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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Brothers Ale House finally opens in downtown Guelph

The Hamilton Spectator featured the opening of Brothers Brewing Ale House in Guelph.

Brothers Brewing is owned by brothers Colton and Asa Proveau, and their business partner, Michael Bevan, Colton is a graduate of the Goodman School of Business at Brock University and an alumni of BioLinc’s Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship Program.

View it here.

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BioLinc Entrepreneurs visit Sir Winston Churchill

The students of the media communications class at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School got the chance to experience some of the latest emerging technologies last Tuesday through the help of BioLinc start-up companies UP360, Parallel, and HoloEducate.

The students were given the opportunity to test out the latest virtual reality gear through a variety of headsets that UP360media and Parallel had provided. These headsets demonstrated a selection of virtual reality games on the market as well as 360 videos that had been produced by UP360. HoloEducate provided a demonstration of their educational cue cards that help children visualize answers instead of memorizing text.

Now what is the new age of technology? UP360 is focused on 360 video productions, which provides a better way to interact with videos and images to get the full experience of what it is like to be in the videographer’s shoes at the locations they shoot.  Another way to escape your physical location is through virtual reality. Parallel provides mobile virtual reality stations for parties and corporate events. Their goal is to let people experience the latest in gaming technology through the HTC Vive, a Virtual Reality headset that has room scale capabilities to allow tracking for both your hands and head. While in the headset it provides a great way to experience a new location (real or fictional) and interact with your surroundings.  The biggest advancement thus far has been a mix of the virtual world and the real world, which people are calling Augmented Reality. This incorporates your real-world surroundings with a surreal layer of computer generated images.

The students were thrilled with their experience of the new technology and were given the opportunity to work with one of these companies through a summer internship. The students were also encouraged to pursuit their own entrepreneurial ventures and take advantage of the resources present at BioLinc for student entrepreneurs no matter what stage their ideas are at.

To see the recap video provided by the media communications students please visit the link below.

SWC Co-op Video

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Meet the Monster Pitch Finalists for 2017

The excitement around this year’s Monster Pitch event was like never before, with the return of our two celebrity judges and amazing presentations by the finalists made this sold out event one to remember.

Monster Pitch is a Brock pitch competition hosted by the Brock Innovation Group in partner with the Goodman School of Business and BioLinc. It allows four finalists the chance to pitch their upcoming business ideas to a panel of judges in hopes to win the grand prize package of $12,500.  The judges included Jim Treliving and Bruce Croxon from the hit TV show Dragon’s Den, as well as Brock Alumni and successful entrepreneurs Jason Sparaga and Deborah Rosati.

The finalists benefited from the competition regardless of their success during the competition, as the feedback from the judges was both useful and encouraging for the entrepreneurs to continue to pursuit their ideas.

The finalists included:

Dalton Steele: Dalton is a 4th year BBA student who has developed HOMESHARP, a professional photo editing service for realtors that he plans on incorporating with his existing business Huvr Media. This app will focus on servicing real estate agents selling low-to-mid range homes looking to eliminate the use of professional photographers but still use professionally edited photos for their listings.

Olivia Poulin: Olivia is a 3rd year BBA student with a passion for animals. Her company Olivia’s Pupadise provides a more personal and luxury pet-care service, which includes long-term and in-house care for a variety of pets.  With her hard work and team of student employees Olivia’s Pupadise has cared for over 65 different pet owners in the Niagara Region with a 100% return rate.

Ryder Damen: Ryder, a 3rd year Biology student with the passion for aviation and innovation is working to create Hundred Dollar Burger. This is a unique web-based platform, which connects pilots for the convenience of ridesharing and cost sharing. The concept “Hundred Dollar Burger” stems from the aviation slang for flying for the sake of flying. “You get in your plane, you fly to another city, you get out, get a hamburger and you fly back.” Ryder says. He has a very niche target market but knows he will grab the attention of a high percentage of aviators looking for a buddy to fly with.

David Lisi: David, a 2nd year student completing his Bachelor of Arts has developed a social enterprise based around high quality scarves with a one-to-one business model. His plan is to provide a free scarf to the local homeless shelter for every Bundle Scarf he sells. This concept won over the judges as two of them purchased scarves on the spot.

