KITCHENER, SEPT. 6, 2018— Three women were awarded a collective $100,000 in funding for their early-stage companies at the Communitech Fierce Founders Bootcamp Pitch Competition on Thursday. Alwar Pillai was awarded $75,000 pitching Toronto-based Fable Tech Labs, which helps businesses test their digital accessibility online. Lauren Smith was awarded $25,000 in second place for her Waterloo-based company, PolyGone Technologies, who have created a filter to catch microfibers leaking into in to water and food supplies during washing. Third place was given to Suzana Vuković of Ottawa-based IntelliMEDSolutions Inc., a biotechnology startup, with a guaranteed spot in the fifth cohort of the Communitech Fierce Founders Accelerator beginning October 2018.


“This was my first pitch competition. When I started, my goal was just to learn to pitch, and Fierce Founders definitely delivered,” said Pillai. “This is going to be huge for us. It’s so hard to find other female founders and get a support network. This experience was really valuable.”


The top eight bootcamp participants included: Lauren Smith (PolyGone Technologies), Alwar Pillai (Fable Tech Labs),  Sharon Reeds (Intuitive Shipping), Elize Shirdel (HELM), Kathryn Vandenberg (Zabu Inc.), Arjumand Ateeq (Baysil Inc.), Jenessa Olson (STMNT) and Suzana Vuković (intelliMEDSolutions Inc.).


The companies were vetted based on customer validation, lean canvas model and pitch practice performance. At the finale they pitched to a panel of judges including: Zahra Jivan (Deloitte), Kimberly Yeung (BDC Capital), Aaron Bast (MaRS IAF), and Graham Toppin (ROSS Intelligence).


Throughout the bootcamp, the women participated in classes and workshops to learn about running a startup, including lean startup methodology, problem and solution validation, accounting, funding, IP, human resources and leadership, marketing and sales. They also received coaching and feedback on their individual business pitches.


Fierce Founders is sponsored by BDC, Deloitte, Google Developers, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada, TD, and Thomson Reuters. For more information about Communitech’s women in technology programming, please visit


For media inquiries, please contact:


Samantha Clark

Manager, Public Relations, Communitech



About Communitech


Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players.


Communitech is a member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs and helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways.


  • Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool tech and great companies.
  • Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate.

Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant.