Student startups launched from The Hub, the entrepreneurial incubator at U of T Scarborough, have made over $1.1 million in combined revenues over the past two years.
“When I totaled (revenues) up and it went over a million, it was like, ‘Yeah this is cartwheel time,’” says Gray Graffam, director of The Hub. “It’s absolutely incredible to be part of the success story of these young companies.”
It has been four years since The Hub opened to provide workshops, training, mentorship and a workspace for students looking to start their businesses.
“This is where you discover your idea, and where you put the pieces together,” Graffam says. “This is where you understand how you’re going to tackle the business you want to create.”
Revenue includes sales, awards and investments. The million-dollar milestone was reached largely by nine companies, all of which are moving on from The Hub.
Korsall Inc., one of the nine student startups, is moving to an office in downtown Toronto’s financial district.
“It is unfortunate to leave such a positive co-working space and friends. It is a bittersweet experience,” says Dikshant Batra, president and founder of Korsall. “I still consider the roots of this company to be in The Hub.”
Korsall is a digital platform for fashion designers and crafters to connect with manufacturers, sellers and distributers, while prioritizing ethical business. Korsall vets all sellers to make sure their products are made ethically, with non-GMO, raw materials, by willing workers paid above a living wage, through businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible.
“Korsall in its very core is based on the idea of love,” Batra says. “The tagline for the company is, ‘From the world, with love.’”
Batra was inspired by sellers he met while travelling in Asia and the Middle East. He decided to create an ethical platform for them to make, sell and deliver their products. He says The Hub helped him in planning, starting and marketing his business, hiring his 21 employees, and winning $17,000 from two funding competitions.
Korsall is not available to customers yet, but they have signed purchasing agreements with some of the largest fashion incubators in the world.
“The Hub has supported these efforts in various ways, most important being the stamp of approval from such an organization,” Batra says.
Though these companies began in The Hub, Graffam says this revenue is a victory for the students.
“This tally is the result of their grassroots individual efforts. The number is their number. They've done great,” he says. “Sure, I've helped, guided, mentored. But this is truly about them.”