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Published on March 14, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by

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Student entrepreneurs present new opportunities

LAURA FIXMAN

Venture Seed Fund

What set the venture seed winners apart were well-written business plans. Courtesy Troy Tolley.

The first annual New Venture Seed fund at Humber gave five separate businesses $8,000. It was created to encourage more student-run businesses, and quickly make them successful.

A group composed of Humber’s academic community looked through dozens of applications to determine the best fit based on their selection criteria. Humber’s Vice President of Academics, Michael Hatton, says a well written business plan sets the winners apart from all other applicants.

“People want to do things, but they don’t often have the follow-through to outline how they’ll end up making money,” Hatton says.

The winning businesses have to write two reports outlining their progress; the first report for this summer, and second report for next summer. Hatton says that this will help him decide on winners in the future.

“We hope to get more applicants and get better at picking businesses depending on how these ones do,” Hatton says.

One of the businesses that won the $8,000 grant is called LifeSmarts. It’s a company creating a computer app that will teach vital life skills to children with autism. The company’s President, Shoshana Klein, is graduating from the Multimedia Design and Production Technician program. Hatton sees LifeSmarts as a prime example of what a business needs to be successful.

Klein has previous experiences with children with autism, and she feels that the key to any successful business is using your life experiences.

“My business identified a need in the community that is often overlooked – the struggles of children with autism and their families – and suggested a way to help them through new technologies,” she says.

Hatton agrees that filling needs that aren’t getting attention from other businesses is an important aspect in a successful new venture.

“They all have a creative and unique element to them, so they’re not going to be going up against a big existing market,” Hatton says.

The fund exists to help businesses expand and meet their needs, but how the money is used is up to each individual business. Klein had plans for this funding mapped out prior to applying.

“The money is to provide my business with new state-of-the-art equipment and software that will help me meet this need in a creative and innovative way,” Klein says.

Klein hopes to expand her business to include apps to help children with other disabilities as well. She felt this was the best way to combine her desire to help students with disabilities and her experience in the Multimedia and Design program.

New applicants will be accepted by the Office of the Vice President of Academics at North campus next fall. Hatton feels that it’s a good incentive and will encourage more people to start a small business.

Humber and Guelph-Humber students who are looking to start a business can apply for the New Venture Seed Fund next year. The applicants need only to be graduating that year, submit a business plan focusing on the criteria outlined, and be in good academic standing in order for their start-up initiatives to be considered.

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