Why the launch of eHUB on campus will be a game changer for our startup community.
Yesterday I spent most of the day on campus listening and judging 28 student startup pitches, ending with a celebration dinner to officially launch eHUB, the new startup hub at the University of Alberta. It was awesome to watch team after team pitch like pros and express so much excitement about the startups they were building. I couldn’t help but feel proud thinking about our startup community and how far we’ve come in only a few years.
Photo: Nicholas Yee
In May 2012, we took three years of startup community organizing — meetups, democamps, hackathons — and officially set up Startup Edmonton downtown atop a one hundred year old building in the warehouse district. Fueled by the support of leaders and entrepreneurs across the city, we broke the traditional incubator model to create a community space where collisions between hackers, artists and entrepreneurs could happen. It was the kind of place that I wish was around when I started my first company during my fourth year at the U of A.
Nearly two years later, our building is alive and full, and Edmonton’s startup community is quietly and confidently kicking ass. Around the city, we’re hearing more founders, makers and creators thinking bigger, growing smarter, mobilizing faster, and competing harder for customers and capital from around the world. Founders aren’t just talking about ideas — they’re executing. Our plans to grow a startup city from the ground up is working.
But to truly have a startup city, you need a deep pool of talent from which wave after wave of startups can emerge from. Waves of startup founders who know how to attack problems and build something scalable. Waves of entrepreneurs who play offense by acquiring customers and gaining traction, and who don’t play defense only through patents and IP.
These waves will come from our schools, from the U of A. For this reason,our schools are the most critical asset to us becoming a world-beating startup community.
Entrepreneurship isn’t just about teaching students how to start businesses, but also how to solve problems, think critically, and create immense value. Entrepreneurship isn’t one of those things that can be fully taught. It needs to be baked into the academic experience — not extra curricular, not post graduation. Entrepreneurship needs to be experienced and tried over and over and over again. And, entrepreneurs can come from any faculty — business, engineering, science, arts, and even education (like me).
This is what excites us about eHUB. As we’ve learned with Startup Edmonton, it’s about more than providing a cool space to work. eHUB is that starting place on campus where students gain hands-on startup experience by experimenting, failing, and doing. eHUB is a bridge that will help connect students on campus to the growing startup community that surrounds them. eHUB is a training ground for student startups who’ll make their way downtown to Startup Edmonton and TEC Edmonton as they progress. But most importantly, eHUB is a beacon for entrepreneurship and startup culture on campus. One that challenges students, across faculty silos, to rise up and build something incredible together.
So my thanks and congratulations to the University of Alberta, Alberta School of Business, and the eHUB team — in particular Michael Lounsbury, Tony Briggs, Qasim Rasi, Matthew Grimes and Joseph Doucet. It takes courage and leadership to do something at the U of A that hasn’t been done before; to disrupt the status quo — just like a startup.
We at Startup Edmonton are really excited that eHUB is becoming a reality and that we’re working together to help the many waves of student startups grow and scale in our community.
Originally posted by Ken Bautista