We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
Conrad’s Bridging Entrepreneurs to Students (BETS) program is a specialized co-op program which connects first-year engineering co-op students with seed and early-stage startup companies for short-term placements. In this post, Spring 2017 BETS students and BETS employer UnCo. share how the program worked for them this term.
From the startup side
Kim Kirton, CEO
At UnCo. we aim to revolutionize how people consume clothes and how often. This is done through a method called capsule wardrobes. It has been adopted by some of the most famous folks like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban... Let’s be real though — we all know as femme folks if we were to walk into a room with the same 5 black t-shirts day after day, we would not be taken seriously. Our company adopted this model with the fierce femme in mind and pulled pieces from the best Canadian independent brands and designers that design for utility and style for the modern professional.
I was so thrilled to learn about the BETS program through the Centre for Social Innovation email list, as it seemed almost too good to be true. It was an awesome opportunity to work with fresh perspectives and students who had potential to have huge impacts on our current business activities. The program really did set up the experience to be mutually beneficial for both us and the students!
We allowed the students to take ownership over the projects that they were in charge of. They had the opportunity to create and execute on specific projects that were able to be completed within the five-week placement with us. Both students blew away our expectations.
The best part of this whole experience was being able to see the students create something from nothing, and watching them as they saw the direct results of their work with us. Not only was it humbling to see their progress, it really did have a significant impact on our business as a new start-up.
From the student side
UnCo. creates six, eight, and twelve piece wardrobes that can create 20-40 different outfits. This mission encourages sustainable and ethical fashion while also empowering women in tech and women entrepreneurs to spend less time choosing what to wear and more time changing the world! Working at UnCo. was a great experience. I loved everyone I worked with and everything I was able to work on.
On our first day there, we talked with one of the founders, Kim Kirton, to figure out what we liked to do and how that would fit in with the company's current needs. I mainly worked on expanding UnCo.'s designer network by researching ethical and sustainable clothing brands, reaching out to those brands by email and phone, maintaining relationships with those designers, and creating some of the necessary documents to communicate with them. I already had a prior interest in fashion, so I loved being able to speak directly to designers and tell them all about UnCo.! By the end of the rotation, I had doubled the amount of designers UnCo. had onboard, and I definitely feel like I made a meaningful impact on the company in my short time there.
I was able to do a lot of things that I probably won't get the chance to do in any of my future co-ops since I’m in engineering. While my main tasks did involve marketing, working in the startup world meant that I was also involved in a lot of different things, and I could get my hands dirty with other tasks that I was interested in as well. Since we worked so closely with the founders, Jaclyn and Kim, we were also able to form great relationships with them, which definitely made the experience a thousand times better! #TeamUnCo!
Learn more about the BETS program.