LaunchYU, York University’s entrepreneurship unit, and the Markham Small Business Centre (MSBC) have launched a community staple, Founder Fundamentals. The 11-week virtual workshop series is designed to help students and community members build the basic skills and understanding necessary to start a business.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch of the series proved that there are no borders when it comes to learning. The first event on Sept. 17, which focused on Business Plan Writing, attracted more than 300 registrants including over 170 York University students and an international audience with participants from India, China, Iran, Trinidad, Australia, Bahamas and Turkey joining the event. The diverse audience included both aspiring entrepreneurs and those who already have an existing business.
Munzungu Nzeyedio, a third-year student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies who is currently majoring in political science attended the series launch to help with her pre-revenue startup.
“The Business Plan Writing workshop provided an opportunity to refresh my knowledge in the most critically important areas of focus in the startup phase,” says Munzungu. “A key takeaway from the session is the expansive York University entrepreneurial ecosystem, with partnerships ranging from the Markham Small Business Centre to Futurpreneur. In a post-COVID-19 world, these partners have the expertise to develop the kind of programming that encourages business resilience, which can help mitigate potential threats in the early startup phase.”
In a market saturated with online learning, the overwhelming response for Founder Fundamentals has shown that demand for quality programming hasn’t lessened. There is an increasing need for learning which brings people together and creates connections, despite physical borders.
“We first established the Founder Fundamentals series with York University in Markham in 2018 and the program has continued to provide entrepreneurs in Markham and the surrounding Toronto area with valuable guidance and leading best practice,” says Don De Los Santos, manager of the City of Markham’s Small Business Centre. “Evolving the series online and ensuring it can continue to be offered at no cost has exponentially expanded accessibility to the program worldwide. As Markham and York University prepare for the opening of the Markham Centre Campus in 2023, educational programming like Founder Fundamentals is laying the groundwork to ensure we cultivate the best talent by providing access to industry leading educational opportunities.”
The quality of the content and expertise of the facilitators has set this series apart from the rest, with an emphasis on hands-on learning from industry experts which are carefully sourced. Participants are united together in interactive workshops which include ample opportunities for questions, audience interaction, and a chance to engage with fellow attendees during breakout sessions. There is also a wide range of learning with topics such as Prototype Development and Wireframing, Legal Basics for Entrepreneurs, and Setting up a Shopify Store.
“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen more and more of our community members turn to entrepreneurship to help create an extra source of income during these tough times,” says David Kwok, associate director of Entrepreneurship at Innovation York. “Individuals are leveraging their existing skill sets or hobbies and turning them into a viable business; but many of them have the same fundamental questions of how or where to start. This series provides the community of entrepreneurs and students all the fundamental basics needed to not only start, but validate and grow their businesses.”
Workshops are held online on Zoom, on Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants who attend at least nine out of the 11 workshops will get a Certificate of Achievement from Innovation York, illustrating their dedication to learning about the essentials of launching a successful business.
You can learn more about the series here.