By Dennis Chenard.
Should you get your Masters degree or pursue your start-up idea? Why not do both at the same time!
For aspiring entrepreneurs and those who like a start-up culture that R&D/industry projects foster, the CDM has opportunities for students who want to form companies or to join them. Housing the technical abilities, resources and creativity to solve a number of unique challenges the CDM is a go-to source for employers for their R&D and talent needs and a great place for our MDM students to find cofounders and future business connections.
“I'm so grateful to the CDM. Being able to pursue a master's degree while also founding a startup- after meeting my three co-founders in class, was an opportunity I wouldn't have gotten anywhere else. I feel very fortunate."” – Angela Hamilton from Quupe.
After our students complete Term 1 and have worked collaboratively on an industry project in Term 2 many MDM students find like-minded peers to pursue a potential business idea and pitch a project in Term 3. Our students can pitch a product concept to develop during their third term or they can choose to work on another industry project. Additionally, if a student team is successful in completing a pitched project and still interested in pursuing it as a start-up they have the opportunity to do a Venture Internship in place of a traditional internship during Term 4. Entrepreneurial minded MDM students can have up to 8 months of developing their business with their cofounders within the CDM while also completing their Master of Digital Media degree. Even a failure to launch from a pitched project or venture internship is not really a failure. The lessons learned are highly valued and many bring their experience into a traditional employer setting or later choose to pursue another start-up as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur.
That said, MDM pitched projects and venture internships have resulted in a number of successful start-ups and some that are on their way.
Some examples include:
-Walkies Lab Inc. received an offer from HAX, a top Silicon Valley venture-capital firm and hardware accelerator in December 2016. 15 teams are selected from over 500 applicants all over the world, meaning a 3% selection rate. Walkies were one of the 15.
-Quupe. Everyone’s got valuable stuff that just sits around. Snap a photo, and in just a few minutes it’s posted, verified, and ready to earn you sweet, sweet cash. Or search by item name, or just browse for something nearby that would be fun to try. Quupe’s booking calendar, geolocation, and notification system allow you to request something for the exact time and place you need it.
-Hplus Technologies was founded in 2012 by Dhruv Adhia, Vincent Yang, and Yamin Li after completing their Master's at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, BC. Together, they worked out of a garage to create and test their very first holographic platform. Since then, the platform underwent a host of iterations, before it became known as the current product, "Holus." After three years, the company has grown from 3 individuals to a group of 20 dedicated, eager, and passionate people with unique backgrounds.
Hplus Technologies, interactive holographic Magic Room.
-Neartuit. Using advanced iBeacon technology (indoor “GPS”) and our cloud-based Content Management System, create and manage engaging content that pops up on the neartuit app on your visitor’s phone whenever they walk to an enabled display in your venue. Anonymously gather data about where they go and what kind of content they prefer to help you make informed decisions to improve layout and content.
-Catstatic clients range from real estate developers and architects to product retailers and educational institutions. They all have one thing in common: a need for immersive, eye-catching visuals coupled with meaningful, engaging interactivity. Every project has a story – Catstatic can tell it.
-8leafdigital is a full service digital media agency with a focus on entertainment, education, and fitness applications.
-Gravatron is a mobile and web app that tracks and visualizes data for skiers, snowboarders and mountain bikers using GPS and smartphone technology.
-V7 Entertainment is a developer of interactive entertainment and edutainment and licensed publisher for PlayStation and Xbox One.
Addtional MDM entrepreneur start-ups include:
-Next Billion.org is a platform where people with disabilities connect with industry leaders to foster career growth and achieve their life-goals.
-Scuba Diver Life is a scuba diver focused community with over 1.5 million followers on Facebook.
Watch MDM Alumni Nadia Aly scuba dive in Alor, Indonesia
-Rungo is an app that provides runners with turn-by-turn directions on unique running routes all over the world, sometimes narrating the run with points of interest. Additionally, the app records live stats such as distance, time, elevation gain and calories burned.
-Wayward is an award winning, narrative-centric developer for digital mediums.
MDM faculty have also created start-ups like Malcolm Levy’s:
-Generate turns your mobile device into a live digital media production studio for stills and video.
Or Steve Bocska's:
-Pug Pharm is a super-cool design and technology company full of gameplay and customer loyalty experts (and pugs!).
Dennis Chenard is the Director of Industry Relations at the Centre for Digital Media. Also known as the "Director of Hook-Ups," he has an extensive history of connecting creators, producers, and distributors of digital content with peers from around the world and works with a variety of stakeholders in industry, government and education in Canada and abroad.