SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Roberto Medrano, Dmitriy Stepanov, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Sean Houghton

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Smart Wearable Toys Maker Linkitz Wins $100,000 at 2014 N100 Startup Competition

The time has come for the maker movement. The time has come for the re-shoring of manufacturing in North America. The time has come for a shift in venture capital investment to hardware. And the time has come to close the technology gender gap. At the intersection of these multiple transformations is the winner of the 2014 N100 Startup Competition: Linkitz.

Linkitz is a wearable electronic toy. It's modular and snaps together, allowing users to modify and  ...

Linkitz is a wearable electronic toy. It's modular and snaps together, allowing users to modify and expand the device. Linkitz is designed for kids and doesn't require any knowledge of programming--reassembling the blocks will change how they behave. Anyone can program Linkitz, they just don't know it yet.

“Wearables are the new black, and kids want their own. Linkitz makes smart and modular wearable toys that blink and buzz and will help kids learn programming too,” explains Andrew Macrae, CTO of Linkitz.

“Girls are big on accessories and Linkitz will give them a chance to get programming chops as they make toys their own,” says Lyssa Neel, CEO of Linkitz and a MIT PhD who co-founded two other companies. “Making technology playful at an early age can go a long way,” she adds.

By winning N100, Co-Founders Neel and Macrae have secured a $100,000 early-stage investment from Northumberland CFDC to finalize, test and market their product. “Linkitz is already working with the prototyping and engineering team at a local Cobourg manufacturer,” said George Harvey, Chairman of the business development corporation that runs N100. “They will be establishing their headquarters and operations here in Northumberland where they will be able to leverage local innovation infrastructure and value-added partnerships.”

“A social toy and fashion item can motivate kids to learn more about technology. Building this type of confidence can help kids get comfortable with technology and grow from mere consumers to active creators,” Neel said.

“Through innovation, Lyssa Neel is creating a pathway of possibilities for a generation of young women,” said Wendy Curtis, Executive Director of Northumberland CFDC. “And we are putting the spotlight on an impressive entrepreneur who is helping to close the gender gap for women in tech.”

“Having the support of investors who share our vision will help us put Linkitz into kids’ hands much faster,” says Linkitz CEO Lyssa Neel.

This year, Linkitz won out over forty-one other startups from Canada, the USA and around the world. The next call for applications for the annual N100 Startup Competition will go out again in January, 2015 with a registration deadline in March.

About Linkitz

Linkitz is a wearable electronic toy that allows kids to have fun while easily learning to program. A Canadian hardware startup led by Co-Founder and CEO Lyssa Neel, Linkitz is the winner of the 2014 N100 Startup Competition and was recently accepted into the 2014 HAXLR8R Fall cohort. Follow Linkitz on Twitter @Link_itz.

About the N100 Startup Competition

N100 is an annual startup competition led by Northumberland CFDC in partnership with Spark Centre and a high-level Power Panel including David Pamenter, Business Law Partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Startups compete for $100,000 in early-stage investment capital through a series of three Rounds: the Pitch, Business Planning and Negotiation. The winner of the inaugural year of the competition in 2013 was Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation (UCIC) who went on from their win to launch an expansive beta program for their ubiquitous computing device (dubbed the “Ubi”) and to secure a $635,000 angel round led by Maple Leaf Angels.

Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (Northumberland CFDC) is a business development corporation dedicated to providing financing and strategy for entrepreneurs. A member of Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) Northumberland CFDC receives core operational funding from FedDev Ontario.

Spark Centre is one of fourteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The RIC works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Northumberland and Durham as a world-class innovation cluster.

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