About Us

Markham’s newest
community innovation hub

YSpace is York University’s community innovation hub located at the heart of Downtown Markham. We help build great companies by connecting them with high-end equipment, access to capital and a network of influencers and entrepreneurs. We are creating a vibrant physical hub that encourages creativity and bridges the gap between large enterprises and startups within the York Region ecosystem.

Innovation York logo

YSpace is managed by Innovation York. Innovation York (www.innovationyork.ca) is the innovation office for the University with a mandate to facilitate and maximize the commercial, economic, and social impacts of research and innovation, and to create a culture of engaged scholarship and experiential learning. The office provides a myriad of services to faculty members, trainees, students, industry and the community and manages York University’s entrepreneurship program LaunchYU and oversees other incubator spaces: IBM Innovation Space – MCC, ELLA Women Accelerator and LaunchYU.

Our Team

Sarah Howe

Assistant Vice President, Innovation & Research Partnerships

Sarah is a business development professional with extensive experience fostering innovation and developing strategic business operations. Over the past six years, Sarah has successfully created an innovation office at York University that provides a myriad of services across the university and has grown the team to 17.

More About Sarah

She has created and grown a pan-university educational entrepreneurship program, developed and manages two start-up accelerators; and developed and manages an 8000 square foot innovation centre, YSpace, as a strategic step in the development of a new campus. In addition, Sarah is co-lead for the strategic development of innovation and entrepreneurship across the campus.

David Kwok

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship

David joined York University in 2017 as the Entrepreneurship Manager for YSpace Markham and he now oversees three different programs (LaunchYU, YSpace, and ELLA) at Innovation York. Prior to joining York University, David held various roles at The DMZ at Ryerson University, ranging from business development to creating programs for incubated startups.

More About David

In addition to this, David has co-founded ZerotoStartup, an educational venture focused on creating curriculum for maker spaces upon graduation.  He is also involved with several non-for-profit organizations including SAGE Canada, a youth entrepreneurial program as the National Coordinator and Pledges for Change, a community-based youth empowerment program as an Advisory Board member.

Nafis Ahmed

YSpace Entrepreneurship Manager

Nafis joined York University in 2020 after spending 5 years with the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University - the world's first incubator dedicated to legal tech. Nafis is a driven leader with a strong background in developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, fueling startup growth, and building communities and has supported startups in various stages of their development across the GTA tech community.

More About Nafis

Previous to the Legal Innovation Zone, Nafis was part of the operations team at The DMZ, and was also a Co-Founder of NuLens Innovation, using entrepreneurial frameworks to facilitate innovation projects and initiatives. He is deeply involved in startup and social innovation initiatives through his volunteer activities, and is passionate about supporting individuals pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Judy Chang

Food Accelerator Program Advisor

Judy Chang has over 20 years of experience in the food industry, with leading multiple businesses with Kraft & Mondelez, and working at the Nielsen Company as a VP in Analytics. She is an intrapreneur, with experience growing two divisions through double digit growth in revenue and fast-growing team to support.

More About Judy

Judy is also the Founder of Pivot Perspectives, a coaching and mentoring company for leaders and entrepreneurs. She is passionate about supporting startup companies to refine their busienss plans, creating a vision, and developing a high performing and engaged team to lead the charge.

Serena Tang

YSpace Coordinator

Serena joins YSpace after spending several years with the Markham Small Business Centre serving as a Small Business Assistant. She has extensive experience of coordinating programs and supporting entrepreneurs.

More About Serena

York University is a familiar setting to her as she graduated in 2018 from Schulich School of Business. She is excited to combine her experience gained in the innovation ecosystem to support entrepreneurship and innovation at York University and in the wider community.

 

Our Entrepreneurs in Residence

Our Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiR) will host bi-weekly office hours but they are also here to support you outside of the office hours. Please know that all our EiR have had experiences building and growing their companies. They are here as resources to provide advice and guidance but are by no means meant to complete work on your behalf.

Ben Stacey

From scrappy indie studio to the beating heart of agency-world Ben has been pushing the boundaries of business-minded design for just over a decade. Couple that with 4 years volunteer work and close examination of over 1200 pitches with the world’s premier idea-stage accelerator and you've got one hell of a presentation designer.

More About Ben

With insights drawn from the music industry, startup ecosystems and Fortune 500 presentations, Ben provides invaluable lessons on the art of visual and verbal communication.

