IDEAS GROW HERE!
At Venture Connection®, we are training future leaders and innovators - young people with the skills, passion and dedication to be the next generation of entrepreneurs.
How are we doing this?
- We motivate students to consider entrepreneurship as a career option
- We provide tools and training to build students’ entrepreneurial skills
- We expand student horizons through on- and off-campus networking opportunities
- We help turn ideas into real ventures
Since 2008 this unique, innovative and ground-breaking initiative has engaged over 3100 participants in its programs, benefited from the support of over 150 volunteers, provided mentorship to over 200 student teams and business development services to over 120 early-stage startups.
Who are we?
- As part of SFU Innovates, Venture Connection is a university-wide program offering entrepreneurship training services and opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni. We work in collaboration with all faculties and departments, such as the Beedie School of Business, Faculty of Applied Sciences, School of Communication Arts and Technology and Work Integrated Learning, and many others around the university, as well as external partners.
- The program is supported by professional staff, including Mentors-in-Residence hired from industry with direct entrepreneurial experience. See our team here.
Who can be involved?
- All students, post-docs, faculty, and recent alumni, from any faculty, as well as staff are welcome to participate in Venture Connection’s programs, though the incubator program is by invitation-only (see program information for more detail on eligibility).
- We support speaker requests from instructors in any faculty, and partner with departments and faculties across the university on programming.
- Our volunteers come from all walks of industry, as mentors, subject-matter-experts and business advisors.
What we can do
- In partnership with Coast Capital Savings, SFU Venture Connection provides support to explore entrepreneurship, and business development services for emerging ventures from initial idea through to business validation. This is accomplished through delivery of an early-stage business incubator, mentorship, co-op terms, competitions, networking opportunities, workshops & seminars.
- There is no charge for our services and we don’t take any equity.
- We encourage students to complete their studies while exploring entrepreneurship. For those students wanting to take time out to explore a full-time venture, we offer a co-op option for undergraduates and an MBA internship.
What we can't do
- We don’t provide financing to startups, but do help ventures get investor-ready.
- We don’t make decisions for you. We provide you with learning opportunities, feedback, encouragement, introductions and best practices – ultimately all decisions to do with your startup are up to you.
Where we are located
While Venture Connection’s main office is located at SFU-Surrey, programs are delivered on all 3 campus locations. Incubator teams meet with their mentors and business advisors throughout Greater Vancouver.
Simon Fraser University is building a strong, world-class entrepreneurship program that is broad-based in its approach to new ventures. Venture Connection, through SFU’s Innovation Office, is a key driver in achieving this cultural change throughout the university.
This university-wide program was launched in 2008 by the Innovation Office in collaboration with the SFU-Surrey Campus, the Beedie School of Business and the Faculty of Applied Sciences, government partners and community members. The program now collaborates with departments and faculties throughout the university, on all 3 campuses.
Many of the incubator teams have been successful in starting their businesses and attracting external financing and acquiring their first customers, while three teams have successfully negotiated exits for the founders when their companies were acquired, Layerboom (acquired by Joyent in 2010), MetroLeap Media (MetroLyrics acquired by CBS Interactive in 2011); ArtsAlly (acquired by Kabuni in 2014). Other incubator alumni include Hiretheworld, Libreria Leo, MAPT Media, Addictive Ads, VeloMetro, CKM Sports and Buyatab.
Along with its professional staff, SFU Venture Connection engages Mentors-in-Residence to support the program and act as one-on-mentors with the incubator teams, as well as many volunteers from the entrepreneurial community who participate as panelists, judges, speakers and advisors. All of the programs are provided at no cost to participants and are open to all students from any faculty or campus.