The passions and challenges of student entrepreneurship – La Rotonde

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Article written by Nonibeau Gagnon-Thibeault — Journalist

Several student entrepreneurs from the University of Ottawa (U of O) have been rewarded for their business concept as part of the Entrepreneurial Idea competition, organized by the Faculty of U of O genius. Three prizes were awarded to start-up companies developed by participating students The rotunda spoke to the founders of Gastrotrack and Seniors Junction, who won first and second place respectively in this competition.

Giving impetus to student entrepreneurs

Two brothers, Aidan and Davis MacAdam, won first place in this competition and won a prize of 2000 dollars for the development of their application Gastro track. We feel good [d’avoir gagné la compétition]. It’s a validation that we’re on the right tracksays Aidan, the older brother, who is currently completing his master’s degree in biomedical mechanical engineering at U of O.

The two brothers are developing an application that helps people with intestinal problems or diseases to improve their diet, or to indicate whether they should consult a doctor. “We were a very small team with few resources, so it was hard to imagine that this project was going to end in theapp store“Aidan shares.

Now more optimistic, they have added David Goguen, a U of O graduate in computer engineering, to their team to support them. The latter is enthusiastic to be part of the project. “There is no app like ours anywhere, absolutely nothing like it“says the longtime friend of the MacAdams.

Namrata Bagaria, who won second place in the competition, also feels a encouragement to continue his business plan. “It’s very motivating!», Shares the doctoral student in innovation and digital transformation at the U of O. Having won 1000 dollars, Bagaria will invest them in the website of his company, Seniors Junction.

Respond to the needs of those around you

Bagaria co-founded Seniors Junction with retired U of O musicology professor Paul Merkley during the 2020 lockdown. Originally, the project supported seniors to exercise despite health restrictions. However, she realized that the main motivation for older people to do physical activity is socialization. During the same period, Bagaria mourned her father and sought to support her mother, who had lost the meaning of her life.

This is how Bagaria and Merkley transformed their company so that it could instead give a new vocation to retired people. “Older people do not identify as socially isolated, but they say they lack meaning in their lives and seek to occupy their free timeBagaria explains. Her website helps these people find a vocation or a hobby through consultations and online courses.

The three acolytes of Gastro track also founded the company after noticing issues around them. In their case, they observed that many live with intestinal problems. “They have difficulty with their symptoms and understanding what causes them“says Aidan.

However, these people are reluctant to speak publicly about these problems and even to consult a doctor. Their app lets them track their gut health privately using artificial intelligence. Users take a picture of their excrement and the software tells them if they have a digestive disease or if their diet is causing them problems, by analyzing the size, color and texture of their droppings.

The 2000 dollars they received will allow them to invest in a faster self-learning machine and to optimize their website. It is possible to donate photos of our droppings to contribute to the company’s database.

The challenges of student entrepreneurship

Student entrepreneurship isdefinitely difficultAidan admits. “Lack of time and resources is a major factor“, he adds, specifying that time management is crucial to develop Gastro track.

Namrata expresses having the same drawbacks. She feels, however, that there are more advantages to being a student entrepreneur. “There is more room for experimentationBagaria says. The doctoral student specifies that companies often take several years to be profitable, so it is good to start during your studies.

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The passions and challenges of student entrepreneurship – La Rotonde


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