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Got a business idea? Learn how to make it happen

Budding entrepreneurs are eligible for the Dobson Practicum
December 16, 2014
By Danielle Ker

That business idea in the back of your mind could become a reality, thanks to Concordia’s Dobson Practicum. Now in its fourth year, the program uses hands-on learning to encourage Concordia entrepreneurs to start their own ventures.

The program is funded by the John Dobson Foundation and was started by John Molson School of Business professors Ron Abraira and Tim Field. Speaker events and other activities are organized with the help of the Enactus Concordia team.

Sabrina Grassi, founder of Sabrina’s Closet Sabrina Grassi, founder of Sabrina’s Closet.

As part of the Practicum, participants will be paired with mentors and will receive assistance with their business plans. They’ll also have the chance to enter $EED 2015 next May, where they can pitch industry professionals and compete to win up to $5,000 in seed money for their businesses.

Though it was originally only open to current students, the Practicum now also accepts graduates who convocated in 2014. Those who are interested are encouraged to sign up for Rocket Pitches, where participants will have five minutes to pitch their idea to the program’s mentors, who will then select the top 20 pitches for the Practicum.

Past winners include Sabrina Grassi, founder of Sabrina’s Closet; Angelo Esposito, co-founder of Bottle Bookings; and Jonathan Bercu, founder of Paradox Interfaces.

“Being part of the Practicum was an amazing experience, and I am so glad I participated,” says Grassi. “Not only was I able to learn so much from my mentor on a weekly basis, but I took a lot of the things that I learned and applied them to my online business. The experience challenged me and brought me out of my comfort zone, as my mentor made me focus on things I would have otherwise overlooked. Additionally, I met so many people along the way and made meaningful connections. I highly recommend that any student entrepreneur participate in the Practicum.” founders Steven Scalia (left) and Angelo Esposito Bottle Bookings founders Steven Scalia (left) and Angelo Esposito. | Photo by Maxellende Pycke

Scalia also found the feedback from the mentors invaluable, saying, “It exposed our team to a different perspective on our operations and the challenges lying ahead. The adjustments to our business plan suggested by our mentors not only allowed us to claim a monetary prize in the Practicum, but also make for a more efficient go-to-market strategy.”

Bercu entered the Dobson Practicum with the hopes of starting a business, as he had little money, no guidance and zero experience writing a business plan. “I was paired up with Klemen Ferjan, and it was a blast. We spent about a month learning my strengths and, more importantly, identifying my weaknesses to improve them,” he says.

Ferjan guided him through the process of writing a business plan and coached him on how to pitch properly and efficiently within the five-minute limit for the presentation. “I never would have won were it not for the preparation the $EED competition offers its competitors,” he says. “It's a fantastic experience, and I suggest that anyone who has an idea try and compete. Even if you don't win, you will learn enough to start out on your own."

Are you a Concordia student entrepreneur or recent graduate? Sign up for Rocket Pitches today for your chance to be part of the 2014-2015 Dobson Practicum.

For everything you need to know about participating in the Dobson Practicum, download the information package.


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