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The tools to become a founder … or a rock star for one

uOttawa’s Telfer School of Management preps students for a world driven by entrepreneurship and innovation

Telfer School of Management
Telfer School of Management

Entrepreneurship is a tough grind. For a young person considering that path, straight talk and blunt truth about the road ahead is just as valuable as building a network and understanding the fundamentals of growing a business.

It’s also important for business school grads to have an understanding and appreciation for how distinctly different it can be to work with a startup or growth-stage company versus a more mature one.

That’s why the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management has rethought, and retooled, its entrepreneurship programs and is working to instill entrepreneurship content and thinking into undergraduate and MBA programs. This is a departure from the traditional model, where curricula would focus on training the next generation of middle managers for well-established corporations. 

“The greatest creator of job growth today is young companies and startups,” said Stephen Daze, Telfer’s Dom Herrick Entrepreneur in Residence. “Even if a student doesn’t start their own business, odds are they will go to work in a startup environment that demands innovation and creativity. Our approach is as much about creating this innovative mindset among students as it is about creating an entrepreneurial one.”

Telfer alumni step up for entrepreneurship

Telfer alumni step up for entrepreneurship

Dedicated entrepreneurship capacity at the Telfer School of Management is possible thanks to the Dom Herrick Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EiR) position, created from a donation by Telfer alumni Rob Ashe, former CEO of Cognos and GM of Business Analytics for IBM, and Sandra Herrick, chartered accountant and financial advisor.

Stephen Daze, Telfer’s Dom Herrick Entrepreneur in Residence, is founder of the Agawa Entrepreneurship Group, Canada’s top entrepreneurship-focused training organization, and former Executive Director of the OCRI Entrepreneurship Centre.

‘An incredible set of experiences’

This approach attracted alumnus Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau, who had launched three startups by the time she graduated from Telfer. Her latest is Welbi, which helps senior living communities deliver exceptional and unique life experiences for residents. Welbi’s state-of-the-art recreational platform is poised for a rollout to more than 265 residences across North America.

During her time at Telfer, Audette-Bourdeau took advantage of a rich ecosystem and support network of peers, access to student clubs, counsel from advisors and lecturers with practical and real-world experience, and the mentorship of Daze himself. This also included an eye-opening trip to Silicon Valley with Telfer’s Executive MBA candidates, getting involved with uOttawa’s Startup Garage, and working with a co-op program that allowed her to employ fellow students in her ventures.

“The knowledge and perspective I gained gave me the basis to go on and build Welbi,” she said. “It’s all been an incredible set of experiences that pushed me out of my comfort zone, let me make amazing connections and continues to give me the support I need to grow as a business owner.”

Are you ready?

If you are interested in going to a school for entrepreneurship, or preparing to work in a startup environment, there’s no better place to pursue your business degree than at uOttawa’s Telfer School of Management.

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A passion for business

It’s been a busy four years for Telfer student Logan MacPherson. He has pursued the  co-op program, which has given him practical business experience with Giant Tiger and Nokia and the opportunity to develop his own venture with his brother (Point3D Commercial Imaging) through Startup Garage. He’s taken part in the entrepreneur clubs supported by Telfer. And he’s gained invaluable experience through startup pitch competitions and by sharing the entrepreneurial journey with his peers.

“What uOttawa is doing to support entrepreneurship and give students like me the opportunity to explore it in a practical and hands-on way is unmatched when you look at other universities,” he said. “Some do offer some kind of entrepreneurial support, but not to the degree that uOttawa does.”