January 2014

Gifts that give back: A Conrad guide to the holidays

The pressure to find the perfect gifts for friends and family during the holiday season can be intense. It's easy to go to the closest shopping centre or the biggest online retailer for super-saver discounts, but you never really know where the money from your purchase will end up. The dollars that you spend during the holidays can add up quickly, and can have an impact that extends far beyond the retailer's pocketdepending on where you choose to shop.

A trip to Chicago reveals the future of manufacturing

MAJiK Systems trekked down to the 'Windy City' at the beginning of November to attend the single largest manufacturing and packaging exhibition in the USA: PACK Expo International.

Laying the foundation for a great startup: Q&A with Jim Robeson


Jim Robeson is a 2013 alumnus of the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program. While in MBET, Jim built his company, PiinPoint— an online platform that enables businesses to find the best location for expansion. Now, just over a year after graduating from the program, PiinPoint has proven to be a game-changer for business owners. Conrad's Marketing and Communication's Manager, Amanda Watkins, sat down with Jim to catch up, and to talk to him about his experiences as a student in the MBET program.

Mo like a pro: MBET does Movember

The month of November is usually cold and grey, and most Canadians are still in denial of winter's arrival. Thankfully, there is a month-long charitable event keeps spirits lifted: Movember.

Working hard and playing hard in MBET

Ever since the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program began this year, many of my classmates and I have talked about being social outside of our busy class schedule. I think that we can all agree that we have now developed a better relationship outside of class because of the many events put on by the Conrad Centre. We always talk to each other about the events, and remind one another if they have forgotten about one. 

How to hack science in five easy steps

In September, I participated in Hack the North with my Suncayr co-founders, Derek Jouppi and Andrew Martinko, and our classmate Dave Badami. Hack the North is Canada's largest international hackathon, where students come together for 36 hours to collaboratively code a unique solution to a problem from scratch. For those familiar with Suncayr’s technology (a marker ink that tells you when to reapply sunscreen), you may be wondering what on earth we were doing at a hackathon. For us, it was all about networking. We found out that Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, was going to be there, so we knew that we had to go too.

A MAJiK moment: how two entrepreneurs are expanding their startup

Over the last number of years, the Kitchener-Waterloo startup community has grown rapidly. In my fourth year of Management Engineering at the University of Waterloo, I founded MAJiK Systems with three of my classmates: Mike Tatham, Adam Singer, and Jared Evans. MAJiK began as our capstone design project to help manufacturers monitor their production to stay on schedule, but we wanted to take our project to the next level.

Around the world and back: my post-MBET path

Clinton Ball is a Master of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MBET) alumnus, and since graduating, his year has only become more exciting! We caught up with Clint, and he told us about his new job with the Accelerator Centre (AC), his trip to Japan, and new products from his company, Verse Software Lab Inc

Breaking barriers and building relationships: MBET Ignition Week

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MBET) student, Dan Allison, reflects on Ignition Week activity at Innersee 

Each year, the new class of MBET students participates in Ignition Week before classes begin. Ignition Week is a week-long introductory program to MBET, where students get to know each other, and are familiarized with the fundamentals of the program and life at Conrad. 

Think startups are just for tech? This E Co-op startup will change your mind.

I founded Off the ej as a project that would inspire my career in the design world. After three years of studying architecture, I was stuck in what I would call a "mid-student life crisis." I was so close to finishing, yet too far away to continue on this persistent emotional roller coaster ride. I love the study of architecture, but felt I was losing sight of myself in the bounding box of buildings I was being directed to design.

I decided to try an Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) term, and my project quickly grew into something vastly more interactive that drove my love of design in another direction and began to inspire others as well.

Scaling your startup, team and knowledge

When I started my Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) term in May, Dominic Toselli and I were just a team of two co-founders looking to use technologies that we used at companies in Silicon Valley to optimize decision making in the oil and gas industry. Since then, we've added 4 others and effectively tripled the PetroPredict team. Over the past couple of months we were able to run a high performance team and enable our company to grow and scale.

Social Entrepreneurship at Conrad and Waterloo

Social entrepreneurship has a multitude of definitions and surrounding opinions. In my experience, there is one thing that everyone can agree on: social entrepreneurship is becoming more and more prominent in the Waterloo startup community.

In my two co-op terms as the Conrad Centre's Communications and Marketing Assistant, I have been fortunate enough to meet a number of social entrepreneurs that are taking the Waterloo ecosystem by storm.

The summer I became an entrepreneur

As an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo, when I wanted to explore entrepreneurship as a potential career path this summer, I decided to live in the Velocity Residence and take the Conrad Centre's BET 300: Foundations of Venture Creation course.

