Techopia Live: Ottawa students shifting from studies to summer startups

With students shifting from books to startups in the summer months, Techopia Live turned its attention this week to some of the programs and events that are setting the next generation up for entrepreneurship.

From the incubator space at Bayview Yards, Invest Ottawa program coordinator Kelly Ashcroft and musician Emily Shaw discussed their own experiences with the Summer Company program. The provincially-run entrepreneurship program provides students with a $3,000 grant to launch their own businesses over the summer months.

Run in the capital from Invest Ottawa itself, Ashcroft told Techopia Live that students are able to draw on mentorship and resources from Bayview Yards, including some guidance from the companies incubated there.

Shaw, a University of Ottawa alumnus, used Summer Company to get her music business off the ground. In addition to building custom guitars, Shaw teaches from a workshop in her home that she was able to build with provincial grant money. She told Techopia Live that the freedom of running a business from her home beats any alternative, especially in the music industry.

“I’m somebody who would prefer to work for myself rather than anyone else,” she said. “I prefer to guide my own life in that way.”

That first summer, Shaw had 10 students under her tutelage, a number that has tripled in just two years time. She’s also using follow-on grants to release more of her own music.

That kind of success makes her alma mater proud, according to this week’s Techopia Live co-host Kyle Bournes. He’s the alumni relations officer for the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering, a sponsor of the show.

Bournes told Techopia Live about the numerous events the faculty is putting on for Alumni Week, including Friday’s uOttawa Innovates – From Thesis to Startup. The concept sees tech startups spun out of research teams and puts students in from of tech executives and entrepreneurs to pitch the business behind their studies.

“We get to see our students shine,” Bournes said.

To hear more about opportunities in Summer Company or about the University of Ottawa’s week of alumni events, watch the video above.