The Next Big Thing — an entrepreneur-led charitable foundation started by Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes and serial entrepreneur Meredith Powell has announced the 12 winning ventures for its Vancouver-based Fellowship.
The 21 founders, who are between the ages of 15-23, joined TNBT from across the country to participate in the three-month intensive program. “Some of the most innovative startups in the market today were created by founders in their teens or early twenties,” said Holmes. “We’re proud to champion the brightest and best entrepreneurs in Canada and give them access to mentorship, top-tier networking opportunities and hands-on learning at this critical stage in their companies’ growth.”
The winners, which include startups like The Soular Backpack, a wearable tech backpack being deployed to Kenyan primary schools, and HelpHub, an educational platform with 20,000 users, were selected by a committee of notable startup leaders. John Ruffolo, CEO of Omers Ventures, Kari Lockhart, partner and technology industry lead at Deloitte Canada, and Michael Gokturk, CEO at Payfirma were among the judges.
The Fellows will work out of Hootsuite’s office, and will also have the chance to participate in learning sessions from Recon Instruments, General Fusion, and Vision Critical. This year’s offering also includes a new Investment FastTrack program, which will connect the most venture-ready startups directly to TNBT’s extensive network of angel investors and VCs.
“We’re already seeing companies in our pipeline who are poised to compete on a global scale,” said Powell. “In our new FastTrack program, we intend to open our investor rolodex to qualified Fellows and help get the right funding behind them.”