My most memorable moment was our trip to Montreal for the International Startup FestivalBET 300 provides student entrepreneurs with opportunities to attend events that help them develop their venture ideas.

Disrupting healthcare with the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET)

After spending years climbing the steady and predictable pyramid of the world of medicine, I became indoctrinated on a path to success. There's a clear order: first you get into a medical school, then you get into a residency, then a fellowship, and then a prestigious job as a staff surgeon.

In the field of entrepreneurship there is no order. You learn from those who have done it and make up the rest as you go. To many surgeons this sounds like a nightmare, but to me it sounds like fun. Many of my colleagues question why I deviated from such a well laid out path, and I didn't always have have a good answer, until now!

Reflecting on MBET: The 2014 class and our final social event

Most final social events of a graduating class are bittersweet, but this was not the case with the MBET class of 2014! The year-end social for the 2014 cohort of the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program, held at Bingemans, was quite an event. It was not just one event but many rolled into one!

Youth marketing and stories: Takeaways from New York

If there’s one word that defined my short two-day adventure to New York, and the state of millennial marketing in the current day and age, it's "hustle."

I got into New York the day before the Youth Marketing Strategy conference and started doing some sightseeingI made my way down to the Centre for Social Innovation in Chelsea, where I introduced myself as a student entrepreneur from Toronto!

Alaska and the Twitterverse: talking innovation in education

What does disruptive innovation look like in the higher education space?

How are we going to assess and measure learning outcomes in times of blended and online learning, big data and flipped classrooms?

These and similar questions brought me to Anchorage, Alaska to attend the Higher Education Teaching and Learning (HETL) conference with my colleague Doug Sparkes and one of our BETS students, Emma Reesor. We were invited to present a paper on our experience of developing the virtual incubation program (VIP).

From MBET to Montreal for an international tech conference

Our journey to Montreal to present our paper, "Providing Access to Education in Sub-Saharan Countries through Content-Oriented Technology" at the first IEEE International Humanitarian Technology Conference was an adventure to say the very least.

​From left to right: MBET students Angelica Kiboro, Mrinay Nair, Alex Dwhytie, Tomison Salam, and Sheena Bailey at the conference.

A glass countertop? Sounds Counter Intuitive.

In April, the glass countertops company I founded through Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op)Counter Intuitivepassed a major milestone - our first installation!

Chris with Monika Chelchowski, one of the designers of the display, at the London Home and Garden Show.

How do you recruit entrepreneurs? Think like one yourself!

As the Marketing and Recruitment Manager at the Conrad Centre I’m always looking for ways to meet budding entrepreneurs to tell them about the amazing opportunities for them at the University of Waterloo.

When I started in this role in 2012 I was overwhelmed by the vast entrepreneurship ecosystem both in Waterloo and across the country. I quickly began researching events, clubs, programs, and conferences, talking to the people in these spaces for their advice, and sorting out the best places to meet and engage with would-be entrepreneurs.

                                                         Register for one of my upcoming webinars.

Perspectives on innovation: An MBET's takeaways from OCE Discovery

The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery event was a true eye opener. I was proud to attend the event as a representative of the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program, the Conrad Centre and my practicum project, ULLO.

MBET students Tara Scanlan and Zoe Share talk to an OCE Discovery delegate about their startup, ULLO, at an exhibitor booth in the Waterloo pavilion.

Building Waterloo's creative media community

The first time I visited Waterloo I was struck by the energy and support that came freely from the participatory startup community.

It was a dreary February evening and I was in town on a last minute decision to promote the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) as a sponsor of Start Up Camp Waterloo. However, the energy and excitement inside the Accelerator Centre (AC) was palpable and in striking contrast to the weather outside. I was smitten and knew, at that moment, that this startup community was one that I needed to be a part of.

From MBET to Google's pre-accelerator: the NEXT experience

Having our startup accepted into the inaugural cohort of the Toronto NEXT pre-accelerator program, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, was an exhilarating moment for me and my co-founder Hussam Ayyad.


Pitching around the world for SparkGig

Part of my responsibility as a co-founder of SparkGig during my winter 2014 Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) term was to raise money, through student competitions, to help finance the SparkGig team.

When I started doing some research I was amazed at the number of student startup competitions out there.

Competing in Startup Weekend Waterloo Region

There are many entrepreneurial events in Waterloo Region, but it wasn't until I started the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program in September 2013 that I was really exposed to them.

I decided to take time off from working in Waterloo's technology sector to pursue an MBET degree and the business idea that I came into the program with, Jük. The September 2013 Startup Weekend seemed like a great way to expedite the process of vetting my business idea and potentially gain a team of designers and developers. Because of the positive experience I had, I also attended the April 2014 Startup Weekend.

