Convocation flashback: a 2013 grad offers advice to 2014's graduating entrepreneurs

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One year later, entrepreneur Tobi Ogunbiyi is transforming classroom engagement and note-taking with DivNotes startup

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Brianna Goldberg

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photo of Oloruntobi Ogunbiyi with alumni Babak Basseri and Danesh Dadachanji

“I am excited about going out to pursue my dreams, innovate, make mistakes, learn, and apply the skills I have acquired to make a difference.”

That’s what Oloruntobi Ogunbiyi told U of T News last year upon his convocation from Computer Science, as part of a story: Where the Grads Go.

Tobi was a shoo-in for the feature celebrating outstanding grads. He’d mentored at the First-Year Learning Community program, engaged with the African Students Association, volunteered with the Centre for International Experience and more.

“U of T has equipped me with world-class skills in the computing field and has given me the confidence to be able to pursue my passion,” he said. “The phenomenal instructors and professors of the Department of Computer Science, Steve Engels, Karen Reid, and Paul Gries, to mention a few, challenged me to work hard and be creative. Complementing great instruction is continual support from my parents and family enabling me to maximize my potential and pursue entrepreneurship.”

Now, a year after graduating, Tobi remains hard at work with fellow U of T Computer Science alumni Babak Basseri and Danesh Dadachanji as they develop their startup, DivNotes, with assistance from the University of Toronto’s entrepreneurship supports.  (Read more about entrepreneurship at U of T.) 

With another Convocation season upon the university, U of T News thought it time to check in with one of the brightest new alums from 2013 and see just what it’s like a year into launching a career, and a startup, after life at U of T.

What were your plans following graduation and why?

After graduation, I started working on a startup with two classmates. I am very passionate about solving real problems and entrepreneurship. We found a need for real-time feedback for instructors about concepts they teach and a need for improved note-taking for students/trainees through collaboration.

What does your startup do? And who are the other members?

Our startup, DivNotes (http://divnotes.com/), is a presentation engagement web application instructors can use to engage their audience by receiving context-based questions from them. The audience can also take notes individually or collaboratively, mark up the document or presentation, and discuss the topics which are used in analytics. The other team members are Babak Basseri and Danesh Dadachanji, both of whom are Computer Science graduates from my class.

What’s life after university been like for you?

Working for a startup post-graduation has been a thrilling roller coaster ride. It is exciting to work with a great team on a product that solves challenges for instructors and students/trainees. However, streamlining our direction and getting wide adoption of the product has been challenging, but things are beginning to take form thanks to our advisors with the Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO) at the University of Toronto and MaRS — Aron Solomon and Donna Shukaris, who give us helpful business development and commercialization advice.

What’s on the horizon for you?

We have a few pilot tests planned for the year, and we hope to attract more customers from Canada and the US.

The Innovations & Partnerships Office ( http://www.research.utoronto.ca/industry-and-partners/ ) helps build successful partnerships between industry, business, government, and the University of Toronto research community and manages U of T’s portfolio of intellectual property – turning ideas and innovation into products, services, companies and jobs.

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