DMZ startup pitches at Tsinghua University’s President’s Cup


Monthly Archives: June 2019

DMZ startup pitches at Tsinghua University’s President’s Cup

Last month, DMZ Sandbox was invited to attend the President’s Cup at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China – the number one educational institution in Asia.

Now in its sixth year, the President’s Cup – an initiative that aims to discover, cultivate and enhance students’ entrepreneurial skills – took place as part of the university’s incubator x-lab.

And this year, for the first time, the conference extended its invitation to international delegates. Representatives from Germany, Georgia, Japan, Singapore and Canada participated as a result.

“Canada’s participation in international pitch competitions importance is two-fold. For entrepreneurs, it broadens their understanding of global business markets. For Canada, it positions us as a powerhouse on an international level” says Peter Bowie, DMZ Advisory Council Member.

RTA School of Media graduate and DMZ’s Sandbox Student Grant recipient Josh Gonsalves, founder of Contraverse – an end-to-end VR production and distribution company for innovative and exceptional story-driven virtual reality – attended to represent the Canadian delegation.

Each presenter had a five minute pitch, followed by a question and answer period. The audience included investors from high-calibre investment firms and global influencers.

We spoke to Josh about what he learned from this exciting experience.

Learn about your audience

Knowing your audience prior to an international competition is crucial to ensure you speak the masses’ language. It’s not limited to your choice of words when presenting, but understanding that coupling your presentation with effective visuals and simple messaging allows global investors and entrepreneurs to gain a better grasp on your product.

“The DMZ’s pitch coaches helped me shape my presentation effectively through the use of imagery prior to pitching at the President’s Cup” Josh states.

Challenge your comfort zone

Josh powered through the nerves that came with presenting to a large audience.

“I now have a lot of empathy for individuals that get butterflies and nerves right before presenting. It was a humbling experience. I knew I was representing an entire nation and I told myself  – for the next 12 minutes I need to shut all these feelings of discomfort off.”

Embrace a global perspective

“Being around similar mindsets with a global perspective on business helped me work through different challenges.” Josh explains how delegates discussed different obstacles they’ve faced as first time entrepreneurs, from raising investment rounds, to prototyping and resource availability from different parts of the world.

For Contraverse, pitching in Beijing and gaining feedback from world-leading investors was invaluable. Tsinghua University is eager to welcome back Ryerson University’s entrepreneurs next year at the President’s Cup.

Have an entrepreneurial idea but unsure about where to start? Visit the DMZ Sandbox to learn more about our programs.

Sampler this: Marie Chevrier talks the future of digital marketing

Consumers love free samples. But there’s something illogical about the tried-and-true marketing method.  

Entrepreneur Marie Chevrier saw the problem with this tactic when she was a brand ambassador in university.

While handing out sample products to anyone who would walk by, Chevrier realized there had to be a better way to strategically utilize the power of free samples.

Fast forward to today and Chevrier is the CEO of Sampler, a startup that helps brands distribute physical product samples to digitally targeted customers.

Chevrier joins BusinessCast host Robert Gold to take us through her journey starting Sampler, from simple idea to effective marketing engine, and how her company is reorienting sample-marketing in the digital space.

Amazon has even taken notice. The e-commerce behemoth began offering targeted product sampling as a way for brands to increase sales earlier this year.

That may seem like bad news for Sampler but, for Chevrier, hearing that Amazon was entering the same space as her company was the best day of her life.

Chevrier takes us through why that’s the case and the future of digital marketing in this edition of the BusinessCast Podcast powered by The DMZ.

Free samples not included.

Three takeaways from our newest program, DMZYYZ

The DMZ is giving international entrepreneurs a chance to experience Toronto’s growing tech ecosystem with the launch of our newest venture, DMZYYZ.

The two-week intensive soft-landing program aims to help growth stage startups integrate within the Canadian ecosystem.

Last week, we wrapped our first cohort comprised of nine companies from seven countries. Visiting entrepreneurs flew in from Lebanon, Hungary, Chile, Jamaica, Norway, Brazil and Uruguay.

A day within the first week of DMZYYZ consists of intensive-programming, back-to-back workshops and desk time to debrief about the information you’ve consumed.

In the second week, participants get VIP access to a world-class tech conference. This cohort gained access to Collision, the largest and fastest-growing North American tech conference. Their participation resulted in locking in 20+ potential customers, hiring talent from Toronto, and pitching to global partners.

Here are the top takeaways from the startups’ time at the DMZ.

Challenge your assumptions

“A lot of my presumptions about product changed significantly after being a part of this program. Defining the right MVP is important to gain quality customer retention, and the entrepreneurs-in-residence at the DMZ helped refine that,” reflects Hussein Salman, Founder of FindANurse, a Lebanese startup aiming to change the face of caregiving within the MENA region. “As a reputable university-backed accelerator with a large community, being part of this program has given me the confidence to now build necessary relationships with potential investors.”

Make meaningful connections

The DMZ is a place that is filled with opportunity – be it from workshops to investor meetings and connections to serial entrepreneurs. “The calibre of network within the DMZ community is huge. The amount of knowledge transfer that happens within the conversations you have is close to none.” Zoltan Czikos, Co-Founder of Hungarian-based startup, Neticle says. The startup aims to boost business decisions with automated text-analysis.

Create global impact

Through worldwide perspectives during the DMZYYZ program, companies were able to learn more with a growth mindset and feel empowered. “We built something on a small island and were looking for the feedback that we got at the DMZ. The thing that stuck out to me the most is that you can make a global impact no matter where you’re from. The ability to bring a fresh perspective to highly regarded individuals within Canada, empowers me as an individual as well.” Conrad Mathison from It’s Pixel Perfect, a Jamaican based startup, aimed at helping brands stand out in the digital space through creative content.

Applications for our second cohort of DMZYYZ are now open. Apply here.