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An Entrepreneurial Experience Like No Other

Students take on backcountry trip to learn how to thrive in the business wilderness

An Entrepreneurial Experience Like No Other
An Entrepreneurial Experience Like No Other

Whether it was learning survival skills for the wilderness or the survival skills required to keep a young enterprise alive, 20 youth aged 18-29 recently took on both challenges in an intense and invigorating three-day curriculum through the new Kawartha Backcountry Entrepreneurship Experience (KBEE).

The unique program for youth in the Peterborough region who have a strong interest in entrepreneurship, which kicked off earlier this month, is run by FastStart Peterborough, a partnership program between Trent University, Fleming College, and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster

Day one of the “entrepreneurship education and ideation program” was a classroom-centered Entrepreneurship 101, held at Trent, which included: learning about what exactly it means to be an entrepreneur; the Business Model Canvas; how to define your target market; conducting market research, and how to pitch that idea to potential investors like a boss (as in being your own).  Attendees of the program were also able to meet with current entrepreneurs and special guests.

The next two days of lessons were conducted in a beautiful “backwoods” wilderness setting, complete with canoeing and camping activities. In this environment, students delved hands-on into the most challenging aspects of developing your own business.

Working in teams, students applied the lessons from the first day and evolved ideas for new business ventures, selected a sustainable platform and presented it to a panel of judges who awarded prizes.  A competitive environment was encouraged, but at the same time there was an emphasis on partnering and collaboration skills development.

“We developed the unique outdoors 'bootcamp' format because we wanted it to be a fun and exciting new way for youth entrepreneurs to learn entrepreneurship skills --it adds a more real world, hands on experience,” said Rose Terry, entrepreneurship coordinator for the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.

KBEE came out of a FastStart planning session between Martin Yuill, CEO GPIC, Laurel Schollen, VP Academic, Fleming College, and John Knight, manager of Corporate Research Partnerships at Trent University.

“The premise was to create a once in a lifetime, unique learning experience for a small group of 20 pre-qualified young people who have a genuine interest in starting their own enterprises,” said Mr. Knight. “These young people will bond with each other because the start of an entrepreneurial life is incredibly challenging--you’ve got lack of income, new product development failures, etc.--and so it will be incredibly valuable to have a support network of like-minded friends to call upon when faced with tough personal challenges.”

FastStart@Trent has been busy ramping up business training programs to help foster the notion of startups as a viable career path. This past March saw the birth of the Youth Entrepreneurship Society (YES), a new campus club focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs get started, refine ideas and get the ongoing support they need. Trent, in partnership with the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster (GPIC), also hosts a startup company incubator called The CUBE.

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

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