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The Next 36: A big catalyst for youth entrepreneurship

Simon Fraser University undergraduate student Gursher Sidhu and Lauren Watkins have been named to the 2015 cohort of The Next 36, a national initiative aimed at transforming Canada’s most promising post-secondary students into leading entrepreneurs. They are two of 38 students who earned a spot on The Next at the annual National Selection Weekend held in Toronto recently.

A total of 80 finalists from a pool of 630 applicants attended the interviews, workshops, speakers and idea generation.

“The Next 36 will challenge me to adapt to a rapidly moving environment as well as learn and apply a large amount of knowledge in a very short amount of time,” says Sidhu, a fourth-year student in Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE).

“I will be pushed outside my comfort zone and coming out I will be very prepared to handle the obstacles of building and growing a company.”

“I feel honoured to be one of the 38 people chosen,” says Watkins, who is studying entrepreneurship and social innovation at SFU’s Beedie School of Business.

“I am working with some extremely smart and talented people. I am very excited to get started on our business and to be able see all the different businesses that grow from The Next 36.”

Over the next seven months, program interns from across the country will build their companies with the support of mentors, a unique academic program and a pool of business advisors.

First working remotely while completing their academic year, they will converge in Toronto again in May to work on their ventures full-time.

The Next 36 culminates in mid-August with the Venture Day showcase.

Sidhu and Watkins are no strangers to entrepreneurship.

Sidhu has been pursuing his entrepreneurial endeavours with tech e@sfu.

The program brings together third- and fourth-year MSE and entrepreneurship students to develop a market-inspired technological product and then pitch for the funds to take it from bench-top to market.

Between 2010 and 2012, Watkins was the program manager for Banner Bags, an Enactus SFU initiative that collects used city street banners and turns them into reusable bags with the help of students in secondary school sewing classes.

Previous SFU participants to The Next 36 include Chantelle Buffie, also from Beedie, who created FIXO, an application that helps make communication between property managers and tenants easier; Michael Cheng from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, who created Needle HR, a talent acquisition platform; and Jessica Fan, another Beedie student, who developed Penyo Pal, an app that teaches children to speak Mandarin.

The Next 36, Canada’s leading undergraduate entrepreneurship development program, sets out to address Canada’s deficit of high impact entrepreneurship by offering resource-rich education programs to young entrepreneurs.

Posted: Mar 2, 2015

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