The Forge McMaster announces $100K Student Startup Competition winners
This year’s Student Startup Competition was held in CIBC Hall on March 20 with 12 finalists pitching for more than $100,000 in cash prizes in front of a panel of judges and over 350 attendees.
The judges for the evening included Jim Orlando, managing partner at OMERS Ventures, Sion Balass, founder and managing partner of The Group Investments, and Gay Yuyitung, executive director of the McMaster Industry Liaison Office.
“Congratulations to all the startups; this is the strongest group of finalists we’ve had to date,” says Monika Yazdanian, director of The Forge. “We are excited to work with the winning teams as part of our Summer Startup Academy, a launchpad for new businesses.”
From the Early Ideas category, Stephanie Koehl from SkyVolt and Liam Flannigan from nanoRIMs took home $8,000 each. Ryan Ticlo from Senso Minds and Nicholas Simard from TBIFinder received the $10,000 prizes from the Prototype & Beyond category. The People’s Choice $500 award went to Aditya Thakkar from Oxii Labs.
All finalists received a minimum $6,000 prize to work on their businesses over the summer.
“From a student standpoint, to have an opportunity to be part of The Forge is a phenomenal way to really hone ‘this is something I really believe in’ — you get to network and interwork with all kinds of individuals that can help you take things to the next step,” says Jim Orlando.
The recipients of the Faculty of Engineering SummerTech Entrepreneur Fellowship, valued at $15,000 each, were Jessica Kun from FastAN Solutions and Yihao Fang from Lexivalley Inc. Jessica also received the $2,000 Judge’s Choice award.
“The quality of this year’s pitches by all students, particularly the strong showing from the Faculty of Engineering, was truly impressive,” says John Preston, the faculty’s associate dean of research and external relations. “To see passionate student entrepreneurs talk about substantive prototypes that have not just the potential, but the proven ability to be real, successful companies exemplifies the kind of innovative thinking we cultivate in the Faculty of Engineering.”
The next Student Startup Competition is in March 2020 with applications opening in January 2020. McMaster University students are encouraged to reach out to The Forge to get a head start on developing their business ideas.