By Megan Lane, Brandon Sun, June 14, 2012
“Startup Canada sparked conversation among Westman entrepreneurs on Wednesday morning as the group continued its national tour. “Whatever you put in, you get back tenfold,” said Lanis Anthony, representative of the Startup Canada board. “Local communities are absolutely essential to Startup Canada’s campaign.”
Startup Canada’s mission is to enhance Canadian entrepreneurship across the country to increase Canada’s competitiveness and prosperity. Smaller centres are just as important to them as large centres. The grassroots movement was cofounded by young Canadian entrepreneur Victoria Lennox after seeing similar movements made by Startup America and Startup Britain.“Manitoba marks our sixth province in this cross-country tour,” Lennox said. “It is very interesting to be seeing the country through the eyes of our entrepreneurs.”
The town hall-style meeting was opened by Mayor Shari Decter Hirst. “About once a month I get to cut the ribbon for a new business,” Decter Hirst said. “Brandon is a city of opportunity, and I would love to be able to do this once a week.”
The six-month national tour is one of the non-profit organization’s first initiatives. Through a series of town hall meetings and events, the group is looking to engage with Canadian entrepreneurs and learn about the different challenges they face. “Today, we want to look at topics such as Youth Entrepreneurship, Supporting the Start Up, and Canadian Entrepreneurship on the Global Stage,” Anthony said. “We want your help to identify a problem and come up with a solution.”
For a large portion of the town hall, the audience was broken into groups of four to brainstorm solutions to challenges that entrepreneurs face. “Being 50 per cent of the way through the tour, one of the most common topics brought up is the availability of community resources,” Lennox said. “Not always that they do not exist, but often that new entrepreneurs don’t know where to go to find them.”
After focusing on Entrepreneurial Communities and Cultures, one group came to the solution of creating an entrepreneurial welcome package that would be available mainly to immigrants as well as any other entrepreneurs. Another team developed a plan to work with young entrepreneurs, which would include launching programs in junior high and high schools to educate students on choosing entrepreneurship as a career choice.
“Startup Canada is the missing piece to Canada’s puzzle,” Anthony said. “We are here to listen to your solutions and start an action plan.” The national tour was in Winnipeg on Tuesday for the other Manitoba town hall, and continues on to Saskatoon from June 14 to 16. Startup Canada has also begun planning events that will keep their momentum going beyond their national tour.