Ottawa's Legacy Conference aims to connect, inspire hundreds of students

Legacy photo
Legacy's 2016 organizers. Provided.

As university graduation season nears, the minds of students in Ottawa are turning towards their legacy. Specifically, the Legacy Conference, aimed at encouraging students to develop their entrepreneurial mindsets.

The conference, run out of the University of Ottawa, began seven years ago when one of the school’s students returned from a business conference in Toronto and realized there was a need for a similar event in the Capital.

What began as a forum to help business students define their own success has grown into Canada’s largest student-run entrepreneurship conference. Organizers expect 500 students from 18 universities to attend, including nearly 100 mentors, founders and startup exhibitors.

This year’s speakers include local founders such as Shopify’s Tobi Lütke and Spartan Bioscience’s Paul Lem, but also brings in prominent tech execs from North American companies such as Facebook Messenger and Shazam.

Legacy Conference director Lea Abboud says the goal of the conference is not only to inspire attendees, but to connect students across the country.

“We can throw an amazing event, and the energy and vibe in that room over those two days can be amazing, but really the goal is to have that business student, and that engineering student, and that other student in Montreal or Toronto make connections that will last for years,” she says. “We’re all doing cool things in our own little corners. The point of events is bringing those people together.”

One of the primary tenets of Legacy is to provide a “professional conference experience at student pricing,” as Abboud says costs are often the number one barrier preventing students from attending events. Student tickets start at $75, with a “pi group” package of three tickets for $64.50 each.

This is Abboud’s second year involved in Legacy. As organizers are often too busy making sure everything’s running smoothly to take in much of the programming, she says her favourite part of the conference comes after the event itself ends, when attendees approach her and say they met a co-founder or landed funding because of something that happened at the conference.

“You can see that spark in their eyes,” she says.

The Legacy Conference runs from March 24-25 at the Infinity Convention Centre. Ticket sales end tonight at midnight!