Thirteen entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial teams took to the stage in Fredericton on Thursday as UNB TME held its summer send-off for two of its programs.
The University of New Brunswick’s Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program began by staging the final pitches by six entrepreneurs who have completed their Masters in TME. Then, in the evening, TME hosted several hundred people at the Picaroon’s brewery to witness the graduation of seven teams from the Summer Institute, the program’s 13-week summer accelerator.
The two events offered different atmospheres. The Masters event was held in a classroom and the intake for the third MTME cohort was largely international students working on IT projects. Seeming festive by comparison, the Summer Institute event celebrated more traditional enterprises that are now getting to market.
Dominic Blakely, the head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategist at TME, said the Masters students have matured during their year-long program and he expects better than half of the projects presented on Thursday will blossom into bona fide companies.
“All these entrepreneurs came to us with their own definitions and their own ideas,” said Blakely. “By the time we get to this point, they are all speaking with a more global vocabulary.”
One pitch at the Masters event stood out from the others: Jordan McGrath took the course in order to conduct a business study on a new product for established company C-Therm Technologies that will measure heat conductivity on thin films. McGrath will join a C-Therm team commercializing the product, which can perform tests in a few seconds – about 50 times faster than existing products, he said.
The other graduates who are launching companies, are:
- Valini Deonarine, whose company GeoDetect has developed algorithms that help cities better plan for disasters.
- Numayer Shuvo, who has developed an IT company that helps people choose better colours when decorating their homes.
- Damilare Odumosu, the CEO of AllFarmersOnline, which helps small farms in sub-Saharan Africa get more of their product to market.
- Sherri Lee, whose company In-Culture has developed immersive videos that help Chinese people learn English.
- And Jade Yhap. His company, Reframe Games, has developed a game called Guide that helps children aged 9 to 13 understand their anxiety and mitigate the condition. The company is also working on a platform for the distribution of games that have social impact.
Now in its fifth year, the Summer Institute aims to teach entrepreneurs the human elements of launching a business. Like all accelerators, it teaches customer discovery and how to use a lean canvas. But whereas most accelerators focus on IT or innovation, the Summer Institute accepts a broad range of businesses – this year’s cohort included two fashion businesses, for example. Innovation is part of the program, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
What became apparent at the pitching session Thursday is that by de-emphasizing innovation, the accelerator is working with entrepreneurs who can get to market quickly as they’re not labouring over prototypes or waiting for regulatory approval. Most, if not all, of the companies are ready to bring their product to market in the next few months.
The Summer Institute graduates are:
- Potential Motors, Fredericton – Engineering students Nick Dowling, Isaac Barkhouse, Sam Poirier, and Mike Barnhill are developing a method to quickly and cheaply convert gasoline-based cars into electric-powered ones. They aim to have converted 5,000 cars by Year 5. (Read our previous article about Potential Motors.)
- D.A.S Concrete Countertops, Moncton – Emma Theriault and Yannick Theriault are building Atlantic Canada’s first large-scale concrete countertop manufacturer. D.A.S. stands for durable, affordable and sustainable, but the Theriaults’ countertops are also elegant. They did their first installation two weeks ago and are on the verge of installing two more. They are launching in September and hope to install 2,000 countertops a year in Years 3 or 4.
- Eggcitables, Antigonish, N.S. – A recent $15,000 winner of the Spark competition in Nova Scotia, Hannah Chisholm has created a chickpea vegan egg replacement that can be used to make omelettes, scrambles, and other egg-based meals. Chisholm is now working on selling the product through independent health stores.
- Educated Beards, Fredericton – Alicia Philips and Kevin Lebouef have developed natural and organic beard-grooming products. The company – which has the coolest marketing material imaginable – is now selling its products, which include bergamot and grapefruit beard oil. You can buy them here.
- Modern Maternity Boutique, Fredericton – Keshia Matthews is creating an online shop to provide functional, comfortable, affordable, yet stylish clothes for women who are expecting. At the graduation, she also announced she has begun her own line of maternity wear.
- Wildland Organics, Los Angeles – Daane Griffeth and Marisa Griffeth are travelling to New Brunswick to grow their company that sells natural skincare and haircare products. They announced on Thursday they have bought a van, which will serve as their home and office so they can travel and market their products. You can buy them here.
- Tücy, Truro, N.S. -- Chris Cameron has launched an east-coast inspired, streetwear fashion brand. He is designing unisex outerwear for young folks in the Maritimes and has booked $29,000 in sales this year.
The next big event for UNB TME will come in mid-October when the group celebrates its 30th anniversary.