This past Saturday, we wrapped up another year of Start-up School with the fourth annual Beaver’s Den at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering. Once again our panel of judges were pitched great concepts from engineering students and alumni hoping to gain advice, mentorship and investment in their seed-stage companies.
While all participants gained invaluable advice and connections through Beaver’s Den, there could only be one winner. This year, electrical engineering students Ryan Chee and Steven Zhang impressed the judges with their Smart Home pitch, taking home bragging rights, a cool $1000 in prize money and the promise of additional mentorship and advice. Their Smart Home concept promises to automatically operate the lights and heat within your home, no programming required.
Each year, we help coach engineering students and would-be entrepreneurs in the art of starting a business through Start-up School at the U of A’s Faculty of Engineering. Our own Michael Sikorsky is the faculty’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and created the program to highlight entrepreneurship as a viable career path that students can pursue after graduating.
Interested students and alumni are taken through nearly a year-long process of prep classes teaching them how to start and run their own businesses.
The year is kicked-off with Startup School, an intensive weekend workshop that introduces participants to the tools needed to become successful entrepreneurs. Monthly Fireside chats are hosted throughout the year as guiding points and mentoring sessions. All the work over the year concludes with Beaver’s Den – what we like to describe as Dragon’s Den, but nicer.
This year seven engineering student and alumni teams pitched to our esteemed panel of judges, which included Dean Radomsky, Partner Ernst & Young L.P. and Calgary Lead for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards; Leslie Roberts, CEO of GoRobotsInc.com and makers of the Discover Entrepreneurship app course; Jim Bush, President, Evolution Engineering, and President, Inpetro Energy; and Shilo Nevau, a health, safety, and environmental (HSE) expert.
The story on University of Alberta’s website can be found here.
Photo credit: Richard Cairney