‘Awe­some’ ex­pe­ri­ence

In­no­va­tion Boot­camp at Aca­dia teaches hands-on en­trepreneur­ship

Annapolis Valley Register - - X NEWS - WOLFVILLE NS welliott@kingscountynews.ca

John Robert­son, who is the strat­egy and sales lead at In­spiredeggs, speaks a lan­guage his au­di­ence com­pre­hends.

He talks about a cu­rated re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence, run­ning in the red and the start-up en­vi­ron­ment.

In­spiredeggs is termed an ‘in­no­va­tion shop.’ Robert­son shares his own ex­pe­ri­ences freely - es­pe­cially with safety sen­sors for se­niors at his busi­ness HOMEEXCEPT.

“There will be red,” he warns the stu­dents at In­no­va­tion Boot­camp at Aca­dia Univer­sity.

Robert­son noted that man­u­fac­tur­ing sen­sors in China would cost 75 per cent less, but his firm opted for a Lock­e­port firm. He’s also been part of hir­ing four highly-trained im­mi­grants from Is­rael and In­dia that have set­tled in Nova Sco­tia.

In­no­va­tion Boot­camp is a pi­lot that has been de­vel­oped since last Au­gust un­der the Nova Sco­tia Sand­boxes, says Leanne Strathdee, man­ager of In­no­va­tion and In­cu­ba­tion Ser­vices at the Aca­dia En­trepreneur­ship Cen­tre.

Cus­tom de­signed, she says the boot­camp was built for early stage in­no­va­tors, based on col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence in the prov­ince-wide sand­boxes on what would de­fine best practices.

There are 31 stu­dents tak­ing part from five uni­ver­si­ties and the Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege. Thir­teen signed up from Dal­housie’s com­puter sci­ence pro­gram and six are Aca­dia stu­dents.

The 16-week In­no­va­tion Boot­camp in­cluded a two-week in­ten­sive res­i­dency on the Aca­dia cam­pus. Stu­dents con­cen­trated on de­sign think­ing, com­pleted busi­ness mod­els, pre­pared pitches and pre­sen­ta­tions.

The goal of this phase, Strathdee says, was to teach stu­dents how to find and eval­u­ate a prob­lem worth solv­ing, learn fun­da­men­tal ideation skills to cre­ate a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion to the prob­lem, and com­mu­ni­cate ideas ef­fec­tively to oth­ers.

Nas­sim Klayme, an Aca­dia stu­dent, called the boot­camp men­tor­ship “awe­some.”

He brought a con­cept for a mu­si­cian-fo­cused web­site that could equal­ize the pro­file of artists across the coun­try re­gard­less of their ur­ban or ru­ral roots.

“We hope to con­nect mu­si­cians and show­case per­form­ers,” he said. Klayme called Strathdee’s guid­ing in­put “mo­ti­va­tional.”

Hal­i­fax-based stu­dent Jake Arse­nault, the owner and op­er­a­tor of Cre­ative Ur­ban Tim­ber (CUT), de­vel­oped his busi­ness out of a class project at Saint Mary’s Univer­sity.

He man­u­fac­tures cus­tom fur­ni­ture and home ac­ces­sories from re­claimed wood. Arse­nault says the eco-friendly at­ti­tude of to­day’s mod­ern home­owner ap­pre­ci­ates his craft.

He’s been able to make fur­ni­ture with pieces of wal­nut that

his late grand­fa­ther, King But­ler of Wolfville, had pre­served. The wood was once used for din­ing room ta­bles in an Aca­dia set­ting.

Arse­nault said he ap­pre­ci­ated the boot­camp men­tor­ship for teach­ing him to think out­side the box while still a stu­dent.

In week three, stu­dents re­turned to their orig­i­nat­ing sand­box to ap­ply con­cepts learned in the first two weeks. Men­tors are avail­able to sup­port teams with ad­di­tional ad­vis­ing from each sand­box man­ager.

In the last week of the pro­gram, all the stu­dent teams will come to­gether for a fi­nal project pre­sen­ta­tion and demo in front of stake­hold­ers, which in­clude po­ten­tial in­vestors. A team of ex­pe­ri­enced judges will de­ter­mine the three win­ning teams. Some $60,000 is at stake.

WENDY EL­LIOTT

John Robert­son in­structs stu­dents in the In­no­va­tion Boot­camp at Aca­dia Univer­sity in var­i­ous as­pects of en­trepreneur­ship.

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