Georgia Straight: Vancouver student entrepreneurs learn new ways to launch ventures

Aug 20, 2014
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Sarah Lubik, lecturer in entrepreneurship and innovation at the Beedie School of Business.

The following is an excerpt from the full article published in the Georgia Straight on August 20, 2014, and features comment from Beedie School of Business lecturer in entrepreneurship and innovation Sarah Lubik.


A small pop-up shop on the edge of Chinatown seems like an unusual location for a post-secondary business-education class. But here at 434 Columbia Street between Pender and Hastings on a Sunday afternoon, Emily Carr University of Art + Design master’s students Andreas Eiken and Maia Rowan are teaching more than a dozen undergrads.

Half are from their institution and half are from SFU’s Beedie School of Business. The undergrads are hunched over laptops, chatting in groups, sitting near a sewing machine, or being filmed for a documentary.

In an interview outside the store, Eiken explains that five groups of design and business students are working here for a week trying to sell products, most of which were created to promote greater sustainability.

“There’s a kit to help people learn about how to repair their clothes themselves,” he says. “Another project is to help people do laundry while travelling so…people won’t bring as much stuff with them. There’s an app to help people connect with the community.”

Another product, called the Box Band, secures home-cooked food in containers that don’t leak. A product called Jayde enables single-use bathroom products to be composted rather than sent to landfills.

Rowan points out that design and business students worked collaboratively at the outset, rather than coming up with ideas separately.

“They did their research together,” she says. “They generated ideas around what their product would be and also looked into what the business model would be to get those products into the world.”

It’s part of the platFORM program bringing together Emily Carr and SFU students—one of many imaginative postsecondary initiatives advancing entrepreneurship across the Lower Mainland.

Whether it’s learning about the “lean launchpad” movement for startups at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, enrolling in a 10-week accelerated venture program at the B.C. Institute of Technology, or taking part-time courses at Langara College on owning a business, there’s a plethora of educational opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs.

Sometimes the students come from abroad. In October, for instance, Douglas College will host 10 young people from Zambia who will learn entrepreneurial skills. It’s part of the college’s Zambia Global Leadership Program, which also offers Douglas students a chance to do three-month practicums in the southern African country.

Sarah Lubik, a lecturer in entrepreneurship and innovation at the Beedie School, tells the Straight by phone that SFU is emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach to education in this area. The platFORM program is just one example.

Lubik, also SFU’s director of technology entrepreneurship, mentions that the school is close to gaining final approval for a grad certificate for postdocs and PhD students in science-and-technology commercialization. This fall, SFU will introduce a 200-level introductory course on entrepreneurship and innovation that will open upper-division classes to everyone from every faculty. It will emphasize team-based approaches to bringing together people from different disciplines.

“The reason I keep saying ‘team’,” she says, “is because traditionally, business schools have tried to teach entrepreneurship to business students, not realizing that as soon as you get out into the real world, you’re going to be working with people who don’t speak that language—who are completely different from you, who speak science or speak engineering or what have you. Not having any real experience at working with those kind of people doesn’t give you a realistic experience.”

Lubik, who’s involved in a diving-related startup, points out that you don’t have to take courses in business fundamentals—such as economics, managerial finance, or accounting—to learn about entrepreneurship at SFU.

She adds that students can study marketing, project management, product development, and resourcing skills, including where to obtain financial help. While economic factors influence some students to want to launch their own companies, she says others draw inspiration from famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg.

“When we’re talking about entrepreneurship at SFU, we’re not just talking about starting your own business,” Lubik states. “We’re talking about whether you want to be an innovator in a big company, whether you want to start your own business, whether you want to start a not-for-profit, whether you want to be some sort of change maker—environmental or social change maker. We want to make sure our students have the tools to tackle whatever is their burning desire.”

To read the article in full, visit the Georgia Straight website.

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