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Successful Companies You Didn’t Know Started as College Startups



As entrepreneurial culture continues to spread, it’s becoming more common for people to step away from the norm and pursue their ambitions on their own. Startups are the basis upon which successful companies erupt and every year there are hundreds of new ideas coming to fruition as hopefuls bring their creations to life.

While not all startups make it big, there are some that have revolutionized the way that we view the world. From Dell to Facebook, entrepreneurs that were brave enough to step away from the traditionalist approach to success, created companies that we now can’t imagine living without.

As universities and colleges around the world incorporate entrepreneurial learning into their curriculum, more and more students are coming up with new ways to make money. Here’s a look at five different successful companies that were originally just an idea thought up by a student.


Rebranded as Catalant, HourlyNerd was founded by Rob Biederman, Peter Maglathlin, Patrick Petitti and Joe Miller from Harvard University.

HourlyNerd works to provide small business owners who require help with short term projects, such as “mergers and acquisitions, strategies and marketing,” with skilled MBA students who are looking for part-time work. Since fruition, the company has gone on to do work with notable companies, including General Electric Company, American Apparel Inc. and Coca-Cola Company.


Created by Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy from Stanford University, the SnapChat app was quick to permeate into millennial culture. If you’re not familiar with what SnapChat is due to an impressive amount of self-control, at it’s essence, it’s an app that allows you to send pictures and video messages to your friends, which once viewed, will disappear.

The amount of people that have probably regretted sending a picture to someone, knowing that it will stay with them forever, is perhaps what first drew users to the app. Much like the founders, the idea of choosing how long someone can see something for, is quite alluring and has obviously allowed the creation to blow up.

With new updates that allow you to decide whether or not you want to save a picture, or receiving notifications when someone takes a screenshot,allows users to feel more in control of what they are choosing to send out, and it’s not a surprise the app has done as well as it has.


Founded by high school sweethearts Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger from Carnegie Mellon, ModCloth was an idea breathed to life from a need to sell old clothes.

A fan of vintage clothes and thrift shopping, Susan needed to figure out what to do with all her articles of clothing that could no longer fit into her closet. Together with her boyfriend at the time, Susan was able to set up her online shop that has since blown up.

According to Mashable, “ModCloth is one of the fastest-growing fashion and home e-commerce ventures to emerge in the past decade. The company did more than $100 million in sales last year, and is growing at a rate of 40% annually.

Invite Media

From the University of Pennsylvania, Nat Turner is the creator of Invite Media which upon success, went on to be sold to Google.

According to the official website, Invite Media allows you to do the following:

  • Connect with your precise audience wherever they are
  • Gain full visibility into all costs and sites in your buys
  • Set global controls such as universal frequency capping for de-duplicated reach
  • Use real-time reporting to gain greater insights into your campaigns and customers
  • Streamline your workflow with a platform designed for speed and efficiency
  • Leverage the technology, expertise and resources of a proven partner

With the help of some seed money, Nat was able to create an ad tech company that caught the attention of the media giant, enough for Google to pay $81 million for it. Not bad for the ambitions of an initial undergrad student.


With the surplus of Apple products throughout the globe comes the need to maintain them. Created by AJ Forsythe and Anthony Martin from the California Polytechnic State University, iCracked serves the consumer demand for service repair of their devices.

According to Fastweb, iCracked is “one of the largest iPhone, iPod and iPad repair companies with more than 687 certified iTechs in the United States… [It] is now known as the world’s largest on-demand repair and trade-in network for iOS devices.”

Catering to the needs of almost every household in North America, the founders were able to find one of the greatest gaps in the tech market and design the perfect solution.

As aspiring founders continue to come up with new and innovative ways they can change the marketplace, we get to witness the way consumer demand is revolutionized.

As Steve Jobs so aptly put it, “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” So we can take a step back and appreciate what it takes to bring these creations to life; watch as society alters around those who are willing enough to do what it takes, to shape the world as we know it.

unsplash-logoJohn Schnobrich

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The Top 5 Fitness Exhibitors at YYCfit



The Health & Fitness Expo was in town this weekend, and we had an opportunity to check out some of 2018’s newest and coolest exhibits that local fitness pros had to offer.

