Kim Ng and Paulo Meneghel, two youth entrepreneurs from Seneca’s innovation and entrepreneurship incubator – HELIX, entered Seneca’s EuroPITCH2016 contest, and were thrilled that their ideas won them each an all-expenses paid trip to attend the 2016 European Innovation Academy (EIA). The EIA bills itself as the “World’s Largest Extreme Accelerator for digital innovations, from an idea to tech start-up in 15 days.” This extreme three week incubator provides an immersive entrepreneurial learning experience for students from such highly regarded institutions as Stanford, UC Berkeley and Oxford. Seneca was the only Canadian college participating in summer 2016. The program offers fast-track seminars, speakers and mentoring from some of the most innovative companies in the world, including Google.
Kim and Paulo both entered venture ideas based on new apps. Not only were they proud to win the expensive trip, but even sweeter, the program is held in beautiful, Nice on the French Riviera, long-time playground of the rich and famous. Instead of soaking up the sun however, this intrepid duo spent their three weeks soaking up an education in entrepreneurship. Both of their ideas were selected to be one of the 120 youth companies that would be worked on during the EIA. Both Kim and Paulo were designated as CEO’s of their respective ventures and were required to build a team of other attendees to work on their ideas. Both venture teams placed in the top 15 out of 120 teams at the EIA. In 2015, HELIX student Travis Clements Khan was also a CEO of a venture team and placed top 15 at the EIA.
BEAUT.CA Delivers Personal Care Convenience
Kim pitched her BEAUT.CA venture idea at EuroPITCH. BEAUT.CA is an app that connects clients to professional hair stylists, make-up artists and nail technicians in their area. Using the app, clients will be able to preview the artist’s portfolio, check out reviews and book online.
Prior to attending Seneca’s program, Kim was a professional hairdresser. As her experience grew, she became frustrated with the obstacles to advancement in hairdressing. Meanwhile, Kim’s customers frequently complained that it was difficult to find a good hairdresser. Out of it, the concept of BEAUT.CA emerged prompting Kim to enter Seneca’s Small Business Entrepreneurship Program. Kim found that Seneca’s HELIX incubator program helped her to get past the academics and take it to the next level, as did the opportunity to attend the EIA.
Emerge – An Integrated Solution for a Healthcare System in Crisis
Paulo, a one-time CAD technician and now a professor at Seneca, entered and won with his new app Emerge. It is aimed at reducing overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms by redistributing patients among hospitals and walk-in clinics and by sharing patient information prior to visiting therefore providing faster access to care.
Paulo is partnering with hospitals such as Southlake in Newmarket, to develop the integrated solution. Surprisingly, where initially he thought the app to be solely a Canadian solution, mentors at the EIA encouraged Paulo by sharing their vision that it could be applied in many other countries, even in the US.
Heading for the Finish Line
Now that Kim and Paulo have returned from the EIA they are even better armed to reach their goals, but many hurdles still remain. Kim has found that working with a developer located in Jordan makes it tough to keep the momentum going for BEAUT.CA and Paulo has found that health care is a highly regulated market with privacy and security concerns. Executing Emerge is not only a matter of developing it but also of acquiring support from those who have the power to implement it. Working with the mentors at HELIX, these two creative thinkers will surely innovate their way to their personal finish lines.
Economic Development, the Regional Municipality of York.