#MadeBySFU competition attracts record number of entrepreneurs

October 30, 2019

This story was originally published in SFU News.

This year’s annual #MadeBySFU entrepreneurship competition attracted twice as many competitors as last year and, for the first time, all of them were women. They were vying for three purchase orders worth $750 each from the SFU Spirit Shop, as well as shelf space in its three bookstore locations.

The competition is open to students, alumni, staff and faculty who showcase their projects and small businesses during a one-day marketplace at the SFU Surrey mezzanine. Product entries included photographic wall art; embroidered reusable totes; handmade, personalized greeting cards; art prints, candles, décor accessories and much more.

Soy candle company Mala the Brand won a purchase order for its sustainable, hand-crafted and ethically made products. For each candle purchased, Tree Era plants a tree in North America. Business founder Melody Lim, a recent Faculty of Arts, Technology and Communication alumnus, is passionate about sustainability and making products free of harmful toxins and chemicals. 

Love, Lulu, an environmentally and socially aware accessory and décor company, also won a purchase order. The company uses 85-per-cent recycled materials to make its accessories. One dollar from every product sold supports the M.S. Society of Canada. Lauren Allard, a Faculty of Environment undergraduate student, created Love, Lulu. 

Unspoken, which sells stickers and postcards that raise awareness of American Sign Language, also received a purchase order. The company’s bold, modern, art design is a bid to close the gap between verbal and non-verbal communicators. Co-founder Meredith Nguyen, an undergraduate in both the Beedie School of Business and the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), came up with the idea because her brother is non-verbal.

“The #MadebySFU event presents a great opportunity for the SFU Spirit Shop to engage with our community and support the innovative and exciting entrepreneurial initiatives proposed by our students,” says Mikhail Dzuba, director, SFU Bookstore, Spirit Shop and Document Solutions.

New to the competition this year is an SFU Alumni $500-cash prize acknowledging alumni who’ve engaged with the SFU community. SFU SIAT alumnus Justine Crawford, an illustrator who uses a bold, graphical style to explore themes of culture, diaspora and emotional growth, won the prize.

Crawford’s art prints also won the Fan Favourite award from marketplace shoppers. Her prize? A brewery tour for four at East Van Brewing.

The competition’s annual SFU Innovates $500-cash prize acknowledging innovative practices and potential growth went to Back to Our Roots Indigenous Medicine, a B.C. First Nation’s business founded by Dawn Wilson, an undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Her company creates high-quality salves using traditional plant medicine, but with an urban twist. 

#MadeBySFU, created in 2013, is a collaboration between the SFU Spirit Shop and Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection® (SFU’s early-stage business incubator) to celebrate SFU product entrepreneurs. The competition also includes associated mentoring and customized workshops.

Janice OBriain, director of Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection says, “SFU is a leader in entrepreneurship education in part because of how the university supports and celebrates its diverse innovation community through programs like #MadeBySFU.”

“We look forward to supporting these product entrepreneurs to grow their impact beyond this competition.”

The final competition event was held during a market on Oct. 24, 2019, at SFU’s Surrey campus.

This story was also published in T-Net, and Vancouver Tech Journal.