Alumni Spotlight, Campus Life, Community Engagement, Partnerships & Impact, People, Teaching & Learning
entrepreneurship@UBCO Mentor 2 Market supporting graduates
September 26, 2022
Shiven Vinod Khera
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
Bachelor of Management, UBC Okanagan
New Delhi, India
“If you could introduce me to the Shiven of four years ago, I wouldn’t recognize him.”
IF THERE’S ONE THING SHIVEN VINOD KHERA LEARNED at UBC Okanagan, it’s that anything is possible if your heart and mind are in the right place.
The Faculty of Management graduate was part of a team that launched tech start-up Linkbase Technologies Inc. through UBCO’s innovative Mentor 2 Market program, which helps build successful businesses by connecting students with mentors and giving them access to tools, customers, funding and community. Khera says the relationships he and the Linkbase team built on the Kelowna campus through the program were vital to their successes.
“UBCO encouraged us to continually work on our passions,” Khera says. “The professors encouraged us to push ourselves and strive for more. It became clear we could do it.”
Linkbase is an internet of things (IoT) firm that helps small- and medium-sized businesses develop smart products and automate services or processes. It allows users to streamline sometimes time-consuming or wasteful tasks. A hotel owner, for example, could automate checkout using Linkbase’s technology. With the push of a button, curtains in an empty room could close, lights could be turned off, door codes could be changed and climate controls adjusted—all customizable based on what IoT devices are in play.
Khera and his business partners received hands-on help from Mentor 2 Market; in addition to one-on-one mentoring with business leaders, the program offers a five-part eDiscovery workshop series, special information sessions on topics such as funding, intellectual property and company structure, as well as the popular Quick Pitch competition.
“The entire e@UBCO team works tirelessly for students and has a very welcoming and informative program that helps anyone wanting to take their idea to the next level,” Khera says.
It was during the Quick Pitch Competition—where students get facetime with investors—that everything started clicking for Linkbase. Not only did angel investors give it an initial $5.6-million valuation, but Khera and Co. won the $7,500 first-place prize in 2022. The company’s IoT platform is already supporting 100,000-plus devices, and much of the launch process was aided by Mentor 2 Market. And it’s not just in the interests of profit.
Khera says he gained a greater appreciation for the world around him by attending UBCO and meeting people from across the globe. It became imperative to him that Linkbase offer something for the greater good.
“The company could help save millions in energy costs, thereby reducing an industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. It could help save millions in water waste or streamline agricultural processes to keep food costs in check,” he explains.
That idea, he says, germinated during his first year at school. Khera says students felt empowered immediately to take ownership of their educational journeys with the support of faculty, staff and mentors.
“I was the co-chair of the entrepreneurship club at UBCO and we created a safe space for other students who wanted to start something, or had ideas, to do so,” he adds. “The idea was to create an encouraging environment and for students to be able to meet one another. That environment we created for students to share ideas, be okay to fail and encourage everyone was our safe space.”
It was that spark that resonated with Khera. UBCO gave students permission to extend themselves and their missions, to excel and reach for their goals. Not only did Khera help launch a successful business alongside his colleagues, but he matured into a global citizen at UBCO.
“If you could introduce me to the Shiven of four years ago, I wouldn’t recognize him,” Khera said. “I was shy, I was quiet. But meeting people on campus from all over the world brought me a new confidence. It’s an exciting time as I look ahead, and I know I will carry a piece of UBCO everywhere I go because this place transformed me into my present self.”