First Look at the NIA Trade Show

As someone who talks to young entrepreneurs everyday I have realized that there is a lot of potential in southern Niagara, and last week I went to an event that aimed at showcasing the future of business around the Niagara region. Last Friday I made my way down to the Falls View Casino for the Afternoon to participate in the Niagara Industrial Association’s (NIA) Trade Show. The tradeshow showcased some of the Niagara regions finest home grown businesses, companies and schools. There were so many great people there with the intention fostering business around the Niagara region. Overall the event gave a bright perspective to the future of the Niagara region.

The Tradeshow came with a few perks. On of them being a fantastic lunch provided by the Falls View Casino. During this lunch there were 2 keynote speakers who gave an interesting talk on the state of the Canadian Market, while relating it to markets across the world.  The first speaker at the luncheon was Elyse Allan, CEO of General Electric. She gave an informative speech on how markets in Canada and across the world are changing. She gave great advice to the business owners on how to evolve in the workplace with adapting technology to stay competitive as a business. The second keynote speaker was Peter Hall. Peter is the Vice President and Chief Economist of Export Development Canada. In his speech he talked about the future of the Canadian economy and based his predictions largely on the economies of other countries and the state of growth in the past while taking the great recession into account for his predictions. The way it was all presented was very interesting. I have to give credit to both presenters because they were both very entertaining and relevant regarding topics that are not usually seen as entertaining.

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The LynchPin: Blogs by Dan Lynch

Some People Think That New Ideas Are What’s Needed to be Successful

Some people think that new ideas are what’s needed to be successful and to drive the economy forward. This thinking is similar to the media that glorifies big-name deal makers … witness Donald Trump and his The Art if the Deal as one example – but the reality is that an “idea” or a “deal” is not the end destination, it’s only the beginning! Implementation is the key and may require your team to develop a new mind-set. Check out the article below and, coupled with the following approaches borrowed from Danny Ertel (HBR, November 2004, Getting Past Yes), here’s how to help your team become implementation focused …
- Start with the end in mind … what will it look like 12 months from now; how is Success to be measured;
- Help the “other side” prepare too … remember that innovation is a transaction;
- It’s a shared responsibility … their problem, your solution – but, if their interests don’t align, it’s Your Problem, too!

Implemented any good ideas lately??

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The LynchPin: Blogs by Dan Lynch

This one trait will make you more creative

At BioLinc we’re all about experiential entrepreneurship and it turns out there’s great evidence to show that having openness to experience is a great trait to possess to enhance your creativity.

A current project underway at BioLinc is to determine what characteristics are important for being successful as a BioLinc Entrepreneur – we’re using an HR Assessment tool from Plum of Waterloo to identify these characteristics and how important they are to the success of our current cohort of Kick-Start Entrepreneurs. This information is not being used to “pick winners” but, instead, is shared with our young entrepreneurs to enhance their self-awareness of their own characteristics as a means to improve their capabilities during and after their time in our program. The 6 characteristics that we’ve set to watch/measure include Stability, Assertiveness, Industriousness, Problem Solving, Intellectual Disposition and, of particular interest, Experiential Disposition.

Being creative and entrepreneurial fit well together- check out the article for more … as it notes “The aspect of our personality that appears to drive our creativity is called openness to experience, or openness… it is openness that best predicts performance on divergent thinking tasks. Openness also predicts real-world creative achievements, as well as engagement in everyday creative pursuits.

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Redesigning the Road Trip

Imagine having the opportunity to spend a Co-op term as a high school student working on your own business. For most 17 year olds this seems out of reach, an impossibly daunting task. However, over the past week I had the opportunity to meet a high school student who spent the past 5 months doing just that. Meet Michelle Kim, a senior at AN Myer Secondary Students with aspirations larger than most adults. Michelle has had the opportunity to work on her own business for the past 5 months due to a program that is run in combination with the District School Board of Niagara, BioLinc and ihub. This high school entrepreneurship co-op gives students with an entrepreneurial idea the opportunity to spend their internship working at BioLinc and ihub on their business venture.  Michelle worked on a business she labelled Destaynation, which is a theoretical spot where travellers can stay short term while they get some rest before heading back out on the road. Her business was designed to partner with the already popular On Routes, which are settled across freeways in Ontario. Destaynation would offer its customers a lounging area, showers, and a place to do laundry. It would also give travellers a secure place to rest in their cars, due to security being available 24/7. A perfect spot for travellers to stay short term, for cheap, at the expense of a little comfort.

Michelle’s entire idea came together on Monday, January 22 when she pitched her business idea in front of a grade 11 entrepreneur class. I had the opportunity to see her final project. Over the past few weeks I have witnessed many business pitches. Michelle’s could compete with some of the better ones. She seemed to include all details and seemed to have thought of just about every factor regarding her business. This included start up costs, possible income, seasonal issues and more.

Unfortunately, for all travellers excited about this business, with the Co-op coming to a close so did the aspirations of Michelle’s business. She explained that between the start up costs being too high and her not having the same time to work on the business, Destaynation would have to stay on the back burner for now.

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Building Success Over the Weekend

Every year BioLinc, hosts a weekend dedicated to improving the business pitch of various entrepreneurs. This Improve Your Pitch weekend took place last weekend, January 20-21, 2018 and hosted a variety of both student and young entrepreneurs, and experts there to give mentoring to these entrepreneurs. The weekend is set out in such a way thatparticipants have the opportunity to participate in a variety of seminars aimed at improving their pitch as well as improving their self awareness. The participants also get to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges twice. At the end of the competition the judges give out an award to both the best pitch and the most improved pitched over the weekend.

Personally seeing the difference in pitches from day one to day two, I can say that a mere one day of improvement showed that these entrepreneurs were ready to take on the business world. During the second round of pitches it was clear that the participants were much more confident in both their business idea and their public speaking. They were much more liberal with their time and communicated their ideas more clearly. All entrepreneurs might have improved but there were still two groups that seemed to outshine the rest. Domenic Alfieri took home the honour of the most improved pitch, displaying his passion for custom designed interior doors. While Mel Gencer and Sage Gervais combined to take home the weekends best overall pitch for their company HoloEducate, an app designed to assist in the learning experience of youth.  Overall the weekend was a huge success and a lot of fun, I am sure that all participants left feeling as though they are a better entrepreneur.

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Ringing In the New Year with New Experiences

With the start of the year beginning and everyone getting back into their daily routine, we here at BioLinc kicked off the year with a bang. The annual Monster Pitch competition was hosted on Monday January 8. The competition is Brock’s own version of the T.V. show, Dragons Den. Even hosting some of the same judges from the hit show. The competition was a complete success and for one student in particular a chance to expand on his own business and perhaps grow his already promising company Life Points. Ethan Foy the creator of Life Points, took home the winning prize at the annual pitch competition. This could lead to big opportunities for Ethan but the same can be said for all the candidates. I am sure that every one who participated in the experience gained valuable knowledge and connections through a whole host of experiences. From the exposure, to the mentoring, the practice and research, the networking and finally the overall life experience that Monster Pitch has promised to deliver. Every one of the competitors has been through so much over the past few months. It is hard to overstate the wealth that the event has provided to these young entrepreneurs.

That being said the potential for these young entrepreneurs does not end there. There are always new experiences around the corner. For example, the Deborah E. Rosati Entrepreneurship Award applications are now open and give any new entrepreneur a chance to really break out and turn their idea into a something marketable. The award allows a student to work for one term on their own entrepreneur adventure. The award is also attached with a  $10, 000 monetary value allowing for the recipient to work at their goals without financial risk. It is just another opportunity for students to make the most of their experience, and learn about the in’s and out’s of business along the way.

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Great results for Brock Student Entrepreneurs at the Dobson Competition

Some BioLinc student entrepreneurs, Josiah Dueck, Olivia Poulin and Bailey Cochrane gave the winning pitch at the Grant Dobson Case Competition on November 21. They claimed the grand prize of $2,000 for their #Tellastranger #Tellafriend #Tellyourself campaign.

The three dedicated Brock students are highly involved with BioLinc. Dueck is the president of the Brock Innovation Group and collaborates with BioLinc to make The Monster Pitch Competition possible. Poulin is a Monster Pitch finalist for 2017 with her business Olivia’s Pupadise; she is also the 2017 Deborah Rosati award recipient. Cochrane is a consultant with the Goodman MBA Consulting Group and is part of this year’s Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship cohort.

Read the full article here.

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Global Entrepreneurship Week at BioLinc

During November 12-19 BioLinc joins the celebrations for the Global Entrepreneurship Week. The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued a statement on Global Entrepreneurship Week in which he emphasized the important role that Canadian and global entrepreneurs play in maintaining and growing a strong economy as well as creating jobs. At BioLinc we not only celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation during this week, but we also embrace the young entrepreneurs daily by providing them with support services, mentoring, training workshops, and physical incubation space.

Most importantly, BioLinc fosters collaboration between entrepreneurs by offering multi-day boot camps such as The Young Entrepreneurship Kick-off Weekend in which participants form teams to develop startups.

Check out some of the activities that BioLinc participated in for Entrepreneurship Week!

