Local students head to business competition

Young entrepreneurs from local business Waterloo Banking Project have qualified in the central region for the Enterprize Canada business plan competition, allowing them the opportunity to move on to finals in Vancouver next month.

The team of three, comprised of University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier students, placed second out of seven teams in the regional competition. Participants were judged based on their submission of a business plan and a short presentation, after which they took questions and received feedback.

Central regional director Yosra Mohamed, who is also a third-year student at the University of Guelph, said “it was a pleasure” to partake in the organization of the competition, whose primary goal was to “attract young entrepreneurs to submit business plans that could be viable.”

Mohamed felt that both funding and networking prospects would allow students to “bring their plans to life through the mentorship and guidance of practicing entrepreneurs.”

Although there are monetary prizes for finalists, Waterloo Banking Project leader and University of Waterloo student Ryan Chen-Wing was more focused on the valuable feedback provided by judges and the potential to make connections.

“I’m not sure what the prize money is, but aside from the funding that we might be able to get from any kind of performance in the competition, we also get feedback from judges and that’s good too,” said Chen-Wing. Making connections is an important part of establishing a new business, and the Enterprize conference provides young entrepreneurs with a unique opportunity to do so.

Chen-Wing added, “That helps us just in terms of communication of our ideas.”
The conference was established in 2001, and expanded within a few years to include the competition portion. It was launched in Vancouver, but now draws upon regional pools from Mount Allison University, the University of Guelph and Concordia University.

This year’s Enterprize president, Jesse Xin, a fourth-year University of British Columbia business student, explained, “It was kind of there to fill a gap that we really noticed was missing in our education, and that was the element of business that was actually concerned with creating something.”

Lasting from Feb. 10-12, the conference will provide competitors with the opportunity to partake in seven minute appointments with experts in the field, explore various workshops, and take in the knowledge of keynote speakers such as Lane Merrifield.

One of Xin’s main ambitions for the 2012 Enterprize conference was to encourage young entrepreneurs to take risks toward following their own personal goals, something which can only be done successfully when it is supported by pure motivations. “Don’t go into something because they’re driven by a fear of failure,” he encouraged. “Go into something because you’re genuinely passionate about it.”

Passion has undoubtedly been a motivating factor behind the success of Waterloo Banking Project.

Unlike some other competitors, this idea began developing without the competition in mind. Chen-Wing commented, “The one thing that helped us be more successful was that we’re actually doing it.”

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