Students Ignite Entrepreneurship Culture at Canadian University, Establish First Startup Summit

Posted by Joseph Czikk

Students at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario have organized the school’s first Startup Summit, largely based on Startup Weekend.

Upper year commerce students Richelle Ji and Jordan Han established the idea months ago after they attended a Startup Weekend event in Toronto. For Han the event will bridge the gap between creative-minded students in different faculty, giving them a chance to work together on great ideas.

“If you look at Queens we have a super strong engineering department and a very strong business school, so why shouldn’t they be working together to create new things and really collaborating?” Han told Techvibes. “It really emphasizes an innovative culture at Queens, and Canada, and at the same it promotes inter faculty collaboration.”

The Startup Weekend series, although not officially affiliated with the Summit, has been hosted over 400 times in 100 countries around the world.

With a few modifications the Queens Startup Summit will include all the fun when it happens March 1 to 3. Delegates from universities across Ontario and Quebec arrive in Kingston on Friday and have 54 hours to launch a startup. Developers, designers and non-technical entrepreneurs pitch ideas, assemble teams and execute on innovative ideas. On Sunday the teams pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and the winning team receives $5,000. The second and third place teams receive $2,000 and $1,000.

SEE ALSO: Students Organize University of Ottawa’s First Hackathon

Organizer Brandon Bedford said one of the motivating factors behind the event is to promote innovation and creativity among university students. “We believe that students really have a lot of knowledge to offer and there are tons of startups that have come out of Queens,” said Bedford. “We didn’t really find there were a lot of outlets for students to turn their ideas into businesses and we want to provide that for students.”

He’s partially right too. In the euphoria that surrounds Canadian startups, students are often an afterthought in Canada’s ability to build high-potential businesses now. But several initiatives prove that 19 and 20-year-olds possess just as much immediate ability as the next entrepreneur.

American investor Peter Thiel brazenly offers students $100,000 to drop out of school for two years and build a startup. Meanwhile within Canada’s own borders angel investor Greg Isenberg dropped out of McGill University to start several successful ventures. Or there’s the many innovative startups that have established themselves quickly after leaving Queens University, like Teambuy, Ratehub, Konekt.me, Buytopia and Talent Egg to name a few. In LISTN’s case, the Founderfuel grads have yet to finish their degrees in Kingston.

For Han there may be business plan competitions at the school, but nothing like what he and his fellow students are about to put on. “There’s nothing to take it to the next step, really get people together and actually build businesses,” said Han. “For me this is that next step.”

Han says he wants to continue the Summit for future years while creating an entrepreneurship fund committee, acting like a mini-incubator while providing workshops and funding from local investors.

For now though he’s looking forward to what he predicts to be an exceptional caliber of people and ideas coming to the Summit.

“I’ve been going through a lot of the applications recently, seeing the weirdest ideas and ideas that you never thought you’d think of, but they’re fantastic ideas and I cant wait to see how they transform during the event,” said Han.

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Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joey Czikk is a freelance writer based in Montreal, where he did his graduate studies in journalism at Concordia University. His work has appeared in OpenFile Montreal, Fundica.com's blog and the Westmount Examiner. He also has a passion for radio, having hosted a music show on CFRU 93.3 FM while completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. A sports nut, Joey often goes... more



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