Ahead of the Curve. SenseTech takes virtual reality and makes it real for people who need it.
By Dick Synder
October 18, 2019
Small Business & Entrepreneurship
Four young entrepreneurs from Toronto are building their business from what might be viewed as the classic entrepreneurial home base: their basements — at least for now.
The company? SenseTech Solutions — based in Toronto, its founders scattered throughout the GTA. Rijul Aggarwal and Rui Amoah live in Mississauga. Ali Raza Syed lives in Stouffville. Robert Ingino lives in Oshawa.
Working remotely and coming together at workshare spaces, these recent engineering graduates are turning a university project into a business with the potential to dramatically improve life for people living with disabilities using virtual reality (VR) technologies.
Their initial project — to create realistic simulations that replicate physical environments and real-world experience for those in need of rehabilitation — won the Patel Family Capstone Project Award at Lassonde School of Engineering at York University. The award recognizes a project that has the potential to “positively impact human wellbeing with maximum and immediate benefit.”
They worked on their idea with the support of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and they cite the CNIB as an integral element in propelling their concept forward. “With the support of the CNIB community to further develop this field, the vision of providing accessible virtual reality solutions across many disability sectors was formed,” says Ingino.
Their passion, enthusiasm and brilliant ideas caught the attention of the judges for Staples Canada’s “This is How I Grow My Business” contest. SenseTech is one of three winners to receive money towards building their tech infrastructure, access to services from Solutionshop and, most importantly, some serious one-on-one consultation time with business mentor, visionary and former Dragon on Dragon’s Den Joe Mimran.
“Joe is encouraging, creative, and optimistic,” Ingino said. “He is also real, direct, and knowledgeable about how to transform an idea into a business.”
What has the team learned from their time with Mimran? Ingino says: “Be patient, be determined, and perfect your product for your customers. Stay focused on the features that define your business, and work to be the best at what you do.”
Mimran’s take on SenseTech? “This is a really interesting one. They have an excellent partner in the CNIB, so I said they should solidify that partnership and create something that is bulletproof. Something that works, and really helps all of their members. And then they can go out and sell it. It’s all about the model — what is going to make money?”
While the SenseTech team heeds Mimran’s advice and hones their product in consort with the CNIB, they’re also able to build their office infrastructure with the help of Staples Canada.
“We’re looking forward to building a laboratory/studio equipped with high-end computers, projectors and screens and VR hardware,” Ingino said, noting that as they begin hiring employees, they will need to provide them with the appropriate tools. Eventually, that may also include a real office space… above ground.
SenseTech Solutions is one of three winning small businesses in Staples Canada’s “This is How I Grow My Business Contest” held in collaboration with style icon and champion of entrepreneurs Joe Mimran. As winners, SenseTech will receive in person mentorship from Joe Mimran, as well as $20,000 worth of technology from Staples Canada and Solutionshop services.