Global Victory for HelpWear

HelpWear_SAGE CanadaTORONTO, August 23, 2016 — SAGE Canada announced today that Toronto-based startup, HelpWear has won first place in the Social Enterprise Business category at the SAGE World Cup 2016. Youth entrepreneurs Andre Bertram and Frank Nguyen developed the HeartWatch—an around-the-clock heart monitoring and alerting device that aims to aid both the diagnoses and treatment of heart related illness, as well as functioning as an emergency response device.

On August 13th, 2016, HelpWear competed amongst 21 participating countries and over 70 youth entrepreneurs at the SAGE World Cup which took place in Manila, Philippines. HelpWear advanced to the final round of the SEB category, taking on Ireland, China and the Philippines. HelpWear came out as the 2016 SAGE World Cup SEB champions, marking the first major victory for Canada.

“As a youth entrepreneur, I am grateful for SAGE’s support in providing a global platform to showcase our life saving technology,” said André Bertram, CEO of HelpWear. “Organizations like SAGE understand the power of youth entrepreneurs to create real businesses that drive real change.”

HelpWear first joined the SAGE Canada program in September 2015, while continuing to develop their prototype with funding from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship and with the support of the Biomedical Zone–a healthcare incubator formed by a partnership between Ryerson University and St. Michael’s Hospital. In April of 2016, SAGE Canada hosted a video pitch competition open to all high schools students, qualifying the top 12 socially innovative ventures across Canada to compete in TheSTAGE: National Competition held in May. HelpWear became the national Social Enterprise Business champions along with the Socially Responsible Business champions, Sitto, an online babysitting platform, representing Canada at the global competition.

SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship) was founded by Dr. Curt DeBerg in 2002 as a platform to develop youth entrepreneurs around the world as agents of social innovation. SAGE Canada was officially created by Wendy Cukier, former VP Research and Innovation at Ryerson University, and Andrea Belvedere, Manager of Customer Consulting at PwC, in 2009 as the Canadian chapter of this global organization. SAGE Canada gives an opportunity to youth between 13-18 years old to become change makers through their socially innovative business ventures.

SAGE continues to empower the youth through educational assistance, resources and one-on-one mentorship, striving to build the next generation of leaders.  Since its inaugural year, SAGE Canada has assisted with launching 40 youth ventures, helped businesses generate over $50,000 in revenue, and united over 300 students to become social change makers. The SAGE Canada program is greatly supported by Ryerson University, as an extension of their commitment to supporting the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.

David Kwok, Strategic Advisor for SAGE Canada, said: “We always create excuses as to why high school entrepreneurs shouldn’t be taken seriously, but HelpWear has helped change that mindset. We are hoping to leverage the success of this competition to ignite some conversations and start getting government, corporations, and academia to acknowledge youth entrepreneurship and provide the necessary support systems for them to succeed.”


“TheSTAGE”: National Competition a Huge Success for Young Entrepreneurs


The SAGE Canada national competition, known as the “TheSTAGE”, signalled a tremendous end to a memorable school year for the brightest young entrepreneurs the country has to offer.

A group of talented high school students presented their start-up businesses in front of a panel of judges to qualify for a chance to represent Canada globally as youth entrepreneurs. The competition, which took place on Friday, May 13th at St. James Cathedral’s Snell Hall, was in search of the top 12 socially innovative youth ventures nationwide, to compete at our national stage for a chance to represent Canada globally as youth entrepreneurs. This year’s winners will have the chance to compete at the SAGE World Cup against 31 participating countries in Manila, Philippines. Before the presentations, both Christine Rettie, National Bank branch manager and president of MAKO Invent, Kevin Mako spoke to the students about the importance of entrepreneurs and empowered youth. The presentations were diverse and groundbreaking and showed just how talented each team was.

The winners were announced at a gala at St. Andrew’s Club & Conference Centre that featured networking, delicious food and an awesome view of Toronto’s skyline.

The host of Family Channel, Deepa Prashad was the emcee for the night and gave the students some tips on the transition from high school to university from her own experience attending Ryerson University.

