Student entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas

By Iciar Fernandez 

Last Monday, everyone gathered at the Gallery to hear fifteen teams try to convince the audience to use their vote as a catalyst for their venture to jump from paper to life. From healthcare solutions to environmental proposals and everything in between, the students presented their business ideas to win a cash prize that would help them with the first steps to develop their projects.


Shakil Jessa, a first-year student pitching a fashion line of modernized religious wear, said “pitching at RBC Get Seeded was such an amazing experience! Being in a room with like-minded individuals that all had pointed out problems in society that they were passionate about and using creativity to come up with solutions was extremely inspiring”. When asked if he was nervous, he continued, “I felt nervous but once I saw everyone there I was very excited to get started!”

These are the nine lucky (and brilliant!) teams that will have their idea “seeded”, all thanks to a one of a kind collaboration between the entrepreneurship AMS service, eHub, and RBC:

  1. Soneoyster Biotech. An environmentally oriented venture that aims to collect and process oyster shells to turn them into high-value attractive stone products and concrete.
  2. Ferrofluid filtration. A way to remove microplastic fibres generated in each cycle of your washing machine, without relying on current physical methods.
  3. C3. Convert carbon dioxide to solid carbon products at room temperature – reducing our emissions is simply not enough, and this initiative aims to remove and reuse them.
  4. Reimagine Technology. A product for the careful and conscious household parents that are worried about the produce going into their own and their children’s bodies, and a safer way to ensure proper washing technique of fruits and vegetables.
  5. Trackk. Smart clothing with embedded sensors that allows tracking the athlete’s movement in 3D, addressing the need for athletes to get actionable feedback while training solo.
  6.  Chargepod. A product, an app, and a sustainable future for electric vehicles in Canada. Charge your electric car anywhere with Chargepod.
  7. Adapticlew. Imagine drugs could be delivered in a way analogous to the workings of the self-driving car; knowing where to go and reaching their destination seamlessly. This nanobot is designed to deliver targeted cancer drugs, mitigating off-target effects of conventional therapeutics.
  8. Atten.iv. Infiltration is a major issue of IV use; this device is designed to measure the primary cause of infiltration; IV dislodgement.
  9. Iknowagirl. A female-led network that organizes interdisciplinary female-exclusive events for women to develop their professional skills in a safe and welcoming environment.

These ventures will receive $500 from RBC, and automatic entry to Innovation OnBoards competition where they have a chance to compete for more funding and resources to keep their idea going. If successful, a few of those teams will move on to the UBC’s incubator program, the Lean LaunchPad!

“It was great to see pitchers, peers, and other community members from the University come and support innovation that is happening here” – Tahir Adatia, EHub Coordinator at the AMS, commented – “Being able to see a full crowd celebrating those who are working to solve problems, will always be a spectacular sight to see. And, we would like to thank all the participants and remind the ventures that did not win this time that they should continue to refine and improve their ideas”.

Here is a recap on the rest of the brilliant ideas that were pitched onstage:

  1. Appreciate. A line of clothing that seeks to erase the line between modern society and religion by bridging the two together.
  2. Nutricycle. A fertilizer that reduces paper waste and saves freshwater bodies from environmental concerns associated to fertilizer use – and a product that addresses the growing need for increased food production, with the consequences that it entails.
  3.  Initech. Eases the process of learning or reviewing class materials for students by parsing handwritten pages into legible PDFs with deep learning technology.
  4. Multiply2. An app to create an incentive for students to dispose of waste correctly, where the more points you gather, the more points you can spend in different locations across campus.
  5. Reflex. An affordable and versatile carbon fibre shield that protects drones from a wide variety of accidents, minimizing the impact of damages caused by external forces.
  6. Prova. An app to find an optimal food spot to enjoy a meal with your friends, allowing students to upload their schedules, share them with other friends, and with incentives such as gift cards.

Do you also have an idea and don’t know where to start? Check the eHub and Entrepreneurship@UBC pages to find out more.

Science entrepreneurship could be the path for cancer prevention

By Iciar Fernandez

Seevasant Indran is a PhD student working on a project that studies mutations, changes and behavior of normal cells that might become carcinogenic. As someone who prefers to do science rather than business, he turned to eHub to find out how he can transform his research into a commercial service.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself

I am from Malaysia, from Kuala Lumpur. Regarding my background, I did my bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology, and then I was a research assistant back home in Malaysia, mainly to gauge if I wanted to do a PhD. After a while, I decided I did and I came here to UBC to do my PhD in Genome Science and Technology.

Seevasant Indran

  • What is your idea and how did you come up with it?

