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Canadian FixMeStick raising money on Kickstarter after 'Dragons' Den' appearance

MONTREAL - After scoring a deal on CBC's "Dragons' Den," the entrepreneurs behind a do-it-yourself product to remove computer viruses are raising money to launch a version of the FixMeStick for Apple's Mac computers.

The Montreal tech startup company is aiming to raise $50,000 on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, where people pledge money to get products off the ground or to the next level.

"We have received requests literally every day since we launched for a Mac version," said CEO and co-founder Marty Algire, who launched FixMeStick in 2012 with partner Corey Velan.

"This is a good opportunity for us to both experiment with the Kickstarter platform and community and also put that customer demand to the test and see if it's real that people will buy a product to remove viruses from a Mac."

By Wednesday, FixMeStick had raised more than $39,000 with a funding deadline of Feb. 14.

The duo secured $500,000 in funding but had to give up a 20 per cent stake in their company recently on "Dragons' Den," a TV program that has entrepreneurs pitching ideas to get funding from a panel of venture capitalists.

While the product is available online, Algire said a big goal this year is to get the virus-fighting USB stick into major U.S. retailers. It's already available at U.S. regional retailer Fry's Electronics and Algire expects to add the U.S. regional chain Micro Center. In Canada, it's available at Costco, Walmart, The Source and London Drugs.

"Despite all of the news about online eating the lunch of retail, retail is still where the action is," he said.

Algire said so far more than 40,000 FixMeSticks have been sold and the product has been appealing to baby boomers, plus or minus 15 years.

It's not a replacement for anti-virus software, he cautions, which he sees as prevention.

"(But) it's game over when something gets onto a computer and at that point you really need to have an external device to take it off," said Algire, who previously worked at a software anti-virus company.

The FixMeStick's annual subscription of $60 provides a license for unlimited use on up to three personal computers.

PC Magazine gave FixMeStick four starts out of five, saying it had good scores in a malware cleanup test. But the cons are the cleanup process wiped out some essential Windows files, making remote assistance necessary, and there was no real-time protection against new threats.

As consumers use more smartphones and tablets, Algire said the FixMeStick can be adapted to those mobile devices, but he's not convinced there are enough threats to warrant developing it yet.

Independent technology analyst Carmi Levy said the FixMeStick will eventually have to adapt to mobile devices.

"We no longer use PCs or desktop and laptop computers exclusively to get ourselves online," said Levy, who's based in London, Ont.

But he said using a FixMeStick will be cheaper and more efficient than having a computer professionally cleaned to remove viruses.

"It's not just the cost of the service. It's the cost of the down time."

This product could appeal to small and medium-sized business that don't have that have technicians to fix computers, Levy added.

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