VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - October 13, 2015) - The Next Big Thing (TNBT), an entrepreneur-led charitable foundation that empowers young founders to take on the world, today announced the 12 winning ventures chosen for its elite Vancouver-based Fellowship. The 21 founders aged 15-23 have joined TNBT from across the country to take part in a three-month intensive program that will propel them from today’s startups-to-watch into tomorrow’s success stories.

“Some of the most innovative startups in the market today were created by founders in their teens or early twenties,” said Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite and TNBT co-founder. “We’re proud to champion the brightest and best entrepreneurs in Canada and give them access to mentorship, top tier networking opportunities and hands-on learning at this critical stage in their companies’ growth.”

This year’s cohort includes game-changers like 22-year-old Salima Visram, creator of a solar powered wearable tech backpack that is already being deployed into Kenyan primary schools, and Miguel Kurdy, recognized by MacLean’s Magazine as a “Canada Future Leader”, and founder of HelpHub, an educational platform with over 20,000 users.

“Starting a company is hard, but when you connect to people who’ve done it before and get the resources you need to validate and execute on your ideas, you’re so many steps closer to success,” said Kurdy. “TNBT gives you unparalleled access to growth opportunities.”

The Vancouver Fellows will work out of the fast-paced offices of Hootsuite, one of Canada’s greatest startup success stories, on ventures that range from a carpooling app to a natural sweets company. Industry leaders like Recon Instruments, General Fusion, and Vision Critical will also host the Fellows for exclusive hands-on learning sessions. New to this year’s offering is an Investment FastTrack program, which will connect the most venture-ready startups directly to TNBT’s extensive network of angel investors and VCs.

“We’re already seeing companies in our pipeline who are poised to compete on a global scale," said Meredith Powell, co-founder of TNBT, “In our new FastTrack program, we intend to open our investor rolodex to qualified Fellows and help get the right funding behind them.”

The winners were selected by a committee made of up notable leaders like John Ruffolo, CEO of Omers Ventures; Kari Lockhart, Partner and Technology Industry Lead at Deloitte Canada; Michael Gokturk, CEO at Payfirma; Amielle Lake, CRO of Tagga; and Geoff Entress, Managing Director at Pioneer Square Labs and Partner at Voyager Capital.

This is the second year of the Fellowship program, which was created by Holmes and Powell. Both experienced first-hand the lack of resources, tools and relevant education for young entrepreneurs and are determined to ensure the rising stars of today tell a much different story.

Applications for TNBT’s first-ever Toronto-based Fellowship are currently being accepted at The call for submissions closes November 1st for a start date of February 2016.

The Next Big Thing 2015 Vancouver Fellowship Winners
As We Are - Zoya Jiwa
Input Kit - Michael Go
Currents - Alex Sismanis, Steven Liu
Festfeed - Hilton Routley, Matt Stefan, Jordan Romero-Porter, Kelsey Maes
Helphub - Miguel Kurdy
Iconik - Layne Lafrance
Reach - Sarah Main, Brent Hussey
Spare - Alexey Indeev, Josh Andrews, Kristoffer VanHansen
Stevi-Sweets - Tara Bosch
taski - Rishabh Chaudhary, Kirill Polzunov
The Soular Backpack - Salima Visram
Basecamp Card Company - Maya Gay, Aidan May

About The Next Big Thing
The Next Big Thing (TNBT) is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to empowering exceptional young entrepreneurs to take on the world. TNBT delivers the action-oriented education, funding, and network that kids don't get in school, highlighting real-world best practices for making ideas happen. Because every aspiring innovator deserves the opportunity to pursue their most creative, audacious, and ambitious dreams.

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