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From side hustle to successful business

Biomedical engineering students turned their fertility side hustles into full-fledged startups
By: Irina Vukosavic
November 16, 2023
Students sitting at the Student Learning Centre (SLC).

Global Entrepreneurship Week spans 170 countries, with over 40,000 events taking place worldwide. 

When Parnian Majd was in her second last year at TMU, she didn’t know what it meant to be an entrepreneur. It wasn’t until she found a job at the Office of Zone Learning that she came to experience this new world.

“I always thought that to start a business you had to have a lot of money and have a lot of business experience, or at least have a business education background,” says Majd, a TMU biomedical engineering graduate. “My time working at the Zones showed me how wrong I was.”

Majd is the founder of Fibra (external link) , a company developing  smart underwear for women’s reproductive health that offers women an opportunity to access the right data at the right time in a non-invasive and hassle-free manner. Fibra is starting with fertility, but the next steps for the company will be pregnancy detection, pregnancy monitoring, contraceptives, menopause, and alerting women and girls if they have been exposed to any reproductive system diseases. 

Narjes Allahrabbi, also a biomedical engineering student running a fertility company, was drawn to the idea of developing a fertility treatment that couples could use in the comfort of their own home. She launched Fertilead (external link) , a company focused on bringing new hope to couples with male-factor infertility, after studying point-of-care technology to be used for fertility treatment while she was pursuing her PhD in Singapore. 

“I’m active in the Science Discovery Zone (SDZ) and Innovation Boost Zone (IBZ), which was helpful in my entrepreneurial journey as it helped me develop my business,” says Allahrabbi. “I took the ‘Scientist to Entrepreneur’ program at the SDZ to familiarize myself with what the entrepreneurship world might look like.” 

At TMU, the Zone Learning Network celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week – a global initiative that is an opportunity to celebrate and empower entrepreneurs – through events that introduced students to the more accessible side of entrepreneurship. 

We caught up with Majd and Allahrabbi who transformed their side hustles into successful ventures by building an entrepreneurial mindset. They talked to us about how Zone Learning helped their ventures take off and how they developed skills in the real world.

The fertility startup addressing male fertility issues

Narjes Allahrabbi wearing a purple hijab and glasses.

Narjes Allahrabbi wants her company to provide couples an option for an equitable family building and smoother family planning.

Name: Narjes Allahrabbi
Program: Graduate student in the master’s of biomedical engineering program at the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science 
Company: Fertilead (external link) , a company developing an affordable medical kit for sperm preparation and insemination at home catering to couples with male infertility challenges. This affordable and non-invasive infertility treatment aims to alleviate accessibility challenges, particularly for busy couples or those residing in remote regions

Why did you start your company? 

I am deeply motivated by the prospect of developing products that can alleviate the emotional and financial burdens faced by individuals dealing with significant medical challenges, such as those related to fertility.

How did the Zone Learning network help you in your entrepreneurial journey?

My involvement in Zones helped me develop important critical thinking and problem solving skills. My experience in the Science Discovery Zone (SDZ) has been incredibly positive because I feel supported to pursue my entrepreneurial journey. With the vast support that I have received from both Zones, I got into the Lab2Market accelerator program (external link)  last summer that helped in launching my business. 

The health platform empowering women

Parnian Majd.

Parnian Majd wants her company to be the women’s health platform of the future.

Name: Parnian Majd
Program: Alumna of the bachelor’s of biomedical engineering program at the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science 
Company: Fibra Inc. (external link) , a company developing a non-invasive wearable device that tracks fertility data and maximizes pregnancy outcomes

Why did you start your company?

I was born in Iran where it is taboo to talk about reproductive health, especially women's health and sexual health. I started Fibra with the mission to break this taboo and empower women to have all the information they need to make the right decisions regarding their health and reproductive system at the right time in the comfort of their homes.

How did the Zone Learning network help you in your entrepreneurial journey?

During my experience as a career boost student at the Office of Zone Learning, I got to speak to a lot of founders who were current students and witnessed the struggle of being an entrepreneur in the early days of the business. I decided to get involved with the Science Discovery Zone (SDZ) and they helped me navigate step by step how to figure out a problem worth solving. I haven’t looked back since and have so far been incubated in the Innovation Boost Zone, Brampton Venture Zone and many other incubators and accelerators across Ontario including MaRS Discovery District. The Zone Learning network has been crucial to my success at every step of my entrepreneurial journey. 

Looking to get involved in Zone Learning? Find out more on the website or talk to a Zone Navigator to get started.

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