Winners of AppStar 2014!

AppStar is a contest that has been happening for the past 3 years at The Hub. This is a chance for students to design a tech project, built it in The Hub, and showcase it with a chance to take home prizes of up to $3,000! Let us congratulate the winners of the 2014 AppStar contest!

AppStar Awards

AppStar Awards

  • First place: UTSC BaseCamp by Vlad Vassilovsky and Victor Belokour.

UTSC BaseCamp is a mobile app that provides students with a smooth transition into University life. The app does this by integrating campus resources, mentoring programs, student clubs and services, and personal growth opportunities. In addition, BaseCamp is working with the UTSC Department of Student Life to keep the content up-to-date for the students.

Some additional features include a Frequently Asked Questions section, a checklist of things for students to do, sessional dates, and even a link to UTSC email! Students will be able to quickly access these resources anytime and anywhere on their Android devices with the help of UTSC BaseCamp!

UTSC Basecamp can be downloaded from Google Play now!

  • Second place: ARIN by Ryan D’Souza and Jamie Tung.

ARIN is a mobile application being created with help from the Department of Biological Sciences. The purpose of this app is to help with the identification of fish – which can be helpful for fishers and biologists alike.

Its features include: fish family selection, taxonomy filtration process, image recognition, user identification, crowd-sourcing data management, and a website component.

ARIN is an excellent and ambitious project, yet to be released.

  • Third place: UTSC Chat by Cheuk Man Kit, Xu Wei Xue, & Ma Samson.

UTSC Chat aims to be an official communication tool for UTSC students. This app delivers a live chat function for students enrolled in the same courses. It allows each user to chat and send images or documents, and offers settings that make it highly customizable. What’s really cool is the common search tool where students can reach out to other students taking the same course, in the same year or program. With this new app, students on campus can become more connected!

UTSC Chat is yet to be released.

  • And special mentions of: WhereRUTSC by Nick Olson Harris, ShiXian Liu, Raymond Mendelovits, & Chengyu Xiong.

WhereRUTSC is all about helping UTSC students locate one another and setting a time to meet up. As busy students we all know what it feels like to have trouble coordinating when to meet up with a classmate. This mobile app includes features like a friend list, a map showing where your friend is, settings, and even a way to plan out those complicated group meetings.

The developers of this app are currently redesigning it, for consideration for how its functionality might be integrated into existing utilities.

William Mak and Lyra

Meet William Mak, a 4th year computer science student that has been working in The Hub since summer 2013. Since joining The Hub Will has had the opportunity to develop four projects! Let’s ask him some questions about his time innovating at The Hub.

William Mak

William Mak

  • What is Lyra?

Lyra is essentially a music player that activates through computer vision.

  • What is your motivation for creating Lyra?

The goal is that Lyra will someday replace current music players. I often hear people complaining that the shuffle on their music player just isn’t good enough and I’ve experienced the problem myself. That was why I decided to create a music player that knows what you want to hear.

  • What is it like working on a project at The Hub?

The process of working on Lyra has been a difficult but rewarding one. Working with computer vision can be challenging. As we all know, computers are very exacting; they need a great deal of help to interpret what they see and sense.

We’ve been working on this for six months, and honestly, The Hub gives me great motivation to work on stuff. I hear a lot of computer science students say they want to work on side projects but they never do. But with the Hub It really motivates you to do it! It has been a great experience working in The Hub.

  • Tell me about your other projects.

The first project I worked on is called Hermes, it is a distributed cloud file storage system. It was created based on an issue we saw with file source systems like Dropbox and Google Drive. There are a lot of privacy issues involved, and there’s always limited space. With Hermes, no one else can access your files and there’s unlimited storage. It’s an open source for anyone to join and use, it’s free for all!

I’m also working on an URL shortener for specific GPS locations. It’s called Talon and it helps narrow down a location just through a link. It’s already workable so look forward to the release!

Finally I have Selenate which is a web automation for programmers to write a small script that automates a browser.

  • Why is innovation important?

If we don’t innovate, we die. This is what The Hub is all about, giving you that space to nurture your innovation and ideas.



Salt (Scarborough, A Little Taste).

