This past Wednesday, the University of Toronto Mississauga hosted ten start-ups for the PITCH19 conference, which celebrates entrepreneurship and innovation. ICUBE UTM, a subsidiary of the Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI), hosted the event.
PITCH19 provided the start-ups an opportunity to network, speak with potential investors, and present their business ideas. They were also given time to speak with the CEO of SOTI Inc., Carl Rodrigues. SOTI is a provider of mobile and IoT management solutions. It provides thousands of companies around the world with security, management, and support for their mobile operations.
The top three PITCH19 start-ups were Notetonic, LinkMentalHealth, and ePayRails.
Notetonic won the first-place prize, which included $4,000 in cash, $3,000 in intellectual property services, $2,000 in accounting services, and five hours of legal advice from LaBarge Weinstein LLP. Notetonic is a powerful note-taking software that uses artificial intelligence to extract key words from students’ notes and provides brief descriptions and diagrams in real-time.
The creators, Adnan Zuberi and Azmat Zuberi aimed to make notetaking better and develop it into a cloud service. In 2016, they came across AI and aimed to integrate it into their product. Azmat stated that incubators like UTM’s ICUBE provide a great deal of assistance to start-ups like theirs.
“They have been like a backbone—they have given us space and web service discounts. They have critiqued us, looked at our presentations, and given us ideas. ICUBE was really amazing.”
Azmat stated that Notetonics’ next steps would be to work on acquisition offers. They are currently developing a partnership with Microsoft.
LinkMentalHealth came second in the competition. This team works to make it easier for people dealing with mental health issues to access the resources they need quickly. Co-Founder Radwan Al-Nachawati stated, “80 per cent of students don’t know how to access their access health coverage.” The company asks questions about the type of therapist the student is looking for, considering factors like gender, religion, income, and preference.
In addition to connecting students with therapists, LinkMentalHealth also help students under what types of coverage they have available to them. The start-up was awarded $2,500 in cash alongside $1,000 in accounting services.
Coming in third place was ePayRails, a start-up created to offer a centralized portal for accounts payable, accounts receivable, and consumer payments. Cindy Guyon, director of business development, stated, “we’re modernizing the payments industry and changing the way businesses pay and get paid.” The start-up was awarded $1,500 in cash and access to the LaBarge Weinstein start-up program alongside LinkMentalHealth.
SOTI President, CEO, and founder Carl Rodrigues told The Medium that the teams at PITCH19 were very fortunate and lucky to have opportunities provided by groups like ICUBE to assist in business acceleration.
Previously a UTM student himself, Rodriguez said that the entrepreneurship landscape at UTM “didn’t exist. You just came here to get a degree and look for a job. It’s very different now.”
Rodriguez advised young businesses looking to make an international impact that “if you want to compete as a global player, you have to find those angles that allow you to compete, because your competitors will do it.” He stated that accessing global talent is important.
Other start-ups in the top ten included Feely Piano School, a start-up for in-home piano tutors aimed at “helping students find success in musical achievement.” There was also YourTable, a start-up to help connect, network, and build friendships with people over dinner.
Their motto is, “Sit down as strangers. Get up as friends.” Another start-up was InStage, which uses virtual reality software to assist students and employees in practicing for interviews, panel interviews, and elevator pitches.
PITCH19 was sponsored by ICUBE and SOTI, in partnership with U of T Mississauga, IMI, U of T Entrepreneurship, and the RIC centre.