Forging connections in a post-pandemic world
Founder Fuel: Student startup helps people make new friendships
Founder Fuel: Student startup helps people make new friendshipsBy Faculty of Engineering
The entrepreneurship ecosystem at Waterloo Engineering nurtures promising ideas into thriving enterprises. In our weekly Founder Fuel series, we look at new ventures and how they have benefited from that crucial early support.
Spurrya Jaggi (BASc ’18, mechatronics engineering) always had entrepreneurial ambitions. Combining an engineering degree with courses from the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business at Waterloo Engineering was perfect preparation to start realizing them.
In one of those Conrad courses, the instructor challenged students to create something that could help 25 million people. In response, Jaggi and her teammates developed Prava — a peer-to-peer marketplace designed to give people in India access to renewable energy.
The strength of the concept took them all the way to Ecuador for the regional summit of the Hult Prize: a million-dollar competition for young social entrepreneurs. Although they didn’t win, the process of developing a business model and showcasing it to judges was invaluable.
Jaggi recognized she needed more experience under her belt to successfully execute a startup vision. A stint in Silicon Valley filled the gaps. When she moved back to Canada last year, she returned with the skills needed to launch Lichi; a meetup app to help Torontonians connect in a post-COVID world.
“After the pandemic, a lot of people found it hard to make social connections,” Jaggi explains.
Lichi makes it easy to build friendships through low-key meetups in bars, restaurants and cafés.
The platform came together in less than three months. Meanwhile, a savvy social media campaign allowed Jaggi to collect the email addresses of 500 potential customers before she wrote the first line of code, while Instagram buzz led to a pre-launch interview on CityTV.
Today, Lichi has hundreds of users and an enthusiastic response from meetup participants.
“Now it’s all about sustaining and growth,” says Jaggi, who is riding the wave of success, honing her entrepreneurial skills further — and meeting lots of new friends in the process.
This story first featured in WEAL 2022.
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