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.
Waterloo is world-renowned for its strength in innovation and co-operative education. A signature program at Waterloo, Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) allows students to pursue an entrepreneurial co-op option in which students start their own business while earning a co-op credit.
After graduation, E Co-op students continue with their venture, begin a new one, or use their E Co-op know-how to obtain employment. E Co-op is a great experience that builds business knowledge, capabilities, and independence that employers value.
Important Winter 2021 update
In alignment with Waterloo's COVID-19 pandemic response, Enterprise Co-op for the winter 2021 term will be delivered virtually.
For important updates and more information about how COVID-19 is impacting Waterloo operations, please visit the main Coronavirus Information page.
Application deadline notice
Spring 2021 term applications will be accepted on a rolling basis within posting cycles. The application deadline is Tuesday, April 19, 2021.
Applications for Stream 1 are now open. Stream 2 is not available for spring 2021.
E Co-op is open to students from all faculties.
Stream 1: Bring your own idea
Have you been thinking about a new business concept? Whether it's no-tech, low-tech, high-tech, service, consulting, or more. If you have an idea you want to take to market and have the passion to build your venture, this steam may be for you.
For Stream 1, we are looking for students with:
- a well-formulated idea
- a strong understanding of the target market
- the drive to excel as an entrepreneur
Stream 2: Solve Billion-dollar problems
Stream 2 will not be available for the fall 2020 or winter 2021 terms.
Opportunity is knocking where billion-dollar problems remain unsolved. Introducing for this spring 2020 work-term a new E Co-op stream where you can work on solving specific, billion-dollar problems identified by our partner-collaborators at the Problem Lab.
For Stream 2, we are looking for students who:
- are ready to tackle big problems
- want to join and start a new venture creation team from scratch
- have the drive to excel as an entrepreneur
How does it work?
As an undergraduate E Co-op student in Stream 1, you’ll enter the program during a work term with a business idea and the drive to turn it into a business. Over your term, you’ll receive ongoing mentoring and feedback on your business development. You’ll be part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports and propels students to succeed. You will have:
- a wide network of mentors, entrepreneurs, and professionals
- the opportunity to apply for the Norman Esch Enterprise Co-op Awards
- practical workshops and seminars to help you build your business
- access to conference passes, distinguished guest speakers, and presentation
Stream 2 will not be available for the fall 2020 or winter 2021 terms.
For the undergraduate E Co-op student in Stream 2, you will work in partnership with the Problem Lab. Students working in assigned teams will be developing solutions to Billion-dollar problems and learning fundamental elements of:
- business models & business plans
- market sectors
- building new products or services
The work-term is split into two stages:
- Stage 1. Problem space analysis, student teams, create solutions
During this stage, students will be working on a pre-identified list of Billion-dollar problems from the Problem Lab, so students do not need to ideate a venture idea. Students will be assigned to venture creation teams, and then research specific problem spaces, and apply to the campus-wide Problem Pitch competition (online form, beginning June) for the opportunity to pitch end of term competition for $15,000 prize award,teams problem-solve together and create a potential set of solution products or services, and apply to the campus-wide Concept $5k pitch competition (online form, end June) for the opportunity to pitch end of term competition for $5,000.
Stage 1 starts May 11, 2020 and runs for the first 2 months of the spring term.
- Stage 2. Venture team, business model generation, startup processes
In the second stage, students decide to 'opt-in' and continue with E Co-op Stram 2 and will then be accepted in Waterloo Works for work-term credit. Student and their venture teams will continue to build startup business processes and generate business model draft iterationsteam activities include developing prototypes, design sprints, pitch presentations, and weekly debrief sessions with coaches and advisors.
Stage 2 starts June 29, 2020 and runs last 2 months of the spring term.
In-person E Co-op information sessions are cancelled until further notice. Watch a previously recorded session about Stream 1 to learn more.
Want to get even more out of your Enterprise Co-op experience?
Our limited-enrollment BET 300 and BET 400 courses are only available to students who are committed to starting a venture through E Co-op, Concept, or on their own.
