Sudbury’s Northern Centre for Advanced Technology’s (NORCAT) Entrepreneurship 101 sessions are no more, but they’re living on in a more local format as Startup 101 this fall.
In previous years, the sessions were offered by NORCAT’s Innovation Mill as a collaboration with a Toronto-based innovation hub, the MaRS Discovery District. This year, NORCAT partnered with the Sudbury Regional Business Centre, which helped develop their calendar.
While Entrepreneurship 101 was a 29-week program with courses divided between web-streamed lectures and live lectures, Hailey Short, NORCAT’s communications specialist, said Startup 101 offers 25 weeks worth of live lectures with more local content.
“It’s hands-on and more interactive this year,” said Short.
“We try and mix it up a little, so we have ‘lived-it’ lectures where we bring in an entrepreneur to tell their story about how they became an entrepreneur, the highs and lows. The rest of the time we bring entrepreneurs who are experts in their field to do lectures on one topic.”
One of their speakers this year, Conway Fraser, has presented in previous years, but is looking forward to returning this year.
Fraser owns Fraser Torosay, a public relations company with offices in Waterloo, Toronto, and Sudbury, the latter city being where he started out after leaving a career at Sudbury CBC seven years ago.
His involvement started with a committee position at the Innovation Mill three years ago.
“Don Duval, when he came in, he had this incredible idea to come up with this committee of mentors from different walks of professional life, and we’re all volunteers, and our goal is to be there as mentors for tech startup companies, and to create jobs,” said Fraser. “If you’re a new company, and you’re starting a company in Sudbury or Northern Ontario, it can be very intimidating. I speak from experience.”
Fraser typically presents on “The Art of the Pitch.” His first piece of advice?
“When you’re starting up, don’t hire me,” said Fraser. “There are a lot of things you can be doing. Save your money for the things you really need: lawyers, accountants, and incorporation.”
Fraser said the mentorship offered by the program would have saved him trouble when he first started out, and he hopes to offer that to startups now.
“NORCAT having a program directly focused on small business hits a sweet spot that a lot of people aren’t hitting. You get access to all of these mentors. It can save you a lot of headaches, hassle, time and money that I probably spent in my first year or two that I didn’t have to,” said Fraser.
The program runs on Wednesdays from September through March, and is free to participants.
“The benefit to the Sudbury area is it’s a great way to put a lot of sunshine and water on these seeds that are in the community as small businesses,” said Fraser. “When there are more jobs in the community, we all benefit.”