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Basecamp 2023: Unveiling this year’s winners

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Basecamp 2023: Unveiling this year’s winners

8 weeks, 36 students, 44 workshops, 4800+ hours working on startups and $30K in grant prizes


And just like that, DMZ’s favourite time of the year has come and gone. Seeing a new group of talented young entrepreneurs complete DMZ’s Basecamp program is always inspiring.

Basecamp serves as a nurturing space for innovation, allowing up-and-coming entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into reality. After witnessing the growth of this cohort, we are confident that the future of innovation is bright and in capable hands.

Basecamp serves as an 8-week tech incubation program for students to unlock their potential, and collaborate alongside other youth innovators, industry experts and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Participating teams had the opportunity to pitch their startups to a panel of judges for the chance to take home one of six grants worth $5,000 to put towards taking their business to the next level.

DMZ was honoured to sit down with the winners to learn how the Basecamp program fast-tracked their startup’s trajectory.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, ClearCardio, pose with their $5000 cheque

Clear Cardio

Clear Cardio is an affordable, accurate, wearable machine that instantly detects heart issues. Before starting Basecamp, the pair had no experience in the startup ecosystem. Basecamp provided them with the tools to nurture ClearCardio from concept to reality.

“[Basecamp] is the perfect way to get into the startup world, especially if you’re high school students like us, as the program is a beginner’s guide to everything business-related you need to kick start your journey, ” said Nima Vasigh, Co-Founder of Clear Cardio.

The PilotASD team poses with their $5000 cheque

PilotASD

Founded by two Toronto Metropolitan University students, PilotASD is a platform that simplifies finding tailored resources to make the future more accessible for autistic youth. Given their computer science background and experience with product development, the pair partook in Basecamp to better understand entrepreneurship and how to start a business.

“Basecamp set us up to thrive in Toronto’s entrepreneurship scene, and we’re delighted to be a part of it. We’re excited to see the journey ahead with PilotASD and where our future will take us, ” explained Cindy Fang, Co-Founder of PilotASD.

A group of students from startup NearMe pose with their $5000 cheque

NearMe

After years of isolation during the pandemic, three students came together to tackle the loneliness epidemic. NearMe is an innovative app that uses geolocation to connect post-secondary students based on interests and promotes in-person interactions. Looking back at their experiences in Basecamp, the trio found that the program served as a launching pad, equipping them with skills to tackle pitching, marketing and finances.

“The connections we made with Basecamp mentors gave us strategic insights on how we can elevate our startup. They helped us navigate topics that we aren’t necessarily getting taught in school,” said Rayan Ahmad, Co-Founder of NearMe.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Aidify, pose with their $5000 cheque

Aidify

This sibling duo is fighting for student success and academic integrity. Aidify is a typing analytics tool to help teachers detect plagiarism and assess student effort. Aidify highlighted how the mentors stood out as a remarkably influential part of the program. They were able to absorb startup fundamentals and found themselves inspired by their success.

“Starting a business was never a serious option we considered for our futures, but that’s changed now that we know the ins and outs of running a business. Basecamp has given us a ton of confidence knowing that it’s a real possibility for us,” said Charlie To, Co-Founder of Aidify.

PocketClass smiles upon receiving a $5000 cheque

PocketClass

PocketClass is a platform for extracurriculars that simplifies the interaction between parents and instructors through their integrated search, scheduling and payment features. CEO and Founder Lisa Huh plans to join DMZ Masterclass workshops to continue elevating her business.

“Basecamp is the go-to program for early-stage and aspiring founders. It acts as your compass in the unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, with resources, mentorship and a supportive community for your journey from idea to success,” explained CEO and Founder of PocketClass, Lisa Huh.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Capable, pose with their $5000 cheque

Capable

Although she didn’t reach the final pitching round, Jazel Dela Paz was selected by her fellow Basecamp peers as the lucky recipient of the Peer Choice Award. Her startup, Capable, aims to make adulthood easy by helping young adults confidently prepare, manage and navigate the responsibilities of adulthood stress-free.

“Basecamp allowed me to expand my network, introducing me to a strong network of startups and mentors. Their support, motivation and accountability were invaluable, especially during critical moments when I needed it the most,” said Founder of Capable, Jazel Dela Paz.

These students and their startups are shining examples of the innovation that spurs when passion, hard work, and support intersect. As we draw the curtains on yet another exciting Basecamp chapter, we’re confident these startups will make their mark in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for years.

Cheers to their success and a summer filled with learning, growth and success!

Looking to join Basecamp in 2024? Subscribe to our TechTalk newsletter and stay informed on program applications here. Until then, we invite you to check out DMZ Masterclass to master your business skills at dmz.to/masterclass

CanHack’s impact: Inspiring Canada’s next generation of cybersecurity experts

6,156 students, 400+ highschools, $31,000 in cash prizes and counting.


