MaRS Discovery District is set to bring back Entrepreneurship 101 beginning September 25. Now in its 9th year (not all of which have been hosted at MaRS), the 30-week free weekly lecture series features talks on key topics related to starting a successful business.
The talks, aimed at social innovators and technology & life sciences researchers and trainees, cover a diverse range of introductory business topics including funding a business, marketing, recruiting, intellectual property and more.
“The realization has spread that startups are not just small versions of big companies, and new tools and thinking about entrepreneurship education have resulted in a thriving and exciting field,” read MaRS’ website. “To meet demand we’re offering more than Entrepreneurship 101 this year. We’ve worked hard to continually integrate the leading thinking on entrepreneurship education and what we’ve learned along the way into all of our programs.”
The lecture series takes place every Wednesday from 6:00 to 7:00 pm when over 400 people will pack the MaRS Centre Auditorium. Many more people will watch the live webcasts or participating in satellite groups around Ontario. This year, speakers like Clarity.fm’s Dan Martell and Wattpad’s Allen Lau are set to speak.
The course culminates with a business plan pitch competition called the Up-Start! Competition, where selected participants compete for a $15,000 prize. Last year’s winner of the Up-Start! Competition was Henry Chong and his LIFEbike, the “Lightweight, Intelligent, Flexible, Electric” bicycle. After winning the competition, Chong took the LIFEbike to Indiegogo in July of this year and succeeded in raising over the $25,000 target he set.
Back to Entrepreneurship 101, some of the special lectures planned include “Lived It Lectures,” featuring celebrated entrepreneurs and their success stories and challenges. Or there’s “Meet the Entrepreneurs”, or panel sessions during which entrepreneurs from different sectors discuss the challenges and opportunities they face as they grow their businesses. These events have networking opportunities after the panel session for entrepreneurs in each sector.
But as MaRS’ website alluded to, they are indeed offering “more” than just the lecture series this year. Additionally MaRS will offer a 12-week intensive program called “Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshops,” which includes five experiential workshops where small groups of new entrepreneurs work with seasoned entrepreneurs and their peers to develop their businesses. These workshops will run from Friday, September 13 to November 29.
Meanwhile, MaRS also has a partnership with the University of Toronto to offer a new certificate in entrepreneurship. The first course if set for October, and builds on the groundwork laid by Entrepreneurship 101 and the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshops. It seeks to take aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs from all sectors (including Main Street entrepreneurs) through the fundamentals of building their business in more depth.
The first Entrepreneurship 101 series began nine years ago when a small group of graduate students from the University of Toronto wanted to put on lecture series’ “for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.” Last year’s event (which was also webcasted) brought in 27,000 attendees, up 55 percent from the previous year’s total of 17,500 attendees.
Thus far over 1,000 people have registered for the new Entrepreneurship 101 program. MaRS claims that Entrepreneurship 101 will be Canada’s largest entrepreneurship MOOC (massive open online course), with the vast majority of the audience watching via live webcasts.