A team of six students from the Lassonde School of Engineering and their product UniSwipe took third place at this year’s LaunchYU pitch competition in King City on July 16.
Launch YU is an initiative based at York University that takes student start-up companies through an intensive 10-week summer accelerator program. After completing the program, the companies pitch their ideas, products and business plans to a panel of judges.
The UniSwipe team competed against nine other companies for $30,000 in prizes. After all the pitches were completed, UniSwipe came in third place, taking the $5,000 prize.
Uniswipe offers an efficient effective way for groups to split restaurant tabs without the need for complicated calculations. Team members Will Lau, Anton Sitkovets and Vahe Khachikyan created UniSwipe when they couldn’t figure out an efficient way to split their restaurant tab. The trio agreed that splitting bills is often an awkward and uncomfortable experience that could be successfully improved through the combination of mobile and credit card technology.
Out of this need came UniSwipe, a sleek technical solution. With UniSwipe anyone can pay using a simple mobile app that splits payments without hassle and charges everyone automatically depending on set percentages. The idea to create UniSwipe is a direct result of the students’ experiences at last year’s Lassonde-Technion summer program in Israel. A group of 25 York U students went to Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology where they learned entrepreneurship skills, experienced the life of start-up founders and launched their own ventures.
“The Technion trip brought together a group of entrepreneurs, where we could learn intensively but also throw ideas around. We got a lot of great advice from local entrepreneurs. Our two advisers worked closely with us to mentor us and help us work out the initial kinks,” said Lau.
UniSwipe has seen a lot of traction in the last few months. Since Technion, the team has been working on partnerships with Mastercard, Paypal and VeriFone to bring the product to market. UniSwipe is also working with regulators to ensure compliance. The students are using entrepreneurial skills they developed through their participation in the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) program and at Technion, to navigate the next steps of growing and scaling their business.
UniSwipe wasn’t the only company affiliated with Lassonde that took home the honours. Mint Ultimate, a start-up company developed by Faculty of Health grad Andrew Oh (BSc ’15) took the top prize of $15,000 for his product, an ultimate Frisbee glove that incorporates technology and tactile leather to give professional Frisbee competitors an edge. Oh was also BEST program participant and travelled to Israel to take part in the Lassonde-Technion summer program.