GreenHouse Social Impact Incubator

Fall 2019

Elevate pitches at University Start-up World Cup in Denmark

Pabla Amaya and Karina Gonzales give a double high fiveGreenHouse Alumni Pablo Amaya and Karina Gonzales competed at the University Start-up World Cup (USWC) in Denmark this October. The USWC focuses on the best 40 University Start-ups worldwide and the impact these start-ups have on the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Participants pitching have the chance to win $15,000 USD in funding to support the advancement of their start-ups. 

As founders of KibiTech Inc., Pablo and Karina pitched Elevate, a game-based learning platform that helps individuals living with cognitive disabilities develop life skills. When in GreenHouse, Pablo and Karina received mentorship and connections that helped advance Elevate as a prototype and validated it with local stakeholders in the community. 

Both Pablo and Karina were looking forward to competing at the USWC and using the opportunity to further expand their global network to grow KibiTech Inc. and Elevate on a grander scale.

Blast off for BeBlended

Aileen Agada stands in front of a pull-up banner promoting her venture BeBlendedFor many black women, simply walking into a hair salon to get their hair done is not an option. This was the experience that Aileen Agada had in Ottawa while away on a co-op term. It turned out she had to ask community members where they got their hair done and she always got the same response: “a friend of a friend, of a sister in their basement.” 

It was clear she was not alone and that she needed to do something to solve this social issue. So, Aileen founded BeBlended, an online platform that connects black women to hairstylists, beauty resources and networking opportunities. As a participant in GreenHouse’s Innovators in Residence Program, Aileen received mentorship, coaching and support for BeBlended, and was a recipient of the Social Impact Fund in July, 2019. 

Drawing on her previous experiences which included building a network of black women through BeBlended, Aileen saw a need for a BeBlended social event. Members of the BeBlended community came together for a networking and mentorship event and heard from three inspirational speakers. 

Aileen noted that the social “created a space for young black women in the community to come together to learn, socialize, and establish strong personal and professional relationships.”

Attendees also received a special lunch, prepared by a professional chef on site. This allowed speakers and attendees to have networking conversations over lunch. The event was a huge success, with many anxiously waiting for the announcement of the next social. 

Moving forward, Aileen is focusing on further developing BeBlended’s platform full time while on co-op. She will also continue to grow BeBlended’s online community, and apply for more funding opportunities to help officially launch the online platform. Way to go Aileen!

Keep up to date with BeBlended:

GreenHouse Alumni win $5k through Enterprise Co-op

Aileen, top and Lucas, bottom hold their large $5,000 cheques

Aileen Agada and Lucas Moffit each took home $5,000 in awards at the beginning of the Enterprise co-op term.

GreenHouse staff host ecosystem tour

A group of St. Paul's staff stand in front of the Velocity sign

On September 20, GreenHouse hosted an ecosystem tour for St. Paul's staff, exposing them to organizations that support social innovation in the region. The tour was the second installment of a professional development initiative aimed toward improving all employees' understanding of subjects central to the College mission. 

The tour kicked off with presentations from GreenHouse, Conrad School of Business and Entrepreneurship and the Centre for Peace Advancement, all located on campus. The presentations informed staff about social innovation supports at the University of Waterloo and the work each of these groups does.

Later, staff traveled to Communitech, Velocity and the Working Centre in downtown Kitchener. During the visits, staff were provided an overview of each organization and a tour of the facility.

The Velocity tour was given by GreenHouse alumna, Rachel Thompson, Founder of Marlena Books which creates books for individuals living with alzheimers and dementia. Rachel and her team currently work out of Velocity, receiving a network of support to help move the start-up forward. As a part of Velocity's tour, staff stopped by another GreenHouse alumni venture, Curiato and were given a detailed demonstration of the bed sheet that collects real-time pressure, humidity and moisture data to detect the formation of bedsores.

Gifts to GreenHouse help with program and event expenses as well as to provide various forms of early-stage funding for student led ventures.