The finalists have worked very hard building these ideas and it showed with the quality of the pitches and their ability to tackle the tough questions they were asked. These four finalists have taken advantage of the services offered in BioLinc and plan to continue to use the on campus incubator for support.

Our big winner this year was David Lisi, you can read the full story here.

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MP Vance Badewey Visits Brock University to Talk with Students

On Friday January 27th the Niagara West MP Vance Badewey visited Brock University to answer some tough questions that our student leaders had for him. With students from all departments in attendance Badewey was asked a series of questions regarding International student tuition prices, support programs for minorities, and future money allocation for the region of Niagara.  Badewey was very receptive of the issues our student community had and left no question unanswered. After a lengthy Q&A Badeway was thankful for all the issues that were addressed, as he plans on taking them into consideration while continuing his role of MP in the Niagara Region. He encourages students with concerns to contact him and hopes to have more sessions like these to better connect with the Niagara Region and its citizens.

For more information on Vance Badewey you can visit his site here.

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The Post-Secondary Environment

Each time I reflect, I’m constantly and consistently amazed by the value of the post-secondary environment. Maybe that’s part of why I’m still in it, (for a few more months) however hear me out. I grew up never considering university, thinking it was for people of more affluence and intelligence.

I “got lucky” because a path to PSE was illuminated through sports. That’s why I’m public about my gratefulness, successes and failures along the way. I’m excited to leave university however I’m grateful I didn’t rush out. There will likely never again be a time in your life where you are so consistently surrounded by thousands of people with similar ambitions, passions and values on learning. This is where many will develop the foundation for their personal/professional network, this is where stepping out of your comfort zone is encouraged and this can be where you discover who you want to be. Every university student should make some attempt an entrepreneurial project while in university or college because it is possibly the last time in a persons life that they will have access so as many resources paired with such little risk.

With all of that being said there are two values to the environment that I think supersede all others. The first is the “find your passion” principle. Most people who say “follow your passion” give an uninformed account for how they got to where they are. Exposure to different areas of interest and dedication to developing skills that resonate with said interest is where passion comes from more often than not. University and College can provide with in spades, if the student in question is willing to proactively pursue them. The second and probably biggest value of PSE is that there is the potential for individuals to be introduced to high performance individuals. Excellence is inspirational, being around successful people is powerful because it can evoke a desire for an individual to be passionate themselves. To compare themselves not to their peer group but to the BEST in a specific field. And that mindset can carry you to places you never thought you would get to for the rest of your life.

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Niagara Sports Network Claims Victory at 3rd Annual Young Entrepreneurs Kick-Off Weekend

There was a sense of entrepreneurial spirit in the air this weekend as local youth put their business ideas and pitching skills to the test. From Friday November 4 to Sunday November 6, BioLinc (Brock’s business incubator) and Niagara College collaborated to run their 3rd annual Young Entrepreneur Kick-Off Weekend hosted at Brock University. This event targeted Niagara youth age 18-29 looking to gain skills and knowledge on entrepreneurship.

This fun educational weekend started off with a keynote presentation Friday night from former Brock Graduate and creator of Stathletes, Meghan Chayka. Meghan presented her experience as a young entrepreneur and the hardships she overcame to become the successful individual she is today. Following the keynote teams were formed based on the skills and ideas they brought to the table. On Saturday teams collaborated on their ideas to build a strong pitch that they would present to a panel of judges later in the weekend. Participants also attended training sessions on the Business Model Canvas and Pitching to Investors to better develop their ideas and presentation skills. Teams worked late into Saturday preparing their pitches that would be presented the following morning.

Sunday came quickly for the hard working entrepreneurs and the energy in Pond Inlet was electric as teams waited their turn to impress the judges in hopes to secure first place and the prize package worth $5,000. After the panel of expert judges from Brock University and Niagara College witnessed ten impressive teams pitch their business idea, it was the team of Robert Babiak and Daniel Read, founders of Niagara Sports Network that took first place. Their idea to promote local sports within their communities through web articles and live streaming of the events impressed the judges. Robert demonstrated their competitive advantage by live streaming the presentation and showing the judges his ability to display graphics and updates in real time. The judges were also impressed with their ability to scale the business quickly. Robert is currently the VP of the Lincoln Mavericks Jr. A hockey club, he also holds the record for being the youngest general manager in North American professional sports.

