April 14, 2014
Two Memorial business partners were the top finishers in Atlantic Canada at the Canadian Business Model Competition recently.
Joseph Teo, 23, and Sahand Seifi, 24, are the co-founders of StudentFresh, an online platform that allows businesses to find and hire quality local students as well as for students to pitch their skills to local businesses for short-term consulting contracts.
Just 60 days into the development of their business, they placed fourth at the national competition, which was held at Dalhousie University in March.
“We didn’t expect to make it through as we were so early in the start-up process compared to a lot of the other teams,” says Mr. Teo, a joint bachelor of commerce and bachelor of arts student. “We definitely went into the finals as underdogs but we gave our best and did the best we could. We got some pretty tough questions from the judging panel but it was a great learning experience.”
Mr. Teo and Mr. Seifi found out about the competition on Twitter just one week before the application deadline. They submitted a video detailing the pair’s business journey to date and were accepted into the semi-finals.
The 17 semi-finalists were divided into four groups, where the Memorial team representing StudentFresh faced teams from the universities of Victoria, Dalhousie and Windsor as well as a second group from Memorial. Mr. Teo and Mr. Seifi won the grouping to make it to the finals, where they faced Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia (UBC). Laurier won the competition with Waterloo and UBC placing second and third respectively.
Mr. Teo says the fourth-place result is encouraging as the duo is planning to work full-time on StudentFresh once they graduate this spring. They’ve also enlisted developer Anthony Sartor, a first year nursing student at Memorial. Mr. Seifi is a master of science student in computer science.
StudentFresh has already been accepted into LaunchPad, an incubator for student businesses at Memorial, and is into the beta testing phase of the platform.
“The inspiration for StudentFresh came when I realized that a lot of my friends were working part-time at fast food joints that offer them little skills in terms of enhancing their resumes,” he says. “What struck me was that these were really talented students that have so much more skills to offer. On the other hand, I realized that there are businesses around, especially local businesses, that don’t have the budget to hire a full-time employee or professional consultant. I saw a gap in the market and sought to create a solution that connects the business world and the student world.”
Mr. Teo and Mr. Seifi hope to launch StudentFresh in the fall of 2014.