JR Shaw School of Business and Mawji Centre bring business innovation to NAIT

by | Apr 18, 2024 | News

The Business Innovation Showcase, organized for the first time in partnership between the JR Shaw School of Business and the Mawji Centre, is an event where entrepreneurial spirit is key. The collaborative event featured “students’ entrepreneurial ventures, as well as any innovative capstone, group project, case competition and student clubs,” said Mawji Centre Manager, John Sutherland.

The event took place on the afternoon of April 10 on the main floor of the NAIT Feltham Center (CAT building). Students and recent graduates could sign up to receive a free booth to showcase their projects. A total of $8,000 was awarded in four categories: Most Innovative Solution and Best Community Solution, presented by Panama Enterprises Inc., and the People’s Choice Award and the Most Engaging Booth, offered by the JR Shaw School of Business. 

There were approximately 70 booths, and interested students got free training by signing up for three workshops: Trade Show Strategies, Effective Networking and Refining Your Pitch. Some of the advantages gained include knowing how to network and pitch, as well as being in contact with senior business leaders and staying in contact with them.  “So, the big thing is to get their [students] business or innovative project out there, get some feedback from industry; we’ve got over 300 industry members that have come through the event … it’s just getting that profile up for them. And then for the Mawji Centre, just to showcase what NAIT has for entrepreneurship and innovation as a whole across campuses,” said Sutherland. While some students displayed a class project or club initiative, many of the students also worked closely throughout the year with the Mawji Center’s Entrepreneurship Blue Book Program presented by TD Bank to make their ideas a reality.

A group of people look at booths at a trade-show style exhibit.
Attendees gathered in the CAT building for the Business Innovation Showcase. Photo by Fernanda Rocha


Most Innovative Solution: Wire Financial

The brainchild of Applied Financial Services student Mehrab Shikder, this is an early-stage fintech startup with a mission to empower the global migrant community, especially South Asian migrants. He got a $2,000 prize.

Best Community Solution: Bridge Healing

Formed by the group of Bachelor of Technology students Michele Edwards, Dixit Ramoliya, Sharon Tamali and Kevin Valani, this Capstone Project investigates the use and development of artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the needs of people experiencing homelessness with the organization sponsor Bridge Healing. In short, it’s a project that allows Edmontonians experiencing homelessness to have access to transitional beds at the Jasper Place Wellness Center upon discharge from Edmonton hospital emergencies. The team split a $2,000 prize.

Lennox Tarabay (left) and Cezar El-Jurdi pose behind their booths at the Innovation Showcase. Photo supplied

People’s Choice: Lenzo & Co

Lennox Tarabay is in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program and was the big winner by crowd vote. Lenzo & Co is a local company specializing in silver, and the idea came from his passion for jewelry. “I also realized that there was a problem for which I could offer a solution. Many consumers are being taken advantage of by big jewelry companies, and quite frankly, this lit a fire in me. I studied the industry and realized that, in general, consumers are overpaying for jewelry. I personally was one of the people who overpaid,” said Tarabay. 

He added that his expansion plans include using social media and the online store to reach a wider audience and concluded that it was a precious achievement. Tarabay was the fourth winner of the $2,000 prize.

“Winning the People’s Choice award holds immense significance for us, especially considering it’s our first month in operation and our first market ever. It validates our mission to make quality jewelry accessible to everyone and motivates us to continue striving for excellence.” 

Most Engaging Booth: Kong’s Collection

Cezar El-Jurdi, also a student in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program at NAIT, created this venture. He told the Nugget, “It’s an active business and the premier destination for card and memorabilia collectors. We offer a wide variety of rare and highly sought-after items. Whether you like sports cards, vintage memorabilia, vintage collectibles or pop culture, we have something for every enthusiast.” 

El-Jurdi won $2,000 and let his happiness show: “Receiving the award for the most engaging booth was a significant confidence booster for my business. After months of consistent hard work and dedication, seeing my efforts recognized was incredibly rewarding.”

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