CEO Message

March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration of the vital role and contributions of women to society. Profound Impact is proud to celebrate women through the stories you’ll read in this month’s issue of Profound Connections, as well as activities we’re sponsoring throughout the month.

This month’s Impact Story profiles Zainab Azim, a young woman whose passion for space, education, neuroscience and public policy has inspired her to found an organization that works towards providing access to quality education, serve as a mentor in the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs Space4Women program and present her research to audiences around the world – all before completing her undergraduate degree!  Read about Zainab and her plans for expanding her work in mentoring and in the policy space to empower young girls and women interested in pursuing space and STEM fields.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight we feature Julita Vassileva, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan. You’ll learn about Julita’s passion for promoting the status of women in computer science and in all areas of science and engineering where women are underrepresented. You can also learn about her ground-breaking research on applying AI to solve educational and social problems.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 each year and the theme for IWD 2024 is Inspire Inclusion. Profound Impact is proud to be a sponsor of IWD 2024 events presented by WCT-WR, the Waterloo Region Chapter of Women in Communications and Technology. WCT-WR will host two live events on March 8 and March 27 that will include conversations featuring trailblazing professionals in the arts and culture sector, entertainment, and musical interludes.  Full information about those events and registration information is available here.

In last month’s newsletter, we announced the launch of Women Funding Women (WFW).  Founded by myself, Profound Impact board chair Deborah Rosati and Lara Zink, VP of Client Service and Development at Delaney Capital Management, WFW is a collective working to address the funding gap faced by women-led ventures.

We’re excited about the incredible energy generated by WFW’s two-day launch event on February 7 and 8. Our keynote speaker was Joanna Griffiths, founder and President at Knix, who shared her story with our collective.  

You can also tune into the From Fear to Fire podcast, where I speak with Heather Hansen O’Neill about how WFW is leading the charge to challenge established norms within the venture capital sphere, redefining the landscape for women founders and funders.

Are you a researcher looking for the perfect funding match? For a limited time, Profound Impact is offering a free evaluation of our AI-powered tool, Research Impact, to individual researchers, colleges and universities. You can view a video here or sign up for a live demonstration during one of our Demo Days.

Thank you for your support and we hope that you enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections!

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

CEO Message

The first few weeks of 2024 have been busy as the Profound Impact team continues to work with universities and colleges and industry partners across Canada to deploy our AI-powered Research Impact tool, which matches researchers with the best research funding opportunities in their field and helps find industry partners to support successful grant applications. Through our innovative new partnership with CS-Can|Info-Can, the first of a series of collaborations with researchers across Canada, Profound Impact is providing CS-Can|Info-Can member Computer Science departments and researchers with free evaluations of Research Impact. Interested in learning more about Research Impact? You can view a video here or sign up for a live demonstration during one of the bi-weekly Demo Days that the Profound Impact team will be presenting throughout 2024.

I was pleased to share my insights on building Profound Impact’s team and our successful and healthy small business culture in the Grow a Small Business podcast. Profound Impact and my work were also featured in an edition of Women’s Biz podcast, where I talked about my journey in information security, my role in commercializing Elliptic Curve Cryptography, and the inspiration behind founding Profound Impact.

In August of 2023, Profound Impact announced the successful close of a $3.125 million pre-seed funding round of nearly all female investors, including many first-time angel investors. Inspired by this achievement, I joined forces with Profound Impact board chair Deborah Rosati and Lara Zink, VP of Client Service and Development at Delaney Capital Management, to create Women Funding Women Inc. (WFW). This collective, which challenges the status quo in the venture capital world and with first-time female angel investors by breaking barriers and building bridges for a more inclusive investment community, will launch in Toronto on February 7. You can read more about how WFW plans to change the VC landscape in Disruption Magazine’s recent article.

