Global Entrepreneurship Week is an annual, worldwide event that celebrates and promotes entrepreneurship, innovation and the spirit of startups.
This week we are looking at organizations that, driven by the pursuit of excellence, serve as just a handful of notable examples of the University community’s enduring commitment to fostering entrepreneurial spirit and producing positive change on a global scale.
ApplyBoardApplyBoard is a Canadian-based educational technology company that specializes in helping international students find and apply to educational institutions around the world. Founded in 2015 by Martin Basiri (MME ’12), Meti Basiri and Massi Basiri, ApplyBoard has rapidly grown to become a global leader in the field of international education. The company’s mission is to make education accessible to students from all corners of the globe by simplifying the complex application process and connecting them with top educational institutions.
Barakat BundleFounded by Karima Ladhani (BMath ’10), Barakat Bundle is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving maternal and child health in underserved communities, particularly in South Asia. The organization was created with the mission of reducing maternal and infant mortality rates by providing essential health-care services and education to vulnerable populations. The primary focus of Barakat Bundle is to create comprehensive care packages that cater to the critical needs of expectant mothers and newborns. These bundles typically include a combination of medical supplies, educational resources and technology-driven solutions - designed to ensure safe pregnancies, healthy births, and the well-being of both mothers and infants.
BlackBerryBlackBerry is a well-known Canadian technology company that has played a significant role in the development of mobile communication technology. Founded in 1984 by Mike Lazaridis (DEng ’00) and Douglas Fregin, as Research In Motion (RIM), the company initially focused on wireless technology and hardware but now provides organizations and governments with the software and services they need to secure Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The University’s strong emphasis on engineering and computer science programs provided the foundational knowledge and talent pool necessary for the development of BlackBerry’s visionary technologies.
BowtieBowtie is an innovative insurance technology company based in Hong Kong that specializes in modernizing the insurance industry by leveraging data analytics, artificial intelligence and digital platforms. The company is on a mission to make insurance more accessible, affordable, and customer-friendly, with a focus on the Asian market. Founded by Fred Ngan (BMath ’07) and Michael Chan (BMath ’08), the company aims to streamline the insurance process, eliminate complex paperwork and provide transparent, cost-effective coverage options.
Co.LabCo.Lab is an online training program that provides product managers, user-experience designers and software engineers with a space for collaborative learning. Founded by Helen Huang (BSc ’17) and Sefunmi Osinaike (BASc ’17), Co.Lab gives people from all walks of life the real-world, practical experience to confidently break into and thrive within the tech industry. Their mission is to spark action, enable people to learn by doing and collectively celebrate achievements of participants.
D2LD2L is a global educational technology company known for its learning management system and software solutions designed to enhance and modernize the education and training process. Founded by John Baker (BASc ’00), D2L’s flagship product, Brightspace, offers a user-friendly platform for educational institutions, businesses and government organizations to create, deliver and manage digital learning experiences. Their versatile platform facilitates online and blended learning, adaptive education and professional development for organizations around the world.
FullSoul CanadaFullSoul Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving maternal health care in Uganda. The company’s mission is to enhance the safety of childbirth in Ugandan communities by providing access to essential medical equipment, training for health care workers, and support for maternal health initiatives. Founded by Christina Hassan (BSc ’14, MPH ’16) and Hyder Hassan (BA ’12), FullSoul Canada’s core focus is on supplying sterile birth kits to health-care facilities in Uganda, helping to prevent infections during childbirth and reduce maternal and neonatal mortality rates.
HITCHHITCH is an innovative educational platform with a unique focus on addressing the specific challenges of education in Africa. Utilizing cutting-edge machine learning technology, HITCH curates a vast library of educational videos that align with African curricula, ensuring that students have access to relevant and engaging content that supplements their learning. Founded by Uche Onuora (MBET ’16), HITCH’s mission is to bridge the educational gap by providing a powerful tool that empowers students and educators with knowledge, all while overcoming the challenges posed by connectivity and energy limitations.
Indigenous Clean Energy Social EnterpriseIndigenous Clean Energy Social Enterprise (ICE) is a Canadian organization that focuses on advancing clean energy initiatives within Indigenous communities across the country. Founded by Eryn Stewart (BES ’15), ICE’s mission is to empower Indigenous peoples by facilitating sustainable and equitable access to clean energy solutions. The organization collaborates with Indigenous communities to develop renewable energy projects, create economic opportunities and reduce carbon emissions. ICE supports various renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and hydroelectric power, to improve energy self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability.
InstacartInstacart is a grocery delivery and pickup service that provides consumers with a convenient way to shop for groceries and other household essentials through a user-friendly mobile app and website. Customers can order items from their preferred grocery stores, and Instacart’s personal shoppers pick and pack the items for delivery or pickup, offering a time-saving and convenient shopping experience. Founded by Apoorva Mehta, who studied electrical engineering at Waterloo, Instacart has become especially popular, providing on-demand grocery delivery services in a rapidly changing retail landscape.
MiovisionMiovision is a Canadian technology company that specializes in smart traffic management solutions. The company’s mission is to improve urban mobility by providing innovative traffic data and signal control systems. Founded by Kurtis McBride (BASc ’04, MASc ’07), Kevin Madill (BASc ’05) and Tony Brijpaul (BASc ’04), Miovision’s products and services are designed to help cities and transportation agencies optimize traffic flow, reduce congestion, enhance road safety and minimize environmental impacts. Their intelligent traffic management solutions, including video-based traffic data collection and signal optimization, support the development of smart cities and more efficient transportation networks.
PagerDutyPagerDuty is a San Francisco-based company that provides a digital operations management platform, primarily used by organizations to ensure the reliability of their digital systems and services. The platform helps companies monitor and respond to incidents, reduce downtime and improve overall operational efficiency. Founded by Alex Solomon (BSE ’06), Andrew Miklas (BSE ’06) and Baskar Puvanathasan (BASc ’06), PagerDuty is recognized for its role in modernizing incident response and ensuring that businesses can maintain seamless digital operations.
SideFXSideFX is a renowned software company that specializes in the development of 3D animation and visual effects software. Its flagship product, Houdini, is widely used by professionals in the film, gaming and simulation industries for creating realistic 3D graphics and simulations. Kim Davidson (BMath ’81), serves as CEO and fellow alum Cristin Barghiel (MMath ’94), holds the position of vice-president of product development. In 2018, SideFX received prestigious recognition with two Academy Awards: an Academy Award of Merit and a Scientific Engineering Award. These awards honored Barghiel and two other Waterloo alums, Jeff Lait (BMath ’99) and Mark Tucker (BASc ’97), who are developers at SideFX.
Synaptive MedicalSynaptive Medical is a technology company that focuses on advancing health care through innovative solutions, particularly in the fields of neurosurgery and medical imaging. The company’s mission is to improve patient outcomes by developing cutting-edge technologies and software tools for health care professionals. Cameron Piron (BASc ’98), is president and co-founder of Synaptive, and three of the company’s senior team are Waterloo alum, including Josh Richmond (BASc ’98), Kai Hynna (BASc ’98) and Thanh Vuong (MASc ’02). Synaptive also hires many Waterloo co-op students.
In the spirit of Global Entrepreneurship Week, these organizations can inspire anyone to explore starting their own venture. For more inspiration check out the Fall 2023 Waterloo Magazine , The New Entrepreneur.