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.
During our last year of school we got involved with the startup scene at Waterloo. For my final co-op term, I used the Enterprise Co-op program to help us develop the initial stages of our startup. MAJiK Systems then won the Norman Esch Entrepreneurship Award for Capstone Design through an intense pitch competition that follows the Capstone Design Symposia. We also enrolled in the Communitech start-up services program, and won various pitch competitions, including the VFF competition, securing ourselves workspace at the Velocity Garage. After graduation, the MAJiK team went straight to work. Over the summer, we developed and deployed our minimum viable product (MVP), and grew our team to six people in the process.
Setting the stage for success
When we won the Norman Esch Entrepreneurship Award for Capstone Design at the beginning of April, 2014, we caught the attention of the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MBET) program coordinators. We began speaking with them about the opportunity to submit MAJiK as a commercialization practicum, and receive the Conrad Capstone Design Scholarship. Through these talks, we learned that the program would let Mike and me continue our education, and provide MAJiK with new resources to help develop our product at the same time. The practicum allows a group of our classmates to join MAJiK for eight months, which fulfills our company's needs, and gives our partners in the MBET program experience working with an established startup. Mike and I did as much preparation as we could before the program began, but one question still remained— who will compose our practicum team?
Conjuring up a talented team
Adding members to the team is very difficult, as we will spend more time with our team than we will with our actual family. Prior to starting the program, Mike and I decided that we wanted to take the time to get to know as many people as possible before we created a shortlist for the other practicum candidates. However, we did have a mission in place: find the candidates that will best complement our existing team.
When Ignition Week started, I was nervous that there wouldn’t be enough time to meet everyone. Over the next couple of weeks however, there were various activities that took place which allowed us to meet many people. As time and conversations progressed, I found myself talking with other engineers, consultants, accountants, marketing specialists, successful entrepreneurs, digital artists, and private jet salesmen. The diversity of skill sets of the people enrolled into the MBET program took me by surprise.
The big reveal
After four weeks of getting to know our fellow classmates, Mike and I went back to the drawing board to map out our top candidates. With our current team having a strong engineering background, we needed to diversify as much as possible by finding people with experience in branding, marketing, and sales that would also fit within our company's culture.
We approached our top candidates about joining our practicum, and told them why we would be excited to have them on board. However, the practicum selection is not a one-sided process— we still had to pitch our startup to the MBET class, and have them select us as the team that they would like to work with. Thankfully, the preemptive planning did pay off, and we will officially be welcoming Alvaro Baretto, Mobina Basiri, and Ali Oliazadeh on to the MAJiK team.
Alvaro's background in business-to-business (B2B) sales in mature environments, Mobina's skills with search engine optimization and marketing, and Ali's design experience are exactly what we need to take MAJiK Systems to the next level. Throughout this process, we discovered the MBET advantage: the program puts opportunities in place for you to grasp, but it’s up to you to do the heavy lifting.
Kamal is co-founder, CTO and Systems Architect of MAJiK Systems. Kamal is an international student who came to the University of Waterloo to study in the Management Engineering program, from which he graduated this year. He has experience in various fields, including manufacturing, academic research, high-tech and criminal forensics.
About MAJiK Systems
MAJiK Systems is building real-time production monitoring software for manufacturers. The MAJiK Connect platform consists of an analytics dashboard that visually represents live data, as well as a variety of Operations Management Tools to help continuously improve production. The system aims to help manufacturers react faster to machine downtime, identify which issues are the most costly, quantify machine performance, and know if actual production is meeting scheduled production so they can manage their work flows more effectively.