Business leaders show students how it’s done
Mentors help Grade 12 students write business plans and prepare pitches
The students are getting real- life experiences working side- by- side with professionals in the field.
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, WEST VANCOUVER
Business leaders from companies such as HootSuite and Lululemon are taking high school students under their wings to mentor them and teach them how to plan for a successful business.
A group of West Vancouver students learned the basics of business this year — including how to work in a group to develop and pitch a business plan — in the Young Entrepreneurs Leadership Launchpad.
In addition to this year’s mentors from HootSuite and Lululemon, the program has attracted leaders from Institute B, Browns Restaurants, Lawson Lundell LLP, BC Advantage Funds, Fortis BC and others, organizers said.
Students who take the course earn a credit in Entrepreneurship 12.
Matteo Lepur, a Grade 12 student at West Vancouver secondary, has been working with a group of students to develop a business plan for an app to help backpackers.
His role is to develop the 10- year financial statements for the business plan, something he did with a mentor accountant.
“I wouldn’t have been able to learn this in a traditional accounting class,” said Lepur, 18, adding he’s also gained skills in public speaking and made connections among the business people and students in the class.
West Vancouver’s superintendent of schools, Chris Kennedy, said he’s thrilled with the program, which was founded by Metro Vancouver entrepreneurs Rattan Bagga, Punit Dhillon and Amit Sandhu.
“It’s a great example of connecting student learning to community resources,” Kennedy said. “I am so impressed by how engaged the business community has been in supporting our students. The students are getting real- life experiences working side by side with professionals in the field.”
More than 75 applications were received for 30 spots in the three- phase program.
During the first phase, the business accelerator module, students participate in discussions and instruction by guest speakers on current business and leadership practices and issues.
In the second phase, the idea incubator, they brainstorm, debate and agree in a group of five on a business concept. Following that, they work with a mentor from the business community to develop a business plan.
During this year’s third phase, the venture challenge, students will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at SFU Woodward’s Theatre on April 24. The program has been so successful to date, it will expand to Richmond next year.
Coquitlam is also considering starting the program, which organizers hope to offer throughout Metro in the future.
Richmond vice- principal Iain Lancaster said he wanted to bring the program to Boyd secondary in Richmond when he saw Sandhu was involved.
Applications are now being accepted for the program in Richmond, which will likely run after school on Mondays, as well as in West Vancouver.