DMZ Sandbox is proud to announce the Basecamp 2019 university cohort winners!

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Monthly Archives: July 2019

DMZ Sandbox is proud to announce the Basecamp 2019 university cohort winners!

6 weeks, 15 companies, 35 workshops, 3 prizes of $5,000!

The Basecamp program allows DMZ to get back to its roots – helping student entrepreneurs build viable, sustainable businesses. The six week annual summer program provides customized, intensive coaching and mentoring from DMZ EiRs (Entrepreneurs-in-Residence), workshops headed by the likes of Google and culminates in a pitch competition. Its university cohort just wrapped and all three of the winners are Ryerson University students! 

By the end of the program, winners don’t just receive a $5,000 prize, they also have a validated business model tailored for long-term success and receive the opportunity to become a ‘DMZ Fellow’. The fellow network provides up-and-coming entrepreneurs the opportunity to immerse themselves in the startup ecosystem with access to Ryerson’s Zone network, ongoing coaching from DMZ EiRs and other resources that prepare them for DMZ’s official incubator, validator or accelerator program. 

“Canadian post-secondary students are the future pace-setters and will determine the success of our country,” says Natasha Campagna, director, DMZ Sandbox. “The Basecamp program allows skilled, talented, creative students to get the experience they need to manage a business, get introduced to STEM and become the innovative leaders of tomorrow.”

So, who won $5,000? 

Omar Said, Founder of Smart Eyes

Omar is an Electrical engineering student at Ryerson University and a promising tech founder. Smart Eyes is a mobile application that uses real-time video processing tool to show visually impaired users the objects obstructing their path. “My participation with the program was instrumental in driving my business forward.The mentors I connected with included founders who raised millions of dollars in funding like Henry Shi, founder of DMZ alum company SnapTravel, who was recently funded by Steph Curry!”

Kartik Balasundaram, Founder of Scuto

Kartik is a Business Technology Management student at Ryerson University and founder of Scuto. Scuto’s platform enables photographers to accept payments, generate new clients and receive dispute management services. “With the help I received, I was able to learn about the fundamentals of finance for early-stage startups, refine my business and effectively tell our story to people who aren’t our customers.”

Annie Chen, Founder of Menuless

Annie is an Interior Design at Ryerson University and founder of Menuless, an ordering application that saves customers time by allowing them to make their bill payments directly from their phones. Through her participation in Basecamp, Annie brought forward her passion to make a global impact through design thinking and technology. Her biggest takeaway from Basecamp was learning how to get out of her comfort zone. “I learned that coming up with an idea is easy, but running with it and trying to make it a reality is hard. I learned to always put yourself in uncomfortable situations, because that is how you learn and improve the fastest. The hustle never stops and neither should you.”


Look out for updates from the upcoming Basecamp high school cohort, set to take place July 22 – August 21 – truly the next generation of tech entrepreneurs!

Have an innovative business idea but don’t know where to start? We’ve got a program for you. Visit dmz.to/sandbox to learn about our programs, or follow us on Instagram at @DMZSandbox.

Reach out directly to our Sandbox programs lead Haseeb Khawaja at haseeb1.khawaja@ryerson.ca.

 

Who’s behind 6ixbuzztv? How the brand is going from Instagram to international empire

If you’re a Canadian on Instagram, you’ve most likely heard of 6ixbuzztv. The page with over one million followers has become the pulse of Toronto and its one-of-a-kind (and internationally recognized) culture.

With a following that includes Champagne Papi himself (Drake) to politicians like Ontario Premier Doug Ford, 6ixbuzztv has turned its Toronto (aka ‘the 6ix’) culture into a business with smart, yet subtle, branded content.

If this is your first time hearing about 6ixbuzztv, crawl out from under the rock you’ve been living under and check out some of their most popular posts:


So who are the people behind the 6ixbuzztv brand? Are they just another Instagram meme and gif page? Why is it getting so much attention?

Today marks 6ixbuzztv’s two year anniversary, and we’ve received the exclusive opportunity to interview the individuals behind it (a startup that is part of the DMZ roster).

Learn about their start, how they would describe what they’re doing, and where they see all of this heading, below.

How did 6ixbuzztv start out?

August 2017 – when I was attending George Brown College. It was called ‘NorthBound Buzz’, but then was switched to 6ixbuzztv. People quickly found the page’s humour was unique and very Toronto-centric. Through sourcing content and adding clever captions which were both comedic and informative, the account slowly started gaining traction.

Did you have any goals when starting out?

We found the way traditional broadcast shares news to be too traditional, censored, and un-engaging. And Canada has never had a platform that included breaking news, hip-hop and entertainment talent. As a team, we wanted to create a brand that also highlights stories, situations and relatable moments that never make the news, while also providing music artists an opportunity to receive much needed attention.

How do you get your content?

People DM (direct message) us (2000+ a day) on Instagram. Also, just searching online, you’d be surprised where the best videos are found.

How would you describe 6ixbuzztv today?

Canada’s #1 media outlet for buzzin’ news, entertainment, and hip-hop. Since then, we’ve fostered a unique community that is loyal to the Toronto brand, but is still relevant to the rest of the world.

Tell me more about the entertainment company you’re looking to grow 6ixbuzztv into?
  1. Given that there’s no new age media outlets in Toronto, we wanted to give artists and entertainers a platform in which they can engage with an audience that traditional outlets have a difficult time reaching.
  2. Given that we represent Toronto and Canada as a whole, we want to engage with the larger community to create positive change. This includes new initiatives like Cleanup Day, ThanksGiving Food Drive, Christmas Toy Drive, and more.
  3. We want to create an experiential stream that runs exclusive events, concerts, and festivals that bring out our community and the best of our culture.
How do you pick the brands you work with?

Ideally, we like working with Canadian brands, specifically those that are innovative and open to engaging with our immediate community. However, we are growing out various other streams within the 6ixbuzztv brand and each one is open to creating great activations and curated campaigns.

Where is 6ixbuzztv headed next?

We want to continue growing original content series (i.e., not only content aggregation), while we work to release our website and app. You can look out for a special announcement from 6ixbuzztv in Fall 2019.

It’s clear that 6ixbuzztv isn’t your ordinary popular Instagram page, as the founder and partners behind the brand are far from ordinary. Time will tell how the rollout of their subsidiary brands will resonate with their growing audience. Given the household names that are clamouring to work with them and their hyper-engaged following, it’s safe to say that the 6ixbuzztv brand is destined to only go up from here.

Isaac Olowolafe Jr. talks Black Innovation Fellowship

Diversity fosters innovation, but looking at some tech accelerators across the country, you may not find the most diverse crowd.

That has, at least, been the experience of Isaac Olowolafe Jr., founder of the Toronto-based asset management firm Dream Maker Corporation.

When Olowolafe Jr. launched Dream Maker Ventures, the tech-focused investment arm of the company, the entrepreneur noticed something across the ecosystem: almost everyone was Caucasian. 

The son of African immigrants, Olowolafe Jr. didn’t see his community represented within Toronto’s startup community. To solve that problem, Olowolafe Jr. partnered with the DMZ to launch the Black Innovation Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to help Black entrepreneurs achieve success. 

Sitting down with BusinessCast host Robert Gold, Olowolafe Jr. traces his own journey as a business leader and outlines some of the barriers entrepreneurs from racialized communities face when trying to launch their own enterprises. 

But it’s not all bad news. Olowolafe Jr. takes us through what needs to be done to diversify Canada’s startup community at-large, and how the Black Innovation Fellowship is doing just that.

Listen below.