Arjun Mali is the co-founder of iMerciv

Want to start a business but feel like your idea isn’t good enough? Have a great idea but not sure where to start?

Scott McAuley and Arjun Mali are both transforming their ideas into real products. Mali is a cofounder of iMerciv Inc, maker of the BuzzClip, a small and discreet wearable for people living with blindness or partial sight. McAuley is a cofounder of Lunanos Inc., which helps hospitals stay clean so that patients can stay safe.

While assistive technologies and hospital infection control are drastically different markets, the process of creating and validating a product idea is very similar.

Both entrepreneurs will be at the final session of Entrepreneurship 100: Conversations on Thursday October 5. The event will feature a conversation on ideas and how to test and pivot on your idea.

Hosted by the Impact Centre, Entrepreneurship 100 brings U of T students and the public into the conversation on entrepreneurship and connects outstanding entrepreneurs to the community.

We caught up with Mali and McAuley in advance of the free event to ask about their experiences creating and developing new ideas and products.


What is your product?

Lunanos is developing a colour-changing patch called Indiclean that can help hospitals and other high-risk facilities track cleaning and reduce rates of hospital acquired infections.

iMerciv is the maker of the BuzzClip, a small and discreet wearable for people living with blindness or partial sight. The device detects obstacles that may lie directly in one’s path and then notifies the user of these obstacles through intuitive vibrations, allowing the user to safely navigate around any objects that they may encounter.


How did you come up with the idea?

The idea came from speaking with infection control doctors at the major research hospitals in Toronto. They told us that it is challenging for them to track that mobile equipment and surfaces around a patient are cleaned regularly.

The idea came to fruition after an incredibly insightful encounter with Rylan Vroom, a daily solo blind traveller who is a specialist in assistive technologies.


How has your product or business changed while developing your product?

Our current product is totally different than our initial idea. We were originally developing an antimicrobial coating for equipment in hospitals. After speaking with doctors and nurses who had tested similar products in the past, we realized that our initial idea probably wasn’t going to work. It was only when we asked what other challenges they have is when we came on our current idea.

Our product went through multiple iterations of concepts and potential solutions before deciding upon a final concept. Then, we went through nine iterations of prototypes before finalizing our first production batch. We are now producing the second generation BuzzClips that are far superior to the original model. Basically, our product is constantly developing and changing to meet market demands and needs.


What is your advice to people who have an idea but are not sure what to do with it.

Talk to someone about it. I find that if you talk about it you are more likely to do it. You can start with friends or family, but the best people to ask are your potential customers or other people in your industry. People are very open to volunteering their time to talk about new ideas. Just ask.

Share your idea and speak to the right people about it constantly so that your plan is consistently being refined and sharpened before you begin investing and executing on it. Speaking to your friends and family is great but most of the time they will just tell you what you want to hear. You want to speak to experienced professionals, business experts and fellow entrepreneurs that will tell you like it is and rip your plan/idea apart so that you can take constructive steps to ensure you are being realistic and actually have something with a unique competitive advantage.

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