Mapian wins $100,000

December 5, 2015. Ravi Ravindran, CEO and Founder of Mapian, wins $100,000 1st prize at the Launchpad TV Show.

The prize comes as an investment – a 10% equity stake – in Mapian, Inc., a mobile map-based social networking platform. LaunchPad is a TV program not unlike Dragons’ Den, where entrepreneurs compete for a cash prize and investment into their company. LaunchPad is a Toronto-based TV program, specifically geared towards helping Tamil entrepreneurs across North America, as they pitch their ideas and launch their businesses.

Mapian is a unique social networking platform that uses digital maps to orient its users to events going on around them. And with the iOS platform completed and Android just around the corner, Ravi plans for a launch this early Summer that will see the social platform take flight.

 

Introducing Willow by Nova Sentio

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I got the chance to speak to Dikshant Batra & Nathan Tran Trinh from Nova Sentio about their latest project, Willow.

Tell me about what you guys have been working on.

Nova Sentio’s latest project is Willow, a global eCommerce solution that eliminates the inefficiencies of the current fashion industry by allowing designers to connect to their audience through the real time production of clothing. We aim to fairly compensate artisans for their passion and creativity while striving to give consumers access to a global market of goods through international shipping. Willow makes the system more transparent and fair for both the consumers and the designers.

People didn’t know they wanted sliced bread until it was made. The same thing goes for the global shopping experience, you won’t know what you’re missing until you’ve experienced Willow.

What was your motivation behind creating this project?

With the rise of fast fashion, the environment, labourers, and consumers have been exploited to their limits. Brand owners only care about cashing in big, without thinking of the impact of their actions. Designers get less than 0.1% of the value of their designs’ value over its lifetime. Consumers are frustrated by their expensive and unsustainable shopping experiences. Our motivation behind Willow stems from our intrinsic passion to break through this exploitation chain. We are offering a sustainable, fair, and efficient customer and designer experience to make it a rewarding experience for all.

Any words for the general consumer?

It is important for today’s generation to realize the concept of consumerism and its aftereffects. If we don’t think for the future generation now, then there will be none. Corporations and consumers alike need to realize that everything we do has an effect on the future of society. Through Willow, we will make progress towards a fair and environmentally conscious future.

Words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t require you to have a sexy idea. I think some students discourage themselves from being entrepreneurs by believing they need to have the next big idea/innovation. People should know that innovation and entrepreneurship can be separate things.

We would also encourage other students with ideas for their own startups to come to The Hub. It’s a great place to get started, and a great place to be part of if you want to create your own business.

By Lily Li

In Celebration of Entrepreneurship

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“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.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @UTSCTheHub

By Lily Li

Ron & VIS

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

Are you “Flipd Off”?

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Flipd Video

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

Sharks and Dragons

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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
  • Frrand
  • Flipd
  • Connect 4.0
  • VIS
  • Discover
  • Envoi
  • Minds Matter Magazine
  • Stacksity

You will be reading more about each through this blog in the coming months, but for a brief description of them please visit: Initiatives.

James & Init

Read about James Wang and his project, Init!

James (far right) with Init team

James (far right) with the Init team

  • How did Init come about?

It dates back to my work with the Scarborough Campus Chinese Club (SCCC). We held at least one event every month and we promoted through booths and Facebook. In recent years we realized that our way of marketing was getting outdated. I wanted to create an app that connects the students on campus while helping clubs market and manage their events.

Most students say that they only participate in four events every year, and most of them want to participate in more. Students say they can’t find events they’re interested in but when I show them their options they are surprised because they are unaware of so many events.

When I found out about The Hub I entered the 2013 AppStar competition where we came in second place. We then decided to combine projects with the first place winners to create Init.

  • What was your motivation for creating Init?

The reason we created Init was because we believe students should not just spend time going in and out of classrooms. Instead they should get hands on experience and bring their ideas to life!

  • What are some features of Init?

Init is a platform for student organizations to manage their events, and enables users to customize profiles, manage a calendar of events, and follow newsfeed.