E Co-op student testimonials
"Enterprise Co-op for me started as an opportunity to work on my own company as part of my Co-op education. Very quickly though, it became so much more. It has been full of relevant workshops, tailored resources, experienced mentorship and most of all, like-minded individuals who share the same journey and struggles of entrepreneurship. The ECo-op program has helped me accelerate my business faster than I could have expected."
-Sam Dugan, Founder at VS Technologies, Mechatronics Engineering Student
"Enterprise Co-op completely transformed my life habits and career aspirations. In less than four months, our final year design project became a service that now serves over 100K users. None of this would be possible without the connections, habits, and lessons provided by the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business."
-Philip Scott, Co-founder at Tutturu.tv, Software Engineering Student
"The Enterprise Co-op program was a truly valuable experience for my studio as it helped me to legitimatize my once side-hobby into a fully-fledged business. The program provided numerous resources that taught me what it takes to take a business off the ground and has also played a pivotal role in bringing in clients and design work for the studio. The Enterprise Co-op program helped me to learn what it takes to run a business and I would recommend it to any emerging student entrepreneurs that want to take the next step."
-Nilojan Jegatheeswaran, Founder at studio nil, Architecture Student
"The ECo-op program helped KuzoClass scale from $0 in revenue to six-figure ARR in just 4 months. It is a unique group of individuals facing similar problems as they start their own ventures. This work term will surely stand out from all your other co-op terms. I highly recommend taking E Co-op to see if a business idea will gain traction."
- John Albert, Co-founder at KuzoClass, Environment Student
"E Co-op lets you build your idea. It gave me the freedom to prove myself wrong, the resources to find new paths forward, and connected me to a community of peers equally dedicated to improvement."
-Jackson Mills, Co-founder of eLuminate.io, Computer Science Student
“Eco-op put my ideas to the test. The opportunities it provided me, as well as the ever-growing community of peers and experts allowed me the flexibility I needed when exploring my concepts.”
-Tony Wang, Co-founder at eLuminate.io Environment Student
"The Eco-op program has helped me refine my start-up idea and gave me an opportunity to work on my business with a laid-out plan. It also helped me learn more about starting a business and the resources available to help start-ups, whether on-campus or not. I really like how eco-op students support and motivate each other, it is a great environment to work on a start-up."
-Anna Chen, Founder at Ownit, Math and Business Double Degree Student
"My choice to participate in the Eco-op program has to be one of the hardest but best decisions I've made thus far. Eco-op gave me the resources and lessons needed to take my business, CloudSafari, from an idea to incorporation, getting our very first customer, and hiring our first two employees. One of the best lessons I learned was the power of process. Having a process to follow, iterate, and improve on is a sustainable way in order to continually get better, whether it be for your business or your well-being."
- Joshua D'Souza, Founder at CloudSafari Inc., Management Engineering Student
"My Enterprise Co-op work term taught me the value of focus, balance and planning for success. Progress is incremental, and so I learned to take it one day at a time. Before you know it, these days add up."
-Gurmehak Turna, Founder at The Oddity Co., Accounting and Financial Management Student
"I am so impressed by how much Material Futures accomplished in one E Co-op work term. This program provided us with the ability to work full-time on the business: growing our idea into something tangible! In addition to the peer network, we received coaching from on-campus mentors, lab space, and grant funding from the University of Waterloo. I would highly recommend the Eco-op program to anyone interested in becoming an entrepreneur! Many thanks to Wayne Chang for all of his help and dedication to making the program and its participants reach their full potential."
-Iris Redinger, Founder at Material Futures, Architecture Student
"Being in the E Co-op program as my first co-op was extremely eyeopening. Working on my start-up full time made me realize that the things I’m learning in the lectures can be translated to the real world in lots of different ways so my outlook on my education has changed for the better. Although our term had some turbulence I wouldn’t have traded this opportunity for any other as I believe I’ve learned more in these 4 months than I have ever before."
-Graham Cromwell, Founder at SMPLX Nutrition, Applied Health Science Student
"I only had an idea with no prior knowledge or experience in business and E Co-op helped me validate my idea and turn it into a business. You get tremendous support from Conrad staff and your E Co-op cohort!"
-Seoyeong Lee, Founder at UNITE, Environmental Engineering Student