People of SFU

SFU alumni featured in BCBusiness magazine's 30 Under 30

July 19, 2023
Photo credit: BC Business Magazine

BC Business Magazine’s recent annual list of its top 30 young business leaders under 30 not only shines a light on six SFU alumni—it also highlights how the seeds of success are being nurtured through involvement in SFU’s entrepreneurship programs.

Among honourees is Melody Lim, an SFU School of Communication alumnus and founder of the popular Mala the Brand eco-friendly candles. After growing her business to expand into international brands like Bloomingdales, Indigo, and Nordstrom to name a few, Lim has her eyes set on a bright future that will “continue to grow our community at a pace I'm comfortable with.”

She says that Mala “has a lot of plans for the next few years that may or may not include a physical brick and mortar, new product categories, and growth beyond Canada.”

Lim credits her time as a client of SFU’s Coast Capital Venture Connection incubator program, which provides mentorship for student, staff, faculty & alumni entrepreneurs, as well as the #MadeBySFU competition and maker’s fair from the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, as being critical to her development as a business person. Mala was recognized by SFU for its growth and potential, winning top prize at SFU’s 2020 Coast Capital Venture Prize - the first product-based business and solopreneur to do so – and awarded not only $10K cash but also valuable in-kind services of more than $25K.  

“The biggest development I've had is the personal confidence that blossomed out of my experience with SFU—that has allowed me to take leaps of faith in the business,” she explained. “And that has led me to grow it to where it is today.”

Also on the list is Hanieh Zahiremami, a Faculty of Applied Sciences alumnus who applied knowledge gleaned through her undergraduate mechatronic systems engineering degree to launch Edee Care, providing health-tech innovations for those living with epilepsy.

Zahiremami received support and funding through the Chang Institute via eCoop, which offers students the opportunity to work full-time on their ideas or startups during a paid co-op term, as a client of the Venture Connection incubator and more recently won both the R&D category and SFU Alumni awards at the 2023 Venture Prize competition. Her history with SFU runs deep; during her first year of studies, she also won the inaugural SFU Female Founders award.

And alumnus Marzia Sager is co-founder of the not-for-profit Glow Within Foundation which, in partnership with school districts in BC and Alberta, is cultivating a community of confident young women through physical, mental and emotional wellness education. Having first completed an interdisciplinary Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship through the Chang Institute during her Communications undergraduate degree at SFU she was inspired to launch Glow Within with her co-founders, now supported by the Venture Connection incubator.  

Both Sager and Zahiremami have been recently featured on the Chang Institute’s newly launched Inspiration Station podcast.

“At the Chang Institute, we believe that offering opportunities early on for all students to build resilience, capabilities and confidence, and linking them into community supports is key to success in unleashing the entrepreneurial mindset and founders who make real impact,” comments Janice OBriain, Chang Institute Programs Director. “This ecosystem approach to growing and supporting Simon Fraser University entrepreneurs is one of the reasons SFU has been named the Deshpande Symposium’s 2023 Entrepreneurial University.”

Beedie Graduate School of Business alumnus Alex Mitchell, currently the CEO of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce was also on the list, along with Sabrina Rai, an accounting instructor and alumnus of the Beedie School of Business Accounting Digital Analytics Graduate Certificate, and Paige Sandher, a Faculty of Health Sciences alumnus who co-founded direct-to-consumer CouchHaus brand.