Toronto, a vibrant city

Toronto is empowering youth with a special edition Startup Weekend in May 2015 #SWTOYouth

The Back Story
On a crisp Canadian morning in January 2015, two siblings sat down to a refreshing breakfast of cornetto with jam and cappuccino. As the aroma of freshly ground beans wafted through the air, the sister leaned into the mahogany table and excitedly explained her life-changing experience as a volunteer and participant during Startup Weekend the prior year.

“It was such an empowering experience to bond and network with talented people from across Toronto. With only 52 hours to share ideas, form a group, and launch a lean startup, it was as if every team member knew their purpose and was committed to delivering the minimum viable product by Sunday. We pivoted five times, used more sticky notes than I’ve ever used in my entire life, and delivered an awesome presentation to the judges. I want to give back to this community. Are you in?,” said the sister, a digital marketer in the online higher education space.

Her brother, a talented educator, eagerly nodded his head and replied: “That’s awesome! You know, my students always have a difficult time learning about high-level business concepts. This sounds like an excellent way for people to learn more about starting their own business and what it takes to be an entrepreneur while working in a team-based environment. Do you think that this group might be willing to host an event for youth?” And so began the journey of two Canadian siblings to introduce the concept of Startup Weekend to the youth of Toronto.

The Issue: Retiring Boomers & Competitive 21st Century Job Market
With over 5 million residents, Toronto is a booming, multicultural city with over 140 languages and dialects spoken. Half of Toronto’s population was born outside of Canada, with 22 percent of the population aged 15 to 24. With an alarmingly high number of boomer business owners reaching retirement age, only a few have developed successions plan for their businesses.

While the Canadian curriculum provides students with a basic theoretical framework of business, it does not provide youth with sufficient transferable skills to succeed in the 21st century job market where innovation, teamwork, flexibility and communication are valued. Many parents are looking outside the classroom to ensure their children are ready to thrive in the future where many careers do not yet exist.

The Solution: Inspiring Entrepreneurial Greatness in Youth
This May, the two siblings and their inspired organizing committee will lead Startup Weekend Toronto – Youth Edition. This event aims to empower Grade 7 to 12 students to learn transferable business skills through Startup Weekend’s proven experiential, hands-on learning model.

By providing youth with the lessons of entrepreneurship, we can set them up with a competitive advantage later on in life. This special edition will focus on raising enough sponsorship to keep event ticket costs affordable and the event venue centrally located within the city to encourage maximum accessibility for everyone.

Our local community and youth will also benefit by:

● Fostering entrepreneurial skills such as innovative thinking, effective communication, and teamwork
● Building strong community and peer connections through networking and event participation
● Developing transferable skills with a strong emphasis on experiential education
● Understanding business concepts such as ideation, lean launch, pivoting, product development, minimum viable products, presentations, customer validation, and more
● Enhancing students resumes for future educational (i.e. post-secondary applications) and professional endeavors
● Celebrating Toronto’s diverse pool of talent and future entrepreneurs

Your Awesome Contribution: Every Small Action Helps
While sipping their cappuccinos that crisp January morning, the two siblings formed Startup Weekend Toronto – Youth Edition. With a simple action, you can join us in changing the lives of Canadian youth by:

● Spreading the news about our special edition event using the hashtag: #SWTOYouth
● Connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter
● Emailing us at torontoyouth@startupweekend.org

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Networking

Networking – Tips To Overcome That Awkward First-Time, In-Person Experience

Dear L Think Crew:

Imagine walking into a room full of people. As you look around, you realize to your dismay that you don’t recognize anyone. Oh no! Now, you will need to introduce yourself, make a good impression, find something interesting and memorable to talk about, all by yourself.

Networking: What Would You Do?
Some people would walk out. Others would stumble through the next hour by walking around either looking lost or making awkward conversation in smaller groups. But, there are a few that would effectively and successfully work the room to their advantage. How can you replicate their success? Let’s find out!

Come With A Purpose
Many people find it helpful to research the event that they will be attending in advance to research the venue, people attending, dress code and expectations. While conducting this research, you might as well think about your purpose and objectives for attending the event.

For example, you may want to attend a business networking function to build your contact base within your industry. Your two objectives are to make three new contacts so you can exchange and learn from each other, and further develop your networking skills.

Start The Conversation
Not sure what to say to make a fantastic first impression? Look for someone who is solo or in a small group, approach them and introduce yourself. Use your fantastic memory of current events or relevant industry topics and ask for their insight and opinions.

Focus On The Other Person

When you run out of topics of conversation, try to recall an interesting point that other person made and then elaborate on it. By turning the focus on the other person, you will be seen as thoughtful and you may find new insightful topics to engage it. For example, if the other person had mentioned a new trend they’ve witnessed in their project, ask them to elaborate: “Tell me more about this.” or “Why do you think this is happening?”

End Your Conversation On A Positive Note
Do you run into situations where the conversation seems to drag on and you’re not sure how to gracefully exit? Well, you can wait for the other person to stop talking, make a positive final statement that shows engagement and your interest in networking, and then move onto the next group. For example, you can say “I would like to hear from you on how XYZ project goes. Have you seen David? I’m interested in speaking with him before I go this evening?”

What do you do to make your networking effective?
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