GreenHouse almuni accepted into NEXT36

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Next36 | GreenHouse

HaoHao Du, founder of iContribute, partnered with his long time friend from highschool and current University of Waterloo student, Mesha Naidoo-Edwarson, to develop their venture, an app rooted in volunteerism and student success. Through this partnership and with support from St. Paul’s GreenHouse, the team has made great strides in amplifying their impact.

HaoHao is one of two GreenHouse students who have been selected to join 34 other young entrepreneurs from across Canada to take part in the 2022 cohort of the NEXT36 program. The program, which began in 2010, is an eight-month experience that takes founders from the ideation stage to launching and scaling their venture. The idea behind the program is to support entrepreneurs who are nearly one in a million (when the program began, Canada’s population was 36 million). As a member of the program, young entrepreneurs can join a community of 600+ alumni and are able to obtain coaching, resources, and big impact ventures. The application process is rigorous, targeting students and grads with big dreams and an entrepreneurial mindset that can work towards Canada’s next biggest company.

NEXT36 provides support to founders by focusing on the entrepreneurs and their own personal development and knowledge; this is what drew HaoHao into applying. He found it hard to focus on one aspect of a problem space, and wanted to gain more skills as a young entrepreneur so he could have more focus and solve his problem. He hopes to learn to prioritize the most immediate needs within his venture to grow it even more.

iContribute connects high school students to meaningful volunteer opportunities within their communities. HaoHao’s team is “hoping to foster a positive mindset in volunteerism among youth”, by showing students that volunteering can be a stepping stone to future career paths rather than just a mandatory requirement to fulfill.

HaoHao will be joined in the 2022 NEXT36 cohort by fellow GreenHouse student and University of Waterloo Masters candidate, Keith Cleland. Keith won big at the Fall 2021 Social Impact Showcase, bringing home $7,500 for his venture, Aqua-Cell Energy, which provides low-cost solar energy storage for small businesses.

The work Keith put into Aqua-Cell Energy acted as inspiration for his new venture, Ace Power Solutions, that he will be developing during his time with NEXT36. Ace Power Solutions serves as a renewable energy developer and consultant for small and medium sized businesses that aims to address underserved small-scale projects. Keith aims to bridge the gap between large- and small-scale projects with new, disruptive renewable energy enabling technologies. 

Sometimes a little direction can help you find the “why” for what you are doing. For HaoHao, GreenHouse reminded him of his “why”, and his rationale for working on his venture. Not only was that the case for the iContribute team, but in fall 2021 term, their team won $2,500 during GreenHouse’s Social Impact Showcase that they will be able to put towards making their mobile app. Now, through the NEXT36 program, HaoHao hopes to continue to grow as a founder, further expanding his skills and knowledge, and possibly get up to $50,000 in seed capital.

Similarly, Keith hopes to leave NEXT36 having commissioned new projects in the renewable energy space.

GreenHouse has a motto, “Purpose. Action. Impact.”. These two, with the help of GreenHouse, have found their purpose, and are continuing to take action to grow themselves and their company, which will ultimately make a significant impact on students. 


aqua cell