2017-18 Tech Entrepreneurship@SFU cohort presents challenge-driven startups
Aug 27, 2018
On August 7th, 2018, the latest cohort of the Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU (tech e@SFU) program presented the startups they have developed to over the past year at an event at the Westminster Savings Theatre at SFU’s Surrey Campus.
Tech e@SFU is a high-tech entrepreneurship program, funded by Innovate BC (formerly BCIC) and the SpencerCreo Foundation, offering hands-on training, mentoring, funding and guidance from faculty members in both the Beedie School of Business and Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE). The students self-select into teams, dive deep into the market and/or challenge they want to address and then develop their own high tech startup. The program is open to students from Beedie, MSE and all faculties taking the Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This year in addition to business and mechatronics, the cohort included students with experience in environmental science, psychology, microbiology, biochemistry and computer science.
“The Technology Entrepreneurship program is literally the best thing that has happened to me in university,” says Pihu Gosain, a business student and member of the team behind Gomi, an AI app and hardware solution for the refrigerator that makes it easy for consumers to keep track on what is in there and for how long, saving time and money while reducing food waste.
“The program taught me how to work in interdisciplinary teams and prepared me for real life situations,” she adds. “Most importantly, the program taught me to, in Dr. Lubik’s words, “be in love with the problem and not the solution’.”
One of the ventures emerging from this year’s cohort, Novion, is already making waves at this early stage in its development. The venture, which aims to promote sustainable water usage through the use of intelligent water meters, won the Medical Device Development Center’s Award of Distinction, and with it a $2,500 prize, before they pivoted into their current solution.
“The tech e@SFU program helped me understand how much I truly wanted to be in entrepreneurship and changed the trajectory of my career by years,” says Refayet Siam, a student in Mechatronic Systems Engineering and a part of the Novion team. “It inspired me to be driven and take on any problem, no matter how big.
“The program makes students go out of their comfort zone of internet research and makes them talk to real people who are running real businesses, which is instrumental to forming your own business; something not emphasized enough in most other courses.”
At least three of the teams plan to continue with their ventures, and two of the teams will continue full-time with their ventures for the next four months through the eCoop program. Through eCoop, the founders will receive co-working space, dedicated weekly mentoring, access to experts and events, co-op credit and an award equivalent to full-time pay, allowing them to focus on taking their ventures to the next step.
The eCoop program is funded by Innovate BC, the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship (CCIE), and represents a flagship collaboration between the CCIE, SFU Co-operative Education, and SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection early stage entrepreneurship hub and incubator.
“Every year I think I can’t be more impressed with the young entrepreneurs in this program and every year they take it another level!” says Sarah Lubik, SFU’s Director of Entrepreneurship and Co-Champion of the Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU Program.
“Every year they choose more ambitious and globally relevant challenges, and increasingly we are also seeing the different generations getting together and creating a supportive ongoing community, and that also seems to be accelerating ambitions and accomplishments.”
The event was also attended by the next cohort of tech e@SFU students, who will spend the next year forming teams and creating their own ventures. This will be the most diverse cohort yet, with students from business, mechatronics, computer science, Interactive Arts and Technologies, Economics, Political Science, Communication, Engineering, Science and Psychology.
The teams presenting their ventures at this year’s event were:
Eyeth – A wearable device for the deaf community to communicate more seamlessly with the hearing people in their lives.
Team members: Sasha Arash; Chris Thomas Connor; Harkirat Singh Gill; Soroush Mjafaryvahed; Yeshey Gyatso Samang; Nolan Woods.
Gomi – An AI app and hardware food solution that makes it easy for consumers to save time and money while reducing food waste.
Team members: Quillan Michael Geary Andrews; Pihu Gosain; Jared James Graewe; Eric Ly; Vidaluz Ortuno Nacho; Peter Anders Westlund; Theresa Marie Westlund.
Novion – A unique smart meter for condo buildings that analyzes typical water use for easier management, use insights and damage prevention.
Team members: Hitesh Rajesh Advani; Mostafa Azarbar; Devpreet Singh Bhullar; Brian Steven Misera; John Cong Nguyen; Francis Wei-Wen Nib; Refayet Hasan Siam.
Altus – An insightful 3D printing software package designed to make it easier for school-age children to continue to explore technology and 3D printing before going on to more complex software.
Team members: Jonathan Michael Alexander Kang; Ray Ravanel Latumahina; Justin Matthew Lau; Fabrice Jean Didier Vieillesse; Alex Kevin June-Sing Wong.
For more on the Tech e@SFU program, please visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018AEST0100-001443