Startup Canada Windsor-EssexTown Hall
The Windsor-Essex town hall reinforced many of the key messages that we have been hearing throughout the rest of the Cross Canada Tour including the need for a centralized one-stop-shop to coordinate all entrepreneurial support and programming, the need for youth mentorship programs and guidance along the entrepreneurial journey, and the requirement for incubation spaces that locate entrepreneurs and their support networks together under one roof.
However, we also witnessed two completely unique and outlying ideas emerge from the Windsor Essex Town Hall, which really shook up traditional approaches on how we can better support our Canadian entrepreneurs.
These unique ideas were titled the Think and Drink, and the Rick Spence Secondary School.
The team presenting the Think and Drink provided us with our first view of the concept of the Drinkubator: a social engagement space, much like a pub, with entrepreneurial exclusive membership, where business owners can cozy up to the bar and share their ideas, challenges, sorrows, and victories in a relaxed Cheer’s-type environment for entrepreneurs.
The main elements of the Think and Drink would be to find a local space that is currently underutilized, of which there are several in the Windsor-Essex region, and to revamp it into an entrepreneurial hot spot. Live entrepreneurial speakers could be brought in much like live bands, open pitch nights could be hosted where the winners could be awarded prizes like investment cash or special mentorship time, and most importantly it would provide a creative space to socially brainstorm great ideas amongst your peers and colleagues – you always know where to go for a great entrepreneurial discussion, including after work ours, when many of us get our best ideas.
To keep the Think and Drink from becoming too much like a bar, the membership would be restricted to legitimate entrepreneurs who are running or starting their own business, and invited guest on themed nights from the entrepreneurial support community. The winning team also noted that their establishment would serve coffee, tea, juice, smoothies, and many other drinks, as the focus of the think in drink is much more on the Think than the Drink component of the equation.
The Rick Spence Secondary School was also a spectacular and revolutionary idea. The winning team noted that we have been hearing a lot about revamping our education system, and making our curriculum more entrepreneurial. Their solution was to create a completely new pilot secondary school, (likely private, but with many scholarships and bursaries for interested students) that would teach entrepreneurship at its core and would infuse entrepreneurial concepts throughout its entire curriculum – Think Startup Fair as opposed to Science Fair, classes on business planning, pitching to investors, and protecting IP, math courses oriented towards financial literacy, afterschool business startup programs, guest business mentors speaking regularly in the classrooms.
To get the Rick Spence Secondary School up and running, the team acknowledged that a productive partnership between local educators and entrepreneurs would be essential to make sure that a high quality curriculum could be developed that would address all of the traditional requirements necessary to get into a good university (should the students wish to take that route and build out their academic skill set to enhance their entrepreneurial goals), but with entrepreneurship infused everywhere possible.
The Rick Spence Secondary School team also noted that they would like to partially fund the school and many of its entrepreneurial activities through corporate and community sponsorship, product placement in schools, the entrepreneurial equivalent of bake sales (selling business service into the local community), and by leveraging existing government programs that focus on regional and community economic development.
Overall the Windsor-Essex Town Hall was an excellent showcase of some very innovative entrepreneurial support ideas, and we are keen to see how the local community will move forward with great ideas like the Think and Drink and Rick Spence Secondary School.
Let us know what you think about these new ideas in the comments section.