The Pitch is Everything

When it comes to entrepreneurship, many of us seem to believe that success is based on the innovative idea. Obviously the idea has a great deal to do with it, but an idea is really only worth something if an entrepreneur can pitch it. Whether you’re presenting to potential clients, users, or investors, nobody is going to want what you’re offering if you can’t convince them they do: the pitch is everything.

This was the focus of BioLinc’s last kickstarting entrepreneurship event which took place this past weekend. Our student entrepreneurs had just three minutes on Saturday to pitch their ideas to an esteemed group of professional mentors. After these presentations, the students sat down for one-on-one meetings with the mentors to hear what they did right and what they could improve on (or if we’re being blunt, what they did wrong) in their pitch.

The next day, we saw the advice pay off. Each entrepreneur stood up and gave another three minute pitch. The difference was tremendous, every student made great strides with their presentation’s, making those watching believe in their ideas and maybe more importantly – in them.

Sign up for the next KSE event here.

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The BioLinc Ambassador Experience

As a student who’s family has always pushed towards corporate Canada, getting accepted into the co-op  program at Brock University was a huge accomplishment.  It would allow me to try my hand at working for some the Canada’s largest organizations to gain valuable work related experience.  So when the time came to apply for my very first work term, I naturally did what I anticipate many of us did while applying for our first placement.  Applied to anything that sounded interesting or was with a large firm.  I mean, the logic checks out. If you want to be the best, why not learn from the best?

So I submitted applications to all the major banks, sales positions and potential marketing jobs that interested me over the course of the summer. Thankfully, one of those potential marketing jobs I applied to was at the University for BioLinc as a Student Ambassador.  In all honesty I hadn’t thought much of a university job because as far as I was concerned I wanted to work for corporate Canada. Brock University didn’t exactly fall into that category.

Thankfully the stars aligned and I was able to secure an interview with Dan Lynch, Manager at BioLinc and Cassie Price, BioLinc Coordinator. After completing a mock interview with the co-op department I felt confident enough to give it my best shot.  Thankfully they decided to take a chance on me and I was offered the position alongside my fellow ambassador Ian Farr.

The first week was so fast it felt like a blur. Table top displays, networking events and presentations followed in quick concession for the first month.  Not only did I have the opportunity to speak in front of hundreds of my peers many a times informing them of BioLinc, I was able to also give guided tours of not only our establishment (End of the Cairns Complex, feel free to stop by for a tour), I had to give tours of our campus to alumni during homecoming. Considering I had never taken one myself it was quite the experience. I was quickly learning that this University had so much more to offer than just an education. It is the passionate people who work and volunteer at Brock that make it such an amazing place to attend.

That was something I had never thought of before this amazing opportunity, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it changed my life for the better. The connections you establish with the students and faculty within our institution is invaluable.  The corporate culture was amazing. Being surrounded by students from all faculties of Brock, each more driven than the last and everyone working together is something you truly must experience to understand. No where else I can think of has Not-for-profits working beside start-ups working beside scientists developing new technology. To make it even more pleasurable, imagine every morning walking in to smiling faces and loving people who truly care about your success and well being. Being a BioLinc Ambassador allowed me to help out my peers reach their goals and dreams, while also expanding peoples knowledge and awareness of BioLinc within Brock. I was invited to events with guest speakers who have walked in our shoes and having the opportunity to mine little tidbits of knowledge from them is something I will forever be grateful for.

Coming from someone who quickly overlooked a position on campus when I came across it on the job board, I feel almost naive admitting it. Understandably hindsight is 20/20, but the skills and values I obtained while working within our institution far surpass anything I could have obtained from a giant conglomerate. These are connections I can continue to grow on a daily basis. I am able to continuously help out entrepreneurs reach their dreams, volunteer in all facets of the university and more importantly, I am able to still see those amazing smiling faces on a daily basis. Anything I had hoped to obtain from a job placement, I learned from this placement. The unexpected part was how much it made me grow as a person, and for that I will forever be grateful. So fellow students, as you read this, please don’t make the same mistake I did. Give school positions a serious thought, because the payoff is more than you or I could have ever imagined prior to the work term.

Mitchell Cowan,

Former BioLinc Ambassador signing off.

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“You Gotta Get a Gimmick!”

Anyone seen the old movie or Broadway musical called Gypsy – all about old time burlesque – here are some lyrics from one of its songs …

Do something special
Anything special
And you’ll get better because…
You’re more than just a mimic
When you gotta gimmick
Take a look how different we are!
If you wanna make it,
Twinkle while you shake it.
If you wanna grind it,
Wait till you’ve refined it.
If you wanna stump it,
Bump it with a trumpet!
So get yourself a gimmick and you, too,
Can be a star!

Keep these lyrics in mind when you’re developing  a presentation about your  your innovative entrepreneurial ideas and opportunities. And to help you, check out our next Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship Weekend – Jan 17/18 – all about Improving your Pitch.

Sign up for the event here.

Communication skills are important to develop to get your message across. And, as the renowned musician once said when asked by visitors on the streets of New York “how do you get to Carnegie Hall?”, he replied “practice, practice, practice”!! So sign up to

Attend and present your BIO, your Big Ideas and Opportunities, at our KSE Weekend.

Gotta get a gimmick? – here’s a recent article about a recent event at U of Toronto that demonstrates how communication skills can help deliver hard to understand topics … http://www.signalsblog.ca/stem-cells-in-60-seconds-quick-lessons-in-communicating-science/

See you on the 17th!

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Kick-Start Weekend

The first weekend of November at BioLinc, we held an event titled ‘Start-Up Weekend’.  Going into it, I must admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  The premise of the weekend is for students to form teams and collaborate on a business idea. The culmination of this event is a presentation in front of judges pitching their developed business plan.

The opening ceremony went off without a hitch, with an inspiring speech from Stephen Amoah from My Career City.

Once groups had formed, they wasted no time in beginning the collaboration process. To my surprise, multiple groups stayed well into Friday night talking and deliberating, trying to solidify their idea.  When we all reconvened in the morning for breakfast, innovation and entrepreneurship was in the air.  Every group had a quality idea that solved problems people face on a daily basis.  Not being a serial entrepreneur myself, I was left astonished by some of the ideas. They were all vastly different yet genius in their own respect.

What was interesting to observe from an outside perspective, was the plan of attack each group took when starting to develop their respective business.  Some went straight to market research to validate that there was a need for their product.  Others felt it there was more value in focusing on designing a prototype.   No matter how teams began, every team followed the same formula over the course of the weekend.  Through 3 seminars, gallons of coffee and pizza to fuel everyone’s productive minds, Saturday flew by with some teams leaving at the end of dinner for some much deserved rest, whilst others stayed until what felt like Sunday morning.

To my delight, when Sunday morning arrived, all 6 teams were right on schedule for their presentation. With the order randomly selected, and the K-Cup Cup constructed, teams took turns presenting in front of an esteemed panel of judges.  Between Dr. Camille Rutherford, David D’Angelo from Trivium Industries, Glenn Stevens, manager of GSB Consultants and Geordan Robertson, a senior manager from Meridian Credit Union, teams had the privilege to hear valuable insight.

Through careful deliberation; Nancy Lan, Rebecca Morkunas, John Raimondo, Abbey Stansfield and Cherry Kuai of ‘As Time Goes By’ finished runner up to Alex Mohr, Madi Fuller, Chris Jia, Preston Engstrom and Harrison Olagos of Int-House.
Those two companies, in addition to the other four, are further detailed below.

To conclude, the depth in which these entrepreneurs had developed their respective business plans astonished me. It is truly amazing so see what can be achieved through hard work, dedication and collaboration.  Coming into this weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of business ideas.  After seeing such ingenious ideas come to fruition first-hand, it gives me hope that anybody is one small step away from a large idea.

Order of presentation;

Avail-a-space (Vijayita Bhardwaj, Carlin Jessop, Melane Dabah, Arvinder Singh, Joshua Giancola)

Avail-a-space collaborated well as a group. During group discussions, their dialogue was incredibly immersive. The culmination being a thorough and informative presentation about an app that would show students which locations on campus were available to study. Their idea was well thought out and incredibly useful as a student constantly looking for available space within the school to study.  It was a passionate presentation due to the evident nature that this was a problem every presenter had faced.

Int-House (Alex Mohr, Madi Fuller, Chris Jia, Preston Engstrom, Harrison Olagos)

Immediately after breaking away from the dinner, this team bunkered down in the BioLinc conference room.  If I hadn’t witnessed myself, to the contrary, I would have believed it if someone had told me they did not leave until Sunday morning.  Their hard work and dedication paid off though, through their dynamic presentation, market research, a functional web page, and legitimate contracts secured all over the course of the weekend. Their idea was to bridge the gap between international students and local landlords.  As the winning team, they have continued to collaborate, but under the name ‘Cross Border Housing’.

PlanBook (Mohamad Hamade, Matt Prekett, Colin Hardy, Steve Hann, Karim Hamasni)

PlanBook had their idea well thought through from the beginning with key features meticulously chosen. The incredible feat was that they had a working prototype, which was unveiled during their presentation to the audience, coded in its entirety over the course of the weekend.  It was a multipurpose calendar app with a unique and very intriguing import method for group meetings or tests. Having the working prototype ensured that their value added was clearly visible through demonstration. This was incredibly helpful in understand all the unique features that PlanBook would offer consumers that differentiates them from their competition.

Hot Spot (Scott Bossy, Kevin Oliver, Huzaifa Faizan, Reece Fisher)

Hot Spot was an idea that came to be due to recent experiences by a few of the group members. It was something I can imagine we’ve all been through.  Arriving at a new city on a random night, wanting to paint the town but not having the slightest clues where to go. With the app Hot Spot, you can see real time capacity of local bars in addition to a wealth of other information. Through their informative and dynamic presentation, it was made evidently clear that this would be an incredibly beneficial app, not just for the consumer, but for the bar owners as well.

LastMinuteVids.ca (Matthew Chong, Sachin Kaulshal, Omar Khan)

LastMinuteVids.ca tried to bridge the gap between students who procrastinate and those who proactively prepare for exams.  Those who have already learned the knowledge are compensated monetarily for essentially teaching the students who need some last minute aid. Their presentation clarified many of the questions I had about this business, and honestly, I thought it could extremely beneficial to every student if it became operational.

As Time Goes By (Nancy Lan, Rebecca Morkunas, John Raimondo, Abbey Stansfield, Cherry Kuai)

As Time Goes By is a service that digitally catalogs heirlooms for families through a specific process clearly outlined in their informative presentation.  It wasn’t clear until part way through said presentation how scalable and realistic this idea was.  They managed to completely convince me that not only was this an amazing idea, but made me wonder how no one had thought of this idea yet.  All it took was one group member having to go through the experience to realize that it could be a very lucrative business.

Check out pictures from our event here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/89128525@N03/sets/72157649179107970/

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Say Yes to Yes Yes Marsha

After 2 months on the job as the BioLinc Ambassador, I’ve had more than my fair share of forced social networking experiences. Being an outgoing person, I’ve welcomed these opportunities with open arms. So I must admit, when I heard I’d be attending a workshop on networking, I wasn’t exactly elated at the idea. Going into the seminar, I was doing my best to stay positive and focused on learning a new tactic to remember names figuring it was all I stood to gain from this presentation.

Then the talk began and within the first minute Marsha told the audience ‘Everyone in this room, even those who believe they themselves are perfect at networking will stand to gain something from this seminar’. It was as if she was speaking directly to me, and honestly, Marsha could not have been more correct. What followed was three hours of fluid conversation and forced awkward social interactions that were some of the most amusing experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of partaking in during a seminar. Has anyone ever had to stare into a stranger’s eyes for a full minute without being able to look away, speak or move? It is a strangely enlightening experience, in a ‘Nothing will ever be as awkward as this, ever’ kind of way.

From a calming meditation technique to implement in times of stress and peril, to templates for those dreaded follow-up emails and a cool new way to remember people’s names, Marsha was dynamic in her teaching and super approachable during breaks and afterwards. I even had the pleasure of learning some funny British phrases throughout. Never has something so familiar to me like networking felt so foreign, yet by the end of the seminar, everything seemed to obvious, easy and fluid.

In the days since, I’ve had the opportunity to implement these new strategies and they are more effective than anything I had ever tried before. The devil is in the details, so don’t be embarrassed if you require people to repeat their name multiple times in order for you to correctly pronounce it (and remember it!). I always felt it was important to add value to a conversation with people you are networking with in order for them to feel like talking to you is worthwhile. Yet the Marsha taught and Mitchell tested technique of listening more and allowing that person to open up about themselves while asking key questions will leave not only them feeling pleased to have met you, but you in turn will learn more about someone than you could have ever imagined. Trust me, the stories I learned from implementing this technique of networking are incredible. So thank you, Marsha, for truly revolutionizing my daily interactions with people, it was a pleasure to attend your seminar. If anyone is interested in learning more about Marsha and her amazing networking tips you can visit her website at www.yesyesmarsha.com.

Mitchell Cowan
BioLinc Ambassador

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Ontario University Fair

Have you ever needed to give a presentation on something you truly aren’t that knowledgeable about? I don’t mean something that you can say a few big words and roughly describe it in order to get by. I’m referring to those presentations where the professor knows your subject better than your group so every idea and statistic needs to be flawless. That is the only way I could adequately describe my reaction when I was told part of my job as BioLinc Ambassador requires me to travel to the Ontario University Fair (OUF) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre downtown Toronto as a representative of Brock University.

Now I don’t want to give off a false impression, as a proud badger, I marveled at the opportunity to represent my institution and speak to potential students about the amazing experience that is Brock. The only downside was that apart from my personal experiences here and my time at BioLinc, I knew almost nothing about Brock. Thankfully, like any good group members, the members of the Brock community did their best to prepare me for the event. From meetings, to training sessions, handouts and packages to read and a guided tour of the campus, in the span of a week I went from feeling completely overwhelmed to Mr. Brock, ready to tackle any question asked.

In terms of the actual day we went to OUF, I travelled downtown on the Badger Bus with some of the most highly respected faculty from our institution. The entire bus ride, I couldn’t help but think of how lucky I am to be on the same bus as these people and in awe they were taking time out of their busy schedules to come recruit for Brock.

It wasn’t until we arrived at the convention center and got settled at our booth did I realize why such high profile faculty came to represent our university. To put it quite simply, it’s because they truly care about our school and more importantly, each student’s success. I doubt any of the grade 12’s who spoke to an associate dean of a faculty understands the magnitude of how important said dean is to our institution. To them it was just another face representing Brock. To a current Brock student such as myself on the other hand, it solidified that I had made the proper choice for post secondary education. Not only had the facts and numbers I had learned through my research affirm my believes in Brock academically speaking, but the quality of people we sent to represent us, and how polite and approachable they were to anyone who had questions just boggled my mind. It was a far cry from the intimidation I had felt on the bus ride down only hours earlier. Once I finally had the time to sit and speak with some of these high profile faculty members, I was amazed by how much they wanted to know about me specifically. I’m not referring to my classes or grades, but they wanted to know about me as a person. It was in that moment where I truly understood that any student in that convention center, myself included, would be truly lucky to receive and education at Brock.

Mitchell Cowan
BioLinc Ambassador

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The Next 36 Visits BioLinc

On Tuesday October 21, I had the pleasure of gathering with some of Brock University’s most promising entrepreneurs here at BioLinc in order to meet with a representative from a prestigious entrepreneurial program known as The Next 36. The visit with Jon French, the director marketing and communications with The Next 36 was intended to inform those eligible of the program and hopefully to inspire the first Brock inductee.

The Next 36 is a non-profit organization designed to stimulate the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs. Named for its size, only the top 36 undergraduate student entrepreneurs from across the country are accepted.  Those inducted into the program form teams and spend many months living and working together to build a business from the ground up.  Along the way, these students receive guidance and mentorship from some of Canada’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders who work directly with the program. While working on their own project, the students will also receive academic instruction from award winning professors from schools including Harvard Business School, MIT, Wharton, Georgetown, Rotman, Ivey, and Sauder. Along with all of this, is the opportunity to receive up to $65,000 of seed capital for your venture.

During our meeting with about fifteen of Brock’s top entrepreneurs, we began by each introducing ourselves and speaking about the ventures and business ideas that we are currently pursuing. It was exciting just to hear about some of the great work being done by Brock students and to get an idea of the kind of talent and promise that exists within our school. It’s very inspiring and in some cases unbelievable to hear what some people have accomplished at such a young age.

After our introductions, the facilitator from The Next 36 gave us a rundown of the program and all that it entails before opening the floor for any questions. The talent and the interest of those at the table led to some great discussion regarding the program and our eligibility. I, and I believe many others, left the meeting with the renewed energy to build our portfolios as entrepreneurs and to become one of Canada’s next 36.

If you’re interested in applying to be part of The Next 36 or you just want to find out a little more about the program, check out their website at http://www.thenext36.ca.

Ian Farr
BioLinc Ambassador

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TeslaMANIA

On Thursday, July 10th, also known as Tesla’s birthday, I had the opportunity to attend “Tesla Mania” an event focused on Tesla’s inventions and their possible “healing” effects. The event was held in Toronto and consisted of an expo, a presentation and video portion. There were also two companies that attended the expo with a product or service. One focused on reducing the amount of microwave radiation that came from your household electronics. The other focused on therapeutic treatment with electromagnets. One other booth had a man dressed from the 1800s selling antique “static electricity healers”.

All I have to say is, be an informed buyer. I truly do understand the importance of being scientifically literate. There was a company that was selling a device that treated your water with “electromagnetism, a whirlpool and photons”, which was a stir plate with flashing LEDs and a beaker of water with a stir bar at the bottom. But who would have known, right? Just like, who would have understood their video about quantum physics and the Higgs Boson and the Hadron Collider and photons and electrons and all the scientific words they used; not the general public, that is for sure. Some of the ties they made were a little far stretched like, comparing the Hadron Collider to the Milky Way Galaxy to crop circles in England all the way to the design of Tesla’s Coil.

I also learned not to send a businessman to do a scientists work. The sad part about this event was that there is validity to electromagnets and their effects on the human body.  Yet unfortunately, not once was a peer-reviewed article referenced, nor a scientific journal, nor a specific study, nor were there stats listed.

Despite the errors in explaining and their lack of scientific evidence, I believe there are effects (healing or not, I’m not sure) on the human body from magnetic fields as I have researched this topic before and actually read studies that agree with this statement.

Probably their most profound statement, which should have probably been stated as a hypothesis seeing as though there is no evidence for it, brought up the idea that us humans have evolved and adapted to changes on Earth for millions of years with only the Earth’s magnetic field effecting us and now with all of this new technology we are being exposed to so much radiation and different magnetic fields that our bodies are not used to. And this is the reason why some people are getting sick, and some have developed a sensitivity to electronics, etc.

And this is what I was left to ponder on…

Ethan Foy
BioLinc Ambassador

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France Visits BioLinc!

Today BioLinc had the great pleasure of meeting business students from the Rouen Business School in France! This group of students were visiting Brock University for a Summer Study Tour arranged by Brock International. And thankfully for all of us here at BioLinc, these students were very capable of communicating in English!

