I often get asked why I founded my start-up, uCiC (you see I see). For me the answer is simple, I want to work on something that would help break down barriers in our world. The value of being connected across geographic, social and language barriers is something I have seen first-hand and it goes back to my time at the University of Waterloo.
When I enrolled in Nanotechnology Engineering at UWaterloo, I had zero idea of what lay ahead after graduation. This was largely because no one had seen the other side – the program had just started the previous year and there were no alumni available to ask. Signing up for an uncertain future in a program pulled out of science fiction may seem like a perfect example of the pioneer spirit, but my motivations were completely the opposite.
After immigrating to Canada at a turbulent age, my strategy had been to mitigate the culture shock as much as possible. So going through high school, I surrounded myself with friends who resembled me in appearance, thought and action. In hindsight, this was easy to do when your school was full of students from a three block radius. Looking ahead to university, I wanted to be in an unformed program that would attract other unadaptable students and allow me to sit in a corner with my pillow fort.
But my plans were foiled. My time at UWaterloo proved to be a time of tremendous personal growth, brought about by large set of friends from all corners of the world and all walks of life. My courses took me across departments and my co-op terms took me across Canada. This above all else is what I took away from my education.
After graduation I worked in management consulting at Bain & Company, which further cemented this value in me. Business or personal, isolation led to stagnation. On the other hand, diffusion and cross-pollination of ideas invariably led to growth. And this is the mindset I bring to uCiC. In its first week after launch, our uCiC app had users in 120 countries and saw live photos and videos being shared between Argentina and Oman, Croatia and Madagascar, Brazil and Vietnam. These were exchanges and conversations that would never have happened if our app did not exist. Over the last year, uCiC has helped people with big and small questions. Students on the UWaterloo campus have used the app to find out if the SLC Tim Hortons is busy, whereas others have used the app to find out how civilian life was affected by the Ukrainian crisis last year.
I continue to grow the uCiC network in our mission to knock down communication barriers and connect the world. We’re based out of the UWaterloo Velocity Garage and have received an amazing level of support from the local start-up ecosystem.