Thalmic Labs Graduates!
Today, we are pleased to announce that Thalmic Labs is moving out of the VeloCity Garage. The team is moving into interim space on King Street near City Hall while they wait until October for their space on Charles Street to be finished.
The founders of Thalmic Labs are Stephen Lake, Aaron Grant and Matthew Bailey. All three are 2012 graduates of the Mechatronics program at the University of Waterloo where they met and became close friends. Stephen participated in the Next36 program where he was involved with a company called Playfit Health. Upon completion of the program, Aaron joined the Playfit team. A few months later, after finishing their undergrad studies, they entered the Garage to work on Playfit and were joined by Matthew to work on a side project, which would become the MYO.
Playfit Health was a company dedicated to encouraging people to exercise more. They struck a deal with Cineplex to provide free movie tickets to users who ran/jogged/walked enough distance to earn them. It became very clear that while the team was spending a lot of time pushing Playfit, they had a passion for creating electronics products. Within a month of moving into the Garage, the team started talking about creating a company called Thalmic Labs. Ultimately, the three decided to focus all of their efforts on Thalmic Labs.
In July, the founders rushed back from dragon boat training (as a side note – the team went on to represent Canada in the dragon boat world championships in Hong Kong where they won) to interview for the VeloCity Venture Fund. I will never forget the interview. The founders walked into the room and connected their computer. They started off by playing a video of Tom Cruise in Minority Report where he was busy controlling the futuristic computer with modified gloves on his hands. They all smiled while Stephen said “We want to build this.” Audacious! Unfortunately, the team didn’t have a working prototype of the product at this point and weren’t far enough along for VVF.
All three founders doubled down on their startup and were able to finish their prototype within a number of weeks. Aaron showed the first version of what would become the MYO controlling a PowerPoint presentation using hand gestures to move the slides left and right. There were wires going everywhere but it worked!
In December, the team was accepted into Y Combinator (YC). Using their entrance into YC as positive support for the business, they were able to raise a $1.1M seed round from a number of angels in Toronto and Waterloo. The introductions to the Toronto angel investors was built into the University of Toronto Creative Destruction Lab program which the team was able to harness thanks to their previous participation in Next36.
With seed money in hand, the team started hiring employees with expertise to help take their prototype to the next level. In January, the founders headed down to Silicon Valley to participate in YC leaving their team behind in the VeloCity Garage to continue building the product. All three founders rotated between Silicon Valley and Waterloo with the goal of having one founder in each location at any given time. During YC, Thalmic Labs was selected as the best team by their fellow batchmates, which was an incredible honor.
In February, the company announced the MYO (https://www.thalmic.com/myo/) and offered customers the opportunity to pre-purchase the product. In less than 36 hours the team sold over $1M in product and within four weeks had sold over $4M of MYOs!
Using this amazing traction, the company closed a massive $14.5M Series A lead by Spark Capital and Intel Corp’s investment arm Intel Capital in June. It is the largest round for any Y Combinator graduate coming out of the program and the largest raise for any VeloCity company while in the Garage.
The Thalmic team has grown steadily over the past six months and with over 25 people they are very squished in the VeloCity Garage amongst the other 28 companies. We couldn’t be more proud and excited for Thalmic Labs as they move into their own place and continue to build this amazing company.