Saskatoon tech startup gains access to U.S. accelerator

Ryley Iverson and Davie Lee are the founders of Townfolio, a computer program that posts real-time economic data. Townfolio is now under the guidance of TechStars, one of the top business accelerators in the word.

Championing the rural advantage, Townfolio gets big break

Ryley Iverson (L) and Davie Lee (R) are the founders of Saskatoon-based Townfolio, a tech startup that is now enjoying the benefits one of the most prestigious business accelerators in the sector. (Townfolio )

A Saskatchewan tech start-up that's trying to help small towns survive is getting a big boost from a top U.S. business accelerator.

It's all about the narrative.- Davie Lee

"It's been a big learning curve," Ryley Iverson told CBC Saskatchewan's Saskatoon Morning.

Iverson and partner Davie Lee, founders of Saskatoon-based Townfolio, have created a computer program that posts real-time economic data. Townfolio is now under the guidance of TechStars, one of the top business accelerators in the word.  

Less than one per cent of tech startups make the cut into TechStars. So what sets Townfolio apart?

"It's all about narrative," said Davie Lee. "The data helps with dispelling some of those stereotypes that come along with smaller communities."

Big data on small towns

Lee said their program delivers a detailed snap shot of small town economies.  

One Townfolio success story is found in Kindersley, where a restaurant chain was convinced to open up in a community with a smaller population base than they normally target.

"Maybe there are low water rates. Maybe there is a great labour force for a certain industry. Those are some things that people overlook," Lee said.

"The businesses get trusted data, that's up to date, and they can … connect the dots for themselves," added Iverson.

Coming home 

The winning formula has landed the two far from home in Kansas City, Missouri, with access to money, investment opportunities and some of the sharpest minds in the tech sector. It's a dizzying the experience, one that has the founders of Townfolio anxious to return to Saskatoon and get back to helping small towns build a strong future.

Lee believes that Townfolio if for anyone looking for success.  

"You can be an immigrant entrepreneur…or you could be a big investor looking to open up a big market manufacturing facility," Lee said.

"You are missing opportunities in places you've never heard of," said Iverson.  

with files from Saskatoon Morning