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Venturing out

Four alumni-led startups get some support to build their companies.

Getting a business off the ground is never easy. A little help goes a long way, which is why each year the Centre for Business Venturing organizes Dare to Dream. The initiative provides up to $15,000 in funding, coaching, mentoring and access to space for startups launched by Smith students and alumni. This year’s winners run the gamut of business ideas—from helping seniors with medicine to giving local companies a leg up in the loyalty game.

Sundar Manku


MedaKi is a health-care platform that links pharmacies and customers virtually. People can book online appointments or talk to a pharmacist via video chat. Prescriptions and over-the-counter items can also be ordered for home delivery.

Sundar Manku, MMIE’19, started MedaKi in Kingston after working in a drugstore. He says MedaKi can help seniors, mothers with young children, people with disabilities and others who have a hard time visiting a pharmacy in person. With COVID-19, he adds, it can also “decrease foot traffic in pharmacies and reduce the risk of exposing the disease to frontline workers.”

Dare to Dream donor
Valerie Mann, BCom’86

Vinson Lee and Matthew Mastromarco


Eighty per cent of seniors take pills regularly. Yet over half say they don’t always take pills when they should. TrakTab is a high-tech solution to the problem: a pillbox with light and sound reminders, plus sensors to detect when pills are removed. The latter info gets logged in real time to an app. Thus, family can monitor elderly relatives’ prescription-taking from afar.

Commerce dormmates Vinson Lee and Matthew Mastromarco, both BCom’20, founded TrakTab in 2018. Lee spent nearly a decade in a wheelchair on a strict medication regimen. That, he says, gave him “a really intimate view on the challenges that chronic medication patients face in taking pills every day. Life gets busy, and especially for those who are vulnerable, it’s clear that phone alarms simply aren’t cutting it.”

Dare to Dream donor
Dany Battat and Gia Steffensen, both BCom’78

Sophia Stone

Indie Tech

Sophia Stone, MMIE’20, spent nearly a decade working in consulting. During that time she identified a number of problems that large companies face trying to hire a consultant. So she created Indie Tech, a SaaS (software as a service) consulting management system that uses artificial intelligence to help financial institutions hire the right consultant.

Indie Tech automates the entire process—from finding a consultant to onboarding and managing them. Firms usually go through multiple vendors and staffing firms to blindly find the best expertise, she explains. “They need a platform that creates transparency about who is available and actually qualified in the marketplace, the work that is being done and the ability to manage and use AI to mitigate ongoing risk associated with using external suppliers.”

Dare to Dream donor

Sam Shore

Lunar Loyalty

Sam Shore, BCom’20, founded Lunar Loyalty in January 2018 after working in his father’s small business. “I found that there really weren’t any customer loyalty solutions that provided both small businesses and users with a great experience,” he says. With Lunar Loyalty, shoppers can earn points at any participating store in their community.

Most traditional loyalty programs only offer rewards at one specific store, Shore says. Plus, many third-party loyalty programs for small businesses are pricey, do not capture enough valuable customer data, and add considerable time at checkout. Lunar Loyalty tries to make the process easier. For example, it links directly to shoppers’ debit and credit cards for instant point collection.

Dare to Dream donor
RLS Foundation