Friday, July 22, 2022

NEXT: Immigration Services app, finalist in World’s Challenge Challenge and Concept $5K

Kent Chin (GBDA ’22) and his team, Leo Liu (Science & Business), Miley Xu (Environment & Business), and Geoffrey Qin (Electrical & Computer Engineering), are one step closer to developing comprehensive immigration support. NEXT: an Immigration Services All-In-One App has been developed by Kent and the NEXT team to make the transition to living in Canada more approachable to immigrants. Between the Concept $5K pitch competition and the World’s Challenge Challenge, the NEXT team is building their platform one competition at a time.

At the start of the W22 term, Kent was entering his final term as a University of Waterloo student and was looking for hackathons, pitch challenges, and more opportunities to develop his entrepreneurial skills. Started in February 2022, Team NEXT comprises four University of Waterloo students across four faculties to submit a pitch for the World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) regional competition.

Team NEXT at the World’s Challenge Challenge

Kent, Miley, and Leo of the NEXT teamPart of the requirements for the WCC is to develop a solution for a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). As a team of international students, they recognized the challenge of finding immigration support coming to Canada and related to SDG 10.7, which surrounds the safe and responsible migration and mobility of people. Recognizing the challenges of finding reliable immigration support to Canada, NEXT aims to be a credible all-in-one source for immigration information and resources.

Team NEXT found great success at the WCC, winning the University of Waterloo finals and continuing to the global finals hosted at Western University in June. “WCC was a great opportunity to get inspired by mentors and really validate our concept,” recalled Kent. NEXT placed 3rd in the global finals of the WCC, winning $7,500 towards their project, and fueled their drive to develop the platform.

NEXT started as a way for developing a portfolio project and resume skills, but Kent found the team had outlined a real opportunity within immigration support. “Maybe we really could turn this into a business,” Kent and the NEXT team figured and set out to find more competitions and opportunities to bring their idea to a crowd. This led them to their next challenge, Concept $5K.

Furthering the concept

Kent pitching NEXT to audienceThe Concept $5K pitch competition is run at the University of Waterloo every term. It is partly run with Velocity to award project funding to entrepreneurial students with innovative solutions. Kent and the NEXT team saw Concept $5K as another opportunity to gain funding and critique on their evolving platform. Continuing from the success of the WCC finals, NEXT knew they had to round out their idea even further to appeal to the Concept $5K audience. “With WCC […], we had to emphasize the problem more, but for Concept, it’s about the business solution. Would people buy our idea?” Kent figured. The NEXT team continued with beta-testing and reaching out to key stakeholders to further the buy-in of the platform.

Concept $5K also came at an exciting time as the competition could be held in person, whereas the WCC and other previous pitches and competitions would have been held remotely. This posed a new challenge for Kent, as he would be pitching in front of a crowd instead of pitching remotely, a change of pace from the past few years which brings new challenges to overcome.

After successfully pitching at the semifinals, NEXT moved on to pitch for the Concept $5K finals against eight other teams. In the end, NEXT was not selected as a winning proposal, but Kent and the team were still very grateful for the opportunity to grow their concept further.

What comes “NEXT”?

Kent and Geoffrey smile after Concept $5K PitchKent also reflected on his time within Global Business and Digital Arts and the skills he developed within the program. “I think GBDA gave us a great introduction to UX and UX concepts and was really applicable to helping people solve their problems. […] GBDA is a very flexible program, one of the best ways to get you into entrepreneurship and start-ups”.

NEXT plans to continue their project, gain more funding, and hope to have a minimum viable product available by October. “If it’s making a positive impact on the community, it’s something good to continue and be persistent with,” notes Kent. We’re all very excited to see the “NEXT” steps.

You can watch Kent's pitch at Concept $5K on the Concept YouTube Channel. Congratulations to Kent and the NEXT team for your hard work!

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