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Entrepreneurial Mindset Overcomes at SFU’s Largest Student Entrepreneurship Showcase

Apr 28, 2020


A view of the remote presentation system used to facilitate OppFest 2020

Opportunity Fest, the largest event hosted by SFU’s Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, overcame adversity this year by switching to remote format in order to go ahead in the face of COVID-19-related restrictions. The organizers drew on their entrepreneurial mindset and resourcefulness to overhaul their plans and connect over 200 students and industry experts via online platforms, to showcase SFU’s emerging entrepreneurs.

The annual event brings students from all faculties together with industry, academic and alumni judges to give real world support and feedback to student projects and awards over $5,000 in prizes. The event usually takes over the mezzanine at SFU’s Surrey campus with over 250 people, and was on course to celebrate its tenth anniversary in that format. Just weeks out from the event, students and the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship’s team watched as the pandemic grew, and the format shifted almost hourly.

“Our experience with the event really shows why we need to cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset in all students,” says Dr. Sarah Lubik, Executive Director of the Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, in the Beedie School of Business. “Our students, judges, team and sponsors all showed exceptional empathy, adaptability and resourcefulness. It never occurred to us to do anything besides keep going.”

Over 170 students were divided into five categories by the challenges they had chosen to tackle: Education Innovation, Community Resilience, Environmental Impact, Personal Health & Well-being and Business & Lifestyle. These teams pivoted from their planned in-person pitches to produce creative video presentations which were followed by live Q&A. They showed ingenuity, creativity, problem solving and innovation –key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. The events team used the university’s classroom remote learning platform, youtube and a conference call command centre to bring those students together with over 40 judges and faculty moderators.

“At the Chang Institute, we believe in the power of interdisciplinary teams to overcome challenges, and this year backed this up in ways we’d never expected. First the event was planned as a massive fair; then we thought maybe we could do it in multiple large rooms; then online, but that each team could be together; to finally, everything had to be remote.” said Dr. Lubik. “Ultimately we needed new technology, different operations, design, communications and more. But one of the silver linings was that the new format gave our students a chance to demonstrate amazing creativity and show off interdisciplinary skills that don’t necessarily get to shine the same way in traditional formats.

Everyone involved demonstrated entrepreneurial mindset. “It’s times like these that we see how aligned we are with our friends and partners, and Westminster Savings [formally merged with Prospera Credit Union]. They were incredible in their unwavering support, flexibility, and generosity of time and spirit!”

“We believe that the entrepreneurial spirit is the birthplace of many great creations and small businesses” says Bryan MacIntosh, Senior Manager of local business, Westmister Savings (now merged with Prospera Credit Union), event sponsor. “We also believe that small businesses are the lifeline and the heart of our community. We are proud to work with the Beedie School of Business and the Chang Institute to support the bright minds and unwavering passions of these young entrepreneurs.”

Watch a highlight video below:

Competition Winners:

In the Category of Environmental Impact

1st  –  Climate Influx: A multi-modal awareness campaign to engage MetroVancourites in the global climate migration conversation

2nd – A tie! Hybridnetic: providing a clean energy alternative for gas consuming vehicles

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            Fade Apparel: Transformable Clothing that offers versatility and ease of styling to customers who have that need.

3rd – Green Guard: Tackling the sustainability issue of hockey equipment, specifically looking at alternatives to petroleum plastics in pads and skates.

Entrepreneurs’ Choice – BioPak: Sustainable and biodegradable packaging made from natural ingredients

 

In the Category of Educational Innovation

1st – Studyhubble: a platform to easily connect students through a shared responsibility in studying for their classes

2nd – Athena Class Collaborator: Making class taking simpler and easier for everyone

3rd – Foodversity: A new way for you to easily view your food options on campus

Entrepreneurs’ Choice – Top Down Nights: Development of entrepreneurial and creative thinking skills

 

In the Category of Community Resilience

1st – Cultivate: focuses on empowering local business in their role as employers to people living with employment barriers

2nd – Neighbourhood Clubhouse: Improvement of neighbourhood resiliency through low barrier and inclusive space to develop connections with like-minded peers

3rd – Meet: A mobile application to help international students make friends

Entrepreneurs’ Choice – Cultivate (as above)

 

In the Category of Business and Lifestyle

1st – KIXL: A consumer hardware company that is making a shoe cleaning machine

2nd – OpeNest – A renter-and-owner management app that helps owners manage compatible, responsible renters and creates a smooth housing experience for renters

3rd – Stirr: Coffee and tea made stir sticks that dissolve in water, making it instant and ready to drink

Entrepreneurs’ Choice – KIXL: A consumer hardware company that is making a shoe cleaning machine

 

In the Category of Personal Health & Well-being

1st – A tie: Team KHROM: Making Splints for Gradual Rehabilitation of Children with Disabilities Using 3D Imaging

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        SafEat: Universal allergen symbols for the food supply chain

2nd – Four: A self-care destination that covers four different aspects of wellness: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual

3rd – Skinnovate: Helping everyday people learn about and understand their skin by connecting them with experienced professionals

Entrepreneurs’ Choice –  Luvzi: A solution that targets couples in long-distance relationships

And the TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE GRANDPRIZE for the Team that showed the most significant dedication to people, planet and economic sustainability is:

A TIE!

Climate Influx: A multi-modal awareness campaign to engage MetroVancourites in the global climate migration conversation

           &

Neighbourhood Clubhouse: Improvement of neighbourhood resiliency through low barrier and inclusive space to develop connections with like-minded peers