The Queen's Partnerships and Innovation (QPI) team supports the University’s strategic goal to build community partnerships and fully embed Queen’s in the community. With support from external funding, the QPI team offers numerous services, resources, and programs to support entrepreneurs, including those from Queen’s, and to accelerate the growth of startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within Kingston and Eastern Ontario.

The craft of writing can take an individual many years to develop a style and voice. Imagine trying to work collaboratively on a project where writing styles don’t match but both authors need to develop together. That’s the problem Reza Ahmadi is trying to solve with the SharedCraft platform.

Reza Ahmadi
SharedCraft founder Reza Ahmadi

“During the learning process, writers need a space to experiment, work together and find a cohesive voice when working on projects, otherwise the final product will be choppy and hard to read,” says SharedCraft founder Reza Ahmadi.

Geared toward learning or aspiring writers, the SharedCraft platform offers an opportunity to learn from fellow writers who may be at a higher skill level, be more productive by being accountable to another individual, and create a fun writing atmosphere, which helps break through those blocks when one might not feel inspired.

Ahmadi was one of nine companies that participated in the Wings Acceleration program over the summer, which is aimed at startups in the early, pre-revenue, stages of development. Through a mix of full-day seminars and one-on-one coaching, the Wings facilitators give startup founders the tools and guidance they need to evaluate the feasibility of their business idea, determine what they really have to offer customers, and begin developing a working business model.

“The Wings program was really helpful in teaching me not to get married to one specific idea but rather to do market research and find out what potential users would want in a platform,” says Ahmadi. “As a technical person, my desire is to start building right away but I’ve learned that it’s important to start with finding out what users would find most valuable first.”

In addition to learning about market research, the program encourages participants to go beyond just learning about it and to go out and complete the homework of doing the market research.

“Based on the research I did in the program I’ve now coded a platform and we are ready for a testing phase,” Ahmadi is currently looking for select beta testers to try out the platform and provide feedback about what they like or what they would like to see in the next iteration of the product.

“What originally drew me to the program was the opportunity to get into the coworking space and make network connections,” says Ahmadi. “Having a small group to bounce ideas off of and take part in group conversations has been enlightening.”

“SharedCraft initially approached us about incubation space and when we had a conversation it became clear that Reza was an entrepreneur at heart and could benefit by joining Queen’s Startup Runway and becoming a Wings participant and alumni,” says Rick Boswell, Assistant Director, Programs and Operations with Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation. “Reza has actively applied the learnings from Wings to his company and has based many decisions on what he has learned. Wings provided an entrepreneurial foundation in a short time that has helped to accelerate his product development.”

Since completing the Wings program, Ahmadi is a regular attendee to Queen’s Startup Runway networking sessions and recently participated in a peer pitching practice.

“I’m grateful for the initiative,” says Ahmadi. “I look forward to furthering my company and taking advantage of the resources from Queen’s Startup Runway. I am really benefiting from the environment.”

The Wings Acceleration program and Queen’s Startup Runway are offered through the Scale-Up Platform, an initiative led by Invest Ottawa in Eastern Ontario and in which Queen’s is a regional partner. The Scale-Up Platform Project is supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).