Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition

My Thinking Process

Problem Statement

Try to concisely describe the problem in 1-to-2 sentences
Background thinking process
There is no efficient space to connect with only the university (college) community consisting of university students, faculties, staff, alumni, high school students who want to apply to the university, businesses targeting university students, and the university itself. Thus, they are hard to ask or find accurate information or do something freely and easily directly to someone in a verified university community online.

Scale of the Problem

Limit of 250 words / What industry or organizations are affected by the problem? / What market segment(s) are affected by the problem and how much revenue does it generate?
Background thinking process
Three groups are affected by this problem: Student group, a university group - supports and runs university - including university itself, faculty, staff, and alumni, a business group - needs university community - including local businesses to rely on the university community, business targeting university students, and local drivers for rideshare targeting university students.
Student groups have wanted an online space with students and alumni from the same university. Thus, they have built an unofficial community thanks to Reddit. For example, University of Toronto has 80.8K members since 2009. There are also over 200 Discord servers representing University of Waterloo clubs and communities. Students have created Facebook groups as well to find sublets, rideshare, and used textbooks: Student Housing Waterloo has 66K members since 2015. In addition, they use other platforms such as UWFlow to see course and professor rates, Google Maps to see local restaurant rates, Instagram to post confessions or follow university news.
It’s the university group’s main responsibility to support students build relationships with businesses, alumni and faculty. Thus, they run conferences, social events, school job boards (i.e. WaterlooWorks) and use Piazza or LinkedIn to connect faculty and students.
The business group relies on the university community, which is the main customer to local businesses, especially in a college town. Hence, they need a place to advertise their products directly to university students. They even can hire students either full-time or part-time in the place.

Context of the Problem

Limit of 250 words / What background information about the present day is necessary to fully appreciate the problem you are analyzing? E.g., principles, terminology
Background thinking process
This problem is a primary problem that effects other minor problems:
Students cannot find sublets, rideshare, used easily with filter and sort
Students cannot ask questions to other students in the same university
High school students cannot ask questions to the current university student
Local businesses do not have a place to advertise their products or to hear their experience or to hire directly from students online.
Students cannot easily share or see their thoughts or suggestions to faculty or university
Students cannot ask to open campus building door to random someone in the campus building
Faculty and students are connected with email only in pandemic season
There are some services - competitors such as Discord, Reddit, Change.org, Facebook Group, etc. - that tried to solve minor problems. However, as they are solving minor problems, if we solve primary problem instead, this will solve all the above issues.

History of the Problem

Limit of 400 words / Think about 6-8 major events from the past that have affected or shaped the problem you are analyzing. You are welcome to use bullet points for this section.
Background thinking process
Students find friends and jobs for life as a first step of adult in university, university has a duty to connect students with faculty or business so that students can success socially, and business needs university students as both customers and employees. These community members need and interact with each other.
During the pandemic, where university community members could not meet as campus closed, it shows that local businesses have been hit hard economically. Students could not feel a sense of belonging and could not network. [1] University has lost all functions other than education.
The number of higher education students worldwide increases by 4.2% every year; in Canada, full-time university enrolment grew 28% over the decade. [2]Thus, this community will grow bigger and more significant.
Facebook and Discord launched services for only university students last year. Facebook started connecting local communities service called Neighborhoods last year. [3]
Businesses should do college marketing because the university experience is the first major step into the adult world. Marketing to college students early on gives you a head start against competitors to build trust and loyalty with the affluent, eager and loyal graduate consumer group. [4]
Current college students are z-generation who is digital natives. They spend the most time on mobile and the internet. Moreover, nowadays technology is preparing the metaverse. A well-established community is the first step of the metaverse.
As the number of international students is increasing and most universities offers co-op programs, students are moving in and out frequently. It is hard to be connected offline anymore but online can change this.
There are numerous advantages to connecting university, students, and business. [5]