The first speaker during the gala was Tyler Handley, an entrepreneur that was fed up with the permanence of tattoos and turned that problem into a product. He and his brother set out to develop a tattoo that wouldn’t leave them regretting the decision when they are older. They came up with InkBox, a company which has developed the world’s first non-permanent, but real looking tattoo.

The first round of awards for the night were then announced. The Innovation Catalyst award which recognizes the venture that has proven to be a real game changer in their chosen industry with creativity, passion and hard work was given to Proxi-Meet. The Startup for Change award was given to Creativity Through Arts. The Ignited award, which recognizes the team that demonstrated perseverance and a positive impact within their community through the message spread by their venture was given to Retina Marketing.

To congratulate an outstanding SAGE Canada team member, Virusan Wignarajah was named the Startup Consultant of the year, which recognizes that he has shown true passion and dedication in aiding his assigned venture to success.

SAGE Canada also wanted to recognize two students that stood out. The Youth Entrepreneur Of the Year Award, which recognizes a youth entrepreneur who has made an outstanding contribution to their venture and SAGE team was given to Alexia Wu from Toronto Story. The Women in Entrepreneurship award, which recognizes a young female entrepreneur who has shown great initiative and continuously proves to be an inspiration for her team and beyond was given to Betty Pu from Proxi-Meet.

Muskoka, a band comprised of young artists from Richmond Hill, entertained the audience with a musical set and then the crowd had a fun MindGameZ competition hosted by the Purple Patch Inc. where registered teams will engage in a preliminary round of tough questions with topics ranging from the current economy, business fundamentals and science. The top six teams qualified for the grand finale and the winners were awarded prizes.

Our second speaker of the night was Chivon John, who is a multi-passionate entrepreneur, speaker, writer and wellness and business strategist. She shared her struggles with entrepreneurship and emphasized the importance of taking care of yourself so you can take care of your start-up and also gave the students some great advice on how to be successful in the industry.

Finally, it was time to announce the final winners of the night. The Socially Responsible Business (SRB) runner up was Toronto Story. This company aims to unite the diverse voices of our city by sharing their stories. Their mission is to give Torontonians the opportunity to connect with each other and the city on a more personal level. This means being able to find relatable places and perspectives, while contrasting them with their own experiences. The company takes people’s experiences with a location in Toronto that is significant to them, and interpret them into a simplistic design. These designs are then printed on apparel to spread the stories, and a full written transcript of the story is also printed online for readers. Every story and every location that is shared ultimately portrays Toronto’s story.  

After her team’s big win, Alexia Wu from Toronto Story said “in that moment I knew that all the hard work and countless hours our team put into our business had paid off.

The success we experienced is credited to everyone who supported, helped and cheered for us along the way. SAGE will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m so grateful to now have a tangible piece of this journey through the award.”  

The Social Enterprise Business (SEB) runner-up was SpitStrips, a company with a goal to promote responsible drinking. The SpitStrip itself is a portable, user-friendly alcohol detector that effectively determines one’s blood alcohol level. The company behind this product know that by making this available at event venues, customers, their loved ones, and society as a whole will be positively impacted.

The winner of the Social Enterprise Business SEB was HelpWear, which was founded by André Bertram and Frank Nguyen. Operated out of Ryerson University’s Zone Learning ecosystem, the venture strives to improve home health care by developing affordable and accessible products for patients around the world. The company is currently developing its first product, the HeartWatch. This product allows for 24/7 at-home heart monitoring, with an embedded emergency contact system for further prevention and better treatment of heart related illnesses.

Bertram said he is “honoured to represent Canada, and youth entrepreneurship as a whole, in an opportunity as spectacular as the SAGE World Cup in Manila. It was a privilege to compete against fellow Canadian innovators, some of which will be our friends for years to come.”

The winner of the SRB category was Sitto, a Junior Achievement Company founded by 42 dedicated and aspirational students, who aim to ease the process of connecting babysitters and families, and to simplify the payment process between both parties. Described as the “Uber of Babysitting”, their services are offered in the form of a mobile application. The babysitting industry is a relatively untapped and traditional market, which has yet to be technologically revolutionized. Sitto aims to change the world of babysitting by introducing a technology-based solution that subsequently enhances the convenience and efficiency of this demanded service.