Currently, Ben operates Pitchverk, a presentation studio, helping founders communicate their message, close deals and raise capital. Additionally, Ben serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Ryerson DMZ and continues to volunteer with Founder Institute Toronto.

Areas of expertise and interest include:

• Pitch Coaching
• Pitch Deck Design
• Visual & Verbal Communication
• Storytelling

Bonnie Yau

Bonnie is a Product leader who has been innovating at the intersection of business and technology for over 15 years. She is a passionate team builder and a firm believer that fully integrated cross-functional teams are what it takes to win in today’s ever-changing competitive landscape. Having endured the pain of digital transformation in corporations large and small, Bonnie sees huge opportunity in start-ups getting it right from the get-go.

More About Bonnie

During Bonnie’s career within enterprises such as LoyaltyOne and start-ups such as SecureKey, she oversaw products for consumers, citizens, and businesses. Bonnie brings best practices and lessons learned from a variety of domains including loyalty programs / marketing, business intelligence, digital identity, authentication, payment, API platforms, and developer programs. Her experience in leading both Product and Technology teams has given her a deep appreciation for the productivity and engagement that is gained exponentially through cross-functional collaboration.

Areas of expertise and interest include:

• Product Management
• Business Analysis
• Cross Functional Team Building
• Agile Product Development

Eva Wong

Eva is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Borrowell, a Canadian fintech company that helps make financial stability possible for everyone. She provides leadership to the Product, Engineering, Design and Data teams and is a member of the Executive Team.

More About Eva

Eva's career has spanned both the private and not-for-profit sectors, including roles at The OTF Group (a Monitor spin-off), Maple Leaf Foods, UNDP and Oliver Wyman. She has studied or worked in the US, Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Eva is an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2019 award winner in Ontario, and was named one of the Standout 35 globally on the 2018 Women in FinTech Powerlist. Eva is a frequent speaker at events, and was named one of 20 Canadian tech start-up founders to follow by Twitter Canada.

Areas of expertise and interest include:
• Operations
• Business Strategies
• Leadership
• Startup Development

Russ Armstrong

Russ is a sales and finance leader and co-founder of Limelight Platform, the worlds first experiential marketing cloud. Russ ran sales, finance and operation at Limelight for 5 years. Russ's expertise is building and developing teams in the B2B SaaS space, across finance, operations and sales & marketing. He is a dynamic and passionate go-to market leader with a proven track record of applying strong leadership, technology, Data and analytics to achieving corporate objectives.

More About Russ

Areas of expertise and interest include:
• Roles and KPI's of your sales team
• Sales team structure and design
• Sales funnel and definitions
• Mapping the buyer journey
• Sales Enablement Tools

Suraj Gupta

Suraj K. Gupta is the Co-Founder, President and CEO of Rogue Insight Capital, and is the CIO for the Easton’s Group of Hotels; Canada’s largest private hotel development corporation. The Easton’s Group owns a portfolio of over 20 hotels across Canada as well as residential condominium projects across the Greater Toronto Area.

More About Suraj

One of Suraj’s primary mandates includes investing in female, immigrant, and visible minority founders. Suraj believes that these groups of entrepreneurs do not get the exposure they deserve, and therefore over 70% of Rogue’s portfolio companies have diverse founding teams at the helm. Additionally, although Rogue invests globally, another of Suraj’s primary objectives is to support and spotlight Canadian founders by aiding great companies in their growth trajectory. He hopes that the world will increasingly recognize the incredible innovations that come out of the Canadian market, and that Toronto will become a hub for entrepreneurship similar to New York City and San Francisco.

Areas of expertise and interest include:

• Business Strategy
• Financial Analysis
• Sales & Marketing Initiatives
• Fundraising Preparation

Mick B

Mick Be is the CEO & Founder of IAmI Authentications, Inc. (“IAmI”), an Identity & Access Management cybersecurity company. Being a startup founder of 10+ yrs, Mick advises coaches, and mentors numerous technology-based startups of all sizes and business types. Over the last 2 years, Mick has been an EiR and key member of the YSpace community.

More About Mick

Mick began his entrepreneurial journey after having worked for the financial services and card payment industries as a product marketing executive. Since beginning his first company, he has pivoted twice and now leads a highly innovative cybersecurity company. Mick possesses a very strong knowledge base in business development strategy, marketing, sales, operational management, technology & security strategy, and relationship building/management. He continues to be front and center at the crossroads of advancing technologies and user experiences, with a particular focus on privacy and security.

Areas of expertise and interest include:
• Privacy & Security
• Business Strategies
• Go to Market Strategy

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