Vincent Cheung is the owner and founder of
, a software program that lets you create picture collages with just a few clicks of the mouse. When he's not running a successful business, he's completing his PhD student in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Toronto. Over the past year, Mr. Cheung has won a number of entrepreneur contests across North America. Shape Collage Scroll through the following snapshots to catch a glimpse of his journey following last year's successful NBTC competition.
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In this photo, ACE’s regional champion Greig Perantinos smiles for a victory photo with national champion Vincent Cheung in March 2010. Competitions like Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) are less about securing venture capital than they are about showcasing student achievements. And when it comes to competition, it’s less fierce than you may expect. “Greig is a good friend,” says Mr. Cheung. “We’ve gone through similar struggles so we want to see each other succeed.”
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Following a string of victories, including the Ivey Business Plan Competition in March 2010, Mr. Cheung can now afford to staff up. Today, Shape Collage now has two full-time (including himself) and five part-time staff members.
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After securing the TiEQuest's New Entrepreneur Award in April 2010, Mr. Cheung and his friend have 'huge' difficulties depositing his $5,000 prize cheque. Mr. Cheung estimates his total money from entrepreneurial competitions to be in the $50,000 range; not bad, considering his business cost him about $20 to start, and has been profitable ever since. Ever the savvy business person, Mr. Cheung is currently socking away his winnings in a personal savings account.
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Vincent "networks" with other competitors from Mexico and the U.S. after the Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly the Moot Corp) in Austin Texas, May 2010. This particular event bills itself 'the Super Bowl of Investment Competition' because it requires all entrants to be MBA or grad students, and only those who have won other major competitions in the world are eligible to participate.
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"The trophy for ACE Canada Student Entrepreneur of the Year is suspiciously similar to the Stanley Cup," says Mr. Cheung, who took it home in May 2010.
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Vincent and his long-time friend Mike Wu smile for the camera while hiking in Vancouver B.C. in May 2010. Mr. Wu, a PhD student in computer science, is Shape Collage's first full-time hire and works on mobile application from the West Coast.
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More 'networking' with the French and U.S. delegates of the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit. Social events are a critical component of these competitions, allowing Mr. Cheug to build a rolodox of contacts across the planet. In many cases, meeting like-minded entrepreneurs is just as important as meeting the judges, explains Mr. Cheung. "It's the students you may end up collaborating with in the future," he says. These events are also great opportunities to let off some steam following a stressful competitions.
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Vincent has been an avid volleyball player since Grade 7. In this photo taken in September 2010, the Toronto Warriors celebrate a victory at the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament. But this isn't your traditional volleyball match. What Vincent and his teammates play is called 'nine-man volleyball' and it has its own set of rules: a larger court, a lower net and a team of nine players who don't rotate, to name a few. It's suspected the game started in Tai-Shan, China, but caught on in Chinatowns in North America in the 1900s where immigrants would use a clothesline as the 'net' in back alleys. From there, the game has exploded and the North American Chinese Invitational tournament now hosts hundreds of men and women's teams. "It's a cultural activity," says Mr. Cheung, who trains two times a week.
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Every year, the Winnipeg-based Cheung family embark on a family trip. In this photo taken in October 2010, the group smiles and waves for the camera atop camels near the Giza Pyramids in Egypt. When it comes to choosing the destination, there's only one rule, exlains Mr. Cheung. "We have to go somewhere we've never been before." Over the past few years, they've had the chance to visit China, Ireland, Hawaii and Costa Rica
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Vincent appeared on stage five times at the Impact National Conference in November 2010 and was awarded Youth Entrepreneur of the Year and Canada's Next Great Start-Up in Toronto.
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In this photo taken in November 2010, Vincent delivers his acceptance speech for the Global Graduate Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Kansas City. "I never thought I was going to be an entrepreneur," says Mr. Cheung, "but it was a pretty natural fit. As an engineer, I get to make things that are fun and cool and with Shape Collage, I get to impact the lives of millions of people around the world," he adds. So far, 3.5 million people worldwide have downloaded is program.