The 37 students that were in attendance showed great patience, listening skills and interest while touring BioLinc; and we thank them for that. The student’s interest in BioLinc was evident through their attentive listening and meaningful questions. Some wondered how much living and tuition costs here at Brock and how easy it is to find a job during the school year; and if that isn’t evident enough of their interest in coming to Brock some even wondered how hard it is to get a citizenship here!

As always, the 3D printers were a huge success! The students, like everyone else, were very fascinated with the 3D printers and their products we had to display; especially the flopping fish and geared heart.

The students understood very well that BioLinc is a two-way street in the sense that we can provide from both sides of the spectrum, whether you are looking for scientific help or business help, we have the assets to satisfy whatever it is you are seeking. Having David D’Angelo of Trivium industries present helped fortify this idea.

Overall it was a terrific group of students and we hope that today we helped them realize that it is possible to turn their innovative ideas into a reality!

From everyone here at BioLinc “nous les remercions et leur souhaitons la meilleure des chances dans leurs projets futurs!” and we hope to see you again!

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An account of university from a fellow student

I took a philosophy class last year and during one of the last seminars my TA was talking about Michel Foucault’s account of docile bodies. A docile body briefly explained is what society wants us to grow up to be; someone middle-class who will work for the rest of their life, never rebelling, never breaking through the invisible, yet so distinct and thick walls of social norms, never reaching their true potential and never realizing their dreams.

Just before the end of the seminar my TA stopped. He put down his book and stared at us for just a second with a mixed look of frustration and sympathy. He gathered himself and began to tell us something I think we all needed to hear. Recalling it as best as I can it went something like this: University isn’t just some place you go to take courses, study, write tests to get good grades to get a degree to get a job where you will spend the rest of your life working. Forget all about that for a second. Although it might be hidden behind all the stresses one runs into during university, this is also a place for you to learn new skills, learn how to deal with the real world and stress, meet new people, socialize, explore, laugh, party and have fun! There is more to university than schoolwork, he finished saying.

I’m not trying to convince people to rebel and give up on schoolwork however. All I am trying to say is don’t let it consume 100% of your time here at university. This isn’t just the “necessary” part of your life where you learn to become an adult or an accountant or a doctor, it is a part of your life just as much as elementary school was, and just as much as adulthood will be, so don’t rush through it only to wish that you had spent a little more time enjoying it.

Another piece of advice I would like to share about avoiding the ill-fated life of a docile body comes from what I’ve learned on my co-op experience at BioLinc. That is that, no matter what your discipline the possibilities are endless as to what you can achieve and where you may end up. Being in Neuroscience myself had me convinced that I had to follow either a research or medical oriented career path, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Working at BioLinc and seeing all these entrepreneurial people in the process of bringing their innovative ideas to life has really changed my life, and I don’t mean that in the cliché way that it sounds. It has really shown me that what you may have once thought of as “impossible” is most definitely possible when you surround yourself with the right people and that is exactly where I am at BioLinc. You have the ability to start whatever company, develop whatever product or provide whatever service you wish. You may not have learned directly how to do so, but that’s where the hidden skills university has taught you and collaboration come into play. We don’t have enough time to learn how to be a one-man-team, so network and keep your bridges well maintained because you never know when one of your connections will end up being the missing piece to your puzzle.

One more thing the members of BioLinc have taught me is to have faith in myself and my ideas. There is no skepticism here: “You have an idea? OK, lets see how to approach this and make it work”. They believe that no matter what your dream you shouldn’t be held back from giving it a shot and if it doesn’t work out you have only gained a valuable life experience. It is evident through the two projects I am now working on that they have inspired me beyond belief and for that I am grateful.

As a final note I’d like to say this:

There is more to university than grades and a degree. You have no set path in this world, as you are unique. Do not be held back by what you think society, professors, parents, friends or anyone else thinks you should do. You can truly achieve what ever it is you want if you are willing to go the distance; there is no goal too high, there is no dream too bold, so aim wherever you like, but there’s nothing stopping you from hitting the moon.

Ethan A. Foy, BSc Honours Neuroscience Co-op

BioLinc Ambassador

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