OB Organic’s

An online based High Performance Food Menu, OB Organic’s is “a specialty food manufacturer dedicated to providing high quality solutions for athletes on the go, who wish to combine their performance needs with enjoyable eating.

With nationwide shipping, customers are able to select from a variety of different flavours of Paleo Protein Chocolate Cups and Protein Paleo Donuts.

According to their website,

“[Their] products are made with carefully sourced ingredients, and are free from the usual sugars and artificial substances that come with most snack foods.  The end result is a delicious, low glycemic snack, packed with healthy fats and high quality protein.”


A combination of ballet and fitness, owner Sarah Stewart has taken her illustrious dancing background to bring to Calgary a new and fun way to burn those calories.

With no previous dance experience required, anyone can follow along to a step by step breakdown of fundamentals and get in a good workout at the same time.

Set to the latest up-beat pop music, this unique ballet-inspired fitness class will help build, define and tone long, lean muscles.”

The new Spring session schedule is now available for sign up, and your first class to attend is free!

Strike Combat Archery

What is Combat Archery you ask? Well according to the website you “[t]ake all of the adrenaline-pumping excitement of paintball, mix it with the charm of being Legolas or Catnis and remove the overwhelming pain.

Great for team-building, corporate or private events, Combat Archery is the perfect way to unleash all that pent up steam against your coworkers, in a completely nonlethal way.

Fully mobile, Combat Archery can either come to you, or set up a space for you to bring your friends, where you can enjoy a day of taking each other out without any consequences. Go to their website to book an event for you and your party.


Calgary’s first bouldering specific climbing centre, Bolder is the perfect place for climbers of any skill level to check out. Open 7 days a week, the centre offers 5300sqft of bouldering terrain, a separate training area, a multipurpose mezzanine, and a cafe.

Bolder also offers different workshops and programs which you can check out on their website, and as an added bonus, any climbers that go in before 1 pm on weekdays only have to pay $10!

The Beach YYC

It’s hard to be a fan of beach volleyball when you are a resident of Calgary. Opening summer of 2018, The Beach YYC will be Calgary’s only indoor beach volleyball facility.

According to their pamphlet the centre will be based in the community of Ramsay and will offer the following:

  • Year-round beach volleyball leagues and tournaments
  • Ultimate frisbee leagues and drop-in times
  • Yoga
  • Rental space (meetings, team building, social events)

For more information about the recreation facility and their upcoming opening day, check out their official website.

unsplash-logoGeert Pieters

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Can You Become a Successful Student-preneur?



Most of us have either seen or heard of popular TV series, Dragon’s Den, where hopeful entrepreneur’s stand before a panel of venture capitalists to pitch their ideas, in the hopes that they may secure financial investing for their startups.

While not all of us can be guaranteed a spot on the show, on a much smaller scale, venture capitalists, angel investors and others around the world look for opportunities to help entrepreneurs grow and develop their businesses.

More universities and colleges have incorporated entrepreneurial education into their curriculum to promote the undertaking of starting your own company. Mount Royal University’s (MRU) Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recently had their annual JMH $70,000 LaunchPad Pitch Competition.

Founded to support those MRU students who are ambitious enough to pursue their own ventures, the initiative is funded largely by donations from JMH&CO. According to the website, over the past five years alone, there has been a total of $250,000 donated to support the program.

For this year’s competition, JMH&CO. put forth $40,000 along with $10,000 each from LaBarge Weinstein, Trout + Taylor and the Busy Foundation. Six students had the opportunity to win up to $70,000 for their endeavour should they impress the judging panel, which consisted people of note, including Alice Reimer, serial entrepreneur, Andrew Browne, co-founder and CEO of TikTiks, and Patrick Lor, serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist.

After hours preparing, each student went up and put forth their best pitch and showcase to sway the crowd. For a further look into the speakers and their companies, click on their profile links below:


Lobo Development Ltd.


Connor’s Carwash


The sixth, and final company, CommunityKit, did not provide us with any additional information, and therefore were unable to be featured.

MRU put on a great showcase of their students and what the Institute has to offer for future entrepreneurs. Yes, the odds are generally stacked against most startups, but with universities like MRU trying to create an environment for growth, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Congrats to all the winners and we wish all the success to those brave enough to pursue their ambitions.

unsplash-logoJordan Encarnacao

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