Program structure

3 undergraduate E Co-op students chatting in the Conrad Hub


Two individuals having a conversation

Throughout the term, you will have opportunities to work with volunteer advisors. These are people, often Waterloo alumni, who have experience as entrepreneurs and are willing to act as a sounding board.

These volunteer advisors will be supportive and provide relevant business development advice, and ask questions that will provide you the opportunity to reflect, re-affirm, or re-think aspects of your business plan or actions. Because E Co-op is an academic credit and a learning process, you as the student/founder will make all final decisions and to retain full responsibility for any, and all, business plans and actions related to their venture.

Workshops and guest speakers

One individual teaching in front of three individuals

The term has a series of seminars for students to participate in. For students who are not staying in Waterloo, many of these seminars and workshops can be attended live virtually.

These seminars and workshops go through the major elements of starting a business and give you the theoretical background you need to build a strong business.

Funding options

As a student in a start-up, you’re most likely bootstrapping your company – you’re investing your own time and money (and often the money of friends and family) to get the idea off the ground. This allows you to devote your own time to building a product and allows you to maintain full control of your company.

As a student start-up there are several grants, bursaries, loans and accelerator programs you can apply to. These will all require a thorough application process and often come with some restrictions.

Many companies experience a time when they absolutely need to bring in outside, professional funding to their company. Companies who have a proven prototype, interested customers, existing sales or are looking to expand the business often find investments by angel investors or venture capitalists beneficial.

A great way to receive funding is to apply for grants. Although not always the case, grants are an opportunity to receive free money.

Undergraduate students also have the chance to win awards of varying amounts. Please see our undergraduate awards page for more information.

Six tips for a successful E Co-op term

  1. Build the foundation of a successful business
  2. Understand your market, customer and competitors
  3. Develop a value proposition that is clear and can articulate your product/service to any stakeholder
  4. Interact regularly with advisors and the E Co-op coordinator
  5. Attend workshops and speaker series
  6. Network with others in your industry, your customers, professionals and other E Co-op students

As with any co-op term, you will be evaluated on leadership, dependability and response to supervision; communication, problem solving, and quality of work; and setting goals, planning and organizing.

"Taking the first steps into doing something with no pre-defined-success-metrics is really scary, and I can attribute a huge chunk of my growth and learning to the structure, support, and accountability provided by Conrad's E Co-op entrepreneurship program.

E Co-op is one of Waterloo's best-kept secrets.

Wayne Chang and his team HUSTLE to de-risk unconventional paths for students - in place of an internship placement, I was able to independently explore, learn, build, and grow all while earning a co-op credit toward my degree, getting a bit of financial support, having peers to keep me accountable, and without interfering with my education."

-Jocelyne Murphy, System Designs Engineering student