BioLinc and Niagara College are happy with the success of the weekend and hope that it continues to grow with more teams participating year after year.

To see highlights of the event visit here.

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The Founder Institute helps BioLinc entrepreneur develop LENDU

According to The Founder Institute, the best way to learn is by doing, and we couldn’t agree more with their experiential approach. Student entrepreneurs who are part of The Founder Institute programming participate in a four-month journey of structured curriculum which includes weekly training courses and business-building assignments.

BioLinc student entrepreneur Lenford Morris (above) recently graduated from the fourth cohort of The Founder Institute’s Toronto program along with 16 other entrepreneurs including Goodman School of Business graduate Alex Fung (BBA ’15).

Morris’s company, LendU, is one of 59 companies to graduate from the Toronto program at large.

“Being in the fourth cohort was a very interesting experience because there was a lot of diversity when it came to people in the program and their professional backgrounds,” Lenford said.

To match the diversity within the program, mentors holding various positions came to hear the cohort pitch their business ventures. Among the mentors were entrepreneurs, CEOs, lawyers, angel investors and venture capitalists.

The intensive program was first started in Silicon Valley and now has chapters all over the world. The Founder Institute walks entrepreneurs through the idea stage to developing a minimum-viable-product and getting customers, a walk that Morris found to be beneficial.

“I benefitted the most from the acceleration process and learning how to validate and test my product offerings,” he said. “The structure of the FI curriculum really pushed my business to new heights by prompting me to ensure what I am offering is a real solution to the problem that I am solving and that the problem is actually a real problem.”

The curriculum started with idea and customer development, then moved to company and team formation, product development and distribution and go-to-market, bootstrapping and fundraising.

Beyond the acceleration process, Morris highly values the peer-to-peer connections he made within the program.

“Being connected with people who shared the same mindset was important because building a startup into a company can really wear you down physically and mentally at times, being around the right people can help point you in the right direction,” he said.

Morris highly recommends the program to anyone who has a startup idea or is ready to start conducting market research.

“The Founder Institute is a good way to help validate and test your idea, and then built it up to its fullest potential,” he said.

Morris has spent the summer on marketing, building his product and raising funds for LendU and is planning on partnering with alumni associations and hiring ambassadors across Ontario to target their customers.

LendU has already accomplished so much this summer and with a number of exciting things ahead, we can’t wait to see the company continue to flourish.

Full list of startup companies that graduated from the fourth cohort of The Founder Institute:

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BioLinc Student Entrepreneur Joins Lincoln Mavericks

Niagara based student entrepreneur and 2015/2016 Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program participant, Robert Babiak, was recently named Vice-President of Operations of the Lincoln Mavericks Hockey Club. The Mavericks, owned by Jeff and Therese Tallman, are a Junior “A” hockey team, which will be playing out of the Greater Metro Junior “A” Hockey League (GMHL).

“I am very excited to be part of the Lincoln Mavericks and the GMHL. Together, we will do great things. Our owners and coaching staff are all great people with strong hockey backgrounds. Together, we will make the Lincoln Mavericks one of the premier Jr. “A” hockey franchises in Ontario.” Babiak said.

He continued, “Our coaching staff is very experienced. Head Coach, Mark Barrick, has a long history of coaching Jr. hockey. The Mavericks will be operating a development focused program that will provide our athletes everything they need to succeed.”

Robert, who recently completed his third year of Brock University’s Sports Management program, has been pursuing a business venture of his own. He has been running his sport agency, Silverhawk Sport Management, out of BioLinc over the last eight months. His agency currently represents the baseball interests of twelve professional baseball players. Prior to launching Silverhawk Sport Management, Robert was the General Manager of the Road City Explorers of the North Country Professional Baseball League, where he made history by becoming the youngest General Manager in professional baseball at age 20.

Our team at BioLinc is excited to see where Robert’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for sports will take him next, and we’re proud to announce his most recent accomplishment. We wish him luck on his new journey as Vice-President of Operations!

The Mavericks will drop their first puck this September at the Fleming Centre in Beamsville, ON.

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