Saving the world one parking spot at a time

Two third-year Schulich business administration students recently won the provincial Save the World business competition.

The contest, which was organized by the The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO), challenged students from the province’s high schools and postsecondary institutions to come up with the most exciting and innovative ways to make the planet a better place. In total, there were 20 high-school submissions and eight from universities.

Right: Mehnaaz Bholat (left) and Anas Ayaz

Schulich students Anas Ayaz and Mehnaaz Bholat placed first in the competition category open to university students for their concept called ParkWizard, an online venture that helps drivers find affordable and convenient parking while helping homeowners with spare spaces generate extra income. ParkWizard would match drivers with homeowners through a Web site.

Each received a $5,000 cash prize and an additional $5,000 seed capital for starting their business. The entrants were selected by a panel of expert judges – chartered accountants from the world of business and not-for-profits – who evaluated the ideas to see which ones would provide the most bang for the bucks in terms of helping the community and saving the world.

“The Save the World Competition was a great opportunity for us to showcase our idea and get some constructive criticism from business professionals,” said Ayaz. “We went from having a mere idea to having $5,000 and professional expertise to make the idea a reality thanks to the ICAO. We can’t wait to go out there and change the world. All budding entrepreneurs should definitely apply to this competition because it is one of a kind.”

Schulich student, Rich Zhou, a second-year business administration student, and his partner Edward Huang of the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, were runners up for their idea to do away with business cards in favour of a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Also involved in the competition were students Feroz Qayyum and Judy But, the ICAO’s representatives at the Schulich School of Business. Both were responsible for marketing the competition to Schulich students.

“The Save the World competition was probably one of the best experiences for me. We put a lot of work in and it feels so good when it pays off,” said Bholat. “Now we have the resources to actually make our proposal a reality. The ICAO made our dream a reality.”