23-Year-Old Nova Scotian Creates New Startup Headhunting Firm for Students

A 23-year-old man from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia has created a new, not-for-profit fellowship program that identifies Canada’s top university graduates and pairs them with Canadian startups like Shopify, Bionym and 500px.

The Financial Post reported yesterday that Scott Stirrett founded Venture for Canada on the premise that most small businesses “can’t just send out their few employees to scout out campuses — and the salaries they can afford are much lower than those big companies offer.”

“I think a lot of Millennials are driven more by a desire to build things, to learn new skills and to gain new experiences than purely just making money,” he told the newspaper. Prior to founding Venture for Canada, Stirrett worked at Goldman Sachs in New York.

The firm is modelled after the popular Venture for America, which has now produced a second generation of fellows, who are now hiring young entrepreneurs after having graduated from the program in years past. Its goal is to produce 100,000 jobs in America by 2025. Venture for Canada, meanwhile, wants to recruit 24 participants in its first run. Its first “training camp” will be held in May 2015.

“The hope is that fellows will finish the two-year work placement ready to launch their own businesses, Mr. Stirrett said. At its U.S. counterpart, seven fellows from the first 2012 cohort founded four companies, including Detroit-based Banza, which now recruits from new cohorts, a spokeswoman said,” wrote the Post.

Currently Venture for Canada has partnered with startups in Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Waterloo, Ont., but Stirrett “plans to actively search for companies farther west.”

“Our mission is that Venture for Canada becomes a truly national program, where we have a presence in cities across the country from Vancouver to St. John’s,” he told the Post.

It’s not a novel idea; in fact, there’s several startups both in the United States and Canada that focus on headhunting for startups, even focusing on top students.

Stacked HR, a Montreal-based recruiting firm for high growth startups might not be a direct competitor to Venture for Canada. Not to mention it’s for-profit, while Venture for Canada is not-for-profit.

Nevertheless, they share similar goals. Stacked HR recruits any type of startup talent- not necessarily students- and tries to pair them up with middle to senior postions. San Francisco’s AppDirect has proven to be a recurring client for the Montreal business.