Recently the Rackspace Startup Program had the opportunity to visit the International Startup Festival in Montreal. It was here that we found out Canada is fast becoming an epicenter for the startup community. Let’s continue our Canadian journey and venture from the province of Quebec to Ontario and the University of Toronto’s The Next 36 program. Touted as Canada’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative, the goal of The Next 36 is to help launch the careers of Canada’s most promising and innovative undergraduates. The program is open to second, third or fourth year students working on their first undergraduate degree. Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada are eligible to apply, and the program accepts students from any university enrolled in any discipline.
The Next 36 provides key resources to thirty six young entrepreneurs with great ambitions annually. The selection criterion includes possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, a B average or better in school and the ability to work in a team environment. Each undergraduate selected into the program is provided with 3 team members, $50,000 in seed capital, 2 mentors, 180 hours of instruction and other resources to conceive and launch a mobile or tablet venture in 9 months. The program’s goal is to nurture Canada’s next generation of great entrepreneurs.
In its first year The Next 36 drew over 1,300 applicants. Last month marked Graduation Day for inaugural class which included a mixed bag of application ideas from Tradyo, a mobile marketplace which helps consumers buy and sell locally, winning the award for “Outstanding Venture” of the program to Whadyathink, an app that offers restaurants, hotels and retailers real-time feedback from clients, to Electric Courage that empowers users to flirt with others around them by providing a low-risk and comfortable environment. Wrapping up The Next 36 2011 ventures are DineWithMe, befitting, Foodstr, Playfit, Posterboard, PushPal and Winston.
Support for The Next 36 comes from over fifty of Canada’s top business leaders, entrepreneurs and academics. The four co-founders are Tim Hodgson, Co-Chair, Special Advisor to the Bank of Canada, Ajay Agrawal, Peter Munk Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School, Claudia Hepburn, Executive Director and Reza Satchu, Founding Chair and serial entrepreneur. The Next 36 is based on a highly successful class Satchu created and taught at University of Toronto for seven years before the program was launched and is funded by private donations.
Congratulations to The Next 36 participants for an outstanding first year! Applications are being accepted now for the 2012 program. This is the kind of university program that the Space Cowboy’s really gets excited about. If you are affiliated with a university that has an entrepreneurial program and would like to talk to the Rackspace Startup Program about getting involved, please let us know.