Google’s NEXT Pre-Accelerator Wraps Up in Toronto and Names Winners

In February Techvibes reported that NEXT, a five-week program designed for evolving startups to gain access to mentors, angels, and methodologies to fast-track them to product-market-fit, was coming to Toronto.

The five week pre-accelerator program just wrapped up in Toronto with a Demo Day and the winners have been announced.

Sampler, the startup that plans to dominate the world of social sampling online, has been selected as the winner of the Toronto NEXT pre­accelerator program. And according to NEXT organizers they will be meeting with TechStars and Y Combinator as a result of their fine performance.

Sampler builds SaaS technology that helps brands & online retailers distribute product samples & gift cards online using the power of peer recommendation. Their MVP, a social sampling app created around Facebook, has already attracted 15 paid clients.

Second place was awarded to ArtLocal, a platform which connects galleries with art lovers and buyers and uses Apple’s iBeacon technology to provide analytics to gallery owners.

ArtLocal, led by Sean Green, has already forged partnerships with key galleries in Toronto and New York including the Guggenheim, and the AGO. They will also be the official app partner of both the Luminato and NXNE festivals for 2014.

In third place was GrowWell. Founded by Kiran Shahbaz and Irfan Pirbhai, GrowWell is a simple feedback tool that helps health & wellness clinics measure & track patient satisfaction.

“We are super impressed by all the teams that came through the first cohort of NEXT in Toronto. All of them took substantial strides with their startups and have serious potential to become scalable. We look forward to many more NEXT cohorts in Toronto and Canada and are excited to see the feedback Sampler received from judges,” ­ said Matt French, Director of NEXT, Up Global.

NEXT, Up Global’s pre­accelerator program powered by Google For Entrepreneurs, helps startups in communities around the world prepare for accelerators and investment. The top 12 startups from NEXT Spring 2014 will be flown to New York to pitch to the world’s top accelerator programs, including Y Combinator and Techstars.