Drew Barot from Sitto said that the competition wasoverall, a fantastic experience. I went to SAGE last year, and this year was even better. Amazing venue, great people, enjoyable activities, and a lot more. Honestly one of the better experiences I’ve had this year! I hope to be back next year.”

There were many thanks to everyone that was involved in planning and attending the event from president Kathryn Gamis. Nationals was a huge success and SAGE Canada is excited to see what future ventures will bring to the organization.  

Check out the recap video of the competition by Serena Harding.

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SAGE at Ryerson: Welcome the team

On October 7, 2014, SAGE launched as an official student group at Ryerson.

On the evening of the launch event, students were welcomed into a room full of smiling faces, complimentary food and, most importantly, games. First year Ryerson attendees were encouraged by SAGE members to partake in social games that had them up and off their seats and meeting new people. One icebreaker game even had attendees tangled in a web of intertwined hands. The Twister-like game forced them to collaborate and work as a team as they attempted to untangle themselves.



SAGE Canada started six years ago as part of Enactus Ryerson. Entrepreneurship has always been at the heart of its mission statement. The word itself has many meanings, and the presentation began with a video of students explaining what the word means to them.

President, David Kwok, follows the video by proudly announcing that SAGE is now a recognized student group at Ryerson. “Ryerson SAGE is our first chapter,” says Kwok. The goal is to eventually have several locations across Canada. The point of the presentation was to show first years the value of becoming apart of student group that works to harness creativity and promote youth entrepreneurship. Kwok wasn’t laying claim that SAGE Canada was the best Ryerson student group. He instead proves its value by having alumni speak share their takeaways from volunteering with SAGE.

Alumni: Allan Thai, Sarosh Sarkari and Curtis Yim speak at SAGE launch

Alumni: Allan Thai, Sarosh Sarkari and Curtis Yim speak at SAGE launch


Former director of SAGE, Allan Thai, was apart of the founding team. He says that SAGE helped him with public speaking, which eventually helped him land an internship. Sarosh Sarkarh started SAGE when he was in high school, and says that joining SAGE means that you are both an entrepreneur and a traveller.

Every budding entrepreneur needs guidance from a mentor. Faculty advisor, David Schlanger, is a mentor to Kwok and many other students enrolled in the entrepreneurship and business management program at Ryerson. The professor addresses the crowd, donning a SAGE Canada T-shirt, and talks about the importance of leaving your comfort zone. He uses what he coined the “piano metaphor” to explain how joining a student group helps students expand and grow. When you first learn to play the piano, you start by playing in the middle, and then it’s up to you to slowly stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone and reach for those outside keys.

Becoming a member of SAGE Canada is like reaching for those outside keys. It may seem like more work, and a lot of extra time spent at school, but really, by investing your time in SAGE, you are taking one step towards your future.

Professor Schlanger asks students if they know what makes the top 10% of happiness. The answer: social investment. Those who engage in social activities by investing their time in groups or clubs are the happiest people in our society.

SAGE teaches you that at the end of the day, you have to beat your fear and go outside of your comfort zone. If you join SAGE, not only would you be helping high school students realize their potential, you would be realizing your own.



SAGE wants to meet you. Click here to meet the 2014-2015 members of SAGE Canada.



KAHOOTS: Collaboration as a business model

Kaylie Greaves and Allison Rhodes are business founders and graduate students. The two roles demand the majority of their time and attention, and their minds are always reeling, ready to welcome the next best idea. While this lifestyle may not sound appealing to some, it is the life of these two entrepreneurs, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kahoots is an idea of collaboration that came about in the fourth year of their undergrad. Greaves, Rhodes and their classmates were tasked with brainstorming an idea for a business. They noticed that many students had really innovative ideas, but didn’t have the all the skills necessary to launch. Ryerson was a university with wide range of faculties, so why not create a platform that connects students across faculties and across campus?

As they were developing their idea, they realized this problem of collaboration was not specific to Ryerson. They then focused on creating an open platform that would be open to all postsecondary schools across Canada.

After winning $25,000 at the Slaight Communications Business Plan Competition in March, Kahoots received the funding necessary to launch. Nearly six months later, I’m sitting with Allison Rhodes, the Director of Creative Innovation, and Kaylie Greaves, the Director of Business Development. Kahoots is ready to go live, and neither business partner is showing signs of stress. Instead, the two women carry themselves like professionals ready to embark on this new business venture together.


