Network of entrepreneurs inspires next generation

Real-world perspectives and voices of experience help VeloCity entrepreneurs move their startups forward.

By Jodi Szimanski

Student Success Office

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Entrepreneurs listen to volunteer speaker at VeloCity GarageKnown internationally for its startup culture, Waterloo Region is home to many seasoned entrepreneurs and organizations like Communitech, eager to offer their resources to budding entrepreneurs. Connections are at the heart of entrepreneurship, and key to why many VeloCity entrepreneurs participate in University of Waterloo’s Velocity Residence, Garage and Campus programs.

VeloCity Garage is located in the Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener, offering young entrepreneurs direct access to programs offered by the organization. Available programs include entrepreneurs-in-residence, training programs, government funding and access to venture capital and angels. For other Hub tenants, proximity to VeloCity students presents a valuable networking opportunity, which could mean access to future co-op students for Hub tenants. Bridging academia and business, VeloCity startups become part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Programs fail if they are islands,” said Iain Klugman, president and CEO, Communitech. “By putting VeloCity Garage off campus, the university made a bold move that will create better, more resilient and more successful companies.”

The Hub is just one ecosystem that VeloCity entrepreneurs have access to. Other Waterloo startup successes including RIM, OpenText and Desire2Learn, help link students to successful entrepreneurs with experience and business knowledge.

To help deliver real world perspective and personal connections, VeloCity reaches out to a network of volunteer speakers, mentors and judges for events like pitch contests.

Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify, says she has been grateful for the opportunity to share her experience several times as a VeloCity guest speaker. “Hopefully it helps them consider avenues they haven’t before and avoid some mistakes.”