Jake Malliaros: Our First virtual Convocation Host

Saturday, October 24, 2020

University Convocation is obviously a little different this year, given the limitations placed on social gatherings due to COVID-19 and the global pandemic. Still, the occasion warrants a celebration for its graduates, and this fall we’re pleased to offer a live, virtual reception to allow the Class of 2020 to share this important milestone with the Faculty, fellow graduates, friends and family.

Jake Malliaros headshotBut what’s a reception without a host to lead the festivities? Enter Jake Malliaros, BSc ’20 (Honours Physics) who happily agreed to become the Faculty of Science’s first virtual Convocation host.

“I am honoured and super excited to be hosting this reception!” he says. “I’ve done a few events as an undergrad and am looking forward to celebrating our Class of 2020.” Jake is certainly comfortable with being in the public eye. He’s hosted the Waterloo Hyperloop Pod Launch in 2017 and presented TEDx and Ideacity talks as well.

Being comfortable speaking is certainly one of the reasons Jake found himself working as a Venture Manager for the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) out of the University of Toronto. CDL is a non for profit organization that helps seed-stage science and technology based companies. As Jake explains it, he facilitates relationships between entrepreneurs, CEOs, scientists, investors and mentors who may all be interested in a specific project or problem that needs solving. Jake works in the Quantum stream of CDL, finding mentors himself including UW alumnus and researcher Roger Melko. “I’m amazed on a daily basis here”, Jake says. “So much talent, such great ideas and energy. Each day brings something new.”

His keen sense of business development and love for entrepreneurship has grown out of his undergraduate experiences here on campus. In 2015, Jake co-founded Waterloop, UW’s entry was one of 24 teams selected from 3,000 submissions to compete in the Hyperloop competition sponsored by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. They placed top 15 in the world for that first attempt and Jake was determined to improve their ranking in a second competition. 

“We lost 80% of our team to co-op, some of our best team members. But I knew we could really do well given a second chance,” he recalls. “So I took a year off my studies to become project lead, and poured my heart and soul into this project.” As a physics student he was obsessed with increasing the land speeds of the pod by reducing drag and friction. His aim was to have the pod practically levitating in space. However, in order to improve the design they needed more funding. Jake dove into the world of business development, pursuing courses in sales, marketing, leadership and other subjects to round out his experience as well as work towards a minor in entrepreneurship. The team’s efforts were eventually rewarded with $100K in funding, and a special invitation from SpaceX to bring their ideas forward to the second competition.

Waterloop TeamSpaceX was impressed with what they deemed an “extremely ambitious” submission. Their half scale prototype wowed judges, who gave the team two thumbs up and full approval. Waterloop placed in the top 10 worldwide and Jake couldn’t have been more proud. “It felt amazing… this two and a half year journey was quite a ride. I started out using my technical side and ended up embracing the business management side of the organization.”

This new found passion quickly brought Jake to Velocity Science where he found a kinship with startups: small, fast moving companies who wanted to innovate and push conventional boundaries. He believes that the Velocity Concept combined with the style of mentoring at CDL would be fantastic, and that a Waterloo/Toronto venture could leverage the talent in both groups and be a super power in be world of innovation.

For now, Jake is very happy living back in Toronto and off to a solid start with his career. He’s quick to offer advice to students starting their university studies. “Get out of your comfort zone. Pursue what you love and take the opportunities that present themselves. Never be afraid to widen your lens to another direction”.

Jake invites friends, family, faculty and staff to participate in the Convocation reception tonight, Saturday, October 24th 5 pm ET, or post congratulations messages on Science’s Kudo board.

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