Imagination Catalyst Fund announces investments in TranQool and Wishpad

Photo of TranQool, Wishpad and the IC Fund Committee
Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 5:15pm

Imagination Catalyst Fund directors John Albright and Jeannette Wiltse, both of Relay Ventures, celebrate with Michael Nurse, CEO of Wishpad, and Chakameh Shafii CEO, Saaed Zeinali VP Business Development, and Babak Shahabi VP Product, TranQool.

TranQool, a mental health platform, and Wishpad, a real estate media company, received investments of $40,000 each from the Imagination Catalyst Fund this month. Both companies will use these funds to gain traction with early users as they prepare for raising seed capital in 2017. 

“OCAD U is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets,” said Relay Ventures Founder and Managing Partner, John Albright when Relay Ventures $1million investment helped launch the Imagination Catalyst Fund in 2014. “We are excited to be tapping into the university’s design expertise through these investments.”

TranQool is an online platform designed to disrupt the mental health marketplace. The service matches users with the right therapists and facilitates secure video sessions from the comfort of home.

Wishpad is a big-data driven media platform that curates listings and other content for prospective real estate buyers based on their values, lifestyles and priorities.

Imagination Catalyst is OCAD University’s entrepreneurship and commercialization hub. The goal is to apply design thinking to make lives better, create richer cultural experiences and bring leading-edge innovations to market. The Imagination Catalyst Fund offers seed funding for early stage, pre-revenue technology companies and is exclusively for companies participating in the OCAD U business incubator.  

For more information about companies participating in the Imagination Catalyst incubator, please contact Katherine Roos, Executive Director.

Designing digital access to mental-health care

TranQool homepage

Engineering + Design + Imagination

Ask someone to draw you a picture of a “therapy session” and there’s a good chance you’ll wind up with a sad-faced guy stretched out on a chaise longue. Nearby, a bewhiskered, Freud-looking therapist will be taking notes and looking terribly wise. How old-school is that?

Like so much else in our world, the new school of mental-health care is digital, and it’s all about increasing access to therapy and making it more affordable.

That’s the vision of Chakameh Shafii, the co-founder and CEO of TranQool – launched on February 1, 2016. An engineer by training, Chakameh and her three colleagues (who are also engineers and co-founded the company) are members of OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst. Together, they have applied the power of design to shape technology into a human-centric portal to mental-health care.

InStudio caught up with Chakameh last week to learn more about her work and to see whether she had some advice for other entrepreneurs – read the short Q&A that follows. Then check out the two short videos. In the first one, Chakameh describes the origins and aims of TranQool, and talks about the union of human-centric design, science and technology. In the second video, she takes us inside her work with OCAD U’s business incubator and gives a shout out to the astonishing power of imagination.


Photo By Martin Iskander
TranQool team, Left to right: Chakameh Shafii, Mohamad Ahmadi, Saeed Zeinali, Babak Shahabi


Digital access to therapy

InStudio (IS): What is TranQool?

Chakameh Shafii (CS): TranQool is a mental health platform designed for everyday people who need psychological therapy. It makes feeling better simple by providing quick, seamless and cost-effective access to qualified therapists.

IS: What need does TranQool address, and who will it help?

CS:  Over 70 million North Americans live with mental distress, but less than a third of the people who need therapy actually seek help (I’ve blogged about this in the Huffington Post). TranQool aims to simplify the process by empowering users to overcome the barrier to access therapy.

TranQool users won’t have to navigate the complicated health system to find a therapist they can trust. They will be able to have their therapy sessions from the comfort of home, at any time, at a cost-effective price.

IS: What steps have you taken to develop TranQool?

CS: We started by building a great core team and then assembling a network of advisors. With funding from a National Research Council grant, we then created our beta product in partnership with George Brown College. We’ve also made sure that TranQool is in line with all the applicable regulations around personal health information and therapy. And we’re finding that the TranQool blog is becoming a trusted source for people to get information they need to manage day-to-day stress and improve their mood.

Video By Martin Iskander

TranQool feelings matrix



IS: What are the main benefits of belonging to the Imagination Catalyst?

