New Travel App Wins 2018 Small Business Expo PitchFest

From May 28 to June 1, Startup Ottawa and Collab Space presented the Small Business Expo PitchFest – an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea to a live audience and expert panel for the chance to win $3,000 in cash.

22 finalists are chosen, and given three minutes to pitch their idea. This year, the winner was Wandure – a travel app to be launched this summer. Described as ‘Uber for tour guiding and Tinder for travellers’, this mobile platform allows travelers to go on unique experiences created by real locals, or find like-minded travel buddies in their area.

Wandure was founded by Ali Kazal and Ismail Benmbarek, both 23, high school friends and – unsurprisingly! – travel lovers. When asked what this win means for Wandure, Ismail explained, “It’s simply another validation of our project – a reassurance that we are headed in the right direction. The amount of confidence and motivation it provided us with is priceless – validation fuels an entrepreneur’s work capacity and this instance was no exception.

Less importantly, it means we get a little bit more funding to play with which helps make executing our marketing strategy a bit easier.”

As well as the cash prize, Wandure have business development support from Arctech Academy, and free membership to Collab Space. “Now we have two offices: the one provided to us by Startup Garage at Invest Ottawa, and the Collab Space one – and we still choose to meet at Second Cup…!” Ismail laughed.

What did Wandure learn from this experience? “Sometimes as an entrepreneur you get really caught up on your own project. The PitchFest reminded us that we’re not the only ones going through this startup experience in Ottawa. At this competition alone, there were 22 Ottawa companies, which was incredible to see.

Also, we took a big risk with our presentation, and unlike everyone else, we decided to conduct a live demo on screen. This taught us just how beneficial going against the grain can be.”

Collab Space founder, Emile Salem, explained why events like the Small Business Expo are so important to Ottawa. “So many people think Ottawa is a boring government town, but there's so much excitement going on. We really need to bring awareness to the city of the amazing talent and innovation that we have here. We want to spread the word and let people know what’s going on in their own city.”

And what’s next for Wandure? “We’re currently in the pre-launch marketing phase and our main goal is building an email list,” Ismail said. “So, going on the website and signing up there is the best way to be the first to hear about our release. Also, when you sign up, we donate $1 on your behalf to the Climate Change Network & you earn a chance to win a Nikon DSLR camera for your next adventure!”

So if you’re a curious traveller, or a know-it-all local, hold on to your travel maps: Wandure is coming.