The Social Entrepreneurship 101 event held last week on October 5, 2016 was certainly a good display of what it would be like to be a mix of Richard Branson and Mother Teresa. From 6pm-9pm last Wednesday, Dobson hosted an introduction talk about Social Entrepreneurship. This sector, represents people trying to make social change in the world in a number of ways. This event shed light to many of the different social entrepreneurship colors from renewable energy, health, alimentation, arts and community! The McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship brought in five notable startups and projects from the field in the Montreal area to come promote and talk about their journey they’re pursuing.
First up was Uvolt, an environmentally friendly wearables start up that focuses their products to harvest clean energy. These wearables can be used to charge mobile devices. That’s right, say good-bye to that battery at 1 %. They see an opportunity in clean energy consumption with our mobile device. Wearable products such as the Uvolt watch harvest two energy sources: solar and wireless. By working together, they allow a constant charge regardless of the time or situation, working in complementary fashion.
Back in high school, Uvolt’s co-founder Antony Diaz understood how a mobile phone charger powered on the body’s energy could be implemented. By using the resources at his disposal, Antony was able to develop a functional prototype within a few months, earning himself many awards. Uvolt started as a highschool project in January 2014, they made their first bracelet prototype in May 2014, and have now validated their wireless and solar energy sources for their watch prototype. They aim to have the first delivery of Uvolt watches out by summer 2017.
Next, Chloe Chow, co-founder of Vent Over Tea presented her startup. Vent Over Tea is a free active listening service that allows people to confidentially discuss anything they want to empathetic listeners. Feels like Confessions 2.0. Based in Montreal and co-founded in April 2015 by the pair of McGill psychology graduates Chloe and Sarah Fennessey, their goal is to provide a casual, confidential and non-judgmental venue. Vent Over Tea also won the 1st place prize in the 2016 McGill Dobson Cup held this past May.
Following Vent Over Tea’s presentation, Emma Sinai, co-founder of The Ugly Company (formerly Still Good), presented their food-based startup. The Ugly Company reduces food waste by transforming ugly fruits and vegetables from farms, distributors and grocery stores into delicious soups, sauces and jams. Their company’s philosophy: too much good food goes to waste every day.
In Canada alone, the value of food waste is over $31 billion annually. The problem isn’t only that we’re wasting money and food – it’s that the food that ends up in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. There are also a lot of reasons why food is wasted. One of the more ridiculous ones is because it’s ugly! It’s estimated that 20% to 40% of Canada’s fresh produce goes to waste because it doesn’t look perfect enough. At The Ugly Company, they judge their food based on how it tastes – never by how it looks.
And finally, our last speaker of the evening was Frederic Morin-Bordeleau, one of the co-founders of Art BangBang. Art BangBang is a web platform that allows artists to share, lend and sell their art online. As an artist, you would create your painting, then profile it on Art BangBang. An art admirer would use the web platform to explore the art works, and pick one that pleases his eyes. This is an opportunity for artists to expose their works to a larger audience and earn more revenue, while hotels and offices often need artwork as decoration. This platform already has 700 artists with 3000 paintings to choose from.
In addition to Art BangBang, Frederic also presented an exciting local and ecologically responsible project called Project MR-63. If anyone enjoys a little bit of Montreal Metro knowledge, you would perhaps know that the MR-63 metro cars are an icon of Montreal’s public transport. Now that they are slowly being replaced with the new Azur metro cars, STM is working on recycling these Montreal emblems into a multifunctional building and landmark.
Project MR-63 will be used to promote local and ecologically friendly products as well as artwork. It would also house a Café and Bar. Frederic’s plan is to have construction started on Project MR-63 by 2017 and completed in the spring of 2019.
The Social Entrepreneurship 101 event concluded with a great meet and greet session. There will be another social enterprise event on October 26 called Social Entrepreneurship: The Next Steps, so make sure to grab your ticket!