Opportunity Fest winners highlight innovation at Beedie

Apr 13, 2012



A hot tub water care system, an employee wellness solution for companies and a sustainable recycling initiative aimed at helping Vancouver achieve its goal of zero waste for 2020 were the big winners at a Beedie School of Business social entrepreneurship competition.

Opportunity Fest 2012 gave SFU business undergrads the opportunity to showcase their class-produced ventures to judges from industry, academia and the wider business community. Held at SFU’s Surrey campus on April 11, the event featured three venture categories: commercial, social and sustainable, with the winners of each category awarded $1000.

In the commercial category the winning venture was “Team CMS”, who impressed judges with their Easy Care Water Solutions unit. Their electronic hand-held device simultaneously measures for all required levels to maintain water chemistry balance in hot tubs at a far cheaper price than similar units.

The social category was won by Team “Smart Fit”, who designed a wristband which measures heart rate and sleeping patterns and utilizes Bluetooth to update an online support and tracking platform. The technology allows employers to view benefits more reliably than traditional office wellness programs.

The sustainable category saw Team “Second Chance” take the top prize for their supplies material donation system. Through their system, the team collected over 30 broken or forgotten umbrellas and 50 rice bags from SFU students, restaurants and other businesses in the lower mainland. They then used these materials to create environmentally-friendly, handmade backpacks.

In addition, the male or female student from each category who presented the best pitch to the judges was awarded the title of Mr or Ms Opportunity, and received a networking lunch with the judges at Gotham’s restaurant in Vancouver. Mr Opportunity this year went to Jason Uswak, Jordan Kipnes and Carlos Hernandez, while Carrie Lee, Stacey Wallin and Joana Guray can now boast the title of Ms Opportunity.

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, more than 100 students from seven different Beedie School of Business classes participated in the marketplace-style exhibition, which was open to the public. The event included themes of sustainability and social innovation, along with traditional entrepreneurship and business strategy.

“Opportunity Fest is like a Capstone experience for these undergraduate students,” says Eric Gedajlovic, Professor at the Beedie School of Business. “In today’s inter-connected world, where things are happening so rapidly and your plans are outdated as soon as they are established, success and growth depends on your ability to continuously identify and pursue opportunities.”

Other student ventures presented at the event included: a fabric-based gift wrap; a system which harvests rain water for residential and commercial buildings; a mobile home energy management system; eco-friendly flat shoes distributed through vending machines at nightclubs; and an app that allows users to send digital gift cards from their mobile phone.

Students presented their ventures through trade-show style exhibits that included prototypes, videos, graphical displays and more. The judges then expressed their financial interest through investment of emulated venture capital dollars.

“This event is a little bit of Dragon’s Den, and a bit of Apprentice,” says Gedajlovic. “The teams take this opportunity to develop a full-blown project. These are ideas and new ventures that come from dissatisfaction with the way things are done currently and have potential to represent viable business concepts. Opportunity Fest gives them the opportunity to develop something they will really care about.”

The full results are as follows:

First place, Commercial: CMS

Team members: Jason Uswak, Andrew Bowler, Wendy Dai, Chelsea Chan and Harry Meeuwsen

“A great amount of fear and confusion surrounds hot tub water care. If people make a mistake and the water becomes unbalanced a variety of problems can occur. The EasyCare Water Solutions Unit successfully eliminates this problem. CMS’ EasyCare is an electronic handheld device that simultaneously measures all required levels (pH, alkalinity, etc.) for water chemistry balance. It significantly reduces user error, minimizes user time and enhances the value of hot tub ownership. There are no other high quality devices that provide this exact value proposition at an acceptable price point.”

First place, Social: Smart Fit

Team members: Ryan Boyd, Stacey Wallin and Tara Akins

“SmartFit sells a wellness solution to companies for their office employees. The solution includes a wristband that measures heart rate and sleeping patterns to help the user make better individualized decisions about their exercise and lifestyle. The wristband uses Bluetooth to update an online support and tracking platform. Employers are able to see benefits more reliably than with traditional wellness programs.”

First place, Sustainable: Second Chance

Team members: Cindy Cheng, Melissa Maat, Celeste Jhala, Jimmy Pun and Vanessa Tai

“Second Chance is made up of five like minded students with a passion for helping make Vancouver a greener city. It was created with Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Zero Waste goal in mind. Founded in February of 2012, Second Chance has kept bags of solid waste from being tossed into its city’s landfill. Through its supplies material donation system, Second Chance has collected over 30 broken or forgotten umbrellas and 50 rice bags from fellow students, restaurants, and other businesses from all over the lower mainland. These materials have been transformed into beautiful, one-of-a-kind, environmentally friendly handmade backpacks.”

Mr. Opportunity: Jason Uswak (Commercial), Jordan Kipnes (Social), Carlos Hernandez (Sustainable)

Ms. Opportunity: Carrie Lee (Commercial), Stacey Wallin (Social), Joana Guray (Sustainable)

For the full list of competing teams at Opportunity Fest 2012, visit https://beedie.sfu.ca/oppfest/competitors/

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