Queen's University

Students pitch business ideas to venture capitalists

[Kurt Hodge and Isabel Barrera]Kurt Hodge and Isabel Barrera prepare for the pitch competition that marks the end of the Queen's Summer Innovation Institute. Their team created Moja Labs, a company that is developing a mobile platform to make it easier for travellers to explore a city's attractions.

The Queen’s Summer Innovation Institute (QSII) drew to a close with teams of engineering and commerce students participating in a Dragon’s Den-style competition. The teams had a chance to win up to $25,000 for their start-up companies and corporate innovation ventures.

“I think there is a sense of pride not nervousness within our team,” says recent biochemistry graduate Isabel Barrera. Her QSII team founded Moja Labs and developed a mobile platform making it easier for travellers to explore a city’s attractions. “We are excited to show the world what we have done and tell the judges we have created a viable and sustainable business.”

Kurt Hodge (Com’13), a member of Moja Labs, enjoyed taking what he learned in the classroom and applying it in a real-world setting.

“The summer has been amazing. Having an entrepreneurial perspective, I’ve welcomed the opportunity to work with engineering and science students and explore how our diverse interests and backgrounds can be used to develop an idea into an actual business,” he says.

QSII is a unique collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Queen’s School of Business (QSB). The pilot program is designed to prepare 20 young entrepreneurs and innovators for a rapidly changing business world. The participants formed four interdisciplinary teams and spent the summer developing innovative business or corporate projects under the guidance of an expert mentor.

“People talk about ‘bridging the gap’ between engineering and business, but QSII does so much more than that,” says Nevin Cimolai (Sc’12). His five-member team established Givingly, a system for cause marketing and social engagement. “This transformative support and mentoring program fundamentally changes and opens the mind to countless possibilities.”

The teams pitched their ideas to a distinguished group of venture capitalists on Friday, August 17. The list of judges included Conrad Guziewicz, founder of PEC Innovation in Prince Edward County, Michael Mann, CEO of LaunchLab in Kingston, Roger Bowes, Queen’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Elizabeth Seger Rhamey, venture capitalist and former VP (Investments) for Working Ventures Canadian Fund, and Elspeth Murray, Associate Dean of MBA Programs, QSB.

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Last updated at 4:16 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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