Failure Analysis

Limit of 400 words / What are the specific solutions that are designed to address the problem you are analyzing? / What criteria, elements, features would be important to include in a “good” solution to solve the problem?
There are many platforms existing to connect students and even businesses and faculties such as Reddit, Facebook Group, Discord, Piazza, LinkedIn, and so on. However, they are failed to gather all of university community’ interests.
First, existing platforms do not provide all services that students want and hence, as there is a lack of students, they could not gather businesses and faculties’ interests as well. For example, one Facebook group provides only one service. There is no one platform that students can do everything they need in the university. In other words, all services that students need is divided and disorganized so is information.
Second, existing platforms do not verify users’ status. Multisided platform business must manage quality of users and information as users want valid information from correct users. [1] However, existing platforms such as Reddit, Facebook, and Discord do not verify whether users are enrolled in the same university.
Third, any unauthorized users who even could be students or random people manage the community. In other words, there is no person or organization that professionally manages the community. In the case of a community managed by volunteers, it is difficult to sustain for a long time professionally.
Fourth, there is no official community partnered with university. This is why many students do not even know that such a community (like Facebook group, Reddit, Discord, etc.) exists. Partnership with university will empower credibility and bring more users.
Furthermore, there is no platform actually representing only university community and this leads to poor user experience. For example, Facebook Group is not meant to find sublets so users find it difficult to filter their sublet lists. Reddit is not designed to represent university community and to ask co-op questions. As it is hard to search previous questions or previous work terms, users keep asking questions that have been asked before. To summarize, users are borrowing other platforms because there is no platform representing university community.
If a platform could attract all student’s attention, businesses and university will also be interested in.


Teams are encouraged to source facts, figures and other information they have included when describing the various parts of their chosen problem.
1.4M Canadian University Student
$38B enterprise in direct expenditures
310,000 employment is created by universities
While Canada attracted students from over 200 countries in 2017/2018, just over half of all international students enrolled in Canadian public colleges and universities hailed from China (28.1%) or India (22.8%).
Failure Analysis

Feedback from The Problem Lab

Good identification of key stakeholders here—I'd like to see more details around specific numbers (e.g. How many students attend Waterloo? How many faculty and staff work here? Are there any figures that capture how much revenue Waterloo students bring into the community?)
Curious to know more about what these specific groups lose due to information living on so many different platforms (I know that might be hard to quantify, but it might lend some weight to this section)
I'd like to know a bit more about what an average student would need to do to get up-to-date on certain key topics mentioned here. For example, if a student was moving to Waterloo at the end of summer, what would they need to do to learn about the campus and community? How many websites might they need to check out to prepare for their first day on campus?
To prepare for their first day on campus, students need
to find sublet or lease
to find popular restaurants
to find where to hang out
but the point is only university students currently enrolled can know these information and there is no platform to share these infos.
I like the identification of different challenges students might face (e.g. finding housing, connecting with classmates, etc.)
When students try to find housing through Facebook, as the posts are displayed randomly, they cannot filter available housing, room space, location, number of bathroom, etc. They need to read all posts. They also cannot have reminder or alert when the housing they might want is available although people rent their housing first come first served basis
Students might want to ask questions to random person in university community such as what is the best restaurant near campus or please critic my resume, but there is no such platform,
The History section feels a little disjointed, some of this content might be better suited for the Context section
Might want to look how certain platforms were created, what they accomplished at first, what they're doing now (e.g. when Facebook was first launched publicly, it was limited to current college & university students in the US and Canada, and it changed how students were able to organize and promote events)
I appreciate the summary at the end: "users are borrowing other platforms because there is no platform representing university community"
Curious to know a bit more about the push to have a single platform to address all of these needs/concerns—Are there any other schools that have tried to make that happen? What barriers exist in creating a solution like that? What would maintenance look like on a system like that one?, There are a number of groups that the team suggests are affected and this makes is quite difficult to determine the size or cost related to the problem.