Every successful entrepreneur needs a support system to achieve their goals, says the co-ordinator of the Sudbury Youth Entrepreneurship Hub, Matthieu Dasys.
“No entrepreneur is the beginning, middle and end of anything,” Dasys said. “You need a support system, you need complementary skills and you need help from the people who can help.”
The hub, which Laurentian University created in December 2014, in collaboration with Cambrian College and Collège Boréal, and in partnership with NORCAT, is meant to foster an entrepreneurial culture at all three post-secondary institutions.
The Ontario Centres of Excellence fund the office through their On Campus Entrepreneurship Activities grant.
Dasys, who graduated from Laurentian in 2014 with a bachelor of commerce, said many students face the same problem after they graduate: “trying to find a job you're really excited about, that pays well so you can reimburse what you spent on tuition.”
Many recent graduates, said Dasys, see entrepreneurship as a viable career path.
His job, he said, is to connect them with the resources that will help them be their own bosses after they collect their degrees.
In addition to NORCAT, Dasys has already connected with the Regional Business Centre, the Learning Initiative, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and FedNor to build relationships that can benefit recent graduates and provide them with learning opportunities or grants necessary to start their own businesses.
Grants are especially important, because Dasys said the biggest barrier that prevents students from starting their own businesses is a lack of funds.
It's usually recommended new entrepreneurs have a year or two of savings to keep them afloat when they start a business – and it is not yet profitable.
Recent graduates, who often have student debts to pay, don't have that luxury.
So far, the entrepreneurship hub has hosted its first Future Entrepreneurship Education Dinner – an event that brings in successful entrepreneurs to share their experiences with students.
Around 40 students attended the event, in which local entrepreneur Patrick Lehoux discussed his successful Kickstarter campaigns, and how a small amount he spent on marketing material translated to thousands of dollars in pre-orders.
Students who attended the dinner were asked to donate $5, which the entrepreneurship hub's partners would match, to start a fund that would provide grants for young entrepreneurs with good business ideas.
Dasys said more entrepreneurship
education dinners are in the works.
The hub also brought a contingent of students to the Starting Point Halifax conference, where they had the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of established experts and investors.
A Cambrian student impressed the panel so much with his idea, that one of the panellists offered to invest his own money into the business idea.
Kyle McCall, the co-ordinator of NORCAT's Innovation Mill, said for him, entrepreneurship comes down to a way of thinking and completing tasks.
“Personally, my take on entrepreneurship is more of a mindset,” he said. “It's more of an attitude towards work and getting things done.”
NORCAT supports the Sudbury Youth Entrepreneurship Hub with its suite of resources it makes available to local entrepreneurs.
Those include weekly, and free, Entrepreneurship 101 classes that teach people the basics of starting a new business.
NORCAT also has a mentorship program which connects would-be entrepreneurs with people who have already started successful businesses.
McCall said mentorship from someone who has “been there and done that” is the most important resource a student or young entrepreneur can access.
“What they need is someone to bounce ideas off of,” he said.