The Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize celebrates innovative ideas and entrepreneurial pursuits from the Simon Fraser University community.
Open to early-stage business ventures founded by SFU students from undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, as well as by staff, faculty, and recent alumni, competitors are judged by a panel of industry experts on the quality of their business concept, current progress and future plans, founder track record and presentation skills.
SFU’s brightest entrepreneurs competed in a series of pitch-offs and the winners of the 10th annual competition have been announced. Competitors are filtered into two streams, the Idea Stream and the Venture Stream, with the former celebrating ventures in the ideation stage and the latter is designed for fully operating businesses.
The Venture Prize award and a $35,000 prize package went to Labora, an AgTech platform provides a simple and secure digital payroll service to farmers enabling their seasonal agricultural workers to transfer remittances back home.
Founded by Rene Blanco, Jaspal Brar and Ryan Klatt, Labora won the Top Idea Prize at the Venture Prize competition in 2019 and then joined SFU’s incubator program to benefit from its mentorship and startup resources.
Company co-founder Rene Blanco says, “Along the journey, the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection team and mentors helped us to mature our idea and implement the steps to become a solid company. Being incubated by Venture Connection allowed us to focus on initial metrics, pilots and customer acquisition. We plan to invest the $10,000 cash prize in software development.”
Livshows, a startup launched by School of Interactive Arts and Technology alumnus Bassam Mirghani, took the Top Idea Prize. The platform allows users to instantly create and publish immersive augmented reality experiences without knowing how to code. “Accessibility is a driving force in our work. We want to make the creation of AR experiences effortless and intuitive. The $5,000 prize will further support our product development and unlock more creative control for our users,” says Mirghani.
For the second year in a row, the competition has had to pivot to an online format, but enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation at SFU is stronger than ever. There was a 35 per cent increase in application numbers with competitors from all eight SFU faculties and representing students, staff, alumni and faculty members.
Since 2008, Coast Capital Savings has been a key partner of Venture Connection in supporting entrepreneurial excellence at SFU.
Check out a complete list of this year’s winners online.