The Young Entrepreneurship Leadership Launchpad (YELL) Venture Challenge – 2 day finals were held on May 1st and 2nd, 2015.
From the Event Brochure:
Welcome to the 2nd Annual YELL Venture Challenge! The YELL Venture Challenge is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The friendly competition is judged by a panel of judges who function as venture capital investors (in some cases are actual Venture Capitalists) deciding on which business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decision. (Video by co-founders to learn more.)
Structurally, Day 1 included presentations from students in 3 different districts, Coquitlam, Richmond, and West Vancouver. The top presentations from each school move forward to the second day, along with one more ‘wild card’ 2nd place team, for a total of 4 finalists.
From Coquitlam ‘SWAVE’ – a pillow that transmits s-waves to help maximize the restful part of your sleep cycle, moved forward to the finals. Coquitlam’s second place team, ‘First Sip’ – a baby formula bottle that heats up formula quickly with a safety switch to prevent overheating, was narrowly pushed out of the wildcard spot by West Vancouver’s second place team.
Day 2 started with “Breaking the mold: What are we doing different?” Moderated by Judy Brooks, with Inquiry Hub’s Aaron Creighton and Coquitlam Open Learning teacher Kate Jones, who were both part of the inaugural year with YELL in Coquitlam. Judy brought up the importance of ‘flow‘ and many soft skills like perseverance, focus and critical thinking.
A former YELL student on the panel (now going to Quest University) spoke about how the final presentation and business plan were tangible products that represented a wonderful journey through the course. Kate spoke about how it was hard to get students to explore new ideas and creative thinking, and to take the time to let ideas develop, while still moving forward through the course process: Business Accelerator, Idea Incubation, and Venture Challenge.
Passion, enjoyment and choice were key topics that came up time and again in the panel discussion when looking at ‘Breaking the mold’. Aaron spoke about how Inquiry Hub breaks the mold and that responsibility, ‘self dependency’ and ‘self determination’ are key take-aways from being part of both Inquiry Hub and YELL. He also spoke of dealing with stress, and figuring out how to deal with this in a respectful way when it is caused by others… quite the life skill for a grade 11 student to learn!
The 4 finalists included:
‘Wearth’ – Challenging traditional charity with an APP that gamifies giving.
‘SWAVE’ – A pillow to help you maintain restorative sleep longer
I didn’t see the Day 1 presentations from West Vancouver and Richmond, but I was very impressed by the ‘SWAVE’ team, not only for their great presentation on Day 1, but also for their response to feedback, making their final presentation even better! I also love the way the Coquitlam class gathered around the SWAVE team to celebrate their amazing presentation in the finals. I took quite a few photos at the event, but this one, where the SWAVE team were being congratulated by their classmates is my favourite.
What an amazing experience for all the students involved: Students showing innovation, entrepreneurship and passion through a process that teaches them about entrepreneurship, connects them with local mentors, and pits them in a Dragon’s Den style process with venture capitalists. All the feedback from students, and parents that joined us at the finals, was around the idea that this kind of learning should be what school is about… REAL life learning.
Congratulations to all the participants for making the course and the finals so wonderful, and a huge hat tip to the co-founders and team at YELL, and their sponsors, for engaging our students in such a rich and memorable learning experience!