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U of C alumni wins 2023 PITCH competition with kitchen Airbnb start-up

By Nazeefa Ahmed, August 9 2023—

This June, a 2023 start-up named Syzl won first place at the 2023 PITCH competition at the Collision tech conference in Toronto. The event hosted more than 1,700 technology startups from 76 countries in 30 industries. Syzl’s pitch at the conference was presented by Calgary-based co-founder Azrah Manji-Savin. 

Syzl is a commercial kitchen Airbnb that allows businesses to make money from their underutilized spaces and gives chefs and food-preparers a space to cook at a cheaper price. The platform app already has 1,000 users and 70 participating kitchens. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Syzl co-founder, COO and CTO Adrian Savin touched on how the company’s mission spoke to the judges by focusing on the customer’s needs and researching the gap they noticed in the food market. 

“What the judges and what the audience resonated with was the story of our customer,” said Savin. “During our customer research, we noticed that online food ordering was blowing up during the pandemic and the consensus was that it is a trend. 

“There’s a lot of ways you can de-risk a project with research before putting financing and investment into it,“ Savin continued. 

PITCH was a competition for tech start-ups, and Syzl uses automation to strengthen its processes and allow customers to self-serve on their platform. Savin describes how the company also uses data insights to strengthen the customer experience. 

“We are a technology company building technology,” said Savin. “We leverage automation quite a bit as a technology that enhances our workforce. [Automation] can support thousands of people instead of a handful. The research and data insights  are being used to direct sales energy and create efficiency.”

However, Savin believes that the judges appreciated Syzl’s customer-oriented story, as the problem they were solving was more impactful than the technology aspect of the business. 

“The most important thing is that you’re solving a compelling problem — something that really affects people that people care about,” said Savin. “Technology is just a means of creating that outcome.”

Savin completed his MBA at the U of C in 2022 and believes that students in all majors should have a basic understanding of money and business to succeed in their field of study and future careers. 

“You need to know business to operate in an economy in our world. You need to understand what money actually means. Not only that [money] buys me a coffee, and it has a utility but what does it actually represent?” said Savin. “In business school, we learn that money is a little more abstract. It’s value. That’s where money always flows.”

When discussing his journey to Syzl, Savin encourages students to have patience in the search for meaningful employment and hopes they grab opportunities while they are students to further their lives and career. 

“The path is not linear. You will find a way to apply your unique knowledge skills that you’ve acquired over schooling, summer jobs and internships. Acquire experience, look for experience and do things. Don’t be passive,” said Savin. “Even if you don’t get that job that you really want right away, find some other way to build experience and to learn what you need to learn to build towards that career.”

More information about Syzl can be found on their website.

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