“What kind of dent do you want to make in the universe?” This was the question that Andrei Arkhanguelski, founder of Crowdlinker and U of T alum, pressed home at The Hub’s event, In Celebration of Entrepreneurship on November 9th.
The Hub is University of Toronto Scarborough’s incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship, and the event was held to celebrate the 18 students who passed the gauntlet of The Hub’s Dragons’ Den.
Principal Bruce Kidd kicked off the celebration, congratulating the winners and bringing to attention the University’s long-standing commitment to experiential education, and the considerable efforts now underway at UTSC in entrepreneurship. Also present were Vice Dean Mark Schmuckler, Professor David Zweig, Chair of Management and Economics, and Professor David Fleet, Chair of Computer and Mathematical Sciences. They spoke about the University of Toronto Scarborough’s emerging academic programs in entrepreneurship, and the importance of working with The Hub, government, and industry to create a vibrant pool of outstanding talent that will lead the way for tomorrow’s business – particularly as that may benefit the eastern GTA.
Following these inspiring words, the nine winning teams – Flipd, Willow, Connect 4.0, VIS, Discover, Stacksity, Frrand, Envoi and Minds Matter Magazine – were invited to introduce their projects to the audience. The team at Willow noted that the Dragon’s Den has been a “critical stepping stone” to help them start “the beginning of an entrepreneur’s journey.” Funding for the teams was made possible by a grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, plus a match from the UTSC’s Office of the Dean and Vice Principal (Academic). In total, $45,000 will be distributed to the winners in support of their efforts.
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By Lily Li
I got the opportunity to speak with Ron who is the mastermind behind VIS. Check out what I learned about his product!
Tell me about VIS.
VIS helps people navigate the increasingly complex world of social media. Our tools are fueled by a very powerful and well-tuned engine, consisting of state of the art machine learning algorithms that compile results in a meaningful way.
Who will VIS benefit?
Our product will benefit anyone who wants to measure social media on a large scale. We’ve all seen the comments “trending now” and our tools allow you to design your own queries around the specifics of what and how a social media trend is evolving.
How was your experience working at The Hub?
Initiatives like The Hub provide students with the resources to develop their ideas into something that is truly impactful. The mentorship from Gray Graffam has been critical in the development of our company. Interacting with the other students at The Hub has also been extremely rewarding. It is crucial for entrepreneurs out there to explore their limitless ability to innovate and create!
Written by Lily Li
I first heard about Flipd through their presentation at The Hub’s “In Celebration of Entrepreneurship.” I was immediately intrigued. Fortunately, I was able to get some more information from the Flipd team regarding their creation.
Flipd will help me be more productive and keep me focused? Tell me more!
Flipd is a mobile application that removes cellphone distractions by allowing you to select a time you want to be “Flipd Off”. Your phone will be blocked and any distractions will be removed. You can even set up an automated response text message that will let others know you’re busy. Meanwhile, emergency contacts and white-listed applications – such as your Calculator – will still be accessible.
What pushed you to start this project?
People being distracted by their phone is a big problem that’s affecting people all over the world. According to a recent study, one in five people said they are addicted to their smartphones, while 64 per cent said they check their phone on an average of around 150 times a day! Flipd aims to solve this problem and help people lower their phone usage.
What would you say to entrepreneurs who are on-the-fence about their idea?
Just go for it! It is a very rewarding experience and there is a lot of support at The Hub that will help you get started. They have everything from excellent workshops to develop your business strategy to events like the Dragons’ Den that has provided us with the funding we needed to expand our business. I believe that entrepreneurs aim to solve a problem and as a result they improve the quality of life of people. So what have you got to lose?
If you are interested in using Flipd, it is currently available for Android! The iOS version is coming very soon. Check us out at http://flipdapp.co, we would greatly appreciate any feedback that you have!
Written by Lily Li
Avoid the sharks. Embrace the dragons!
In November, 51 students competed in UTSC Dragons’ Den 2015 at The Hub. From that process, 18 new entrepreneurs have received funding to join The Hub, crafting 9 new projects:
- Willow by Nova & Sentio
- Connect 4.0
- Minds Matter Magazine
You will be reading more about each through this blog in the coming months, but for a brief description of them please visit: Initiatives.