November 13th was an exceptional day for 5 young entrepreneurs, who are looking to have their company become the next big thing.
They participated in a competition called “Canada’s Next Great Startup Awards,” featured in Impact’s National Conference, which was started by university students from Waterloo. These finalists had the chance to pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges and Top Student Leaders from across Canada (a la Dragon’s Den), in order to show what they had to offer today’s business world.
One of the judges on this panel is Sanjay Singhal, the CEO of Fusenet, INC. As Sanjay says, Fusenet is, “all about the discovery, development and acquisition of new brands, technologies and talents.” Fusenet encourages its employees to pursue new ideas for ventures on their own and usually gets behind them in their projects–investing, rather than buying out the emerging new business that is budding under its own roof.
Sanjay has studied at the University of British Columbia, University of New Brunswick and Cornell University, and since then he has used his managerial talents to create and support new ventures (his own and others’), market them in creative ways and close many business deals essential to the growth and development of the company. With his knowledge, there is no doubt that he can spot talent pretty quickly in these young entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas.
Faze met up with Fusenet’s Sanjay shortly after the competition, to catch up on all that went down.
FAZE: What is the age range of the participants in the competition?
SANJAY: The youngest one may have been 19, but the age range in general is anyone attending the conference, which are students in high school and university. Typically someone in high school wouldn’t be pitching because they haven’t technically started a business that they would want to pitch for potential funding.
FAZE: Is it ever an opportunity for you to look for people to work for your company?
SANJAY: That’s the only reason we’re doing this. [As well as] getting our brand out there as a company…there’s also there a very direct aspect: the 5 people that we got down as finalists we arrange meetings with. We’re going to invest in their business at a significant level. This year, 1st prize is $5000, but this person is pitching to us for a $250,000 investment as a business, and we’re pretty excited about this year’s winner.
FAZE: Can you tell us a little bit about who won this year?
SANJAY: His name is Vincent Cheung. The name of his company was Shape Collage and the idea was you could upload pictures to a desktop application and it would create a custom collage for you in the shape of a heart…etc. It’s pretty cool technology and he did a great job marketing it, creating half a million dollars in revenue in 1 year, and 3 million downloads.
FAZE: Where do you see this competition going in the future?
SANJAY: The ideas are always growing. This year there were 22 applications, but we’d like to see that number at 100+. We’d also like our cash prizes to rise substantially as well and make this a premier business competition.