Madeleine Liu

Madeleine Liu


AGE: 16

COMPANY: Culitech Tableware Co.

The Story: It wasn’t just Wang’s and Liu’s youth that impressed the crowd at Vancouver Startup Weekend last November. The Grade 11 students at West Point Grey Academy are out to solve some major public health problems with their concept for smart cutlery that can detect allergens and harmful bacteria. Born in China, Wang was inspired by her entrepreneur father and accountant mother to both start a business and look for a solution to combat the spread of Helicobacter pylori, a common bacteria in China that can cause cancer and is often spread through cutlery in restaurants (Wang’s own mother has contracted the bacteria). Wang and her Vancouver-born classmate Liu–who hopes to start a social enterprise one day–began working on the project last summer, knowing it had crossover appeal in North America’s health- and allergy-conscious marketplace. Liu had the idea to form a company and register for Startup Weekend after watching a former winner of the competition appear on Shark Tank.

Markers of Success: Culitech won first place at Vancouver Startup Weekend, a prize that included $10,000, one month at a co-working space and the attention of several potential investors. They also got a personal invite from Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes to join a future cohort of the Next Big Thing. For now, they’ve declined investment offers in order to work on research and development and hope to have a prototype of their product out this spring.