From left to right: MBET students Ayad Kamal, Odeyemi Adaran, and Mahmoud Salama at Startup Weekend Waterloo Region Community Edition in April 2014.


I often get asked the question, “What is the difference between an MBA and an MBET degree?” My usual response would be that someone has to hire MBAs, but I realize that answer is a little too simplistic.

It is not that Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs are of poor quality or in some way inferior; in fact, on many occasions, I have suggested to students that the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program may not be the best path for them and that they may be better suited for the MBA path.   

Doug Sparkes, Lecturer and Associate Director of the MBET program.

Pitch competitions, a mobile app, and more: an update from Apartmint

Margaret Cichosz and Ignacio ​Mongrell, alumni of the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program, recently competed as finalists at the National Business and Technology Conference (NBTC) with their startup, Apartmint.

My first Velocity Fund Finals

Thursday March 27th was the first time I attended the Velocity Fund Finals (VFF). While I have previously heard about the event, I've always missed the pitch competitions.

You don't know what you're missing until you've been there!

At this term's VFF, ambitious Waterloo students pitched their startup ideas to a panel of judges to win funding. The VFF event was an exciting day with great opportunities for networking, enjoying our university's innovative and entrepreneurial culture, and learning about some of the amazing things fellow students are involved in.

Competing in Winnipeg with my startup

Meetmehalal.com was one of sixteen graduate teams from across North America selected to compete in the Stu Clark Investment Competition. The two day competition was held on March 14th and 15th in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and comprised of logo, pitch, and business plan competitions with $40,000 in prizes to be won.

BET 300 student launches magazine

Victoria Stacey is a 21-year-old entrepreneur and fourth year Arts and Business student majoring in Speech Communication at the University of Waterloo. Victoria is the Editor-in-Chief of Passion8 Magazine, which she founded while taking the Conrad Centre's BET 300: Foundations of Venture Creation class.

An MBET at the Business Excellence Awards

Mahmoud Salama, a current student in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program, attended the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards Gala on Thursday, February 20th, 2014 with several other representatives from the Conrad Centre. Mahmoud has reflected on his experience attending the awards gala.

From non-technical entrepreneur to tech startup co-founder: An MBET's adventure

I’m a non-technical entrepreneur. Before my last term at the Conrad Centre, my experience with Near Field Communication (NFC) was no more than using the access card to enter the building. Yet, in 2013 I surprised myself with my involvement in two startup ideas related to NFC.

Making my hobby into my career through MBET

Whether or not an entrepreneur should make their hobby into a career is a large debate within the business community. This path does not work for everyone, but through the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program, I have been able to take my hobby and turn it into a premise for my business, The Mod Market.

5 Lessons from Silicon Valley

Harry Gandhi, an Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) and BET 300 student, recently traveled to Silicon Valley to attend Startup Grind 2014 and a "Biotech Business Bootcamp" as a semi-finalist in the OneStart Competition, the world's largest biotech idea competition.

An MBET experience in India

In January I had the opportunity to travel to the region of Kerala, in South-west India to participate in an International Conference on Entrepreneurship and Women: The Role of Business Incubation & Social Business Development. The conference was primarily based out of Assumption College, a women’s college that is affiliated with Mahatma Gandhi University.

Tips for social entrepreneurs: Insights from Larry Smith's talk

On Tuesday, January 28th, St. Paul's GreenHouse hosted a talk, Larry Smith presents, "So You Want to Change the World."

Victoria Suen, one of the Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) students that attended the event, wrote about a few of her takeaways:

Representing MBET at the RBC challenge

I was elated to be part of one of the teams selected in the top 5 finalists for the RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge. Following the announcement, our team banded together to strategize a winning plan of action. We had to take our "RBC+" socially responsible investing solution for using big data to the next level!

The Accelerator Centre invites MBET students into its community

It was a great pleasure for me to step into the classroom once again last week to pitch some ideas to the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) students on how to more closely link the Accelerator Centre (AC) and the Conrad Centre.

The story of Palette, a freeform interface

Calvin Chu has travelled from Waterloo, Ontario to San Francisco, California to Shenzen, China all to develop his startup, Palette. What started as a fourth year design project during Calvin's Mechatronics degree at the University of Waterloo quickly grew into an international entrepreneurial pursuit.

Top 5 blog posts of 2013

Hello 2014! If 2013 was any indication of what Conrad students can accomplish in one year, than 2014 is sure to be filled with successes, travel stories, pitch competitions, new startups, funding achievements, events, and so much more!

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