For International Women’s Day, we are recognizing and celebrating powerful women who are creating unique and innovative solutions in the Atlantic Canadian startup ecosystem. It is very inspiring to work alongside so many strong, intelligent women who are helping our ecosystem thrive, many of which are mentoring and engaging with other young women who are emerging in the tech scene.

Melanie Little, CEO + Co-Founder, vLife by Quantam Link

Melanie Little is the CEO + Co-Founder of vLife by Quantum Link – a social enterprise platform connecting “support-local customers” with small, indie businesses. A home-educating, mompreneur of two from Halifax, Melanie and the vLife team are passionate about leveraging technology to level the online playing field. Both for small independent businesses, and the passionate “buy-local shoppers” wanting to find them.

“I really couldn’t be happier with the support I’ve received as a female tech startup Founder in Atlantic Canada. Quantum Link is supported by Volta, ACOA, IRAP, the Centre for Women in Business, Halifax Partnership, Digital Nova Scotia, and the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. Not to mention the overwhelming support of Atlantic Canadians entrepreneurs, old and new. I can’t think of a better place to succeed than here.” – Melanie Little

Selena Mehrani, Founder, Adorify

Selena has a PhD in chemistry from the Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2013, she came to Canada to pursue her education, and always dreamed of being an entrepreneur. Combining her passion for the cosmetics and beauty industries with her knowledge of cosmetic formulations, she decided to start Adorify.

Adorify is a platform that simplifies skincare/cosmetics formulations and educates people on how to use and apply potent ingredients for the best results. She started this exciting journey at Volta, and she is very grateful to be a part of such a supportive and helpful community.

“We’ve had a very exciting journey, and the most important lessons that I have learned so far are to never get distracted by other people’s suggestions and advice, and to take the advice that you feel might be helpful for your business! Nobody knows your business as much as you do. Building a startup is difficult. You have to be committed and take the hard days as a lesson to learn for the future.” – Selena Mehrani

Dr. Franziska Broell, CEO, Motryx

Dr. Franziska Broell holds a BSc (Hons) in Applied Statistics from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and a PhD in Oceanography from Dalhousie University. She completed two post-doctoral fellowships at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and the University of Windsor. She is responsible for the development of accelerometer data processing algorithms, making key data accessible to end users.

Dr. Broell is a peer-reviewed author with more than four years of experience as a CEO. She raised $1.5-million (CAD), grew the team at Motryx from two to eight employees within six months, and led the clinical validation of Motryx’s core product, VitalQC. VitalQC enables hospitals to conduct quality control on blood samples transported to a lab. Motryx is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with employees across Canada.

Dawn Jutla, Co-CEO, Founder + President, Peer Ledger

Dawn Jutla, PhD (Computer Science) from Dalhousie University is the energetic Founder of Peer Ledger, a Nova Scotia startup with its MIMOSI Connect flagship product being used to uncover environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks in global supply chains today. Dawn is passionate about her business being able to identify ESG risks in the supply chain, such as child labour, modern slavery, conflict financing, plastics pollution, deforestation) exist in millions of product supply chains everywhere, which can cost companies tens of thousands of dollars. 

Dawn is also the Founder of the Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MTEI) Program (established 2013) at Saint Mary’s University where she was its Founding Director from January to June 2013, and 2014 to 2017. She continues to share her entrepreneurial knowledge teaching MTEI students at the Sobey School of Business where she is currently the Scotiabank Professor of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation. 

In 2020, her team at Peer Ledger won the Positive Impact Award-Organization at the Volta Ecosystem Impact Awards. Dawn is proud that Peer Ledger has met Canada’s 50-30 Challenge for diversity and inclusion.”We are really fortunate in Atlantic Canada to have amazing support from ACOA, NSBI, Innovacorp, Volta, MSVU’s Women in Business and a solid university system with exciting programs. The availability of talented labour and the sheer beauty of its landscape makes this region an excellent place to live and to start and grow a company.” – Dawn Jutla

Lauren Sears, Co-Founder, Blue Charm Adherence

Lauren Sears is the Co-Founder (along with Greg Patey) of Blue Charm Adherence, a HealthTech startup in Halifax, developing patient-centric solutions for medication non-adherence. After graduating from the University of Ottawa, she was eager to get back to Halifax and has been delighted and inspired by the city’s recent growth. She became an accidental entrepreneur while working in research in 2017 and recognized an important gap in health care. Blue Charm Adherence looks forward to launching in Q2 of 2021.

“Atlantic Canada is a hidden gem in many ways. Our unique synthesis of opportunity and potential is paving the way for entrepreneurs of all kinds, from small business and creatives to tech and innovation. It’s a beautiful time to be here and we at Blue Charm are extremely grateful for that privilege.” – Lauren Sears

Laura Simpson, CEO + Co-Founder, Side Door

Laura Simpson is the CEO and Co-Founder (along with artist, Dan Mangan) of Side Door, Founded in Halifax in 2017. Side Door’s mission is to create shows anytime, anywhere – first with in-person shows and now online. She believes experiencing amazing live art in intimate community settings leads to stronger human connection, greater empathy and improved mental health.

Side Door is built to connect artists with curators, venues, service providers and audiences to make booking, ticketing and payments easy and transparent. Side Door provides robust tools and support, without any up-front costs to the artist.

“I stayed in Nova Scotia to start my company because I deeply care about supporting the place and people that have supported and inspired me – especially in the arts. And I want to put Nova Scotia on the map as the headquarters to a globally known marketplace for live performance!” – Laura Simpson

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