Cybersecurity competition for high school students
In 2018, we teamed up with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to foster the next generation of cybersecurity experts by launching CanHack. A competition for high school students, we’ve created meaningful learning opportunities for students across Canada looking to sink their teeth into cybersecurity. 

Throughout the cybersecurity challenge, students get the chance to tackle real cybersecurity challenges, learn critical computer security skills, work with experts in the field, explore an in-demand field and win cash prizes. 

As we all know, cybersecurity matters more now than ever before. We leaned on technology to keep us going through the pandemic – both personally and for business – and have become increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks as a result.

Ensuring a cybersafe future is crucial, and it starts with investing in a future workforce that understands the fundamentals of cybersecurity and privacy.

Young Black students coding - cybersecurity competition for high school students

Together, the DMZ and RBC have ignited an interest in cybersecurity for high school students across Canada at a critical stage in their education. We’re committed to helping students dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity to empower the future of the cybersecurity workforce. 

To mark our fourth CanHack competition, we decided to take a walk down memory lane to highlight CanHack’s achievements to date.

CanHack’s impact over the years 

Since its launch 5 years ago, CanHack has already:Supported 6,156 high school students that have made up 1,567 teams from 400+ highschools and community organizations. Administered 24 workshops with inspiring cybersecurity leaders for students to get hands-on training and support. Supported 1,016 women-identifying participants, empowering them to lead the way in tech. Given out over $31,000 in prize money to Canadian students and schools
Thanks to RBC’s committed support, CanHack plans to reach even more students this year, helping them to dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity. Registrations for CanHack 2022 have officially launched and the competition will run from March 15th to March 29th.

For high school students looking to gain knowledge in cybersecurity and computer science and explore the career possibilities in the growing sectors, click here for more information and register today!

Winners announced for the DMZ and Penny Appeal Canada’s Hack Against Hate

Find out more about the teams of young Canadians who took home a collective $20,000 in cash prizes to further pursue their business ideas in the Hack Against Hate Challenge


There’s been a sharp rise in hate crimes across Canada these past few years, and it’s time to put a stop to it. In fact, Canada has
seen a record high in police-reported hate crimes since 2009.

As Canadians, we tend to think our country doesn’t have these sorts of issues – but we must recognize the shortcomings in our systems, and collaboratively work together to develop solutions that mitigate hate in an effort to make our world a more safe, inclusive, and happy place to live.

In the wake of the rising number of hate crimes, the DMZ and Penny Appeal Canada teamed up to launch Hack Against Hate.hack against hate graphic The 4-day national competition took place between November 23rd and 26th and challenged young Canadians to brainstorm and build a prototype for a digital solution that combats hate crimes. At the end of the Hack Against Hate competition, a panel of judges picked the top 4 teams to each receive $5,000 in cash prizes.

The hackathon kicked off with 40+ teams. Each team went through professional training and mentorship on building and pitching a tech solution. Participants received hands-on support to ideate and build innovative anti-hate tech solutions and took part in expert-led workshops on design thinking, product development, UX/UI, customer discovery, pitching, and more.

Last Friday, the DMZ and Penny Appeal held the finals where the winners presented their solutions. The finals were open to the public and featured speakers from the DMZ and Penny Appeal Canada, as well as keynote speaker Nabeela Ixtabalan, the Executive VP of People and Corporate Affairs for Walmart Canada.

Naveed Tagari, Programs Specialist at the DMZ, and Nabeela Ixtabalan, Executive VP of People and Corporate Affairs at Walmart Canada

The DMZ awarded $20,000 in funding to help teams kick-start their solutions. While all of our winning teams were comprised of high school students, their solutions to put a stop to hate crimes were anything but juvenile. 

Check out the winning teams!

PROtectABot

Team Members: Arya Peruma, Harshul Gupta, and Peter Lee

PROtectABot is an AI-powered bot that filters hatred and educates users on harmful content on social networking platforms. 

“Discord is a very popular social networking app that has over 150 million monthly users. However, it does not have built-in or external systems to prevent hatred from spreading,” highlighted Arya.

“Discord is a very popular social networking app that has over 150 million monthly users. However, it does not have built-in or external systems to prevent hatred from spreading.”

Harshul explained how Discord played a large role in the deadly 2017 Charlottesville protests, as it was used to coordinate logistics and encourage violence for the rally. “Though at the time Discord cracked down on hate crimes, there is no real-time personalized moderation in Discord, which is exactly what we were hoping to tackle with this project.”

Social media icons

Pridtect

Team Members: Harsehaj Dhami and Samantha Ouyang

Pridect is a solution working to ensure pride parades are safe spaces. The app uses safe zone mapping and distress signalling. 