It also lets students store membership cards and event tickets on their phone. We are working to collaborate with student groups at UTSC. We hope to eventually integrate with social media platforms such as Facebook so that students will be able to get all their updates through the Init app.

  • Tell me about your experience at The Hub:

I see The Hub as a great place for people to share and come up with different ideas. Students can bring their ideas to life through a project! I’ve met a bunch of people from different departments and there are more and more new faces here.

  • Why is innovation important?

Innovation is important because it improves people’s lives. I believe that if you want to earn a fortune for yourself, you need to be able to improve other people’s lives first. Lots of people think it’s the other way around where you need to earn money for yourself before you can help others, but if you don’t have the ability to help others, you don’t have the ability to earn a fortune.

Meet Matt & Hermes

Matt Olan was one of the first students at UTSC to discover and utilize The Hub’s resources. Let’s take a look at his experience!

Matt Olan

Matt Olan

  • What was your experience like working at The Hub?

Honestly, I couldn’t imagine my university experience without it; The Hub is like a second home to me. I’ve been here since the very beginning as a result of my participation in the AppStar competition. The Hub has changed the way I interact with people in my field. It is a space for computer scientists and other students, and we’ve managed to create our own community here.

  • Tell us about your project Hermes:

The project started during April 2013 at Angelhack, one of the world’s biggest hackathons. This was during the NSA surveillance scandal where data was allegedly being collected from large Internet services. These events inspired me to create, with a small team of my friends, an open source storage system that was safe and secure for anyone to use. We introduced Hermes as a distributed file storage network that allows people to store and retrieve files in a secure way.

Currently Hermes has been split into multiple sub-projects. One of which is orq, a rather technical implementation of a new technology that allows for a large piece of data and split up in a way that can be sent through an unreliable connection and be recovered on the other side.

  • What was your motivation for creating Hermes?

I am a strong supporter of the open source community and making things that others can use in their own projects. It’s my hope to move forward the frontier of technology to help the greater community.

  • Why are you a promoter of innovation?

We live in a world that necessitates innovation to not only support our lifestyles, but for survival. Without it, we would likely be still stuck in the stone ages.

Check out Hermes at https://github.com/Hermes and https://github.com/olanmatt/orq!

Jack Yiu and justPlay

Jack Yiu is a third year student in Computer Science and also the mastermind behind justPlay, a mobile web application that helps UTSC students discover people to play sports with during TPASC’s drop-in hours.

Jack Yiu

Jack Yiu

  • What was the motivation behind justPlay?

My motivation mainly stems from the amount of effort needed to find people to play sports within UTSC. When I was in first year, I found it extremely difficult to find people that played badminton regularly. There were no recreational clubs for free play sports; existing clubs were too competitive and time consuming. All I wanted was to relax and play my favourite sport. But the effort needed to set up a game was too much and often deterred people from participating.

I was really frustrated because the courts were free! People usually have to pay 20-30 dollars for a one hour session! As someone who has rented a lot of badminton courts, free courts were a dream come true. Yet the problem was that very little people play regularly.

The idea of justPlay is to make it super easy to find people to play a sport with. We make it effortless to find when drop-in sessions take place, and subsequently the people that are interested in playing that day. Furthermore, it’s a great way for groups to find the last person or two to start a game (take football for example, it needs 8-10 people to play a game). Ultimately, anyone that is interested in playing regularly or trying out a sport while making some new friends, justPlay is here to help you get started!

  • What’s your experience like working at The Hub?

I’ve been working on my project for eight months now and I see The Hub as a great place for people to come together and work out problems together. Gray Graffam – the director of The Hub – provides a lot of help with marketing the product and finding the right people to test the application.

  • Why is innovation important?

Innovation is about being passionate and driven to solve a particular problem. It’s an attitude that constantly questions why things are done in a certain way and what better options are out there.

Let’s help support Jack by checking out justPlay on www.just-play.ca, try it out and tell him what you think! Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/UTSCJustPlay!