Jane Wu, BCom’12, is named the 2012 Valedictorian of The Next 36

Posted on August 23, 2012

Investors and business elite from across North America flock to annual Venture Day

Many of Canada’s biggest names in venture capital and angel investing met the young co-founders of 7 new ventures launched this year by The Next 36. These businesses pitched solutions to major challenges in healthcare, human resources, retail and education.

Supported by more than 50 Canadian business leaders – including Galen Weston, Paul Desmarais Sr. and Jim Pattison as founding patrons - The Next 36 aims to transform the country’s most promising undergraduates into high-impact entrepreneurs and nation builders.

Venture Day also featured keynote remarks from high profile technology entrepreneurs including, Graham Weston, chairman & co-founder of Rackspace (a NYSE listed company with a $7.5B market cap), an in-kind sponsor of The Next 36 ventures, and Razor Suleman, chairman & founding CEO of Achievers. “Research shows that all net new jobs come from companies less than 5 years old, so a country’s prosperity depends on its ability to generate high impact entrepreneurs.” said Weston. “The Next 36 provides a magical combination of capital, mentorship and education to young Canadian entrepreneurs, unlike anything I have ever seen in the US or anywhere else.”

Tuesday’s graduation ceremony was capped by the presentation of three highly-coveted awards: The 2012 Valedictorian is Jane Wu, a commerce graduate from Queen’s University.  Wu’s venture PenyoPal, teaches kids how to speak Mandarin through interactive mobile games. In June, it was selected the Best Overall 1.0 Startup at the Launch Conference in Mountain View, CA.  It was one of eight stealth ventures, selected from over 300, and the only Canadian start-up given the opportunity to compete. “The Next 36 is transformational because of the people that support it.” says Wu. “In 8 months, I have built a lifetime’s worth of relationships with world class entrepreneurs, CEOs and like-minded young leaders.” Rafal Dittwald, also a co-founder of PenyoPal and an engineering science graduate from The University of Toronto, was chosen by the program’s co-founders as winner of the Satchu Prize, named in honour of Founding Chair, Reza Satchu.  The recipient of the Outstanding Venture Award was Kira, an online platform that accelerates the interview process using video. Kira’s co-founders come from the University of Waterloo and University of Windsor.

As the newest alumni of The Next 36 forge ahead with their businesses, the program is gearing up to welcome its next wave of students. The application process is open with early applications accepted until September 18, 2012.