By Jesse Munro

Director of applied research and innovations pitches Mark Hoddenbagh talks opportunities for funding and experiencing to young entrepreneurs at Incubatorfest in the Student Commons.

Incubatorfest presented young entrepreneurs with an opportunity to hear a variety of program pitches from Ottawa companies dedicated to the support and growth of start-up business ventures on Jan. 28.

Start-up Garage, Exploriem, HUB Ottawa, Invest Ottawa, The Code Factory and Algonquin’s own Applied Research and Innovation centre pitched incubator programs to students, answered their questions and provided some time to network in the corner lounge of the Student Commons building.

“Incubator programs usually support entrepreneurs in any combination of four roles: funding, mentorship, resources and promotion,” said Alex Mahon, student entrepreneurship co-ordinator at the college and second-year business management and entrepreneurship student.

“Usually students have to apply for these programs, but Incubatofest turns that idea onto its head; incubators pitch to Algonquin students,” he said. “I want to further develop the entrepreneurial culture at the college. Entrepreneurship is an applied science so we definitely have the environment for it.”

Daniel Arnold and Sam Kelsey, both mechanical engineering students, were particularly excited for the event as they had just started their own business, Delta Engineering, and had recently signed a contract with the National Resource Council.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to network,” said Arnold. “We’re looking for the best option for our next step, we just started so we want to make our business profitable.”

As for support from the college, Arnold said, “It’s certainly there if you look for it. We’ve had some good support.”

Andrew Foti, Algonquin’s Executive-In-Residence (EIR) and the event’s organizer said, “This has never really been done before, making the people who usually receive ideas pitch.”

“College students are perfect for this kind of pitch competition, and Algonquin is in the talent development business. I want as many students as possible to be aware of the resources available,” he said. “I believe we’re sitting on a goldmine, I just want to unleash all this talent.”

The director of Algonquin’s Applied Research and Innovation centre, Mark Hoddenbagh, says that although he values the ideas of student-entrepreneurs, it’s more important for him to provide students with the problem solving tools required to run a successful business.

“The more students learn before they go out and try to form their own companies, the better,” said Hoddenbagh. “Start-ups aren’t the only answer, we need established companies to be innovative as well and we want to provide that skillset.”

Wayne McIntyre, a professor in Algonquin’s School of Business, brought his first-year class to the event because he believes that entrepreneurship is a quickly growing facet of the economy.

“I tell my students to go and find out what’s trending,” said McIntyre. “They need to find something at the beginning stages and take over.”

As a business owner himself, he knows the difficulties present in the first stages of its creation, “Your dream can become your nightmare pretty quickly. But if you’re willing to work hard it can be so rewarding.”