Our next IMPACT Startup Visa Program (ISV) cohort is just weeks away from kicking off, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming 11 purpose-driven international entrepreneurs to the accelerator.
Now virtual so that participants can complete the program from the comfort and safety of their homes, no matter where in the world they are, the program will prepare these entrepreneurs to move their businesses to Canada.
Let us introduce you to the new cohort, hailing from around the globe and representing industries from food to education to waste management and places in between. We hope you enjoy getting to know them.
Meet the Entrepreneurs of the Fall 2020 ISV Cohort
Sonali Sharma co-founded Nugu Handmade in 2017 with a vision to create sustainable artisan businesses that provide dignified jobs to indigenous people while making a global bespoke handmade brand. Her motivation was sparked by over a decade of work with education leaders from indigenous and local communities where she realized that the main reason for poverty in these communities is unemployment.
Sonali has an MBA degree from the University of Roehampton, London, a certificate in Design Thinking from MIT, and a certificate in Social Enterprise Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2020, Sonali won the “Times She UnLtd Entrepreneur” award for her role in establishing Nugu. She intends to continue her journey as a thought leader by helping young entrepreneurs build enduring organizations that value impact-focused and human-centred innovation to achieve sustained profitability.
Beyond work, Sonali loves to explore and learn different forms of dance and theatre!
Feryar Einkhah is a serial entrepreneur, scientist, and currently the CEO and co-founder of Pyroltech – a green technology startup that designs and manufactures mobile/stationary pyrolysis machinery for waste-to-energy conversion applications.
For the past 10 years, Feryar has been involved as the CEO and Co-founder of several solid waste management companies. Currently, along with her team at Pyroltech, she is on a mission to help with the reduction of the non-recycled plastics that go to the landfills and oceans.
Feryar received her Ph.D. in Material Science & Engineering from the Sharif University of Technology and has had several papers in the field of plasma technology published in national and international journals.
Shahrzad Mirjahani Mohamadabadi is a business strategist and designer. She is now the CEO at Flowjin where she helps people with lived experiences sell their knowledge to knowledge seekers on a monthly basis.
Shahrzad studied International Design and Business Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her work experience has taken her to Hong Kong, China, Japan, Britain, and Iran where she helped multiple startups kickstart their idea by designing their business model and core strategies. Now, she is on a mission to break down the barriers to content creation and revolutionize how people share and monetize knowledge online.
Trista Li is the founder and CEO of KitcheNet, a social enterprise that uses AI to bring fresh food and people closer together. Her hope is to provide an interactive, novel, and affordable way for people to eat more fruits and veggies.
Prior to launching KitcheNet Canada, Trista launched KitcheNet US with notable clients including Charles Schwab, WeWork, and DLA Piper. She also previously led market development for Kiva in Chicago.
Besides introducing hundreds of variety of fruits to her office clients, Trista also enjoys long runs, watercolor painting, and mentoring high school entrepreneurs. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Shankar is a tech entrepreneur and cloud evangelist with more than 14 years of experience. He founded Brainvalley with a vision to create a global EdTech company that can transform millions of lives through quality education anywhere on the globe. He currently leads a team of 50 employees and is responsible for the overall business strategy, company growth, and product development.
Before founding Brainvalley, Shankar worked for a US-based IT services company where he led many high-stakes projects.
Though his academic background was originally in accounting and finance, Shankar’s passion for IT motivated him to obtain a postgraduate degree in cloud computing from Stuart School of Business and certification in Information Systems Auditing from ISACA. He is also certified in AWS Cloud Computing, DevOps, and SysOps.
As a third-generation farmer, Facundo Rapela grew up in the farming world. As soon he got his double degree in business and finance at Nottingham Trent University and ended his working experiences in Europe, he returned to Argentina to take over the family drilling business with his business partner.
Facundo founded Alfarmers with his partners at EA La Maneita, Argentina and together they transformed a salty marginal land with little production capabilities into a 3,000-acre fully productive sustainable venture. That’s when producing more with less became a way of life for him.
Outside of farming, Facundo is a family man who enjoys taking long, discussion-filled walks with his wife and children. His wife and he are also godfathers of a rural school where he teaches mathematics and ethics while also contributing to school maintenance and the student needs.
Tejas Labhshetwar completed his Bachelor in Computer Science only to realize that coding is not his cup of tea. After turning his attention to a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management, he found his true passion in business studies and entrepreneurship.
