There are a lot of smart and innovative millennials in the Jewish community and many of them were flaunting their talent and ingenuity at the recent Tech Shuk event, presented by JNFuture and the Asper Foundation on June 22 in Toronto.
More than 200 people attended Tech Shuk, a marketing and fundraising event, where 25 young Canadian and Israeli venders showcased their startups and other entrepreneurial endeavours.
There was also a pitch competition and a key-note address delivered by Aaron Zifkin, regional director of Americas operations at Airbnb.
The event, which was co-chaired by Danielle Faber and Kevin Climans, was held at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library.
Tech Shuk was put on by JNFuture, the young professional arm of the Jewish National Fund. The funds raised from the evening went to sup-port ALUT, The Israeli Society for Autistic Children.
The evening was an opportunity for venders and people in attendance to network. Beer, hors d’oeuvres and conversation flowed as the young entrepreneurs talked up their businesses.
The pitch competition was modelled after CBC Television’s Dragons’ Den. The Tech Shuk’s version, called the Lions’ Den, saw four young entrepreneurs pitch their respective company’s vision to four experienced entrepreneurs, who gave them feedback.
The lions included: Linda Maxwell, executive director of BioZone, a health technology incubation program; entrepreneur Michael Hyatt, a dragon from CBC’s online show Next Gen Den; Lawrence Krimker, an entrepreneur in environmental sustainability services; and private equity firm founder Daniel Klass.
Brian Lee introduced TeaBot, a robot kiosk that makes customized hot loose-leaf tea that can be ordered and paid for online.
Ben Walters pitched Feedback, an online marketplace for surplus prepared food.
Justin Hartzman spoke about Needls, a company that optimizes digital advertising.
Daniel Barankin presented 6ix, a firm that connects mining companies to potential small investors over the Internet.
Feedback co-founders Joe Milstone and cousins Ben and Josh Walters said they were very excited about winning the Lions’ Den competition. They received a mentorship package with a range of legal, marketing, coaching and photography services.
Their package also included two tickets to the annual Fireside Conference.
Fireside was started by lawyers Daniel Levine and Steven Pulver. They host an annual retreat that connects entrepreneurs with investors at Camp Walden, near Bancroft, Ont.
Eliav Shaked, founder of RetiSpec, was the winner of Tech Shuk’s Lions’ Den competition in 2016. He gave an update to the group on RetiSpec, a biotech startup that is focusing on early detection of dementia through an eye-scanning device that he is developing.
He announced that he had just received a $50,000 grant from the Ontario Brain Institute.
The biomedical engineer explained that Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia are detected too late for a medical intervention that could slow down the progress of the dis-ease.
He predicted that medication to treat dementia could probably be developed if a diagnosis could be made at an earlier stage of the disease.
Other entrepreneurs showcasing their companies included: Yury Yakubovich, of Nsixvision, which provides consulting services for auto-mated manufacturing; Colin Harding of Iris Technologies, which is developing technology to address eye strain; and Charles Bern of Patio Interactive, a technology-driven design and marketing company.
The group of venders also included: Maria Konikov of the York Entrepreneurship Development Institute; Ryan Standil of Write to Excite; Fedora, a company that provides food to corporations; Flixel, a startup that blends photos and videos; and League, an employee health benefits company that emphasizes preventative health care.
Faber said she’s been involved with Tech Shuk since its inception three years ago and has seen increasing community interest in the event. “More companies are getting involved,” she said. “Every year we are growing bigger.”