All Posts Tagged With: "entrepreneurship"
Waterloo’s VeloCity and Ryerson’s DMZ nurture startups
From our Future of Jobs report
Last year, Hongwei Liu, 22, dropped out of school. At first, he didn’t tell his parents. Until he took the leap, Liu was studying engineering at the University of Waterloo, but he found that more and more of his time was wrapped up in a non-academic challenge. GPS technology in cars, and Google Maps on cellphones, among other services, point lost travellers in the right direction. But, Liu says, no one had created a service to help people navigate the great indoors. Three years after he and his co-founders launched MappedIn, which now builds interactive maps and apps that replace clunky, static boards in shopping malls, Liu’s team has grown to 13 employees (median age 23) and is worth millions.
Liu is part of a generation of young entrepreneurs who, inspired by success stories like Facebook’s, which famously emerged from a Harvard dorm room, aren’t waiting to earn degrees before launching businesses. Some drop out while they build their businesses, others take an extra year to wrap up their degrees, and still others simply do both at the same time. According to a CIBC report, a record half a million Canadians were starting their own businesses last year. The trend is not due to a lack of other employment opportunities, noted the report, but a growing culture of individualism and new opportunities driven by technology. Young entrepreneurs are also benefiting from the dozens of business incubators popping up on university campuses across the country that hope to transform keener students into the next generation of Canada’s entrepreneurial elite.
University says it hopes for a settlement
MONTREAL – It was a moment of triumph for a group of McGill University students, who won a $1 million prize for social entrepreneurship handed out by Bill Clinton.
But the moment was more bitter than sweet for one student.
He was forced to watch from a distance, via Internet webcast, as his former allies rubbed shoulders with the former U.S. president.
Jakub Dzamba claims he was intellectually robbed.
Dzamba, a McGill University student, who is still involved in a dispute with the five-member MBA winning team, says it was sad to watch from afar as the group won the 2013 Hult competition grand prize for a nutrition project.
“It would have been really nice to get to meet Bill Clinton,” Dzamba said Tuesday in an interview. “That was kind of a dream.”
The Hult competition is described on its website as the world’s largest student competition to solve social challenges, like helping to feed the urban poor. Winners use the prize money as seed capital, and get mentorship and advice from the international business community.
More than 10,000 students, representing more than 150 countries around the world, usually take part.
Economy built on manufacturing now relies on housing
TORONTO – Two years after graduating from college with an accounting degree, Amanda Coombes expected to be working full-time in her field. Instead, she’s living with her mom and working at McDonald’s.
These days, in hard-hit Ontario, a job is a job.
“It’s hard for us,” Coombes, 23, said of the challenges she and her fellow graduates face in their search for work in their chosen field. Older applicants, some laid off after 25 years in the business, offer life and work experience that make them formidable rivals.
“We’re competing with people who have been trying to find work and have three times the amount of experience as we do.”
Coombes is among the casualties of Ontario’s precipitous decline from the country’s economic engine to its most populous have-not province.
It’s hard to turn a profit, but it’s fun
Frances Strathern, 24, started making jewelry at age 14, went on to major in Jewellery and Metals at the Alberta College of Art + Design and then started franny e fine jewelry in 2010. She got a $15,000 loan to open a “tiny” gallery space in Calgary and worked part-time elsewhere until recently to make ends meet. She still works seven days of the week, but now it’s entirely for herself. It hasn’t been easy. She’s just now “approaching” the point where she can support herself financially. Still, she loves it. Here’s her story.
Did ACAD prepare you for this business?
ACAD is very hands-on and studio based, but then you have your academic classes as well. It was a good balance of the conceptual art side of things with skills, but it just didn’t prep us very well for the business side of things.
LeadSift is evidence of hot Atlantic tech sector
The student founders of LeadSift, a company whose software combs through Twitter and Facebook data to generate sales leads, set out last fall in search of $500,000 of investor cash.
It was an easier than expected hunt.
