Students' entrepreneurial spirit rewarded with interest-free loans
Patrick Leslie’s post-university prospects received a major boost last week; his business plan finished in the top three of a competition sponsored by Queen’s School of Business (QSB) and the Prince Edward/Lennox and Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (PELA CFDC).
Mr. Leslie receives a $150,000 interest-free loan to develop a smartphone app that provides custom solutions for improving home energy efficiency.
“I am really excited by the opportunity the loan provides. Traditionally, a bank would not loan money to someone like me because I am young and I don’t have a lot of collateral,” says Mr. Leslie, who will graduate this year with a dual degree in mechanical engineering and economics.
The project began as a fourth-year mechanical engineering thesis paper examining the impact the app could have compared to current systems. Mr. Leslie started developing a business plan for the application last semester.
Using the app, people will enter information about their home, everything from the wattage of light bulbs to window design. The application will aggregate that information, recommend the best options for home improvement, and suggest specific products for these projects.
“The technology will allow for a high level of engagement by the homeowner. The application will really help them during the information gathering process and compile it in an easily-digestible format,” he says.
The loan gives Mr. Leslie time to develop the product without having to scramble to secure funding. He will also use the funding to hire several summer students.
Mr. Leslie and the other loan recipients will receive space in Prince Edward and Lennox and Addington counties’ high-tech incubator facility near Picton.
“The competition has shown once again that Queen’s students have great entrepreneurial ideas,” says Yolande Chan, director of the Monieson Centre at Queen’s School of Business. “All of the finalists presented viable ideas, and I am confident the winning businesses will enhance the economic and social fabric of the Prince Edward/Lennox and Addington region.”
The other $150,000 interest-free loans went to:
• Cibo Systems, led by MBA graduates Ricky Chandarana, Simon Hamilton and Chris Sinkinson, which is developing a restaurant management system using tablet computers.
• Foodscrooge.com, founded by AMBA graduate Tim Ray, which brings the online group-buying phenomenon to the grocery industry.
In addition to the business competition, Mr. Leslie’s research paper has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Sustainable Energy. The paper was written with Queen’s professors Joshua Pearce and Rob Harrap and Laval University’s Sylvie Daniel.