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University entrepreneurs named Canada’s Top 40 Under 40

Hossein Rahnama, Bilal Khan, Tariq Fancy made Business News Network list
By: Will Sloan
July 04, 2017
Hossein Rahnama

Photo: Hossein Rahnama, RTA professor and CEO of Flybits, is one of the Ryerson community members named on the top 40 under 40 list.

Ryerson professor and entrepreneur Hossein Rahnama, external,OneEleven founder Bilal Khan, and external,Rumie founder Tariq Fancy are three members of the Ryerson community named as Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 by external,Business News Network (BNN).

The annual list is “a who’s-who of Canadian achievement” for young leaders, recognizing CEOs, presidents, technological disruptors, philanthropists, educators, and more. Recipients were chosen from more than 900 nominations by an advisory board including executives from CIBC, WestJet, and FirstEnergy.

Rahnama serves as professor at external,RTA School of Media and a visiting scholar at MIT Media Lab, and has a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from Ryerson. He is the cofounder (with Valerie Fox and Sheldon Levy) of Ryerson’s DMZ, and is the founder and CEO of external,Flybits, a DMZ-incubated company that specializes in context-aware computing and machine intelligence. The software integrates proprietary data (buying history, customer segments) with public data (weather, real estate listings) for an increasingly personalized experience.

“I think it’s an honour, and it puts extra pressure on me and my team to continue to deliver—both on our academic and entrepreneurial work,” said Rahnama. Asked about the complete list of honourees, Rahnama observed, “They carry entrepreneurialism as a mindset. Not all of them may be thinking of starting a business, but they have all tried new and innovative ways to build their careers.”

Bilal Khan is founding managing director of OneEleven, Canada’s largest scaleup innovation hub. Launched in 2013, OneEleven helps up-and-coming Canadian startups expand. Ryerson University is the founding educational partner on the venture, which recently opened a 250,000-square-foot office at Front Street and Blue Jays Way with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in attendance.

Tariq Fancy’s DMZ-based Rumie brings digital education to underserved communities worldwide. The company distributes tablets with encyclopedic databases, crowdsourced and vetted on the company’s external,LearnCloud technology and accessible offline. Rumie has worked with communities in 21 nations, including Cat Lake (a fly-in Ontario Aboriginal community) and Syrian refugee camps.

Honorees also included Hayley Wickenheiser, six-time Olympian and founder of Wick Hockey and a 2014 Ryerson honorary doctorate.

Recipients will be profiled in an interview series on BNN this summer called Canada’s Next Leaders, airing Tuesday and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. For a full list of recipients, visit external,BNN.

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