The Halifax startup pulled in $1.13 million, including $500,000 from OMERS Ventures (the venture capital arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest pension funds), as well as a contribution from Dan Martell—Canada’s 2012 angel investor of the year, according to KPMG and Techvibes.
The LeadSift foursome, international students from Dalhousie University and Acadia University, could have raised more money, but decided to cap their fundraising round and ultimately turned away some interested investors.
Winnipeg accountant traded insurance for entrepreneurship
Nicole Barry, now 34, had an unusually long-term plan for a 20-year-old woman. She and her then-boyfriend (now ex-husband) would both get jobs in their 20s and then “reconvene” in their 30s to open a brewery in their hometown, Winnipeg. To hold up her end of the bargain, Barry became a Certified General Accountant, earned Bachelor of Business Administration from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and got a job as a controller for an insurance company. Then a severance package allowed the pair to fast-track their dream and at age 27 Barry became co-owner of Half Pints Brewing. Seven years later she has 14 employees. Her path is the perfect addition to Your Job Makes me Jealous. Here’s how it went.
How did you get from university to starting your own brewery?
My parents were entrepreneurs so that was something bred into me—the whole DIY lifestyle. I didn’t start off wanting to become an accountant or a CGA but I realized that if I was going to be successful being my own boss, at some point I needed a strong business education. I’m fairly smart and I’ve seen people succeed and fail and so having a good backup career was a good plan. My then-boyfriend and I decided he’d go to brewing school and I’d do the business side of things.
How did you spot the craft beer trend back then?
I have this mixed bag personality where I can be the accountant girl, but I was also going to punk rock shows at age 15. The Winnipeg music scene was really big in the 90s with Propaghandi, and the Weakerthans developed from that scene. The music scene lent itself to the ‘support local’ movement. So when I became of drinking age I was like, ‘I’m not going to support mass beer, I’m going to support the little guy.’ But there wasn’t really much [craft beer] going on in Winnipeg.
Today entrepreneurial grads like him find plenty of help
Jordan Smith was desperate. It was July 2009 and he was unemployed and struggling. A recent graduate, his business degree from Memorial University was proving to be poor bait for potential employers. To top it off, it was mid-recession.
“I couldn’t find a job,” he recalled. “Nobody was hiring. If anything they were laying people off.”
So the 23-year-old devised a plan. He printed off a stack of resumes and constructed a large sign from a piece of a refrigerator box. It read: “NEW GRAD. NEED JOB.”
In the face of challenges, Canada’s business schools adapt
Peter Thiel’s career is the stuff of business legend. He co-founded PayPal and was the first outside investor in Facebook, paying future CEO Mark Zuckerberg $500,000 for 10 per cent of the company back in 2004. When the social networking giant held its IPO earlier this year, Thiel took home $640 million after selling off part of his stake. Since then, Facebook shares have lost half their value, but Thiel still managed to recently pocket $400 million after a regulatory lock-up agreement for insiders expired. In other words, while just about everyone else lost money on Facebook shares, Thiel made out like a bandit. It pays to get in first.
Entrepreneurship bootcamp in St. John’s
Students at Memorial University are helping Canadian Forces members transition to civilian life by training them to run their own businesses. Nineteen veterans and soon-to-be vets, including some discharged for injuries, participated in this week’s “entrepreneurial bootcamp” in St. John’s. Business owners, faculty and students trained them in everything from marketing to social media. The Department of National Defense worked with the local chapter of Students in Free Enterprise to develop the Based in Business program, which is offering the training with support from Canadian Youth Business Foundation and Prince’s Charities Canada. For more, see The Telegram.
Halifax graduates turn to the underground economy
By Veronica Simmonds
Jess Ross graduated from Dalhousie University in 2009, straight into one of the worst economies in a generation. Her degree in anthropology hardly made her a standout in a Halifax job market with an unemployment rate nearing 15 per cent.
“My only options were to go back to the job I didn’t want to go back to, work for a catering company, get a master’s degree, or just do something on my own. Which I guess was the moment I tapped into my entrepreneurial spirit,” she says.