My thesis works on variant functionalization; we look at somatic variations and try to figure out a way to profile these variants. Because most of the variants in tumor suppressors and oncogenes are ‘variants of unknown significance’, we have no idea of whether they are harmful or not. So, we are trying to bring this technology as a service for commercialization purposes.

  • What made you reach out to eHub?

I started looking at any programs that offered entrepreneurship services, and while doing this I found eHub.

Being a science student, I am not familiar with the business end of things. I had actually tried out business before starting my PhD and I didn’t particularly enjoy it, I would rather do science. So I have no experience whatsoever in the business world.

Sometimes an idea will sound logical in the science world, but it is just not a good market fit. So, eHub provided me with this great opportunity, and a lot of tools to learn about business aspects that may not be obvious to me. I feel like the biggest help I’ve received is direction, there is a lot more to marketing than may be obvious and eHub provides you with that direction.

  • Since then has your idea come to life or is it in the process of doing so?

At this point, we have a platform for one gene and we are looking at two other genes. We are a yeast lab so we see our results in yeast and compare them to other animal models. But these are already well established and there is actually a paper coming out on that.

  • What are the three key things that you learnt from your experience?
  1. Never underestimate the amount of times you need to optimize something, the value of optimization. Particularly in the science field, 95% of times that you do things, they won’t work. So, the way you improve your success rate is by optimizing again, and again, and again.
  2. Time management. Doing a PhD teaches me how important is time management, back home it’s easy because I have people around, so I don’t have to do everything myself. And as you grow, you also need to think a bit about the future, how to monetize what you do.
  3. Enjoying activities outside the academic world. This is also related to time management. While I have gotten good at managing my time to get things done, sometimes I forget to allocate time to do things that I enjoy such as soccer or music.

Do you want to know what other students at UBC are doing? Come to our RBC Get Seeded event on November 18, 2019. Students from 15 teams will present their ideas to win the seed money to fund their business. More information and tickets here.

Do you also have an idea and don’t know where to start? Check the eHub page to find out more.

UBC student suggests a new way to collect waste

By Iciar Fernandez

During his first year at UBC, Cole realized that the waste collection services on campus were quite inefficient. There was garbage everywhere. He came up with an idea to improve this service and he turned to eHub for guidance and advice about how to pitch his proposal to Building Operations and make his project a reality.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Cole Robertson, I’m a mechanical engineering student here at UBC. I’m originally from Edmonton, I decided to come out to Vancouver to see what opportunities are here.

  • What is your idea and how did you come up with it?

During my first year here at UBC, I noticed the way UBC handles (collects and manages) garbage was quite inefficient. I saw garbage everywhere and animals (birds, squirrels) picking at all this garbage. I came up with this idea to improve waste collection services.

I wasn’t too familiar with the services available on campus. So, I did some research and I was fortunate enough to meet Tahir, the eHub Coordinator. He recommended the Lean Launchpad program and walked me through all the resources available here at UBC for entrepreneurship. He explained that the main goal of the eHub program was to help students across any faculties with their entrepreneurial ideas. He also talked very highly of the RBC Get Seeded event.

  • Since then has your idea come to life or is it in the process of doing so?

Yes! We had a pilot project with Building Operations, and kind of worked together with them on a few pilot sites around UBC. And, another one was at the Nest loading space, and also at the Buchanan Building.

  • How did eHub help you get started?

It definitely helped with providing a structure and a framework. Business plans are very open and not necessarily a set strategy for success. I would say that through the sessions, we outlined a business plan, learnt how to get actual customer feedback, how to do a market research and, definitely we cleared out some of the mysteries of entrepreneurship. It definitely provided some insight into the keys to success.

I had started some ventures in high school, so I knew that entrepreneurship was something that I was geared towards, but again, it was me figuring things out by myself.

  • What are the three key things that you learnt from your experience?
  1. The importance of doing your market research and how to do it effectively.
  2. How to deal with obstacles.
  3. How to pitch an idea.
  • What advice can you give to other students with transformative ideas?

I would say that one of the best parts of eHub is that they offer a ‘starting out’ platform for people with entrepreneurial ideas. You don’t have to have a fine-tuned idea to start with. It can be just you thinking about things in a different light, how to improve something, etc.

Even if you don’t have a defined end goal at the beginning, you can take a first step and get your foot in the door. You don’t need a million-dollar idea right away.

Do you also have an idea and don’t know where to start? Do you want to know what other students at UBC are doing? Come to our RBC Get Seeded event on November 18, 2019 where 15 teams will present their ideas to win the seed money to fund their business. More information and tickets here.

For more information about how eHub can help you, check this website.