The BEST Startup Experience Weekend at York University
In early November, the Lassonde School of Engineering’s Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) Program hosted its inaugural Startup Experience Weekend sponsored by Rogers and KPM Power. Two-hundred students from high schools, colleges and universities across Ontario took part in an intensive 36-hour experiential learning experience, where they got the chance to use Design Thinking to identify and solve a major world issue in fields like clean water and air, access to education, food security, affordable healthcare and mental health.
Working in groups to develop a “How Might We (HMW)” statement, participants identified a problem that was big enough to be meaningful, yet small enough to be addressable.
On Saturday, assisted by over 15 mentors, participants were given the choice of which HMW statement they wanted to address and formed teams to begin putting their ideas together, brainstorming solutions and developing them into a compelling business case.
Over the course of the weekend, participants had the opportunity to connect with role models from The Knowledge Society, Lassonde’s BEST Lab and various technology ventures through NEXT Canada.
Participants also had the chance to learn about interesting topics like Systematic Inventive Thinking, AI, Machine Learning, Design Thinking, Business Models, Storytelling, Virtual Reality, Leadership and Entrepreneurship through a series of workshops.
The weekend ended with teams pitching their creative solutions to fellow student groups and a team of experienced judges. We are proud to announce the winners:
- 1st Place: Happify – a solution to help students achieve their full potential and handle stress-induced mental health concerns through an intuitive application that acts as a dashboard of students’ school, work and social needs, so that students can organize their lives and achieve better mental health Member Include: Reem Aleithan, Paul Charles Owe, Caleb Kim, Jaleel Sayal)
- 2nd Place: VERT – a solution to reduce strain on our healthcare system caused by substance addiction. Members include: Allen Kaplan, Kourosh Toghrol, Denis Karasik, Christian Augustyn.
- 3rd Place: AgriLife.ai – a solution to reduce the harmful artificial impact on the environment for the cultivation of agriculture to prevent pollution and environmental destruction. Members include: Pragieth Suresh, Nikkita Lesishvilli, Annika Fotr, Ishan Chenthooran, Aarnav Sachidanandan
Overall the event was a huge success. Participants were able to see the real-world application of their efforts, contributing meaningful solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.
A few Quotes from participants:
“I love that I got familiar with an entirely different experience and I can’t wait to adventure more through this field.” – Ethan Tran
“I think what I learned within these two days, I wouldn’t have been able to learn for quite a few years. It really gave quite the perspective when approaching business and entrepreneurship in general. I now have a relative idea on how to approach my own problem I’d like to solve down to how to pitch it when I am pursuing my own ventures.” – Avantika Nair
“Overall it was an amazing team building experience. Often we have to work with complete strangers and create a feasible product. This was a great introduction and learning experience for such real world scenarios.” – Miriam Khan
“It was very amazing event with so many different skills to use and learn – Reem Aleithan
“One thing that surprised me about this experience is how inspired I became. I had never really thought I could be an entrepreneur, but after having this opportunity to explore an issue that closely impacts me, as well as listening to different keynotes about the endless possibilities, I feel like I can solve any problem if I put in the time and effort. A second thing that really surprised me is the willingness for mentors and keynote speakers to help you develop an idea and to continue to help you after this weekend.” – Leah Nichols
The event was a huge success and it would not have been possible without the amazing support from our Sponsors, Community Partners, Speakers, Mentors, Volunteers and our participants. We are proud to have brought together an amazing group of passionate learners at the heart of Lassonde School of Engineering.