Tuesday, 12 December 2017 05:26

Alta. aims to elevate opportunities

Written by  Demi Knight
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For the second year now, the Validate Entrepreneur Program is back to help tycoons develop solid business plans with the help of seasoned professionals.

Sponsored by the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta (RINSA), and funded by Alberta Innovates, and includes Economic Development Lethbridge/tecconnect, the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge College, National Research Council (Industrial Research Assistance Program), SouthGrow Regional Initiative and the Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, the program is back to help grow Alberta’s economic future with the success of up and coming entrepreneurs within the province.
“The program is two-tiered,” says manager of the University of Lethbridge’s University-Industry Liaison Office (UILO), Greg Vilk. “It’s called 'discovery and validate'. It’s for fledgling entrepreneurs to understand the process of taking an idea and demonstrating its value before spending any dollars.”
The program which allows entrepreneurs in the starting phase of their career the opportunity to put together complete business plans with the help and guidance of industry professionals and business advisors, also offers target audience feedback from prospective customers.
With these methods in place, participants are able to gather a proper understanding of the entirety of the process though this program, which involves starting a business from the ground-up.
Split into two phases, the competition allows participants to go through a discovery phase where ideas for the business are thought out and tossed around before interviewing with potential buyers or users of the product to gather feedback.
This year has also given participants the opportunity during the discovery phase to meet with business advisors Bruce Thurston, a professor in the Faculty of Management, and Darren Neuberger whom help guide these plans as well as offering additional advice on the proposed models.
The program then moves into the second phase of validating the ideas that allows the contestants to focus on using the data collected from potential customers, users and the above-mentioned professionals and tweaking their plans to work best according to this feedback.
In the second phase of the program, participants are also given the additional task of creating their MVP’s (minimal Viable Products).
“So many ideas fall flat on their face because you think it’s fantastic, but customers don’t want to buy it for many different reasons,” says Vilk of why this program is a great way for budding entrepreneurs to gather understanding on the entire process.
With twenty-five entrepreneurs taking part in this year’s program, and spending several weeks hashing out their ideas to make complete business models, participants then finally gathered at the Dr. Foster James Penny Building in Lethbridge Nov. 30 to present their pitches and MVP’s to a panel of business professionals in the final session of this years Validate Entrepreneur Program.
“It was fantastic last year and it’s going to be fantastic this year,” said Vilk prior to the event. “We have ideas that go from a social innovation venture to a strict technology-based ideas.”
With Alberta Innovates funding the entire project, their mission to promote entrepreneurship and innovation that will serve to diversify the economy of Alberta through jobs and technology, has been strongly upheld says Vilk with the return of the 2nd annual Validate Entrepreneur Program.
With a prize offers the winners of the eligibility to receive more guidance as well as entrance to the Chinook Entrepreneurship Challenge, the program has seen another successful year of helping shape new businesses and entrepreneurs across the province.

Read 186 times Last modified on Friday, 08 December 2017 05:28

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