UTL Student Founder-in-Residence Pilot

U of T Libraries student founder-in-residence (SFiR) pilot closed March 3, 2023. The pilot sought to connect the U of T community with students and recent alumni equipped to address topics such as networking, finding co-founders, mentorship, pitching, public speaking, balancing ventures and school, EDI, and general business advice on a range of topics.

Three selected SFiRs each served a two-month term during the 2022-23 academic year, providing regular virtual office hours to all three campuses, helping their peers develop their ideas. In addition, each SFiR planned events during their tenure to address some aspect of business planning, networking, team building, work-life balance, EDI, pitching/public speaking, or similar topic to be determined.

Who can meet with the SFiR?  

While the experience of the SFiRs is in entrepreneurship, they have a range of experience that will benefit the U of T community beyond starting a company.  

Any student, staff or faculty could meet with them to discuss topics such as career and business planning, intellectual property, school-life balance, public speaking and performance, EDI in the workplace, and other topics as specified in their profiles below.

2022-23 Student Founders-in-Residence

January 9 - March 3, 2023: Joella Almeida, MedEssist

Joella is CEO and Co-Founder at MedEssist, a complete digital health platform for pharmacies committed to enabling pharmacists to provide the best modern, comprehensive solution for their patient interactions. Joella holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Diaspora & Transnational Studies, as well as Equity Studies from Woodworth College at U of T. She worked in both a scaling start-up & a corporate bank prior to co-leading MedEssist. This enabled her a multi-hyphenate career spanning HR, sales support, customer success, and digital consultant as a Shopify partner under the Shopify Partner Program. MedEssist works with digital health, pharma, and diagnostic companies to leverage the local pharmacy to scale innovative solutions, effectively empowering the transition from pharmacy to healthcare hub serving local communities everywhere.

February 9: Understanding Business Models 

This workshop will explore a few business models commonly found in healthcare startups. Joella will start by sharing the journey of her venture, MedEssist, from an app focused on medication adherence to a complete platform addressing digital health challenges. Participants will have the chance to think through the pros and cons of different business models using a fictional case, followed by a debrief and Q&A. 


November - December 2022: Albert Tai, Hypercare

Albert Tai is the founder and CEO of Hypercare, a VC-backed healthcare technology company. He holds a Master of Information degree from the U of T Faculty of Information with a specialization in Information Systems and Design and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Medical Science from Western. Hypercare connects the right healthcare providers at the right time to collaborate for patient care in hospital and community settings. Hypercare was born through his experience shadowing physicians and seeing frustrations around pagers and the current communication system. To date, Hypercare is launched with more than 100 healthcare organizations across North America from small community health centres to multi-site hospital systems. They are backed by leading investors such as Wavemaker360, FootHill Ventures, physician executives and providers.

Finding a Startup Founder - November 18, 2022, 12-1 p.m. ET

Finding a cofounder is one of the hardest parts of starting a company, and one of the keys to a startup’s success. Join student founder-in-residence Albert Tai of Hypercare as he explores this topic with a fellow VC-backed founder. They’ll talk about how and why it is important to find someone who complements your skill set and personality and who shares your vision and commitment. They'll discuss what’s the best practice to work effectively with your co-founder to prevent a breakup. Sound impossible? Bring your questions and join us to find out.

Building your First Product - December 2, 2022, 12-1 p.m.

Student entrepreneurs building their first product have a lot of questions to answer. From prioritizing product requirements and aligning your team to the goals, to conducting user interviews and running quick experiments to evaluate the success of your efforts, there is no single right answer or guidebook. Join UTL Student Founder-in-Residence Albert Tai as he tackles these questions and draws on his experience and that of his guest in a virtual discussion and Q & A. 

Digital Health Innovation Panel and Networking Event  - December 15, 4 - 6 p.m. ET

Accelerated by the pandemic, digital tools are transforming the healthcare space. Learn how to build a successful business in healthcare from some of U of T’s most talented and experienced healthcare tech entrepreneurs. Understand the challenges selling to patients, providers, hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies. Bring your questions, and take away some of the key insights they learned while building their businesses and where they see the industry heading. The panel will take place from 4-5 and then the networking hour will follow until 6 pm. Refreshments will be served.

Michael Do (Co-founder of MedEssist)
Liam Kaufman (CEO of Winterlight Labs)
Sarrah Lal (Co-founder of Kultura Diagnostics)
Joshua Liu (CEO of Seamless MD)
Rae Massop (Founder of Aworie Health)

Moderator: Albert Tai, CEO, Hypercare; UTL Student Founder-in-Residence Nov-Dec 2022


September - October 2022: Kasey Dunn, HOPE Pet Foods

Kasey Dunn is a current PhD student in Higher Education at OISE, with a research focus on the role of post-secondary institutions in the innovation ecosystem, and entrepreneurial education for the empowerment of equity-deserving groups. A serial social entrepreneur herself, she supports change-makers from the Humber College community through programs and advising at the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship. Kasey holds a Masters of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Queen’s University. Find out more about Kasey on her LinkedIn page.

Start with Why - September 22, 2022, 12-1:30 p.m. EST

Thinking about starting a business, social enterprise, non-profit, or community-based organization? Wondering where to start? Join this session to learn why all great innovators and change makers Start with Why!

Storytelling for Pitches and Presentations - October 5, 2022

Do you need to pitch an idea, present your business to a customer, or give a compelling presentation? Join this session to learn how we can harness the power of storytelling!

About this pilot

Founders are current students or recent alumni endorsed by a U of T accelerator. For more information about this program, please contact UTL Entrepreneurship Librarian Carey Toane at carey.toane@utoronto.ca.

This pilot was funded by a U of T Libraries Chief Librarian's Innovation Award.