Carleton students from across campus put their entrepreneurial talents and ventures on display at Venture Demo Day. Held each term, this showcase of student entrepreneurship is hosted by the Sprott School of Business and Lead to Win.

Ventures for a cause

Students Kevin Mason, Sean McKenna and Jordan Linton behind a display featuring their IAIC bracelets and montiors showing their website.

Carleton students Kevin Mason, Sean McKenna, Jordan Linton and Rohat Kaya (not shown) created I Am In Control in BUSI 2800: Entrepreneurship.

Students in Professor Diane Isabelle’s second-year Entrepreneurship course (BUSI 2800) were assigned the Online Venture Challenge to create, launch and run an e-commerce company over 30 days, with all profits going to charity. This term, the student teams launched 47 ventures, raising $25,328 in revenue and $6,402 in profits.

Sean McKenna, Jordan Linton, Kevin Mason and Rohat Kaya created I Am In Control, a mental health-conscious jewelry company that creates customizable bracelets with proceeds supporting the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED).

McKenna, who is in his third year of the Industrial Design program, came up with the idea for the bracelet for a close friend who was going through an eating disorder.

“I thought if I could create a memento that would remind her that she was in control and that it was her calling the shots, not her disorder, it could be valuable for her,” says McKenna. “I made one for myself and the more I wore it, I started thinking it was a message that everyone could use, whether you had an eating disorder or anxiety, or just everyday issues like work stressing you out or feeling other people are making your decisions for you. It’s there to help you regain your sense of control.”

“We got paired up and started talking about Sean’s idea and we knew it would click,” says Mason, a Public Affairs and Public Management student. “We had technical experience, industrial design experience, public affairs experience and financial experience.”

Their confidence waivered after investing in the set up costs for materials and the online store on Shopify’s e-commerce platform. However, IAIC broke even within four days of its launch. At the end of the month-long challenge, the team had sold 300 bracelets, raised over $2,500 in revenue and $1,450 in profits to donate to NEID.

The students have been inspired by messages and photos they have received from their customers. The team is continuing in this venture together and are planning to relaunch IAIC this summer.

“I had this idea last semester and I was developing it a little bit. It was definitely a goal of mine to open a store for it,” says McKenna. “I thought I would take Entrepreneurship to learn the basics of running a small business. Then we got assigned the OVC challenge and it was the perfect vehicle to get the idea out there. It all came together. I didn’t expect we would get this solid of a launch.”

Shining the spotlight on emerging artists

Student Fuad Alami in front of a computer display showcasing his venture Crowdpicks.

Nanoscience student Fuad Alami was recently accepted into Lead to Win with his artist crowdfunding venture Crowdpicks.

Third year Nanoscience student Fuad Alami wants to make it easier for emerging recording artists to professionalize their music.

He founded Crowdpicks, a crowdfunding platform that allows music fans to invest in an up-and-coming artist in exchange for a proportion of online royalties earned through streaming services such as Spotify and Google Play. Investors would also be required to commit a social media page to promote the artist.

“Our goals for the company are to circumvent record labels because we feel they are providing a monopolistic relationship with the artist,” says Alami. “We want to provide artists with earlier and more stable opportunities to professionalize their music, and we want to convert a wide range of music fanatics into early believers and investors.”

Crowdpicks was recently accepted into Lead to Win, Carleton’s venture accelerator and ecosystem. Ventures are accepted based on their potential to earn $1 million in revenue in three years. He and his team are developing a test site, which they hope to have ready next month.

Alami has accessed resources and support in developing his business through Hatch, the Carleton University Students’ Association entrepreneurship centre.

A family enterprise

Stephanie Box

Commerce student Stephanie Bos is preparing to open a family entertainment centre in her hometown of Kemptville, Ontario.

For Stephanie Bos, a fourth year Bachelor of Commerce student with a concentration in Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship runs in the family.

When Bos started the Commerce program at the Sprott School of Business, her mother pitched her an idea for something she felt was badly needed in their small town of Kemptville – an all ages family entertainment centre. Bos agreed to join her mother in this venture and a year later her father joined the partnership.

“When I think of a business, I like to create it,” says Bos. “Another side business that is all me is wedding planning and at the end of the month, I’ll receive my certification. I like to see a vision and put it together, kind of like a wedding.”

Bos conducted extensive market research with the owners of Funhaven and LaserQuest and their customers. She learned that many parents struggle finding activities that are safe and fun for children of all ages.

Bos’s Zantera Family Entertainment Centre will feature laser tag, mini-golf, an arcade, as well as an enclosed toddler play centre and a soundproof, glass-walled European café for parents to relax in while keeping an eye on all of their children. It is currently under construction and will open in June.

Bos has benefited from the mentorship of Sprott professors Diane Isabelle and Tom Duxbury in developing her ventures.

“When you are having doubts, having the support system of the school is phenomenally helpful.”

Entrepreneurship at Carleton

Carleton University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has been supporting startups and entrepreneurs in the Ottawa region over the past two decades. Our venture Accelerator can take an idea or solution to the next level of launching and growing successful businesses. Carleton delivers academic programs in entrepreneurship that include Sprott’s Bachelor of Commerce and Minor is Entrepreneurship, as well as the interdisciplinary Technology Innovation Management master’s program.  The Carleton-led Lead to Win program was recently ranked seventh in North America among university-based incubators.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 in ,
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