What is the Kahoots business model?


Allison: We really focused on an expansion across the GTA and the Toronto area, and really bridging other universities together. We have this one open platform where anybody can post their projects and post their profiles. We also have these closed groups that are community specific. So Ryerson would have a community. University of Toronto would have a community. But we are really looking at bringing these other universities together and bringing the students together.

Kaylie: And that is where the revenue comes in, because it would be sales of these private communities to schools. Like Ryerson for example: if they can get gather three students from totally different faculties and launch a start up out of this thing, then its ultimately good for the school.


How did you come up with the name, Kahoots?


Allison: That was all Kaylie. We didn’t like it at first.

Kaylie: It was supposed to be a name that was specific to Ryerson, but then when we decided to do the business plan competition it was two nights before the competition, and we needed a name. We brainstormed on a Google document, and we were just throwing up words. So we came up with Kahoots. We were kind of wishy washy. We decided we didn’t like it, but we were like, okay, we need a name, let’s just go with it for now, we can always change it later. But then after the business plan competition we just got so much positive feedback that we decided to stick with it.


Did you encounter any setbacks when launching your business? If so, how did you resolve them?


Kaylie: I would say our biggest one, funny enough, was we couldn’t find a developer. The key to any tech startup is that you want to have three individuals on your founding team, and the ideal team would be one business person, a designer and a developer. Allison has a design background. We both have a business background. So we were set on those two. But we didn’t have a developer. Funny enough, if Kahoots had been built, we could have posted for a developer on our own platform. But it didn’t exist yet, so that was kind of a big struggle. For three months we were very actively looking for a developer to jump on. We ended up outsourcing some of our initial development, but we found one, so happy ending.

Allison: Also, when we won the business plan competition we should have had funding, but it just took us a while to get it. To get to that stage where we could access the money was a little bit rough for us, so we were definitely not making any money and pulling money out of our own pocket going into this when we initially thought there would be some sort of funding there. It’s fine now, everything worked out.

Kaylie: It took four months. A solid four months before we got our funding after winning the business competition. From the time we actively started incurring expenses it was out of me and Allison’s pocket and we were definitely starving startup founders for a while.


Where can students access Kahoots?


Kaylie: We have a site that is specific to Ryerson. But while that one was in development, we actually started to develop a new site. The reason behind it was, the first site wasn’t going to scale to other schools. So we kind of had to start again from scratch. So Ryerson is going to go ahead with their version, and we are totally supporting that one. But then we also have this other site on the side which is the Kahoots website. That’s where we are pushing everyone, especially those not from Ryerson. They are getting pushed to that site because that is going to be an open platform for everyone.


Who acted as your mentor through the process of business development?


Kaylie: Definitely our advisor, Sean Wise. He was our professor during our undergrad. He is an assistant professor here of entrepreneurship. We both had him for a couple of classes and then had him again for the capstone course. Just a really smart man, and he is accessible at all times.

Allison: Beyond that, when we were first getting started it was Sean Wise and Steven Gedeon who pushed us into taking that leap, and without that, and without their support, we probably wouldn’t have even done it. We probably would have chosen some easy project that we could’ve gotten a good mark on and said good day. And now the DMZ is now our support. Even the staff in the DMZ are really great.

Kaylie: There is often visitors to the DMZ. Lucky for us, most of them are from post secondary institutions. The staff is really good at ensuring that we get time to pitch in front of these guests. It started some really great conversations for us.


What does entrepreneurship mean to you?


Allison: Well, it means you’re never off. You’re always on. You could be out to dinner on a Friday night with a bunch of friends and in your mind your like, that’s a really good idea. You’re making a mental note of something and your not even paying attention to the conversation. Beyond that, you’re working long hours, but you get to own your own life which I think is very exciting.

Kaylie: I think it’s about making sacrifices in certain areas to get to your end goal which is to improve the way something is done. This is an issue that Allison and I experienced, and a lot of people around us experienced. So it’s exciting for us to get to solve this problem, and it’s worth the time we are putting in and the money we aren’t making.

