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From student to startup founder: See how these young entrepreneurs launched a company in eight weeks

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From student to startup founder: See how these young entrepreneurs launched a company in eight weeks

Again in 2020, selected high school and university students from across Canada and the U.S. will get the opportunity to bring their innovative business ideas to life with the help of expert training, mentorship, and the potential to win up to $15,000 in grant money.

Read below to learn how students can apply, and for examples of past DMZ Basecamp companies who have achieved considerable success.


At just 15 years old, Riya Karumanchi joined Basecamp and developed SmartCane, a technology that was born out of her combined passion for helping people and her knowledge in machine learning.

SmartCane is a technologically-enhanced version of the common white cane typically used by those who are visually impaired. Riya’s motivation to develop this solution came when she realized the original white cane was never updated to take advantage of newer technologies. The SmartCane device leverages GPS integration, object detection, location sharing and an emergency button, giving users more independence and safety. Additionally, features like optic detection, wetness sensors, audio feedback and computer vision help to describe a person’s surroundings.

Since graduating Basecamp, Riya has gained over $70,000 in funding and assistance from some of the world’s top companies such as Microsoft and Google. She is a DMZ Fellow and an Innovator at The Knowledge Society and is recognized as one of the Top 20 Teen Entrepreneurs Worldwide, among many other awards and accolades.


Hamza Khan, Founder and Business Development Lead of software company Vimto, saw a gap in the market to help foreign startups scale internationally to contest in new markets. He realized that while so many startups around the world are creating great products and services, not all companies know how to effectively sell. Vimto’s platform acts as a company’s own Digital Growth Consultant, providing the tools and knowledge base to extend all channels’ growth and business development.

Through Hamza’s own knowledge in marketing and entrepreneurship, and with the help of the DMZ Startup Certified program and Ryerson Global Innovation Challenge, Vimto was founded. Since graduating from Startup Certified, Vimto has grown to a team of five and Hamza has travelled to several countries for research and development purposes, including Turkey, India, UAE and Germany. To date, the team has raised $30,000 from bootstrapping and grants and has seen $1,500 in monthly recurring revenue.

In Hamza’s experience, the best part of Basecamp and similar programs are the connections you make along the way – social capital is one of the most valuable resources you will get from a program like this.

Basecamp 2020 applications open

This year, Basecamp is going virtual, making the program accessible to any high school or university student in Canada and the United States. 

The usual program fee will be waived for all Canadian students, coast-to-coast!

If you’re a student and ready to do big things in the world of entrepreneurship, the DMZ wants you. Learn more about Basecamp and apply now: