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Startup and Scaleup

Experience Ventures: Connecting Startups to Early Talent

Sponsored by:
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Sponsored by:
Anica Vasic

Anica Vasic

Director of Talent, Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, University of Calgary

David Kwok

David Kwok

Associate Director of Entrepreneurship, York University

Erich Ko

Erich Ko

Co-Founder & CEO, Hop In Technologies

Experience Ventures, powered by the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking at UCalgary, enables students to make an impact alongside real-world innovators.

Entrepreneurial thinking skills — including resiliency, opportunity recognition, action orientation, risk management, and systems thinking or trans-disciplinary thinking — help students become future-ready for careers in the innovation economy. At the University of Calgary, entrepreneurial thinking isn’t seen as being limited to a personality type, a discipline, or entrepreneurs alone. Instead, it’s viewed as an accessible set of skills that anyone can leverage to make an impact, big or small, in any career. Everyone can benefit from being collaborative and having a problem-solving aptitude and a growth-oriented mindset. Accordingly, UCalgary’s Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking is engaging students, faculty, staff, and the community with entrepreneurial thinking and innovation, placing it
at the forefront of teaching and innovation discovery.


UCalgary’s community innovation hub

“Entrepreneurial thinking is being creative in finding innovative solutions,” says Anica Vasic, Director of Talent at the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. “It’s about taking initiative and exchanging knowledge across disciplines. It’s essential to enriching lives and advancing society.”

Since 2017, the Hunter Hub has supported the community at UCalgary and the greater Alberta innovation community to think more like entrepreneurs, as founders, as leaders, and as changemakers within their own circles. It does this by cultivating and supporting changemakers, connecting and building community, and amplifying stories and impact.

The Hunter Hub is focused on connecting talent to innovation communities across Canada, and its Experience Ventures program is the vehicle for this important work. Experience Ventures offers entrepreneurial thinking placements for students at 11 post-secondary institutions across the country, from Simon Fraser University out west to Memorial University out east to York University in Toronto.

Entrepreneurial thinking is being creative in finding innovative solutions.

Connecting startups to early talent

Experience Ventures is focused on helping students develop career-ready skills and, as an added benefit, helping ventures to build talent pipelines. “The program connects early talent and ventures in a way that drives value for both parties,” says Vasic. “We examined what barriers stood between early talent and ventures and worked to dismantle those barriers, thus allowing students to gain valuable skills and allowing ventures to connect with the talent that will drive their businesses forward. Talent is a venture’s greatest asset, and meaningful career experiences are the stepping stones for students’ success. Experience Ventures helps to deliver both across the country.”

The program allows early-stage ventures to grow and established organizations to adapt and innovate to thrive in an ever-changing world. It also instills entrepreneurial thinking and skill sets in students, helping to bolster the Canadian workforce by creating future-ready leaders and doers. The program does so through a variety of entrepreneurial thinking placements, including hack-a-thons, challenges, projects, student-in-residencies, and interdisciplinary team projects. 

Practical partnerships

York University, one of Experience Ventures’ partners, has benefited greatly from the
collaboration. “We’re providing entrepreneurial experiences for students to engage with community partners, including startups and organizations, to solve challenges that are crucial to their communities,” says David Kwok, Associate Director of Entrepreneurship at York
University. “Not only do students get to gain or refine their entrepreneurial skills, they’re able to apply them in a hands-on, real-world way.” 

Hop In Technologies, a logistics platform, partnered with Experience Ventures to
work with students. “It was great to get a fresh perspective,” says Erich Ko, Co-Founder and CEO of Hop In Technologies. “We’re already innovating, disrupting the environment, and building something completely different. Through Experience Ventures, students have challenged the things we’re building and provided a new point of view, which was important to the growth of our startup.”

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