She and some friends set up a farm stand on Agricola Street in Halifax’s North End neighbourhood and started selling her homemade, German-style bread. They conduct their business under the table, without concern for the legalities of zoning or taxation.
Will they catch on in Canada?
The New York Times reported Friday on these so-called “hacker hostels.” Here they describe the home of 23-year-old Steve El-Hage from Toronto:
It’s one of several in the Bay Area that offer short- or long-term stays for aspiring tech entrepreneurs on the bottom rung of the Silicon Valley ladder, those who haven’t yet achieved Facebook-level riches. These establishments put a twist on the long tradition of communal housing for tech types by turning it into a commercial enterprise.
Two new Thiel Fellows are Canadian
The Thiel Foundation announced its second class of 20 Under 20 on Tuesday. The 20 new Thiel Fellows, all 19 or younger on Dec. 31, will each get $100,000 to pursue innovative scientific and technical projects, along with guidance from tech entrepreneurs, investors and scientists.
Billionaire Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, created the fellowships because he believes university and governments aren’t the only routes to innovation.
“Pundits and hand-wringers love to claim that universities are the only path to a successful life. In truth, an inquisitive mind, rigorously applied to a deep-rooted problem can change the world as readily as the plushest academic lab,” Thiel said.
“In 1665 when Cambridge University closed due to the plague, Isaac Newton used his time away to pursue self-directed learning and ended up inventing calculus,” he added.
Seminar at UBC will train medical marijuana entrepreneurs
A seminar taking place on the University of British Columbia campus this weekend will train wannabe medical marijuana entrepreneurs. Greenline Academy, the organizer, told The Province that its $330 seminar is sold out. The course will cover everything from the legalities of medical marijuana to growing techniques. The classes have already been taken by more than 1,300 people in cities from Winnipeg to Victoria since Greenline opened in 2011. A permanent school is planned for Kelowna, B.C. Health Canada has issued more than 12,000 licenses to grow medical marijuana.
Pebble smartwatch creator plans to hire co-op students
That won’t be necessary for Eric Migicovsky, a 2008 University of Waterloo systems design engineering graduate and entrepreneur, who has raised more than $4.4 million for his “smartwatch.”
The idea behind the Pebble is simple: it alerts users when a new call, email or message is coming through on their iPhone or Android phones and displays it on the electronic paper screen. It’s especially useful if you don’t have easy access to your phone, which means the Pebble is the perfect solution for cyclists, joggers, or lazy people who want to stay connected while only having to move their wrist.
Few jobs. Shut programs. How art schools are adapting.
Christina McKenzie is pretty typical of Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates these days. She doesn’t regret taking a BFA at York University (2005). She’s grateful for the four years she spent exploring photography, bronze-casting, painting, drawing, book-making, sculpture and art history.
But there’s another part of her that wishes she’d taken something more focused, like photography or design, perhaps. Had she done that, who knows where she’d be?
McKenzie had planned to become an art teacher after her BFA. She was even accepted to a teacher’s college, but deferred it. She’s very glad she did. At least a quarter of her art school colleagues went on to teacher’s college. Many can’t find jobs. In fact, two-thirds of new teaching graduates in Ontario can’t find work as teachers.
How Baba Brinkman is teaching M.B.A.s
From the Maclean’s Rethink Issue. Story by Angelina Chapin.
It’s a Sunday night in Manhattan, and the only place in the world where 40 white people have their fists in the air chanting “I’m a African.” Their ringleader is performer Baba Brinkman: a tall, gangly man who is explaining to his audience in the off-Broadway theatre how the theory of evolution is captured in the lyrics of New York City-based hip-hop duo Dead Prez.
Brinkman’s riff on their song, which argues that until 60,000 years ago Homo sapiens all lived in Africa, is a part of his rap guide to evolution—the second in a series of educational rap guides he’s produced. The songs unpack such Darwinian principles as natural and sexual selection using the analogy of the rap industry: just as certain organisms are selected to survive in nature based on favourable qualities, certain rappers are selected by their audience to succeed based on talent.
