LaunchPad opens up business opportunities

An inside look at the new Centre of Entrepreneurship building at the renovated G Cottage on Lakeshore Campus. Nov. 2, 2016.

Sanzana Syed

GENERAL NEWS REPORTER

For student entrepreneur Laura Velez, every learning experience is crucial for her business.

For the third time, the Lakeshore public relations student is entering the Humber LaunchPad Competition this year, held on Nov. 10 and 23, with her business team. The prize is a share of $40,000, which is to be used for the development of their brand, VYB3.

“[LaunchPad] gives students the opportunity to get their business started,” Velez said. “But [it] also puts you in a real world situation where you would have to pitch yourself and your company to complete strangers.”

Earlier this September, the G Cottage at Lakeshore campus re-opened its doors –for the first time since the 1990s–as the Centre for Entrepreneurship and the home to the LaunchPad contest.

The CfE boasts special rooms like a media production lab equipped with green screens, echo-free recording spaces, and 3D printers; a focus group room full of audio and visual equipment; board rooms, meeting rooms and shared spaces equipped with video-conferencing equipment and computers.

Jim Skinner, a business professor at Humber College, leads workshops at the CfE. The workshops are designed to give students from all Humber locations basic information to start a business.

“There are no real magic personality traits for entrepreneurs,” Skinner said. “The evidence is that most people are capable of making money by working for themselves.

“In my experience, the most successful entrepreneurs are those who think it’s fun to make money,” he said.

Skinner said these workshops are sharpening the technical skills that students have to go into businesses themselves. Graduates are in an age category with record high unemployment rates and an economy where they are least likely to be able to rely on long-term employment.

Bram Cherun, one of the program assistants for CfE, said time management is a challenge for students trying to start up a business.

“Launching a start-up is a full-time job that doesn’t often pay the bills from the get-go so most of the members of our student-led start-ups have needed to also find part- or full-time work,” Cherun said. “When you add in the student’s demanding school schedule, you will find this student being pulled in a number of directions, which can be very difficult for many individuals.”

Humber alumna Ebyan Noor recently launched the website for her artisan skincare company, Butter Skin.

Noor originally submitted her business concept and product prototype to the LaunchPad competition in 2015. What was once called the Humber Launch –now the CfE–has benefitted Noor with her growing business today.

“It was an awesome experience,” Noor said. “It is also a great opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals and be a support system for each other.”

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