Tech entrepreneurship@SFU program propels Gursher Sidhu towards the Next 36Feb 17, 2015
As one of two SFU students selected for this year’s prestigious Next 36 program, Mechatronic Systems Engineering student Gursher Sidhu is fulfilling a lifelong ambition to pursue a career in entrepreneurship – with a little help from the mentoring initiatives available at SFU.
From a field of over 600 applicants, Sidhu successfully navigated a competitive final selection weekend to claim one of 38 places in the 2015 Next 36 cohort. The program is a nationwide initiative aimed at transforming Canada’s most promising post-secondary students into leading entrepreneurs.
The selection weekend saw the finalists speed peer-interview each other to determine similar interests and compatible working personalities, as well as conduct interviews with the program’s selection committee, mentors, directors, and business leaders.
“The selection weekend often placed us outside of our comfort zone, forcing us to think on our feet,” says Sidhu. “One evening the keynote speaker stopped their presentation and began questioning participants on the spot as to why they should be selected. It is very rewarding to have come through such a rigorous screening process.”
On the penultimate day the final 38 students were placed into teams and assigned mentors, before brainstorming ideas and preparing a pitch for their new venture in a team dynamics workshop.
Sidhu and his teammates are now developing Coral, a collaborative online platform that empowers small-to-medium sized business to compete against large retailers. “Coral will allow local businesses to band together, offer their products, and create an atmosphere where their customers feel like they are taking a walk in the community,” explains Sidhu.
Prior to joining the Next 36, Sidhu participated in tech entrepreneurship@SFU, a program offered in collaboration with BCIC that pairs together students from SFU’s Beedie School of Business and School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering to launch a technology startup.
The program empowers the mechatronics students with business knowledge, providing them with fundamental skills such as sales, marketing, and business analysis, while simultaneously teaching the Beedie students to design, form, and test the products. This switch in responsibilities gave Sidhu invaluable experience with marketing research, allowing him to analyze and convert customer needs into key venture features.
Tech entrepreneurship@SFU participants are also exposed to a variety of networking events, workshops, conferences, and team-building outings to enhance the real-life education and entrepreneurship experience.
“Through tech entrepreneuship@SFU, I participated in workshops, panel discussions, networking events and conferences to gain entrepreneurial mind-set,” says Sidhu. “The entrepreneurial mindset I developed through the program definitely helped me secure my spot in the Next 36.”