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University of Ottawa’s Top Startups prepare for Silicon Valley trip

Three companies will network and pitch through uOttawa’s extensive network of alumni

Stephen Daze
Stephen Daze

Some of the University of Ottawa’s top entrepreneurial talent will be taking their early stage businesses to Silicon Valley this spring.

The University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, Faculty of Engineering, Startup Garage and uOttawa e-hub have come together to present the 2018 uOttawa Top Startup designation to three outstanding companies.

The winners are being sent to Silicon Valley for a week-long trip in May, where they’ll have the opportunity to pitch their startup to investors and network with uOttawa alumni based in San Francisco. The University of Ottawa contributes $4,000 to each company’s travel expenses and facilitates meetings with relevant industry leaders from its network of alumni.

The annual competition chooses a handful of startups founded by either uOttawa students, alumni or faculty, and focuses on those who would benefit the most from the trip to California’s tech hub.

“Part of what we’re doing as an academic institution is helping our students prepare for the next stage in their lives,” says Stephen Daze, Telfer’s Dom Herrick Entrepreneur in Residence. “For many, the next stage in their lives is running a successful business.”

Past winners of the competition include Spiderwort, a high-tech firm that uses biomaterials to aid human recovery from injuries, and Welbi, a SaaS company that helps families and health care providers track elderly patients’ well-being.

Welbi co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau was recently awarded the 2018 Bootstrap Award for Founder of the Year. As Daze explains, she met one of her current mentors on her uOttawa Top Startup trip.

“In many cases, depending on the type of business and industry that they’re in, being able to experience a trip to Silicon Valley with key introductions into our extensive alumni network helps move their business along,” says Daze.

The finalists for this year’s competition are:

  • GameStrat, a sports software company that specializes in sideline instant replay and real-time analytics;
  • Transparent Kitchen, an online platform that connects restaurateurs with consumers to share recipes and source local ingredients; and
  • ZoomMate, an online platform that helps people find housing based on budget, location and compatibility with prospective housemates.

“This Top Startup recognition gives ZoomMate more exposure and validates what we have been doing for the past year,” says Moktar Yusuf, the company’s CEO and co-founder who graduated from the Telfer School last year with a bachelor of commerce degree.

“Entrepreneurship is my career – building things to solve big problems and this is a big step in my entrepreneurial journey.”

For more information on this year’s finalists, head to