This is the second in a series of four stories featuring the finalists of Monster Pitch, the annual student business competition hosted by the Goodman School of Business student club Brock Innovation Group. This year’s competition will be held at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Monday, Jan. 8.
Mel Gencer has a vision that will make the written word leap off the page for elementary and high school students.
The third-year Brock economics student is the founder of HoloEducate, an augmented reality company with a focus on educational materials for students in Grades 4 to 12.
Gencer says the idea to use augmented reality in education first hit him when he wanted to help his younger brother who was struggling to conceptualize three-dimensional objects in geometry class.
Gencer teamed up with other students through BioLinc, Brock’s business incubator run by the Goodman School of Business, to start HoloEducate. After exhaustively researching the existing technology offerings, his team, comprised of developers, content writers and a videographer, began to build custom mobile applications that better suited their needs.
HoloEducate is now home to two mobile applications that Gencer says will open up new channels for students to be curious about education.
The first, called LifeAR, is a pamphlet series that Gencer and his team developed to bring practical skills — such as budgeting, study tips, nutrition and resumé writing — to life for students. Gencer’s goal is to distribute the pamphlets to Niagara’s secondary schools through a local publishing company with the hope that students will point their phones at the images on the page to access videos on each subject.
The second product is a classroom application set to launch in Niagara schools in September. Customized by classroom, the application will provide teachers with unique access codes to share with their students, who will be able to point their phones at specific books or flash cards — or whatever objects are in the application’s database — and see it come to life.
“The beauty of our product is that we don’t have to change any of the content, so we can make a 40-year-old book interactive, because it’s all about the software recognizing what’s on the page,” says Gencer.
To start, his team developed a flashcard game to help students learn facts about animals. After reading the card, students can scan it to discover the answer by interacting with a three-dimensional model of the animal that shows up on their screen.
“Using this technology adds interactivity and curiosity to the learning process and increases memory retention for students,” he says.
Gencer was part of BioLinc’s Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program that helps young entrepreneurs develop their businesses through a year-long series of networking and training opportunities.
“Our team is really happy that we got to this point and that we’ve grown this much enthusiasm around us since we launched in February,” he says. “We want to change the way kids learn and the way they interact with information. Ultimately, we want to change the way people interact with everyday objects across the world.”
Monster Pitch will see four shortlisted student entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas before a panel of judges for a chance to win a funding and startup services package worth $14,000.
The event is hosted by the Brock Innovation Group in partnership with the Goodman School of Business and BioLinc and is sponsored by Spark Power Corp.
The judging panel includes David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber series, and returning judges Bruce Croxon, co-host of BNN’s The Disruptors and CEO of Round 13, Deborah Rosati, corporate director and co-founder of Women Get On Board, and Jason Sparaga, co-founder and co-CEO of Spark Power Corp. and founder of Spara Capital Partners.