Google Demo Day for women gives top prize to Bridgit startup
Construction app developed with help from U of T entrepreneurship experts
Bridgit – a communications app for construction workers – is the winner of the first women’s edition of Google’s Demo Day for entrepreneurs.
Out of more than 450 applications from 40 countries, Bridgit was selected as one of just 11 startup teams to pitch at the event, held at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.
They were the only Canadian team pitching alongside entrepreneurs from Brazil, Israel, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Google Demo Day was an amazing opportunity to share the stage with entrepreneurs from around the world,” said Lauren Hasegawa, co-founder of Bridgit. “We're extremely thankful for the opportunity to present and it felt great to bring home the win to Canada.”
For generations, construction workers have been building our cities. But while architecture, tools and materials have changed, communication between teams has largely remained the same.
“From the day a project breaks ground to the day that it is completed, a team is expected to communicate mission-critical information with post-it notes, excel spreadsheets, email and walkie-talkies,” said Mallorie Brodie, co-founder of Bridgit.
The Canadian startup is bringing construction sites into the 21st century with an app that allows developers, general contractors and subcontractors to access clear and documented information about a project.
The female founder duo first met thanks to The Next 36, headed by U of T’s Ajay Agrawal, and designed to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of high-potential undergraduates.
After graduating from the University of Western Ontario, they moved on to hone their partnership and business concept at Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab, one of U of T’s nine campus-linked accelerators.
Bridgit impressed all three demo day judges with their business solution marketed to both commercial and residential builders. Based on judging criteria including business model, team and traction to date, Hasegawa and Brodie won the judges' vote for the top prize of the day.
“Overall, the judges commended Bridgit on both our traction and our approach to customer acquisition and sales growth,” said Hasegawa. “We believe these two things are core to building a successful company in Canada and are excited to continue to build on the strong foundation we already have in place.”
Karen Sievewright, managing director of U of T’s Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, said “Not everyone effectively leverages the many different opportunities and supports available for entrepreneurs in their school or region, but that cannot be said of Bridgit.
“These two young women have worked to turn their potential as student leaders into a viable business with huge applications in the construction industry, a traditionally male-dominated field,” Sievewright said. “While they would likely have gotten to this stage on their own, we’re proud to have been able to help accelerate their growth through two U of T supported initiatives.”
Google Demo Day is held each year but this was the first time Google for Entrepreneurs chose to create a second event dedicated to female founders, addressing the fact that the vast majority of funding is invested in male-led ventures.
“We know that women around the world are creating and building incredible tech companies,” said Mary Grove, director of Google for Entrepreneurs. “We aim to help connect them with mentors, access to capital and shine a spotlight on their efforts.”
While Google Demo Day doesn’t offer any immediate prizes, Bridgit will reap the benefits of getting the tech giant’s stamp of approval. This could include getting their foot in the door with investors, attracting the attention of potential large corporate partners and being able to hire more quickly.
Startups who have pitched at the previous two Demo Days have gone on to raise approximately $3.5 million dollars in funding from investors who attended the pitches, followed by an additional several million dollars after the event.