Dara Jarallah, a fourth-year entrepreneurship student, whose online startup, Shoppinglee, sells crafts made by marginalized women in Haiti and Palestine, was one of two winners of $25,000.
The Slaight New Venture competition is one of the largest student-run business competitions in Canada, with two winners – one male and one female – walking away with $25,000 each.
The competition is run by Enactus Ryerson, an entrepreneur student group, and funded by the Slaight Family Foundation. It helps take the business ideas of TRSM students and turn them into a reality.
Jarallah developed Shoppinglee through Enactus Ryerson. It aims to encourage the women involved to start their own businesses. All of the proceeds from items go towards the artists behind the work. Jarallah’s startup is currently based out of Ryerson’s Fashion Zone.
Jarallah said she felt privileged and honoured to win because “it’s been such a tough … but wonderful journey to get here.”
She said she will use the funding she received to support more women and optimize her e-commerce site’s engine, marketing “to even further expand and develop our platform,” and reach a wider audience.
Typically, the competition has six finalists present their pitches, but this year’s judges were impressed by the quality of the pitches, so they allowed eight finalists to present.
Founding director of the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management Ken Grant said the competition is one of the best ways for gaining traction when you have a new business.
“I think what you saw tonight were eight great ideas, all with potential,” he said.
Ideas included a healthy lifestyle meal plan delivered to your door, an e-commerce underwear label working to end homelessness through underwear donations, and a stick of gum stuck to your coffee to solve coffee breath.
The other winner was fourth-year Ryerson finance and marketing student Ameer Asghar.
Asghar’s business idea, Werk Technologies Inc., previously received a Summer Company grant and incubation at Ryerson’s DMZ Sandbox and iBoost Zone. Their online platform uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to best match workers with temporary positions.
“Right after graduation, we’re going to do our beta [a phase of software testing with an audience]. Once we’re done our beta, we have huge clients that are on board like Walmart and PetValue that are excited about working with us,” said Asghar.