University students in Canada may soon be able to make a quick buck just by going to class and taking notes.
NoteWagon, a Toronto-based startup business launched by a group of University of Waterloo students, plans to buy students' class notes and sell them to others, in an effort the company says will enhance education for everyone involved.
The company's founders will get a chance to pitch their idea to investors on Wednesday night's episode of Dragons' Den, the CBC reality show that features entrepreneurs working to convince investors to put money into their business.
"The premise of the idea is create a social learning network whereby courses are like groups in which students can share information [with] each other," co-founder Saif Altimimi told The Huffington Post by email.
"For example, as a student taking psychology 101, I can write my own notes, study guides, book summary and put it up for sale in my class. Other students will buy into a virtual currency and purchase these documents. NoteWagon also has a discussion application where students from different course networks in the world can ask questions around topics (calculus, psychology, chemistry etc.) and get instant help from peers around the world."
To some, this concept may run uncomfortably close to cheating, but NoteWagon says collaborative learning is simply the way things are going in an increasingly interconnected world.
"We have had some criticism towards the idea being labeled as a cheating platform," Altimimi, a third-year engineering student, admitted, "but we believe that this is the direction that education is heading towards."
NoteWagon will appear in a special episode of Dragons' Den featuring young Canadian entrepreneurs. Other contestants on the episode will include Julian Marchese, a 15-year-old Torontonian who will be selling his concept for a computerized day trading system.
"Since the market is a zero sum game, I feel I have an obligation to give back my winnings both to my investors and those in need," Marchese said in an email exchange. "The financial markets allow the opportunity to amass great amounts of wealth. Hopefully someday I will be able to accomplish that, and not only change my life and family, but also others."
Tracie Tighe, the executive producer of Dragons' Den, says the show's effect on business innovation in Canada has been tangible.
"There's actual measurable proof that Dragons' Den has helped Canada become more entrepreneurial," she told the Huffington Post. "Business experts at the U.K. Intellectual Property Office call it 'The Dragons' Den Effect,' and [the office's] Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, has said that Dragons' Den has been 'good for business'."
Tighe said the show's method of probing business ideas for viability has been adopted by schools and universities, "effectively altering the curriculum of Canadian business classes. And teachers write regularly to tell us how the show breaks down what was once a mysterious process -- asking for money, valuing a company -- in a clear, concise way. We're demystifying what it is to be an entrepreneur."
Tighe urged Canada's education system to begin teaching entrepreneurship to students at a younger age.
"We need to hone that instinct earlier, and create a sense that entrepreneurship or small business is a truly viable option," she said.
Here's a preview of the students' episode of Dragons' Den, which airs Wednesday, October 26 at 8 p.m. on CBC.