They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, and that was certainly true for the four young entrepreneurs who created the rising start-up, Groupnotes.
While undertaking group research as students at McMaster University, co-founders Matthew Gardner and Jason Moore noticed that there was no way to mark sections of a website with comments like they could with a sticky note in a textbook, and also no way to efficiently share links with each other. And so Groupnotes was born: a platform that allows users to create and share a private comment section on any website.
Now in beta testing, Groupnotes serves a wide user base of social sharers, educational users and enterprise users, which has translated into big success for its creators. In November 2012 the team, rounded out by Sheridan grads Mathieu Gosbee and Graham Kennery, beat over 300 competitors in Startup Weekend Toronto, the 54-hour competition where Groupnotes was developed into a viable idea. One month later, Groupnotes was declared the overall winner of Startup Weekend’s Global Startup, beating out 137 teams from around the world to win a trip to Rio De Janeiro to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, a trip to Googleplex in San Francisco, as well as $35,000 in start-up services and cloud storage.
Now, the Groupnotes team can add one more milestone to their growing list of achievements – winning one of three top spots in OCE’s ELP Competition at Discovery.
Wearing their team’s signature orange pants, Matt and Jason delivered an enthusiastic pitch that resonated with the panel of judges at Discovery, who awarded the Groupnotes team $25,000 to further their start-up venture.
Upon being selected as a finalist in the ELP Competition, the Groupnotes team received business plan development assistance from OCE, which Matt credits with helping his team look critically at the business aspects of their innovation.
“The ELP has given us so many tools, opportunities, and learning experiences that accelerated our growth as entrepreneurs and have allowed us to really concentrate on our business without getting bogged down by details,” said Gardner.
Matt and Jason are enrolled in the Master’s Engineering and Entrepreneurship Innovation (MEEI) Program, where they receive business training though the Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship & Innovation (XCEEi), which is partially funded through OCE’s ELP. The team was also recently selected for the HYPERDRIVE tech start-up incubator program at Communitech and are currently located in “the cave” there, accelerating the growth of their start-up. Now that they are winners of Discovery’s ELP Competition, the self-proclaimed “entrepreneurs for life” plan on putting the $25,000 award towards expanding their team so they can grow the Groupnotes platform even faster.
“Groupnotes facilitates sharing as it should be and also addresses time-wasting problems like finding old links and digging through conversations,” said Gardner. “We envision a world where Groupnotes is the default way to share links because we really believe that sharing should be built into the browser experience.” The platform is available through a wait list until a more open beta is complete, but new users can skip the wait list and try Groupnotes today by signing up through this special link: www.groupnotes.ca/in/OCEonline