SFU alumni garner 2015 Top 30 Under 30 awardsMar 27, 2015
Their projects and initiatives epitomize the potentially world-changing achievements and business building power that these awards recognize.
The Top 30 Under 30 awards celebrate B.C.’s “young guns, who excel in their respective industries, give back to community and the planet and who lead business in this province for years to come.” They will be formally honoured at a special cocktail reception on Tuesday, April 28, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the Vancouver Club, 915 Hastings Street.
Beedie School of Business alumni Alice Park, Claudia Li and Manny Bahia are among the 30 recipients. So are Sayenden Supramaniyam, a political science graduate, and Eugene Suyu, a School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) graduate.
Alice Park, age 27, Port Moody, founder and CEO of Go2Gether Inc., a vehicular ridesharing platform that encourages large employers to support carpooling, has signed contracts with Vancity, SFU and the Vancouver Airport Authority. Park launched the company in 2013 shortly after graduating and already her seven-person operation generates enough revenue to cover its costs. As a business student driving daily from her Surrey home to SFU’s Burnaby campus, Park dreamed of launching a better way to brave the daily commute. With a $50,000 federal government loan, the 2013 Surrey Board of Trade Top 25 Under 25 award recipient got started on realizing her dream. The South Korean native now hopes to officially launch a Go2Gether app this September. The app allows drivers who belong to a member organization to post their future trips, which potential passengers can view over a secure network.
Claudia Li, age 28, Burnaby, Hua Foundation co-founder, sees fostering sustainability and strengthening Chinese culture and heritage as complementary goals. In 2013 Li co-launched the foundation with Kevin Huang to embrace Shark Truth, a nonprofit she created as an SFU business student in 2009 to promote shark conservation and alternatives to shark fin soup. Last year the foundation started up the Choi Project, which aims to increase food security and food literacy in Vancouver’s Chinese community. It’s distributing seasonal produce guides, working with the Chinatown Supermarket to label local seasonal produce, and holding cooking classes. In 2014, Ashoka — an organization that funds social entrepreneurs — made Li a Global Ashoka Fellow, providing her a salary that she shares with her foundation. The organization’s annual budget has grown from about $2,000 in 2009 to $200,000 this year. Shark Truth has saved about 8,000 sharks (80,000 shark fins).
Manny Bahia, age 29, Vancouver, Vancity Buzz co-founder and chief business development officer, was pursuing a career as a real estate agent when he and a childhood friend launched the blog. Dedicated to showcasing news about Vancouver and its suburbs, the blog was an upstart reaction to Vancouver’s “No Fun City” reputation and scarcity of positive news blogs about the city. In 2008, Bahia was studying business at SFU when he first conceived of the blog. During the 2010 Olympics, Vancity Buzz became a social media celebrity. Its two principals filled the site, and subsequently Facebook and Twitter, with a steady stream of information about the games, without the leg up that trained journalists have in gathering information at such events. Last December, the site hit five million monthly page views. Its monthly revenues has increased threefold since August 2014 and are now in the six figures.
Sayenden Supramaniyam, age 25, one of three SFU grads who co-founded Realtyforsale, bluntly says he had high aspirations when he helped launch the online real estate brokerage in 2013. The son of Sri Lankan parents who migrated to Canada when he was a baby says: “I want to revolutionize the industry.” Currently based in Toronto, Realtyforsale will open a second office in Vanouver this year. It will employ five customer service staff and four real estate agents. Supramaniyam anticipates a nearly 100 per cent increase in completed transactions this year. The online realty company provides buyers with online listings, an assigned agent and neighbourhood data on schools, parks and community services. Agents get a commission of one to 1.5-per cent, which is lower than the two to 2.5-per cent standard commission. Buyers get up to one per cent cash back on purchases.
Eugene Suyu, 26, has turned everything he learned in his SIAT schooling into a potentially lucrative venture that will help anyone afford a state-of-the-art 3D printer. Two years after graduating in 2014, the Taiwan-born entrepreneur founded Tinkerine Studios, a Vancouver-based 3D printer maker to market his designs — the first 3D printers affordable to mainstream consumers. Suyu wanted his products to help designers, schools and even hobbyists easily build anything that can be printed with plastic. Suyu’s company has also gone from employing four to 27 people over a year. Compared to one of the first 3D printers, which cost $30,000 in 2007 and got him hooked on the technology at SFU, Suyu’s creations, the Ditto Pro, Ditto+ and Litto, cost between $1,000 and $2,000. The SFU alumnus is developing a course on them through the SFU spinoff company Ready Labs Inc. and holding public workshops on 3D printing. He has also co-founded 3D604, a group that helps passionate 3D printing buffs network.
B.C. Business Magazine will formally honour the five SFU alumni for their stellar community and business achievements on April 28 at the Vancouver Club.