The Entrepreneurship Hatchery  ☰ 

Two Second-year Students’ Photography Lighting System Wins the $20,000 Lacavera Prize

Creating a light, affordable camera lighting system to replace the heavy bulk of typical photographic equipment earned Anastasiya Martyts (EngSci 1T6) and Tiange Li(Life Sciences 1T6) The Entrepreneurship Hatchery’s first $20,000 Lacavera Prize.

Martyts and Li presented Modly – their modular, customizable lighting system – at the Hatchery’s Demo Day on September 12, competing with eight other teams to win the top prize sponsored by entrepreneur and telecommunications executiveAnthony Lacavera (CompE 9T7). Their product grew out of Li’s desire as an amateur photographer for an easy-to-use, portable system capable of creating versatile lighting effects. Martyts describes it as “a system for hobbyists developed by hobbyists.”

The multidisciplinary duo will continue to develop the lighting system with the help of Hatchery mentor Anil Bhole, an intellectual property lawyer, and co-mentor Amy Chong, a Rotman School of Management MBA candidate.

Three other teams at Demo Day won the Orozco Prize,  named after the Hatchery’s  executive director, Joseph Orozco and sponsored by Professors Jonathan Roseand Vaughn Betz, both of The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering:

  • AirExposure Denis Loboda (MechE 1T3), Neil Sharma (MechE 1T3) and Peter Izraelski(geography and communication culture & information technology) use drones mounted with professional camera equipment to create a cost-effective method of aerial cinematography;
  • Sonar Jane Guo (EngSci 1T2) and Benjamin Slater (EngSci 1T3) harness web-based video conferencing to connect mental health therapists with patients; and,
  • DealsHype Michael Zhang (Pharmacy 1T5) and Satyam Merja (Pharmacy 1T4) provide small businesses with web-based customer rewards programs that give consumers mobile access to coupons and specials.
The business ideas pitched at Demo Day reflect the Hatchery’s goal of fostering entrepreneurship by creating a collegial environment where students can turn brilliant ideas into viable businesses. The featured teams also illustrate the cross-disciplinary nature of the Hatchery, which is based within U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering but encourages collaboration with other disciplines. “Ten to 15 years from now, we’ll be able to point to a number of successful entrepreneurs and say they developed their formative experience at the Hatchery,” says Professor Jonathan Rose, who also serves on The Entrepreneurship Hatchery’s Advisory Committee.

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