Kevin Cruz delivers his pitch at Enactus SFU's Entrepreneur of the Year competition on Jan. 23 at SFU's Surrey campus

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ORA Scents creator Kevin Cruz crowned 2016 SFU Entrepreneur of the Year

January 29, 2016
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Beedie business student Kevin Cruz is Simon Fraser University’s 2015-2016 Entrepreneur of the Year (SEY).

He earned the distinction after delivering a winning pitch in a Dragon’s Den-style competition organized by Enactus SFU and held at SFU’s Surrey campus on Jan. 23.

Each year, Enactus SFU, a student-led social entrepreneurship organization, recognizes the achievements of student entrepreneurs from across the University community through its SEY competition.

Cruz, a Surrey resident, is the founder and CEO of ORA Scents, a mobile device company that has created an app-controlled scent diffuser.

“Scent is one of the most important, yet neglected and underrated senses we consider when setting the ambience within our spaces, especially our home,” Cruz says.

ORA Scents enables homeowners to create their own personalized scents for their living spaces. The app mixes three different essential oils to create different scents and these creations can be saved as “blends” and shared through social media.

“It’s always a great feeling to be recognized for your efforts,” says Cruz. “It’s a good reminder of how far you’ve come, but also a reminder that the title ‘entrepreneur’ is something that you have to earn every day.”

ORA Scents is currently running a paid pilot product-testing program where early adopters can purchase a diffuser and be the company’s beta testers for the first half of 2016.

Within five years, Cruz envisions finding the ORA Scents diffuser in people’s apartments and homes, on the shelves of big retail stores, in hotels and spas, and in the hands of celebrities and YouTube stars.

“I see [our team] achieving what we set out to do—to redefine the scent experience by empowering people to create and control scents the way they want to,” he says.

ORA Scents is a client of SFU’s Venture Connection program, which provides support for student ventures from initial idea to business validation.

Dylan Belvedere (lead engineer), Spencer Arbour (product engineer), Kyle Tharratt (vp, engineering), Yili Lou (creative director) and Shawn Dhawan (full stack developer) in addition to Cruz comprise the ORA Scents team.

Taking second-place in the competition was Artemis Technologies and third-place went to Living Garden Foods, who are both also Venture Connection clients.

Artemis Technologies specializes in using drone technology to collect aerial images, and uses data analytics and image recognition software to help farmers predict growth patterns, detect diseases and reduce the required treatments necessary for crops.

Artemis Technologies consists of Brandon Chapman (business development), Miguel Cruz (vision systems), Jessica Peare (mechanical engineering) and Joey Boule (pilot and technical strategy).

Living Garden Foods utilizes vertical growing towers to grow fresh local herbs and vegetables for restaurants and farmers markets. They deliver the produce to the restaurants in the towers, ensuring it is fresh until the moment it needs to be harvested for dishes.

Ethan O’Brien is the president and founder of Living Garden Foods and is joined by Cole Cedar (CFO and sales).