Wanted: student entrepreneurs to be launched to success
by Meaghan Whelan
Student entrepreneurs and Launch Pad clients Mike Rowe, seated, and Greg Pike in their office. (Photo by Duncan de Young)
Students who have a great business idea they want to turn into reality are getting a new resource. On Sept. 25, ACE Memorial, current national entrepreneurship champions, are opening Launch Pad in the Inco Innovation Centre. Launch Pad is Canada’s first and only student business incubator operated by students. It’s a place where student entrepreneurs can operate and grow their businesses while attending class.
To celebrate the grand opening and to find new clients, Launch Pad is holding a campus-wide Innovation Challenge. This competition is looking for the best business ideas on campus, and the winner will see their business come to life.
Jason Oakley, vice-president entrepreneurship for ACE Memorial and co-ordinator of Launch Pad, stressed the point that the competition is not just for business students. “We want to open the doors to students across campus. It’s not just business students who can be entrepreneurs,” he said. “You don’t need accounting or marketing courses, you need to be passionate about your idea and willing to work hard.”
Students won’t have to complete a full business plan, either.
“Once we get a small report on what their plan is, we’ll have them come in and do a dragons den they’ll come in and pitch to us,” Mr. Oakley explained. “That way, we get to see their personality and learn more about their idea.”
The prize includes $2,500 and a coveted space in Launch Pad. Where clients receive office space and supplies, professional development seminars, access to market research, guidance and support from an advisory board, and mentorship from the award-winning ACE Memorial team.
Currently, there are four student business clients of Launch Pad: Activelink Web Solutions (Greg Pike), Upstream Media (Michael Rowe), Mabledon Financial (Niraj Shukla, and Anicore (Joe Coffey). The first graduate of Launch Pad, Brianna Browning’s Knotty Designs, has proven to be a great success. Her one-of-a-kind jewelry has strong sales, and she won this year’s CIBC student entrepreneur of the year award for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Interested students can pick up an application at the grand opening on Sept. 25. There will be a barbeque, tours of the space, and current clients will be on hand to talk about their experiences. To find out more about the application process, visit www.acememorial.com or stop into the Launch Pad office, exterior entrance off the courtyard between the library and Inco building.
Launch Pad is available to students thanks to generous support from the Presidents Office and ACOA.