May 7, 2021Print | PDF
Peter Poydenko, a third-year Bachelor of Science in Data Science student at Wilfrid Laurier University and Ahsan Qazi, a Laurier alumnus (BBA ’17), pitched their business ideas at the first Saint Mary’s University March Madness Pitch Competition, held virtually in March. The two competitors, both working with Laurier’s LaunchPad Incubator to bring their ideas to life, topped the first round of competition.
Modelled after the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, the Saint Mary’s University March Madness Pitch Competition showcased business ideas from 64 students representing 25 post-secondary institutions across Canada over the course of the month of March. In each round, students competed head to head, with the student with the winning business idea moving on to the next round. Students in first, second, third and fourth place all received cash prizes.
Poydenko pitched a software that extracts due dates for assignments, tests and exams from the syllabi students receive at the beginning of their courses. The dates can then be added to a calendar, such as Google or Outlook, or printed.
“The idea behind ConsoliDate came from my experiences as a first-year student struggling to understand what I must finish next in order to stay on top of my academics,” says Poydenko. “I pitched the idea in a first-year course and from there it became a successful group project. I never let the idea go and continued to use it in future school and extracurricular projects until the beginning of this year, when I began looking at it from the perspective of an entrepreneur thanks to LaunchPad.”
The algorithm behind ConsoliDate is unique – no other software like it exists. Poydenko hopes to pilot the software soon, with the goal of one day running his own startup.
Qazi pitched Empowered, an app he is developing, which keeps track of users’ feelings and personalities and provides recommendations for improving their mood. The app is designed for individuals looking for inspiration and motivation.
“Wellness is not something to revert to when things go wrong. It’s a lifestyle,” says Qazi. “There is a huge gap in the industry for individuals who are not going through a severe breakdown but instead just need a nudge to get back to centre, back to their best selves. That’s where we come in.”
A prototype of Empowered is available through the App Store and Google Play. Qazi’s team is testing and collecting feedback through surveys and focus groups to improve the service before a finalized version is released.
The March Madness pitch competition was Poydenko’s first and he credits his success in part to the mentors in Laurier LaunchPad, especially Jason Whalen, program lead at LaunchPad on Laurier’s Waterloo campus, who helped him prepare and provided feedback immediately after his pitch.
“I’ve never competed in a pitch competition before and couldn’t be happier that I gained that experience. With the feedback Jason has given me, I know how I can improve for next time,” says Poydenko. “I would tell people who think they have an amazing idea to apply to pitch competitions like this. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have much experience pitching. What matters is that you try your best and learn from the competition.”