Young entrepreneur joins The Next 36
Photos on Flickr
Simon Fraser University student Jessica Fan is in elite company as a member of “The Next 36.” The prestigious entrepreneurial leadership program seeks out the country’s most promising undergraduate top young entrepreneurs and challenges them to create their own ventures.
A fourth-year student majoring jointly in business and interactive arts and technology at SFU Surrey, Fan will spend much of the next year working with cohorts at Queens University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto - with a $30,000 advance from The Next 36 – to develop a start-up company.
Nine teams of four – 36 students in all from across the country – were recently selected from more than 1,000 students to form the program’s second cohort. A shortlist of 72 recently flew to Toronto for an intensive weekend of interviews with program founds and some of Canada’s top entrepreneurs.
They’ve already begun working remotely on their new businesses with the contest’s co-founders and CEO-level mentors.
Fan hopes to focus on a social enterprise that will help address a community-wide issue. She’s among a group of SFU classmates who earlier developed Home for the Heart, a Mandarin and Cantonese language home care service for the elderly to support their social networks and enable them to remain in their homes longer. They produced the business model as part of a social entrepreneurship course this fall.
“My interest is addressing the bigger social problems we face, such as the underfunding of healthcare. It’s a big responsibility we all share and I think creating social ventures is a more sustainable solution,” says Fan, who earlier set up the Burnaby Hospital Bedside Arts Program. It seeks to improve the experience of patients through art and music.
Fan’s ideas involve creating meaningful user experiences through new products and services. She is also working with Engineers Without Borders (and is co-president of the SFU chapter) to create a knowledge management system to be used by chapters across Canada.
A published illustrator, avid photographer, singer, and graphic designer, Fan has received multiple awards for her academic and volunteer achievements.
She’s looking forward to working with new colleagues, whose expertise in engineering and nano-engineering will mesh with her technology/business focus.
Championed by founders that include Jimmy Pattison and a long list of prominent Canadian business leaders, The Next 36 has been described as an intense “hot-house effort” to stimulate young entrepreneurship in Canada.
All candidates will return to Toronto in May for the Entrepreneurship Institute, an innovation boot camp, where they will build their ventures with guidance from the world's top faculty and support from Canada's top business leaders and entrepreneurs.