Matchmakers: Program provides MBA students, startups with 'invaluable' experience

Sep 22nd, 2021

By Jeff Green

Dr. Sid Eskandari wears wears a dark-coloured suit, white shirt and a grey tie with orange stripes.
Matchmakers: Program provides MBA students, startups with 'invaluable' experience

With a glance out a window at Signal Hill Campus, Dr. Sid Eskandari says the future for the province’s startup sector is as bright as its iconic view. 

As founder and CEO of HYKE Technologies Inc., Dr. Eskandari (PhD’18) credits Memorial for helping empower entrepreneurs like him.

“Being engaged in technology transfer or educating and preparing the needed talents for the developing market, Memorial University can play a critical role in helping Newfoundland and Labrador’s tech sector grow faster,” he told the Gazette.

Dr. Eskandari’s company has created a consumer-incentive data analytics platform that provides insights into the subconscious purchasing behaviour of millennials and Generation Z consumers.

It is currently a client of Genesis’ Enterprise program.

The company recently took part in Memorial’s Insight Business Consulting Program, which matches graduate students from the Faculty of Business Administration with local startup companies connected to Memorial’s entrepreneurial support groups.

The Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office (TTCO)  leads the program, which is free for companies.

The companies receive creative solutions, new insights, knowledge and resources; participating students gain real-world experience and industry connections.

Entrepreneurial support

“The TTCO is committed to supporting the provincial innovation ecosystem,” said Dr. Matthew Grimes (B.Sc.’05, PhD’12, MBA’18), the office’s business development and commercialization advisor.

“The Insight program is an excellent example of the wraparound supports that we can offer to benefit both students and entrepreneurs.”

Business graduate students receive a $4,500 per semester fellowship.

“The program is designed to help businesses access knowledge, perspective and ideas from enthusiastic MBA students.”— Dr. Sid Eskandari

Between 4-6 startups will be matched per semester with students.

“The program is designed to help businesses access knowledge, perspective and ideas from enthusiastic MBA students, which can be invaluable,” noted Dr. Eskandari, who is originally from Iran but moved to Newfoundland and Labrador to complete his PhD in process engineering.

“We participated in the program to take advantage of this opportunity and also get a direct line to future-ready talents.”

Developing skills

One of those MBA students is Katie Predham (B.Mus.’14) who worked as HYKE’s digital marketing strategist.

“I was able to take my prior academic knowledge and put it to practical use,” said Ms. Predham, who grew up in St. John’s.

Ms. Predham says being accepted in the program provided her the opportunity to help develop and implement HYKE’s digital marketing campaign, from planning and execution to measuring and reporting the results.

She first worked with startup companies while participating in the Creative Destruction Lab Atlantic Program, where she participated as an MBA student supporting the program participant companies.

“Be a sponge.”— Katie Predham

She encourages other graduate students to consider applying to the Insight Business Consulting program.

“Be inquisitive. This is an excellent time to work closely with new and growing startups, so try to be a sponge and soak up as much as you can,” she said.

“New projects or tasks may arise within the company throughout the program. Join in on all the meetings you are able. Take on new responsibilities that you are able to handle. It will all be so worth it at the end of the program.”

Current MBA students and startup companies interested in applying to the Insight Business Consulting Program have until Friday, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m. to submit applications. More information is available online.

Jeff Green is manager of communications in the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at