For the past 7 years, he has grown a successful and profitable university admissions consultancy from a 1-person business to a team of 16 with offices in Dubai and Mumbai. Collectively, they have represented more than 200 international universities and positively impacted the lives of over 10,000 international students.
The current global pandemic made Tejas realize the true challenges faced by the international education industry as well as the current need for parents, students, schools & universities during the admission journey. As a result, he decided to transform Gyaneberry from a consulting firm to a tech-enabled solutions provider. And he aims to make Canada his new home to kick start his renewed vision and journey.
Outside of work, Tejas is a fan of tennis and cricket. He has also traveled to over 20 countries and is a terrible cook. When he’s at home, you can find him exploring new nursery rhymes and animal names with his 2-year-old son.
Founder of Reway
Mitra Matloubi is a chemical engineer who has worked as a science and market researcher as well as an engineering consultant for years. Her core reasons for becoming an entrepreneur and business person are her strong beliefs in people’s capability to make this world a better place for the next generations if they are placed in the right context and it is up to entrepreneurs to make it happen.
As a co-founder of Reeno, Mitra researched people’s behavior and their feelings towards doing good for the environment. With that data in hand, she created a thorough marketing plan to help the company engage as many people as possible into environmental matters and recycling electronic wastes.
There is no line for Mitra to separate work from hobbies. If she does something, it means she enjoys it very much.
Seyed Mohammad Hosseini is the CEO and Founder of Aftab Sprouts where he leverages nearly two decades of executive experience within small and medium companies of all kinds, including food companies.
With a Master’s Degree in E-commerce and a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering, Seyed established his company approximately 5 years ago in Iran. Since then, Aftab Sprouts has produced more than 15 types of herbal medicinal sprout powders that have been sold across Iran and introduced to other countries at the German Food Exhibition.
His deep drive for helping more patients has led Seyed to transfer his business to Canada. With this move, he hopes to expand his market opportunities and help Aftab Sprouts become a global brand.
Claudio Perazzo is the founder and CEO of Italian Meat Master, a Kelowna-based maker of authentic (and healthier) Italian sausages.
Claudio started his career as an apprentice in 1989 and opened his first meat store in Sestri Levante, Italy, in 1995. He quickly became known in the region for his skills and the quality of his products. After 25 years, he felt the need to evolve his knowledge and rethink his meat products, so he returned to school to upgrade his skills and become a true Italian Meat Master.
In 2015, Claudio moved to Kelowna with his family and the dream of starting a new meat business. His goal was to spread his knowledge across Canada and produce outstanding goodies using only natural ingredients and local, high-quality meats.
Outside the food industry, Claudio loves sharing his life and love with his wife Stefania and their three daughters. Together, they enjoy exploring Canada, connecting with nature, earthing, and enjoying the other benefits that only Mother Nature can give.
Joyce Lui is the Managing Director of CHOK, a membership-driven Muay Thai gym started in Hong Kong that provides access to fitness education, training and support for all ages, generations, gender, and abilities.
Joyce has been running the gym with her husband for 14 years. She aims to use her multi-generational barrier-free Muay Thai training programs to address societal needs by advocating physical and mental fitness, community integration, and social responsibility.
She also strives to reach out to communities in need, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and at-risk youth, through specialized and tailored programs. Joyce believes in the benefits of Muay Thai training in building endurance, confidence, and quality of life for all.
In her free time, she enjoys looking for delicious desserts. When people ask her what is more important, dessert or training, she doesn’t answer because she is eating. A balanced life should contain both – Train Hard & Eat Harder!
Managing Director, CEO & CIO of Salmon Capital Holdings, Ltd.
Along with being the Co-founder of Campbell River Area Angel Group (CRAAG), Dana Kammersgard has over a decade of experience as a public company president and CEO.
He grew Dot Hill Systems (NASDAQ:HILL) to $240M in revenues and sold to Seagate for $694M in 2015. Dana has significant U.S. and international experience with general management and operations, corporate turnarounds and transformation, financing, and mergers and acquisitions.
Leveraging his breadth of experience including 30 years in the computer storage industry, Dana serves and has served in numerous Board of Directors positions including Imageware Systems (2016-2020), TZOA (2019-present), and M&G Global (2019-present). He also serves as an advisor to Sequitur Labs, Open Ocean Robotics, and Portable Electric.
He has founded Salmon Capital Holdings to address the challenge of pivoting small communities into the future by attracting technology-based startups with the necessary infrastructure for them to grow and thrive.