CS: Being an iCat means we have access to a pool of highly creative people inside OCAD U as well as an external network. This has helped us build a truly human-centric product.

An added benefit has been the ability to access the level of mentorship and training we need to build our business on a solid foundation.

IS: What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs?

CS: Figure out the “why” of your life. Why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you doing it now? Why should you be doing it?

Knowing the answers to those questions will help you to keep yourself motivated and on track. I also strongly recommend never shying away from asking for help and, when you’re able, to be open to helping others. It’s not just good karma. It’s good business.

Video By Martin Iskander

TranQool Web therapy interface


Morgan Holmes
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Movies for Mental Health

Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 10:00pm to Friday, January 22, 2016 - 12:00am

Please join Art with Impact and OCAD U for dinner, short film, & discussion.

5:00-7:00 Movies for Mental Health
Location: Great Hall
Pizza (vegan & gluten free options), Cupcakes, Ice Tea

For accessibility-related accommodations please contact

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University The Great Hall, 100 McCaul St.
Movies for mental health banner with event info and illustrations of a face and film camera

Anxiety Drop-In Group

Friday, October 23, 2015 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

The Health and Wellness Centre has launched a new experiential group for students who are experiencing feelings of anxiety, and worry that are interfering with their lives.

In this group, students are able to learn more about anxiety, connect with peers and enjoy snacks in a supportive and non-judgmental setting. This group is open to all students on a drop-in basis and starts each Friday at noon - no registration is required!

Venue & Address: 
OCAD U Health and Wellness Centre 2nd Floor, 51 McCaul St.
416.977.6000 x 260
Cloudy sky


Image of a brain made out of gears
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 1:00pm to Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 12:30am

Mindfest is happening on October 7th and it is bigger and better than ever! The University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry has teamed up with Ryerson, OCAD, Kids Help Phone, Family Navigation Project, and many other community partnerships to continually increase awareness of mental illness anti-stigmatization. Join us at Hart House on October 7th for our 3rd annual day of awareness! Workshops, community resources and interactive sessions will be held between 9am - 4pm. Can’t make it during business hours? We’ll be having a Mindfest walk to Ryerson and an after party from 4 pm - 8 pm!

Venue & Address: 
Hart House - 7 Hart House Circle Toronto, ON

FULL CIRCLE: An Open Forum on Campus Mental Health

Full Circle: An Open Forum on Campus Mental Health Event Invitation
Monday, March 16, 2015 - 2:00pm to 4:30pm

FULL CIRCLE: An Open Forum on Campus Mental Health

The OCAD University Mental Health Steering Committee invites the OCAD U community to join us for our concluding event, Full Circle: An Open Forum on Campus Mental Health.
During this event, we will share the accomplishments of OCAD U’s Mental Health Initiative over the past three years, aimed at promoting the mental health of our campus community.
We look forward to hearing your feedback over a hot breakfast!

This event is open to all!

Join us for breakfast & presentations!

Venue & Address: 
Room 187, Lambert Lounge, 100 McCaul St
This event is free

SPECTRUM: A Vision for Mental Health

Spectrum Poster
Monday, January 27, 2014 - 5:00am to Friday, January 31, 2014 - 5:00am

Tuesday, January 28: Evening of Performance Art, 5 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, January 30: Closing Reception, 5 to 8 p.m.

An Exhibition for OCAD U Students, Staff and Faculty organized by the Mental Health Steering Committee

What does mental health mean to you? What does a thriving community look like? How do you or your loved ones overcome challenges? How is mental wellness supported in the OCADU community?

This exhibition is open to all OCAD U Students, Staff and Faculty and has been organized by the OCAD U Mental Health Steering Committee.

Venue & Address: 
Open Gallery, Inclusive Design Institute 49 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario

Perceptual experiences of memory loss focus of media installation at Baycrest Health Sciences

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 5:00am

(Toronto—February 11, 2013) What does it feel like to have amnesia? How does one relate to space and place when robbed of the ability to create new personal memories? Can today’s hyper-connected, technology-driven world help people with serious memory impairment re-engage in the community and regain their voices?

