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Concordia’s District 3 hosts its first online startup pitch night

The July 28 event features students, alumni and keynote speaker Ash Maurya
July 23, 2020
By Ashley Fortier

Credit: Emily Gan

Up to 50 per cent of startups fail because they built a product that doesn’t meet customer needs. Validation can be the make-or-break factor in a new company’s success.

That’s why Concordia’s District 3 Innovation Center offers startup teams an intensive validation program. Designed for entrepreneurs who have little customer traction for their tech-based solutions, the three-month program helps define target markets, develop a deep understanding of customers and design a business model to build a viable company.

On July 28, District 3 is hosting the first-ever virtual startup pitch night, which is open to all entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and members of the public looking to get a glimpse of District 3’s vibrant community and innovation ecosystem.

A handful of District 3 startup founders will go over some of the biggest challenges they faced finding, understanding and fulfilling a real customer need in the market. The companies are all harnessing emerging technologies to build businesses with global impact in industries such as medical technology, artificial intelligence and more.

The free virtual event will also feature keynote speaker Ash Maurya, creator of the business modelling tool "Lean Canvas" and author of Running Lean.

Pitch night attendees can expect a sneak peek into the reality of what it takes to get a business up and running in 12 weeks.

Concordia launch pad for entrepreneurs

“All our entrepreneurs presenting have worked hard to reach this important milestone, as they take their first step in the startup journey,” says Jane Somerville, District 3’s program director.

A number of District 3 startup teams making presentations include Concordia students and alumni.

Jois Prabhakara is an MASc candidate in computer science and software engineering and co-founder of OpAI Innovations. He and his colleague, Dan Huy Tran, assist medical practitioners in providing the best possible outcomes for patients undergoing breast surgeries.

They aim to reduce intraoperative subjectivity in breast surgeries by providing plastic surgeons with a real-time assessment tool for the 3D imaging and analysis of breast contours.

Another team includes Maciej Cepnik (attendee 19). Since his time at Concordia's John Molson School of Business, he has been working as director of sales and marketing for Veriphi Inc. The cryptocurrency enthusiast runs the startup with Gustavo Flores Echaiz and Tristan Borges Solaris, and together they offer advanced Bitcoin security services for private investors and businesses.

The company’s versatile approach to operational security permits them to create tailored and personalized solutions to protect Bitcoin funds worth up to $10 million.

Other pitch night presenters include a startup focused on increasing the efficacy of treatments in relapsed cancer patients and a food-tracking app designed to support the work of dieticians.

About Ash Maurya

Alongside District 3 startup founders, attendees will get to hear from renowned business leader Ash Maurya. In addition to developing his widely used Lean Canvas modelling tool, the keynote speaker is founder and CEO of WiredReach, among other successful startups.

He regularly hosts sold-out workshops around the world and serves as a mentor to several business accelerators including TechStars, Accelerace and Slingshot. Maurya delivers guest lectures at several educational institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the University of Texas at Austin, and serves in an advisory or consulting capacity for a number of new and established companies.

What to expect from the District 3 validation program

District 3 supports high-potential entrepreneurs through one-on-one coaching, customized workshops, expert sessions, a global network and more. Founders who participate in the validation program will gain the knowledge, skills and contacts to build a viable business.

The innovation centre hones and expands entrepreneurs’ abilities by helping them understand what a business needs and how to create and innovate by harnessing emerging technologies for global impact.

Tony Wang Tony Wang, co-founder of Doc

“This program gave me an alternate way of thinking that was far removed from my academic science background. It has birthed something completely new in my life — a new view of the world,” says Tony Wang, co-founder of Doc, a platform that aims to improve transfer of information between physicians and their patients.

“It brought us coaching and one-on-one support that helped us shape an initial rough idea into a viable solution.”

District 3 staff encourage founders to adopt design-thinking methods to generate ideas. Scientists are accustomed to following rigorous methods and instructions. District 3 helps scientific entrepreneurs to become more fluid by switching their mindset from developing solutions to solving problems in the market.

600 tech startups and counting

As a leading innovation hub in Montreal, Concordia’s District 3 is open to all. Since its founding, the centre has supported more than 600 tech startups and built a community of more than 12,000 strong. District 3 focuses on advancing an open, collaborative ecosystem that enables entrepreneurs to thrive and succeed.

They are proud to represent a diversity of cultures, backgrounds and ideas; 80 per cent of District 3’s startup founders are immigrants and 42 per cent are women.

Register today for the District 3 Innovation Center startup pitch night on July 28.


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