Brock University: Brock program to help Niagara entrepreneurs kick-start their business ventures

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Drew MacNeil and Evan Sitler never thought of themselves as business owners, but that all changed once they met in Brock University’s Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship (KSE) program.

The newfound friends quickly evolved into business partners, forming the e-learning and virtual reality consulting firm XpertVR.

MacNeil says the program, which is now recruiting for its next cohort of entrepreneurs, has had a considerable impact on their business venture.

“There were so many benefits: from working with other entrepreneurs in the program, receiving feedback from mentors and ongoing support, and gaining confidence from bouncing our ideas off other KSE members,” he says.

The Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program is aimed at young Niagara entrepreneurs, encouraging them to explore their innovative ideas and advance their early-stage entrepreneurial aspirations. Currently recruiting for its next cohort, the program is delivered by Goodman Group in collaboration with Brock LINCto provide youth with seminars and events, in addition to mentorship and advisory services from Venture Development, Brock LINC and Innovate Niagara.

“The KSE program is essential for anyone with a business idea,” says Jenny Camargo, Goodman Group’s Manager of Professional and Executive Development. “It has been created to provide fundamental information about a business idea, how to evaluate it, the steps to starting a business, networking opportunities and one-on-one advisory meetings.”

She said participants will “benefit from each component of the program, so they are able to make informed decisions on their path to success.”

After completing Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship in 2016, XpertVR went on to win Brock’s Monster Pitch competition, and has worked with several incubator programs. The company, which recently marked its fifth anniversary, has expanded its team to 14 employees.

“KSE was an amazing environment to take the leap into entrepreneurship,” MacNeil says.

The Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program is open to Brock University students, staff and faculty, as well as members of the community. The deadline to apply for this cohort, for which applications are now open, is Wednesday, Sept. 28.

The program will be offered Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. from Oct. 5 to Dec. 7, with a kick-off networking event held Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 4 to 5 p.m.

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