Students build independent businesses for course credit


(Graphic by Steph Truong)
(Graphic by Steph Truong)

You’re a student and have this great idea for an app that calculates how busy the Athletic Complex will be based on the time of day and the proximity of the current date to New Year’s. What many students at Wilfrid Laurier University are unaware of is the Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative that is run out of the Schlegal Centre and caters to students across all faculties who have aspirations in entrepreneurship.

The program LaunchPad is part of this initiative, and is meant to aid students in developing their vision for a business while simultaneously earning them a course credit.

This is all in keeping with the initiative’s mission of “providing every Laurier student with the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship.”

Steve Farlow, executive director of the Schlegal Centre for entrepreneurship explained that there are just over thirty students currently enrolled with LaunchPad.

“Of the 30 we have about 16 or 17 separate businesses, ideas or opportunities,” he continued. “They’re really exciting.”

As such, the program is run out of the Communitech Hub at the Lang Tannery building, Laurier Toronto, and, most recently, the Accelerator Centre.

“[The partnership] will help us give more students from across all of Laurier the opportunity and some thoughtful tools to experience entrepreneurship — to try and create an enterprise,” explained Farlow.

The partnership with the Accelerator Centre officially commenced during the first week of January and will provide companies coming out of the LaunchPad program with a multitude of resources, most notably office space and mentorship.

Deb Domjan, director of marketing and operations at the Accelerator Centre, explained the role the centre plays for all starting companies that are housed at the facility.

“Really, our goal here … is you come in as your company and we help you grow to a stage that you would graduate from the program,” she said. Moving out of the facility as an established business is the ultimate goal of the program.

The Accelerator Centre also has a partnership with the University of Waterloo.

Domjan explained that the centre, as well as clients who are looking to hire in the area, are lucky that there are two universities and a college in the community which they have access to.

The expertise of students and the expertise of the program being com- bined in the partnership means that, in her words, “Right there it’s almost a success.”

“It’s molding the people to the program and helping them accelerate,” she continued.

Following Domjan’s line of thought, Farlow acknowledged that the centre will aid in accelerating the program’s progress and allow students to be engaged with a broader community. His conclusion was optimistic in terms of the partnership, “My hope is that with this part- nership it will increase the probability of us creating some really meaningful new businesses from within Laurier LaunchPad.”

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