Young Alumni Entrepreneurs Recognized for Building Online Opportunities and Connections
A new group of young alumni entrepreneurs took the virtual stage on Thursday, February 10, 2022, as the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Alumni Association hosted its fourth Archangel’s Den Alumni Entrepreneur Contest.
“As an entrepreneur, the Archangel’s Den is an important initiative that the Alumni Association offers to our young alumni. My appreciation for entrepreneurs is based on knowing what is required to get to the final product,” says John P. O’Neill ’86, Alumni Association President. “I admire anyone who has the courage to forge their own trail. It is wonderful to be able to offer the support of mentors and judges that assist alumni in achieving their entrepreneurial dreams. Over the last four Archangel’s Den competitions, the teams have brought forth amazing ideas with great potential. I wish all the teams the very best with their future endeavours!”
This year’s contestants spent several weeks working with a variety of mentors, with more than 50 years of combined experience, to convert their pitch into a short presentation. New to the event this year was project mentor, Michael Bakaic ’07, an engineer and co-founder of Fibos, a global leader in industrial fiber optic sensing. His journey with Fibos has yielded five years of experience that has allowed him to refine his abilities in product design and project management in a wide range of industries. where lessons are as valuable as outcomes. Bakaic regularly worked with the teams to assist with feedback received from mentors, reminding them to celebrate successes and assisting them in analyzing setbacks.
Five finalists presented to the esteemed judges over Zoom before participating in a series of questions from the judges' panel.
Congratulations to the top three prize winners of this year’s competition.
First place of $10,000 was awarded to Tony Downey ’16 and Dave Rodrigues of Jobify. Their app-based platform helps connect teens to local job opportunities and equips them with the necessary tools to secure employment.
“Jobify is expanding into the Florida market as it has successfully proven in Ontario that this concept is something that teens and businesses need,” shares Downey. “We will continue to serve our users and clients from Canada since this is home base and where it all started. Jobify has exciting new features on the way to assist youth even further (ie. resume-assistance functionality, educational components, etc.). In addition to these new features, we are in the midst of designing a more advanced business onboarding system that would help small businesses to a greater extent, as this is a frequent request we've received coming out of the pandemic.”
Matthew Travis ’18, founder of WutUp, took second place, winning $3,500 with the platform he built that allows users to create social opportunities with others in their personal network. “The next steps for WutUp are to continue focusing our efforts on receiving user and customer feedback. With the feedback that we receive from customers we will code our advertising model,” shares Travis. “The Archangel’s Den experience has been so wonderful. The judges, mentors, and everyone who helped organize the contest have been so great to work with! My entrepreneurial growth has been tremendous, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity!”
Olena founder, Oleksandr Feoktistov ’18, placed third and won $1,500 for his creation of an online marketplace for print-on-demand products based on user-submitted designs.
“To young entrepreneurs, people often say, ‘what can I do? I am just one in seven billion. My impact is small, I am just a student’. But that is simply not the case,” shares Feoktistov. “We live in a system of connections. This is especially true now because of social media! A person will know 1,000 people. That means you are one person away from a million connections! And two people away from a billion! What you do and do not do creates ripples through those connections. You have global impact, no matter what you do.”
SMCS looks forward to hearing more from these promising young entrepreneurs. The call for submissions for the 5th annual Archangel’s Den will begin soon.
Thank you to the many community volunteers who stepped forward in a variety of capacities to ensure the success of this event. A special recognition to event sponsors, Crunch Media Branding & Communications Inc. and Lyn Group.