Here’s one perspective, from Lucas Bruno, second-year commerce student at the Ted Rogers School of Management and co-founder and co-CEO of GIMME360°: “Every single day you’re selling your business, you’re meeting people, and you’re thinking. Preparing for a pitch like that really happens overnight. It’s not something you need to spend a lot of time doing, because if you know your business, you can do one of those things blindfolded.”
And here’s another perspective, from Lisa Cumming, third-year journalism student and founder of Radio Reboot: “I was a nervous wreck!” she laughed.
“I don’t speak publicly very well, so my heart was pounding—I was trying to stand away from the microphone so no one else could hear my heart pounding. But I did it, I got through it! I can’t remember the exact timeline, but it was a good few days where I was writing and rewriting a speech, then I’d throw out one speech and start again.”
Different strokes. Both were among the five Ryerson students whose startups were selected as Levy Aspiring Innovators. Created in partnership with Ryerson Zone Learning and the Brookfield Institute, the program fosters student entrepreneurship with $5,000 in funding and training at Ryerson Basecamp.
GIMME360° was created by Lucas Bruno with co-founders Josiah Crombie and Daniel Bokun, and inspired by their collective background in humanitarian work. “A huge question we would get when we were working for other charities was, ‘Where is my money going?’” said Bruno. “That made us think. Even though we were just employees, we wanted to do more. We thought of an idea: ‘Can we take people exactly where the money is going by using the latest technologies?’”
Their idea: bring augmented and virtual reality services to the humanitarian sector. “We threw our idea out there, and we got hired on by an NGO to go to Cambodia to do exactly that: film the NGO and what the money is going towards, and show how they’re helping, and really bring Cambodia to the donors,” said Bruno.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign for their first product (a virtual-reality-equipped hoodie “for Netflix and outdoor active lifestyle”), the DMZ-based company is expanding its services from charity to the private sector. The business is now focusing on augmented reality for education and customer experience. “All the companies we’re looking at in the competitive landscape are focused on gaming or heavy industry. We see huge potential in regular businesses and financial institutions,” said Bruno. The prize money will go towards expanding staff.