Founders on the rise: Intensive Program alumni tell-all

Founders on the rise: Intensive Program alumni tell-all

Registration is open for our upcoming Winter Intensive Program. Find out more.

Here at MaRS, we recently wrapped up our fall session of the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshops Intensive Programs. We had a lively cohort of entrepreneurs participate in this program and work on the critical business challenges that were facing their startups. We consulted three of our participants to learn a bit more about who they are and the goals of their ventures—and what their experience was with the Intensive Program.

Mehrdad Pazooki, Founder, Tranquant Inc.

MehrdadPazooki, Founder, Tranquant Inc.MaRS: Tell us about you and your startup. What does your venture do?

Mehrdad Pazooki: I am the founder of Tranquant Inc., and I am building a product called Gravity. Gravity is a mobile app that allows users to view and/or publish content such as text, images, audio or video for a specific location and time. It will let them find a simple answer to the question of “What happened—or will happen—at a location?” Currently, I’m developing the MVP of my product and validating my value proposition assumptions. The main priority for me is to build a team that enables us to continuously develop the product based on user feedback.

MaRS: What did you find most useful about the program, and why?

MP: What the MaRS Intensive Program offered me was learning how to think with the language of startups. It helped me build a mental model that allows for the continuous evolution of my service and business output. It also helped me realize that I am working only to serve my user needs, and that an idea on its own has no validity unless it is based on solving a problem for human beings.

The experience of participating in this program is beyond the traditional “student listening to an instructor”-experience. The program creates a great ecosystem by attracting high-energy individuals who are learning and sharing their knowledge with each other. Every student is a teacher and has something to learn from, and every discussion in the class is a lesson that can help you in your business journey.

MaRS: Who you think this program would be helpful for—or not helpful for?

MP: I highly recommend this program to anyone who has a vision of bringing improvement or innovation to any field, and who has the passion to persevere and the openness to let ideas be criticized for the sake of new growth and evolution.

Landon Gardner, Founder & CEO, Sailing 2 Sustainability

Landon Gardner, Founder & CEO, Sailing 2 SustainabilityMaRS: Tell us about you and your startup. What does your venture do?

Landon Gardner: I am the founder and CEO of Sailing 2 Sustainability. We are an events and sponsorship company with a social mission to build community in the marine environment through the sport of sailing.

My start-up began in 2014 with a hodgepodge of contract work in the sport of sailing. This year we took on events in the sailing world and marine environment in Toronto: networking, socials, sailing spectating, and acting as a regatta organizer. We are currently planning the 2016 sailing season surrounding innovative projects around the sport.

MaRS: What are some key priorities at the moment for your startup?

LG: Key priorities right now are finding sponsorship for 2016 events and teams, and investment support for our app.

MaRS: What you were looking for in the Intensive Program, and what did you find useful about it?

LG: I took the program because I wanted to develop out a technology solution around the sport of sailing. [The idea is for] a software website and app to provide Uber + Tinder functionality so 20- to 35-year-olds could access sailing from a range of skill levels, and so skippers and yacht clubs could organize people in boats easily too.

I found the program most useful in terms of the network of entrepreneurs to partner with, and the information around business planning and strategy, and how it is broken down by segment as a guide.

MaRS: Who you think this program would be helpful for—or not helpful for?

LG: This program is helpful for entrepreneurs in the early-stage company/startup phase, or successful entrepreneurs looking to take on a new project or revenue source in their company that is a non-traditional of their team. I would suggest bringing your partners with you too, and be ready to have fun as you plan out your business for a better world!

Sa’ad Ahmed, Founder, Tiny Toronto

Sa’ad Ahmed, Tiny TorontoMaRS: Tell us about you and your startup. What does your venture do?

Sa’ad Ahmed: My name is Sa’ad Ahmed and my venture is called Tiny Toronto. I am interested in bringing tiny homes to Toronto in a big way. I dream of our region becoming a global leader in the sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability is within reach when we can share cars from our driveways, place tiny houses in our backyards and grow food on our property. I am exploring various social ecosystems that empower communities to fulfill their own needs.

MaRS: What you were looking for in the Intensive Program, and what did you find useful about it?

SA: I felt the need for a peer network of entrepreneurs dealing with the business fundamentals and hard numbers. The MaRS Intensive Program weekly workshops’ focus started with the value proposition, and progressively integrated the business model, communications, B2B sales and finance modules. The peer learning and feedback was invaluable as it gave context to the ideas in a progressive and cohesive style.

Think you might be interested?

Interested in learning more? See our program details. The Winter Intensive Program starts on January 11. We hope to see you there!