What is SALT?

Salt is an initiative that leverages a multidisciplinary food studies initiative at the university, situating it within its local, cultural context of community. It is an adventure in food cuisine.

SALT is a database-driven app (think content management for the phone) that provides an introduction to selected, notable food cuisines – and their dishes – in Scarborough, Ontario.

SALT’s content is maintained by Culinaria and the Food Studies Program, University of Toronto, Scaraborough, and is offered free to the public on both Android and iOS platforms.

The current state of SALT is one where the technological platform has been created, and content is to be created and completed, as we drive to version 1.0.

Prateek Rao and Contestry

Read further to learn more about Prateek Rao—the man behind Contestry.

Prateek Rao

Prateek Rao

  • What is Contestry?

Contestry is a digital contest entry service targeted to contesting enthusiasts aka ‘contesters’; individuals who have made a hobby out of entering and winning the thousands of online contests and sweepstakes that exist on the internet.

My start-up aims to help the estimated 257,000 Canadians who participate in this hobby by sorting through the thousands of contests that are available and providing them with a personalized list of contests they would actually like to enter. Contestry also provides automatic entry services to subscribers who wish to have their preferred contests entered for them so they don’t have to spend countless hours entering these contests on their own.

  • Why and when did you create it?

The idea of creating a personalized contest entry service had been spinning around in my mind for more than a year. What really caused the idea to spark into action was an entrepreneurship competition organized by UpStart Innovation Society and the Management and Economics Students’ Association where I pitched the idea to a panel of entrepreneurs and professors and ended up winning.

I didn’t stop there. After the competition, I wrote up a business plan and took the idea to a business consultant at Enterprise Toronto, who then recommended me to Summer Company; a mentorship program for entrepreneurs—that backed me with a $3,000 grant to help get my business off the ground.

Through the process, The Hub has been an invaluable resource. It is where I have been able to meet and exchange ideas with other talented entrepreneurs and innovators. Through its collaborative workshops with MaRS, it has enabled me to analyze and improve my initial business model by applying lean start-up concepts.

  • What are your passions and which program are you in?

Aside from my start-up, I work with Nspire Innovation Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to building Canada’s next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. Contestry has so far been a phenomenal learning experience as being the founder of early-stage start-up means that I have had to wear many hats. I am in the Management Co-op Program.

AppStar Networking


Come join us in The Hub on Monday, April 28th, from 3 to 5 pm to learn more about the upcoming AppStar competition.

  • What is a research app?
  • How to best benefit Student Life?
  • Meet others who are searching for a team
  • Link to research ideas that have come forward

And celebrate a bit of freedom, following exams!


MaRS talks at The Hub


Starting in May, Wednesday night is Pizza night with MaRS in The Hub!

Every night from 5 until 7 pm, we will be watching and talking about a video lecture on entrepreneurship streamed from MaRS.

Come join us for an evening: pizza, networking, and learning more about what the role of entrepreneurship may mean to you.

AppStar 2014 Announced


AppStar 2014 starts April 2, 2014. Learn more about AppStar and how you can participate.

Ideas to be submitted between April 2 and May 30, 2014. This year there are two categories: (1) best research app, and (2) best UTSC community app.

Come take part. Attend the AppStar Networking night, Friday, April 25th, 4 to 6 pm.

MaRS comes to The Hub


Starting in May, Wednesday night is Pizza night with MaRS in The Hub!

Every night from 5 until 7 pm, we will be watching and talking about a video lecture on entrepreneurship streamed from MaRS.

Topics include:

  • Lean Startup
  • Product Development
  • Importance of Partners
  • Idea validation
  • And more

Come join us for an evening. For pizza, networking, and learning more about what the role of entrepreneurship may mean to you.

Victor Zhang speaks at The Hub Open House

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Victor Zhang spoke at The Hub Open House last night about his experience at Google, and his efforts to develop his company Vokko Inc. He spoke to 54 students, eager to hear of his success and to learn from his experience. Victor shared his insight on design and product development, and gave a very inspirational talk, helping to make the night a great success.

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Check out Vokko at!

Thank you Victor. And good luck at Next 36!