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Science student wins best business concept

May 09, 2011

Just because you’re not a business student doesn’t mean you can’t come first in a business concept competition. Just ask Suraaj Aulakh, a Simon Fraser University grad student in molecular biology and biochemistry (MBB) who took first prize in the SFU Business Concept Competition at the end of April.

Aulakh, who lives in New Westminster, was the only female and the only science student to make the finals.

She entered a business concept for LabTricks.com, an educational website that she and five other MBB students (Daniel Chiang, Charles Stevens, Kelly Kim, Cindy Li and Linda Zhang) had founded a year ago.

The online company posts videos aimed at helping science students make the transition from coursework to lab work easier. LabTricks’ student founders write, shoot, produce and post its videos. They provide viewers with useful tips about executing lab techniques that aren’t found in textbooks.

SFU Business Concept, an annual competition hosted by SFU Venture Connection, encourages students across different faculties to develop venture ideas and pitch them as investment-worthy concepts to a business audience.

Aulakh prepared and delivered a 10-minute multi-media presentation on how their educational company is changing the way science is taught.

“The current method of teaching lab techniques to science students is heavily based on written instructions, which can often be confusing,” says Aulakh. “This leads to a lot of time being wasted on trying to understand the text, causing many mistakes to be made. LabTricks addresses this problem by using visuals as a teaching tool in instructional videos on different lab techniques.”

Aulakh’s presentation sold the competition’s judges on LabTricks’ pioneering creation of clear, easy-to-understand videos that speed up learning, with fewer mistakes. Aulakh will invest her $500 cash prize in LabTricks.

Last fall Sequence Me, a LabTricks video — won top prize, $3,500, in Gene Screen B.C.’s first film competition.

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