Is sharing notes cheating?
It was two o’clock in the morning on the night before her physiology mid-term when Jennifer Hidy turned on her laptop and saw what she calls “the blue screen of death.” A virus had killed her hard drive, erasing all of the carefully curated lecture notes that she was planning to read in the wee hours of the morning before her nine o’clock exam. She had visions of failure. She considered calling a friend. Then she remembered hearing about a new website called Notesolution.
Hidy headed to the school library, entered her University of Toronto email address into the site and—much to her relief—found that someone else had uploaded notes for her physiology classes. She printed them off and studied. A mere seven hours after recoiling from the blue screen, she sat down and aced her exam.
Grads will be paid to work in poor cities
A new non-profit organization called Venture for America will give bright university graduates a crash course in entrepreneurship — if they’re willing to move to a town with a struggling economy.
The idea is to help graduates learn about entrepreneurship, while helping impoverished cities like New Orleans, Providence, R.I., and Detroit to get back on their feet.
After all, business graduates don’t usually move to such economically depressed areas. In that sense, Venture for America is modeled after Teach for America, the highly-successful organization that pays new teachers to move to places where they wouldn’t otherwise move, helping to fight poverty.
VFA will pay its fellows a modest salary of $32,000 to $38,000 per year for two years.
The startups will get free workers. The workers will get to see a company grow from the ground up.
“These fellows are going to end up in the midst of a really exciting ecosystem and they’re all going to have access to all the entrepreneurs in the region,” Andrew Yang, founder and president, told Fast Company. Some graduates will find success in their new towns and stay permanently, he said.
And one of those grads will get $100,000 at the end of two years to start a business of their own.
But competition is tough. Yang expects 5,000 applicants for the first 50 placements in September.
Dating website for students finds success in exclusivity
DateMySchool.com wants you to know that, no, it’s not the same as Facebook and yes, it will come to Canada — eventually.
That’s good news if your plan is to meet a rich lawyer before the age of 30. Or just a nice girl from your school. Either way, the site could help you narrow your search.
DateMySchool is a quickly-growing American dating website that’s exclusively for students from exclusive schools. Many have likened it to Facebook and it’s easy to understand the comparison. The link spread to thousands of students at the Ivy-league school where it was launched in the first week in November 2010. Since it’s expansion to 140 universities, more than 20,000 students have signed up.
Cheap loans and tight job prospects create a new crop of entrepreneurs
After graduating from the University of Western Ontario in 2004, long-time friends Joe Facciolo and Skai Dalziel, both from Barrie, Ont., set off to travel the world. By the time they came home, in 2008, the job market had toughened considerably. “I was looking for work in alternative energy, but nothing really materialized,” says Dalziel, 30. Chatting about their travels, and how hard it was to find a good restaurant in a new city, the two friends were seized by a business idea. “We said, we’re young and we don’t have a lot of responsibility,” Dalziel says. “We figured it was a good time to give it a go.”
That fall, they moved to Whistler, B.C., where they knew the tourism market was strong. By November, Whistler Tasting Tours—which provides guided tours that visit some of Whistler’s best restaurants, providing a multi-course dinner in one evening—was born. “One of the biggest challenges was securing financing,” Dalziel says. “Banks weren’t interested in getting involved.” The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), a charitable organization that works with entrepreneurs aged 18 to 34, gave them a $15,000 loan, and Whistler Tasting Tours was profitable within its first year; now they’re talking about branching out to other locations. Running a business, “you’re letting go of your social life,” he says. “But it’s really rewarding.”
Facciolo and Dalziel are two of countless twentysomethings who’ve avoided a more traditional career path, launching their own business instead of working for somebody else. Driven by a tight job market, the number of tools available online, and a growing sense of do-it-yourselfism, entrepreneurship is booming among students and recent grads. And with role models like Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old billionaire founder of Facebook, they’re in good company.