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Concordia entrepreneurs are taking the startup world by storm

Five alumni are leading change and solving challenges with innovative ideas
November 21, 2022
By Marco Buttice, BA 21, with files from Harvin Bhathal

A simulated image of an electric aircraft hovering over a landing pad Experts at Limosa Inc. aim to develop a functioning electric vertical and conventional takeoff and landing aircraft.

It takes a significant amount of skill, courage and determination to create a startup that pushes forward-thinking technologies. Concordia is at the heart of bringing this change to action, providing students and graduates with opportunities to explore new possibilities across sectors.

For the first time ever, Concordia was named by PitchBook’s annual rankings among the top 100 universities in the world with the largest number of entrepreneurs with venture-capital backed startups among their alumni. With more than 147 founders of 141 companies, Concordia also ranked among the top 10 in Canada.

With entrepreneurs on the rise, learn about four alumni-led startups with an eye on the future:

A man with dark hair, glasses and a goatee stands in front of landscape poster with a helicopter Hamid Hamidi, PhD 20

Limosa Inc.

Hamid Hamidi, PhD 20, is the founder of Limosa Inc., a group consisting of experts in aircraft structural design, structural analyses, aerodynamics, propulsion systems, flight control and avionics. Their goal is to develop a functioning, unique electric vertical and conventional takeoff and landing (eVTOL+eCOTL) aircraft.

While pursuing his PhD in Concordia’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Hamidi worked on the application of composite structures in helicopters. The project allowed him to get involved in the production of aerospace products by working in large helicopter and airplane manufacturers in Montreal.

When creating Limosa, Hamidi saw an opportunity to translate innovations in electric automobiles to air travel.

“There were a few different gaps we wanted to address when we were thinking of Limosa,” he says. “One of them is climate change. Ground vehicles are becoming electrified, so the same thing will happen with air vehicles.”

Limosa’s seven-seater aircraft, LimoConnect, is designed to help solve some of the most pressing issues in 21st-century transportation, to be used for private or commercial purposes, emergency response and cargo transport. The goal, Hamidi says, is to provide a more reliable, efficient and quick alternative for daily transportation.

“These kinds of vehicles are going to eventually replace helicopters in the next decade or two,” he adds. “They are 100 times less noisy and can work more effectively in urban areas.”

The LimoConnect aircraft is expected to be certified by mid-2029.

A woman with blonde hair and a white button-up shirt stands in front of a concrete backdrop Robyn Orsini, BA 18

Lunas Consulting

When Robyn Orsini, BA 18, founded Lunas Consulting, a firm consultancy focused on sales development and revenue growth, she wanted to provide support to startups.

After graduating from Concordia, Orsini joined the non-profit sector for startups in Montreal and fell in love with helping them grow. Her own enterprise began as she garnered more and more clients as a consultant.

“I kept on getting referrals and people working for me,” Orsini says. “So, I eventually had to open up my own company.”

Lunas guides startups by helping them attain predictable, recurring revenue through sales consulting, team training and outbound sales. As CEO, Orsini enforces a different business model that leverages data and sales outreach to achieve success. That winning approach is generating fast-paced change for the company.

“The biggest challenge right now is that we are growing quite fast,” she says. “It’s difficult to continuously hire to meet the demand while working with new clients.”

Orsini credits her studies in psychology at Concordia with both preparing her for her demanding schedule and building the interpersonal skills related to owning a business.

“I never realized I was going to start a company, but completing the program taught me a lot about connecting with people,” she says. “My degree really helped me when I started to work in the sales industry when it came to being personable. It just made me better at my job overall.”

Three men in T-shirts stand in front of a fence with greenery in the background From left: Georges Khairallah, BEng 19, Tony Ho and Alexandre Mahe, BEng 19

Sküma Water

Alexandre Mahe, BEng 19, and his former Concordia classmate Georges Khairallah, BEng 19, founded Sküma Water after graduating from the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. The business partners knew they wanted to focus on water as the primary element of their collaboration.

“What we were thinking at the time was that water will be a valuable resource in the next few years,” says Mahe. “Given our background in engineering, we wanted to work with hardware. That led us to design a hydration system that can work all around the world, as many countries rely on bottled water.”

Sküma Water is a remineralization countertop system that aims to create the same water in any country, no matter the source, with no installation required. Prior to its official launch in 2021, Mahe and Khairallah spent about two and a half years perfecting the technology needed to make their product as efficient as it could be.

“What our system allows is to recreate beverages that you can find on the shelf,” says Mahe. “Rather than buying bottled beverages, you can recreate these from your home, considering that most beverages primarily consist of water. It encourages consumers to use their own local sources.”

Mahe and Khairallah’s Concordia studies provided them with the hands-on lab experience and critical-thinking skills needed to address their challenges head-on.

“Engineering is all about problem solving,” says Khairallah. “That mindset is what helped me the most from my studies and what will guide me for the rest of my life.”

The startup has raised close to $460,000 in a pre-seed funding round led by an early-stage focused venture capital firm.

A man with short hair and a beard poses with a pair of insoles David Even, BComm 14

Primal Soles

With a mission to reduce non-recyclable landfill waste by one million pairs of insoles each year, David Even, BComm 14, founded PRIMAL Soles. “In terms of sustainability, we’re really at the forefront of where the industry is going,” says the John Molson School of Business graduate.

The company prides itself in being the maker of the “world’s first closed-loop 100 per cent recyclable shoe insoles made from natural Mediterranean cork and recyclable memory foam,” says Even, adding that PRIMAL Soles is unique in the production of its soles.

Together with a team of experts, the company designed soles to provide maximum comfort with a minimal ecological footprint. The natural cork is sourced from family farms throughout Portugal and processed at Amorim Cork Composites, the largest and most sustainable supplier of cork in the world.

“We take full responsibility for the entire product life-cycle”, says Even. “There are no other companies in our industry that do what we do. We want to set the precedent, not just for our industry, but for all producers worldwide: take responsibility for what you produce.”

Prior to founding PRIMAL Soles, Even was “a newbie” in the industry. He had to overcome challenges from sourcing suppliers, understanding the business and creating the ultimate insole shape, to setting up a website, mastering marketing and even starting a crowdfunding campaign.

“That was all part of the fun,” he says.

Even says his education — majoring in management — helped him become disciplined, dedicated and, above all, curious.

“My studies really helped me to open up my mind for what’s out there in the world. It shaped me into who I am today and where I want to be tomorrow.”

Exclusive only for Concordia students, faculty and alumni:

Enter code CONCORDIA20 for a one-time 20 per cent discount on a pair of PRIMAL Soles (quantities limited, free carbon neutral shipping, valid until end of 2022).


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