Ryerson Startups Win Big at New Venture Competition

Two Ryerson graduates each took home $25,000 at Ryerson’s New Venture Competition on March 28 for their winning startups.

Ryerson’s Next Top Entrepreneur changed its game plan this year, rewarding startups for the traction they have gained up to competition time.

“We’ve shifted away from the size of the idea to the gravity of the execution of the idea,” said host Sean Wise, a professor of entrepreneurship at Ryerson.

Kunal Arneja and Madlen Cumandra presented their startups to a panel of judges that awarded them with the money to further their businesses in the year to follow.

Arneja is a co-founder of CUCU, a business which provides a way for consumers to customize their debit and credit cards. Using CUCU’s patented sticker design, individuals can create a personalized look for their wallet. This product also allows commercial clients from bands to sports teams to reach their audience in a new medium.

“At CUCU we help you pay with your personality,” said Arneja.

Cumandra presented Artin Biomed, a startup which has developed an alternative material that mimics real bone, eliminating the need for other orthopedic procedures and is fully biodegradable. This can eliminate the risky and often painful producers associated with bone graft surgery. The material is customizable to individual patients so it can be used on all ages.

“If there was an orthopedic implant that dissolved in your body eliminating the need for surgery and pain and suffering, wouldn’t you want it?” asked Cumandra.

Arneja and Cumandra were among the top six finalists from an initial 18 startups. The finalists were Ben Canning, a fourth-year entrepreneurship and innovation student, presenting Farmium, a startup aiming to fill unused roof space in Toronto with self-regulating greenhouses; Konstantinos Viglatzis, a second-year business management student presenting Fotosmos, an app allowing users an up-to-the-minute look at what’s happening in social spaces; Juleigh Giberson, a hospitality and tourism student, presenting Little Grub Hub, an app promoting healthy eating among youth; and Melissa Spadafora, a fourth-year entrepreneurship and innovation student, presenting MyBumper, the slimmest detachable battery case for iPhones.

The panel of judges consisted of Daniel Graham, a Ryerson alumnus and a business development manager at Futurpreneur Canada; Mike Cotton, director of Zone Startups Sports and Ryerson Futures Inc.; and Philip Walsh, Ryerson Chair of entrepreneurship and strategy department.

Photo by Brooklyn Pinheiro