Lights, camera, action: Conrad startup pitches for CBC's Next Gen Den

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dragons' Den logoA diverse group of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier graduate and undergraduate students have teamed up to create Spectiva, an interactive mirror display that allows users to forecast their day. On Thursday, November 13, the team pitched for Next Gen Den, a new online show from the producers of CBC’s Dragons’ Den. The show is Dragon's Den for an online world, specifically made for mobile. The rules for the Den are the same, companies pitch their ideas to three Dragons (investors), and the Dragons decide if they want to invest, or pass. 

Spectiva logoSpectiva is a wifi-enabled mirror that syncs with a user's smartphone, and is fully customizable and interactive, displaying any apps that the user wishes to see. The user will be able to view his or her email, calendar, social media networks, videos, and other platforms while they are getting ready for their day.

Connecting the dots

Bilal with cheque for Norman Esch E Co-op award

Bilal won the Norman Esch E Co-op Award for Spectiva

The team behind Spectiva is a true example of what it means to be part of the startup ecosystem in Kitchener-Waterloo. Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technolgoy (MBET) student Mihika Kashyap came up with the idea for an interactive mirror three years ago, while completing her systems design engineering degree at the University of Waterloo. However, it was not until she entered the MBET program that she felt that she had the resources to implement the idea. Mihika pitched the interactive mirror idea as a project  for BET 604: New Technology-based Venture Creation, and formed a mentor relationship with MBET alumna, Rachel Bartholomew. Rachel, who is an Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) Advisor, connected Mihika with two E Co-op students who were working on a similar concept, Bilal Sabowala and Yubo Qiu. The team also connected with a fourth team member, Anthony Rizzaat a Startup Laurier event earlier in the term. Anthony is a third-year Wilfrid Laurier Bachelor of Business Administration student.

The four co-founders complement each other well. Both Bilal and Yubo,  mechatronics engineering and electrical engineering students, respecively, have the technical skills to create the interactive mirror, while Mihika and Anthony manage Spectiva's business and marketing strategy.

Behind the scenes

Conrad faculty and staff have played an integral role in the development of Spectiva, according to Mihika and Bilal. Wayne Chang, E Co-op Coordinator, and Harvir Bansal, Associate Professor, have coached the team on how to approach customers, and understand and segment their market. Rachel, Wayne, Mark Weber, Director of the Conrad Centre, and Doug Beynon, Conrad’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, also provided pitch coaching and support to prepare Spectiva for their audition.

Engineering 5Spectiva has a space in Engineering 5, where they are building a prototype of the mirror. The company is still in early-stage development, and the co-founders hope that their Next Gen Den pitch will help move the company forward. The overall experience has opened their eyes to the realities of pitching to investors and venture capitalists, an essential skill for every entrepreneur. 

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