CEED Alumni Spotlight

CEED Alumni Spotlight

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Emily Bednarz

We spoke with three alumni from the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) to hear about their innovative businesses and their experiences at CEED.

Purush Cannane, Greenii Inc.

Purush Cannane, Greenii Inc.

What inspired you to start Greenii Inc.?

I was inspired to start Greenii Inc. to create positive change. I want to revolutionize the packaging industry and save trees by solving the plastic bag problem. We convert paper waste into useful products, like paper bags, and supply them to local businesses. We recently started making crinkle paper, and we want to sell our products in chains by introducing organic bin liners for compost containers.

If you have paper waste, give it to us and we will repurpose it. Not only are you turning waste into useful products, you can promote that your business is eco-friendly and supports green initiatives. We collect flyers from co-op stores and Coffee News, which print ads for small businesses. We turn the paper into bags, and the businesses are advertised again! It’s a win-win.

What has been most rewarding for you?

I keep always these things in mind: being eco-friendly, supporting local, and making positive change. That vision and purpose keep me going every day. Now, I am seeing positive change happening. We have sold over 28,000 bags and saved over 2700 pounds of paper.

What was your experience like working with CEED?

CEED is a great organization — they are able to help to startups like me. I know that if I need a business loan, I can go to CEED. I learned a lot through their coaching sessions with their mentors. It can be overwhelming for small businesses, but you need to take action. You need to have a proper mentor, and CEED really has great pool of knowledgeable mentors. They have taught me how important it is to work with the right people. We are proud to be a member of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, and we are proud to be CEED alumni.

What is on the horizon for Greenii Inc.?

We are planning to work with colleges, universities, schools, corporate offices, retail stores, and the Dartmouth Adult Services Centre to repurpose clean, recyclable paper into fresh paper bags. If you have paper to donate, we can arrange a pickup for donation!

Ashley Hickey, Enzebra

What was the inspiration behind Enzebra?

I owned a development agency, and I was trying to find one application that could manage bookkeeping, inventory, project management, client interfacing, staff scheduling, office communications, internet policies, and HR. That turned into seven different applications that didn't speak to each other. I was frustrated one day when I couldn't remember one of the million passwords for these different platforms, so I originally developed Enzebra for myself!

Enzebra is a business operating system that virtually replaces all the software you use to run your business. It allows businesses to do more and save time with less resources. Training is built into the platform, where employees can go in and train at their own pace. The big outcome is that people can move products from initial quote and into the hands of their customers faster.

How has it been a rewarding experience for you?

The most rewarding part has been working with businesses who were frustrated outdated technology and the issues it caused. These businesses couldn't realize the benefits of technology because they were just bouncing between screens. It is so rewarding to modernize these businesses. To make them, first of all, not just happier, but also more accepting of technology. To see employees interface with the technology and get excited about it.

What was your experience like working with CEED?

I will never give enough gratitude towards CEED and the mentors, particularly Craig, Werner, and Maria. They taught me about the clarity of my message — explaining the value of what we do in a way that people could understand — and about important next steps. They taught me how to grow, not just as a person, but as a business owner. They supported me every step of the way.

What news would you like to share with our business community?

I participated in the Spark Nova Scotia Competition, and I am very grateful to say that I won. IIn the days following, I was contacted by the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). Now we're working on a number of funding initiatives to help me through the next stage of my business. It's been amazing to see that if there was ever a good time to start up a business in Nova Scotia, it's right now. There are so many resources to help you get off the ground.

Daniel Baldwin, Mars VR Lab

What inspired you to start Mars VR Lab?

Shawn Greene and I founded Halifax VR — a place for families to enjoy a variety of virtual reality experiences. In May 2018, we received an email from Dr. Jordan Sheriko and Scott Thieu. They had been researching VR solutions to use in their pediatric rehabilitation practice at the IWK, but they couldn’t find an adequate solution that was focused on kids. Our initial meeting led to several discussions and ultimately resulted in a product road map of solutions to be built. We chose to focus our efforts on solving the complexities involved in preparing children to navigate the world in power wheelchairs. We formed MARS VR Lab shortly thereafter with a new vision.

What has been most rewarding for you?

I love technology and finding new ways to use it and solve problems. We are thrilled with the progress we’ve made to date. We have raised $1,000,000. Patents have been submitted, and our software is on pace to be ready for Research Trials by the IWK. We work with some of the most genuine and talented people I have ever met. We have an incredible group of people supporting us, from our Board to our shareholders. It feels special to be part of such a passionate project.

Can you speak about your experience as a CEED student?

The CEED program really forced us to get real and honest about what we had, what we were trying to do, what we were missing, and what it was going to take to get where we wanted to go. They didn’t give us the answers — they asked all the right questions to help us find the answers ourselves.

What does the future hold for Mars VR Lab?

We are going to do a $3 million seed round in 2022 to help with commercialization in Canada. We need to find more talented people in order to keep building and expanding our work. We also need more partners, who will help bring more initiatives and new solutions to the children’s hospitals throughout North America.

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