LaunchYU is York University’s entrepreneurship unit with a mission to support entrepreneurs and their ventures at the University and in the neighboring communities. LaunchYU, which is a part of York University’s Innovation York, offers multiple programs to help entrepreneurs develop and grow their ventures by connecting with other innovators and like-minded individuals, collaborating with university and industry partners, learning about entrepreneurship, and finding greater success.
LaunchYU is introducing several new program features this Fall, including a new website, revamped programming, a new perks program, and the new LaunchYU Coaching Program. LaunchYU Coaching is designed to provide entrepreneurs with the unique opportunity to meet one-on-one with entrepreneurship coaches to develop and work towards specific milestones. The goal is to have entrepreneurs ultimately grow and scale their startup through highly personalized support.
While programming which teaches the fundamentals of entrepreneurship are important, many entrepreneurs often don’t know where to go after that. The new LaunchYU Coaching program is tailored to the needs of each entrepreneur and provides access to knowledge and resources that would otherwise be unavailable to the entrepreneur on their own. In fact, the program gives the entrepreneur the ability to build deep relationships that can benefit them and their venture for years to come.
“Personalized mentorship has been an important part of the LaunchYU program for a while”, says Sarah Howe, Director of Innovation York. “Over the past year and a half, we’ve watched demand for mentorship increase sharply and we’ve seen many companies flourish with the mentorship they get through LaunchYU. The only logical thing to do was to create LaunchYU Coaching so that we could demonstrate the emphasis we put on the individual and offer services to a far greater number of companies.”
Whether it’s about making tough decisions when faced with conflicting priorities, strategizing while entering a rapidly changing competitive market, or ensuring that you have a clear and efficient way to present your company, the LaunchYU Coaching program tackles these real-life issues. The struggle of the entrepreneur becomes a commonplace topic, widely discussed and handled during one-on-one coaching sessions. These invaluable lessons are given by coaches who can speak through their own experiences and advise based on the unique situation of each entrepreneur.
Going beyond just mentorship, the program also helps entrepreneurs in establishing vital connections that ultimately pave the way to success for a startup. The program enables those pivotal moments, like getting that one important meeting, shake hands with a potential investor, and presenting to the right person, which can often become the defining moment for a company’s success.
“One mistake we see repeatedly, and especially with first-time founders, is that entrepreneurs often work really really hard -on the wrong things”, says Aiko Thurlow, LaunchYU Coach. “A coach will help you understand what to focus on and why. We share our experiences and insights to guide you and increase your chances of success. We'll also help you plan, hold you accountable, introduce you to our network, etc. We'll do anything we can to help you succeed.” Aiko an active entrepreneur in the New York and Toronto startup space and is also the founder and CEO of InFounders, an organization that runs masterminds for entrepreneurs.
Other coaches include Elliott Atkins, a current Professor at the Seneca College School of Marketing who has founded two successful companies: AddMirror and Opilio Labs; and Chris Carder, a Serial Entrepreneur who serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence with Schulich School of Business. Chris is also the co-founder of ThinData, Canada's largest email marketing services provider. Each providing their own expertise, the Coaches all bring their unique flair to the program, giving the entrepreneur the opportunity to work with the person that is the right fit for them. In this case, one-size doesn’t fit all and each entrepreneur and Coach must determine what works best for them.
Here are a few successes have come out of the LaunchYU Coaching program:
Biomimicry Frontiers– A biomimicry consultancy that works with landowners and leaders in the building industry to apply technologies and principles that are inspired by nature.
Redo– An organization supporting Canadians with disabilities sharing personal, professional, and practical online education with individuals, businesses, and heathcare professionals.
TBird– A website that allows local hosts and travelers to connect and negotiate pricing options for accommodations, tours, and transportation services on their own terms.
With availability at the York University Keele campus each week, the LaunchYU Coaching program is just one aspect of how LaunchYU helps startups succeed.
The LaunchYU Coaching program accepts applications on a rolling basis and there is no deadline to apply. There are, however, limited spots available at any given time. There is no cost to join the program and anyone with a desire and motivation to build a venture, either for-profit or not-for-profit, can participate. Neither LaunchYU nor York University claim any equity share for the ventures participating in the program.
Photo credit: Trina Turl