Haresehaj highlighted the rise in hate crimes at pride parades, and how some members of the LGBTQ+ community are left feeling scared to attend.  “So many different people from different backgrounds come together to unite for the pride they have for themselves. But it can be dangerous. Hate crimes at pride parades are at an all-time high.” 

“There is no tangible solution currently that is working to improve safety at pride parades. But we want to change that with our app. Parade-goers and organizers will now be able to obtain the utmost safety.”

“There is no tangible solution currently that is working to improve safety at pride parades. But we want to change that with our app. Parade goers and organizers will now be able to obtain the utmost safety.”

Specula

Team Members: Adam Omarali, Eamonn Lay, Colin Hill, and Navid Farkhondehpay

Specula is working to make people aware of racial biases before they post on social media platforms to reduce harmful psychological effects to others.

“Race is one of the biggest biases that lead people to commit hate crimes, and physical hate crimes are way more prevalent than online crimes,” explained Adam

Adam also spoke to how a lot of physical hate crimes today are actually driven by psychological bias. “Our explicit and implicit biases are shaped by the media. They impact how we view things. At some point, if you can express hate, these biases can come out in physical crimes.”

A man holding a sign at a rally that says, 'hate is a virus'.

Unhate

Team Members: Gabriel Bernal, Ryan Chan, Aryan Jha, Yelim Kim

Unhate is an AI tool that helps detect hate speech online and can be integrated into consumer apps and educational services.  

Gabriel spoke to the rise of hate speech and its unfortunate prevalence online around the world. 

“The internet was supposed to be something that would connect the world, but instead it’s leading some people to their death. This is exactly why we felt compelled to solve this problem.”

Unhate leverages over 100,000 categorized real tweets to train its AI models, allowing it to be extremely accurate with its services.

“The internet was supposed to be something that would connect the world, but instead it’s leading some people to their death. This is exactly why we felt compelled to solve this problem.”

Itching to transform your innovative idea into a real-life solution? Follow the DMZ on Instagram and Twitter for announcements on future hackathons!

These young innovators are redefining what it means to be studentpreneurs

Meet DMZ’s Basecamp winners

From student to startup founder, the DMZ’s student incubation program, Basecamp, helps young entrepreneurs create tech solutions to growing social and economic gaps in society.

Over the course of the summer, 22 student-led startups had the opportunity to develop and market their business idea, receive one-on-one industry mentoring, and attend expert-led workshops to gain a better understanding of the Canadian tech ecosystem. 

Bringing their innovative business ideas to life, it was another successful summer for the books! 

From edtech, artificial intelligence to cryptocurrency solutions, participating companies were anything but juvenile. 

Today’s students are digital natives. With more resources and tools available than ever before, there is a new wave of studentpreneurs who are punching well above their weight and developing unique solutions to a handful of society’s biggest challenges. 

Wrapping up the 8-week program, participating teams had the opportunity to pitch their startup ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to take home one of five grants — designed to help startups launch into the next phase of their growth — of up to $5,000 CAD.

So, who were the top winning teams of the DMZ’s Basecamp, and how are they redefining what it means to be studentpreneurs? 
mindful minutes image
After learning that only 8% of people who set goals actually achieve them, Dev, Urvush and Adisha knew there had to be a better way for people to stay accountable and accomplish their goals.

Dev Parekh

Mindful Minutes is a personal development platform that helps individuals achieve their short and long-term goals by leveraging community and group accountability.

“The Basecamp program provided us with a lot more goodies than we had expected! Over the course of just 2 months, we were able to gain valuable startup knowledge, incredible mentors and a community of like-minded motivated entrepreneurs!

The program has definitely enhanced the way we run our business, and connected us with important people and necessary resources needed to succeed.” The team plans to use their winnings for marketing, referral programs, incorporating their business, and research and development.

Urvish Patel

As leaders of a personal development startup, the team at Mindful Minutes truly understands the importance of a balanced lifestyle. 

“While taking care of your business, remember to take care of yourself. While there may be certain weeks that you need to put in the extra hours and effort to make something happen, always remember that burnout is real and can happen to anyone. Learn how to pace yourself!”

While running your own startup has a lot of perks — like being able to work at your own pace, and being your own boss — Mindful Minutes highlights that working for a startup requires a lot of commitment and grit.

Adisha Shankar

“Contrary to what some people may think, founding your own startup can easily require more from an individual than a 9-5 grind. Nonetheless, it is definitely a rewarding experience to witness the growth of Mindful Minutes.”

Mindful Minutes plans to establish a referral program to help them scale, and are developing their platform. They hope to reach a couple hundred members by year end to start making an impact on their users’ personal development.

