Million-dollar ideas or solutions that could save lives. Either way, technology moguls had some tough decisions to make at Entrepreneur Bootcamp this year.
The annual business pitch competition brought UBC undergraduate students from all disciplines together at the Okanagan campus in February to pitch their inventions, ideas and innovative concepts for the chance to win $4,000 in prizes and a work term with industry leaders to further develop their concept.
Cailan Libby, a fourth-year electrical engineering student, won first place pitching a wearable safety device called 3E to save lives from electrocution —and his pitch came complete with a functioning prototype.
His company and concept for 3E was born from a place of his first-hand experience on the dangers of live electricity, having lost a loved one 4.5 years ago to electrocution during a workplace accident in a remote job site in Alberta. Jordan Walker, his future brother-in-law, had been working on a plumbing system that had become electrified due to a faulty ground system.
Inspired to save lives, Libby sought out an affordable solution to prevent such tragedy in the workplace, and refined the prototype through his Capstone project last year.
“He would have had no idea the electrical hazard existed. My innovation would have saved his life by alerting him of the danger before he touched the energized system and became electrocuted,” Libby recalls. “Electricity is invisible and silent. It is impossible for humans detect with our senses. My solution is a sixth sense that allows a person to detect electricity so they can avoid electrocutions.
“It was a huge loss to lose Jordan, my sister is still not the same to this day. The unfortunate thing is that there are hundreds of electrocutions that occur every year. I want to see every family have their loved ones come home at the end of the day. I cannot bring back Jordan, but I hope my efforts will allow other families to avoid similar losses.”
Along with $1,000 cash prize, Libby was awarded the co+Lab work term to help take the 3E to market.
In second place, Quinn Lessing, a fourth-year engineering student as well, pitched Hypo Case, a phone case to keep cellphones powered on even in cold weather. This idea took form a month before his pitch while he was on the mountain skiing, and his phone died. Lessing took home $1,000 and was awarded the Plug and Play award. His next steps will involve building a prototype and additional market research.
Other winners included:
• Management student Elora Bascello, $500
• Management students Graeme Sailor and Parampreet Nahal, $500
• Engineering student David Osemwegie and computer science student Tunde Kadiri, $500
• Management student Craig Adlum, Boots on the Ground Award, $500
• Management students Luke Cooke, Nick Ross and Jessica Wang, Best Presentation, $500
Entrepreneur Bootcamp is an annual pitch competition started in 2013 for students to learn how to prepare a business idea and pitch to a panel of industry-leading judges for the chance to win cash and prizes that can support their venture or entrepreneurial endeavor. Community engagement is key, as the real world experience and mentorship provided by judges drives students to continue to develop their ideas.
Among the panel of judges were Richard Takai (Ronin HR. Inc.), Shane Austin (Okanagan co+Lab co-founder), Ranny Shibley (Calgary Serial Entrepreneur), Stefanie Ruel (Canadian Space Agency Life Sciences Mission Manager), Blair Simonite (e@UBC Vancouver Programs Director), Camille Sorbian Saltman (Cleantech and digital health sectors), David Saltman (Malama Composites, environmental innovation), and Alireza Masrour (Plug and Play Ventures in Silicon Valley). Alumni, past winners and UBC representatives who joined included Jay Bell (Unite and Accelerate Okanagan EIR scholarship winner), Ryan Stobie (Adventure Bucket List), Barb Marcolin (UBC Faculty of Management Associate Professor), Laura Marcolin (B.Mgt. alumna) and Sabine Weyand (UBC School of Engineering instructor).
For more information about Entrpreneur Bootcamp, visit the competition website.
- Story by Stephanie Snelling