Venturing Out

Dare to Dream recipients look to take their businesses beyond school
Inside a new MBA team room.

Business students who launch companies face an inevitable problem upon graduation. How to focus full time on their venture in order to go from startup to success without giving in to the allure of full-time employment. The annual Dare to Dream program, run through the Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing (QCBV), helps. Thanks to financial support from alumni and corporate donors, recipients get up to $15,000 in funding, office space and access to mentoring.

“By providing early stage ventures with the necessary support and resources to turn their plans into reality, Dare to Dream ensures entrepreneurs can continue to work on their businesses,” says JP Shearer, Associate Director of QCBV.

Here’s a snapshot of the five businesses led by Smith alumni who received Dare to Dream support this year:

1 Million Teachers

Who’s involved? Rizma Butt, MMIE’17, and Hakeem Subair, MMIE’17

Company snapshot: 1MT is an online education program in Nigeria that helps teachers become more effective educators. It’s now expanding to other sub-Saharan countries. 

How it helps: The most significant cause of underachievement among students in countries like Nigeria is a lack of education among teachers. 1MT’s rewards-based program encourages teachers to sign up to learn, and lets schools compete against one another for points.

Dare to Dream donor: QCBV

Mia Technologies

Who’s involved: Leanna Li, BCom’18, and Eddie Wang

Company snapshot: Mia Technologies is a reservation booking platform used by restaurants to set discounts in 30-minute windows.

Problem it solves: An issue for restaurants is the dramatic difference in customer flow between peak and off-peak hours. Mia uses machine learning to calculate the price elasticity for demand, so restaurants can offer right-priced discounts to draw patrons. 

Dare to Dream donor: RLS Foundation

Spectra Plasmonics

Who’s involved: Tyler Whitney, BCom’17, Artsci’18, Christian Baldwin, Sc’18, Malcolm Eade, Artsci’18, and Yusuf Ahmed, Sc’19

Company snapshot: Spectra Plasmonics created a patent-pending technology for chemical detection, useful in law enforcement, food safety and other fields. 

Competitive advantage: While other products exist to detect chemicals, Spectra Plasmonics says its technology is faster, more accurate and more cost-effective.

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

Vacation Fund

Who’s involved: Erica Pearson, BCom’14, and Abhinav Mathur

Company snapshot: Vacation Fund is a travel savings program that allows people to direct part of their paycheque into a vacation account. Employers can match a portion of the contribution. 

What’s the value? Vacation Fund is a tangible workplace benefit that lets employers incentivize their employees to take a vacation. Plus, it helps people experience new places and people through travel. 

Dare to Dream donor: Valerie Mann, BCom’86


Who’s involved: Kyle Brykman, PhD’18, Mitch Gudgeon, MBA’13, and Lykaio Wang

Company snapshot: TalentFit is like Indeed meets; it connects job seekers to companies based on “culture-fit” markers such as core values. 

The insight behind it: Research shows that people who have a lot in common with their company are happier, more engaged and less likely to quit. 

Dare to Dream donor: CIBC