Showcasing UWindsor Student Innovators and Startups
Meet Nourin Ahmed and Wilson Ler – two student entrepreneurs from the University of Windsor who show that pursuing a degree and dreams can go hand in hand.
Nourin Ahmed is pursuing a Master of Science in Computer Science program in Artificial Intelligence. She founded Rentee, a service designed to offer virtual property tours to international students and newcomers to Canada. Her platform ensures a more transparent leasing process to reduce the risk of rental scams.
“We provide a unique solution by combining real-time video technology with local insights to offer a trustworthy house-hunting experience,” said Nourin. “Our goal is to revolutionize the rental market, making it as stress-free as possible. We aim to foster a safer, more trustworthy housing search process, which will not only benefit the individuals directly but also enhance the reputation of the rental industry in Canada.”
The inspiration came from Nourin’s friend’s harrowing experience with fraudulent listings, making her friend lose thousands of dollars.
“In the coming months, the plan is to launch a beta version of Rentee, collecting feedback from early users and fostering an agile approach to expand the functionality to ready Rentee for all users,” said Nourin.
Duncan Lam, General Manager at CAMufacturing Solutions Inc., was Nourin’s mentor during EPICentre’s RBC EPIC Founders program and shared his experience working with Nourin during the 2023 Summer. “Nourin has proven herself to be versatile and resourceful. In addition, she has a quality many budding entrepreneurs lack – the willingness to listen to suggestions! She always researches and tries to incorporate ideas to help her move forward.”
Wilson Ler is a Master of Applied Computing student at the University of Windsor with previous experience as a software engineer and Co-founder of Beloga.
“Beloga’s vision is to unlock the full potential of human collaboration by providing the ultimate research co-pilot, ensuring that shared wisdom leads to collective advancement and a smarter, more resourceful world,” said Wilson. “We believe that Beloga will help reduce time spent on context switching and information retrieval, hoping to increase individual and team productivity. Particularly for consulting, marketing, and analysts.”
The inspiration came from Wilson’s poor experience with note-taking and researching information online. However, during the development phase, Wilson and his Co-founder Jerica faced challenges ensuring they were building a product that met the needs of their target users.
“We embraced pivoting,” said Wilson. “Do not ‘fall in love’ with your minimum viable product, and do not overbuild because it can make pivoting harder. Build together with your users instead.”
“Collaborating with Wilson as a Co-founder has been an extraordinary journey, witnessing first-hand his remarkable blend of swift strategic thinking and unparalleled work ethic, which has been instrumental in scaling Beloga to new heights,” said Jerica, Co-founder of Beloga.
Not only did their co-workers and mentors assist these young entrepreneurs, but the University of Windsor and EPICentre also played a crucial role in helping Nourin and Wilson develop their startups.
“The entrepreneurship programs offered by the EPICentre for students and recent graduates provided the guidance and resources necessary to transform the idea into a business model,” said Nourin. “Additionally, the University of Windsor regularly informs the students about networking events, business model competitions, upcoming workshops by successful business owners, and more. UWindsor plays a crucial role in cultivating this region’s business culture.”
Building a startup is challenging, and Nourin and Wilson have gained valuable lessons that have transformed them personally and professionally.
“This journey has changed my perspective on the intricacies of starting a business, especially across different industries and locations,” said Wilson. “Starting Beloga has taught me that perseverance and patience are key. So is being proactive when it comes to solving problems.”
“Working on this startup has taught me the importance of resilience, the value of a supportive community, and the incredible impact that focused, passionate work can have. It’s shaped me into a more confident and driven professional committed to continuous learning and improvement,” said Nourin.
If you are a student interested in starting your venture, Nourin and Wilson have some advice to share.
“The biggest ‘mistake’ one can make is to stay where they are today and not try it out because even if you fail, you can always take it as a learning experience,” said Wilson. “When starting, accept that it is normal to ‘fail fast,’ and the faster you learn to fail, the better you become a master at it.”
“I advise beginning with a problem you are passionate about solving. Let this passion drive you, but also be open to feedback and ready to adapt, and always look out for mentorship and networking opportunities,” said Nourin. “Entrepreneurship is as much about resilience and learning from failure as it is about celebrating success.”