Dare to Dream winners announced: a total of $60,000 awarded to four Smith-led ventures

Posted on June 8, 2021

(Clockwise from left to right): Jovan Novakovic, Jessica Takimoto, Kasey Dunn and Ruvimbo Chimutsa.
(Clockwise from left to right): Jovan Novakovic, Jessica Takimoto, Kasey Dunn and Ruvimbo Chimutsa.

Kingston, Ont. – Four early-stage ventures led by Smith School of Business students and alumni have received funding to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Two Master of Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship students and two Commerce graduates were each awarded $15,000 through the Dare to Dream program.

Run annually by Smith’s Centre for Business Venturing (CBV), Dare to Dream provides critical resources to increase the odds of success for founders who have recently graduated from Smith or are in their final year of study.

“Dare to Dream has been a catalyst for many entrepreneurs over the years to stick with starting and growing their venture when a decision to take a corporate job may have been the easier option,” says JP Shearer, associate director of the CBV.

Four alumni judges—Christian Hansson, BCom’04, Chelsea Stanimir, BCom’14, Bob Peel, EMBA’99, and Charles Buchanan, MBA’92—screened 25 applications across six programs to determine the winners. 

This year’s Dare to Dream recipients are:

  • Kasey Dunn, MMIE’21, co-founder of Hope Pet Food, a company on a mission to use science and kindness to formulate the most nutritious and sustainable pet food possible with its patent-pending blend of alternative proteins and other sustainable, natural ingredients.
    Dare to Dream donor: Dany Battat, BCom'78, and Gia Steffensen, BCom'78
  • Jessica Takimoto, BCom’21, founder of Shine Strength & Confidence, a digital group fitness company on a mission to close the confidence gap, through its fun and challenging live-stream fitness classes that include options for all fitness levels.
    Dare to Dream Donor: RSL Foundation
  • Ruvimbo Chimutsa, MMIE’20, founder of Grace and Nelly: Happier Healthier Periods, which provides access to affordable, sustainable and environmentally-friendly menstrual products. Each purchase supports initiatives and programs to help women and girls in rural communities in Zimbabwe reach financial and economic independence.
    Dare to Dream donor: Valerie Mann, BCom’86
  • Jovan Novakovic, BCom’21, co-founder of FootyFive, a digital platform and application that features training modules for competitive soccer players to improve their technical/tactical skills through individual/small group training outside of collective team training sessions. 
    Dare to Dream donor: CIBC

“The Centre for Business Venturing is delighted to provide this funding and other critical resources that will increase the odds of success for their entrepreneurial endeavours,” says Shearer.     

In addition to $15,000 in funding, each Dare to Dream recipient will also have access to coaching and mentorship, office space and network connections through the program.

“The Dare to Dream award will help us bring our research to life. With these funds, we will be able to buy ingredients, produce our first full-scale batch of food and complete final testing before releasing to our doggie market,” notes Hope Pet Food’s Dunn.