Igniting Entrepreneurship with Impact Tomorrow01 May 2016
“If you can dream it, you can do it”- Walt Disney
Many of the world’s most critical moments have been inspired by the dream and vision of an entrepreneur. Over the past several years, we’ve been fortunate to witness the world change in ways that seemed impossible a decade ago. Whether it is self driving cars or state-of-the-art entertainment systems, innovation has powered our way of living and will continue to do so for years to come.
Entrepreneurship continues to be glamorized for youth, with many students lacking an understanding of the stories and struggles faced by business owners local and internationally. That’s why I decided to get involved with Impact Tomorrow and help high school students connect with entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences and perhaps even start their own ventures.
In grade ten, I learned that a group of older students at my high school were working on a conference for their DECA Entrepreneurship Promotion Project entry. I reached out to them to get involved with helping them make the conference a reality, and they told me I could help them out with organizing ticket sales and promoting the conference. I helped them set up an online system for managing the registrants and also had a great time helping out at the conference itself.
The inaugural conference was a great success and featured speakers such as the CEO of the Economic Club of Canada and local leaders who held a great discussion with the attendees. The conference also had a booth area where students could connect with business owners and resources from the community to help make their own venture ideas into a reality. The conference was very well-received and went on to be internationally recognized at the DECA conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The founding team decided to aspire higher and work towards another successful event the following year.
As soon as the first event ended, meetings began to start planning for the next event. The team worked on booking out a venue at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus and began looking for speakers. Planning for the conference was led primarily by Eric, who was able to lead us all on making the larger conference happen. To help promote ticket sales, we were able to secure a partnership with a high school group that had a network of ambassadors across the Peel region. This helped us spread word about the organization efficiently and effectively.
When it was finally time for conference day, everything came together the way we had envisioned. The day began with a keynote address from the mayor of Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie, and then the students transitioned into a series of workshops located across the building. The workshops were built based on the entrepreneurial method (described later) created by the founders of Impact Tomorrow. During lunch, the students had a chance to connect with sponsors, universities, and even other student entrepreneurs. After lunch, students wrapped up their workshops and then had the chance to watch the pitch competition, where students pitched their own proposals for a chance to win $1000 towards building their idea. The winning team was Cipher, which has turned into a large community of coders and creators based in Brampton, Ontario.
The underlying methods taught during the workshops at the conference were based on research by Dr. Saras, Sarasvathy, who was the co-founder of the Effectuation Theory. The Impact Tomorrow founding team was able to use this research to develop a curriculum that would help guide young students passionate about building their own businesses. They coined this curriculum the “Entrepreneurial Method” and have used it at all their events as a mechanism for teaching youth.
Although the method is not the way all startups have come into fruition, we believe it can provide a simple framework for students who would like to learn about the process of starting a venture. The process is broken down into five simple steps:
- Determining a Problem
- Market Analysis
- Unique Means and Goals
- Affordable Loss
We’re always looking for new ways for Impact Tomorrow to grow and help spread an innovation mindset and entrepreneurial spirit to high school students. Check out our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or feel free to reach out to me personally to get involved.