In this month’s Impact Story, you’ll meet WFW co-founder Lara Zink and learn more about her journey from working as a political aide to a successful career in finance. In our Researcher Spotlight, we profile Dr. Luigi Benedicenti, Professional Engineer, researcher and Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick, whose career took him from Genoa, Italy to Regina, Saskatchewan to Atlantic Canada.

We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections!

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

Profound Impact Exceeds First Tranche of Financing Round Led by Female Investors



The company on target to close the second tranche of the $3 million round in August 

WATERLOO, ON | June 15, 2023 A group of female investors, including many who are first-time investors, is leading the way for Profound Impact™ Corporation’s latest funding round. 

The first round of financing closed on May 5, 2023 and included more than $2.2 million in seed funding for the company. The participation of first-time female investors sends a clear message of confidence in Profound Impact’s vision and the team’s leadership. The company will be closing the remainder of the $3 million when the second tranche closes on Aug. 4, 2023. 

“As the leader of a female-founded company, I am thrilled and grateful to welcome these investors into our network,” says Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, Founder and CEO of Profound Impact. “Women need opportunities to invest and grow their portfolios, and I’m proud that so many made the decision to make their first-time investment in Profound Impact.”

Profound Impact is poised to continue its growth in the Canadian market, and this latest funding will allow the company to expand into the United States and internationally.  

“Congratulations to Sherry and Profound Impact on this closing. As an angel investor in women-led ventures, I’m excited to see more women invest at the seed level. Women founders in North America face many systemic barriers in pre-seed, seed and venture finance. I firmly believe that raising awareness of the opportunities for women to invest in women-led ventures is key to helping us remove those barriers,” says Lara Zink, President & CEO, Women in Capital Markets.

“We are excited to see female investors committed to growing their portfolios and unlocking financial opportunities in the innovation sector,” says Ken Grewal, Founder and CEO, Forthlane Partners. “It is vitally important that financial education and opportunities are available to women and all investors interested in growing their portfolios.”    

“It is gratifying to finally see so many women stepping up to steer their financial futures. Investments by women for women in Canada’s female-founded companies not only bridges identified funding gaps, but also builds a future for female entrepreneurs,” says Anne-Marie Canning, cultural entrepreneur and investor in Profound Impact. 

“Many women want to invest in the tech sector, but face difficulties in taking the first steps into the investment space. Connecting female investors to female entrepreneurs helps empower women across the tech industry to find success,” says Claudette McGowan, Co-founder of The Firehood. “I was pleased to support Profound Impact in this funding round and will follow along closely as their company continues to grow.” 

Profound Impact, which operates out of the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor, offers Research Impact, an AI-powered tool that helps academic and industry researchers find the perfect funding match. More than just a search engine, Research Impact offers automatic, targeted and timely grant matching.

This phase of investment represents an important step along Profound Impact’s growth trajectory. The company has made significant strides over the past few months, including hiring Kasia Malz as Chief Financial Officer and forming an Inaugural Board of Directors

“As a serial entrepreneur, I admire Sherry’s strong vision of ‘connecting great people to great things,’” says Deborah Rosati, Chair of Profound Impact’s Board of Directors. “I invested in the company and believe that my experience in technology start-ups/scale-ups, commitment to good governance, financial expertise, and venture capital experience will bring value to the company as it scales.”

This female-led investment sends a strong message to the investment community that women will step up to support and invest in women-founded and led companies.



Based in the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor, Profound Impact’s AI-powered tool – Research Impact – helps academic and industry researchers find the perfect funding match. With over $300 Billion in research funding opportunities, 100,000s industry partners and 8.8 Million researchers globally, finding the optimal grant for academic and industry innovators is often overwhelming and unnecessarily time-consuming.  More than just a search engine, Research Impact offers automatic, targeted and timely matching.  Profound Impact’s customers include top North American research institutions, universities and industry partners.  CEO and Founder Sherry Shannon-Vanstone is a serial technology entrepreneur with an unparalleled track record.  She has had five successful start-ups and exits in Silicon Valley and Canada, including two IPOs and acquisitions.  


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