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Last week, She Loves Tech’s competition, co-founded by Lean In China and Tech Rock, took place at Concordia University in Montreal. The contest, organized by Reify and the Asia-Pacific Youth Entrepreneurship Foundation (APYEF), aims to open the Chinese market to startups that are either led by a woman or impact women directly.
Ten early stage companies were selected to participate, and they had five minutes to pitch in front of a panel of eight judges, followed by a three-minute Q&A.
The winning startup will participate in a four-day bootcamp and will represent Canada in the finals during the international conference in Beijing on September 16, 2017. Up to 500 entrepreneurs and investors will take part in this event, and this will be a great opportunity for the selected startup to get a foot in the door of the Chinese market and to network.
She Loves Tech aims to open more doors for female entrepreneurs. Soodeh Farokhi, co-founder of C2RO, a cloud robotics platform, says it in those words: “Growing up in Iran, a male-dominated country, I couldn’t imagine myself being here, pitching in front of you.”
The competition also wants to impact on women’s lives — and that’s where SYNG Pharmaceuticals played a role. Presented by the company’s male founder Vinay Singh, the company develops a new endometriosis test and non-hormonal therapy for this disease.
The other startups selected to be a part of this adventure were Bridgr (Amira Boutouchent), a platform that helps manufacturing companies digitize their operations; Homecare Intelligence Canada Inc (Deborah Emerson), which provides patients with adapted homecare services; Little Robot Friends (Ann Poochareon), robot toys that helps children learn how to code; Lokafy (Kiran Samra), a platform which offers personalized tours around the world for a renewed travel experience; Me Onsite, a technology that allows users to replay images filmed in real time from a nine-camera perspective; QuantWave Technologies (Luqi Cui), an intelligent lab-on-chip for pathogen detection in drinking water and food; Retrigo (Tu-Anh Nguyen) a site where you can find the best vacation retreat; and The FoodRoom (Amélie Morency), a culinary coworking space for food businesses, the “WeWork of food makers.”
In the end, Quantwave won the Canada competition.
The competition was followed by an inspirational talk from Joan Vogelesang, a woman of character who broke the glass ceiling multiple times working executive positions at IBM, Philips Electronics, and Toon Boom, an animation software and storyboard software company that sells to animation studios and media publishers. She’s been a guest speaker at many major events around the globe, made the Top 25 Women in Animation by Animation Magazine, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award for promoting the Indian Animation Sector internationally.
“I’m a firm believer that anybody can come to Canada and do well,” says Vogelesang straight away. “I think it’s the greatest country and it’s also a fair country, particularly fair to women.”
She talked about her experience as an immigrant from Trinidad and how her choices led her to be a businesswoman and a tech leader; she is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Toon Boom. “Technology is so critical to the learning of youngsters today,” says Vogelesang. “One of the things that we learn very quickly about the school system is that it’s lagging so far behind that it really is not training anybody for the work force…most of your assets, if you’re in the software business, is actually in the brains of the people and you have to retain that expertise.”
“Dream and take risks, because you don’t get anywhere without taking risks, and enjoy the journey,” concludes Vogelesang.