Entrepreneurship has swept across Canadian universities as more and more Millenials become determined to bring their ideas into reality. Shows like Dragon's Den have gained popularity, and encouraged a newfound fascination for new ventures.
UniversityHub has asked over 1,000 students to rate their schools based on a variety of areas. One area in particular was 'Entrepreneurship'. You can see the top 10 universities below, or explore our 'real-time' rankings in full at UniversityHub.ca.
Don't forget to try our free University Match Quiz to discover the best university for you.
1. Bishop's University, The Dobson-Lagassé Entrepreneurship Centre
Just being on the Bishop's University campus gives you the feeling of innovation and leadership. The Dobson-Lagassé Entrepreneurship Centre provides a variety of services and resources to students, including 'speedcoaching' events, luncheon meetings, mentoring, and student projects with real-world startups.
2. Wilfrid Laurier University, Laurier LaunchPad
Laurier is simply a leader in the field when it comes to entrepreneurship education and 'start-up' culture on campus. The Laurier LaunchPad is a particular highlight. It is an incubator program for students who want to start a business while at university. So far, it has achieved outstanding results with several investor-funded and successfully operating businesses.
3. Queen's University, Centre for Business Venturing
Queen's has been able to pool a tremendous amount of resources and focus into the development of their Centre for Business Venturing. Summer venture programs for students, additional entrepreneurship courses at the Smith School of Business, and world-renowned conferences and competitions - including the Queen's Entrepreneurship Competition - are just some of the entrepreneurial highlights at Queen's.
4. Brock University, BioLinc
Being one of the few universities in the world located on a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Brock University has naturally emerged as a leader in health and bioscience education. Their entrepreneurial focus is in the same field; however, they have done an excellent job in ensuring students from cross-disciplines have the resources and support to start their own businesses. For example, the Deborah E. Rosati Entrepreneurship program allows co-op students to launch a business for a co-op workterm and earn up to $10,000.
5. The University of Waterloo, VeloCity
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Gates have publicly advocated entrepreneurial capabilities of the University of Waterloo. It is no doubt they are a leading institution for students looking to launch new businesses. UW promotes entrepreneurship on all levels. You can study a Master's Entrepreneurship or visit UW's VeloCity residence (a "dormcubator"), designed for students who want to build businesses between classes.
6. Ryerson University, DMZ
Ryerson is one of Canada's leading universities when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship. The DMZ (formerly known as the Digital Media Zone) is a major contributor to their success in this area. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the DMZ supports digital start-ups in the early stages of their development, and has achieved major success stories, including 500px and SoapBox.
7. University of Western Ontario, Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship
The Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship - part of Western Ivey's business school - is globally recognized as a premier centre for entrepreneurship research and education. The Institute provides entrepreneurs with the tools, resources, and discipline to find their feet and bloom in the competitive world of business.
8. Acadia University, Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre "Launchbox"
Established 25 years ago, the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre has provided entrepreneurial programs for not just students, but for individuals, businesses, and non-profits. Their "Launchbox" is where innovative student ideas take off. They provide pop-up ideation events around campus, summer accelerators, 'business video game' competitions, pitch events, and more.
9. St. Francis Xavier University, StFX Enterprise Development Centre (XEDC)
The Gerald Schwartz School of Business is known for producing top business talent and is a keen encourager of an entrepreneurial spirit. Many programs have been created to help develop student potential and increase their drive to succeed. The StFX Enterprise Development Centre (XEDC) hosts a variety of events and activities for students and community residents interested in launching their own businesses.
10. The University of British Columbia - Vancouver Campus, e@UBC
Budding entrepreneurs at the University of British Columbia have a program called e@UBC, which provides them with a wide variety of resources and services to launch their start-ups. Seed funding, on-campus lab space, and an accelerator program called Lean LaunchPad are just some of the support systems that students have on hand.
Don't see a university on the list? Check UniversityHub.ca/university-rankings for the full list of universities surveyed.
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A unique idea might not necessarily be one that no one else has thought of. It could be that someone looked into it and found it was simply not financially viable. Do extensive market research to assess exactly what your competitors are offering, and more importantly, why they don’t offer the things you’d like to. Study published data for quantitative research and get feedback from your potential customer base for a more qualitative analysis. Find out why they would buy into your idea, how much they are willing and able to spend and how often to make your start-up worthwhile.
Just because you’re going it alone does not mean you can operate a business without structure. A business plan is crucial to help you clarify your idea, spot problems, set out goals and measure your progress. It’s highly unlikely that a bank or an investor will consider offering you a start-up loan without one. To find out how to put together the perfect plan, log on here.
Register yourself as a sole trader and start branding your product. The name of your business will be crucial – you’ll need to get a logo designed, print out letterheads, business cards and register the domain name, which means changing your mind afterwards will be a waste of money and time. As well as making sure the name reflects your business and sounds appealing to potential customers, check the name isn’t already taken (or too similar sounding to a competitor). Also check that nothing unsavoury pops up on search engines when you type it in! If your idea is genuinely new, get it patented for free.
Starting a business on your own doesn’t mean you can do it without others. You’ll need to source and build a good relationship with reliable and affordable suppliers, as well as distributors. A start-up also relies heavily on validation, so get to know people whose endorsement will make new customers take you seriously too. And don’t forget, you can be a sole trader and still have partners to help share the load.
Make yourself accessible and approachable from the get go by building a website that’s both professional and personable. Make it is easy-to-navigate, easy-to-understand and easy on the eye. Choose a host that provides quality support, ensure your site loads quickly, and that it works effectively on mobile devices. Find out as much as you can about SEO. Start building up followers and likes on social networking sites as soon as possible, have engaging interactions with them regularly, so by the time you’re ready to launch your product, you already have a loyal base to help you spread the word.
The excitement of starting up your dream business means it’s easy to overspend, but once the novelty wears off, many end up losing both money and heart. Before you start ploughing your loans or your savings into the project, be absolutely sure this isn’t a vanity project, that you’ve assessed the market and your spending well enough to know how you’ll keep your head above water until you’re guaranteed a profit. Don’t skimp on hiring advisors, a good lawyer and accountant will help you get your head around tax and stop you drowning in invoices, receipts and small print.
A solo venture comes with its assurances of stress, so be absolutely sure you have what it takes before you start-up. Do you have the negotiation skills to get the best deals, the communication skills to win people over, a head for figures to ensure you’re on top of your finances? A lot of novice entrepreneurs give up once they start to question their product. How will you handle a customer demanding their money back, or reading a bad review online? A thick skin, the ability to come up with solutions to unforeseen problems and a solid support network are all crucial for those going at it alone.
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