Wearable tech entrepreneur Karl Martin has always built things – toys as a young child, robots as a teenager, a biometric verification process using heartbeats to authenticate identity (in lieu of passwords and key cards) while completing his PhD in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto.

For all his engineering smarts, though, Mr. Martin knew he would need a stronger business grounding to build and grow his startup, now called Nymi Inc., into “a much more significant” company.

He credits Next Founders – a unique MBA-level professional-development program for entrepreneurs – with launching his company on a path that has taken it well beyond the initial goal of simply licensing its biometric technology to third parties.

“We would have definitely been underselling our potential” had the company gone no further than licensing agreements, said Mr. Martin, who developed the skills needed to raise $35-million in venture capital, create the hardware to support his technology and market it to prospective clients.

The Nymi wrist band uses each wearer's unique electrocardiogram signal as a biometric password to gain authorized access to files and equipment.

This addresses security concerns about compromised access codes or lost key cards, he said.

The technology has been pilot-tested in financial institutions and industrial settings “and we're going into scaled commercial deployment at the beginning of next year.”

Mr. Martin and his fellow students learned from the best.

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