Pathfinding, a media art exhibit which opens at Baycrest Health Sciences this week, sets out to answer these reflective questions. Inspired by Judith Doyle, a senior filmmaker and new media artist who is chair of the Integrated Media Program at OCAD University, the installation was created by two participants of Baycrest’s Memory Link program, both of whom have a severe type of amnesia. They worked on the project with Doyle and her assistant Emad Dabiri, well-known for his VJ live video mixes produced with Videodrome.


Robin Len, 48, and, Kang Il-Kim, 23, have anterograde amnesia. This type of amnesia inhibits the ability to create new memories, although long-term memories prior to injury remain intact. Robin suffered his brain injury in a cycling accident; Kang from a brain tumor and subsequent surgeries. Both were participants in Baycrest’s innovative Memory Link program which uses specialized, cognitive training to help clients with severe amnesia learn to use smartphones, the iPod Touch and other handheld technologies as assistive memory aids.

With backgrounds in television and film study, Robin and Kang were interested in collaborating with Doyle on the Pathfinding project. The process involved shooting clips of imagery, editing and combining the clips, and devising an installation for exhibition of the video.  Pathfinding evokes aspects of the experience of memory and memory loss. Robin and Kang participated in all aspects of the project – videotaping, editing, planning, equipment sourcing, image composition, developing the installation setup, and contributing to printed matter. The collaboration has continued for over a year and combines real-world interaction as well as online and phone support.

“Baycrest embraces strategies for integrating creative expression into a client-centred approach to care,” says Bianca Stern, director of Culture, Arts and Innovation at Baycrest.  “Our ongoing partnerships with faculty and students from OCAD University, as well as collaborations with artists from across Canada, are providing Baycrest with new ways of exploring the impact of artful engagement on the wellbeing of adults with mental and physical impairments.” OCAD University received Baycrest’s Proud Partners Award in 2012. 

“The four of us worked closely in the digital studio of the Social Media and Collaboration Lab (SMAClab) which I direct. We filled it with vintage TVs for our experimentation, attracting many curious onlookers,” said Doyle, who received an OCAD University award in 2012 for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity. “For Pathfinding, we created a new form of media arts-based collaboration that tapped into preserved memory and embodied knowledge. Outcomes were positive for Robin and Kang. This is a central focus of my art practice.”

Pathfinding is on display at Baycrest Health Sciences
3560 Bathurst St., Toronto
from February 14 to March 1, 2013 
*Opening Night reception for media is Wednesday, February 13, 5 to 7 p.m.

The project received support from the Ontario Arts Council (Artists in the Community/Workplace), Brain Injury Services of Hamilton, and the Integrated Media Program and SMAClab at OCAD University.

About Baycrest
Headquartered on a 22-acre campus in Ontario and fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest is a global leader in innovations in aging and brain health.

About OCAD University
OCAD University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines.

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Kelly Connelly, Senior Media Officer
Baycrest Health Sciences

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 x327 (mobile x1327)

Mental Wellness Open Dialogue for Students

Mental Wellness Open Dialogue for Students
Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 10:30pm

Mental Wellness Open Dialogue for Students

How can we create a campus that not only supports mental wellness, but a campus that also allows for students, faculty and staff to thrive? We want students to direct our work in making positive changes on campus. And we want those changes to work for students.

The OCAD U Mental Health Steering Committee invites all OCAD U Students to join us for refreshments and an in-depth conversation about Mental Health on campus at our Open Dialogue where students can safely express their vision and ideas for a healthy and vibrant campus.

The vision of OCAD U’s Mental Health Steering Committee is to inspire and nurture healthy and imaginative learners, educators and cultured citizens of the world. We are composed of students, faculty and staff of OCAD University.

This event will be facilitated by spoken word/dub poet, writer, artist, activist and OCAD University creative writing professor Lillian Allen. There will be food, good people and good vibes. Join us for the conversation!




Venue & Address: 
Auditorium 100 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario

Mental Health Awareness Fair

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 2:00pm

Learn more about mental health and ways of coping with stress in order to maintain a healthy, creative mind.

Having a healthy mind requires balance, taking time for ourselves, connecting
with others and taking part in physical activity. A healthy mind leaves
room for imagination and creativity!




Venue & Address: 
Lobby 100 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario