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SYDNEY, N.S. — In a period of four months, Alison Giovannetti has gone from having an idea for a business opportunity to winning a start-up competition and receiving $50,000 to help make her business a reality.
“I am so super excited about this,” said Giovannetti, who placed first in this year’s Spark Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton start-up competition.
So far, Giovannetti is the only company employee but that will soon change as she now moves into the marketplace with Bankscanpro.
She said the company uses artificial intelligence to take PDF bank documents and convert them into CSV files. She said such technology will be extremely helpful for smaller, community banks along with small business owners.
Giovannetti said she will now turn her attention to further product development along with hiring staff and hopes to be running her business by fall.
Taking second place in the competition, which came with a $40,000 cash prize, was Matt Lewis with Apollo Festival.
Lewis explained that the company creates software for festivals that can track everything from logistics to schedules.
He said Celtic Colours International Festival and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival are two events that are using the technology with rave reviews.
The cash infusion for the two winning companies will help support key growth areas including customer discovery, market research and product development.
“Not only are we providing early-stage companies with financial support but we are also welcoming them into the ecosystem, which provides access to a network of advisors, mentors and peers,” said Erinn Smith, executive director of the Nova Scotia Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDC).
There were six companies vying for this year’s prize and the competition was described as highly competitive.
Spark’s first winner in 2014, Matt Stewart, was also on hand for the event and reminded this year’s winners that is takes a lot of persistence to stay in business. The cash prize also helps, he said.
Stewart said the competition opened a lot of doors for his company, Click2order, in terms of networking and mentoring opportunities.
Spark Nova Scotia works in early-stage innovation in rural parts of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton to help develop high-quality applications.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is contributing $590,000 over two years to help deliver the Spark Nova Scotia program.
The program offers funding and support to innovation-focused start-ups and includes idea development, training, workshops, networking opportunities, along with pitch competitions.
In addition to ACOA, other program sponsors include Cox & Palmer, Grant Thornton, Invest Nova Scotia and OKR Financial.