Allison: Kaylie and I at least have each other when it comes to balancing things back and forth. When I feel overwhelmed, usually she is okay, and she pulls me back up. And it’s vice versa.


What was it like balancing school and creating a business?


Allison: Initially it was fine, because it was the initial stages of our business until we got into our graduate phase.

Kaylie: Yeah, now doing the Master’s program is difficult. I would say my studies have definitely taken a bit of a sacrifice. What’s important is actually learning the material. I’m more concerned with taking something away from the course than I am getting an A. I make sure I’m in class all the time and listening to what I think is most important. Other than that, all of our spare time goes to Kahoots. What advice would you give to students who want to start a business of their own?

Allison: Definitely talk about your idea as much as possible. The old adage about keeping your idea to yourself until you are ready to launch is completely thrown out the window. Definitely speak to anybody and get their feedback and if you have potential customers, or people who you think can be potential customers, really find out if your product is something that they want.

Kaylie: We told everyone around Ryerson what our idea was and soon enough there were people that we had told that had heard it from someone else, and it all came back to us. People were sending us ideas and resources from all over campus. The key in getting Kahoots launched was spreading the word.

SAGE – Ryerson’s Week of Welcome Festival

Being welcomed back to school can often be an exhausting process. One that involves three-hour lectures, intimidating course outlines and trading in weekends at the lake for weekends spent at the library. But welcome back has never been easier with SAGE Canada.

Week of welcome 1The team members at SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship) can relate to this annual struggle, as they have to get back to class themselves! During Ryerson’s Week of Welcome Festival from September 4 to 5, the members of SAGE were greeting students with smiling faces, welcoming conversation and chances to win prizes (including the cult favourite, sugar-inducing lollipop).

This year is particularly bright for SAGE, as it marks the first year that the organization is independent at Ryerson University, and a recognized student group under the Ryerson Commerce Society.


The primary goal of SAGE is to advance youth entrepreneurship and community service around the world.

College and university students may not think they are leadership quality yet. They may believe that leadership comes with age, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Students of any age possess the qualities of entrepreneurship, creativity and leadership. These qualities just need to be given an outlet. This is where SAGE comes in. SAGE is an international network that links teams of secondary school students to nearby university and college students, business leaders and civic leaders

.Week of Welcome - iPadDuring the week of welcome in Ted Rogers School of Management, all team members had iPad’s on the ready for students to sign up for newsletters regarding upcoming competitions and potential job offerings. Although SAGE is targeted at secondary school students, David Kwok, President of SAGE, says that the best mentors are students who have experienced high school and are ready to use that experience to lead youth to great heights. “If you are a recent high school graduate entering university, many times you are bound to visit your old high school once or twice,” he said. “Well, why not do something more than just visit and help start a movement within your local community?”



Kwok says university students should imagine themselves back when they were in high school. High school students were full of ideas, but were afraid to pursue them in fear of lack of skills or knowledge. 

“Well become a part of that support system and leverage the resources from SAGE and Ryerson to provide the opportunities that you never had to those in your high school,” said Kwok.
?Another exciting addition to SAGE is new team members that consist of students from various faculties. With this new team, Kwok hopes to generate new ideas and create innovative marketing campaigns.

            Week of Welcome - Word board                     Week of Welcome - Word board

A project was already in the works at the SAGE booth. Clipboards held keywords and phrases related to business and entrepreneurship. Equipped with colourful markers, team members were encouraging students to write down the first thing they thought of when they heard the following words: competitive growth, education, collaboration, youth entrepreneurship and mentorship.

This activity was encouraging students to brainstorm, while also serving as part of a larger word collage that they hope to assemble by the end of the year. Also at the table was a wooden sculpture in the shape of SAGE Canada’s logo. The creative director, Emma Kamermans, made the sculpture and the team is currently brainstorming ways to put the beautiful sculpture to use.

What was most evident at the SAGE booth was optimism for the school year ahead. New innovative ideas are beginning to take shape within the first week of classes. Students looking for an uplifting change and an opportunity to act as an outlet for new ideas, should signup and take part in SAGE Canada’s year of change.


Sparking Youth Entrepreneurial Spirit