Keep up with Mindful Minutes on Instagram!

“While taking care of your business, remember to take care of yourself. While there may be certain weeks that you need to put in the extra hours and effort to make something happen, always remember that burnout is real and can happen to anyone. Learn how to pace yourself!”

site scope image

Andy Xu

SiteScope provides AI and computer vision applications for safety and automation in the construction industry. They offer two solutions: hardhat detection and traffic control automation.

“As first-time entrepreneurs, our team has grown significantly throughout the Basecamp program.

We really enjoyed the legal, incorporation and leadership workshops. Our Basecamp mentor throughout the program was perfect — she answered all our questions, and played a critical role in SiteScope’s pitch deck development. We couldn’t have done it without Ingrid Polini and the entire DMZ team!”

Tom Pruyn

SiteScope plans to use their winnings to develop a hardware prototype.

While the Basecamp program wraps up with a demo day, SiteScope encourages all future participants not to treat the program like a competition. 

“As students, we can get pretty competitive, but networking and sharing advice with the entire cohort made the experience so much more rewarding. Take the opportunity to learn and share your knowledge with others.”

Vraj Patel

While many believe studentpreneurs live and breathe for ‘grind culture’, SiteScope emphasized that their fellow founders genuinely cared about their product and embraced work-life balance.

 

“As students, we can get pretty competitive, but networking and sharing advice with the entire cohort made the experience so much more rewarding. Take the opportunity to learn and share your knowledge with others.”

skilly iamge
Skilly is an ed-tech company that makes learning and teaching more accessible for people around the world. Their app allows individuals to trade skills for skills they want to learn — all for free.

Luke Galati

“Our Basecamp experience was amazing! 

The DMZ’s Basecamp helped us foster an understanding of the business principles within the tech world, and we’ll be able to apply these learnings in our future!

We were surrounded by talented students who were hungry to grow their businesses, and learn from the DMZ team and the Entrepreneurs in Residence. Our mentor, Ayodele Pompey, was such a positive influence, and inspired us to be the best professionals that we can be.”

Skilly plans to use their winnings to develop their MVP. With their user experience and user interface designs for their app underway, their next step is to build the product and then launch. 

Ayesha Azad

Skilly encourages other inspiring studentpreneurs to start their ventures as soon as they can.

“Find people who can support your vision, and build with like-minded people who want to achieve the same goal. Keep progressing, however you can. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll reach your goal.”

While juggling school and a startup can be challenging, Skilly believes that studentpreneurs don’t need to choose between their education and business. 

“We believe that it’s possible to be ambitious and change the world, while still fulfilling the goal of getting your degree and graduating with your peers.”

Skilly is looking to hire a Chief Technology Officer to help bring their product to life. They also look forward to continuing their growth as a company with the DMZ Basecamp Fellowship.

“Find people who can support your vision, and build with like-minded people who want to achieve the same goal. Keep progressing, however you can. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll reach your goal.”

Designed exclusively for fashion professionals, RESERVE is a B2B marketplace that features retailers and independent designers for commercial designer rentals. A stylist’s best friend, RESERVE saves time, money, and stress by providing an online directory of designer items available for rent and delivering apparel directly to fashion shoots.

Omar Abul Ata

“As a solo founder with a non-technical retail background, Basecamp was an integral part of my journey. 

From learning about fundraising cycles to understanding the mechanics of how a startup is run, Basecamp has allowed me to progress myself and my confidence as an entrepreneur.” 

RESERVE plans to use the winnings to secure their website domain and social media handles. Omar also hopes to use the funding for their launch campaign’s digital marketing, which includes partnerships with micro-influencers, retailers and independent designers.

Omar highlights there are only so many hours in a day to get work done, and encourages other studentpreneurs to readjust their priorities if the hustle comes at the cost of mental and physical health. “Treat the process like a marathon, not a sprint.” 

Although studentpreneurs may sometimes look like they have everything figured out, Omar underscores the importance of resilience and how every day is an opportunity to learn something new and overcome challenges. While some days will be better than others, a startup’s ability to learn and overcome adversity is far more telling than its solution alone. 

“Being in a startup is like being in the middle of a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert — it’s total chaos. However, that is also the beauty of it, as an entrepreneur you have to learn to trust the process.”

RESERVE looks forward to completing their MVP, and their beta launch to onboard their first batch of rentees and renters. By late November, RESERVE plans to have a soft launch exclusively for Toronto.

Keep up with RESERVE on Instagram!

“Being in a startup is like being in the middle of a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert — it’s total chaos. However, that is also the beauty of it, as an entrepreneur you have to learn to trust the process.”

Are you an inspiring studentpreneur looking for support to help build your business idea? Follow the DMZ on Instagram and X to stay up to date with all of our student programming!