MyMem Models Startup Success with Competition Wins

A siri-like app, developed by current and former Dalhousie students, to assist older people and those with dementia to recall information easily and independently using artificial intelligence has recently been awarded $50,000 investment after success at national and regional competitions.

Last week, Volta Labs in partnership with Innovacorp and BDC Capital, launched the Volta Cohort – a new $125,000 micro fund for Atlantic Canadian early-stage companies. The Dalhousie-based team, MyMem were one of five Halifax companies to be awarded a $25,000 funding and mentorship package at the November 14th launch event, following a competitive pitching process.

Age-Well Ideathon 2nd place winners (L to R): Arun Athisamy, Eric Fisher, Harish Gopinath, and Aishwarya Ravichandran

This follows similar success at a national ideathon competition. Back in October, AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence and HACKING HEALTH hosted the culmination of a Canada-wide competition to identify and invest in new technologies and services to support healthy aging. MyMem placed second in the national initiative and took home $25,000 investment.

MyMem is the creation of alumnus Eric Fisher (PhD Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ’13) and current Master of Applied Computer Science program students Harish Gopinath, Arun Athisamy, and Aishwarya Ravichandran.

“We wanted to develop a solution for dementia sufferers and their families to makes things easier for those suffering from memory loss, their caregivers and families,” said Ravichandran.

“Through AI based personalized voice command, MyMem helps people living with dementia recall information quickly and independently, and hold onto memories and experiences. It will enable users to access important information and photos by voice command, requiring very little proficiency with technology. We hope the app will be fun to use as well as helpful and believe this could change the way disorders such as dementia are approached.”

MyMem’s recent accomplishment follows first-place success earlier this year at HACKING HEALTH HALIFAX in March, and Nova Scotia Sandboxes Introduction to Innovation Bootcamp in May.

The team is based out of innovation sandbox ShiftKey Labs in the Goldberg Computer Science Building, where they have benefitted from the expertise of lab manager, Grant Wells.

“MyMem have shown real potential since the idea was first conceptualized earlier this year,” says Wells. “The app could have a huge impact on people’s lives and the way in which health professionals deal with dementia, related disorders and those living with them.”

Following their recent wins, MyMem are looking ahead and moving forward with tailoring the app to better serve customers.

“The investment from both competitions will make a huge difference in how we can continue to innovate and develop the best product possible for users,” Harish Gopinath says. “We are hoping to go public with the app in 2018 and the investment of support and money we have received so far will really help to make this happen.”

Students Heed Advice at Common Founder Pitfalls Event

In the afternoon of November 5, presenter Colin Conrad shared the common pitfalls faced by founders when building teams, searching for capital and determining equity shares. Based on Noam Wasserman’s Founder’s Dilemmas, we discussed what the data has to say about the characteristics of a strong founding team, common founder pitfalls, and the statistical impact of key early decisions on a startup company two years down the road.

Colin Conrad, a PhD student at Dalhousie studying through the Faculties of Management and Computer Science, did a terrific job delivering this presentation to students. Colin has been providing consulting and research services for six post-revenue startup companies in the space of E-commerce or Health since 2012. He also led RealLike, a “gracefully” failed Offline-to-Online point of sales platform for retailers. We were very grateful to learn from his successes and failures along the way and to have him share his experiences with students.

ShiftKey Labs is proud to have planned and organized this event. Students from all partner institutions, including Dal, SMU, NSCAD, NSCC and Volta Labs, were in attendance at the event.

The Human Face of Big Data Movie Night

On October 22, ShiftKey Labs had the pleasure of hosting a viewing of the award-winning movie The Human Face of Big Data as well as a post-movie discussion led by Stan Matwin, Director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics. During the discussion, Dr. Matwin explored key points in the movie and their impact on our personal and professional lives. This event was open to anyone who was interested – and we certainly saw a lot of interest. The timing of the event could not have been better, following on the heels of another very exciting big data event in Halifax – the Big Data Productivity Congress 2015.

ShiftKey Labs planned and executed this event and promoted it cross-institutionally. We were pleased to present both an acclaimed film and speaker to our members and broader community.

For anyone who missed it, the movie synopsis is featured below:

The Human Face of Big Data captures an extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us

  • to provide healthier lives for our children;
  • to provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe;
  • to help us conserve precious resources like water and energy;
  • to alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness;
  • to peer into our own individual genetic makeup;
  • to create new forms of life;
  • and soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface…

This massive gathering and analyzing of data in real time is allowing us to address some of humanity’s biggest challenges. Yet, as Edward Snowden and the release of the NSA documents has shown, the accessibility of all this data can come at a steep price.

Stan Matwin
Dr. Stan Matwin and students at the “Big Data” movie night