare, you can visit

Spark Centre’s Thrive Accelerator Program Announces Cohort One


Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre today announced the first cohort of start-ups accepted into their new Thrive Accelerator Program. Six ambitious companies will join Thrive’s four month accelerator program which offers significant advisory and business support services to achieve a faster market entry. The six companies will also be co-located at The Loft – Spark Centre’s collaborative ecosystem in Durham Region.

“We’re very excited to be working with six incredible startups that are positioned to make a huge impact in 2015.” says Braden Kemp, Director of Client Services at Spark Centre. “Thrive provides a focused environment for bringing rapidly scalable start-ups to market quickly. These entrepreneurs already have the ideas and the passion to succeed, we support them with the resources, advice and operational support required to get there faster.”

Introducing Thrive Cohort One:

Blancride: Blancride is a mobile application that modernizes carpooling. Incorporating GPS and smartphone technology, Blancride matches passengers and drivers to share a ride instantly.

IFTech: Innovators in wearable technology, IFTech is leading the next generation of immersive gaming. Their first product is ARAIG, a high-tech, multi-sensory gaming suit.

National ProStaff: The leading social network for anglers, brands, tournaments, and outfitters. Fishing brands are able to manage, recruit, and highlight all brand ambassadors in one place while consumers are able to make smarter buying decisions and interact with ProStaff.

Seriously Fun Games: Aims to provide access to the incredible power of educational games. The company creates engaging and fun game-based learning experiences to enable educators to deliver their message with impact.

Tiko 3D: Creators of the most affordable, elegant, and easy to use 3D Printer. Tiko 3D is bringing Delta printing technology to the masses in a user-friendly, affordable desktop device.

Zambah: A web and mobile platform dedicated to exposing and promoting independent musicians to wide variety of new fans. Independent artists can share and sell their music directly to listeners through a visually engaging, dynamic platform.

“Cohort One has already moved in to The Loft, and is working closely with Spark Centre Advisors, the Expert Network, and Corporate Partners to rapidly accelerate their path to market,” says Kemp. “We’re having too much fun helping these entrepreneurs build incredible technology right here in Durham.”

To learn more about the Thrive Accelerator Program and Cohort One, visit Tiko Is 2015’s Most Unusual 3D Printer—And It’s Cheap, Too

by Signe Brewster,

The desktop 3D printer space is getting crowded. In just a few years, we’ve gone from “Wow! A 3D printer!” to “How cheap is it?” and “How are you going to convince me to buy it?”

That’s why I was surprised to be, well, surprised by the Tiko, a Canadian 3D printer that will hit Kickstarter next week. The Tiko is a delta printer, which means its body is shaped like a triangle instead of a rectangle. It has a sleek, unibody design. And it will cost $179.

In case you haven’t been playing along at home, that’s peanuts in a market where lots of 3D printers will set you back $400 or more.

I saw the Tiko in action at the SXSW conference, where it was hard at work pumping out blue trinkets. CEO Matt Gajkowski said he designed the printer with mass production in mind, meaning every part can be made on standard equipment. That bodes well for crowdfunding backers, who often have to wait months for delayed 3D printer deliveries. The Tiko is slated to ship this fall.

(Click Here to read the full story)