BioLinc Activities for Global Entrepreneurship Week

Date Activity Partners and Collaborators
Monday November 13
  • Innovate Niagara
  • St. Catharines Enterprise Centre
  • ihub
Tuesday November 14
  • BioLinc table display in Fishbowl at Brock University by BioLinc Ambassador
  • Promotion of BioLinc and services BioLinc provides to students
Tuesday November 14
  • Cassie Price met with Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre to learn more about the newly launched Starter Company Plus Program and how it can benefit young entrepreneurs
  • Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre
Tuesday November 14
  • BioLinc team met with Spark to discuss entrepreneurship and acceleration in the Niagara Region and the NYEN initiative
  • Spark
Wednesday November 15 & Thursday November 16
  • Dan Lynch and Cassie Price and a business analyst from Innovate Niagara met one-on-one with participants in this years cohort of the Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship Program
  • Met with over 30 young entrepreneurs
  • More information about this years cohort can be found here.
  • Innovate Niagara
Wednesday November 15
  • Co-hosted an event called The You Business with ncTakeOff at Niagara College
  • ncTakeOff, Niagara College
Wednesday November 15
  • Supported the Brock Innovation Group in an event where entrepreneurs from Filefacets came and shared their entrepreneurial journey with students
  • Brock Innovation Group
Thursday November 16
  • Table display and promotion of Monster Pitch with the Brock Innovation Group
  • Brock Innovation Group
Friday November 17
  • Presentation with ihub to teachers in the DSBN about the High School Entrepreneurship Co-op.
  • District School Board of Niagara
  • ihub

BioLinc is dedicated to support young entrepreneurs by offering training to develop entrepreneurship skills through experiential learning opportunities. We collaborate with our community partners and network of incubators to show entrepreneurship as a viable career path for youth and to enhance their entrepreneurial aspirations. Recently, BioLinc join two new affiliates: The University Business Incubator (UBI) index, and Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres (GCEC).

Learn more about upcoming events here.

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Niagara Young Entrepreneurship Kick-off Weekend

Brock University BioLinc and Niagara College ncTakeOff co-hosted the Niagara Young Entrepreneurship Kick-off Weekend during November 3-5, 2017. During this event, participants had the opportunity to gain entrepreneurship skills through experiential learning activities and to make great connections. Participants formed teams to build an idea and to pitch it to judges at the end of weekend for a chance to win a “Kick-off Weekend Prize Package” with an estimated value of $6,000 consisting of:

  • $500 cash from the Brock Innovation Group (BIG)
  • Legal starter from Fogler & Rubinoff LLP
  • Video from Visual After Visual
  • 5 coffees with 5 mentors arranged by BioLinc and Innovate Niagara
  • Assisting with prototyping and design for 3D printing if applicable
  • Automatic advance into the 2nd round of BIG’s Monster Pitch Competition.

The opening event on Friday night started with a networking reception followed by inspirational keynote speaker Talli Osborne. She shared her journey of becoming an entrepreneur who wanted to inspired and entertain people. Osborne encouraged participants to embrace who they are and to find what were they put on this earth to do without giving up during their journey. Following the keynote, the young entrepreneurs participated in a team building exercise. Then, they formed teams to create working startups and to collaborate with like-minded individuals during the rest of the weekend.

Between Saturday and Sunday, teams developed demos and pitch presentations, and received feedback from local entrepreneurs along the way. Participants had the opportunity to attend two training workshops—The Business Model Canvas and Pitching seminar. There were 6 teams from 2 to 6 passionate entrepreneurs that brainstormed business ideas to then select and work on the best idea with the guidance of mentors.

On Sunday, teams pitched their star-ups to our panel of judges which consisted of four industry leaders:

  • Rob Belchior: Small business consultant at St. CatharinEs Enterprise Centre
  • Hugh Scholaert: Industrial technical advisor from NRC-IRAP
  • Mick Higgins: CMO Caddle
  • Jessica Potts: President of Inspired Strategy

In the end, the team named League of Gamers won with their idea of creating and facilitating gaming events to bring the gamers community together. The entrepreneurs on the winning team are: Michelle A Spiller, Shavon White, Edward Burnip and Leela Pilli.

During this weekend event, participants connected with other entrepreneurs who had different skill sets and improve their business skills by testing ideas. Entrepreneur of the winning team, Michelle Spiller, said that she would highly recommend attending this event because you have the opportunity to think about the idea as a whole. Spiller added that sometimes we get hung up on the idea rather than the functionality of it.

If you are interested in participating in future events like this, check out our events page.

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Students and Mentors Network During BioLincUP! Networking Event

On Wednesday October 25th BioLinc and Innovate Niagara co-hosted one of the biggest networking events—BioLincUP! Which took place in the Cairns Scotiabank Atrium at Brock University. Entrepreneurs, innovators and anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship attended the event to network with student innovators and community members from Brock University and across Niagara.

The networking event started with opening remarks by BioLinc Manager, Dan Lynch. Lynch referred to a famous quote from the 1976 movie Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” He explained that at this event it was the complete opposite: “we are happy as hell to have you all here.” Then, Lynch emphasized the valuable opportunity for mentors and young entrepreneurs to have the ability to connect during this networking event.

Opening remarks were followed by an evening of networking. BioLincUP! Was a huge success this year due to the great turnout. Over 100 attendees expressed satisfaction with the event as they had a positive experience while networking. Young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to practice their networking strategies and to gain valuable connections with mentors and other students enrolled in the Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship Program. Likewise, industry experts, local entrepreneurs and researchers were fascinated by connecting with student entrepreneurs who were highly engaged.

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