GreenHouse Social Impact Showcase highlights social innovators

Entrepreneurs address issues like homelessness, racialization and gender disparity

By Victoria Garner

University Relations

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Sleep pods by MapleKey

Sleep pods by MapleKey, a startup by Psychology and Entrepreneurship student Julia Hiscock.

Social entrepreneurs with ideas that have potential to make a difference in the world will receive funding to support their ventures at the GreenHouse Social Impact Showcase on July 27.

GreenHouse, based at St. Paul’s University at the University of Waterloo, is the only live-in social incubator on a Canadian campus. Its focus on social innovation and entrepreneurship sets it apart as a community of young, diverse innovators striving to make an impact.

Julia Hiscock and MapleKey engineer Ken McCoubrey

Julia Hiscock and MapleKey engineer Ken McCoubrey

Julia Hiscock, founder of MapleKey, is marketing personal sleeping pods to improve safety and privacy in homeless shelters and hospitals. “Everyone here is so involved in wanting to motivate you and see you succeed. Having that level of community and support is something you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” said Hiscock. As a self proclaimed "one-woman-band," Hiscock finds the support invaluable to her success.

 

Growing up in Kitchener, Hiscock became passionate about safety for homeless people, and saw an opportunity for a solution in sleeping pods that are popular in Asia. GreenHouse has provided her with the knowledge and guidance to turn an idea into a viable business that aims to provide a hand up, rather than handouts. “We’re trying to change the attitude around sleep and help people understand that you’re not going to function unless your basic physiological needs are being met, and you need to have a safe and private place to do that, so that’s where our technology comes in.”

GreenHouse’s supportive atmosphere has also been praised by SheLeads CEO Cassie Myers, whose co-op terms working in tech start-ups fueled her passions for feminism and reducing gender disparity in leadership roles. Myers, co-founder Wenqi Zhang, and lead designer Komal Javed are working to create a web-based game for girls between aged six to 10 develop core leadership skills.

Within the game, girls are immersed in story-based games that follow strong female protagonists leading adventures. Myers hopes to address the lack of female representation in leadership roles by instilling the skills and confidence inherent to leadership in young girls.

 Safari Time" as a title and a Play Now button below

Sample opening screen of one of SheLeads' female-led games geared towards young girls.

 

Other GreenHouse innovators are addressing social issues such as the barriers racialized women face participating in physical activity, or educational storybooks to inform children about mental health.

“The close community is really what sets GreenHouse apart,” said Myers. “A small community means lots of attention, high access to mentors, and there’s really no way I would have met so many amazing people any other way."

Check out MapleKey and SheLeads on Facebook to stay up to date on their success!