Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Innovative startup gets leg up

3D eyewear business granted crucial loan

  • Print

SEAN Sylvestre has been around his family's optical businesses for most of his life and knows how hard it is for retailers to connect with customers because of the myriad choices out there.

He just may have come up with a tool that will help more of them satisfy their customers' demands.

Wednesday he was named one of only five recipients -- and the only one from Western Canada -- of a $50,000 loan from the Spin Master Innovation Fund in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

Sylvestre runs his parents' business, Joss Vision Care, but won the award for his technology startup, called Eyewear Evolution Inc.

He's developed a 3D order procurement software that will allow optical retailers to reduce inventory costs through a virtual-inventory feature.

"This is so fantastic because everyone knows how hard it is to access capital for technology startups," he said.

His technology has been designed for mobile devices and acts like a virtual mirror so people can see what the glasses look like on them without having to have a hard copy on hand.

"Many people don't realize that optical retailers have to prepay for all the frames they're showcasing," Sylvestre said. "We all have lots of money tied up in inventory. When frames sit, it costs us money."

Sylvestre came up with the concept -- that retailers would pay a monthly fee to subscribe to -- when he started to set up a web presence for his own store and realized the costs involved.

With only so many styles on display, retailers also may have to keep many more on hand in different colours, finishes and sizes. So for every frame on the wall, the retailer may have to have six more in stock.

"We think this can expand their inventory," said Sylvestre, 31, who's been in the business for 15 years. "Also, retailers struggle to connect with their customers. About 10 per cent of sales have gone online. This technology can reduce costs to compete with online pricing but still have in-store service."

Sylvestre is working with the local small-business incubator, Biomedical Commercialization Canada. Its director, Marshal Ring, is bullish on Sylvestre's Eyewear Evolution.

"In my words, this is a market pull, not a technology push," Ring said. "This technology will satisfy market demand. It's not a smart guy making something up in his basement and wondering if anyone cares."

Sylvestre is already in negotiations with some large U.S. retailers and Ring said some unique features of the technology could put it 12 to 18 months ahead of competitors who may also jump into the market.

Joelle Foster, the Manitoba director of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, said Sylvestre's award bodes well for young entrepreneurs in Manitoba.

"There's a lot of great young entrepreneurs doing amazing things in Manitoba these days," she said. "I think you're going to see a lot of exciting startups emerging in this province."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 30, 2012 B3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Spring fashion trends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google